When I was back in Nebraska in June, I was able to collect the probate files for five of my ancestors. This post will take a look at the file for Gust Rudeen.
To review, Gust was my great-grandfather, the father of Lawrence Rudeen. He was born in Sweden in in 1855 on the Eket Farm. His Swedish name was Anders Gustaf Peterson. He came to America with his wife Augusta in 1882. At first they stayed with Gust’s uncle, Carl Rudeen. It was during this time that he adopted his uncle’s surname, Rudeen. He attended the Bethlehem Covenant Church, a Swedish Mission Church at that time, and lived on a farm near Uncle Carl. The family grew to include five children: Minnie, Walter, Harry, Lawrence and Edith. They moved around to other rented properties over the years. He died in 1907 at the age of 51. My grandfather was only nine years old when he lost his father.
If someone dies without a will and without significant assets, the court need not be involved. So I was actually surprised to find probate records for Gust. What assets did he have that merited a probate action in the court?
First let’s take a look at his death certificate.
The doctor is listed as Torgney Anderson, M.D., a name I recognize from the Ceresco History book. The cause of death is listed as “peritonitis”, which could have been appendicitis or something similar. The doctor tended to him for 2 days prior to his passing. I am sure this was a painful death…
He died without a will, so the court appointed “C.O. Anderson” as the Administrator. I wonder if this is Carl Oscar Anderson, Gust’s brother-in-law. Carl Oscar Anderson was married to Gust’s little sister Emma, who traveled with Gust and Augusta on their voyage from Sweden to America in 1882. She and C.O. were the parents of famed illustrator C.W. Anderson (he’s got his own Wikipedia page!).
C.O. Anderson filed a petition with the court on February 23, 1907. He listed Gust’s next of kin (but got virtually all of their ages wrong):
As administrator, he was required to give an accounting of the deceased person’s assets. Here is what Gust owned at the time of his death:
I had the impression that this family was quite poor, but this listing of his assets shows that although they didn’t own any real estate, he had a nice little farming operation underway. He had seven horses, a small herd of cattle (including a bull), hogs, chickens, and various farm implements, wagons and harnesses. I had to look up “top buggy” online, it looks like the photo shown at right.
In addition to this list of assets, Mr. Anderson also found that Gust had $50 on deposit at the Ceresco State Bank, and that he had also loaned $300 to Mrs. Augusta Samuelson and Frank Anderson, with $6.25 in interest currently due. I believe this Augusta was the daughter of Uncle Carl Rudeen and therefore Gust’s first cousin; she had a son Frank by her first husband John August Anderson. Her first husband died, but she later remarried to John August Samuelson (these Swedes and their repetitive names!).
Not rich by any stretch, but not destitute either.
Next time we’ll take a look at how his estate was settled once all the bills were paid.