Discord over Inheritance

Below, is an excerpt from a letter, postmarked Jan 13, probably 1834 – a few months after the deaths of Horton and Hannah Howard in the Cholera epidemic. The letter is written by 20 yr old John Howard to his brother in law Samuel Forrer,  and refers to John’s half brothers Henry (41,) Joseph (36,) and  Horton Jr (30.) Samuel & John are trying to repair wounded feelings caused by settling the estate of the Howard parents. Horton’s will left everything to his wife, and Hannah died before creating a will to include her stepsons in sharing her estate.

“With regard to the divission of the property which thee mentions, I can say that as far as I am concerned I am perfectly well satisfied, indeed I would prefer that I should be place on an equality with them, – But I do not feel satisfied that the portions of my sisters should be divided in any such way. – I just now think of a plan which would be much more honorable, and one which cannot but be agreeable to Henry and Horton, it is this. Let my portion of my dear Mothers estate be given to brother Joseph. Joseph always was a good boy when he was at home, and when he was grown, he was still of use to Father, but, he was not more useful in his sphere, than were his sisters in theirs. Although I loved my parents as much as any of them, I have not been as useful as my sisters and Joseph have been, nor have Horton and Henry. Therefore, I think that if the property were divided in this way, making the three who were evidently the most deserving equal, that is giving Joseph my place, and making my portion equal to the of Henry and Horton, I think there would be no more trouble or hard feeling. Henry and Horton cannot think that they are equally deserving with their sisters and Joseph, or if they can, I know they are not, and I know I am not; and, therefore, shall not willingly give my assent to any other divission of the property than the one I have mentioned, or one which will leave the portion of my sisters untouched. Nothing gives me so much pain as to see the members of a family entertaining hard feeling toward each other, and I am sure this will be the case in ours unless this matter is arranged.


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