Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower

Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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May 17

Family Feud

Posted on May 17, 2018 at 4:21 PM by Melissa Dalton

When a death certificate for the granddaughter of the deceased was found in an estate file, we had to do a little digging to learn why it was needed, especially considering she died 28 years after her grandmother. As we dug deeper and deeper into the file, we uncovered a curious story.
Sarah J. Hopkins passed in January 1915 and her husband, David, was appointed Administrator of the estate. In the Application for Letters of Administration, David listed four children as next of kin (Fig 1). You will notice that Della Hopkins is listed, but her whereabouts are “not known”, and the amount of personal property is tallied as $940. In June 1917, David Hopkins filed the First and Final Account, in which he only accounted for a total of $940, which was distributed between two separate accounts. Once various fees were paid, it left $672.22 to be distributed to the heirs of the estate (Fig 2).

Application for Letters of Administration (JPG)
Fig 1. Application for Letters of Administration

First and Final Account for Estate of Sarah Hopkins (JPG)
Fig 2. First & Final Account of the Estate of Sarah J. Hopkins

In August 1920, Della Hopkins, the daughter of David and Sarah, filed a Petition to Impeach Account for Fraud, stating that her father omitted $2,000 from the account, committing the “grossest of fraud”, and never filed an inventory of assets, which would have accounted for that missing sum of money. Della claimed that the account should include an additional three notes – two in the amount of $500 each, signed by Lena and A. C. Crothers, Della’s sister and brother-in-law; and one note in the amount of $1,000, signed by Laura and James Racer, Della’s other sister and brother-in-law (Fig 3).

Petition to Impeach Account for Fraud (JPG)Petition to Impeach Account for Fraud (JPG)
Fig 3. Petition to Impeach Account for Fraud

In December 1920, the Probate Judge ruled that the $1000 note signed by the Racers was not an asset of the estate; however, the two $500 notes from the Crothers were, and Mr. Hopkins was ordered to correct and amend the account, and recover those funds. David Hopkins appealed the decision, but the ruling came back the same. In April 1921, Mr. Hopkins filed the Corrected and Amended Account (Fig 4), and requested time to collect. In September 1921, Mr. Hopkins filed an Application to Compound Claims, requesting to settle and discharge the notes upon payment of $727, claiming that there was severe doubt that they [the Crothers] could pay the full amount, and they offered to pay the above amount as payment in full. The Judge agreed to the terms.

Corrected and Amended Account (JPG)
Fig 4. Corrected and Amended Account

Supplementary Distributive Account (JPG)
Fig 5. Supplementary Distributive Account

It took until July 1922 for David Hopkins to file the Supplementary Distributive Account, in which he lists the distribution of the funds of the estate (Fig 5). The funds were distributed to two of the children, Della and Leander, but Lena Crothers never collected her share. Lena’s share was deposited into the county treasury in 1935. In 1937, Della Hopkins notified the Court that her sister, Lena, was deceased, and she and her niece, Fay Racer, were the only surviving beneficiaries. Della received $94.70 as her share of the distribution, but Fay never requested her share to be disbursed (Fig 6). In December 1943, Della filed an Application for Payment of Funds for Fay’s share, as Fay never received her share and subsequently, passed away (Fig 7). Upon receiving the death certificate of Fay (Racer) Quinn, the Judge ruled that Della was the sole beneficiary of the funds, and ordered the remaining funds be distributed to her (Fig 8).

Application [To Distribute Funds to Della and Fay] (JPG)Application [To Distribute Funds to Della and Fay] (JPG)
Fig 6. Application [To Distribute Funds to Surviving Beneficiaries of Lena Crothers]

Application for Payment of Funds (JPG)Application for Payment of Funds (JPG)
Fig 7. Application for Payment of Funds

Entry [Decision of Judge to Distribute Remaining Funds to Della Hopkins] (JPG)Entry [Decision of Judge to Distribute Remaining Funds to Della Hopkins] (JPG)
Fig 8. Entry [Granting Distribution of Funds to Della Hopkins]

I’m not sure what the dynamic was for the members of the Hopkins family, and I’m sure there is much more to this story, but it surely is not an uncommon one. Money can lead people to do fantastic things, and many families are estranged due to such financial disagreements, and the Hopkins were not unique in their fight.

Until Next Time…

Greene County Archives, Probate Records


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