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Thanks to Wayne Loney, a Kalamazoo genealogy volunteer, I have my great-grandfather’s probated will with list of assets at the time of his death. He found the document, located at the Probate Court in Kalamazoo, so that I could order it.

Fifty-eight-year-old Adrian Zuidweg, Sr., died on 19 December 1929, which happened to be two months after the Wall Street crash. The cause of death was uremia (for three days) and chronic interstitial nephritis, as well as a valve disease of the heart and mitral insufficiency and general artheroma (disease of the arteries). I looked up the nephritis because it sounds like the real disease behind his death, but read that it usually is caused by medications or auto-immune disorders like lupus. So I don’t really know why he was sick or why he died.

The family story version is that he ate a dinner plate-sized steak every night for dinner, and that that routine caused the nephritis. I guess it might cause some artery damage, too.

But before we assume his eating completely caused his death, I will say that heart disease does seem to run in the family through my grandfather to my grandfather’s children–and my 23andme report shows that by far my worst health genes (that are researched through 23andme) are all coronary issues.

This probate document is signed by my grandfather, who was 21; Adrian Sr.’s sister, Mrs. Marinus Van Liere; and my great-grandmother, Cora, his wife.

In this will, Adrian leaves his entire estate to his wife, Cora, to do with as she sees fit. He expressly does not leave anything to grandpa, his son. However, he seems to suggest that Cora might want to use some of the estate for the benefit of Adrian’s “belofed boy,” (his first language was Dutch) but he is not tying her hands to do so in the will.

I wonder how common it was to make a will out this way. Perhaps he thought that Grandpa would be able to make his own way in the world, but Grandpa was blind in one eye, so I am a little surprised that nothing was left to him.

Here is a typed version of the handwritten will.

I don’t plan to post an image of the estate inventory. If family members want to email me and ask to see it, I’ll be happy to send over a copy. What I thought was interesting was the list does not include any cash at all, whether on hand or in banks. The listing includes real estate, notes payable, and stocks. I think this means that the money was already in Cora’s name.  Again, I wonder how common this practice would have been.

It seems to me that there must be more of this sort of document available for my other ancestors, but I am not sure how much light it has shed on anything for me. Adrian was apparently a good husband, father, and provider, but maybe didn’t take the best care of his health, if the steak-eating story is true.

What information have you gleaned from probate records?

I will be taking off blogging next week for some needed time away from the computer. See you in a couple of weeks!

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