Willis Coffey Last Will and Testament

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,

Willis Coffey

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

James Adams

 

Raymond Mitchell 1921 – 2015

A little over a week ago, my family lost another incredible person.  Uncle Raymond was my grandmother’s eldest brother and the last surviving child of Dudley Moses Mitchell and Opal Blanche Strickler.  He was 94 years old when he passed.

I remember a couple of visits with Uncle Raymond and Aunt Juanita as a child.  The most prominent is when we stayed with them on a trip across county when I was 7 years old.  I got my first milkshake at a true Malt shop and visited my first grain elevator with Raymond and Juanita.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have grown closer with this side of my family in the last five years.  On two different trips to Kansas in the last several years I got to visit with Uncle Raymond and get to know him.  I can’t help but smile when I think of the drive around Topeka where he pointed out houses, told stories, and paid respects to family gravestones. He was so generous with sharing all he could remember.  There was a lot of laughter and love that day.

Rest in Peace.

Raymond and Roberta Mitchell at Raymond's 92nd birthday.
Raymond Mitchell and Roberta Mitchell Fleming at Raymond’s 92nd birthday.

This is the obituary for Uncle Raymond. (reprinted with permission)

In Memory of
RAYMOND A. MITCHELL
1921 – 2015

Raymond A. Mitchell, 94, of Topeka, passed away on Friday, May 29, 2015 at Aldersgate Village in Topeka. He was born February 20, 1921 in Topeka, KS, the son of Dudley M. and Opal B. Strickler Mitchell.

Raymond attended Hutchinson High School. He was an Army Veteran of WWII. He resided in Topeka since 1991. Raymond was employed as a manager for the Farmland Cooperatives for 30 years prior to retiring in 1985. In 1983, he was appointed by Governor John Carlin to the Kansas State Grain Advisory Commission. He was a member of Grace United Methodist Church and the Gideons International.

Raymond married Juanita Burleson on May 3, 1942 in Hutchinson. She preceded him in death on November 15, 2001. He was also preceded in death by two brothers and two sisters.

Survivors include three children, Judith Dene (Melvin) Farris of Paola,KS, Jalayn Rae (John) Love of Berryton, KS, Rev. Victor A. (Ellen) Mitchell of Highland, IL, six grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at Grace United Methodist Church. Burial will follow in Penwell-Gabel Cemetery. Raymond will lie in state and the family will receive friends from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at Penwell-Gabel Mid Town Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to Gideons International, P.O. Box 140800, Nashville, TN 37214-0800.

Family Photos – The Mitchell, Gragg, and Elliott Families

This is a photo that was in my grandmother’s possession.  I made digital copies of many of her photos over the years as I would visit.  It was always a fun time to hear her stories as we looked at the photos together.  She always did her best to identify who was in each picture.  Sometimes we were able to identify some or most of the people but not all.  This picture is a good example of that.

This photo was taken about the early 1940’s.  I do know that Laura Mitchell passed away in 1947. My estimation for the photo comes from the age of my grandmother in the photo.

The people in this photo are a mix of families.  Dudley, Laura, and Tava (Nancy Octavia) were all siblings in the Mitchell family.  Tava was married to George Gragg so the Unknown Gragg in the photo could be George Gragg or one of her sons.  Wendell Elliott is the son of Lawrence Elliott.  Lawrence Elliott was married to Opal Strickler’s sister, Ruby.  My best guess is that she took the photo. These families were very interconnected because Lawrence Elliott was Dudley’s nephew and brother-in-law (read more about that here).

If you would like a copy of this photograph, I am happy to share a clean copy without names.

***Family – if you recognize any of the unknowns in this photo, it would be greatly appreciated if you would pass on their names!!

Mitchell family

Rest In Peace Grandma

This past Wednesday, January 31, 2014, my grandmother, Roberta Fleming passed away peacefully with her family around her.

She was known by many names including Mom, Grandma, Aunt Roberta, Birdie, and the Silver Fox.  A couple of years ago when my children, her great-grandchildren, were born we added another name, Gigi.  It was her short hand for Great Grandmother.  She wanted a fun grandma name.

Roberta Mitchell baby
Roberta Irene Mitchell

 

My grandmother was born Roberta Irene Mitchell to Dudley Moses Mitchell and Opal Blanche Strickler on January 10, 1931 in Topeka, Kansas.  She was the youngest of five children with one older sister, Loretta, and three older brothers, Raymond, Delbert, and Kenneth.

Her family moved to Hutchinson, Kansas during the Depression. Grandma stayed there until she attended X-Ray Technician school in Topeka, Kansas.  While at school, she met my grandfather, William Henry Lawbaugh.  They married in 1950.  The couple starting raising their family in Pratt, Kansas with their first three children.  They relocated to the Anaheim, California area in the late 1950’s.  There they added to the family a set of twins.  In 1964, Bill Lawbaugh passed away leaving his wife with 5 children.  Roberta went to work to provide for her family.

Roberta and Bill
Roberta and Bill Lawbaugh

 

In 1973, Roberta married James Fleming.  They joined their families Brady Bunch style, five from her side in addition to the four children Jim had. They lived in several cities in Los Angeles and Orange counties. I have many memories from my childhood of them being together.  In fact, I learned how to swim in their pool when they lived in Downey, California.  After their time in Downey, they moved to the desert, living in the Cochella Valley.

Roberta and Jim
Jim and Roberta Fleming

 

After Jim Fleming passed away in 1994, Grandma moved back to the beach.  She loved the ocean and was at home in San Clemente, California.  This was during my college years in San Diego.  At least once a month I would make the 45 minute drive north to spend the weekend with her.  We had so much fun together!

All of the facts above do not capture the entire picture.  My grandma was fun and feisty.  She LOVED her children.  It would not be a complete day without a Crown Royal and cigarette, even her dog enjoyed cocktail hour with a piece of ice.  Her house was never quiet, either the news channel was on the TV or she was playing her beloved big band music.  She loved to dance.  Our family has the great memory of dancing the night away at my cousin’s wedding this past summer.  While she was not interested in researching her family herself, she was always willing to tell me stories of her childhood and what she remembered of others in her family. Grandma was a horrendous driver.  We were always offering to chauffeur her places.  She was an avid Bridge player.  The drawer of her coffee table has many sets of playing cards and bridge score sheets.  Grandma was very neat and clean.  You were always careful to make your bed and clean up after yourself at her home.  Most of all Grandma loved being with her family.  Holidays were always big affairs with lots of food and football.  Most Sundays were spent with family on the beach.  The beach was a slice of heaven for my grandma.

Roberta 80th

I could go on and on.  She is going to be so greatly missed.  I have to take comfort in how she taught us all to be a family.  I know that although she is no longer at the head of the family, we have each other.

I love you grandma!

 

My Maternal Line

Happy Mother’s Day!  There are many mothers in my family tree and I would like to thank each one for making my being here possible!  I want to dedicate today’s post to my direct line of mother’s who helped to make up my mtDNA.

I believe I will be able to go back another couple of generations but need to get the research completed before I will claim my ancestors.  This is the line I have proven so far:

Sierra Excel File

 

Me
Me
Mom at her High School Graduation
Mom at her High School Graduation
Grandma at her High School Graduation
Grandma at her High School Graduation
Opal Strickler 1891-1970
Opal Strickler 1891-1970
Effie Flock 1866-1939
Effie Flock 1866-1939
Amner Caroline Ramsey 1840-1933
Amner Caroline Ramsey 1840-1933

 

Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), I have not been able to locate a photo for Jane Berry.  Her death in Appanoose, Iowa in March 1870 makes the likelihood of any photo taken pretty small.

Not So Wordless Wednesday – Kenny Mitchell

Kenny Mitchell is my grandma’s older brother.  He was the fourth child of Dudley Mitchell and Opal Strickler.  This photo of him was taken in Harlinger, Texas circa 1940-1945.  The original is held by Kenny’s wife, my great-aunt Susie.   I find the background so interesting in this photo.  He is in some type of photobooth with a fabric back that is painted or printed to look like a front porch.

Mitchell, Kenny in uniform

Researching For My Day Of Research

In a few weeks I am flying to the East Coast to meet my new nephew.  I am so excited to finally meet the little man in person!  He arrived a few weeks early so I have been obsessing over him through the photos my sister has been sending.  While I love the little man, I plan on disappearing one day of our trip to get some genealogy research done.

This year I am jumping in with the big boys and girls.  I am going to spend my day researching at the National Archives.

Photo from www.archives.gov
Photo from www.archives.gov

I spent a couple of hours last weekend getting ready for my trip.  First item on my list was to learn more about visiting the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). At the NARA website one of the first tabs you see invites you to learn more about planning a visit to one of their locations.  I clicked on the District of Columbia location and found address, hours, transportation, food information, etc.  I also visited the webpage for Researchers.  This was important because it outlined the procedures, types of records, and orientation information.  Also included on the page was a video explaining what to expect when you research at the National Archives.

Now that I know how to behave myself, I turned my genealogy powers to what exactly I wanted to learn more about.  I am currently transcribing a series of deed records for my ancestor Moses Mitchell.  He bought land from one of his brothers in Jackson County, Kansas in November 1858.  This trip will be a great time to research how the family obtained the land in Kansas.

After consulting the NARA website, I know that I will need specific information ahead of time to pull the land entry case file I am looking for.  I am using the Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records website (BLM-GLO) to find the original land patents to identify the state, land office, certificate number and type of entry for each transaction.  I have started an excel file to keep information organized by family and state.  I will print out a copy of my excel sheet to take to NARA and use it to fill out my pull slips.  Here is an example of what it looks like for the Mitchells in Kansas:

NARA land file

As I complete my research to do my research I am remembering the day Joshua Taylor spoke at the Spring Seminar at the San Mateo Genealogical Society.  I distinctly remember when he said you generally need to put in an hour of work ahead of time for each hour you plan to spend at a research facility.  I am getting my hours in so that my trip will hopefully be successful.  Wish me luck!

Almost Wordless Wednesday – Mitchell Children

This is another photo from my great-aunt Susie’s collection.  She was so generous to share photos and stories with me when I visited Kansas last fall.  She has given me permission to share the family photos on my blog.

This photo is the only picture I have seen of my grandmother’s siblings as young children.  Delbert, the baby in the photo, was born in December 1924.  I am estimating that the photo was taken in 1925.  That means Loretta, holding Delbert, would have been 7.  Raymond, to the right, would have been 4.  I wish I knew more about the dog.  He is obviously good with the kids and they must have loved him very much!

mitchell kids

Treasure Chest Thursday – Opal Strickler

I have mentioned several times that I went to Kansas at the end of September to visit family.  During that trip I was extremely thankful that my Mom’s Aunt Susie brought a photo album to share.  I had brought my Flip-pal scanner and she was awesome to not only let me scan the photos but to tell me stories that she remembers from the photos.  I will be sharing some of these photos in the coming months.

The first photo is of my great-grandmother, Opal (Strickler) Mitchell.  This is a photo my Mom and I had not seen before.  I just love the chair she is sitting in.  Since she is wearing a wedding band, I believe this photo was taken between 1916-1918.  Opal was married to Dudley Moses Mitchell in 1916 and they had their first child in 1918.

Opal Strickler about age 20