Last time, we looked at Clara’s October, 1920 petition to have the estate settled according to statute and to basically throw out the will. We’ll see later on why this worked to her advantage. We also looked at a couple of the big bills that were included in the probate file.
The probate file also includes a few more bills that had accumulated during the period after Will’s death (June 20, 1920):
- A statement from the Farmers Union Co-op shows everything charged on account for the period July, 1919 through October, 1920. Included are building supplies (sand and cement) plus normal grocery expenses such as flour and Post Toasties. The total amount due was $224.
- There is a statement from the Saunders County Treasurer’s office for taxes in the amount of $113.75 but these are marked as paid.
- There is a statement from Dr. C. Elmer Frey of Lincoln for various treatments and then several residence calls. All of these occurred during the period April through June of 1920. Some of the residence calls were at night. I don’t suppose we can even imagine what kind of pain and suffering Will endured in his last weeks. I wonder why they were using a doctor out of Lincoln, and not one from Ceresco or Wahoo?
The next document in the file is the Inventory of the Estate, dated February 26, 1921.
The time between Will’s death and the filing of the Estate Inventory was probably very frightening for the family. In addition to their grief, they also had to contend with some scary changes in the economy. Prices for wheat and other commodities peaked at record highs in 1920 but then started heading drastically downhill. Within a year of Will’s death, prices would be cut in half. (I found an interesting article on this topic here from a Clarkson, Nebraska blog.) The local bank in Ceresco went into receivership during this time – in other words, some sort of bankruptcy situation. The family’s dire financial situation was probably becoming abundantly clear. Bills were piling up and the farm was already mortgaged.
The inventory first lists the real estate: the 160-acre farm just northeast of Ceresco:
Next is the inventory of Personal Property. Unbelievably, the Inventory lists the livestock by name!
I have this photo of my Grandpa (Herman) with with a mare and her foal (below). I figure the photo was taken when he was maybe 12 or 13 (about 3 or 4 years before the inventory)? If so, the animals in this photo could be “Nellie” or maybe “Dowey” (the only female names) and “Tim” (about the right age). According to the inventory, poor Nellie is suffering from “Fistula” (some sort of infection problem), has no value and would probably have to be put down. Just one more piece of bad luck for this family! A couple of the other horses weren’t doing very well, either. Twelve-year-old “Dan” has “broken wind” (sort of like allergies) and sixteen-year-old “Dowey” is “stiff”. I suppose it was pretty typical at this time to have older horses with ailments. I guess you probably held onto them for as long as they were in some way profitable to your overall farm operation.
Note that the livestock inventory shows the status of their Poland China herd – 7 hogs and 30 small pigs. Farther down the page it shows that five head of hogs had been sold along with seven cows and one bull. Hard to know if they had to sell these animals to make ends meet, or if this was the normal business of their farm operation.
The inventory also includes a listing of all their farm equipment, including wagons, plows, planters and cultivators. The total value of all the personal property was $2,241.21.
Finally, the inventory lists the debts in the form of Promissory Notes from the State Bank of Ceresco:
Not mentioned is the fact that the farm is mortgaged, with interest payments of $440 due each year.
Here are some select pages from the Probate file for the items mentioned in this post – you can zoom in to see more detail on the family’s assets and their itemized bills, if you’re interested.
(At the conclusion of this series, I will post the entire file for download.)