Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Unrecorded Will of John P. Reed

While transcribing wills in Crittenden County, Kentucky several  years ago, I came across several that were never recorded.   I first thought later wills had replaced the ones I found, but a quick check showed that not to be the case. So, why were these wills not recorded?  Apparently it was not unusual for wills to be filed for safe keeping in the county clerk's office and to be recorded after the testator had died. In some cases, the testator moved away before death, leaving the will behind.

John P. Reed of Crittenden County wrote his "last will" 4 March 1899. It consisted of only three items, leaving his property to his wife, M.E. Reed, and his "Six living children," who were to share equally with his wife taking a child's part. If she chose, she could take one-third of the personalty and one-third of his real estate during her natural life. If Reed decided to sell his "Stegar farm & my home farm," his wife would received a $1000 life insurance policy.

Perhaps he had second thoughts about the deposition of his estate because on 18 December 1900, he wrote his "last true will and Testament hereby revoking any & all former wills by me at any time made." In this will, he named his children, J.H. Reed;  Ivey E., Dora A. & Stella Reed; Presly L. and Major F. Reed. He mentioned several pieces of land owned in Lyon County, Kentucky as well as land in Crittenden and property in Marion.

Not  yet finished with the deposition of his estate, he wrote a codicil to the last will and Testament on 6 June 1901 in Crittenden County. Reed stated he wanted sums of money to be paid by his son, J.H. Reed, to his three daughters and their interest in land to descend to their children if they did not survive him.

So, what happened to John P. Reed?  He was enumerated in Crittenden County on the 1900 census at 90 Wilson Avenue. In his household were his wife, Mattie E., and daughter, Stella, age 16. The census shows that John P. and Mattie E. Reed had married about 1897. It also showed that Reed was born in Ohio.  Sometime after 1900, Reed moved from Crittenden County, leaving behind his will.

A little more digging revealed that he was living on Oak Avenue in Kuttawa, Lyon County, in 1910, and died there 20 December 1916 at the age of 74 years, 1 month and 24 days.  He had served in the 114th Ohio Infantry during the Civil War and received a pension for his service from 1912 until his death. His widow received a widow's pension from 1917 until her death in 1937.  Martha Eleanor Reed, daughter of Andrew Martin and widow of John P. Reed, was born in Lyon County in 1855 and died 9 June 1937. Both she and her husband are buried in Kuttawa Cemetery, Lyon County.

I did not find a will for John P. Reed in Lyon County. Perhaps he  thought his will would follow him to Lyon County or maybe he thought it would be recorded in Crittenden County. It's hard to say after 99 years. At any rate, the information is still valuable even though the will has gone unrecorded.

Published 27 April 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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