Probate court? We don’t need no stinking probate court!
Well, actually we do. But these images found in our family albums are a good reminder that you need to go through everything well: My grandmother’s uncle wrote his last will and testament (a few times) on a pair of her photos.

Being a wallet-carrying guy and spying the folds on the left photo, I’m going to guess he carried that one in his wallet. (Or maybe she did?) While they are simple in content, and my family already knew that Uncle James had left his houses to my Grandmother May, they would be even more helpful if we were unaware of that fact.

Front of Images

Front Images: James Farrell's will written on photograph of his niece May Egan (Tierney)

Transcription of right image: To May Egan I will everything I owen (sic) at Death. James Farrell (Signed)

Read on for the images and an additional use for them…
Rear of Images

Rear images: James Farrell's will written on photograph of his niece May Egan (Tierney)

Transcriptions of each photo:
May 3, 1920
“To Whom It May Concern, To Mary Tierney I leave everything I may own or possess upon my death, such as money in banks or Trust, coupons stocks bonds real estate or other property. James Farrell (Signed)
Sept 23, 1918
To My Niece May Egan
I leave Everything I owen (sic) at Death.
J. Farrell (signed)

Checking the Queens County Surrogate Court is still on my ToDo list – but I found that there was one additional use for these wills: having a known version of James Farrell’s signature allowed me to compare it to a possible 1911 naturalization record:

Rear images: James Farrell's will written on photograph of his niece May Egan (Tierney)

Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice!


  • avatar

    Comment by Free Genealogy Guide — January 15, 2011 @ 1:48 am

    I couldn’t help noticing that in the 1918 will, your grandmother’s uncle capitalized the words, “Everything” and “Death.” In the 1920 version, “death,” was lower case, but “Trust” was capitalized. Maybe I’m being too Freudian, but it almost seems that, in the two years between 1918 and 1920, he had become a little more used to the idea of dying and the specifics of his bequest.

  • avatar

    Comment by John — January 16, 2011 @ 2:56 am

    Hmm, that _is_ pretty Freudian. 😉

    But, if so, the good news is that he had a long time to be at one with his feelings as he lived another 16 years.

    I’m wondering if he was able to find any larger paper to write on in that time. Guess I need to go check the Surrogates court for his records one of these days.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment