The Last Will and Testament of Mary Daniels


In the name of God, Amen,
I Mary Daniels of Rutland in the County of La Salle & State of Illinois, being of sound mind & mindful of my mortality, do, on this nineteenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred & fifty three, hereby make & declare this my last will & testament in manner & form, to wit:

First –
It is my desire that my funeral expenses & just debts, be fully paid.

Second –
After the payment of such funeral expenses & debts, I give & devise & bequeath unto my son, Aaron Daniels, all the live stock, horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, &c, by me now owned, & also, all the household furniture & other articles of personal property not herein disposed of or enumerated in this will to have and to hold, by him, the said Aaron Daniels, his heirs & assigns forever, —, I also give & bequeath to the said Aaron Daniels his heirs & assigns, all money or monies now in my possession, or now due & owing to me, by any & all persons, And also, all my share in the crops now growed, or such as shall hereafter grow, upon the land, now occupied by me, the said Mary Daniels.

Third –
I give & bequeath to my nephew Elmer E. Daniels, all the packing casks & barrels by me now owned. Als, one bedstead. & also bed & beding necessarily belonging therto & als one Clock.

Fourth –
I give & bequeath to my daughter Juda Stadden, one comforter, two table cloths, & one sheet.

Fifth –
I give & bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Kleiber, one comforter, two table cloths, & one sheet.

And, lastly,
I hereby constitute & appoint Aaron Daniels Executor of this my last will & testament, & hereby declaring, ratifying & confirming this & no other to be my last will & testament.

In witness whereof I the said Mary Daniels have hereunto set my hand & seal, the day & year first above mentioned.

Signed, sealed, published, & declared by the said Mary Daniels, as for her last will & testament, in presence of us, who in her presence, & in the presence of each other & at her request, have subscribed our names, thereto.

Washington Bushnell
E. S. Hallowell

Last will and testament image by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Pix4free

Will of Hannah Rebecca (Rhoads) Green

Hannah Rebecca Rhoads, the second wife of Jesse Green

On May 3rd, 1894, Hannah Rebecca (Rhoads) Green signed her will, only a few days before her death on May 23rd. She named her son J. Kent Green as executor and trustee of her estate. He was directed to use the income from the property for her husband, Jesse Green, during his lifetime. If not all the income was needed by Jesse, the trustee was directed to pay off the debt owing on the estate. At the death of her husband, the property was to be divided among her sons, Thomas Henry Green, Joseph Green, James A. Green, Frank Green and J. Kent Green and her grandchildren Ethel May Williams and Frank Roger Williams, children of her deceased daughter, Cora, wife of H. B. Williams.

You can see the full text of the will here.

The Paltry Sum of One Dollar

last will and testament

When Elizabeth (Snyder) Trumbo died in Dayton on May 1, 1873, she had been a widow for twenty years. She had moved off the farm, into a house in Dayton where she died. Her will indicated that most of her children had been previously provided for, but she left specific bequests to four people:

To her daughter Mary Jane, wife of Isaac Green, two thousand dollars and the house in Dayton;

To her grandson Walter Trumbo, son of John Trumbo deceased, eight hundred dollars;

To her daughter-in-law Rebecca (Green) Trumbo, wife of her son Oliver, eight hundred dollars plus the residue of the estate;

To her daughter-in-law Delia, wife of her son Ahab Christopher deceased, one dollar.

As part of the duties of executor of the estate, Oliver W. Trumbo sent Delia Leith, living at Mason, Effingham County, Illinois, a one dollar bill and this receipt for her to sign –

Received Mason Ill December     th 1877 of Oliver W. Trumbo executor of Estate of Elizabeth Trumbo deceased the sum of one dollar in full of legacy bequeathed to me by the will of Elizabeth Trumbo deceased.

Please insert date when you sign the above Receipt.

The reason that I know this is because the envelope containing the unsigned receipt (and the dollar bill) was returned to the executor and appeared in the probate file along with the following note:

Mr. O. W. Trumbo.
Dear Sir
Enclosed I return your one dollar. I do not propose to sign my name to any papers of the Estate for the paltry sum of one dollar.
Yours Truly
Fidelia Leith

When I saw this file in the probate court office, in 1988, the dollar bill, crumpled and worn, was in the envelope. Unfortunately, it is no longer there.

It was the law!


If you were living in Dayton in 1845, it would be against the law:

To plant or cultivate castor beans without a good and sufficient fence;

To take up a stray animal and use it prior to advertising it, unless it be to milk cows and the like, for the benefit and preservation of such animals;

To charge for passage on a toll bridge to any public messenger or juror when going to or returning from court;

To bet on a card, dice, or any other kind of game;

To charge more that six percent interest on a loan;

For any sheriff or jailer to confine persons committed for crimes in the same room;

To sell any goods or merchandise without a license;

To have more than one ear mark or brand, or one the same as the ear mark or brand of your neighbor’s;

To marry under the age of 17 (male) or 14 (female);

For a notary public to refuse to pass on his books, papers, and other documents to his successor;

To refuse to support one’s parents, if sufficient resource is available;

To remove or pull down any barrier on a public road closing it for the purpose of repairs, except for carriers of the US Mail;

To hire a carriage driver known to be a drunkard;

For a carriage driver on any public highway to allow his horses to run;

To charge to view a performance of juggling, tightrope walking, wax figures, circus riding or the like, without a permit;

To run steamboat races;

To cut any black walnut tree without the permission of the owner;

For married women to write a will.

The widow is entitled to the following . . .

Appraisal of property for widow

Christian Stickley died in Dayton on April 19, 1854, and is buried in the Dayton cemetery. His widow was entitled by law to certain items from the estate for the support of herself and her children. The inventory (shown above) lists the following items:

Necessary beds, bedsteads and bedding for the family of the deceased
Necessary household and kitchen furniture
One spinning wheel
One loom and its appendages
One pair of cards [for carding the wool before spinning]
One stove and the necessary pipe therefore
The wearing apparel of the family
milk cow with calf, one for every four persons in the family
One horse, at the value of forty dollars
One woman’s saddle and bridle, of the value of fifteen dollars
Provisions for the family for one year
sheep, two for each member of the family
Fleeces taken from the same
Food for the stock above described for six months
Fuel for the family for three months
Sixty dollars worth of other property

Left with small children, the widow, Esther (Morgan) Stickley remarried, to Aaron Daniels, on February 22, 1855, and he became the guardian for her children. Watch for a future post on the guardianship releases for sons Edward and Henry Stickley.

You Wouldn’t Get Rich This Way


Illinois law in 1845 allowed for payment for certain tasks required by law:

Coroner’s Fees:

For holding an inquest over a dead body, when required by law, five dollars.
For summoning the jury, seventy-five cents.
For burial expenses, &c., ten dollars.
All of which fees shall be certified by the coroner, and paid out of the county treasury, when the same can not be collected out of the estate of the deceased.

Juror’s Fees:

To every juror sworn in each civil action in the circuit court, twenty-five cents.
To each juror sworn in a civil case, before a justice of the peace, twenty-five cents.
For attending an inquest over a dead body, when summoned by the coroner, to be paid out of the county treasury, twenty-five cents.

Fees for Guarding Jail:

To each man, for every twenty-four hours guarding jail when required, on producing the certificate of the jailer, sheriff, coroner or justice of the peace, of the same, to be paid out of the county treasury, one dollar.

The twenty-five cents paid to jurors in 1845 is equivalent to about $7.50 in current money. Until the Illinois law governing juror’s pay was changed in 2015, jurors were getting from $4 to $10 a day. Taking inflation into account, their pay hadn’t gone up in 170 years! However, jurors are now a little  better off – the present-day juror’s fees are $25 for the first day and $50 for each additional day.

Could you have voted in 1845 in Dayton?


Women and non-whites need not apply:

At any and all elections held in this State, all white male inhabitants above the age of twenty-one years, and having resided in the State six months next preceding such election, shall enjoy the rights of an elector, whether such elector has been naturalized or not;1

There was no such thing as a secret ballot:

Electors shall vote, by first announcing their own names to the judges and clerks of the election, and then the names of the persons for whom they wish to vote; and the clerk shall enter their names and votes accordingly: Provided, That a voter may vote by presenting an open ticket to the judges, containing the names of the persons for whom he votes, and the offices; and the said judge shall read the same to the voter, and the clerks, with the assent of the voter, set the same down in their books, as in other cases.2

And precautions were taken, should things get ugly:

For the preservation of order, as well as the security of the judges and clerks of the election from insult and abuse, it shall be the duty of any constable or constables residing within the precinct to attend at all elections within such precinct . . .3

Judges could impose a fine of up to $20 on any persons who persisted in conducting themselves in a disorderly or riotous manner after having been warned. If they refused to pay, they could be jailed for up to twenty days, or until the fine was paid.

If any judge or clerk knowingly allowed an unqualified person to vote, that judge or clerk had to pay $100 to the county, for use in defending any suit that might arise. If a judge refused to receive the vote of a qualified person, he could be indicted and, if convicted, fined $500.

1. Brayman, M., Revised Statutes of the State of Illinois (Springfield: Walters & Weber, 1845), 217, Sec. 18
2. ibid, Sec. 15
3. ibid, 218, Sec. 21