Court Deciedes Louis Seller and Tobitha Reanya Rightful Heirs

Thursday, April 7, 1921

The circuit court tried, last week, the case of Tobitha Reanya and Louis Sellers against Calpurnia Robinson, Charles Roberts, Will Roberts, Wesley Roberts, et. al. This case was one of the most interesting civil cases that has been tried by the circuit court for a long time. It was over the title of 80 acres of land in the northeast part of the county, which was owned by Aunt Rachel Dooley, an old colored slave, who died in 1917. The plaintiffs claimed to be half-brothers and sisters of Rachel Dooley, claiming that Jesse Sellers, who was an old colored slave and was brought to this country in 1835, was the father of both Rachel Dooley and these plaintiffs. The testimony before the court was from very old witnesses, the oldest being a negro woman form California. She said in her deposition that she was 86 years old. Uncle Ben Roark, who was past 84 years of age, related to the Court that he was acquainted with the plaintiffs. And that in 1863 he set Louis and George Sellers, who were slaves, across the river at Tuscumbia in order that they migh be freed. Alex Mulkey, Sam Mulkey, Miles Parks and Dwight Webb, colored gentlemen from the north part of the county, testified as to what they knew about the relationship of Rachel Dooley and the plaintiffs. Calpurnia Robinson and the other defendants claimed that they were nieces and nephews of Rachel Dooley, and the only heirs which made this a very interesting three-cornered legal battle.

The facts related back farther than the memory of any lawyers who tried the case of Judge Slate. Depositions were taken in Jefferson City, Olean, California, Sedalia and Clinton, and the state of Texas. The plaintiffs were represented by H. L. Donnelly, Poague & Son, and J.A. Gilbreath, of Clinton, Missouri. Calpurnia Robinson was represented by R. F. White of Eldon, and the Roberts heirs were represented by Irwin & Haley. The Court found that the plaintiffs were entitled in the land and made a remark when handing down his decision that it was overwhelmingly for the plaintiffs.

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