Author’s Probate Records Reveal Previously Unknown Property Ownership

Posted on Apr 15, 2014

The California estate of famous author and naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter found itself to be the owner of real estate in Indiana, according to recently uncovered documents. The home is located on Forest Park Boulevard in Fort Wayne.  A local resident, Terri Gorney, was doing research on the late author and was contacted by another resident who revealed the previously unknown connection. The property records show that Stratton-Porter owned her home from 1916 through 1924. The author passed away on December 6th of that year. The current owners bought the home in 1969. They say that the previous owners informed them of the home’s link to the famous author at the time that they purchased it.

Research unveiled that Stratton-Porter sold the home on May 29, 1919, on a contract basis. The terms of the deal called for the purchasers to pay Stratton-Porter $137.50 in cash, assign her $1,163.98 from the sale of the buyers’ other property, and to pay her $450 additional twice yearly until the full purchase price was paid off. In addition, the terms of the deal called for the buyers to build a garage on the property, pay the property taxes, and maintain the property until the price was paid off. Records show, however, that the buyers only made three of the required semi-annual payments. This means that Stratton-Porter still owned the property at the time of her death.

Under the terms of the author’s will, all of her possessions were left to her daughter, Jeannette Porter Meehan. Meehan, along with Stratton-Porter’s nephew-in-law, James Sweetser Lawshe, were named co-executors of the estate. The probate of the estate was opened in California. The estate sued the buyers’ of the property for failure to make payments on the purchase of the home. The estate sought $8,074.45, which includes interest. That case ended on September 28, 1926, with the estate agreeing to sell the property to the buyers for $8,833.33. The probate case is now part of the property record for the Indiana property.

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James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm