© 2023 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Son’s Suit in Missouri Depends on Date on Mom’s Tombstone

In 1902, George Priddy of Medford, Ore., tried to prove his mother’s tombstone in the Central Point Cemetery was worth a million dollars.

Priddy and his siblings had been told by their parents that they owned a part of their maternal grandfather’s farm in Jackson County, Mo. Supposedly, his mother was still a minor in 1853 when she sold her one-ninth interest in the property to get money to go to the gold fields of California.

By 1902 that hardscrabble farm was now the most expensive residential area in Kansas City. So Priddy sued to reclaim his mother’s share of her father’s 50-acres based on the argument she had been too young to legally sell it.

Lawyers questioned dozens of witnesses in the 16-day Missouri trial. The central evidence was whether the tombstone showed she was 21 before or after she sold the land. Did it say she was 60 when she died in 1892, as claimed by her son, or 66 as claimed by the defendants?

The Tombstone Trial judgment went against Priddy. The judge accused the family of desecrating their mother’s gravestone to get money.

Sources: "Priddy Heirs and Their Law Suits." Medford Mail 18 July 1902: 3. Print;  Reports of Cases Determined in the supreme Court of the State of Missouri. Vol. 201: State of Missouri, 323-43. Web. 6 Dec. 2014.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.