One needs to wonder, but one needs to avoid drawing conclusions that are not supported by the documents.
I’ve been reviewing estate settlement records on three members of the Behrens/Sartorius family who died in Adams County, Illinois, between 1883 and 1889
- Herman Sartorius–husband of Volke Behrens–died in 1883.
- Ulfert Behrens–father of Volke (Behrens) Sartorius–died in 1889.
- Frederick Behrens–mother of Volke (Behrens) Sartorius–died in 1889.
The Behrenses died less than 24 hours apart and yet separate estates were opened for both of them. Ulfert who died first, had a will and did not leave any property to his wife. In fact, he bequeathed his wife’s clothing in his will, probably because they were both ill at the same time. For reasons that are not explained, an estate was opened up for Fredericka so her widow’s award from her husband could pass through probate.
When Herman died, Ulfert was appointed administrator of his estate. Ulfert had to liquidate the entire estate to pay Herman’s bills. Because there was no real estate of any value, guardians were not appointed for Herman’s children when he died.
When Ulfert and Frederick died,
Trientje Volke was appointed guardian for her children for apparently one reason: to sue her parents’ estate for the wages of her two children who lived with their grandparents.
At first the guardianship for Herman Sartorius’ children did not make sense, six years after he died and when he was nearly broke at his death. But Trientje could not sue the estate for the wages of her children unless she was appointed guardian.
We’re analyzing these items in more details in Casefile Clues, but this gets to the heart of the matter.
It’s often about context. There’s usually a reason for things–we just need to sometimes look a little deeper to find it.