Monday, October 19, 2009

William Graham's Will

William and Margaret Graham are perhaps my most interesting ancestors (4 greats). They are Catherine Caroline Brown Long's (Milton's wife) grandparents. Their daughter (Catherine's mother)was Mary (Polly) Graham Brown who was born in Missouri around 1811.

Originally they were just names, but I gradually began to realize that almost everyone with Jefferson County pioneer blood is related to them (some, like cousin Rick, is related to them three or four ways). Although we aren't sure where they came from, they were definitely early settlers since Missouri wasn't a state until 1821.

At first, we thought William had died before 1830 because Margaret is the head of the household in the census (above). But, then we found William's will dated 1835:

IN the name of God, Amen. I William Graham of Carondelet, County of St. Louis, State of Missouri, being of sound mind and memory, knowing the uncertainty of life: blessed be God for the same. I do hereby declare this to be my last will and testament.
1st I give and bequeath my soul unto my God, who first gave it unto me.
2nd After all my just debts and funeral expenses are paid, I give and bequeath unto my wife Margaret ONE dollar in silver in full, of all my estate.
3rd I hereby give unto my sons Jefferson, Thompson and Madison each one dollar in silver.
4th I do also give unto my daughters Mary, Arah, Susannah and Lucinda, each one dollar in Silver.
5th And, I do herby give and bequeath unto my daughter Adeline and my sons Theodore and William, all my personal belongs, real estate, and remaining assets which I have or may have. For they are to share and share a like, which shall be equal divided amongst them.
Lastly, I do hereby nominate, appoint Jacob B. Stine my exection of this my last will and testament. Witness my hand and seal this ninth day of January in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and thirty five.
I publish and declare this, and none other, to be my last will and testament, signed and sealed in the presence of Jacob Busch, James C. Evans, and Nathaniel Roberts.
Signed: William Graham

This Will left more questions than answers:

Why was William Graham living in Carondolet in St. Louis County apart from his family in Jefferson County? Obviously he'd been living apart from Margaret Graham since before 1830. Why Carondolet? We have found a Hugh Graham who had land in Carondolet---were they related?

Why did he very clearly state that his wife Margaret Graham was to receive ONE dollar in silver in full, of all my estate? He's pretty clear about that.

Why were Margaret Julia Graham, Jemima Graham, and James Stephen Graham not mentioned in the will? Were they perhaps not his children?

Why were William Kane Graham, Theodore Graham, and Adeline Graham to share in the estate and the other seven only got $1? At a genealogy workshop, one of the presenters suggested that those who inherited just $1 had already received their part of the estate. Those three were also among the youngest still living at home.

How much did those three inherit? I went to the St. Louis probate records (on microfilm): his property (household goods like watch, shoes, coat, razor and strap, Bible, chickens) were sold April 25, 1835 for $200. His debts to James Evans, Jacob Lash, A.R. Corbin and William Frissell might have actually eaten away at all of that. (My favorite part was the signature of Chouteau at the bottom---descendant of one of St. Louis's founders)

But, the question is still---Why? We may never find the reason why. . .but I did find this last weekend which has been transcribed from an early newspaper---Missouri Gazette. (double click to enlarge)

How many Margaret Grahams were living in the St. Louis area in 1835? We have Margaret Graham's death at 1847 ---- a date we got from someone years ago. But, we've never been able to find her in the 1840 census unless she had re-married someone like Senter (the father-in-law of her son's wife Susan Senter) However, this newspaper entry would explain a lot---why William Graham left his wife, why some of his children are not in his will, why he moved 50 miles away, why Margaret isn't in the 1840 census. Looks like I need to go to Jefferson County and try to find Margaret Graham's probate records there.

Dwight found a Margaret Graham (possibly a daughter of Margaret McClelland) who joined First Presbyterian Church in St. Charles in 1833 and died in 1835. As cousin Dwight says:
I think this is the Margaret Graham that you had identified earlier, whom appeared in newspaper as someone's mistress. Maybe we should add a link on the web-site to this, so Margaret McCarrell does not roll over....
OK, but now we are back to the drawing board---where are you Margaret McCarroll Graham?

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