The Last Will and Testament of Catherine Hailer Breithaupt

In my last post, I shared the last will and testament of Margaret Hailer Wagner Bean who left her estate to her children “to share and share alike.” Today, I am sharing the essential elements of Catherine Hailer Breithaupt’s last will and testament (Margaret’s sister).

Catherine (pictured right in a 1907 photo) was born on the 16 August 1834 in Berlin (now Kitchener), Upper Canada (now Ontario). It is reported that Catherine was the first person of German heritage to be born in this region of Ontario that is now famous for its German culture, including a widely popular annual ‘Oktoberfest.’ In 1853, Catherine married Louis Breithaupt, a tanner born in Germany who at the time was living and doing business in Buffalo, New York. Catherine met Louis through her brother-in-law, Jacob Wagner, Margaret’s husband. Louis and Catherine had ten children, the first three of whom were born on New York state before the family moved back to her hometown of Berlin.

Louis died in 1880 and Catherine lived the next 30 years as a widow in Berlin before she herself passed away in 1910. Catherine was survived by six of her ten children. The tannery and leather goods business had been very prosperous ans consequently, Catherine left an estate much more sizable than her older sister, Margaret. Her residence pictured below in 1897, published in the “Busy Berlin Jubilee Souvenir” booklet displays a grand Victorian era lifestyle.

Catherine left the following:

1. $3, 000 [about $65,000 – $70,000 today] “to be invested at interest by my executors and the interest derived therefrom to be paid yearly to The Missionary Society of the Canada Conference of the Evangelical Association of North America.

2. $3,000 to be similarly invest for the same Canada Conference Church Building fund.

3. $1,000 the the General Missionary Society of the Evangelical Association “to be used by them for heathen missions only.”

4. $1,000 for the Young Men’s Christian Association in the Town of Berlin to erect a new building or purchase the building they were currently occupying.

5. $500 to the Deaconess Society of the Canada Conference of the Evangelical Association

6. Land on Margaret Avenue in the Town of Berlin for the Deaconess Society to establish a suitable Home.

7. $500 to the Zion Church in Berlin “to be used by them only for repairs to the pipe organ.”

8. “I bequeath the sum of Three Hundred Dollars to each of my grandchildren who shall survive me.”

9. “If my sister Margaret survives me [and she did] she is to be paid ten dollars per month after my decease during her life and I bequeath the same to her accordingly.”

10. “I bequeath to my nephew the Rev. Louis Henry Wagner, if he survives me, the sum of One Thousand dollars payable within one year after my decease without interest.”

11. “I bequeath my old Family Bible, the one which belonged to my mother, to my son Louis Jacob for his life … it being my desire that the said Bible be kept as an heirloom and be held for the time being by the oldest of my male descendants.”

12. Gifts and articles received from her children were to be returned to those who had given them.

13. Household goods and furniture were to be divided equally based on agreed value and if there was no agreement then they were to be auctioned off with only the family members allowed to attend the auction.

14. All residue of the estate was to be shared equally amongst her surviving children.

15. “With respect to my daughters’ shares I desire expecially (sic) that they shall retain their shares in their own names and under their own control and free from the control or disposition of any husband they have or may have.”

The will of Catherine Hailer Breithaupt named her sons as executors and was probated on 23 March 1911.

Leave a Reply