Itasca County, Minnesota

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Wills, Probate Notices and Related Records

Cuthbert Petre
Source: Duluth News-Tribune (MN) Wednesday, April 26, 1916; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman

Estate's Value, $20,000

After hearing evidence in the disputed will case over the three cornered claim to the $20,000 estate of Cuthbret Petre, Judge S. W. Gilpin yesterday admitted to probate the last will of Petre made Oct. 28, 1914, in which he left all his property to his widow, Mrs. Emma Petre, to whom he was married Aug. 17, 1914.

The widow was not present at the hearing and her brother, H. A. Shoemaker, testified that he did not know [where] she is at this time. It is presumed that she is in Winnipeg where she has property interests and her presence was not deemed essential by her attorney, John H. Norton, he stated, although opposing attorneys raised the question.

Cuthbert Petre was known in Duluth as a "remittance man," being a scion of a rich and prominent English family. He and a brother Douglas Petre, who died last November in Minneapolis, each inherited $20,000 from their father's estate in England.

Petre had previously married Miss Florence Rogers of Superior, who died. He continued to make his home with his wife's parents for some time and a will, said to have been made by him October 23, 1909, left his property to Mrs. Genevith Jean Rogers Cunningham, his first wife's daughter, and this will was offered yesterday in opposition to the later dated will which was admitted to the court by probate. It was sought to prove that at the time he made the first will he was competent but that when the 1914 will was made, he was incompetent.

Mrs. Emma Petre, the widow who is now recognized as the beneficiary of the $20,000 estate, was a divorced woman when she married Petre in 1914 it developed at the hearing yesterday, having been divorced from Alfonse Hoolihan September 10, 1910 in Duluth.

No opposition was made to the introduction of the marriage certificate showing that she and Petre were married at Grand Rapids, Minn., on the date mentioned. Petre's death on January 29, 1916, was also admitted, and counsel for the widow proceeded to prove the genuineness of the 1914 will.

H. A. Shoemaker and Attorney G. A. E> Finlayson, both of whom were present when the will was executed and which they signed as witnesses, testified as to Petre's signing the will. It was made at the Petre home, 2112 West Second street, and Mrs. Petre was also present at the time.

Mr. Finlayson was sent for, he testified, and called at the house and spent an hour there, writing the will and talking with Petre. He said Petre was sober, and sound of mind and competent to make a will, in his opinion and this was substantiated by Shoemaker, Mrs. Petre's brother.

Donald Holmes represented the stepdaughter, Mrs. Cunningham, at the hearing. H. C. Fulton appeared for the Petre estate and Reginald W. Petre, of Baltimore, F. I. Salter former guardian of Petre, was also in attendance at the hearing. The estate claimed that neither will should be admitted to probate on the ground that Petre was incompetent when both wills were executed.

At one time Cuthbert Petre's brother, Douglas, of Minneapolis, believing his brother mentally unbalanced, had him adjudged insane and sent to an asylum. He was released through the efforts of Prof. George Tyler, former Duluth music teacher who had taken a fancy to Petre and believed him sane. Tyler was appointed guardian about that time and was later succeeded by F. I. Salter.

Mrs. Cunningham, claimant under the first will testified the Petre drank heavily at times but that during her grandfather's life was influenced by the latter and did not drink so much. She stated that while he lived with them and at the time of making the first will, he was mentally of sound mind, but that soon after marrying the second time and leaving their home, she observed that he began drinking more and that his mind failed rapidly.

Joseph Ryan, who knew Petre intimately for twenty years, testified as to the man's habits and his mental condition during these years and up until the time of Petre's death. He believed his mind was sound.

It was agreed between counsel that a 30 day stay will be permitted, and unless further evidence is discovered, it is not likely, the attorney stated yesterday, that an appeal will be taken to the district court from the decision admitting the 1914 will of Petre to probate.

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