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Lifestyle Stories

Bad behavior often begets helpful records

Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: July 11, 2013 at 08:22 PM

Thomas Eubanks, a Georgia man, married twice and fathered six children. There was nothing remarkable about his life, so his descendants might not think to look for him in the records of the Georgia Supreme Court.

Its very title makes this lofty venue sound far beyond the realm of regular folk.

But most court cases are brought by ordinary people - albeit, usually under extraordinary circumstances.

Thomas probably would have been embarrassed by circumstances that etched his name in the state supreme court files. He'd actually been dead for several years before his two sets of children, one from each marriage, went to court over whether or not his second marriage to Elizabeth Wilson in 1828 was legal.

By his first marriage, Thomas had three children: Asa, Ambrose and Alfred. Alfred died intestate (without a will) and without a wife or children. So the law required his estate be equally divided among his siblings.

He had two full siblings (Asa and Ambrose) and three half siblings: David, George, and Sarah. By laws, half and full siblings inherited equally, so Alfred's estate was to be divided into five equal parts.

The law did not allow a man's illegitimate children to inherit from his legitimate children. So Asa and Ambrose hatched a plan: "Let's have David, George and Sarah declared illegitimate and all of Alfred's money will be ours."

If they could prove that their father was never legally married to the mother of David, George and Sarah, those three would then be illegitimate offspring, unable to inherit from their legitimate half-brother. Asa and Ambrose would get Alfred's estate.

As genealogists we benefit when siblings and others behave badly.

The case of Eubanks v. Banks, 34 Ga. 406, appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court from Morgan County in 1866, included lots of evidence that allows descendants to prove relationships and discover interesting tidbits about their relatives:


Sharon Tate Moody is a board-certified genealogist. Send your genealogy questions and event announcements to her in care of Getaway, The Tampa Tribune, 200 S. Parker St., Tampa, FL 33606 or stmoody0720@mac.com. She regrets that she is unable to assist wi

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