Wills - NJ - 1901 - John S. Compton

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Wills - NJ - 1901 - John S. Compton

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The Compton Suits Ended

The Estate Finally Settled Last Friday

The Estate of John S. Compton of Belford, Inventoried at About $10,000, Shrinks to $890 During Three Years of Lawing(sp).

The long-drawn out contest over the estate of John S. Compton of Belford came to an end on Friday, when Joseph S. Clark, the executor, rendered his final account in court and an order for the distribution of the estate was made. Three years of litigation ensued after the death of Mr. Compton and the estate of $10,000 dwindled to $890. This, according to the terms of the will, has to be divided in six equal parts among the six brothers and sisters of Mr. Compton or their descendants. Each brother and sister will accordingly get $148.88 and a similar amount will be divided equally among the children of each deceased brother and sister. Out of the shares of Job Compton, Mrs. Hannah Matthews and the heirs of Seeley Compton was deducted bills for goods which they bought at the sale of John S. Compton's personal effects, so that the actual amount of cash turned over by the executor was $370. This was exclusive of counsel fees paid by the heirs, so that it is not likely that any of the heirs will get a cent.

John S. Compton died about three years ago. He left his coal yard property at Belford to his nephew, Joseph S. Clark, and all the rest of his estate was to go to his sister, Mrs. Huldah Clark, mother of Joseph Clark, for her use as long as she should live. Upon the death of Mrs. Clark the estate was to be divided equally between Mr. Compton's brothers and sisters or their heirs. The brothers and sisters living at the time of John S. Compton's death were Mrs. Huldah Clark and Job Compton of Belford, Seelay Compton of Keansburg, and Mrs. Hannah Matthews of Asbury Park. Joseph S. Clark was made the executor of the will.

A contest over the will was begun by the surviving brothers and sisters. Mrs. Clark, to whom the estate was left, had kept house for her brother up to the time of his death, and undue influence on her part was alleged by the other heirs. Before the suit was settled Mrs. Clark died. As the estate was now, under the will, to go to the natural heirs of Mr. Compton, the will was admitted to probate. John C. Clark of Brooklyn was appointed administrator of the estate of his mother and he put in a bill of $8,000 to the estate of John S. Compton for his mother's services in caring for Mr. Compton during the time that she kept house for him. This claim was knocked out in a trial at Freehold on the ground that Mr. Compton had compensated his sister for her services by leaving her a life right in almost his entire estate.

Then began a series of objections by the heirs to items which the executor included in his account as debts of the estate. One of the items objected to was a note for $1,200, which the executor claimed was an accommodation note, made for Mr. Compton's personal use during his lifetime, but which the heirs claimed was a personal note of the executor and which had been endorsed by Mr. Compton. There was another long drawn out lawsuit over this note, but the note was finally allowed as a debt of the estate.

Another bone of contention was a quantity of coal which Mr. Compton had ordered, but which was not delivered until after his death. All the stock on hand in the coalyard was included in the bequest to Mr. Clark, the executor; but the heirs wanted Mr. Clark to pay for the coal that was delivered after Mr. Compton's death. A lawsuit followed and Mr. Clark won his point, the court holding that the bill for coal ordered by Mr. Compton during his lifetime was a debt which his estate must pay.

In all the litigation William Pintard of Red Bank was counsel for the executor. His fees, which came out of the estate amounted to nearly $2,000. Mr. Clark, the executor, says that he was ready to make an accounting at any time and that the delay was caused by the obstructions put in his way by the heirs. He says that almost the entire expense of settling the estate was due to the litigation started by the heirs.

Of the brothers and sisters of John S. Compton only two are now living. These are Job Compton and Mrs. Hannah Matthews. Seeley Compton died while at work in the bay a few weeks ago. The other heirs who will share in the distribution of the estate are the issue of Seeley Compton, Cornelius Compton, Mrs. Louisa Walling and Mrs. Huldah Clark.

Had there been no contest over the will each share would have amounted to about $1,000, instead of $148.33 as at present. A number of book accounts which were inventoried as good proved to be worthless, and this cut down the value of the estate considerably

One of the incidents connected with the case was the sale of the personal property of John S. Compton. Mrs. Matthews of Asbury Park bought five shares of stock of the Port Monmouth steamboat company. She paid $251 for the five shares, and gave her note in payment, expecting to pay the note from her share of the estate. The note came due before the estate was settled and went to protest. The note was never paid and when the estate was settled last Friday, and the payments make to the heirs, the court directed the executor to give Mrs. Matthews credit on the note for the amount of her share of the estate, and the balance due on the note, including protest fees and interest, will have to be paid by her. She offered to let the executor take back the shares of steamboat stock at the price she paid but this offer was refused by the executor.

Source: Red Bank Register, Wednesday, Jul 10, 1901

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