About John Augustus Pell
NY Evening Telegram - May 21, 1897
Judge Chase. In the Supreme Court, resumed
taking testimony In the Pell will conteat
to-day. The Court Is asked to pass upon
one of the most peculiar cases that ever arose
from a will.
John Augustus Pell left the entire Income
of his estate to his daughter. Eleanor Livingstone
Phelps, provided she should live In
Mrs. Phelps Is an American citizen, and
says that this clause prohibits her from exerting
her rights as such. She asks the Court
to construe the clause.
Another question is whether Mr. Pell's domicile
was In France or this country. Although
an American, he lived in France almost
continually after 1865. The estate will
be administered according to the laws of the
country tn which the testator was domiciled.
The value of the estates left by Mr. and
Mrs. Pell is about 17.000.000.
When the case closed yesterday Lawyer
Blaikle was in the midst of a deposition
made by Ellen Theresa Corcoran. The deposition
is Introduced to show that Mr. Pell
often declared that he considered Paris his
home. Mrs. Corcoran declares that during
her thirty-eight years* service she frequently
heard Mr. Pell say that Paris was his home,
and be never wanted to return to America
When court opened to-day Mr. Blaikle continued
reading the • deposition. Under .the
laws of France Mrs. Phelps* husband will
receive a much larger Interest In the estate
than be would on this side.
Lawyer Jacob Marks Interposed frequent
objections during the reading of the crossinterrogations,
and especially those questions
and answers relating to conversations In
which Pell Is alleged to have declared that he
did not intend to come to America during the
latter years of his life. The objections were
based upon the ground of Pell'e alleged Irresponsibility,
he having once been legally declared
Insane. The majority of Mr. Marks'
objections were not allowed.
A deposition made by Mrs. Walden Pell, a
resident of Paris, Was then read. This deposition
also declared that the testator had frequently
expressed himself as having made
Paris his home, and as having said that he
never cared to return to America.
A deposition by Louis Crox. a sculptor, was
next read. Mr. Crox deposed that Mr. Pell
had ordered him to put Up a monument In
the remetery at Pau. France. Mr. Pell swears
Mr.urox. was very particular in selecting the
burial plot and monument.
One of Mr. Pell's letters to the sculptor
read:—"You may begin t once imposing monument:
price agreed upon -too francs." As to
Pell's acknowledged place of residence. Mr.
Croix's deposition corroborated the others.
After the reading of the disposition Colonel
8. Van Rensselaer Cruger. executor of the
estate, and who appears as plaintiff in the
action, took the stand. He Identified a copy
of the Will and then proceeded to give an outline
of the Pell family tree.
Colonel Cruger testified that Mr. Pell lived
abroad almost-continually from the early
sixties and visited America rarely.
The will of Mrs. Pell was offered In evidence
to show that she considered herself a
resident of America, and also considered her
husband as such. She described herself as
simply sojourning In Europe.
Colonel Cruger. In answer to questions.
said that all the beneficiaries under the will
are Americans.. He testified. that both My,
and Mrs. Pell had lived In Xew York Xof
years and owned valuable real '-property frf f
this city. When he offered the will for probate.
Colonel Cruger said he regarded the
Pells as being residents of America, and so
stated In his petition.
Colonel Cruger gave a long list of real
property owned by Mr. Pell. He said that
the house at No. $4 Fifth avenue had been
bought about 1S86.
"Did you ever hear Mr. Pell express any
dislike for America!" was asked of Colonel
"I never did." was the answer.