My 3x great grandmother, Eva Meinberg Haase, died Sept. 11, 1919. Eleven days later, her husband Edward Haase, my 3x great grandfather, wrote a will containing some interesting information, information I believe he had kept secret from his wife, since he didn't put it in writing till after she had passed. In fact, this info made me unsure that this will even belonged to MY Edward Haase till I saw my 2x great grandfather mentioned as a beneficiary and executor of the will. The secret info that was revealed? My 3x great grandfather had a second family, an illegitimate son, something I NEVER knew until I read this will. I imagine Eva never knew, and I wonder how much my 2x great grandfather, Gus Haase, knew, or if he found out when his father died just two months later on Nov. 25, 1919 that he had a 10 year old half-brother, Edward George Haase.
So in the second item in the will, Edward Sr. left $15,000 to be used for the support and education of an Edward George Haase, born January 15, 1909. The will does not explicitly say that Edward is his son, but Edward is NOT one of his any known nephews, and the only other people named as beneficiaries are his one known son, Gus, and Edward's siblings. $15,000 in 1919 is the equivalent of more than $200,000 today, and a lot of money to leave randomly to someone who just happens to have the same last name as you...In genealogy, we rely on compelling evidence to make a case. But we also rely on experience and educated guesses to carry us through until we find the evidence that proves or disproves a theory about a family member. I believe Edward the younger was my Edward's illegitimate son.
The third item of the will leaves money to a variety of people, all relatives, except for the very first person, Catharine Graham, to whom Edward leaves $5,000. Catharine Graham was also appointed the guardian of Edward the younger in terms of the inheritance Edward the elder left him. A search of census records reveals that Catharine Graham was also Edward the younger's mother.
Wills and probate records are some of my favorite sources of family history documentation - they can be RICH with details about family relationships, the financial status and physical holdings of an individual, and, as it turns out, family secrets as well.