The word “WILL,” as defined by Dictionary.com
As a verb:
- to give or dispose of (property) by a will or testament, bequeath or devise.
- to influence by exerting power
- to wish, desire or like
and as a noun:
- the act or process of using or asserting one’s choice; volition
- a legal declaration of a person’s wishes as to the disposition of his or her property or estate after death, usually written and signed by the testator and attested by witnesses and
- the document containing such a declaration.
For centuries our ancestors have written their wills to make sure their families are cared for upon their demise. Some have had specific instructions as to exactly who and who may not benefit from their personal estate and sometimes listed a reason. In the following examples, the word WILL is both parts of speech, the verb being used as retaliation in several instances!
My ancestor, Philip Kleiss, for example, stated in his will dated 7 October 1797:
ITEM: I give unto my daughter Philippina the wife of George Brungart one shilling sterling money in full for her share of in to and out of my Estate real and personal, and this I do on account of her disobedience towards me. BUT nevertheless if my said daughter Philippina should become a widow and not able to support herself, THEN it is my Will that my said first mentioned seven Childlren shall be subject to pay unto her yearly the sum of Eighteen pounds specie money aforesaid that is to say, each of them one equal seventh part thereof during her Widowhood, out of the money & Estate herein to them given, but if my said daughter Philippina should marry again then the said yearly payent shall cease and no longer paid.
Philippina had married a man of a different faith against her father’s wishes. This was Philip Kleiss, the tavern keeper who had a nine page inventory, not including the 2 full pages of items left to the family! Philippina got one shilling from the estate.
In a will dated 21 March 1787 written by Maria Barbara Auxer, my 6th great grandmother, her specific wishes were to exclude all of her children except for one.
. . . I, Maria Barbara Auxer, of the Borough of Lancaster in the County of Lancaster and State of Pennsylvania, Spinster, for and in consideration of the good services and attendance done to me in my lifetime, by my son, Christopher Auxer . . . do by these presents give over and bequeath unto him, my said son, Christopher Auxer all my personal estate, monies, bonds, goods, clothes and bedding whatsover to him, his heirs and assigns forever. . . . and I do hereby by these presents disinherit my other children, Anna Maria, and Elizabeth and Michael Auxer, from all land singular all rights and herediments to my estate herein forever and my said son, Christopher Auxer, shall receive all monies, bonds, clothese and bedding after my decease, and no sooner, to his own purposes, use and behoof.
Her son, Michael and her daughter, Elizabeth were both my ancestors. What?? Yup! Elizabeth was the wife of the aforementioned Philip Kleiss. Her daughter, Catharine married Michael’s son, Michael, Jr.
In Jacob H. Redsecker’s will, he leaves his entire estate to his aunt, Martha J. Ross and his sister, Sarah A. Greenawalt, with the exception of $200 to the cemetery his father is buried in, and the grandfather clock to his brother, Abraham. Yet, according to the Lebanon Daily News, Friday, April 23, 1909, page 1, column 1:
. . . Out of respect of the wish of the deceased there was no public viewing of the body and during the service the coffin was closed. . . . It was the wish of the deceased that there should be no eulogy and that there should be no women at the burial. Both wishes were respected.
Jacob and I are distantly related. He died a life-long bachelor at the age of 70 and left everything to women and yet he didn’t want them at the burial??
Every once in awhile, as I look for an obituary I run across an interesting article. Such was the case recently when I found the following on one of my favorite sites, Genealogy Bank. It was in the Pawtucket Times, 10 February 1921.
John Werner, who died at his home on Lowell st., Aug. 20, 1820, left three sons and four daughters. His will, exectuted July 19, 1920, just filed in this city, is remarkable on account of the specific provisions for distribution of his estate.
One daughter is named “to receive $1 to purchase a rope to hang herself with.” The grievance against her alleged is “that she caused the arrest of her father for the sake of a worthless husband and is not worth any more.”
Another daughter named is to receive $1. She is alleged to have caused him “lots of trouble by associating with married and single men; also that on the death of her mother, she went on a joy ride with a man; also that she refused to contribute any money toward payment of funeral expenses of her mother.”
A son named is to to receive a specified sum, provided he remain a Protestant.
And the last instance of a strange request was found in the Lancaster County Intelligencer, 14 November 1903:
The will of Joseph Doutot, who died at New Orleans Thursday was filed Friday. He leaves his property to the undertaker who is to bury him, and provides for a handsome funeral with an adequate number of carriages, but stipulates that no one shall be allowed to see his face after death or be present at his funderal. The carriages are to accompany the body to the grave, but must be empty.
Don’t you wonder what frame of mind some of these people were in when they wrote their
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT?
We , being a spontaneous duo, decided to take off for parts unknown on Wednesday. We had no idea where we were heading or where we would end up, but knew we’d start at Woodward Hill Cemetery where I had to check some very hard to read inscriptions.
After checking this headstone, I still only know that Anna was the wife of John and cannot make out his surname. I took some more pictures of Section L in the cemetery and we decided to forget Woodward Hill for awhile and see something different.
As we headed north we decided to go to Indiantown Gap National Cemetery since we were very close to it. We have found our final home! This place is absolutely beautiful! It is serene, well manicured and just one of the most attractive cemeteries we have ever been in. We checked and Jim, being a veteran, and I as his wife, will have no problem making this our final resting place.
We drove through this well-designed cemetery and I looked for various people in my database. The computer database at the cemetery had spit out maps with the name and section number for each name, and all we had to do is drive to it! Each section was well manicured with no trash or dead flowers. Throughout the cemetery spots like this are found with benches, trash cans, and a paved walk.
As we were about the leave the cemetery, a funeral was in progress in the area referred to as the Commital Shelter. This is a secluded, covered area where final services are held for the veteran, with military honors and are scheduled at 30 minute intervals throughout the day. When we had entered the cemetery we noticed the flag was at half mast and wondered why. According to the brochure I obtained in the office, I found out that the flag is at half mast “out of respect for all persons buried that day.” The scene below was behind the Commital Shelter on the way to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Memorial.
What would be off to this man’s right, and up on a small rise is The Pennsylvania Veterans’ Memorial, aforementioned. It is beautifully designed, and was dedicated in 2001 in honor of all veterans from the Commonwealth starting with the Revolutionary War and through the present. Names, rank and dates of service can be added by filling out a form and purchasing a spot on a Cruciform for a small fee.
Leaving this cemetery we decided to cross the Susquehanna and head north to Perry County, one of our favorite spots! Since we have not been to Millerstown for quite a while, we decided to go visit my great-great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Wolf Troup Lemon, who is buried in the old cemetery in this area. She and her second husband, Daniel Lemon, are buried next to a large, growing tree.
On our last visit a year or so ago, Daniel’s headstone was growing into the tree. The tree won. Daniel’s headstone is now broken into several pieces. If you follow the dark line up the tree and then see the black hole to the right of that line. That black hole once had the corner of the headstone imbedded in it.
In the far corner is a group of headstones belonging to the Wolf family. My fifth great grandfather, Peter Wolf, is in this group, so I visited him as well. Peter Wolf was Mary Lemon’s father and rests with a few of his children in this shady spot under an old tree. His wife, Elizabeth Grove Wolf, may rest here as well, but if she does, her headstone has been either buried or missing for a number of years.
There were several headstones just like this one ~ well, the names and dates were different, of course ~ but they were all cast iron with a minimal amount of rust. You could read each one easily. I was amazed, since in all the cemeteries I’ve been in, I’d never seen any quite like these. It was the first I’d taken time to walk thru this cemetery, so of course, it was the first time I’d seen these. There were several sites that had wonderful surrounds and one of them was spectacular. It must be maintained by the family.
One of the residents of this site is William Everhart, who’s monument is still very readable even though he died in 1881. Perhaps the fact that this cemetery is surrounded by trees and hedges contributes to it’s protection from the elements.
Bidding adieu to my family in Millerstown, we headed towards Newport, taking the long way through woods, next to streams and farms. We saw a couple of cabins off the side of the road and got a little wistful thinking this must be, after all, the right way to live! Reality took over as we neared Newport and we realized we could always visit. . .
Since I stopped and saw her mother and grandfather, it was only right that I stop and say Hello to my great-great-great-great-grandmother Ann Eliza Troup Ziegler. She is buried next to her husband, Philip and in front of my great-great-grandmother, Mary Jane Ziegler Gantt Carvell and her first husband, Joseph Don L. Gantt.
Mary Jane married my great-great grandfather, Jeremiah Mark Carvell, after the death of Joseph Gantt, bringing a young daughter to the marriage. She and Jeremiah only had one daughter who survived infancy, and it was my great-grandmother, Carrie whom I had visited last month in Shippensburg along with my grandmother, Nellie, and Carrie’s father, Jeremiah.
Next to Mary Jane Carvell and Joseph Gantt’s site are his parents. Somebody had requested, and probably paid for Perpetual Care, and there was, at one time, a plate that indicated so. The plate is still there . . . sort of!
I walked through a portion of the cemetery, talking to a few of my people here and there and taking a few pictures since the landscape seems to change with each visit. The Troups headstones were some that had changed drastically. It appears a flood of water went through at some point, although these headstones are on the uphill side of the cemetery. Can’t figure out how this happened. . .
As we left the Cemetery and headed back to Newport on our way home, I had to take the final picture of the day. For some reason this just struck me a peculiar! The American Legion is the Perry County Country Club?? Am I reading this right? or are they just on the same road? Some day we’ll have to take a side trip to find out, but not today! Our day was drawing to a close and we were hungry. It was 4:00 PM and we had not stopped for lunch. A combination lunch/dinner was coming up on the way home.
Another wonderful day in Paradise. . . .