52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 18:
Where There’s a Will
Family Finds Charter Oak

Where There’s a Will

Lately I have been thinking about grandparents and how they care for grandchildren. Particularly when a grandchild has lost a parent, to death or other circumstance. With this week’s prompt, Where There’s a Will, those thoughts took me to the will of my 3rd great grandfather, Jesse King, 1805-1868. [1] Jesse left a legacy in his will for his granddaughter, Susan Candess King, 1862-1920. [2] Jesse had 8 other grandchildren at the time of his death, but Susan was the only one to be named in his will. I wrote a post about Jesse and his will and probate a few years ago, read about it here. [3]

Susan Candess King, 1862-1920

Susan was born to Rebecca Babb and Philip King [4] on March 7, 1862 in Black Creek Township, Mercer County, Ohio, probably in the farm house of her grandparents, Catherine Sivey and Jesse King. Shortly after her birth, in August of 1862, Susan’s father Philip enlisted in the 99th Ohio Volunteer Infantry for the duration of the Civil War. Susan was left fatherless on  December 17, 1864 when Philip King died from a wound received at the Battle of Nashville. [5] Susan and her mother Rebecca continued to live with Philip’s parents on the King family farm. [6]

Grandfather’s Will and Probate

Sadly, on March 28, 1868, Susan’s grandfather Jesse King died. But, Jesse remembered his young granddaughter in his will and left her a legacy of $600. [7] The legacy was left in trust for Susan with her ‘guardian‘ until she was ‘of age or married‘. The guardian is not named in the will, and a specific age for receiving the legacy is not defined. However, on October 27, 1874 the legacy is paid out by Jesse’s estate to her guardian. The guardian is identified in the probate file as a man named Josiah Wilmore. [8] Susan was just 12, so I presume Mr. Wilmore was simply taking control of the legacy from the estate executor, which so happens was Susan’s grandmother Catherine Sivey King. I have researched Josiah Wilmore and found no family connection to Susan, but he appears to have been a successful local business man. In the 1870 census Josiah lived in the Village of Willshire (Van Wert County, OH) and reported he manufactured flour (a miller?) and had real estate worth $6000 and a personal estate worth $500. [9]

Jesse King
Catherine Sivey King

Jesse King's Probate File

Jesse King probate P5
Jesse King probate P48
Susan King Rutherford family

Loss of a Grandmother

Although Susan’s guardian is Mr. Wilmore, Susan lived with her mother and paternal grandmother on the King family farm. (The King farm is on the south-side of Winkler Rd, southeast of Willshire, in Mercer County, OH.) On March 9, 1878, Susan’s paternal grandmother Catherine Sivey King dies at age 62. [10] Catherine, Jesse and Philip King are all buried in the family cemetery behind the farmhouse. The little cemetery sits in a cluster of trees, surrounded by an old iron fence and just feet to the west of the cornfield.

Marriage and Family

Susan’s mother Rebecca Babb King remarries in 1879 to a man named James Willy and the two of them go to live on his farm in Adams County, IN. Before 1884 Susan is living in Willshire, OH again and meets the man she will marry, Milton Henry Rutherford. The two elope to Detroit to get married on September 12, 1884. [11] Susan was 22 and Milton was 26, perhaps they eloped because Susan’s mother or her guardian did not approve? Susan and Milton’s first son was born in Willshire in July 1885, but by September 1886 the couple was living in Pulaski County, IN when their second son was born. Then, in April 1888 they are living in Scioto County, OH when their third son is born. I am unsure what occupation Milton had during this time, but by 1900 he was working in a sheet metal foundry. He continued doing foundry work until shortly before his death in 1914. Susan and Milton had two daughters, one in 1900 the other in 1903, both born in Madison County, IN. [2]

The Legacy

I have not discovered records specific to when or how Susan received her legacy from her guardian Mr. Wilmore. I presume she may have received it soon after her marriage in 1884 as her grandfather wished. Six hundred dollars does not sound like much today, but in 1868 it was equivalent to more than $10,000 today. Presumably Mr. Wilmore invested the legacy conservatively and took the interest or earnings for his trouble and returned at least $600 to Susan in 1884. If so, that may have been good for her because between 1868 and 1884 there was DEFLATION and that $600 would have greater buying power. Between 1884 and 1900 the economy continued to experience deflation but at a slower rate. Nonetheless, the buying power of that $600 would have nearly doubled. But, I believe Susan had access to the money prior to 1900 because she purchased, in her name alone, several home building lots in Elwood, Madison County, IN. The couple were living in a house built on one of these lots when their first daughter was born in 1900. Then, in 1909 Susan re-titled the house and remaining lots into both her name and Milton’s. While Susan’s legacy would have been enough to purchase the 5 home sites in Elwood, I doubt it was enough to build a house. A new house would have cost about $2000 to build, but the couple may have secured a loan through a local lender, maybe even one connected with the foundry where Milton worked.


I may never know the specifics of Susan’s legacy from her grandfather. The fact her grandfather left her a legacy that was nearly equal to the amount her father would have received, had he lived, surprised me. I had the impression that women, whether daughters or granddaughters, were often excluded or looked-over when dividing a farming estate. Jesse King’s probate file is full of information about the worth of his assets, how they were accounted for, sold and credited to his heirs. Finding a probate record digitized online from 150 years ago is fantastic! Where there’s a will, there is a probate file.

Susan King Family Tree


Susan faced several challenges later in her life. In 1907 (2 days before Christmas) Susan’s husband, Milton Henry Rutherford, had a serious fall at work that nearly cost him his life. Milton worked as a laborer at the Penn-American Plate Glass foundry in Elwood, IN and fell into a 12 foot deep pit while repairing a piece of machinery. Then, in May 1910 the family home in Elwood, IN burnt to the ground. Fortunately, Susan and her two youngest children were away visiting family. Her husband, Milton, and youngest son, Harry, were home but awoke in time to escape. [12] They rebuilt the house on the same lot, 1506 S. 24th St., and I believe it is the home in the photograph above. The house still exists, although it has undergone some renovations and additions since 1910. By 1914 Milton was in failing health and the family moved to Colorado. The Rutherford’s bought a homestead in Montezuma County, CO (about 60 miles northeast of Four Corners National Monument and at nearly 7000′ elevation) and moved there with their two youngest children, Doris and Ella. Soon after arriving, Milton took a team and wagon into the town of Dolores to purchase supplies. On the return trip to the homestead he lost control of the team on a steep road, he fell from the wagon and was both dragged and ran over. Milton died June 30, 1914 and Susan and her daughters brought his body home for burial in Willshire, OH. [13]


  1.  Profile for Jesse King, ‘Osborn‘ family tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/12174086946/facts
  2. Profile for Susan Candess King, ‘Osborn‘ family tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/12482008399/facts
  3. Online post. “Probate of Jesse King 1868” by Barb LaFara, posted April 2017; https://barblafara.com/probate-jesse-king-1868/
  4. Profile for Phillip King, ‘Osborn‘ family tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/12477805654/facts
  5. Entry for Philip King, Ancestry.com. U.S. Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, compiled 1861–1865. ARC ID: 656639. Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s–1917. Record Group 94. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/107713714 Image# 39.
  6. Susan King, Year: 1870; Census Place: Black Creek, Mercer, Ohio; Roll: M593_1243; Page: 22A; Family History Library Film: 552742; National Archives Microfilm Publication M593; Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.
  7. Jesse King will, Item 4 on page 5 of 60; Probate Case Files and Indexes 1852-1900; Probate Place: Mercer, Ohio; Ancestry.com. Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Ohio County, District and Probate Courts.
  8. Ibid, page 48 of 60.
  9. Entry for Josiah Wilmore, Year: 1870; Census Place: Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio; Roll: M593_1275; Page: 449A; Family History Library Film: 552774; National Archives Microfilm Publication M593; Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.
  10. Catherine Sivey King, Online memorial, FindAGrave.com, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/21914880/catherine-king
  11. Entry for Sue King, Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 30; Film Description: 1885 Leelanau-1885 Wexford; Ancestry.com. Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.
  12. Two Bad FiresThe Call-Leader, Elwood, Indiana, 02 May 1910, Page 1, col 4. Newspapers.com, access online: https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=60147296
  13. M. Rutherford Met Death in ColoradoThe Call-Leader, Elwood, Indiana, 01 Jul 1914, Page 1, col 6. Newspapers.com, access online: https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=60146763


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