61 S.W. 803 (Mo. 1901), Riggin v. Board of Trustees of Westminster College

Citation:61 S.W. 803, 160 Mo. 570
Opinion Judge:BURGESS, J.
Attorney:J. L. RoBards, W. M. Boulware and T. H. Bacon for appellants. F. L. Schofield, H. S. Priest and Geo. A. Mahan for respondents.
Judge Panel:BURGESS, J. Sherwood, P. J., and Gantt, J., concur. Sherwood, P. J., and Gantt, J., concur.
Case Date:March 12, 1901
Court:Supreme Court of Missouri

Page 803

61 S.W. 803 (Mo. 1901)

160 Mo. 570

RIGGIN et al., Appellants,



Supreme Court of Missouri, Second Division

March 12, 1901

Appeal from Hannibal Court of Common Pleas. -- Hon. Reuben F. Roy, Judge.


J. L. RoBards, W. M. Boulware and T. H. Bacon for appellants.

(1) The evidence substantially tends to show for the time being general disablement of testamentary volition at the occasion of the alleged will, combining with symptoms of acquired mental enfeeblement the symptoms of mental perversion. Am. Bible Soc. v. Price, 115 Ill. 642; Ins. Co. v. Rodel, 95 U.S. 232; Ins. Co. v. Broughton, 109 U.S. 121. (2) Mere eccentricity is not insanity, and yet eccentric feats may be a symptom of insanity. Schouler on Wills (2 Ed.), secs. 188 and 152; Bristead v. Weeks, 5 Redf. 529; Miller v. White, 5 Redf. 320. (3) Persons partially insane are usually, not to say always, in a high degree eccentric in their general conduct. Hence it is that general eccentricity, as the common coincident being proved, assists materially in the proof of partial insanity. Shelford on Lunatics, p. 47; Hadfield's trial, 27 How. St. Tr. 1313; Dew v. Clark, 3 Add. Eccl. Rep. pp. 79, 182, 192 and 193. (4) The testator was subject to attacks of temporary mania in which he manifested ungovernable fury. Dr. Hammond says that one of the characteristics of monomania is that the monomaniac has the power to conceal his delusions and to arrest the paroxysms of delirium to which he may be subjected. Hammond on Insanity; Schouler on Wills, (2 Ed), p. 154; 1 Wharton & Stille Med. Jur., sec. 60. Sausser's derangement was well revealed by the bursts of ungovernable fury in which he tortured his unfortunate slave. Morbid irritability is one symptom of paretic dementia. Spitzka Man. Ins., 188x; Dew v. Clark, 3 Add. Eccl. Rep. 79, pp. 106, 107. (5) These various instances show material wholly unlikely to leave a will devoted to pious or religious uses. In money matters his was a life not of mere eccentricity. If he was not in these matters entirely irresponsible, his was a life of habitual felony, leaving the ministry forgotten except in his will. Drexel v. Tyrrell, 15 Nevada, 114 and cases cited. (6) The only witnesses who expressed the opinion that Mr. Sausser was of sound mind, were J. H. McVeigh on cross-examination, and W. S. Snyder, subscribing witness. The ex parte affidavit of proof is to same effect. Mrs. Sausser's admissions vouched for the non-impairment of his powers and full possession of his faculties and powers. Subscribing witnesses are not always the best. Irish v. Smith, 7 Serg. and R. 90; McTaggart v. Thompson, 14 Pa. St. 154. Their opinion is no more cogent than that of a non-subscribing witness. Turner v. Cheeseman, 15 N.J.Eq. 243; In re Blood Estate (Vt.), 19 Stl. 770; Taylor v. Trick, 165 Pa. St. 586. With one exception all these Missouri witnesses spoke from their neighborship extending through a great many years. All gave instances of their personal experience factoring in the evolution of their opinions. Baldwin v. State, 12 Mo. 223; Crowe v. Peters, 63 Mo. 434; Moore v. Moore, 67 Mo. 195; Appleby v. Brock, 76 Mo. 314; State v. Williamson, 106 Mo. 162; Sharp v. Railroad, 114 Mo. 100; State v. Wright, 134 Mo. 404; Turner v. Railroad, 23 Mo.App. p. 20. Unsound perversion on one or a few subjects entirely consists with and frequently, if not generally, accompanies extraordinary business tact, talent and success. Redfield on Wills, sec. 9, note 8; Shelford on Lunatics, p. 43; 3 Wharton & Stille Med. Jur., p. 295; 1 Underhill on Wills, p. 117, sec. 90; Browne's Med. Jur. Insane, p. 553, sec. 386; Johnson v. Moore's Heirs, 1 Littell, 371; Thompson v. Thompson, 21 Barb. 107; Shaw's Will, 2 Redf. 107.

F. L. Schofield, H. S. Priest and Geo. A. Mahan for respondents.

(1) The court properly took the case from the jury. There was no substantial evidence tending to show testamentary incapacity. Maddox v. Maddox, 114 Mo. 35; McFadin v. Catron, 120 Mo. 252; Jackson v. Hardin, 83 Mo. 175; Norton v. Paxton, 110 Mo. 456; Cash v. Lust, 142 Mo. 630; Fulbright v. Perry County, 145 Mo. 432; Sehr v. Lindemann, 153 Mo. 276; Von de Veld v. Judy, 143 Mo. 348; Brinkman v. Rueggesick, 71 Mo. 553; Benoist v. Murrin, 58 Mo. 307. (2) There was no error in excluding...

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