The will of Tonjes Jurgens Ehmen, of Adams County, Illinois, is dated 21 April 1864. It was filed and admitted to probate on 12 May 1864. His bequest to his wife is somewhat atypical:
“2d I give and bequeath to Schwantje Jurgen Ehmen my wife now in Germany in addition to what she has received on a former division the sum of one hundred dollars provided that she may call for it otherwise it shall be equally divided between my other heirs”
Interesting. This appears to suggest that at the time Tonjes wrote his will that he and Schwantje were separated, particularly because she is in Germany and a “former division” referenced. Living across the Atlantic Ocean would qualify as a separation.
It’s also interesting that Tonjes considers the possibility that his wife may not claim her inheritance. The rest of Tonjes’ estate is bequeathed in various portions to his children:
- Johann T. Ehmen
- Jurgen T. Ehmen
- Willm T. Ehmen
- Antje T Ehmen (wife of Anton Sievers)
Anton Sievers petitioned to be appointed executor on 12 May 1864 having been named by Ehmen as his executor. In that petition, he stated that Tonjes died on 30 April 1864 and only states that Tonjes Ehmen was “of Adams County, Illinois.” No specific place of death is given. Sievers’ petition to be appointed executor was approved.
A careful reading of the estate packet of papers for Tonjes’ estate located an inventory and an appraisal for that inventory. The widow’s award was left blank.
My previous date and place of death for Tonjes is 30 March 1864 in Knox County, Illinois. That information was obtained early in my research and is unsourced. The date in my unsourced file is exactly one month different than the date given in Tonjes’ probate file. I have no reason to disbelieve what is in the probate file and have concluded the date I originally had for Tonjes is incorrect. It really is difficult to argue with a death of date given in a probate file that is after the will was signed and before it was admitted to probate.
At this point I have decided I no longer have any evidence backing up the claim that Tonjes was died in Knox County, Illinois. That location has been removed in my file. I’m not indicating that he died in Adams County, either as the probate does not specifically state that. A probate would have been executed in Adams County if that is where the bulk of Ehmen’s property was located.
There are numerous trees on Ancestry.com that have that same date and place of death for Tonjes. Based upon my past successes with getting information in online trees corrected, I have chosen not to contact the submitters to correct them.
There are also numerous trees on Ancestry.com that suggest Schwantje died in Illinois as well. In fact, my own unsourced tree has that same information. Now I’m questioning that also given that she was not apparently living in the United States when her husband died. Given that all her children were living in the United States at the time Tonjes died, it is possible that she eventually emigrated.