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Posted on January 14, 2021 at 5:12 PM by Melissa Dalton
A few weeks ago, Joan pulled a
guardianship file for Bruce B. Vandervoort. As a life-long resident of the
county, Joan recognized the name as the former owner of the fruit farm just
outside of Jamestown. This week, we look at the life of Mr. Vandervoort.
Bruce B. Vandervoort was born in
West Virginia on December 2, 1855 to Nicholas and Esther Vandervoort. Although
I wasn’t able to find much about his early life, he moved to Ohio sometime
between 1870 and 1880 as he was living in Clinton County, and working as a
school teacher, in 1880 (Fig 1). On June 23, 1883, B. B. married Nancy “Nannie”
J. Vandervoort in Clinton County (Fig 2).
Fig 1. 1880 US Census record as boarder in Green Township of Clinton
Fig 2. Marriage announcement of B.B. and Nannie Vandervoort, Xenia Daily
Gazette, 29 June 1883 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
Sometime in the late 1880s/early
1890s, Vandervoort became a horticulturalist and started a fruit farm on the
outskirts of Jamestown. According to one newspaper article, Vandervoort spent a
month in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to study apple production (Fig 3), and
his farm was 30 acres by 1903. At the time of his death in 1941, the fruit farm
had tripled in size, and was a total of 94 acres. There are several articles in
the local newspapers in which Vandervoort offered advice for planting and
harvesting, as well as giving updates on the farm and the expected fruit crops
for the year (Fig 4).
Fig 3. Article detailing Vandervoort Farm success, Xenia Daily Gazette, 6
Oct 1911 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
Fig 4. Article from Vandervoort regarding peach crop, Xenia Daily Gazette,
16 Mar 1903 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
B. B. and Nannie had five children
– Ora, Clara, Mary, Herbert, and Louis. In 1923, their son, Louis, confessed to
a chain of robberies in Xenia, Jamestown, Washington Court House, and
Wilmington. His family did not want to believe it until he showed authorities
where he hid the loot. Newspapers state that he did not sell any of the stolen
materials, and that the robberies were due to a “peculiar mental twist… in search
of adventure” (Fig 5). There is a bit of a story here, but we’ll leave it for
another blog post.
Fig 5. Young Farmer Charged with Store Looting, Xenia Daily Gazette, 20
Jan 1923 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
The Vandervoorts continued expanding
their fruit farm, even into their later years. Nannie passed away on August 2,
1936, and within a month, paperwork was filed with Probate Court to assign a
guardian to B. B. Vandervoort due to “advanced age and physical infirmity” (Fig
6). It was estimated at the time of filing that the personal property/life
estate value was likely $30,000, real estate value of approximately $25,000,
and another $4,000 in annual rents, for a total value of his estate at $55,000.
Today that equates to just over $1,000,000.
Fig 6. Application for Appointment of Guardian, B. B. Vandervoort, Box
775 Case 596 (Greene County Archives)
The guardianship was approved by
the Court, and remained in effect until B. B. Vandervoort’s death on January
23, 1941. Vandervoort was buried next to his wife in Jamestown Cemetery.
Upon Vandervoort’s death, his two
surviving children, Louis and Ora, each received $11,592.26 from the life
estate created by Nannie’s will ($204,156.06
today). They also were the beneficiaries of the family farm. We will
explore the life of the farm after Vandervoort’s passing in a future blog post,
so stay tuned!
Until Next Time!
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