Illegitimate children expose illicit relations

Researching Lucy has given me an opportunity to learn many, many things about our history, including the court’s attitude toward illegitimate children in the early 1900s.   The following came from the Superior Court of California (County of Humboldt) probate record for Charles Mulberg (Lucy’s son) , who died “on or about March 23, 1928″.

Inheritance in all other cases is eliminated on account of public policy founded upon a moral reason.  If every illegitimate child could claim inheritance from his brothers and sisters, public scandal would be placed upon the head of many otherwise decent and respectable citizens.  The legislature therefore evidently considered it a better policy to lessen public scandal and deny inheritance to an illegitimate, than to throw open the doors of public scandal and gossip, subject many persons to questionable ridicule and permit an illegitimate to expose the  illicit relations of his or her ancestors, merely for the purpose of sharing the estate of his parent’s kindred.   It therefore left the right of inheritance of an illegitimate to these cases where the parents themselves had exposed such illicit relations by admitting parentage. …

 Sucks for the poor bastards (literally) whose parents didn’t want to claim them.

Now the Probate Record, which revealed much about Lucy and her children

Superior Court of California (County of Humboldt) probate record for Charles Mulberg, who died “on or about March 23, 1928

Rose Moranda, executor of the Estate, on behalf of, Anna Vick.  Anna Vick respectfully shows that she is the surviving sister of Charles Muhlberg, that the deceased was unmarried and left no surviving children; that the father and mother … are dead and the undersigned is next of kin and an heir at law… that the petitioner is a resident of Orland, Glenn County, CA, and  that it is not convenient for her to undertake the administration of the estate, but she requests that Rose Moranda of the City of Ferndale, .. be appointed administratrix of said estate in her stead.  Signed Annie Vick & Witnesses, Hazel Michelson and Eugene S Selvage.

The total state of the descendant does not exceed the sum of $1,500 goes to the following next of kin:

Mrs. Anna Vick, sister.. residing at Orland, Glenn County, CA

Rose … , cousin,  Ferndale, CA

Jim …, nephew, Orland, CA

Charles …, nephew, Orland, CA

John …, Nephew, Orland, CA

Rebecca …, niece, Orland, CA

Summary of Points and authorities as filed by Administratrix:

Rose … requests that the whole of the estate be distributed to Anna Vick. Emily L Turner filed her opposition to this petition, in which she requests that one half of the … estate be distributed to her, and one half to Anna Vick.

Anna Vick thereupon filed opposition to the petition of Emily Turner, in which she alleged that Carrie Wright, the mother of said Emily Turner, was an illegitimate half-sister of Charles, and further denied that Emily Turner was a daughter of Carrie Wright, now deceased.

Summary of Statement of Facts:

The testimony disclosed that Emily L. Turner was born march 21, 1872 in San Francisco.  She testified that Carrie Wright was her mother, and William Harrington was her father.  That Emily remained in San Francisco until 1890, when she moved to New York.   She then moved to Brooklyn, New York and stayed until Sept. 1907.  In October of 1907, while returning from Brooklyn to San Francisco, she said she visited Carrie Wright in Arcata and stayed about a month.  That is the only time she lived with or visited her mother in Humboldt county. During her early years Emily lived with Cecelia Miller, her fathers mother; her grandmother taking her when she was about five years old.   She was born under the name of Emily Harrington and was then legally adopted by her paternal grandparents and her name was either Harrington or Miller.  She said that Carrie would visit her from time to time in San Francisco until 1890.  She also said she received no letters from Carrie after 1910 [could this be when she married Wright and got back in contact with Annie?].

Evidence further disclosed that Anna Vick had never heard of Emily L. Turner before she came to Eureka a few months ago “demanding” one-half of Charles’ estate.  Emily never visited her mother during her illness [how could she if she never heard from Carrie after 1910?].  Rose Moranda also claimed to have never heard of Emily before her claim to Charles’ estate.   Annie therefore questions the relationship between Emily and Carrie. At the trial, Emily presented many letters she said were from Carrie, along with some from Charles.  That was taken as proof that Emily is/was Carrie’s daughter.

Rose Moranda testified that she was a cousin to Charles.   She also said that it was common reputation among her family and the family of Carrie that the mother of Carrie was Lucy Romero, and the father was Berryman Lack and that Lucy and Lack were not married.  She further testified that Charles and Anna were the children of Lucy and Jose Romero and that they were married.  Annie said the same thing.

Emily said she did not know who Carrie’s parents were.

Jennie McCoy, the main witness for Emily Turner, testified that Carrie told her that an Indian named “Billy” told her that Lack was Carrie’s father.  There was no evidence contradicting the fact of Lack as Carrie’s father.

The court found based on the testimony that: Emily Turner was the daughter of Carrie Wright.  Mrs. Wright was the daughter of Lucy Romero and Berryman Lack, making her half sister of descendent and an illegitimate daughter of Lucy and Berryman Lack.

Issue:

The issue in this case is: Does an illegitimate child represent her .. and … entitled? to part of her estate as kindred?

Cases cited…. different rules apply to the succession of an illegitimate child than to that of a legitimate child.  Charles was legitimate and therefore except for the statement above,, the other legal considerations are no in point.

Findings:

Emily is added to the list of survivors, residing at 840 Elizabeth Street, San Francisco, CA

Anna is then ruled as being entitled to the entire Muhlberg estate.

The court finds that Emily is the daughter of Carrie Wright

That in the year 1850 there was an Indian woman named Lucy living near Arcata … had a daughter with Berryman Lack, thereafter known as Carrie Lack

Five or six years later Anna Vick was born and in 1860, Charles was born.  All three by the same mother.  The court finds, though, that the father of Carrie was Berryman Lack, and the father of Anna Vick and Charles Muhlberg was Jose Romero.

11.  The court finds that there was no marriage between said Indian woman Lucy and Berryman Lack, that they did not cohabit together and that Carrie Wright also known as Carrie Lack, no deceased, was the illegitimate daughter of said Indian woman Lucy.

12. … Lucy did cohabitate with Jose Romero and there was a mutual assumption of marital relations between them and that they were married.  That Anna Vick and Charles Muhlberg were the issue of Lucy and Romero and were the legitimate children of said Lucy.

13. That Carrie Wright would not be entitled to share in the estate of Charles.. and her daughter, Emily, has no right to share in the estate of Charles Muhlberg…

Charles estate is then awarded to Anna Vick, minus expenses.

Estate:

Cash: $312

One $50 liberty bond

One $50 Fourth liberty bond

Household goods

Land—at the southeast corner of the Preston addition to the City of Arcata

Lots 27 % 28 of block 12 of Preston Addition to the city of Arcata

More on the petition and oppositions…

Rose asks that the entire estate be granted to Anna Vick.

Emily Turner opposes, alleges she is Carrie’s daughter, that Anna Vick is the illegitimate daughter of Lucy, and that Emily is entitled to the entire estate.

While there was a dispute regarding Emily’s parentage, the court finds that she is Carrie’s daughter… it was up to Emily to prove that Lucy and Lack were married, and failed to do so.

After Carrie’s birth, Lucy cohabitated with Romero, and while the evidence was weak that there was an official marriage, there was a mutual assumption of marital relations between them.

Inheritance in all other cases is eliminated on account of public policy founded upon a moral reason.  If every illegitimate child could claim inheritance from his brothers and sisters, public scandal would be placed upon the head of many otherwise decent and respectable citizens.  The legislature therefore evidently considered it a better policy to lessen public scandal and deny inheritance to an illegitimate, than to throw open the doors of public scandal and gossip, subject many persons to questionable ridicule and permit an illegitimate to expose the  illicit relations of his or her ancestors, merely for the purpose of sharing the estate of his parent’s kindred.   It therefore left the right of inheritance of an illegitimate to these cases where the parents themselves had exposed such illicit relations by admitting parentage. If Carrie Wright could inherit the … of Charles Muhlberg as an illegitimate half sister, she could also inherit an interest in the estate of the help brothers and sisters of the Lack family, if any then be; all of which is not eh intention of the law.

Therefore Carrie Wright would not be entitled to share in the estate of Charles Muhlberg, so her daughter Emily Turner has no such right.

The entire estate is distributed to Anna Vick.

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2 Responses to Illegitimate children expose illicit relations

  1. skippy says:

    Fascinating story, Lynette. Thank you.

    As a side journey and a bit off-topic, I (virtually) visited Emily’s house at 840 Elizabeth Street in San Francisco. Emily had nice taste–living in one of the largest and finer Noe Valley homes on the block. It nestled up against the Twin Peaks area where upper Market Street meets Portola Drive, across the street from Noe Valley’s children’s park. It’s a very pleasant area of fine homes, quietly tucked away private streets, tall and stately trees scattered gently throughout. Yes, it’s the high-rent district of town– where the City’s dignified, stately, nice and beautiful people live.

    The 1903 Victorian house, at 4,800 square feet and 14 rooms split between two levels, sits on a slightly larger lot than those of its neighbors. Surviving the horrific 1906 earthquake and fires with other nearby homes, the stately manor rises slightly to encompass panoramic views of the City and Bay below. It would still look as familiar to Emily as it does today.

    To curiously note, the home is currently held in the Gladys Blincoe trust. While the neighboring homes begin in the $600,000+ and range wildly upward, this graceful gem was assessed in 2009 at a mere $95,000. Gladys, the likely owner, was born in 1905 and passed in 1995, presumably leaving her house in trust to heirs based upon the recent tax valuation. It appears the home may have been broken up into a triplex somewhere along the way. If Gladys lived in this house, it’s quite possible she might have crossed paths with Emily ‘back in the day’. Emily’s mother, Carrie, however, reportedly only visited Emily several times in San Francisco up until 1890; she’s unlikely to have known this home.

    You, too, can virtually visit Emily’s house, haunts, and her neighborhood at 840 Elizabeth Street here— and see what she would have seen between 1907 and 1928 living in San Francisco.

    • Lynette M says:

      Skippy, this is amazing!
      Though I have to admit I am not surprised by Emily’s standard of living. I haven’t gotten to this yet, but what I’ve found indicates that the paternal grandmother who raised her was probably a madame (if I identified her correctly in the census records, her grandmother had prostitutes living in her home in 1860 and was a wealthy real estate owner by 1880, when Emily was living with her)…
      Anyway, wonderful, wonderful. Thank you so much !

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