52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  topic is Conflict.

In my 2nd great-grandfather, John Desens, probate file, I found what might be a conflict.  It looks like John’s son-in-law, Albert Triebes, put in a claim for $75.00 for attending to the burial of John Desens and traveling from Forest Park, Illinois to Greenwood, Wisconsin and back.  His claimed was denied. [1]

john desens estae

Albert Triebes then wrote a letter to the administrator.  Here is a transcript of that letter.

Forest Park, Ill

July 17 – 08

Dear Sir,

I have rec’d your registered letters.  You say my claim is not legal, and the heirs do not want to allow me for the claim.  Let the court decide it.  Even if it will be an additional expense, I do not like to see them have their own way.  For my part they can keep it all.

Yours Resp,

Alb. Trebes

91 Marengo St.

Forest Park, Ill [2]



It sounds to me like there was a little conflict here.  My father never mentioned his cousins from this side of his family.  I heard the name Triebes and that they were somehow related to my father’s family, but nobody seemed to know how they were related.  My Godfather, Lou Schultz, gave me a lot of information on my father’s family too, and he never mentioned them either.  This happened many years before my father or Lou were born so they may never have met any of them or even been told about this side of the family.  So it is very likely there was some conflict here.

Why was John’s son-in-law taking care of the burial and not his son, Carl, my great-grandfather?  Maybe there was conflict between Carl and his father John.


[1] Author: Wisconsin. County Court (Clark County); Probate Place: Clark, Wisconsin. Source Information: Wisconsin, Wills and Probate Records, 1800-1987 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2015.Original data: Wisconsin County, District and Probate Courts.

[2] Ibid.

Where there is a will

John Desens Probabe (2)

Unfortunately, not everyone leaves a will. A few of my ancestors had wills, but the majority did not.  Most did not have wills because they had nothing of value.  When a person dies without a will it is called intestate.  If they own real estate or enough valuables and do not leave a will, their estate will go through probate court.  An administrator will be appointed by the court to settle the estate.  If they die leaving a will it is called testate and an executor is named in the will to carry out the provisions in the will.

There were no surprises in the wills I have found so far.   But I had one ancestor, John Desens, that died intestate and his farm and personal property went through probate.  I wanted to find a will to prove that he was my great-great grandfather. I was 95% sure that he was my ancestor through circumstantial evidence, but I had no documents to prove it.  Instead of a will I found a probate file, and sent for it from McIntyre Library at the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire.  When the probate file arrived, I was thrilled to fine the proof I needed. In the probate file there is a notarized letter from each heir that they are the son or daughter of John Desens, and they also name their brother and sisters in the letters. My great grandfather, Carl Desens, is the son of John Desens.[1] This probate file has a lot of pages, and I couldn’t read some of them because they were copied from microfilm.  Now the files have been digitized, and I found the entire probate file online at and much easier to read.  I just recently read the whole document.  Sometimes you find interesting tidbits in probate files, and I found a winner in this one.  I have already written about John Desens, but at the time I did not have all the information.  To recap a little, John Desens was killed by his neighbor Fred Zell.  It seems that Fred Zell tried to sue the estate for $5000 in damages done to his hand during the fight.  The administrator of the John Desens estate counter sues Fred Zell for $5900.  Here is a transcript of three interesting pages in the probate file. I highlighted in red the most interesting part.  

State of Wisconsin Clark County County Court

In the matter of the estate of John Desens deceased late of the town of Eaton Clark County

 Now comes C.H. Clute as administrator of the Estate of John Desens deceased by R. F. Kornitz his attorney and files this his objection to the allowance of the claims or any part thereof of Fred Zell filed against said estate in said Court on the 20th day of December A.D. 1900 for assault and battery to the damages five thousand dollars for the reason that the said Fred Zell did not prior to the death of said John Desens and does not now have any claim or lien and against said John Desens or otherwise in any manner whatsoever.  And by the way of a claim or cause of action and counter claim to the pretended claim of Fred Zell against the estate of John Desens deceased filed on the 20th day of December 1907 in the County Court for Clark County aforesaid which is here in before objected to the said C. H. Clute as administrator of said estate and for the use and benefit of said estate by R. F. Kornitz his attorney alleges that C. H. Clute is duly appointed administrator of said estate and is now acting as such administrator of the estate of said John Desens deceased, and that he is prosecuting this claim for and in behalf of said estate and for its benefit and use.  That heretofore to wit on the 26 day of June A.D. 1907 at the town of Eaton in said county upon information and belief the said administrator alleges that the said Fred Zell did at said time and place unlawfully, willfully, wrongfully and feloniously assault, strike, beat, bruise, cut, stab, kick, choke, throw down to the ground with great violence and while so down choke, stab, beat, and bruise the said John Desens and threatened to kill the said John Desens and put him greatly in fear of his life.  That therefore and thereby the said John Desens was made sick, sore, lame, and disabled from attending to his business and to care for himself in any manner whatsoever from said 26th day of June A.D. 1907 to the time of his death thereafter.  That his estate is liable and will be obliged to pay for medical attendance, nursing, medicines, food, and care caused by said unlawful assault to the damage of his said estate in the sum of five thousand nine hundred dollars.  That this counter claim or course of action grew out of the same pretend tort and at the same time and place the pretend Claim of said Fred Zell is made against the estate herein.

Wherefore the said C.H. Clute as administrator and for the use and benefit of said estate demands judgement against the claimant Fred Zell that he take nothing by his claim and that the estate have judgement against said Fred Zell for the sum of five thousand nine hundred dollars damages and the costs and disbursements herein.[2]

R. F. Kornitz

Attorney for C. H. Clute as administrator

for the estate of John Desens deceased

The part I was really interested in is where he describes how John Desens was beaten and stabbed by Fred Zell.  Click here to read the entire story of John Desens Killed by Neighbor.

This was last weeks topic for 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.  I am a little late in posting due to illness.  

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

[1] Probate Case Files, Ca. 1873-1917, and Beginning with File No. 2699, Ca. 1900-1917, 1918 General Probate Index; Author: Wisconsin. County Court (Clark County); Probate Place: Clark, Wisconsin.

[2] Ibid.

My Research Trip to Neillsville Wisconsin

John Desens Tombstone


Last week I took a genealogy trip to the middle of Wisconsin in search of a man that I believe could be my great-great grandfather.  Let’s put it this way, I am 95% sure that this man is my great-great grandfather.  What I need is a document that proves it.  I believe this man to be my great-great grandfather because he has the same name and his wife has the same name as my great-great grandmother.  His son that lived nearby has the same name as my great grandfather’s brother.  My father told me way back in 1979 that we had ancestors who lived in Wisconsin and were killed by Indians.  Well the man I think is my great-great grandfather was killed by his neighbor and his son was killed by an accident with his shot gun.  This is a lot of circumstantial evidence.  So to Wisconsin I went with hopes of getting the documentation that I need.

My ancestor lived on a farm near Greenwood Wisconsin.  Since he owned land, I figured that there should be a probate file.  So my first stop at the Court House in Neillsville, Wisconsin was the Probate Office.  I was told that the old probate files had been transferred to the Wisconsin State Archives in Madison, but she was able to tell me that there is a file and gave me the number.  Then I went to the Circuit Clerk to see if there was a criminal file for the neighbor that killed him.  I was not allowed to search, they will search for me at their convenience.  I filled out a form and paid $5.00 for the search.  I will see if anything comes of it.  My next stop was the land office since he owned land.  The lady in this office was great!  She showed me to the Grantor and Grantee books and let me search.  I knew his death date so I started with the Grantor books for 1907 and found the sale of the farm in Sept of 1907.  I did not recognize the name of the man who purchased it.  Next I wanted to see the title and get a legal description.  So I copied down the information and went back to clerk with the information of the book and page number the title should be in.  She had to take to the basement of the court house. In the basement the book shelves were covered with plastic tarps.  She pulls a tarp back, pulls out the book and opens to the page.  I was able to write down the legal description.  Then next to that title was one for his son.  I wrote down that legal description too.  It appeared that they each owned 40 acres next to one another.  The clerk asked me if I would like to know where the farms were today.  She anticipated my next question!  We went back upstairs to look at the current plot book. By the legal description we were able to find the farms and the roads that they are on today.

My husband and I drove out to the farm, and I was able to get some pictures and see what it looks like today.  Then we went to find the cemetery where he is buried.  I had this information from the Internet.  I was hoping he had a headstone so I could find his grave and he did, but his son who is buried right next to him did not.  The church he went to is close by the cemetery.   Both Church and Cemetery are close to his farm.

I should say that before I went I had sent for his death certificate which said he died of multiple stab wounds to the chest.  This peaked my curiosity about his death and contacted a library in the area to see if they had obits.  They found a newspaper article about his death.  I still don’t have the proof I need, but I’m still working on it.  It looks like my next trip is to the Wisconsin State Archives in Madison.

Note: When I have all the information I need, I intend to write his story.  That is why I am not including too many details here.  This is intended to be more about my research trip.


Copyright © 2014 Gail Grunst