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William Henry Downing Probate

William Henry Downing Probate

William Henry Downing’s probate file came from the Logan County Circuit Clerk. Parts of it could be found at IRAD and the whole probate would be in the FamilySearch files.


On December 2, 1903, in the typhoid epidemic, William Henry Downing died. He was the only child of William Nelson Downing, who died in the Civil War, ironically of “typhoid pneumonia,” and Delilah Downing Downing. He was 40 years old, not expecting to die and had no will.





His heirs were his widow Eliza Harding Downing, sons Clarence, Charles Ellis, Ennis and Floyd. Clarence was 17 and Floyd was 7. [Floyd isn’t in the picture.]


The widow was named Administrix on December 8, 1903. David Shellhammer, husband of Delilah Downing Downing, and James Shellhammer, Delilah’s first son by her second marriage, stood as sureties. Appointed as appraisers were Lewis Upp, Charles Brooker and William Beckers, all three very close neighbors. Brooker would become the father in law of the eldest son Clarence. Upp was married to a Lincoln, descendant of the same immigrant ancestor as the more famous Lincoln.


They finished up their work promptly and reported on December 28, 1903, valuing the property of the estate at $4,700.25. The list is four pages long and is quite specific at times – “6 rocking chairs, 1 bay mare named Brownie, 1 red steer, 1 gray mare, 66 hogs” – and less specific at others – “1 lot of chickens” [which I first read as “a lot of chickens”]. 


The value of the widow’s property as prescribed by law, which included school books, a sewing machine, beds, one fourth of a cow for every family member [fortunately for the cow there were four members], two sheep for every family member, one horse, etc., was $1,281.50. 


The Administrix reported on March 23, 1907. There was $4,700.25 in receipts which included $599.37 for “property not sold but kept…to make up amount shown on appraisement bill.” In the long list of bills totalling $3,704.76 we learn that funeral expense was $263.75 and the stone cost $1,140. The balance after all bills was $995.49, less than the widows’ amount.





The land apparently passed separately. It is not mentioned. Each son received 80 acres which was farmed by son Ellis until the early 1970s. Most of it is now farmed by his grandson, Roy Downing.

Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer Will

Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer Will

Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer was the youngest child of Robert Downing whose probate was previously discussed. I had never considered that she had a will or probate but I found it in the probate records posted online at FamilySearch. These probate files are more work to collect, not being word searchable, but they are also free. Help with the records





Delilah died June 22, 1909. She first married William Nelson Downing who died in the Civil War. She then married David Shellhammer. She had a son, William Henry Downing, by her first husband. William Henry died in 1903 leaving four sons. She had two sons, James and Albert, and two daughters, Sarah Jane Shellhammer West and Augusta Shellhammer Park, by her second husband. 


On June 1, 1909, Delilah executed a will. Delilah couldn’t write and had to sign it with her mark. Whether Delilah couldn’t write or was too ill to write at the time is unknown.


Delilah very carefully and specifically divided her property into fifths giving one fifth to each child and the remaining fifth to be equally among the heirs of her deceased son William. Her estate consisted of her personal effects and furniture and land in Section 1, Mt. Pulaski Township. She directed that one heir buy out all the others and that the others cooperate to do that.


Finally she named T. A. Scroggin executor of her will. There were no claims against the estate. Everyone cooperated and probate closed November 1, 1909. 


Some of Delilah’s descendants should have taken a lesson from her will.