Monday, May 11, 2020

52 Ancestors 2020 #18 Where There’s a Will

*Phoebe Stevens (my husband's 3rd gr grandmother)
Daughter of John Stevens (1779-1840) and Azubah Procter (1776-1840)
B 3 May 1812 Stoddard, New Hampshire
D 3 Apr 1902 Keene, Cheshire, New Hampshire
Her siblings
~~John Stevens (1807–1865)
~~Henry Stevens (1808–?)
~~Azubah Stevens (1808–1852)
~~Ephraim Stevens (1814–1895)
Married *David Towne Petts (his 3rd gr grandfather)
B 25 Nov 1810, Weston, Windsor, VT
D 3 Dec 1856 in Marlow, Cheshire, New Hampshire
Their children:
~Ferdinand Petts (1834–1933)
~Rosina Petts (1835–1861)
~Lyman Gustavus Petts (1836–1927)
~George A Petts (1842–?)
~Myranda Anette Petts (1843–1917)
~*Christiane L Petts (1845–1871) (his 2nd gr grandmother)

Phoebe outlived her husband by 46 years, falling short of living to 90 years old by one month.
A wife in this period was not the automatic heir to her husband's property. The husband owned everything, including his debt.
David T. Petts died intestate (without a will). Consequently, there are a lot of records (from 1856 for at least 2 years) in New Hampshire.
But as the widow Phoebe was entitled to a “dower”-the state gave widows that much. Typically, it was 1/3 of the entire value of the estate (it was handled by the probate judge). Phoebe got slightly-very slightly-more the 1/3.
Phoebe also asked to be  the administratrix—something she had to petition the court to be. Amos Fiske was ‘commissioned’ by the court to appraise and list all belongings of David T Petts.
To settle the estate, Phoebe (as administratrix—or as widow, depending on the document) had to fill out a court document and have it approved.
She got ‘reimbursed’ for travel, but it was out of the estate.
David Petts died in 1856—the estate got bogged down by people wanting their money--and then it seems that the court suspected the family was hiding property. It finally was settled in 1858.

Phoebe auctioned the estate (apart from the ‘dower’ which was hers) and then paid back her husband’s creditors
There are two sets of inventories. One looks like the final ‘official’ inventory (has a seal on it), the other is in long hand. The inventory in long hand lists the value of each item and next to each is also has a list of names. Perhaps the longhand sheet was the worksheet for the public auction.  Several of the bidders were related to her (sons).
No other records indicate that they ran a tavern/inn.
But when you see the inventory you realize they must have. The quantity of food and alcohol, along with bedding for that time period indicates an inn. The unofficial inventory is 9 pages long. The inventory is very large for the time. (If you read on, you’ll see verification.)
I don’t know anything about antebellum New Hampshire estates, but I am guessing Amos Fiske who was commissioned by the court, may have made a profit on reselling the articles he bought at auction.
Inventory                          - $642.98
 S. for Wid. Allow. [The widow’s dower, or 1/3 of David’s property)     $200
Sold for                                          $360.08
                                  $82.98 L of S

If David Towne Petts owed his creditors more than $443.06, then the creditors could not be repaid in full. When you adjust this for inflation, $443=$14,560.
I looked at his creditors (from those who came forward after notices were posted and published), you find he owed more than $2,240. This, adjusted for inflation, is equivalent to $74,000--when he had the equivalent of $14,560.
His creditors had to accept what the court allowed.  If they were owed $5.24, they were allowed about .59 cents. Most of his creditors were “promissory notes” or IOUs.  But there were about 6 or 7  judgements on David Petts, and some of them very large. This tells me that he had borrowed money on time and had not fulfilled his obligation of repayment in a timely manner---and the creditor had to file a judgement in court against him.

David Towne Petts died intestate. His estate was INSOLVENT.

·         16 Dec 1856
(His widow) Phoebe Petts petitioned court to be the administratrix of her husband's estate.
·         16 Dec 1856
A bond for: Phebe Petts, Amos Pike, and Samuel Buss amount of $1200 to execute estate accdng to the laws of New Hamsphire.
·         6 Jan 1857
Phebe Petts, of estate of David T Petts of Marlow deceased intestate, says she is unwilling to be charged with the goods and chattles belonging to the said estate as appraised. Wherefore she prays that she may have license to sell the same at public auction. "foregoing petition is decreed granted and the license is issued accordingly"
·         6 Jan 1857
The estate of David Petts was published for 3 consecutive weeks in the Cheshire Republican (newspaper) printed in Keene, Cheshire County (NH) with additional notifications at some publick house in each of the towns of Marlow and Stoddard (for at least 40 days). - Judge of Probate 6 Jan 1857
·         Jan 1857
Phebe Petts, widow and relict of David T Petts of Marlow. "Prays your honor to make her such an allowance out of the Personal Estate of said deceased, for her present support and comfort, as may be suitable to her condition and degree, and consistent with the situation of the Estate." "Phebe Petts" (response): “January 1857  Upon the above petition, it is...decreed that the said widow be allowed in such article as she may choose, out of the Inventory of the Personal Estate of said deceased, suitable to her condition, at their appraised value, the sum of two hundred dollars, for her present support and comfort. (Judge)
 ·         Jan 1857
Several Pages of the Official Inventory & appraisal Jan 6 1857 done by 3 men
 ·         Jan 1857
New Hampshire, Cheshire County, the Judge of Probate for County; To Phebe Petts, Administratrix of the Estate of David T Petts late of Marlow in said county, deceased intestate: You are hereby licensed and ordered to sell at public auction, all the goods and chattels of said deceased, except such part thereof as has been ordered to you for your present support (see petition).
And you are directed to give notice of such sale by posting up advertisements thereof in two or more public places in said Marlow at least 10 days before said sale. If you comply with this order, and act with fidelity and impartiality in said sale, you will be credited with loss, or charged with the gain upon such sale. 6 January 1857 - Judge of Probate
·         Jan 1857
Amount of Sales at Auction of the Estate of David T Petts Late of Marlow; Deceased; by Phebe Petts Adminstratrix - Jan 29 1857
Auction - inventory

Inventory (partial)


Appraisal less widow's dower

·         Sept 1857
Creditors & Heirs at Law of the Estate of David T Petts of Marlow in Cheshire County. ... 1st Tuesday of September [1857]...and ordered that Phebe Petts give notice causing the Citation to be published 3 weeks successively in the Cheshire Republican printed at Keene in said county.

·         Sept 1857
Amos Fiske of Marlow, the commissioner of the Estate of David Petts of Marlow was given a year from 1 Dec 1857, a list of all the claimes which have been received against David Petts' estate. (Signed by the judge on 1 Sept 1857) - fig 1
1856 Expense of Administration
First, Cash paid Out
Kimball for Advertising .75
L. Tenny for services at auction $4
Samul Bress for services as appraiser and clerk $4
Elisha Bress for services as appraiser $2
Amos Pike for services as appraiser $2
AS Fiske Commissioner for services as a commissioner $8
Kimball for Advertising                       $4.75

1857 Paper 2 - Funeral Charges of the deceased
Dec  5 Paid Daniel Mack for coffin & box / recipt No 1 $8.00
Dec 5 Paid John Mellen for digging grave & box recipt No 2 $4.00
Phebe Petts, Administratrix

Second Personal Services of Administratrix
1856 [Date] For attending Probate Court expenses, to take letter      $3.50
     [Date] Expenses with appraisers                                        $2.00
1857 [Date] Attending probate court, expenses, to take license $3.50
     [Date]  Service at the sale                          $2.00
     [Date]Attending Probate Court and expenses                   $3.50
     [Date]Attending Probate Court and expenses                   $3.50
1858 [Date] Attending probate Court and expenses $3.50
     [Date] Attending probate Court and expenses      $3.50
     [Date]  Making administrative account                    .75
      --    Attending Probate Court and expenses          $3.50
1858 ?? attending count from New Ipswich to settlement  $3.50
                                                                                    Phebe Petts
Account Papers
Paper A
In trust on personal property
In trust on cash taken at sale
Collected of Amos Pike on note for property $3.64
                                    bought at sale
Collected of Ferdinand Petts on note for property bought at sale $21.52
Collected of Samuel Buss on note for property bought at sale $1.55
Collected of Elisha Buss on note for property bought at sale $1.16
*    1 March 1858-Estate was discharged...and report made by the Commissioner is accepted. - Judge
 June 15 1858

Their eldest son (who was an adult), Ferdinand Petts, was summoned to appear in court to be examined regarding his father’s estate.
I cannot figure out what the larger point was but assume that the probate court was not satisfied that the discharging the amount owed by David Petts’ estate had been handled legally. 
A horse was quite valuable at that time and the court questioned Ferdinand Petts regarding his possessions in 1856. He was also asked about this stallion.  (Interestingly he brings up the name Amos Fiske, who is the same man who was commissioned by court to do the appraisal on the estate).
Ferdinand’s testimony includes this:
“In May 1856 my father was in need of a horse to use in connection with the tavern & informed me of it & wanted I should help him to one. ?? at the same time the said stallion was a pace horse & one he should like and I told him if he could buy it. So as I --- would? be sure to not lose by it he might buy him for me. He made the trade, took & kept him until Dec 1856. Q Did you experience the horse during the negotiation for the purchase, or have anything to say as to the price or qualities of the horse?”[etc].  
The testimony goes on on property and notes.
Ferdinand is questioned about a "tavern stand" which apparently he bought. The court wishes to know where he got the money from. At this point there is some involvement-or suspected involvement-of Fiske (Amos Fiske who was also the Commissioner for the estate). 

At one point in time, the deceased, David Petts, needed money and so borrowed it from his son. And so on.
There many questions, all about money and property which go on for pages, and some of which are hard to understand due to the handwriting of the note-taker. 
There are 35 questions, but many of them are compound questions, requiring more than one answer.
Ferdinand was finally done with his testimony on July 20, 1858.
page 1 of Ferdinand's court testimony

·      *   21 September 1858
Whereas the Commissioner presented all claims allowed the sum is $2539 dollars and 39 cents; and whereas the settlement of your account, except the widow's dower, having been sold and the proceeds accounted for. There appears to be a balance of $312.96.
The creditors were notified accordingly, and you are directed to distribute the balance of 312.96 to aforesaid creditors by paying to each of them the proportion to each of their claim respectively annexed. --Judge

1 comment:

  1. Amos Fiske of Marlow is my 4th great grandfather! Very cool to find this blog post while researching him.
    Rebecca Upton