Spencer Edwards vs. Adell Merville et al.

Loren3 (Nathan2, John1) Merville, born 1847, lived in Burlington, Otsego County, New York with his parents, Nathan and Lovinia (Light) until their deaths of pneumonia in 1885, Lovinia on 20 February and Nathan on 5 March. Two years later Loren married Emma A. Briggs. Loren passed away 22 August 1907, at the age 59, having “been ill many months during which time he was tenderly cared for by his wife.” In September, Letters of Administration were issued to Adelle Merville (Loren’s widow) and D. J. Webster; a notice to auction all of Loren’s property was published in October; and another notice to creditors published July 1908. However, the normal process of settling Loren’s estate was disrupted by the filing of a complaint by Spencer W. Edwards, plaintiff and a descendant of Wilbur and Phoebe2 (John1) Jane (Merville) Edwards and the issuing of a lis pendens.

At the time of the filing of the lis pendens the Surrogate Court of Otsego County believed that Adelle (Loren’s surviving widow) and two maternal uncles, Henry Light and Isaac Light, were his only next of kin. Since Henry and Isaac had passed away, the petition filed by Adelle and D.J. Webster, Administrators of Loren’s estate, named only Adelle; Jane E. Light (Executrix of the Last Will and Testament of Henry); and 8 children and grand-children of Isaac. Spencer’s complaint and lis pendens pointed out that Adelle and D.J. Webster’s petition was wholly inadequate and failed to name any of Loren’s paternal next of kin and heirs at law.

The list swelled to 131 defendants. A nightmare for the plaintiff; but, a bonanza for any Merville historical biographer. An image of the newspaper notice published in 1911 can be seen here (the first column on the left of the page). I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing the notice and it can be viewed here.

The list of the names in notice and complaint is accurate, identifying 3rd and 4th generation Merville’s and their spouses, where appropriate. However, the list of names has 2 shortcomings – it doesn’t tell the reader from which one of the 13 children of John and Phoebe Merville they are descended and the list is not complete. For example, the 2 sons of George3 (Henry2, John1) D. and Malissa (Spence) Merville, Lawrence and Albert, are missing. However, fear not, the identity of the 13 children can be resolved with the Ward Family typescript.