Willis Coffey is my 3rd great-grandfather. I recently found his probate papers on Ancestry.com. I am super excited about this find because the file contains 174 digital images. With this much paperwork there must be a story!
The story begins with a flurry of paperwork between 28 September 1893 and 9 October 1893. On the 28th of September a receipt was written by the manager of the Clarksdale, Missouri office of the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Railroad for sending a telegram announcing the death of Willis Coffey.
A week and a half later, several people appeared at the county courthouse in Maysville, Missouri (the county seat). Several documents were signed and witnessed on October 9, 1893. First, the will of Willis Coffey was presented to the court. I was very disappointed to realize one page of the will was not digitized. Of course it was the page that was to lay out how part of the estate was to be divided among his heirs. The last page of the will had a sheet of paper attached that stated the will had officially been recorded in DeKalb County. This was signed by the local probate judge, W.A. Thornbaugh.
Next, W.F. Thornton appeared before the judge to swear he was present and signed as a witness on Willis Coffey’s will. He also stated that James Adams (the other witness) was now deceased and his signature was true. This was all signed to in the Proof of Will and witnessed by Judge Thornbaugh.
Another form was signed by the Probate Judge which states the will of Willis Coffey appoints W.M. Stigall as executor. This was followed by a signed Executor’s Bond for $2000 for W.M. Stigall. Also on the same form was an Oath for W.M. Stigall to sign. The oath states that the executor will truly perform his duties as executor, including a perfect inventory. Apparently W.M Stigall took this oath very seriously as most of the digital images in the Probate packet are receipts for every detail.
The last sheet in the Will papers was my favorite. It is an undated hand written notice that says: “The court instructs the jury that the only issue in this case is whether or not the paper writing offered in evidence (and hereto attached) purporting to be the last will of Willis Coffee deceased, is his last will and testament.
It is starting to get good!! My next blog post will take a look at the Will in question.