Hentz v. Wallace's Adm'r

Citation150 S.E. 389
Case DateNovember 14, 1929
CourtSupreme Court of Virginia

150 S.E. 389

HENTZ et al.
v.
WALLACE'S ADM'R et al.

Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia.

Nov. 14, 1929.


Appeal from Corporation Court of Fredericksburg.

Will contest by Anna L. Hentz and others against Victoria B. Stevens Wallace's administrator, and others. From an adverse decree, contestants appeal and apply for supersedeas. Appeal and supersedeas denied.

C. O'Conor Goolrick, of Fredericksburg, McGuire, Eiely & Eggleston, of Richmond, and Marion A. Wright, of Conway, S. C, for the petitioners.

PER CURIAM. The issue here is one of devisavit vel non. Mrs. Victoria B. Stevens Wallace died on December 14, 1927, testate; her will is now before us on petition for appeal, and has been attacked upon the ground of mental incapacity.

[150 S.E. 390]

Mrs. Wallace, nee Stevens, was the child of a second marriage. Her father died when she was quite young, and her mother when she was 16 years old. She married Judge A. W. Wallace, of Fredericksburg, in April, 1883. Her will, which was a formal document, was executed April 29, 1886, and duly witnessed. Afterwards, on May 29, 1886, the testatrix added this codicil:

"Codicil to My Will.

"As a codicil to my will I desire to modify the remainder as to 3258 Chestnut street, Phila., left to the Diocesan Missionary Society of Virginia, so as to direct the trustee C. W. Wallace to pay the net income of the property mentioned as left to said society, to the Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the Diocese of Virginia relying on his integrity that the Diocesan Mission shall have the benefit of said income.

"Victoria B. Stevens Wallace."

In June, 1886, she went with her husband to Europe, and while there, when in York, England, on August 31, 1886, wrote in pencil on a sheet of tourist paper the codicil on which this case turns. It is:

"I make this codicil to my will on this 31st day of August, 1886; and directing by this paper that should my husband, A. Wellington AVallace, die before me, the rest and residue of my estate of which I may die seized shall be divided into two parts, one part to go to the devisees of my said husband of his heirs at law; and the other half to be divided into two parts; one to go to Mrs. Robert G. New-bold and her issue, and the other part to go to the devisees or heirs of my said husband. Dated York, England.

"[Signed] Victoria B. S. Wallace.

"I changed the word 'directed' to 'directing' in the 4th line.

"[Signed] V. B. S. W.

"In case the foregoing codicil goes into effect I appoint the Girard Life Insurance Annuity and Trust Co. executor of my will. "[Signed] Victoria B. S. Wallace."

This contestants say is invalid, because of want of testamentary capacity. On May 12, 1890, on motion of her husband, she was adjudged insane and he was appointed her committee. This insanity, then determined, continued uninterruptedly until her death in December, 1927. Judge Wallace died in October, 1927.

As a young girl she attended a fashionable school in Philadelphia. She there appears to have been quiet, courteous, dignified, and reserved, had few intimate friends, and took relatively little interest in school activities. Moody at times, there was nothing to suggest an unbalanced mind.

The first definite abnormal manifestations came while her mother was dying. She stood before a mirror combing her hair when told that she was in extremis and wished to see her. This request was unheeded and she continued her toilet and to hum some tune.

After her mother's death she established for herself a home in Philadelphia befitting her wealth and station, and continued to live there until her marriage.

Her letters cover about 100 pages of the record, and run from July, 1882, to January, 1889. Most of them are addressed to Judge Wallace and to her uncle, and make interesting reading. So far from being the products of a diseased mind, they manifest discriminating intelligence. Few women write as well.

From early girlhood until marriage and afterwards she seems to have been more than usually attractive. She dressed with neatness, elegance and taste, and conducted herself as might have been expected of one normal and well bred. It is entirely true that she took small interest, as a young woman and later, in social gaieties, but was always quiet, reserved, and had few, if any, intimate friends. In the summer of 1884 she went to Hot Springs and remained there for three or four weeks. A gardener there has testified that it was her habit on occasions to walk much by herself. She would at times sit in an attitude of dejection, and her appearance was described as sad. After her marriage and before 1886, one witness thought she presented the same unhappy mien when on the streets of Fredericksburg.

Her relations with Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Leavett, her half-sister, were not cordial, and upon her return from Europe she told her cousin that she had met them over there, but said, "I did not speak to them." While in Paris, in November, 1886, she was seen by Mr. Alexander Leavett, who thought her appearance was far from natural. She held down her head, played with trimmings on her dress, seemed depressed and worried, and entirely indifferent to things around her.

In February, 1887, when at a hotel in San Remo, Italy, with her husband, it was her habit to remain in her room during the morning hours, coming down after luncheon to spend some time on the veranda. During this entire time, she was accompanied by a nurse or woman companion, who looked after her, placed wraps about her, and performed other acts of attention. She took no interest in the ordinary diversions, seemed depressed, and took no sight-seeing trips. On this occasion an earthquake occurred. She acted in a childlike manner, and directed her attendant or companion to remain in a particular spot while she helped children out of the building.

In January, 1889, she was placed under the care of a physician in Philadelphia, and then entertained the mistaken impression that she was pregnant. A few months later she was placed under the care of Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, a noted nerve and brain specialist, and was treated in one of his private homes. She had

[150 S.E. 391]

to be fed forcibly, was generally resistive, and would not...

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19 practice notes
  • Rawle v. Mcilhenny
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 15 Noviembre 1934
    ...moved to strike out the plaintiff's evidence. The motion was sustained and the judgment affirmed. Hentz Wallace's Adm'r, 153 Va. 437, 150 S.E. 389, was a bill in chancery to have an ex parte probate of a will set aside, upon an issue of devisavit vel non. At the conclusion of the evidence f......
  • Rawle v. Mcllhenny
    • United States
    • 15 Noviembre 1934
    ...moved to strike out the plaintiff's evidence. The motion was sustained, and the judgment affirmed. Hentz v. Wallace's Adm'r, 153 Va. 437, 150 S. E. 389, was a bill in chancery to have an ex parte probate of a will set aside, upon an issue of devisavit vel non. At the conclusion of the evide......
  • Bumgardner v. Corey, No. 9316.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 26 Mayo 1942
    ...but there is no presumption of such status at a period antedating that on which it is established." Hentz v. Wallace's Adm'r, 153 Va. 437, 150 S.E. 389. See, also, Shores-Mueller Co. v. Palmer, 141 Ark. 64, 216 S.W. 295; Nichols v. Pool, 47 N.C. 23; Rowan v. Hodges, Tex.Civ.App, 175 S.W. 84......
  • Bumgardner v. Corey, (No. 9316)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 26 Mayo 1942
    ...there is no presumption of such status at a period antedating that on which it is established." Hentz v. Wallace's Admr., 153 Va. 437, 150 S. E. 389. See also: Shores-Mueller Co. v. Palmer, 141 Ark. 64, 216 S. W. 295; Nichols v. Pool, 47 N. C. 23; Rowan v. Hodges (Tex. Civ. App.), 175 S. W.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Rawle v. Mcilhenny
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 15 Noviembre 1934
    ...moved to strike out the plaintiff's evidence. The motion was sustained and the judgment affirmed. Hentz Wallace's Adm'r, 153 Va. 437, 150 S.E. 389, was a bill in chancery to have an ex parte probate of a will set aside, upon an issue of devisavit vel non. At the conclusion of the evidence f......
  • Rawle v. Mcllhenny
    • United States
    • 15 Noviembre 1934
    ...moved to strike out the plaintiff's evidence. The motion was sustained, and the judgment affirmed. Hentz v. Wallace's Adm'r, 153 Va. 437, 150 S. E. 389, was a bill in chancery to have an ex parte probate of a will set aside, upon an issue of devisavit vel non. At the conclusion of the evide......
  • Bumgardner v. Corey, No. 9316.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 26 Mayo 1942
    ...but there is no presumption of such status at a period antedating that on which it is established." Hentz v. Wallace's Adm'r, 153 Va. 437, 150 S.E. 389. See, also, Shores-Mueller Co. v. Palmer, 141 Ark. 64, 216 S.W. 295; Nichols v. Pool, 47 N.C. 23; Rowan v. Hodges, Tex.Civ.App, 175 S.W. 84......
  • Bumgardner v. Corey, (No. 9316)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 26 Mayo 1942
    ...there is no presumption of such status at a period antedating that on which it is established." Hentz v. Wallace's Admr., 153 Va. 437, 150 S. E. 389. See also: Shores-Mueller Co. v. Palmer, 141 Ark. 64, 216 S. W. 295; Nichols v. Pool, 47 N. C. 23; Rowan v. Hodges (Tex. Civ. App.), 175 S. W.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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