Last week, I told you how there may be some conflict surrounding the estate of Willis Coffey, my 3rd great-grandfather. You can read about it here.
Today, we will look at what is causing the fuss. There are a few items to cover before we read the will. Willis Coffey was born in Russell County, Kentucky on May 2, 1804. He married Velotty (Lotty) Haynes on March 23, 1828. They had nine children: Louisa, Nebuzaradin B., Teckly, Sara Tiller, Mary Frances, Jackson, Lotty Emeline, Nancy, and James C. Coffey. Lotty Coffee passed away in October 1869 and is buried in the Stewartsville Cemetery, DeKalb, Missouri. Willis was remarried seven months later on June 15, 1870 to Susan Pickett Laffern. Susan was much younger than Willis (born 1832) and then had a son together (Willis Franklin) in 1874 when Willis was 70 years old. Now that we know the family structure, the will will make more sense.
The lawsuit that follows the death of Willis Coffey will focus on the Will he wrote in 1885, 8 years before his death.
Transcription of the Last Will and Testament of Willis Coffey:
I, Willis Coffey, of the county of DeKalb, and State of Missouri, do make and publish this, my last will and testament.
1st, I give and devise and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Susan Coffey, during her natural life the following real estate (lands), situated in the county of DeKalb and State of Missouri, to wit:
the East half (1/2), of the North west quarter (1/4), of section thirty four, (34); township fifty eight (58); of range thirty three (33).
The above described lands to belong to my wife during her natural life; and at her death, the said lands to become the property of my son, Willis Franklin Coffey.
2nd, I bequeath to my beloved wife, Susan Coffey, a sufficient am’t of provisions for the support of herself and my son Willis Franklin Coffey for the period of one year; said amount to be determined by the Judge of the Probate court.
3rd, I devise and bequeath unto my beloved wife , Susan Coffey, on horse, one milk cow, four pork hogs, and five sheep. The above personal property to be selected by my said wife, and delivered to her by my executor.
4th, I give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Susan Coffey, two hundred (200) bushels of corn; and twenty (20 bushels of wheat, and if there be no a sufficient amount of corn and wheat on hand at my death, my executor is hereby directed to pay to my said wife the value of the deficiency, out of my estate.
5th, I will and bequeath to my beloved wife, Susan Coffey, all of my household and kitchen furniture of every description, whatever.
6, And as to the remainder of all my real estate (lands), I hereby direct my executor to sell the same at public or private sale, as he may think best, and to such person or persons as he may think proper and just, and I hereby direct my executor to divide the proceeds of said sale of my real estate as follows: to wit said proceeds to be equally divided between my children and grandchildren as follows:
To the children of my deceased daughter, Eliza Warner one ninth (1/9) part, and to each of my other children as follows: N.B. Coffey, Sarah Clark, Tecka Rippeto, Jackson Coffey, Mary Mitchel, Lotta E Carter, Nancy Stepp, and Willis Franklin Coffey, one ninth (1/9) part.
7th And as to all debts due and owing to me; I hereby direct my executor to sell the same at public or private sale, as he may think best and to divide the proceeds thereof, as above mentioned in the distributions of proceeds of real estate,
8th, And lastly, as to all the rest, residue, and remainder of my personal estate, whatsoever, after paying all my just debts, I give and bequeath to my son Willis Franklin Coffee three hundred $300.00 dollars, then the remainder is to be equally divided between my children and grandchildren as above described.
9th, And I hereby appoint William M. Stigall, of DeKalb county Missouri as guardian and ensator(??) of my son Willis Franklin Coffey.
10rd[sic], I do hereby appoint William M Stigall, of DeKalb county and State of Missouri as the executor of this my last will and testament; hereby revoking all former wills and testaments by me made.
In witness whereof I have presented my hand, this the 26 day of January, A.S 1885,
Signed and declared by the above named Willis Coffey, to be his last will and testament, in the presence of all who at his request have signed as witnesses to the same, in his presence, and in the presence of each other.
Wm T Thornton