When Grover H. was a child, he immigrated to the United States in 1910. He and his brother¸ Grable, had a cousin named Evert who also lived in the States, but the brothers did not know him and had never met him. Evert died without a will and his estate was divided between nine first and second cousins in Sweden and two first cousins in the United States who could not be located. Those two cousins were Grover and Grable. We took on the case and after pouring over immigration, census, marriage, birth and death records, we were successful in locating the brothers. After opening the estate and documenting their entitlement, we turned over to the now ninety-six year old Grover his one-half share of $156,000.00 and his late brother’s share to his descendants.
Martin C. was born in 1902 in Pennsylvania. He died in Michigan in 1992. After twelve years of hiring genealogists and investigators to find family members, the attorney for Martin’s $250,000.00 estate closed the file as “Unknown Heirs.” We began our three-year search suspecting that Martin had changes his last name and estranged himself from his family. Searching the 1910 census records, we found a Minnesota family who we believed was Martin’s. Eventually we found a 1940 marriage record of a possible sister with the same last name Martin had changed his name to and was currently using. Further research determined this woman was Martin’s sister, and although, she was now deceased, her children were Martin’s nieces and nephews. This led us to additional family members, and 17 years after Martin died, his ten nieces and nephews (most of whom had never met him) split the $250,000.00.
Sisters Ellen and Kathryn T. were born in 1900 in New York City. Ellen got married and moved to Ireland with her sister, Kathryn, who never married. The two repeatedly purchased shares of Standard Oil over the years and held them in a joint account. Kathryn died in the mid 1980’s a “spinster” per her probated estate. Her only living relative was her sister, Ellen, who then became sole owner of the account. A few years later, Ellen died. Ellen never had any children, but she did have a step-daughter who was named in Ellen’s Last Will and Testament as sole beneficiary to all of her Standard Oil stock. Over the years, that stock had become known as Amoco/BP then BP PLC. Several stock splits occurred over the many years that the sisters held the Standard Oil shares and Standard Oil held onto those additional split shares. Statutory requirements released those shares and after much international records research, we tracked down the step-daughter named in Ellen’s estate. She was then awarded the $91,000.00 that her step-mother never even knew was being held by the oil company.
E.C. Watson passed away in the 1950’s after having inherited a farm in Tennessee from his father, Edwin Watson. E.C.’s Last Will and Testament left this property to his wife, Margaret, or to his son, Thomas, should Margaret predecease Thomas. Thomas died five years prior to his mother leaving his seven children as the only heirs of Edwin and Margaret. The seven grandchildren of E.C. had no idea that their grandfather owned a farm in Tennessee. After several years of no property taxes being paid on the farm, a sheriff’s sale yielded a surplus of $56,000.00 which the court held for decades. Since E.C., his wife, and son had died, this left the seven grandchildren as heirs to this money. After locating the grandchildren, who were scattered across the country, you can imagine their surprise when they all shared equally in this unexpected windfall.
Hank B bought shares in an oil company in Colorado in 1927. Up until his death in 1946, the stock was deemed virtually worthless. His wife predeceased him and they had no children. In 2000, fifty-four years after his death, and a couple of corporate takeovers later, that old oil stock was worth over $275,000.00. Hank had several siblings who had lived in Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana and Colorado, but they had all predeceased him. Since he had no children, we began a search for nieces and nephew. In Texas, we found a living niece who was born in 1917. Eventually in 2010, she and sixteen more grandnieces and grandnephews (none of whom ever met Hank) each inherited part of the oil stock Hank had purchased eighty-three years earlier, and more than sixty years after Uncle Hank’s death.
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