As usual there is the wish that somewhere in time the family had riches beyond belief that would have solved all of your problems, had the ancestors been the least bit wise with their money. I have a cousin that was sure there was money left with the family in Northern Pennsylvania. We all knew, having lived it, there wasn’t any money unless someone had buried a giant bag of it in some back yard, or better yet took it with them to the grave.
I had searched for the will of my great-great grandfather only to find a list of debts and no will. It is rather hard to leave anything when there is nothing to leave. It listed out everything that he had purchased and still owed on from milk to new suits. The grand total was $1618.65. It would take my great-great grandmother more than 2 years, using funds from my great-great grandfather’s interests in an oil field to pay off the debt.
That much money in today’s standards doesn’t seem to be all that much. After using the calculator at measuringworth.com a different picture is seen of exactly what these charges amount to in today’s terms – $28,869.37 using the consumer price index.
It now makes it a lot clearer why it took grandmother so long to pay off the debt. His personal property only amounted to $691.12, using today’s values that would be $15,478.87, about half what he owed.
The $50.00 legal fees that she was charged would amount to $1,119.00 in today’s dollars. His tailors bills amounting to $200, translated to $4,479. It wasn’t much cheaper to be buried then either, the grave was $12.00 and the undertaker charged $175, a $4,188.00 charge in today’s cash.
The same grandmother’s father had been rumored to at one time have been worth $300,000 in 1911, a whopping $6,361,563.52 in 2005! He ended up destitute and begging the government for the mother’s pension of their son that had died in the Civil War. Having made his money in the oil fields, from my scattered research, he seems to have lost it when oil conglomerates started taking over controlling the price and delivery of oil, slowly squeezing out the small operators. It really makes you wonder where all of that money went.