September 2009

Family Wills & Estate Auctions

Review of Quilly Manley Zinn's Will & the Estate Sale of John Zinn.

By Melanie Fouse

After seeing the pictures of the Spiker Buggy, (viewable in last month’s edition of the Gazette) I wondered whom it belonged to first and how it would be kept in the family. Which Spiker descendant would be the next in line to “take up the reins” of preserving this family heirloom, or would it one day be sold at an estate auction? The only way to ensure this particular treasure would stay in our family is to put it in the owner’s Will. 

While thinking of this, I remembered the copies of a Will and an estate auction Bill of Sale that was so generously given to me by Yvonne Haines, a reader of this newsletter and a contributor to the Spiker Family stories (read Yvonne’s contribution by clicking here.)  She tried to scan them into her computer and email them to me but the ink was so faded on the original that even copies are hard to read and the scans nearly impossible to decipher. After emailing back and forth a number of times, she very generously went out and had them copied and mailed them to me. I reverently read over them and filed them away with my genealogy paperwork where they have remained untouched. Until now. 

Remembering that I had these in my possession, I wanted to share them with all of you (links at end of article). The Will  is Quilly Manley Zinn’s and the estate auction’s Bill of Sale lists the possessions of John Zinn.  In case you need to be reminded of the line of descent, it goes like this…John Zinn, Quilly Manley Zinn, Marion Bukey Zinn to Gay Zinn Spiker. If you remember the tombstone hunt we went on, (read the article here) John’s tombstone is the special one with the tree carved into it depicting his family tree, with a branch for each of his daughters on one side and his sons on the other side.

I’ve transcribed the records exactly as written in the record book, including the capitalizations and the repeated words. It’s slightly harder to read this way but is an accurate transcription of how it looks. After the death of an individual, his or her Will was brought into court where two of the witnesses swore that the document was genuine. After the Will was proved, the executor was bonded to carry out his duties to settle the estate. The court would then order the Will to be recorded. The Will and the Bill of Sale in this instance are in the same handwriting as the respective recorder’s, so I’m not sure if the signatures are actually those of the witnesses, etc. I assume the recorder just rewrote what was on the original Will itself. 

I particularly enjoyed reading the estate auction record.  John Zinn died in 1848 but the estate sale wasn’t recorded until 1851, so I’m not sure what took so long. Of note in the Appraisals was the very first item on the list……“A gray horse (deceased) worth $10.00.”  Laughing at this, I had to call Mom (Dean Spiker) to inform her but she reminded me that John and his sons had owned a tannery (for animal hides) so they were probably appraising something the dead horse could be used to make. Also, the widow, Ruth Gandy Zinn, had apparently collected some money from the sale before the estate bills were finally paid and it is listed in there that the “widow is indebted to the estate for $59.57”. Thought that was interesting as well. A lot of the items were bought by his children but there are a few people from the neighborhood listed as having bought some items. You can read the transcriptions of Quilly Manley Zinn’s Will and the Estate Sale of John Zinn at the bottom of this page.


  • Submitted by Dean Spiker – I had to share how proud I am of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  As many people know, Shelly’s kids are active in 4-H and FFA.  They did exceptionally well in “showing” their animals this year but I was surprised to hear that Little Robby (Bub) did not show a pig.  He always excels in that category.  I was happy to learn the story behind this story.  As my granddaughter, Shelly, told us…We always try to help other 4-H and FFA kids by offering them the opportunity to show or learn, even when they don’t have a place to keep an animal.  This year we had an FFA member that didn’t have a place to keep a pig.  Bub and this girl are great friends.  He suggested the idea of keeping the pig at our place.  She would help by coming out to take care of it when she could.  Pigs do better in pairs, and since we have two hog pens, it wouldn’t be a problem.  Rob and I agreed to the plan.  Well, her pig didn’t grow out quite right this year and fair animals have to make weight in order to show and sell.  Her pig didn’t make weight and Bub was upset.  So he traded pigs with her!  She ended up showing and taking 2nd in her class.  I’m so proud of him.  This was a wonderful thing to do and proves to my husband and me that the volunteer hours we put into these programs are so worth the lessons our children learn from the experience.

  • Submitted by Dean Spiker – Jeff and his grandson, Derek, raised a lot of produce in their gardens this year.  There was no way Jeannie could freeze or can all of it and no way we could eat all of it so “Derek’s Produce Stand” was set up on our front lawn.  When “shoppers” arrived, Derek would ride over to them on the four-wheeler, put out his hand and say, “Hi.  I’m Derek.  What’s your name?  What can we do for you today?”  He’s such a charming and professional businessman.  He is saving the money he’s earning for a big purchase – a go-cart.

  • Submitted by Jeannie Spiker – (As read in the Weston Democrat)  Six judges from the WV Conservation Agency recently toured the John Spiker Family Farm by tractor-drawn wagon as they worked to determine the WV Conservation Farm of 2009.  The farm was first selected as the West Fork Conservation District Farm of the Year and later named Area2 Conservation Farm of the Year.  The winner of the judging for the statewide award will be announced at the WV Conservation Agency’s fall conference this October.