On 8 September 1847, Joel Tillman Harless, along with his wife, Sarah, sold 80 acres of land in two parcels to Benjamin R. Harris and his wife, Caroline. Unfortunately for Benjamin, the deed was written incorrectly and he needed to have it corrected. I do not know when he first noticed the error, but by the time he got around to getting it put right, Joel T. Harless had died. Benjamin’s misfortune is our good fortune, because now he had to bring suit against the heirs of Joel T. Harless and his own children (as the error in the deed had made the property over to them).
On 6 November 1854, Benjamin R. Harris and his wife, Caroline A. E. Harris (nee Vann), brought a bill of complaint against: Thomas Harless, John W. Harless, Charles Harless, Tib Allison, and his wife, Matilda, formerly Matilda Harless, Thomas Harris, Martha S. Harris, Nancy Harris, and Rosaline Harris [the 4 children of Benjamin and Caroline], of the county of Madison, State of Alabama, Andrew J. Middleton and his wife Rebecca, formerly Rebecca Harless, of the county of Jackson in said state, Sarah S. Harless of the county of Marshall in said state, and David Harless of the county of Marengo in said state.
The complaint goes on to explain how the errors with the deed came about and why it has not been corrected:
“…since the making of the conveyance, the said Joel T. Harless has departed this life, intestate, leaving the following named persons, his heirs at law, viz: Thomas Harless, David Harless, John W. Harless, Charles Harless, Matilda Allison formerly Harless, Rebecca Middleton, formerly Harless. The said Matilda has intermarried with and is now the wife of one Tib Allison, and the said Rebecca has intermarried with and is now the wife of one Andrew J. Middleton. The said Joel T., also left surviving him, a widow, one Sarah T. Harless.”
The heirs at law listed for Joel Tillman Harless are his siblings and, as mentioned, his widow. In my records, I have that Sarah gave birth to a posthumous daughter of Joel and remarried a year or so later. BUT a posthumous child would have been entitled, under common law and the laws of Alabama, to a share of the estate (if they lived) and would have would have disinherited the siblings of Joel Tillman Harless. Eldrid Harless is listed in the 1850 Census in the household of Sarah and her second husband, Willis Kirkland, showing that if he was the son of Joel he had indeed survived and would be the lawful heir. Unfortunately for us there is nothing in this chancery case to show whether or not Benjamin R. Harris was mistaken in his listing of heirs.