Robert Howsmon Hay Will


Robert's 1930 Will -- click on photo for a larger image -- also visit p2, p3, codicil 1, codicil 2
Curiously, Robert wrote his will just days after his father died. As there is no will found for Oliver Perry Hay, who died suddenly, it is thought that this was the impetus.

Last Will and Testament of Robert H. Hay

          I, Robert H. Hay, a resident of the City of Washington, District of Columbia, do make, publish and declare this as and to be my last will and testament, hereby revoking and annulling all wills, testaments and codicils thereto by me at any time heretofore made.
          Item One: I direct the payment of my just debts and funeral expenses in such amount as may be approved by my executor.
          Item Two: The title to my home at 4115 Third Street, Northwest, Washington, D. C., is held jointly by my wife and me, with benefit to the survivor; nevertheless, I do hereby give, devise and bequeath to my wife, Alma E. Hay, absolutely and in fee simple, all of my right, title and interest in and to said property, and I also give and bequeath to her all of my household furniture, personal effects and any automobiles I may own at the time of my death.
          Item Three: I give and devise all other real estate which I may own at the time of my death, or in which I may have interest, to my wife, Alma E. Hay, for life, with remainder in fee to my two sons, Donald A. Hay and Perry I. Hay.
          Item Four: I give and bequeath all of my interest in my business, at present conducted under the name of the Hay Rubber Stamp Company, including the bank account, accounts receivable and all other assets held in connection therewith, and subject to all accounts payable and other liabilities connected with said business, to my wife, Alma E. Hay, absolutely. It is my wish, and I so request, but do not direct, that Mrs. Elfrieda M. Baker and Paul Carson, who have been associated with me in said business for a number of years past, shall remain with the business in their same status and upon the same terms as shall exist at the time of my death.
          Item Five: I give and bequeath the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000) to my brother, William P. Hay, the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000) to my sister, Frances S. Hay and the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000) to my sister, Mamie Hay Minnick.
          Item Six: I give and bequeath the sum of Three Thousand Dollars ($3,000) to Mrs. Elfrieda M. Baker and the sum of Fifteen Hundred Dollars ($1500) to Paul Carson.
          Item Seven: I give and bequeath one-half of all the rest, residue and remainder of my property and estate to my wife, Alma E. Hay, one one-half of said property to my sons, Donald A. Hay and Perry I. Hay, to be equally divided between them.
          Item Eight: Should any of my property, either real or personal, devised or bequeathed under this will pass to a minor child, I direct that the title thereto shall be vested in the Trustee hereinafter named, in trust to hold, manage and control the same for such minor until he or she attains the age of twenty-one years, and that during such time so much of the net income therefrom and principal thereof as said Trustee may consider proper, after payment of all proper costs and expenses, shall be paid to or applied for the benefit of such minor, and the balance of the principal thereof paid and delivered to such minor when he or she attains the age of twenty-one years.
          Item Nine: I hereby nominate, constitute and appoint the Federal-American National Bank and Trust Company of Washington as and to be executor and trustee under this my last will and testament. Should said bank merge or consolidate with any other banking corporation or in anywise change its corportate identity, I hereby appoint such new, merged or consolidated corporation as executor and trustee hereunder with the same title, interest, powers and authority as are herein given to the Federal-American National Bank and Trust Company of Washington.
          I vest in said executor and trustee full power and authority to hold, manage and control my said estate; collect the issues, income and profits therefrom, pay all necessary and proper expenses connected therewith; sell and convey such parts of said estate, both real and personal, as in its judgment shall seem expedient; rent or lease all or any part of my real estate; borrow money or renew any existing loans and secure the same on any part of my estate, by way of deed of trust or otherwise; hold as a portion of my estate any real estate, stocks or other securities which may be owned by me at the time of my death; invest and reinvest my said estate in real estate, stocks, bonds or other securities at its discretion; and make any distribution under the terms of this will wholly or partly in kind, the value of my property so distributed in kind to be fixed by my said executor and trustee and be binding upon all parties concerned.
          In Testimony whereof, I have set my hand and seal this 8th day of November, A. D. 1930, to this my last will and testament, typewritten upon three pages. For the purpose of identifying the same I have signed the margin of each of the two preceding pages hereof.
          ________________________(seal)
          Signed, sealed, published and declared by the above name testator, Robert H. Hay, as and for his last will and testament, in the presence of the undesigned, who have at his request, in his presence, and in the presence of each other affixed their signatures as witnsses thereto.
A. O. Dooley, Address: Fed. Amer. Bank
Richard S. Yeatman, Address: Fed. Amer. Bank
John C. Franzoni, Address: Fed. Amer. Bank

(Filed May 13, 1952, Theodore Cogswell, Register of Wills, D.C., Clerk of Probate Court)

Codicil to Last Will and Testament of Robert H. Hay

          I, Robert H. Hay, do make, publish and declare this as and to be a codicil to my last will and testament bearing date the 8th day of November, 1930, hereby republishing and confirming said will in all respects exept as herein changed.
          Whereas, since the making of my said will, the value of my property and estate has been materially reduced, now I do by this instrument revoke the bequests contained in Items Five and Six of my said will, and in liew thereof I give and bequeath to my brother, William P. Hay, the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500); to my sister, Frances S. Hay, the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000); to my sister Mamie Hay Minnick, the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500); to Mrs. Elfrieda M. Baker the sum of Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000); and to Paul Carson the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500).
          In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal on the 19th day of January, 1932.
          ___(signature)____(seal)
          Signed, sealed, published and declared by Robert H. Hay as and to be a codicil to his last will and testament, in the presence of the undersigned, who have at his request, in his presence and in the presence of each other affixed their signatures as witnesses thereto.
A. O. Dooley, Address: 420 Emerson St., NW
Eupina (?) Gordon, Address: 619-14th St., NW

Second Codicil to Last Will and Testament of Robert H. Hay

          I. Robert H. Hay, do make, publish and declare this as and to be a second codicil to my last will and testament bearing date the 8th day of November, 1930, hereby republishing and confirming said will in all repects except as herein changed.
          I revoke the appointment of the Federal-American National Bank and Trust Company of Washington as executor and trustee under my will, and in its place and stead I appoint the Hamilton National Bank of Washington, D.C., with all powers and duties as set forth in my said will, as though said Hamilton National Bank had been originally named therein instead of the Federal-American National Bank and Trust Company.
          In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 10th day of November 1933.
          ___Robert H. Hay___(seal)
          Signed, sealed, published and declared by the above named testator, Robert H. Hay, as and to be a codicil to his last will and testament, in our presence, who in his presence, at his request, and in the presence of each other have hereunto set our names as witnesses.
A. O. Dooley, Address: 420 Emerson St., N.W.
E. M. Baker, Address: 832 13th St., N.W.

(Both Codicils Filed May 14, 1952, Theodore Cogswell, Register of Wills, D.C., Clerk of Probate Court) Note that Elfrieda Baker is a witness on the second codicil!

Family stories handed down were that widow Alma and son Perry were distraught that Robert had given the Stamp Company to employee Elfrieda Baker. There were stories that he had been forced into giving his employees a share of the company during World War II when employees were hard to find -- and Alma and Perry only learned this upon the reading of the will. Don's friend Phil Collins thought that Robert "sold the business to the prime girl in the office." Perry's stepson James Thompson recalls "Perry's father was, I was told, a fairly distant man. Also very intellectual. He had the Hay Rubber Stamp Company, which was quite successful. What people didn't know was that he formed a more-than-casual attachment to the secretary. Evidently, he rigged it so that on his death the secretary was in a position to take over the company. And did. Bought everyone out. Basically there was no choice. She had that power. It was a ghastly shock, evidently, to Perry's mother, and caused a good deal of feeling of betrayal." And the stories that it was more than a business relationship between Robert and Elfrieda even included a whisper that Elfrieda's son was Robert's.

However, these stories are not totally borne out by the evidence. The will and codicils were written in 1930-1933, and while the employees Elfrieda and Paul are generously remembered in the will, the business is unequivocably left to wife Alma. Furthermore, from his sister Fannie's diary, Fannie wrote "I worked for Robert at the store from the fall of 1941 to early Feb., 1944. I shall always remember Robert's repeated appreciation, and only regret deeply not being able to stay longer." While this does suggest that employees were at a premium during the war, it does not make Robert's situation seem desperate. Perhaps there were separate business records, like articles of incorporation, which gave Elfrieda business power.

Finally, Elfrieda Grieb was born about 1899 in Washington DC, and received a 2-year certificate from Business High School in 1914. Curiously, on the 1920 census, she is living with her parents, listed as 21-year-old married Elfrieda Baker, working as a clerk in a stamp (rubber) company, with a George Baker age 3 listed as her cousin, not her son. No husband is present. In 1930 she is still living with her parents, married, a bookkeeper in a department store (!) and son George Baker 13 is there too. She died in 1958 and her obituary states: "Elfrieda M. Baker, 59, a founder and president of the Hay Rubber Stamp Company ... Mrs. Baker established the rubber stamp firm with the late Robert Hay as her partner. She was 19 at the time. On the death of Mr. Hay six years ago, she assumed control of the firm and operated it until her illness ..." Her only child George was born circa 1917. Robert's sons Don and Perry were born in 1912 and 1915. It appears that the firm started between 1915 (Robert's obituary) and 1918 (Elfrieda's obituary). The obituary was probably written by her only child, son George, and is to be viewed as his interpretation or memory, and not necessarily fact.

While it is true that Robert and Alma had some marital difficulties, these were linked to Perry's illness. Don had told his family that his parents stopped sleeping together when he was 12, in 1924/1925, concurrent with Perry's empyema illness. And, of course, Alma was hospitalized for a year in 1942-1943 for mental illness, and Robert went to live with his sister Fannie for nine months. While it is certain that Perry had expected to inherit the business and that Robert had made some provisions for it to be controlled by Elfrieda instead, this was also based on the fact that Elfrieda had been there since the beginning, for 35 years, and that Perry was not adept at managing the business. Perhaps Alma was always concerned that Robert worked with a single mother, while she had been forced to give up her profession (teaching) upon marriage. Perhaps she felt guilt over her inattention to Robert during Perry's illness. Perhaps her suspicions sharpened after her mental illness in the 1940s, and her paranoia over the Germans was also present in her feelings towards her marriage. In any case, it would seem most unlikely that Robert, age 34 with 4 year old and 1 year old sons, would have gotten involved with a 17 year old Elfrieda in 1916. It seems more likely that she had an unsuitable marriage (or even a precipitous pregnancy), and as a single mother, needed a job, and ended up at the Rubber Stamp company. It would appear that Robert started in the business circa 1915, and Elfrieda joined him as a clerk circa 1918, the year after her son was born. It was easy to blame Elfrieda for Perry's disappointment.

It would appear that Robert's other worker, Paul Carson, who was also remembered in the will, was also a valued employee. Although he did not get as much money as Elfrieda in the will, I found it fascinating that in the 1930 census, he is 26 and listed as a "compositor" for a Rubber Stamp company, and he and his 22-year old wife Martha have just had their first child -- a six month old boy whom they named Robert, perhaps after his employer?