View Full Version : Wills In The 19th Century...

03-04-2010, 04:34 AM
Around 1880 to be more precise...

In my story a prospector comes to town and starts buying up all the gold claims in the town, but my MC's father refuses to sell. Anyway, I was wondering, if my MC's father was to "die" would the claim go to my MC since he is the last family member alive?

Would it make a difference if my MC and his father were partners? So if one died, the other would own/control it 100%?

Did wills work the same as they do today back in the 1800s?

Thanks in advance

03-04-2010, 05:58 PM
There may have been a few technical changes to wills and probate, but they are essentially the same as they have been for a few hundred years. If you read a will written in the late 1800's, you probably would just wonder why it was hand-written until you got to the date.

Linda Adams
03-05-2010, 03:44 PM
Check out some genealogy books on the subject. There's plenty of material on legal documents that were used. The library should have a few.

Some things I've learned from genealogy (related to wills, but not to the question) that may be useful.

I've noticed that most of the wills of the past were signed within a few days or a month of the person's death. Basically, they became ill, realized it was time, and did the will. Some died intestate--no will, and those also tended to die suddenly. I had one relative who was beaten by another man and died a day later--because of the circumstances of how he died and the suddenness, the town council actually created one for him afterward.

With one of my relatives, it took some time for the will to be probated (believe it was a month or two afterward), and the family had to ask the court for money for the widow.