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Corbin, Maranda

Probate Records, Rock Island County, Illinois


Last Will and Testament

[Maranda's will was entirely hand-written on a single sheet of paper, perhaps from a legal pad. Faint rule-lines are visible on my photocopy, and the front, top edge appears to have a torn strip from another page stuck to it. The main text of the will was composed on the front, and Maranda signed at the bottom; witnessing was handled on the back. The sheet was then folded up, letter-style, so that the front of the page was on the inside. One of the clean back flaps was labeled, perpendicular to the fold, by a probate clerk as follows:]

Last Will and
Testament of

Maranda Adamson.

Filed and admitted
to Probate this 25th
day of August A.D. 1891
and Recorded in Will
Record E Page 414 to 416

H. Kohler

[Text of the will, front side of paper:]

I Maranda Adamson of the Town of South Moline in the County of Rock Island and State of Illinois do hereby make and declare this my last will and testament in manner and form following to wit

It is my will that my funeral expenses and all my just debts be fully paid

After the payment of such debts and funeral expences I give devise and bequeath all my personal property that I may possess at my decease as follows to James M Murray my son Maxwell G. Murray my son Henry Adamson John Adamson Edward Adamson M Lucinda E. Peacock wife of Martin Peacock share and share alike and one equal share to Mary Porter wife of George W Porter and Josephence Hughs wife of Robert Hughs to be equally divided between them And lastly I hereby declare this my last will and testament revoking and annulling all former wills by me made and ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament

In witness whereof I Maranda Adamson have hereunto set my hand and seal this 12th day of August AD 1880

Maranda X Adamson
her mark
["her" is written above the X; "mark" appears below the X]


[Text of the will, back side of paper:]

Signed sealed published and declared by the said Maranda Adamson at and for her last will and testament in presence of us who in her presence and in the presence of each other and at her request have subscribed our names as witnesses thereto

Elsworth Mapes
Herman Schroeder

[Here are my scans of the front and back of the will (click to enlarge):]

Administrator's Report

[This pre-printed form was filled out by a clerk of court and signed by Henry Adamson. I have only transcribed the front of the form; see the Administrator's Report section of the notes for info about the back. Text in blue is pre-printed; text in black is hand-written. Text that is black with underlining has been hand-written to fill in pre-printed blanks. Bolding, italics, ALL CAPS, and differences in font size are used only to mirror the original form's visual layout.]


For Sale by Geo. D. Barnard & Co., Prs., St. Louis

County of Rock Island
To the Judge of the County Court of Rock Island
County October Term, A. D. 1893

The undersigned, Henry Adamson Administrator of the Estate of Maranda Adamson deceased, would respectfully submit to the Court the following Report of his acts and doings as such Administrator from his appointment to Nov. 1 A. D. 1893. He charge Himself with the following, to-wit:

  To. Cash on hand at time of decease
June 18/91
To[tal] Cash in Bank
Oct 1/91
 "   Note of Henry Adamson
   "   Interest on Same 12.00
May 28/91
 "   Rent due from Henry Adamson 27.80
[3 ditto marks]
 "   [Rent due from] John Adamson 99.90
   "   Note A. J. Kincaid 230.00
   "   Interest on same 10.00
Sep 28/93
 "   Interest on Money in Bank 82.45
  The Note of M. G. Murray & George W. Kincaid dated Feb. 21, 1881 for $25000 with interest at 8% from date is worthless and uncollectible but as M. G. Murray is one of the legatees named in the will and entitled to a one seventh interest in the Estate of deceased the said note & Int. is chargeable against his share in the distribution of the Estate.

Source & Notes


Census records show that Maranda Corbin lived in Rock Island County, Illinois, from at least 1860-1880. So when I discovered the Rock Island Probate Case Files Index (1834–1899) on the Illinois State Archives site, I naturally ran a search to see if she was in it. The Index lists Maranda under her (third and final) married name, Maranda Adamson, and indicates that her estate entered probate in 1891. Armed with this information, I was able to request a copy of her full probate record from the IRAD repository at Western Illinois University. It arrived just in time for Christmas, on December 24, 2009, in a big envelope that also contained the probate record of Maranda's third husband, John Adamson.

My copy of Maranda's record spans 14 photocopies: 13 legal-sized, double-sided pages and one letter-sized, single-sided page. She died on May 29, 1891, and Henry Adamson, her eldest son by John Adamson, was named the administrator of her estate.

Most of the record is taken up with Henry's efforts to tally up his mother's assets and final expenses and figure out how to pay her heirs. Maranda had evidently lived with Henry in the months before her death: as part of her final expenses, he personally claimed $3/day in boarding costs for the period from 1 January 1891 to the day before she died.

Last Will and Testament

Maranda Corbin's third and final husband, John Adamson, died in February of 1880 without a will. Since Maranda's will is dated only a few months after his death, I suspect that problems that came up as the family was sorting out John's affairs made her see the wisdom of having such a document (or of updating it, if she already had one). Even with a will, Maranda's affairs were complicated and took several years to sort out, mainly because of the number of heirs involved and the ways in which some of their financial affairs were tied up with hers.

The listing of heirs in Maranda's will held several surprises for me. In the Murray-Kincaid Tree, Mom's Tree, and the Ryan-Murray Packet, her children are named as follows:

  • James Murray
  • Mary Murray (m. George Porter)
  • Lucinda/Lucindy/Lucidy Murray (m. Martin Peacock)
  • Luke Murray
  • Maxwell Gulliver Murray
  • Henry Adamson
  • John Adamson
  • Edward Adamson

The Murray children are by Maranda's second husband, Michael J. Murray, while the Adamson kids are by her third husband, John Adamson. (Family lore doesn't mention any children by her first husband, William Roberts, who stories say died three months after the wedding.) Except for Luke Murray (who is missing), all of the above names appear as expected in Maranda's will. But for some reason, her daughter Mary only got a half-share. Even more puzzling, the other half of that share went to a "Josephence Hughs wife of Robert Hughs." I have no idea who this woman was.

I have not edited my transcription of the will in any way, apart from a few comments [bracketed in red] to explain the layout. I have double-checked my work to ensure it is accurate, character-for-character. My formatting matches that of the original document about as closely as it can in basic HTML. In the original, each paragraph in the main text of the will is indented, and there is no extra vertical space between paragraphs; the only extra vertical space is before and after the signatures. I have chosen to allow paragraph text to wrap however your computer wants it to for the most part, and I have only reproduced the original line-breaks in the following cases: signatures, the headings "First" and "Second," and the probate clerk's flap-label. (My transcription of the flap-label is as visually identical to the original as I could make it without using fancy fonts or extra coding.)

Administrator's Report

I have only transcribed the front of this form, which summarizes Maranda Corbin's assets at the time of her death, plus cash that was paid into her estate as Henry Adamson collected the debts various people had owed her. On the back of the form, Maranda's final expenses are deducted from the assets: $367.83 in total expenses had been paid out of the estate, leaving $1608.77. Henry signed his name to those figures on November 17, 1891, in front of a clerk of court named Hjalmar Kohler. Otherwise, the back bears no other information, except that the form was recorded in "Probate Record 6, Page 483" on the same date it was filled out.

Except for Henry's signature, all the handwriting on the form is Hjalmar Kohler's. Elsewhere in Maranda's probate papers, there is another copy of the Administrator's Report--a rough draft in Henry's handwriting. At first, Henry's listing of the estate's assets and expenses is very well organized, but his reckoning becomes more and more confused as the form goes on. It looks like he kept thinking he'd accounted for everything--and then he'd find another six receipts, and another 50 bucks would turn up in the root cellar. Finally, he seems to have given up and taken his muddled paperwork to Mr. Kohler, who sorted it all out.

For me, the most interesting thing about the Administrator's Report is what it says about my great-great-grandfather, Maxwell Gulliver Murray. Theoretically, Maxwell was entitled to a full share in Maranda's estate. However, in February of 1881, he had borrowed money from her roughly equal to the value of his share--and never paid it back. As the Administrator's Report shows, the debt effectively canceled out his inheritance.

Maxwell's loan from his mother was apparently co-signed by his wife's father, George W. Kincaid. George didn't need the money (see his 1901 bio sketch for an idea of his assets), so it seems likely that Maxwell needed George to act as his backer. George probably agreed for the sake of the grandkids (Maxwell and his wife had seven, perhaps eight children at the time). Ten years later, at the time of Maranda's death, Maxwell still hadn't paid back the loan--and, since he'd moved his family to Nebraska in the meantime, he may not have been reachable to pester about it. George Kincaid, on the other hand, lived very close by--just over the Rock Island County line, in Henry County. He surely had the cash to cover Maxwell's debt, but he must have refused to do so. (George's son, Andrew Jackson Kincaid, had also taken out a loan from Maranda, but he paid up when Henry Adamson came calling.)

Now, Maranda appears to have had no problem lending her children cash if they needed it, and Maxwell wasn't the only one who owed her money when she died. But Maxwell--unlike her other kids--had to have a backer in order to persuade her to share the wealth.

Now to the transcription details. I've double-checked my transcription of the front of the Administrator's Report to make sure it's letter-perfect: it's not, but it's as close as I can make it. Here are the differences I know about:
  • I have discarded the original line-breaks in the paragraph beginning "The undersigned."
  • On the original, to the immediate right of "STATE OF ILLINOIS. / County of Rock Island" there is a large, left-opening curly brace (}), followed by "SS." in a small font size.
  • The original "ITEMS OF RECEIPTS" table has an additional column at the far right, headed "Total Am't" and divided into two sub-columns, "Dollars" and "Cts." This space is unused, so I didn't see any point in reproducing it.
  • The "Date" and "Amount" columns were also each divided into two sub-columns (without headers). The "Amount" sub-columns were used to separate the dollars and cents; I have substituted decimals. The "Date" sub-columns were intended to separate the month and day from the year, but since Mr. Kohler used slashes to accomplish the same thing, I didn't figure it was necessary to reproduce the sub-columns.
  • The paragraph about "The Note of M. G. Murray" is written a couple of rows further below the sum "$1976.60" than I have rendered it.
  • I have discarded the original line-breaks in the "Note of M. G. Murray" paragraph, letting it wrap however it wants.