Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Interesting Will of Dorothy Kline

Tomorrow is our monthly internet research group genealogy meeting and we will be discussing wills and probate packets. We were asked to pass along any "interesting" wills or probate packets we had in our files to discuss at our meeting. I chose one I recently received from a newly found cousin. The will, which was proved in 1799, is my 6th great grandmother's.

Will of Dorothy Klein of Warwick Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, signed 27 June 1794, proved 14
September 1799, provided by Lititz, Pennsylvania Public Library, page 1 of 3.

Highlights from the Will

I found this will to be both curious and entertaining. First of all, under "secondly" she gives her son Daniel the two blind mares and an half waggon [sic] and to her son Nicholas she gives the old black mare and the grey Colt and one half wagon. I hope the brothers get along as they share this wagon! And, I think Nicholas might have got the better deal with his old mare and colt versus his brother's two blind mares. [NOTE: Please see a follow up post which corrects this misconception!]

She also bequeaths five pounds each to the following grandchildren:
  • Catharine, the daughter of George 
  • Dorothy, the daughter of George
  • Dorothy, the daughter of Lenohard
  • Dorothy, the daughter of Nicholaus
The first three of these granddaughters are getting their five pounds "out of the money which their said father... is indebted to me." So, do they only get the money if their fathers are able to pay it to them?

Transcript of Dorothy Klein's will
Also, note that three of these granddaughters are named Dorothy. And, yes, the deceased is named Dorothy: Dorothy Klein or Kline. She is giving inheritance primarily to those who share her name! I have another will like this where the deceased grandmother, Catharine, is only giving items to those granddaughters who were named Catharine. Very interesting! I can't imagine this happening today. Can you imagine my putting in my will that my granddaughters named Dana would be the only grandchildren to inherit? I hope someone knows more about this practice, as I find it quite strange!


  1. This is an unusual will, especially for the time period. Does she mention family who are being disinherited? If not, I wonder if any of them challenged the will.

    1. It is interesting, isn't it? No, she didn't mention any family being disinherited. I learned more at my meeting today, so I will try to share it in the next day or two.

  2. Interesting also because not many women left wills - at least compared to men who left them. It sounds like she had written previous wills because she says that by making her son Jacob her executor it makes all other will null and void.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Sheri. I have seen that phrase written on quite a few other wills. I always thought it was more legal terminology making sure THIS will was the will that was accepted into the courts. However, it is something I should find out more about as this was just an assumption on my part!


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