Monday, December 13, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - the Probate Records of Simon Gates (1739-1803) of Gardner MA

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started his own Monday blog theme many months ago called Amanuensis Monday. What does "amanuensis" mean? John offers this definition:

"A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another."

The subject today is the probate file of Simon Gates (1739-1803) of Gardner, Worcester County, Massachusetts..  He was married to Susannah Reed (1745-1833) in 1766, and they had eleven children (Nathan (1767-1830), Elizabeth (1769-1778), Susannah (1772-1778), Simon (1774-1778), Anna (1777-1778), Simon (1779-1852), Daniel (1782-1847), Gerry (1784-1784), Reuben (1786-????), Ezekiel (1789-1809), Elizabeth (1794-1819).  Only six children were living when Simon Gates died, and three were minors.

Simon Gates of Gardner died intestate, and left a sizable estate. The original probate records can be found in Worcester County Probate Packet No. 23,252 at the Worcester County Courthouse in Worcester, MA.   Each record in a Worcester County probate packet is also recorded as clerk's copies in the county probate court records, which are available on FHL microfilms.  I have summarized the contents of the records in the probate packet below:

The packet includes a letter of administration naming the widow, Susanna Gates, as administratrix on 6 April 1803 (Worcester County Probate Records, Volume 125, page 62). A $10,000 bond was posted by Stephen Miles and Stephen Hoar, sureties (Worcester County Probate Records, Volume 171, page 27).

An inventory was taken on 14 May 1803, in the sum of $5,636.17 by Stephen Miles, Stephen Hoar and Levi Fairbanks; the inventory was accepted by the Court on 19 May 1803 (Worcester County Probate Records, Volume 32, page 28).

A warrant of partition was issued to Aaron Wood, Matthias Mosman and Stephen Hoar on 7 September 1803. Their report was filed and allowed on 17 May 1804 (Worcester County Probate Records, Volume 33, page 9).

The administratrix filed her account and it was allowed on 17 May 1804, with the balance of $599.65 to be distributed to the heirs as ordered (Worcester County Probate Records, Volume 33, page 16). Receipts were received from Simon Gates, Elizabeth Gates, Daniel Gates, Merari Spaulding and Merari Spaulding (guardian) on 17 May 1804 (Worcester County Probate Records, Vol. 32, page 436).

The partition of the estate was very detailed and very complex, due to the large landholdings of Simon Gates. The land included:

1) The home farm in the northeastern part of Gardner, 98 acres and 23 rods of mowing, plowing, orcharding, pastureland and woodland, together with two dwelling houses, barn and other outbuildings. The land was bounded southerly by Josiah Kendall, southeasterly by Josiah Kendall, a town way, Daniel How, and widow Ray, northerly by John Owens, and westerly by Edward Jackson. This home farm was appraised at $2,525.

2) 30 acres of pasture and woodland, called the Conant lot, in the eastern part of Gardner, bounded northerly by a town road, westerly by John Pierce and William Chappel, southerly on fourth division land, and easterly by Edward Jackson. This land was valued at $330.

3) The Marshall lot in the southeastern part of Gardner, comprising 48 acres and 149 rods of mowing pasture and woodland, bounded northwesterly and southwesterly by David Read, southeasterly by Ephraim Pratt, John Pierce and Jabez Bigelow, and northeasterly by William Penniman. This land was appraised at $490.

4) Two Fourth Division lots numbers 99 and 100 in Gardner, containing 34 acres; valued at $185.

5) A tract of 18 acres of swamp land in the northwestern part of Westminster, called the Coburn Swamp, appraised at $190.

6) Pew number 15 in the Gardner meeting house, valued at $44.

7) A pew in the galleries of the Gardner meeting house, valued at $27.

8) A horse stable near the meeting house valued at $5.

The entire real estate totalled $3,796, of which the widow's one-third dower rights amounted to $1265.33-1/3.

The appraisers set off to the widow, Susanna Gates, one half of the dwelling house, 32 acres of the home farm, the 30 acre Conant lot, one half of pew 15 in the Gardner meeting house, and one half of the stable near the meeting house. This added up to $1,265.33-1/3.

The remaining amount was $2,530.66-2/3 to be divided amongst the children.

The oldest child, Nathan Gates, had received the sum of $266.67 from his father, and was indebted to the estate by $747.04 principal and interest, totalling then $1,033.72. By agreement with the other children and heirs of Simon Gates, Nathan Gates agreed to quitclaim any further real or personal estate of his father in return for being relieved of all demands from the estate. Therefore, he was not considered to be part of the distribution of the remaining estate.

Each child - Simon Gates, Daniel Gates, Elizabeth Gates, Ezekiel Gates and Reuben Gates - was to receive $506.13-1/3.

Elizabeth Gates was apportioned the other half of pew 15 in the Gardner meeting house ($22) and $484.13-1/3 to be paid by her brothers Simon and Daniel Gates.

Ezekiel Gates was apportioned $506.13-1/3, to be paid by his brothers Simon and Daniel Gates.

Reuben Gates was apportioned the Marshall lot ($90) and $416.13-1/3 to be paid by his brothers Simon and Daniel Gates.

Simon and Daniel Gates were apportioned the other half of the dwelling house and the remainder of the home farm (98 acres plus), the two Fourth Division lots, the Coburn Swamp land in Westminster, the gallery pew in the meeting house and one half of the horse stable. Their portion amounted to $2,018.66-1/3. They were directed to pay their siblings the amounts listed above.

The personal estate was listed in a detailed inventory, and totalled $1,887.25. The widow, Susanna Gates charged herself with this amount, and filed the account listing the charges and debts paid to many people, totalling $1,287.62. This left a balance of $599.63 to be distributed to the heirs. She was granted her one third share ($199.88), and was directed to pay the other five children $79.95 each.

Receipts for their shares were signed by Simon Gates, Daniel Gates, Elizabeth Gates, and Merari Spaulding, the guardian of Ezekiel Gates and Reuben Gates.

This probate process shows that estates can be divided up fairly evenly, and logically.  My ancestor, the eldest son Nathan Gates, was given a break by his mother and his siblings - he owed more than his share of the inheritance.  The two sons that received most of the real estate, Simon and Daniel, were young men at the time, but soon married.  I wonder if they were able to pay their siblings the money owed to them?  Perhaps they sold some of the land to raise the money.  The mother of the children, Susannah (Reed) Gates, died in 1833, and only three of her children survived her.  I should check for a probate record or for land records for her.

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