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The Latest on Reuben Cone Hayden

Coverage of Reuben C. Hayden's Lawsuits

This was printed in The Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, on August 17, 1894:

A Batch of Suits Filed to Recover a Lot of Property
Located in the Center of Town
The Plaintiff is Mr. R.C. Hayden--The Property Belonged to His Grandmother--Filed by Dorsey, Brewster & Howell

Thirteen suits involving Atlanta property easily worth a million dollars have been filed in the superior court.

Regarding thirteen as an unlucky number, the plaintiff in these suits will shortly follow up the start he has made by filling twenty additional suits to the same effect, and will begin a hard and vigorous fight for the recovery of the large and valuable property involved. The suits were filed by Dorsey, Brewster & Howell, as attorneys for Reuben C. Hayden, and an interesting chapter of Atlanta's earlier history is told in the allegations upon which the suit is based.

Mr. Hayden, who is a young man recently come of age, is the grandson of Judge Reuben Cone, who was one of Atlanta's earliest pioneers. Mr. Cone owned a vast extent of property in the vicinity of Atlanta. He owned the property when Atlanta was Marthasville, and upon his former holdings many of the business houses and residences of the city are now located.

The property was left to Mrs. Lucinda Cone, who married Judge Underwood and afterwards married Mr. James A. Hayden. [Editor's note: Error: J. A. Hayden was Julius A. Hayden, her son-in-law, not a husband]. As trustee for the extensive real estate of the Cone estate, Mr. James A. Hayden and Mr. John Glenn were appointed. [Editor's note: John Glen was married to Lucinda Cones's sister Eliza Shumate Glen.]

These gentlemen sold nearly all of the property. These sales occurred at times when Atlanta dirt was worth hardly one-tenth as much as it is now. The property formerly owned by Reuben Cone is now divided among perhaps one hundred owners. It is situated mainly in land lots Nos. 78 and 79, and some of the most valuable buildings in the city are located on it.

Young Mr. Hayden now comes forward with the claim that the deeds made to the property by the trustees were defective and he now sues for his share in the estate. His share is one-ninth of the whole. The claims of the other children are barred by the statute of limitations. His mother signed quit claim deeds to her share in the property.

Much of the property involved is on Marietta street. The lot upon which the Young Men's Library building stands is said to be involved. Other property on Marietta street is in the same fix. The holders of the property have all along been ignorant of any defect in their titles and the filing of the suits will be in the nature of a disagreeable revelation to them.

Twenty more suits will follow against holders of the property. The trial of these suits will make an interesting chapter in Fulton county's litigation and most of Atlanta's early history will be reviewed. Dorsey, Brewster & Howell will file the other suits.

The following article was printed in The Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday, March 2, 1898:

The Famous Case of the Reuben Cone Estate Decided Yesterday
Supreme Court Says Marriage Contract Signed on Sunday is Legal
Had Been to Supreme Court Twice, But the Decision Yesterday Ends the Litigation

The supreme court of Georgia yesterday handed down a decision in the case of Hayden against Mitchell reversing the decision of the lower court. The Hayden cases have been before the courts for several years and are interesting not only on account of the number of parties involved, but also on account of the important legal questions they decide.

The lawyers in the case are Dorsey, Brewster & Howell for Hayden, and E. M. & G. F. Mitchell and Alexander & Lambdin, representing the defendants.

About 1854 Judge Underwood, of Rome, Ga., and Mrs. Lucinda Cone, of this city, made a marriage contract by which Mrs. Cone retained a life estate in all the property she then owned and at her death it was to go to her daughter, Mrs. Hayden, and Mrs. Hayden's children. Young Reuben C. Hayden, upon attaining his majority, brought suit for the recovery of his interest in this property under this marriage contract.

The case of Hayden against Lampkin was the first case brought, which resulted in a verdict for Hayden for the property sued for. This case was carried to the supreme court and the supreme court affirmed the judgment of the lower court.

Soon after this case was tried in the supreme court it was discovered that the marriage contract was made on Sunday and when the case of Reuben C. Hayden against Mrs. Mitchell came on trial the fact that the contract was made on Sunday was made to appear to the court, and the judge ruled that the contract was void and Hayden lost his case.

This carried the case to the Supreme court and the decision handed down yesterday reverses the judgment of the superior court and finally decides Hayden's rights to recover on the marriage contract.

After it was discovered the marriage contract was made on Sunday, Lampkin made a motion for a new trial in the case that had been decided against him by the supreme court on extraordinary grounds, alleging that he had discovered that this contract was made on Sunday, and that fact was not known to him when the case was formerly tried. The superior court also handed down a decision today in this case, in which it sustained its former judgment, that is, that Hayden has a right to recover. The decision is given elsewhere and will be found to be exhaustive of the question discussed, and decides that the marriage contract, although made on Sunday, is not void, either at common law or under statute of this state. The supreme court reviews at length both the English and the Georgia decisions on this question, and reaffirms the decision in the twenty-ninth Georgia report, which was reviewed in the argument on this case.

It would seem from these decisions that the litigation is finally ended, and that Mr. Hayden's right to recover is put beyond all question.

The case of J. C. Baldwin, et. al., vs. Hayden, which has been pending in the superior court awaiting the decision of the supreme court in the case just decided, will now probably be pushed.

This case was filed about a year ago by Attorney C. J. Hayden and involves a great amount of valuable property. The property is covered by warranty deeds in which the title is warranted and the heirs bound. This clause in the deed is the main point in issue and the Baldwin case is a test one of others which will likely follow.

This article was printed in The Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, on December 23, 1898:

R. C. Hayden Files Suit Against Over 300 Defendants.
Title Claimed to One-Eighteenth Interest in Land Lot Eighty-Four
Property is between Peachtree and Marietta Streets and Is a Densely Populated Section--Legal Fight Involves Large Amount

Suit was filed in the clerk's office yesterday by the attorneys of Reuben C. Hayden against 350 persons owning property in land lot eighty-four of the fourteenth district of Fulton county. Hayden brings his suit to recover a one-eighteenth interest, which he claims he owns by virtue of a title his mother, Mrs. Harriet E. Hayden, had to the property.

Land lot eighty-four, which is the property involved in the litigation, lies wholly within the corporate limits of the city. It runs from Luckie street out Broad to Peachtree and West Peachtree to Simpson street and extends as far west as Marietta street. It is composed almost entirely of residences and includes a vast portion of the densely populated part of the city. There are 202 1/3 acres.

The first owner of the property was Robert Marsh, who received a grant from the state of Georgia in 1834. Robert Marsh sold to Jacob Merchant in 1834. In 1835 Merchant sold to Cone. Reuben Cone died intestate in 1847, leaving as his only heir-at-law his wife, Mrs. Lucinda Cone, and his daughter, Harriet E. Hayden, formerly Harriet E. Cone, who was the wife of J. A. Hayden. His wife afterward married W. H. Underwood.

By virtue of his marital rights, J. A. Hayden became the owner of the other half, so that the whole of the lot of land became the property of Lucinda Cone and J. A. Hayden.

A marriage contract between Lucinda Cone and W. H. Underwood was executed, and a deed of trust was also made by them to J. A. Hayden and John Glenn, trustees. By this deed Lucinda Cone conveyed the property in the case to Hayden and Glenn, trustees, and to herself for life, and at her death to Harriet E. Hayden and her children. Reuben C. Hayden, the plaintiff, is one of the eight children of J. A. Hayden and Harriet E. Hayden.

What the Petition Says

The following is a copy of the petition, which is printed in blank form and the name of the defendant and description of the particular lot upon which he has title is inserted.

The petition of Reuben C. Hayden shows to the court that he is the son of Harriet E. Hayden and the grandson of Lucinda Cone Underwood, formerly
Lucinda Cone, who is now deceased.

2. That he is one of the eight children of his mother, Harriet E. Hayden, and that she is still in life.

3. That he is now twenty-seven years in age.

4. That he claims an undivided one-eighteenth interest in the following described property (description of property).

5. Petition shows that _________ is in possession of the above described property and refuses to deliver the same to your petitioner to pay him the rents therefore.

6. That the said property is of the annual rental value of _____, and that said ________ has been in possession thereof since _______ and owes him as mesne profits or rents one-eighteenth of the yearly value thereof, and petitioner prays judgment for the same on the trial of this case.

7. Petitioner brings this suit against the said _________ for the recovery of the one-eighteenth undivided interest in the above described land, together with the tenements thereon.

8. Petitioner hereto attaches an abstract to the said property.

9. Petitioner hereby gives the defendant notice to produce in the trial of this case all deeds, bonds, for title or other papers by which and under which he claims ownership of the above described land and premises.

10. Petitioner prays that process may issue requiring the said defendant to be and appear at the next superior court to be held in and for said county to answer petitioner in an action of complaint for land.

The Defendants

The following are the names of the persons against whom suits were filed yesterday: M. Zahn, Daily Coles, D. P. Morris, Clara C. Layden, L. P. Stephens, Mrs. M. C. Osburn, Mrs. M. J. Gilbert, J. W. Cawdrey, R. S. Armstrong, Ida J. Johnston, Lula W. Harris, George Welch, Mrs. E. A. Bates, J. L. Johnson, Enterprise Land Company, T. F. Long, Mrs. A. C. Thurman, B. Craig, Mrs. Nancy W. Goree, Mrs. Lula Brightwell, E. L. Ganse, Mrs. F. C. Swift, Mrs. M. A. S. Envenson, Mrs. E. H. Graves, C. W. Seidell, Mrs. A. E. Chapman, Marguerite J. Gilbert, Jacob Eiseman, S. A. Hawley, R. J. Lowry, H. L. Wilson, Mrs. D. Campbell, Mrs. A. M. Acton, Annie L. Conley, Robert B. Cox, M. L. Heeler, Ida J. Johnson, Francis Doonan and wife, Clara Mitchell, John B. Daniel, M. L. Tolbert, B. B. Baxter, Cynthia E. Lyon, Joseph Hanlon, Thomas Hanlon, B. G. West, Winship Machine Company, William Lyon, R. O. Campbell, H. B. Welch, and J. H. Lowe.

Profits of the Property

The aggregate profits of the property of the foregoing mentioned owners as computed in the suits amounted to $21,359.

The value of the property in the land lot will amount to several million dollars, and the litigation will be a bitter fight. The plaintiff, it is said, will rely on the ground that J. A. Hayden, his father, who sold the property in the land lot, had no title to half of it, and as he is one of the nine who had an equal interest of one-half of the property, it leaves one-eighteenth of the whole for him to claim in his suit.

Mr. Hayden must bring his suit before he is twenty-eight years of age, as the law of Georgia allows an heir to recover seven years after he is twenty-one years of age. The other suits will rapidly be filed. The other children, brother and sisters of Mr. Hayden, have passed the time limit for them to recover.

Mr. Hayden is represented by Dorsey, Brewster & Howell and Mr. Frank A. Callaway.

This article was published in The Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, December 24, 1899

What is Going on in the Various Courts, page 9

Copies of the original petition in the Hayden litigation were filed yesterday for a large number of additional defendants in the case. There were 337 filed during the day and two of them were against the city of Atlanta for two schoolhouses which are alleged to be located on a part of the property in which Reuben C. Hayden, the plaintiff, claims a one-eighteenth interest. Another defendant which occupies considerable property in the district is the Winship Machine Company.

Two suits have been filed against it. The majority of the suits filed yesterday were against persons residing in the district. The petitions will be sent to the sheriff very soon, and be served on the parties in a few days. It is expected that the larger number of cases will be settled outside of the courtroom. Mr. Frank A. Calloway, attorney for Mr. Hayden, stated yesterday that many of the suits have already been settled. Parties owning property in the district have bought their quit-claim deeds from the plaintiff, and he thereby releases all his claims to the property thus involved.

The following article appeared in the Atlanta Journal on Monday Evening, January 23, 1899

The death of the Young Man May Have the Effect of Putting an End to Litigation Involving Much Valuable Property--A Gentleman Close to His Relatives Thinks the Suit Filed Will Be Withdrawn--Mr. Hayden's Lawyer Seems to Think Differently.

Mr. Reuben C. Hayden, one of the best known and most popular young men in the city, died at 2 o'clock this morning at the residence of his sister, Mrs. Harry H. Hightower, 167 West Peachtree street.


Death May End Litigation

The effect of the death of Mr. Hayden will have on the large number of suits he he had filed to recover an eighteenth interest in a vast amount of valuable property is not yet known.

A gentleman who is very close to the members of the family said this morning that he thought Mr. Hayden's death would end all of the litigation.

"The members of the family were averse to the litigation," he said, "and I know they have taken absolutely no interest in it. Reuben has been criticized for his conduct in it, but it was not his desire to oppress any one. Shortly before his death he gave quit claim deeds to about thirty poor people whose property was involved. They went to him for the purpose of making settlements, but he declined to take their money.

"From the view that his relatives have previously taken, I would think his death would put a stop to all of the suits which are still pending, but I do not speak authoritatively. If he made any reference to this litigation during his illness I have not heard of it."

Mr. Hayden's Lawyer Talks

Judge R. T. Dorsey, Mr. Hayden's attorney, when asked what the effect of Mr. Hayden's death would be, said:

"The effect will be to delay the litigation, that is all. An administrator will be appointed, and the suits will be continued in his name. A great many of the cases have already been settled and there are not so many remaining. I suppose there are about 100 left."

When asked if there was any likelihood of the relatives deciding to stop the suits Judge Dorsey said he did not know, but it would be possible to dismiss the suits upon the payments of the costs already incurred.

The interest which Mr. Hayden had in the litigation was derived from a marriage contract made between his grandmother, Mrs. Lucinda Cone, and Judge Underwood. The contract provided that Mrs. Underwood should have a life estate in the property and at her death it should go to her daughter, Mrs. J. A. Hayden, and to Mrs. Hayden's children. As one of the children, Reuben C. Hayden was held to be entitled to 1-18th of all of the property involved.

The following article appeared in the Atlanta Journal on Tuesday Evening, January 24, 1899

Mr. George W. Harrison Says the Statement That Suits Would Be Pressed Was Unauthorized.
They Have Not Given the Question Any Consideration Since Mr. Hayden's Death Which Occurred Yesterday.

Mr. George W. Harrison, a brother-in-law of Mr. R. C. Hayden, said to a Journal reporter this morning that the statement in a morning paper to the effect that the claim suits would be pressed was entirely unauthorized, so far as the family was concerned.

"The family has not considered the matter at all," said Mr. Harrison, "and any announcement as to what course will be taken is premature. I know the matter has not been discussed , and the members of the family have not authorized the carrying on of the litigation."

Some idea of the large amount involved in these claim cases may be obtained from the fact that the court costs in the suits still pending amount to at least $2,500. If the relatives of Mr. Hayden decide to dismiss the suits this sum would have to be paid out of his estate.

The fact that the relatives of Mr. Hayden have all along opposed the filing of the claims has caused the beliefs that his death would end the litigation. Other members of the family who had the right to make equal claims with him declined to do so, on the ground that the present holders of the property involved ought not to be made to suffer for a defect in their titles. As a matter of law, however, there seemed to be no doubt of the young man's right to recover, this contentions having been several times sustained on test cases carried to the supreme court.

* February 21, 2003
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