Last Will and Testament: Fidel Herr (1782-1862)

The last will and testament and some of the supporting documents of our first Herr emigrant to the New World, Fidel Herr (1782 – 1862), are printed verbatim below.

The original documents are on file at the State of Michigan Historical Library in Lansing, Michigan.

In his will, Fidel provided that his farm and personal effects go to his youngest sons, Enos and Joseph, who he also named executors of his will.

He also stipulated Enos and Joseph pay $25 to each of his married daughters, Teresa, Mary Ann, Jane and Barbary, and $50 dollars to his only single daughter Clarissa.

While everything may be on the up and up, I have a couple concerns about the validity of this will.

The will was witnessed November 7, 1862, which would have been the day before Fidel Herr died on November 8, 1862, and hardly a day when Fidel would have been lucid enough to make a new will.

His living children on November 7, 1862, are listed below, but Fidel left out mention of his two oldest children, Fidel Herr Jr, who was living about a mile away on a farm in Nankin, and Karoline Wunsch,
who was living on a farm 150 miles away in Ada, Kent, Michigan.

Children Alive at Fidel Herr’s Death n November 8, 1862

Karoline Wunsch (1803 – 1876) living in Ada, Kent, Michigan
Jane Holbrook (1810 – 1868) in Plymouth, Wayne Co, Michigan
Fidel Herr Jr. (1812 – 1894), living in Nankin, Wayne, Michigan
Teresa Tanguary (1813 – probably before 1890) and living in Wabash, Illinois
Barbara George (1824 – 1879) living in Wayne, Wayne, Michigan
Mary Ann German (1826 – before 1891) living in Detroit, Wayne, Michigan
Enos Herr (1831 – 1908) living in Nankin, Wayne, Michigan
Joseph Herr (1834 – 1917) living on Herr Family farm in Nankin, Wayne, Michigan
Clarissa Herr ( 1835 – 1911) living on the Fidel’s family farm with brothers Joseph and Enos in Nankin

In the supporting documentation, Joseph and Enos did not remember their father died November 8, 1862 and certified instead, he died sometime in 1867, when they requested probate of the will on December 2, 1890..

On the same date they requested probate, December 2, 1890, the executors, Joseph and Enos, overlooked listing the names of their older brother Fidel, who was living, and the children of their deceased sisters, Karoline, Teresa, Jane, Barbara, and Mary Ann (listed below) among the living heirs,

In a good old traditional German family, usually, the oldest son Fidel would have been given his father’s farm and the grandchildren would have been given their mothers‘ inheritance.

Known Fidel Herr Grandchildren Whose Parents Were Deceased in 1890. (Fidel Herr Jr
Children Are Not Listed)

Sebastien Wunsch (1827 – 1905) living in Ada, Kent, Michigan
Agnes Barr (1829 – 1895) living in Ada, Kent, Michigan
Genovefa Umlor (1832 – 1901) living in Ada, Kent, Michigan
John Anthony Wunsch (1837 – 1907), living in Ada, Kent, Michigan
Barbara Snyder (1839 – 1908) living in Traverse City, Michigan
Mary Frances Holbrook (1855 – 1940) living in Plymouth, Wayne, MI
Alfred Tanguary (1855 – 1920) living in East Clarkston, Missouri
William Tanguary (1856 – after 1920) living in Wabash, Illinois
John F. Tanguary (1846 – after 1915), living in Wabash, Illinois
Emily Patterson (1847 – after 1900), living in Richfield, Michigan
Dillon George (1849 – after 1900), living in Livingston, Michigan
Lester George (1852 – after 1920), living in Portland, Oregon
Fidell George (1855 – 1916) living in Volusia, Florida
John A. German (1857 – after 1910), living in Detroit, Wayne, Michigan

The explanation for omitting Fidel Jr. in the will may have been his father or younger brothers thought he was well enough off that he didn’t need the family farm, or the brothers wanted a clear title to the farm for themselves without Fidel, who was getting up in years, knowing.

The brothers may not have known Karoline Wunsch, who came over to America about 1851, much later than the family in 1831, lived in Plymouth, Michigan only a brief time, and left for Ada, Kent, Michigan to raise a family, maybe without much contact with her Herr Family back in Nankin..

The brothers may also have paid the stipend provided the daughters to their off springs without mention in the record.

In any event, what is passed is passed and I think almost one hundred twenty years later, it is too late to resurrect Fidel Herr and the grandchildren’s descendants’ claim to the estate now.

Supporting Documentation

Herr, Fidel
Estate: 1890
Died: 1867
Nankin , Wayne, Michigan
Will dated: 7 November 1862

Died —-1867, Nankin, Wayne, Michigan
Will dated 7 November 1862

Estate: 1890
Herr, Joseph (son & Executor) Nankin, Wayne, Mich
Herr, Enos (Son & Executor) Nankin, Wayne, Mich
Herr, Clarissa Herr (daughter) Nankin Wayne Mich
Tanguary (Nee Herr) Theresa (Daughter, deceased) Nankin, Wayne, Mich
Holbrook (nee Herr) Jane (Daughter, deceased) Nankin, Wayne, Mich
Herr, Barbara (Daughter, deceased) Nankin, Wayne, Mich
Herr, George (son- deceased) Nankin Wayne Mich
German (Nee Herr) Mary Ann (Daughter) Detroit, Wayne, Mich

Filed December 9, 1890

To The Hon. Edgar O. Durfee, Judge of Probate for the County of Wayne, in the State of Michigan:
The petition of Joseph Herr, who is the age of 21 and upwards, of the County of Wayne respectfully shows:
That Fidel Herr departed this life on (blank) the (blank) day of (blank) in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty – seven leaving a last Will and Testament, as your petitioner is informed and verily believes, which will is herewith presented for probate and wherein your petitioner and Enos Herr are appointed executors thereof.

That said deceased was, at the time of his death, an inhabitant of Nankin in said County of Wayne, that he was possessed of real and personal Estate, situate and being in the County of Wayne, to be administered, and that the estimated value thereof is the sum of (blank) Dollars, or thereabouts, of which (blank) Dollars is personal estate, as your petitioner is informed and verily believes.

And your petitioner further shows that the names and residences of the heirs at law od said deceased, and other persons interested in his estate, are as follows:

Enos Herr and your petitioner, the sons of said deceased, residing in said Nankin, and Theresa Tanguary, deceased, Jane Holbrook, deceased, Barbara George, deceased, Mary Ann German, and Clarisa Herr, the daughter of said deceased. That said Enos, Joseph, and Clarissa reside in said Nankin and said Mary Ann German resides in Detroit in said county.

Your petitioner therefore prays said will may be admitted to probate and to said Enos Herr and your petitioner or some other suitable person, and that such other and further order and proceedings may be had in the premises as may be required by the statutes in such case made amd provided.
Dated November 12, A.D. 1890
(Signed) Joseph Herr

Last Will and Testament of Fidel, Herr

In the name of God Amen, I, Fidel Herr of the town of Nankin, County of Wayne, and the State of Michigan, being sound of mind and memory & considering the uncertainties of this frail life, do heretofore, make and ordain, publish, & declare, this to be my last will and testament. That is to say, first after all my lawful debts are paid and discharged, the residue of my estate, real & personal, I give, bequeath, to the following (wit), To my two Sons, Enos Herr, & Joseph Herr, my farm and appurements thereon, situated in the Town of Nankin, in the county of Wayne, & State of Michigan., together with all my personal effects, of which I may be possessed at my decease. My two sons, Enos & Joseph, are to pay to my daughter Teresa, twenty-five dollars, to my daughter Mary Ann twenty-five dollars, to my daughter Clarissa, fifty dollars, to my daughter Jane and Barbary, twenty five dollars, Likewise, I appoint, make, and constitute my said sons, Enos & Joseph, to be my executors of this my last will & testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me made.

In witness whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my seal the seventh day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two.

The above written instrument was subscribed by the said Fidel Herr in our presents, and acknowledged by him to each of us: and he at the same time published and declared the above instrument and subscribed to
His last will and testament, and we, at the testator’s request and we, at the testaor’s request & in his presents, have signed our names as witnesses hereto, and writen opposite our names our respective places of residences.

Harry Dow Nankin Wayne County State of Michigan
B.C. Bunnell Livonia, Wayne Co, Michigan
Last Will and Testament of Fidel Herr (continued)

State of Michigan in the County of Wayne Probate Court for said County, I Edgar O. Durfee Judge of Probate In and For the County do hereby certify that the foregoing instrument was this day duly found ande allowed as and for the last will and testament of Fidel Herr late of Nankin Township in said County deceased as fully appears from the order entered in the journal of the said court.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto rendered my hand and official seal of said writ the 5th December eighteen hundred ninety.

Edgar O. Durfee
Judge of Probate.