In researching Charles E. Langford and his move from Fulton, Illinois to Pasadena, California, I found a note that he had donated to the very first public library in Pasadena. I thought that I should contact the library to see if they had any other information about him. I was pleased to learn that the library has a free obituary look-up service. So, I sent an email explaining his connection to the library and asking for his obituary. The reply came today, a series of attachments to an email. Innocent enough at first glance.
What I hoped to learn was what happened to his first wife, Hannah. She disappears from the census records before 1880 when he is remarried to Maria his second wife. I got more than I bargained for. Here are the articles that were sent to me. I offer them in chronological order and without editorial comment.
Los Angeles Times
June 13, 1893
Death of an Old Resident of This City, C. E. Langford
In the death of Charles E. Langford, which occurred Monday night at his home on the corner of California Street and Euclid Avenue, Pasadena loses one of its old-time and highly respected citizens. Mr. Langford had attained the ripe age of 73 years. He was a member of the Masonic order, and the funeral which will take place from his late residence on Thursday next at 10 a. m., will be in charge of, and according to the ritual of the Masonic Lodge.
Short devotional exercises at the house will be conducted by Rev. D. D. Hill of the Congregational Church, and the remains will be interred in Mountain View Cemetery.
Pictured here is the monument on the grave of Charles E. Langford in Mountain View Cemetery. He is interred with his second wife Maria, his daughter by Maria, Mabel Williams and John Garcia. a previous husband of Mabel.
Los Angeles Times
November 22, 1893
Contest The Will
Heirs of C. E. Langford in Court
Legal Fight Over an Estate Valued at $75,000
Charges Against the Widow by the First Wife's Children
Undue Influence Alleged on the Part of the Second Wife
The trial of the contest over the estate of Charles E. Langford, deceased, who died at Pasadena on June 10 last, leaving real and personal property valued at from $60,000 to $75,000, was commenced before Judge Clark and a jury in Department Two of the Superior Court and promises to occupy their attention for a considerable amount of time.
The parties to the action are represented as follows: The contestants by Messrs. R. A. Ling, H. T. Gordon and H. H. Appel and the proponents by Messrs. Anderson & Anderson and A. R. Metcalfe, Esq.
The jurors selected to try the case are: N. P. Campbell, J. G. Carmichael, J. E. Courtney, J. A. de Courcy, J. G. de Turk, R. Devine, P. F. Ebert, I. H. Leahy, G. A. Ralphs, J. Weber, L. Williams and J. J. Woodworth.
From the pleadings in the case it appears that on June 26 last, Maria Langford, the widow of the deceased, filed a petition in the Probate Court praying for the admission to probate of the late will and testament of her deceased husband, and for her appointment as sole executrix of his estate thereunder.
This will which is dated November 29, 1887, bequeaths to his wife, Maria M. Langford, the sum of $20,000 and a homestead of five acres, upon the express condition that she receives the same in full satisfaction of all rights and claims she may have at the time of his death against his estate. Should the rest of the estate be of the value of $7000, he bequeathed the sum of $1000 to each of his seven children by a former wife; it being provided that should the remainder of this estate not be worth so much, it was to be divided among said children, share and share alike.
To his daughter Mabel C. Langford, he left only a "father's blessing", but no portion of his estate, leaving her future welfare in the hands of her mother.
All the rest of his estate, of whatever nature, he bequeathed to his wife, absolutely, and appointed her as the sole executrix, without bonds.
Attached to this will is a codicil, dated January 23, 1890, ratifying the will, except that it provides in case his wife died before him, that his daughter by her, Mabel C. Langford, should receive all that he had previously willed to his wife.
The estate as set forth in the petition consists of personal property valued at $3000 and the following real property: Twelve acres in Langford's subdivision at Pasadena; lots and three cottages, valued at $30,000; house and lot on Peoria Street, $1000;small tract on Raymond Avenue, $4000; ten acres on California Street, $6000; two cottages and lots on Villa Avenue, $1000; three acres at Olivewood, $6000; house and lot on Dayton Street, $1500; and forty acres at Lamanda Park, subject to contract, upon which is due $8000.
The contestants, Mrs. Mary Herwick, Mrs. Elizabeth Longshore, Mrs. Anna Finch, Mrs. Helen Finch, Charles E. Langford, Thomas A. Langford and Edward O. Langford, are the seven children by a former wife, referred to in the will.
They allege that some twenty years ago, the proponent, Maria M. Langford, while in their father's employ as a domestic servant in Illinois, obtained such an influence over him as to induce him to put away his wife, their mother, and two months after obtaining a divorce in Chicago, to marry her. Shortly afterward she prevailed upon him to leave Illinois for California. From that time on, she, by insidious wiles and machinations, estranged him from his children, the contestants, and coerced him into denying them "the affections of a father, and to his and their friends, the hospitality of a home." They allege that they had always been on good terms with him, and that when away from her, he was always kind and affectionate to them, and had frequently intimated his intention to leave two thirds of his property to them. It is further alleged that the second Mrs. Langford did not allow anyone to know that her husband had another family, and, if should could prevent it, did not permit any of the contestants to visit or see him. As an instance of this, it is stated that that although their father was sick for three weeks during his last illness, Mrs. Langford never notified two of his children, who resided in the city, nor allowed them to see him before he died.
The grounds upon which the contest is based are that their father accumulated the bulk of his fortune with the assistance of the money of their mother, his first wife, that on the date upon which the will in controversy was executed, he was 79 years of age, and not of such sound mine as to be competent to dispose of his estate, and that owing to the despotic control exercised by his second wife he was deprived of free agency and acted under duress in making said will.
The first witness called was Fannie E. Longshore, one of the contestants, but after the usual preliminary questions had been put to her a lengthy and warm argument was indulged as to the admissibility of a certain line of questioning, which lasted until the court adjourned for the day.
Los Angeles Times
November 23, 1893
Second Day of the Will Contest
Testimony of the Children of the Deceased
Change in Their Father After His Second Marriage
Apparently Completely Under the Control of His Wife
The trial of the contest over the will of Charles E. Langford, deceased, of Pasadena, was resumed today before Judge Clark and a jury in Department Two, yesterday, three witnesses being examined on behalf of the contestants during the day's session.
The proceedings commenced with the examination of Fannie E. Longshore, a daughter of the decedent by his first wife, who was upon the witness stand when court adjourned Friday afternoon. She testified to the effect that she first met the proponent, who was then Maria H. Sherman, at her father's house in Fulton, Illinois in 1869 or 1870, at which time she was employed as a seamstress or tailoress. About a year later witness accompanied her father to the home of Maria Sherman's brother-in-law, McBride, where she resided. This was some eight miles from their home, but her father often made the trip. Witness knew nothing of her father's second courtship and marriage, however, as in 1872, her mother went to live in the country, and just before the wedding her father sent her to Mount Vernon, Iowa, where one of her brothers was at school. Her next visit to her father's house was in 1875, and she stayed there about two months prior to her own marriage. She then found her father very much changed, his former cheerfulness having disappeared entirely, so that he seemed to her to be morose, sad and under constraint all the time. His second wife never left witness alone with her father if she could help it, and he was very cautious in his speech in her presence. Whenever he met his daughter down town, however, he was as kind and considerate as ever, and endeavored to convince her that he still entertained a father's affection for her.
Witness related a number of incidents tending to show that her father practically admitted that his second wife completely controlled him; and told of a visit paid by herself and a sister, to the widow a week after the funeral, on which occasion Mrs. Langford told them of the contents of their father's will.
Thomas A. Longshore, the husband of the preceding witness, was then called and corroborated his wife's testimony, so far as he was conversant with the details as to the manner in which she was treated by his father and his second wifeupon the occasion of her last visit to her old home.
Mrs. Mary Helen Langford, the wife of one of the contestants, then took the stand and testified to the effect that in 1870 she resided with her father-in-law for nine months. During that time she met Maria Sherman at the Langford residence, Mr. Langford having introduced her to witness at dinner one evening. About three years later witness again visited the Langford family, but received a very frigid welcome from Mrs. Maria Langford, and found matters very much changed for the worse since her former visit.
While the witness was visiting at the house, a book entitled "Nothing but Money", the plot of which hinged upon the scheming of an adventuress, who endeavored to coerce a wealthy man to leave all of his property to her, instead of his children, was read and discussed by the deceased and others of the family, and during the course of the conversation Mr. Langford emphatically said that as he should leave at least two thirds of his property to his children, they need fear nothing of that kind.
At the close of Mrs. Langford's testimony, court adjourned for the day, the matter being continued until Tuesday morning next.
Los Angeles Times
November 24, 1893
Was In His Dotage
The Mental Condition of Charles Langford
During the Closing Years of His Life
Further Testimony in the Will Contest
The trial of the contest over the will of Charles E. Langford of Pasadena was resumed before Judge Clark and a jury, in Department Two, yesterday, ten witnesses being examined for the contestants, who closed their side of the case at 4 o'clock p. m. The witnesses called during the day's session were Dr. W. B. Roland, Mrs. Francesca A. Austin, William McCarty, C. E. Langford, Mrs. M. M. Langford, Charles E. Brown, James M. Doty, Mrs. M. J. Herwick, Mrs. F. E. Longshore and Thomas Langford.
Their testimony upon the whole was merely cumulative evidence, tending to show that decedent was in his dotage, and completely under the influence of his second wife, during the last years of his life. An effort was made, however, when the witness McCarty was on the stand to introduce some sensational evidence, reflecting upon the conduct of Mrs. Langford, during the year 1888, but the court refused to admit it. Four of the contestants were recalled, for the purpose of acquainting the jury with their impoverished circumstances and need for the money they are seeking to obtain, and the first half of the case was then closed.
The matter will be taken up again this morning.
Los Angeles Times
November 25, 1893
Langford Was in His Right Mind
The Other Side of the Sensational Will Contest
Prominent Citizens of Pasadena on the Witness Stand
The second half of the trial of the contest over the estate of Charles E. Langford of Pasadena, that is the taking of the testimony for his proponent, was commenced before Judge Clark and a jury , in Department Two yesterday, ten witnesses being examined during the days' session.
These were Attorneys Frank J. Polley, M. C. Hester and G. A. Gibbs; F. B. Weatherby, a shoe dealer; President P. M. Green, of the First National Bank; Rev. D. D. Hill; W. L. Wotkyns, a real estate agent; T. J. Rigg, a druggist; J. Clark, and Mrs. Frank Marston, all of whom are well known residents of Pasadena.
Their testimony, on the whole, was in direct contravention to that introduced by the contestants, with reference to Mr. Langford's mental condition, each and all declaring that, in their opinion, the decedent was a man of unusually bright mind, and relating various incidents which had occurred during their respective relations with him, business and otherwise, in support of their views on the subject.
At the close of Mrs. Marston's examination, court adjourned for the day, the matter going over until Tuesday morning next.
Los Angeles Times
December 5, 1893
It Will Probably Go to His Children
Verdict of the Jury in the Will Contest
One Juror Answers Two Questions in the Negative
The trial of the contest over the estate of the late Charles E. Langford of Pasadena was concluded in Department Two, yesterday afternoon, the matter finally being submitted to the jury at 3:15 o'clock.
A. R. Metcalfe, Esq., consumed part of the morning session in making his closing argument for the proponent, and R. A. Ling, Esq., who closed for the contestants occupied the attention of the jury for the remainder of the time.
After a deliberation of Four hours and a half, the jury found for the contestant upon the special issues submitted to them, the form of their verdict being as follows:
First--Was Charles E. Langford, on November 29, 1887, the date proposed will purports to have been executed of sound and disposing mind and memory? Yes
Second--Was Charles E. Langford, on January 29, 1890, the date the proposed codicil to said will purports to have been executed of sound and disposing mind and memory? Yes
Third--Was the execution of said proposed will procured through the undue influence of Maria M. Langford? Yes
Fourth--Was the execution of said codicil procured through the influence of Maria M. Langford? Yes
Fifth--Was the execution of said will procured through the fraud of Maria M. Langford? Yes
Sixth--Was the execution of said codicil procured through the fraud of said Maria M. Langford? Yes
Upon the jurors being polled it was found that the verdict was unanimous except as to the first two interrogatories, which were answered negatively by Juror J. H. Leahy.
The Court reserved its judgement upon said verdict.