The Bogus Legislature enacted the Missouri statutes dealing with inheritance and estate management with few changes. The powers of Executors, legal representatives named by wills, and Administrators, those appointed by the court when no will was left, to collect property, pay debts and distribute assets were set. [House Journal 196] Public Administrators were those appointed the guardians of persons found by the court to be unable to properly care for themselves or their finances or who could resist undue influence or fraud. Their powers were outlined as well. [Council Journal 122]
William Walker (1799-1874)
A leader of the Wyandotte Nation. In 1843 he settled on land that became Kansas City, Kansas. Provisional Governor of Nebraska Territory in 1853, he supported the pro-slavery cause.
An act governing Descents and Distribution [House Journal 249] dealt with the rights of widows, widowers and children of those dying without a will, as well as those cases where no direct heirs were living. An act concerning the right of Dower [House Journal, 311] provided that a widow was entitled to a portion of her deceased husband's real property to support herself and their children. A widow could claim dower rights if her husband died without a will or if she dissented from the will.
An act for the Protection of Married Women [House Journal, 290] provided for a homestead right for widows but did not otherwise permit women to own property in their own name. That reform awaited the 1859 Wyandotte Constitution which provided:
"The legislature shall provide for the protection of the rights of women, in acquiring and possessing property, real, personal and mixed, separate and apart from the husband; and shall also provide for their equal rights in the possession of their children."
The state legislature in 1868 passed the Married Women's Act, giving substance to the constitutional provision. [Harrington v. Lowe, 73 Kan.18, 84 Pac.5]
The duties of Probate Courts were established, giving a process for determining the validity of wills and ensuring lawful administration of estates. [Council Journal 113] By amendment in the House, Probate Clerks were empowered to take evidence of a will when the Probate Court was not in session, subject to review by the Court. [House Journal 209] Apparently, the legislators were concerned about long periods of Probate Court vacation.
Only one case interpreting the Probate Court statute was decided on appeal during territorial days. [Otis v Jenkins, Territorial Reports 87, February Term, 1860] Judge Elmore ruled that where no record existed of the date of issuance of letters of administration, the lower court was right to deny a claim presented more than three years after the filing of an estate for probate. A legal presumption could be made that letters had been granted, as required by the statute. [1855 Statutes, Section 2d, Page 75]
One of the first letters of administration in the territory were granted on May 11, 1857 to Charles B. Garrett for administration of the estate of Henry Garrett. [Morgan, Wyandotte County, Ch. 25] Charles Garrett, a white man born in West Virginia, married Maria Walker, sister of Governor William Walker and was adopted into the tribe. In 1843 Garrett went west with the Wyandottes. [Connelly, Journals of William Walker, 340]