Buying a Kraut Cutter and a Phone in 1920


Sale bill for chattel property sale from Sarah Newman estate, case file box 442, Hancock County, Illinois, Circuit Clerk; digital image from made from FHL film.

On 12 October 1920, there was an auction of the chattel property of Sarah Newman as a part of the process of settling up her estate. According to the sale bill, Sarah’s residence was four miles west of Stillwell in Hancock County’s St. Albans Township. She must have lived right on or near the St. Albans-Walker township line based upon the directions the sale bill gives to her farm.

The sale must have been attended by quite a few locals in the area as there are a wide variety of names listed as having purchased items from the estate. This was not one of those auctions where the heirs purchase almost every piece of piece of property. Sometimes that is what happens when the deceased is crowding ninety years of age.

What interested me most is that both my paternal grandfathers (Charlie Neill and George Trautvetter) attended the sale and made purchases that day. My grandparents were still living at home and would have been sixteen and ten at the time. They would not marry until fifteen years later.

George Trautvetter purchased a kraut cutter for $1.90. Given how much his daughter, Ida (Trautvetter) Neill, liked sauerkraut the purchase was somewhat ironic.


Charles Neill (father of my grandfather Neill) purchased several items, including:

  • some rope for $2.80
  • something for $.15
  • bees and something for $14.10
  • a telephone for $2.40
  • poultry fence for $4.75
  • 1/2 interest in an old binder for $1.75

charles-neill-sarah-newman-sale-more charles-neill-sarah-newman-saleNothing really earth shattering, but interesting nonetheless. I had to do a little sleuthing to be reasonably certain that the George Trautvetter listed was my great-grandfather and not his uncle or his cousin of the same name. While I cannot be 100% certain it was great-grandfather, the others lived quite a bit further away. My great-grandfather’s farm was a few miles from the location of the sale and it seems reasonable he would be in attendance.

How Did I Find This?

The probate databases at are not full-name indexed. I did not simply type in “Charles Neill” and have this entry appear. This probate was discovered because Sarah Newman is my aunt by marriage–actually she’s the aunt by marriage to Fannie (Rampley) Neill, wife of Charles mentioned above. I was looking through her estate papers to determine who her heirs were upon her death and happened upon the inventory of items sold at the sale.

All of which goes to show the importance of researching the entire family, the entire neighborhood, etc.

In this case, I’m not going to go trolling through every probate for every person who died in Walker or St. Albans Townships. That is going to involve too much time.

It just pays to keep your eyes open.


Digital images of these probate materials may be online at FamilySearch as well (this probate record is). Search for the county of interest in the card catalog and browse the subject headings making certain to look for entries for court and/or probate records. The records at FamilySearch are unindexed as of this writing. The images at are not full name indexed.



2 thoughts on “Buying a Kraut Cutter and a Phone in 1920

  1. Donna Bischoff says:

    I chuckled when I saw the “1/2 interest of old binder”? Did you look to see who had the other 1/2 .. another relative, neighbor perhaps?

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