The Will of
Mary C. W. Covalt
The following article appeared in the Clermont Sun
on 28 Dec 1887, page 4, column 2.
Handsome Fortune Falls to George W. Covalt by Virtue of the Verdict of
Celebrated Will Case Finally Comes to a Happy Termination to the
Plaintiff – A Handsome Christmas Present
of the most important cases ever in the Common Pleas Court of this
county was that of George W. Covalt vs. John Combites, trustee of the
last will and testament of Mrs. Mary C. W, Covalt, who has been
deceased for a little over a year.
attorneys in the case were Nichols, Buntin and Cramer for the
plaintiff, and Hulick and Keam for the defendant.
inch of the ground was carefully gone over and hotly contested by the
attorneys on both sides.
the will is a peculiar and interesting one and has been generally
discussed both pro and con, and in order that our readers may it placed
before them correctly, we publish it in full:
1st. I revoke all other wills by me
direct all my debts to be paid.
3rd. I give and devise all my
property, both real and personal, wherever situate, in trust to John
Combites, so long as the present wife of my son, George W. Covalt,
shall live, and so long any child or children born unto my son and his
present wife shall live, if the child or children born onto them shall
be a member of the Catholic Church or profess the Catholic faith, for
in no event is a Catholic or the Catholic Church to have any of my
property or to have any control of it or any part of it. If the present
wife of my said son should die first, leaving no children, then upon
her death with out children, my son, George W. Covalt is to have all my
property and its increase. In case my son, George, should die leaving
his present wife alive on his death, I give and devise all my property,
real and personal, with the accumulations to the children of my
trustee, John Combites. In no event is any of my property to come to my
said son during the life of his present wife.
said trustee, or any one appointed in his place, is hereby directed to
pay all my debts, collect all claims due me, pay all taxes, keep the
property in repair, take charge of and rent my real estate, to sell
such of my chattel property as is perishable and hold the proceeds in
trust for the times and purposes herein stated, to put any moneys that
may come into his hands under his trust at interest, in short, to
manage my estate thus in trust placed under his charge to the best
the event that my son, George W. Covalt, shall die leaving children and
his children, are or become Catholics, or embrace the Catholic faith,
they shall have no part of my estate; in that case and in the event
that the said John Combites shall die leaving no children alive, I give
and devise all my estate, both real and personal, wherever situate,
with all accumulations, to my blood-kin the nearest to me in blood
witness whereof I have, this 20th day of November, 1886, set my hand
and seal, &c.
estate of Mrs. Covalt is variously esti mated at from $75,000 to
$100,000, and consists of valuable Cincinnati property and three farms
in Clermont county. Mrs. Covalt had a very strong prejudice against
Catholics and the Catholic Church, and disinherited, her only child and
legal heir because he had married a young
lady of that religious persuasion.
by this prejudice, Mrs. Covalt left this vast estate in charge of John
Combites as trustee, who was to manage it to the best advantage. In no
event was it to come into the possession of any one who was a member of
the Catholic Church. The provision of the will virtually locked up the
estate for an indefinite number of years. The will was made only two
days previous to her demise, at which time she was suffering from the
effects of a very painful cancer of the stomach. The attorneys for the
plaintiff asked that the will be set aside on the grounds that Mrs.
Covalt was a monomaniac on the subject of Catholicism, also that she
was under the influence of drugs and disease to such an extent as to
make her incapable of making a will at the time that this one was
written. In all there were about fifty witnesses, among whom were
several noted medical experts on the subject of insanity. The arguments
of the attorneys occupied just one day and a half. Attorney Keam made
the first speech in favor of sustaining the will. He reviewed the
testimony of several of the most important witnesses on both sides.
was followed by Judge Nichols for the plaintiff, who made an
effective and telling speech.
next argument was made by Harvey J. Buntin, of Cincinnati; His address
to the court and jury was able, logical and eloquent; showing that he
had his case well in hand. Mr. Buntin was formerly a resident of this
county, and made for himself an enviable reputation as a teacher. Since
commencing the practice of law he has been located in Cincinnati where
he been deservedly and eminently successful. He is a hard student, a
logical reasoner, and a methodical thinker. We expect to hear great
things from him in the future.
Judge Hulick closed the
argument for the defense, and delivered the best speech we have over
heard him make in the courthouse.
Cowen’s charge to the jury, while not lengthy, was exceedingly clear
and fair, neither side taking any exception thereto.
jury retired about half past four Thursday evening and came in with
their verdict at ten o'clock the next morning. Popular sympathy was
strongly In favor of George Covalt and when the foreman, James Curry
announced that they had found a verdict for the plaintiff, it was with
the greatest difficulty that the Sheriff prevented the large and
interested audience from applauding the jury in open court.
attorneys for the defendant have given notice of a motion for a new