From the Archive: Where There’s No Will, There’s No Way

When news that a childless widow had died with $17 million and no will, more than 26,000 claimants tried to cash in.

Henrietta Garrett (Photo from the September 11, 1948, issue of the Post)

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—From “The Scramble for the Garrett Millions” by Herbert Koehler and David G. Wittels, from the September 11, 1948 issue of The Saturday Evening Post

At least three people have been murdered in quarrels over who should get what share of Henrietta’s estate. Ten persons have gone to jail for what they did in efforts to build up claims to that money. A dozen have been fined, a half-dozen others died in disgrace before they could be brought to trial, and two killed themselves in frustration.

To bolster their claims, some of these fortune hunters committed perjury and forgery, stole and altered church and civil records, and dug out or invented horrible family skeletons. Some of them accused their own parents of adultery. An 84-year-old woman was prevailed upon by her daughter to swear that her own son was not her son but an illegitimate child of Henrietta’s. A physician who afterward fled the state to avoid prosecution swore on the witness stand that Henrietta told him she had borne a child and hinted that the child was the offspring of an incestuous affair between Henrietta and her own brother.

Read the entire article “The Scramble for the Garrett Millions” from the September 11, 1948 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

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