Turhand Kirtland’s Will
The date was October 25, 1827 and Turhand Kirtland was 72 years of age. He had already passed three score and ten and had decided it was about time to put his affairs in order. Being a man of considerable wealth, Turhand sat down to write his last will and testament. He began as follows: After my debts are paid, I give and bequeath to my wife, Polly, my best horse, side saddle, bridle, one set of chairs, one table, one stand, two chests, one pot kettle, best set of table furniture, one looking glass, one pair of tongs, andirons, frying pan, grid iron and warming pan, and one year’s provisions, to be her property forever. During her life she is to have the use or profits of one third of my dwelling house and other buildings on the lands and improvement I own lying east of Yellow Creek, south of the Pittsburgh Road and west of New Lisbon road to the Burgess land. Also I give and bequeath to my said wife two dollars per week during her life to be paid her by my executors out of my estate, to be paid half yearly….And lastly, I do hereby appoint my two sons, Jared Potter and Henry Turhand Kirtland, Executors of this my last Will and Testament.
Turhand’s Will may seem bizarre to us now living in the 21st century, but remember in the early 1800’s, by law and custom, a married woman did not vote, speak in public, hold office, attend college, or earn a living other than as a teacher, seamstress, domestic or mill worker. She could not make contracts, sue in court, divorce an abusive husband, gain custody of her children, or own property. Even the clothes she wore belonged to her husband. Legally her husband controlled her.
Mr. Kirtland lived another 17 years after writing his will. Upon Turhand’s death his sons inherited considerably more property here in Poland and elsewhere, and Polly continued to live in the homestead on Main Street for another six years. Turhand and Polly are now together in the cemetery next to the Poland Presbyterian Church. Their graves are marked with a tall obelisk near the entrance to this cemetery. Mr. Kirtland’s Will can be found in Volume 1, page 155 of Trumbull County Record of Wills.