Old Wills

1915 Will of Elizabeth Susan Irvine – Daughter of David Irvine and Susan Hart McDowell

The Lexington Herald Leader, Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Wednesday, February 2, 2000

Yesterday we visited Richmond Cemetery, the plot where the Irvine family is buried.  Today I have for you the will, or first part thereof, of Elizabeth Susan Irvine, daughter of David Irvine and Susan Hart McDowell.  Elizabeth was the last surviving child of the couple.  Her husband died in 1891, and all five of their children were deceased by 1883.  Elizabeth is so intent on keeping her home intact (that was originally her parent’s home, built in 1783), along with portraits and other family treasures.  She mentions the tete-a-tete chair she had as a child, and her brother Shelby’s mounted peafowl.  This doesn’t read as much like a will as a biography, as she wrote about the different items and family members.  Even though this is 5+ typed pages it is only half the will, the other half in the Tuesday edition of The Richmond Daily Register of December 7, 1920.  It will appear in tomorrow’s blog.

The Richmond Daily Register, Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky

Monday, December 6, 1920

Mrs. Irvine’s Will Probated in Court

Suit Will Probably Be Filed to Determine Provisions of Several Bequests

The will of Mrs. William Irvine, in which she bequeaths her home, “Irvinton,” here to the Kentucky State Medical Society, and makes other large bequests of her estate, whose value has been estimated at $400,000, was probated in county court here Monday morning.

The will was written by Mrs. Irvine in her hand and was not witnessed.  Cashiers Robert R. Burnam of the Madison National Bank, and R. M. Rowland, of the Southern National Bank, swore to her signature.

Messrs. John W. Crooke, of Richmond, and D. Irvine White, of Huntsville, Alabama, are made executors of the will, and named as a board to have charge of the property which Mrs. Irvine willed to the medical body to use as a hospital.

Rigid stipulations are laid down in her testament regarding maintenance of certain rooms, and furniture, etc., in the house, and it is provided that in the event the stipulations are not carried out, or the hospital should “languish” and not prove a success the handsome grounds are to go to the city of Richmond as a public park.

Numerous other bequests are made in the will, which goes into great detail regarding her property.

Attorneys state that suit will in all probability be instituted to clear up the disposal which Mrs. Irvine has made of property which she owned in Kansas City, Missouri, especially.  The will was read to the court by Attorney A. R. Burnam, representing the executors.  A large crowd was in the court room at the time the will was offered.  Its provisions in full as follows:

My Will

June 1st, 1915

I, Elizabeth S. Irvine, was born in Richmond, Kentucky, do make this my last will.

My father was Col. David Irvine (Senior) of Richmond, Kentucky.  My mother was Susannah Hart McDowell Irvine, the oldest child of Dr. Ephraim McDowell, “the Father of Ovariotomy,” and his wife, Sarah Shelby McDowell, she the first child born to Kentucky’s first governor, Isaac Shelby.

In the year 1846 I was married to my first cousin, William M. Irvine.  Being of sound mind, do this day, June 1st, 1915, make and subscribe to this last will and testament, revoking all other wills.  I am empowered by my husband’s, William M. Irvine’s, last will, to make any changes in that instrument I might desire, and I shall proceed to do so in this writing.  My long life has been passed in this beautiful city, at the foothills.  God has been pleased to prosper me here.

Many of my ancestors are sleeping with loved ones in our beautiful “city of the dead” and now the long-honored name of Irvine has passed out.  I alone remain yet a little while.

It seems, therefore, appropriate that I show my appreciation by perpetuating the ancestral name of Irvine by making the following bequest:

To the Medical Society of Kentucky to Be Called Forever the Irvine and McDowell (Ephraim) Memorial.

It is, therefore, my will and sincere desire that upon my death my home, Irvinton, be converted into a Memorial of Medical and Surgical Treatment of Patients.

This said Irvinton is the same home occupied by my father and mother when they commenced life together, as a residence.  Then by myself, being inherited from my father, the late Col. David Irvine (senior) and is still occupied by myself.

It is my will that the said devise be known as the David Irvine and Ephraim McDowell.

It is my will and I bequeath the whole of Irvinton (owned by me) as afterward herein outlined, to the uses and purposes of the said hospital; that is the whole portion which lies between the streets in the city of Richmond now called 4th Avenue and 2nd Street, and known as a part of Irvinton.

Just here I will be more explicit as to a helping of the support of this grand charity for an endowment fund of the memorial.

I have leased this year 1915 my vacant lot in Kansas City, Missouri, Lot 13, Block 20, on Baltimore, for 99 (ninety-nine) years at $2,000 per year, payable quarterly payments.  The lessee has built a substantial brick building on this lot.  At the expiration of the 99-year lease, the said building and Lot 13, Block 20, (see article of agreement) return to me as my own property again.

Now it is my will that the rental (which is $500.00 quarterly) from this Lot 13, Block 20, Baltimore Avenue, Kansas City, be used for the equipping and expenses from time to time of the said memorial in its struggle and beginning, but I believe it will be self-supporting if properly managed by the board I select, who will have charge of its funds and management.  These are the following good and honorable men, D. Irvine White and John W. Crooke.  These good men are my friends and I believe, will carry out my every wish conscientiously.  I give them control of said funds, and when vacancies occur, will ask that those remaining will carefully select others suitable to fill them.

It is my will that every year a limited number of charity cases may be treated in the hospital.

It is my will that the chief operating room in the memorial shall bear the name of my maternal grandfather, the great surgeon and physician, Dr. Ephraim McDowell.  This shall be the large airy east room above stairs, which has four large windows.

It is my will that the north front room, also above stairs, be called the Isaac Shelby Irvine Room, in memory of my oldest brother.  This room is over the present large dining room.

It is my will that the southwest room above stairs, and over the present parlor, be called the Sarah Irvine White Room, for my only sister, of Huntsville, Alabama.

It is my will that the room on the right of the front entrance door now and always be used as a parlor, shall ever remain as I leave it; that is, nothing taken from the room.  I set this parlor aside as is, with name on the door, to wit, Irvine Memorial Hall, for the especial care of my treasures and portraits and relics of my departed loved ones, the historical sketches, scrap books, biographies and clippings of the McDowell’s, Irvine’s and Shelby’s.

It is my will that this memorial be carefully and beautifully kept.  The grounds might be open to the public on specified days, but always with a caretaker present.

It is my will that the room on the left of the front entrance door and opposite the Memorial Hall room, it is now the large dining room, shall be named in memory of my father and mother, Col. David Irvine and his wife, Susannah McDowell Irvine.

It is my will that the northeast room, below stairs (the family room) be named the William M. Irvine Room in honor of my beloved husband.

It is my will that the southwest room, the room she occupied and built, shall be used as an operating room for women.  It shall be painted over in pure white.  This room was built for our delicate daughter, her name, Bessie D. Irvine, plate on the door.

This room has a bath and maid’s room attached, a well-ventilated alcove.  These contribute to the efficiency of the suite as a woman’s operating apartment. 

It is my will, and seems appropriate (as here in this room he passed his last sad days) that I name the north porch sitting room for my dear brother, David W. Irvine, who lived with me.  Here his large chair where he sat remains.  Here hang the Amulets, carved in his lonely hours, hanging them as he would finish them over the window in front of his chair.  Kindly place his name, David W. Irvine, above the great window where he sat.  Everything in this sitting room shall remain.  The grandfather’s clock, my husband’s writing desk, my brother’s, Shelby Irvine’s, mirror and table upon which it rests, the hall stove and the dining tables (2).  These and all other furniture must remain in this room.

It is my will that the bookcase and books now in the back stairway hall, also the hat rack and press, shall remain in this hall.  Just here I must be more explicit as to the financial support (above those which patients in this memorial must pay) of this grand charity and the endowment fund, made secure and paid by myself.

I have leased this year, 1915, for 99 (ninety-nine) years at $2,000.00 per year, payable in quarterly installments, $500.00 every three months, my lot on Baltimore Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri.  This lot is No. 13, Block 20.  The lessee is to bind himself to put a substantial brick business house on the said lot this 1915.  At the expiration of the 99 (ninety-nine) years the lot and building will return to me and are my property (see article of agreement).  It is my will that this lease with the quarterly payments of $500.00 ($2,000.00 a year) and the said Baltimore Avenue building, I bequeath (at the end of the 99 years) to the said Irvine and McDowell Hospital as an endowment fund.

I certainly expect that the board of good men that I have selected will know for what these funds are used and that they are not squandered and wasted; that they are only used when positively required for frugal expenses.  They will readily see this to be their high and conscientious duty, for remember one of the provisions in this writing gives Irvinton this grand devise as a public square as a breathing spot to the city of Richmond, if the hospital should labor under difficulties and have failed in the purpose intended.

But it is my sincere and cherished desire that the dear old home of my childhood be enjoyed by the sick.  Its grateful sunshine and shadow bring to them renewed life and vigor.

It is my will and I, therefore, dedicate Irvinton for the purpose herein stated, with a prayer that the Great God of our fathers will bless and smile upon what I have done, and will preserve it from the evil attending so many earthly enterprises.

It is my will that the front entrance hall of Irvinton, between the parlor and dining room, remain as it now is; that the handsome leather chairs, pictures, hat rack, sofas, the hanging coat of arms of Irvine’s and McDowell’s, my brother David’s full-length mirror; these must all remain in this hall.  It is my will that no remuneration shall be demanded by my executors for this devise to Irvinton, but I shall require, that from the proceeds of my estate, $5,000.00 shall be used to pay for a large and handsome granite monument which shall be erected by the board I have herein appointed.  This monument must be erected in center of the present Irvinton circle in front of the residence, and made after such a model as I shall later describe in this instrument.  I wish this memorial graceful and pleasing, an exact replica of the Jason Walker granite monument in the Richmond, Kentucky, cemetery.

It is my will that this monument shall be completed and put in the spot I designate within six months after my death.

It is my will that on the side of this granite monument, facing the Irvinton house front, I direct shall be inscribed, in large and handsome lettering:

This Donation of Irvington Is Given by Mrs. William M. Irvine in Memory of Her Father, Col. David Irvine, and Her Grandfather, Dr. Ephraim McDowell, “The Father of Ovariotomy”

It is my will that the reverse side of this memorial, at Irvinton, that is, on the side facing 4th Avenue, shall be placed in the center of the die, in the same large and handsome lettering, the following inscription:

In Memory of William M. Irvine and Our Beloved Daughter, Bessie D. Irvine

It is my will, and I expect to have in banks, funds sufficient to at once carry out the above clause in my will.  If not, it must be raised from my bonds, as it must be understood there be no delay after my death in carrying out the provisions of this writing and erecting the said memorial in the front grounds of Irvinton.

It is my will that this devise of Irvinton for a memorial includes only that part of the original tract of Irvinton which lies between the streets of 4th Avenue and 2nd Street, on the East College Street on the south and Stone Walker’s residence on the north, containing about ten or twelve acres.

It is my will that the said Medical Society of Kentucky, to whom I have donated this home, shall bind themselves, when they receive this property, as herein devised, never to permit any part of the acreage in the said boundary to be sold or used for school, boarding or educational buildings or purposes in any way – with such Irvinton shall never be connected.

It is my will that no streets or public roads shall ever be constructed through this devise, any part of it.

It is my will that the view from the street (4th Avenue) of the old Irvinton Home must remain unobstructed, no building shall ever be placed on the frontage of Irvinton ground on Lancaster or College or Second streets.  Irvinton must not be cut up.

It is my will that the Irvinton residence must remain as I leave it only necessary repairs, painting, etc., attended to when required, especially the roofing and exterior woodwork, such as cornices, banisters, window frames must be well painted annually, as I have done.

It is my will that the brass name plate and knocker, now on the front entrance door of the Irvinton home, shall ever remain, where my father placed it as it bears his own name, in this lettering, D. Irvine – Irvinton.

It is my will that I make the Irvinton parlor a memorial hall and I direct herein that the furniture, that is the mantel, large mirror, piano, large mahogany table in the center, chairs, sofas and portraits, lamps, photographs, miniatures, candle sticks, both branch and single, marble mantel clock, lace curtains, my girlhood tete-a-tete chair, carpets, rugs, all books, biographies, albums, etc., my mother’s card table given to her father, Dr. Ephraim McDowell, our daughter’s easel with standing picture of herself, my father’s large red reclining chair, in which he sat, my brother Shelby’s mounted peafowl and his ostrich egg, the door locked to make secure tete chair of my girlhood.

It is here in this room that our dear sister, Sarah McDowell Irvine, was united in marriage in 1844 to Addison White, of Abingdon, Virginia, and it was in this parlor that I, Elizabeth S. Irvin, was married to William M. Irvine in 1846.

It is my will that the furniture in the Irvinton dining room shall remain forever in that room.  That is, the carpets, rugs, mantel, mirror, quarter oak writing desk, which I have used as a silver and glass cabinet, tables, chairs, divans, attaché, brackets for candles, clock, my father’s beautiful sideboard, which is in this dining room, is claimed by our niece, Mrs. Adolph Bennett.  All of these above mentioned must remain in this room.  The two large presses on either side of the fireplace I would especially refer to.  These are beautifully carved above the door.  This was all done by hand, the carving taking two expert workmen several months to complete.  These presses must remain in their place; also, the chandeliers in both parlor and dining room.  The clock is a West Haven and China vases must remain.

It is my will in the event additional buildings be required for this hospital uses these may be built on this devise for hospital uses, but for no other purposes, but again I would state here that any such buildings must never be placed in front of the old Irvinton house.  If such additions are needed, they must be placed on a line on either the north or south sides of the present residence.  This clause is imperative, and must be observed.

It is my will that there be no public gatherings, such as fairs, Chautauqua’s, picnics, shows, meetings or crowds to collect in the Irvinton grounds or within this devise.  This must be strictly observed.  This devise must be kept in quiet and neatness, a pleasant retreat for the sick, those who may be nursed back to usefulness by its beautiful shades and pure life-giving air.

It is my will that the whole acreage of this devise shall be kept without cultivation, except a garden for the use of the memorial.  There must be no inside enclosures or fencing.

But it is my will that a strong and substantial fence must ever enclose the whole property; that is, the outside boundary, the four sides of this devise.

It is my will, if any outside buildings, such as barns, cribs, hennery, smoke house, etc., if not required may be removed.

It is my will that I would emphasize that not one acre or foot or any part of this said devise of Irvinton can or shall ever be conveyed or sold.  It must remain intact as under the provisions of my will.

It is my will that no funds provided herein by myself for the uses of this hospital (that is, the annuity of $2,000, which is the proceeds of the lease as before stated or any other sums) can ever be drawn without the sanction of the whole Board of Control, herein appointed by myself.  To this end I direct that John W. Crooke, one of my executors, be treasurer of any and all funds, seeing these are judicially used, and in unison with other members of the board.

It is my will that my family (who are deeply attached to Irvinton, the ancestral home) may visit the said memorial, not to criticize, but to know how it is being conducted and offer any suggestions to its success.

It is my will to ask that my executors will feel a conscientious interest and watchful care over its workings and appoint regular days for their visits.

The Lexington Leader, Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Tuesday, September 24, 1968

4 replies »

  1. This is one of the most fascinating posts I’ve seen from you. I don’t normally read many that don’t pertain to anyone in my ancestral lime but I’m so glad I read this! She was quite the business woman!

    Sent from my iPhone


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