Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Last Will and Testament of Ranslow Smith (1805-1875)

I spent many research hours during late 2007 and early 2008 online and in FHL microfilms trying to find the parents and ancestors of Ranslow Smith (1805 NY - 1875 NY). See my posts about the Ranslow Smith House in Henderson NY, the Four-Mile House in Oak Grove WI (now at Old World Wisconsin), and the series about the elusive Russell Smith (Post 7 here, links go back further), Ranslow's father. After all of that, I finally "lucked out" last week and found Ranslow Smith's will in the Andrew County, Missouri will book - I mentioned it in my post Day 5 in SLC - Back to the FHL, and a treat.

Here is the probate record summary:

Ranslow Smith died in Andrew County, Missouri in early 1875. The Andrew County, Missouri Probate Record Index lists the following records in Case No. 1074 (Andrew County, Missouri Index to Probate Court Records, Andrew County Probate Court, Savannah, Missouri. Accessed on FHL Microfilm 1,006,198 Item 3, page 47, 12 January 2009):

* Year: 1875
* Will Record: Volume A, Page 360
* Application: Volume B, Page 135
* Bond: Volume B, Page 135
* Letters: Volume B, Page 135
* Inventory and Appraisal: Volume D, Page 439
* Final Settlement: Volume D, Page 65
* Discharge: Volume K, Pages 348, 428

The Last Will of Ranslow Smith was written in Oak Grove, Dodge County, Wisconsin dated 27 June 1865, and was filed for Probate on 4 May 1875 in Andrew County, Missouri. The will transcription reads (Andrew County, Missouri Probate Records, Wills, Volume A, 1842-1888, Pages 360-361, court clerk's transcription, accessed on FHL Microfilm 1,006,205 on 12 January 2009):

Last Will of Ranslow Smith

I, Ranslow Smith of the town of Oak Grove, County
of Dodge, and State of Wisconsin, being of sound &
disposing mind and memory and of full age
do make and publish this as my last will and
testament, as follows, that is to say.

First. I will and direct that the expenses of my
funeral and all my just debts be fully paid out
of my personal estate, as soon as may be after my


Second. I hereby give, devise and bequeath to Mary Jane
Bell, the wife of Lucius Sanborn now in the state of
Iowa, the sum of three hundred dollars out of my
estate, what shall be left after my decease, and
in Case of her decease before me, the said sum
to be paid to her heirs.

Third. I hereby give, devise and bequeath unto
Devere J. Lamphear, Commonly called Devere J.
Smith, my adopted son, all the rest and residue
of my real and personal property of every name
and nature whatsoever, except the above named
Legacy: To have and to hold the said real estate
and personal property by the said Devere J.
Lamphear and his Heirs and assigns forever: and
I also give and bequeath to the said Devere J. Lamphear
my life insurance in the North Western Life Insurance
Company, which was formerly secured
to my deceased wife, and as she is dead now,
I will that the said sum shall be paid to him
after my decease.

Fourth and lastly: I hereby appoint the above
named Devere J. Lamphear, commonly called
Devere J. Smith, Executor of this my last will
and testament and I do hereby revoke all former
wills by me made.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set
my hand and seal this twenty second day of
June in the year of our Lord, One thousand eight
hundred and sixty five.

Ranslow Smith [L.S.]

In presence of
John C. Halliger
Mathias Potter

I also have copies of the other papers, except for the Inventory listed in the Probate Court Index book.

The will above raises several unforeseen questions, and clears up one mystery. The mystery cleared concerns the name change from Devier J. Lamphier to Devier J. Smith in 1866 that I wrote about in 'Tis a Mystery! It is apparent to me that Devier J. Lamphier was the adopted son of Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith, and Devier changed his name to Smith in 1866.

One unforeseen question for me is the identity of Mary Jane Bell Sanborn, wife of Lucius Sanborn. I now think that she was an adopted daughter (perhaps originally named Mary Jane Bell), of Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith (she was Mary J. Smith in the 1850 census, age 12 with Ranslow and Mary Smith, and Devier J. Smith, age 11), and married a Lucius Sanford before the 1860 census. I found Lucius and Mary Sanford in the 1860, 1870, 1880, 1885, 1900, and 1910 census in Howard County, Iowa - with 11 children! From this, I know that Mary was born in March 1838 in New York.

The next obvious question is "who are Devier J. Lamphier's parents?" While Devier was enumerated in Dodge County, Wisconsin in the 1850 census with his parents, his birthplace in the 1850 census (and all subsequent census) indicated New York. The two children, Mary Jane and Devier, were probably born in Jefferson County, NY where the Ranslow Smith family resided until about 1848. I've done some preliminary checks, in the census and cemetery records, on Lamphiers in Jefferson County NY and have found quite a few in the eastern part of the County. So there is more research to be done in Jefferson County, NY on this surname.

Little did I know how elusive the ancestry of Devier J. Smith was going to be - after all, I had a family Bible, many census records, and other family papers that "told me" that his parents were Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith! See what a "reasonably exhaustive search" for records does for your research and firmly held beliefs? It can really mess them up if you are lucky! Never fear, I can make the best of this situation by using the research as a good example!


Anonymous said...

Born in New York and adopted elsewhere. Perhaps he was on one of the Orphan Trains?

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Sometimes adoptions of this time period were formal and sometimes not. You have your work cut out for you, but you have a name to work with. Maybe someday I'll find a scrap of paper with Anna's birth name.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you find.