Franz Adam Knapp’s last will and testament

Thanks to our cousin from Colorado, Nancy Knapp Shepard, I just posted a copy of the handwritten last will and testament of our immigrant ancestor, Franz Adam Knapp, onto the Document Gallery part of this blog.

Thanks for sharing, Nancy!

Nancy obtained this document from the Portage County Historical Society in Ravenna. She was kind enough to send me a digital copy so I could post it online.

The handwriting is tricky to read and you may have to enlarge the image or zoom in to read everything. I will try to get a typewritten transcript posted this weekend.

Some highlights of the document, though, include:

  • Here we see Franz has chosen to “Americanize” his first name, changing it from “Franz” to “Francis.” I have seen that before in the Federal Census as well. Given the way immigrants were (and still are viewed today by some Americans) it is understandable that he would use the English version of the German name.
  • The will is handwritten, but I doubt that Franz Adam wrote it himself. It was probably written by a lawyer and signed by Franz Adam.
  • Franz Adam names his brother, John Adam Knapp, as the executor of his estate.
  • His wife, Eva Elizabeth Jost/Joest Knapp, received all of the household/kitchen goods and furniture on the farm, including the cooking stove. She was also received the sum of $45.
  • Apparently, Franz’s son, John Knapp, had borrowed money from his father.  The will mentions a $101 note. It doesn’t mention why John borrowed the money. But Franz left his son saddled with paying all the expenses from his last illness, paying everything that was left to the rest of the family from the note’s balance, plus settle up any final accounts for his father’s estate! Now, if you do the math, that exceeds the $101 note amount mentioned in the will. So I am a little puzzled by that.  If anyone in the family knows anything about this, please send us a note at KnappNotes and let us know.
  • John Knapp did receive the farm implements, tools, and a share of the farm’s crops. However, the will did not specifically mention who inherited the farm itself. At least, not that I could make out, bad handwriting and all…so if anyone knows more about that question, please post it as a comment or send me an email at KnappNotes.
  • Franz Adam Knapp’s daughters did not receive equal inheritances.  If the younger, unmarried daughters had received more, I would understand. Married women had husbands to take care of them – or so people thought back in that day. But there is a big disparity between what Margaret inherited versus what was left to her married sister, Elizabeth Kelly. Here is what the girls received:
    • Margaret Spillman received only $5! Did she make her father angry by marrying Joseph Spillman? Or was it the fact that she moved out west to Illinois that angered him? Interestingly, there are NO family names included in the names of Margaret’s children: no Johns (highly unusual for a Knapp), no Franz/Francis, no Adam, etc. All Margaret’s children have distinctly different names, like Olympia, Matilda, Charles, Amelia, Fredrick, etc.
    • Elizabeth Kelly received $50. Note: In the will, it is spelled “Kelly,” but I have seen it on other records spelled as “Kelley.” Elizabeth lived in Michigan – and she named one of her sons Francis A. Kelley – after her father, I assume. Apparently they were still on good terms.
    • Eve Knapp received $50. I didn’t know there was a daughter named Eve, so this was new information. I will have to track down what happened to her.
    • There are two daughters named Elizabeth mentioned. One is married to a man named Kelly/Kelley and the other one is an underage, still living at home daughter named Elizabeth Knapp. I thought there was only one Elizabeth in the family. Will have to do more research on this puzzle, too.

Anyway, if you wish to read the entire document, here is the link to page 1 of the handwritten version. Here is the link to page 2 of the will.

Or you can find it by selecting: Document Gallery >> Deaths and then scrolling to the bottom of the Document Gallery list of thumbnail images. Click on the image to the left to see a bigger version of it.

Check back later this week and I will try to write out the transcript for those of you who don’t want to decipher the handwriting on your own.

Also: perhaps I will have an opportunity to do some further research to answer some of the questions I have posed about the contents of the will.

As always, I invite any of you with information or comments to please share your insights with the rest of Clan Knapp. Comparing notes is always helpful.

Have a great week – and stay safe in all of this Ohio snow we’re getting!

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1 Response to Franz Adam Knapp’s last will and testament

  1. Martha W says:

    Hello there, Eva Knapp, if I am on the right track, is my g- g- grandmother. My Eva named her first son Frank Adam and family notes specify that her mother was Eva Youst- so this may be her. Eva married Adam Kilian, born in Hesse Darmstadt, and settled down in Winona, MN. Six children. They were divorced in 1879 (yikes-they were catholic!) I am still trying to figure out how they met, as the marriage took place in Winona in 1860. Thank you for sharing the will.


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