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Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017

Three Plates, Six Spoons and One Tea Pot

Posted Sunday, February 20, 2011, at 3:00 PM

Back in 1763, the 19th of September to be exact, Theobald Mechling made out his last will and testament. He stated he was old and weak of body but of a sound and perfect mind and memory.

He seemed rather generous for the time and from what the will stated was fairly well off for the times.

He spelled out what was left to his wife and children.

He left his wife, Elisabeth, "one complete bed and bed stead with all the furniture, one cow, one side saddle worth three pound and ten shillings, one chest, one spinning weal (wheel), two iron pots, a black one and a small one, all the flax which was not spun into yarn at his decease (death) and two butter dishes, three plates, six spoons, one tea pot, two bureaus, one pine."

Further into the will, while he left the plantation to his son, he spelled out that the son had to provide his mother a "one good room in the house to live in and a bed in the garden next to the old house about thirteen feet broad up the whole length of the garden and one long row of apple trees in the orchard for her own use in her natural life if she remains a widow."

She was also to receive one third of the rent of the plantation as long as she remained a widow, which would be paid yearly to her.

This was interesting because while the wording isn't much different the intent is there. She was to take care of and be taken care of by the family provided she did not remarry.

He also made Elisabeth and his 'second' son Peter to be sole executors of his will and testament. Elisabeth again could serve in this capacity if she did not marry again.

In the last part of the will he even provided instructions in case there was any disagreement between the family members.

"In case, any dispute should arise between my children among themselves or between my children or my wife or between them or my executors then in such case I be hereby order that they shall not go to Law with each other to dispute, but it is my will and I do order that all disputes shall be settled between three men in ye neighborhood chosen by them as arbitrators and according them, three men their judgments, each party shall stand and be satisfied accordingly."

This was from copies of a family genealogy put together by Dorothy Mercy almost three decades ago which had to be quite an undertaking because this was pre-computer days. I can't even imagine the time all this research took.

While the wording isn't quite twenty-first century lingo, it illustrated that people really don't changed much.

They marry, have children, and then they have to figure out who gets what 'stuff.' It is fascinating because this info is almost 250 years old.

Theobald wanted his Elisabeth to be taken care of but he definitely made it clear that she was taken care of provided she did not become anyone else's spouse. But he left her the good saddle. Heaven forbid, she went out riding or visiting and was seen with a cheap side saddle.

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Great blog, Betsy! I find it fascinating that he had instructions in case there was a disagreement. I've always found it fascinating the "stuff" families will fight over after a loved one passes away. It's still just stuff!

-- Posted by saveryhinze on Mon, Feb 21, 2011, at 10:55 AM

Betsy, thanks for the excellent story of life long ago. I hope you don't mind, but the story prompted me to quickly compose this ditty, so I'll leave it here, and may also place my thoughts on my Blog. Hope Ed don't mind:

The Good Old Days?

by Arley Steinhour 022111

Ah, them days, when men were men, and women only chattel,

Boys grew up knowing they were in charge, and women were no better than cattle.

At end of life, it was the job, for Pa to settle any problem,

be it real or not, mama couldn't handle the strain of loosing her 'Problem.'

Today, we have a problem, with thinking ways, of old,

Men still be Men, but women, are now ever so cleaver, and Bold.

Sadly so, for not like days of old, young husbands and wives quickly flys,

Men and Women don't stay together, and upon divorce, it be no body, who crys.

Times have changed, so very much, we know not where we are,

All these years have passed along, and we've gone backward, so very far.

The Good-old-days, cannot return, if only they truly could,

where women truly ruled the house, and hubby still chopped wood.


-- Posted by Navyblue on Mon, Feb 21, 2011, at 3:13 PM

Lori - thanks. The entire will was fascinating and quite the snapshot of the times. But the passages in the blog were the ones that caught the attention of the family and friends that read it.

Arley - thank you for the poetry. I honestly can say I haven't written anything that has inspired a poem before. I will say I am glad I am a woman of the 20th/21th century, though. :)

-- Posted by coolidge on Mon, Feb 21, 2011, at 9:43 PM

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