Weird and Bizarre Last Will and Testaments Part 1

About a variety of strange and bizarre last will and testaments in history.


S. SANBORN, American hatter, died 1871

Last Will: Sanborn left his body to science, bequeathing it to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.--then professor of anatomy at Harvard Medical School--and to one of Holmes's colleagues. He stipulated, however, that two drums were to be made out of his skin and presented to his friend Warren Simpson, provided that every June 17th at dawn he would drum out the tune "Yankee Doodle" at Bunker's Hill. After he had been skinned and carved for anatomy class, the useless residue, he instructed, was "to be composited for a fertilizer to contribute to the growth of an American elm, to be planted in some rural thoroughfare."

JONATHAN JACKSON, Columbus, O., animal lover, died about 1880

Last Will: "It is man's duty as lord of animals to watch over and protect the lesser and feebler," he wrote in his will. To do his part, he left money for the creation of a cat house--that is, a place where cats were to enjoy such creature comforts as sleeping quarters, a dining hall, a conversation room, an auditorium where they could listen to live accordion music, an exercise area, and specially designed roofs for easy climbing.

JOHN BOWMAN, Vermont tanner, died 1891

Last Will: Predeceased by his wife and two daughters, he became convinced that after his death the family eventually would be reincarnated together. Therefore, he left a $50,000 trust fund for the maintenance of his 21-room mansion and a mausoleum in Cuttingsville, Vt. The will instructed servants to prepare dinner nightly in case the Bowmans came back on an empty stomach. This procedure was carried out until the trust was depleted in 1950.

HENRY DURRELL, Bermuda tycoon; will executed 1921

Last Will: Equally fond of his three nephews, this prominent Bermudan stipulated that a game of dice should determine which one was to inherit his grand estate overlooking Hamilton Harbor. After his death the trio dutifully rolled dice for the inheritance, and Richard Durrell won.

T. M. ZINK, Iowa lawyer, died 1930

Last Will: He left some $50,000 in trust for 75 yeas, at the end of which time he hoped the fund would have swelled to $3 million, enough to found the Zink Womanless Library. The words No Women Admitted were to mark each entrance. No books, works of art, or decorations by women were to be permitted in or about the premises. "My intense hatred of women," he explained in the will, "is not of recent origin or development nor based upon any personal differences I ever had with them but is the result of my experiences with women, observations of them, and study of all literatures and philosophical works." His family successfully challenged the will.

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