Sound a little ridiculous?
Well, it was. (Caution: true story coming)
Apparently, Charles Miller was a pretty eccentric rich man from Toronto who loved to mess with people's heads. That's right, he was also a lawyer- big surprise. When he died in 1926, a bachelor with a perverse sense of fun, he left behind the most ridiculous and yet completely legal will that had people all over Canada talking and some doing more that that!
His will is best known for starting the Toronto Great Stork Derby of the 1930's, but there were a few other oddball stipulations-
* Valuable shares of a Jockey club were left to 3 men- 2 upstanding pillars of the community who had been very vocal in their opposition to racetrack betting, and the 3rd, a pretty shady character. Would greed win out over principle?
*Shares of another jockey club were given out to every minister in 3 nearby towns. The irony in this is that while they publicly agonized over the dilemma of accepting, the shares only turned out to be worth half a cent each!
*The use of a vacation home was willed to 3 lawyers notorious for not getting along with one another.
But the most famous part of his will, the part that had all of Toronto, umm... staying behind closed doors was Clause 9-
*Whoever has the most babies in the 10 years immediately following Charles' death was entitled to his estate! And if there was a tie, it was to be split.
It's important to remember the era. This happened in the late 20's, the depression hits in '29 and the dirty 30's have begun. Minimum wage was $12.50 for an entire 60-hour week, and you were lucky if you got that. The Miller fortune would change lives, even if it was dispersed among many...willing... mothers (and fathers, of course).
By '33 the mothers leading the pack had become household names- the 5 of them had 56 kids between them! (Only 32 were deemed eligible at that time to be counted.) There were many questions about the will's legality, and should stillborn children count, etc?
But finally, after the finish line in 1936, the race ended in a tie when 4 women demonstrated 9 properly registered live births, each winning $125, 000.
Wish you were of childbearing age in 1926? Me too.
I ran across this story on Snopes- check it out and read the whole story here.
4 years ago