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1911 - After the Accident
September 15, 1911 - The Fight for Custody Begins; Ernest and Sylvia are Buried
Arthur C. Pillsbury Adopts the three children; others left to fight over inheritance.
My Dad, Arthur Francis Pillsbury, told me to, "read the probate papers," and I did.
I was surprised Sam Ball had attempted to gain custody of the three orphaned children. He was a bachelor and, it appears, was making his living as a musician.
The probate papers also providing the startling news the family was well heeled. Page after page of real estate in Los Angeles and stock shares in oil and gold mining companies were included in the inventory.
This was a surprise to me because at no time did Dad or Aunt Grace give any indication of this. A cousin later told me more about their early lives, which validated what I was seeing in the probate papers.
I knew both Dr. Harlin Henry Pillsbury and Dr. Harriet Foster Pillsbury worked all their lives as physicians. Dr. Harriet had also inherited funds from her father which was stock in the Bank of Massachusetts and handled all of the family finances.
Dr. Harriet was the descendant of the Andover Fosters, who were original homesteaders in Andover, Massachusetts. She graduated from Bishop, a girl’s preparatory school, which merged with Phillips Andover some time ago.
As Dr. Harriet aged, she entrusted the funds to Dr. Ernest as the oldest son of the Pillsbury family to be used for the three grandchildren. Aunt Grace kept in touch with her Aunt Cora, Sylvia’s younger sister, in Auburn, CA and her Collins cousins until she died. I got to know them, visiting and communicating regularly. Sam never came up in the conversation. Aunt Grace, who was the source of most of my knowledge of the family never mentioned Samuel N. Ball herself.
After going over the legal papers I realized it was this contention which allowed Title Insurance to come in and seize control of the probate and then attempt to take physical custody of the three children. This was one of the reasons AC emptied the house of the family's personal possessions and heirloom furniture and shipped it to Berkeley.
Reviewing the adoption papers was also illuminating. AEtheline Banfield Dueul Pillsbury, AC's wife, refused to join in the adoption. Included in the adoption paperwork is a letter giving AC permission to adopt the children but she was not included. Instead, shew as named as 'guardian' which actually meant she insisted on receiving the money paid for the support of the children, which she used for her own purposes. The children were to be in the house only in the winter and to spend the entire summer with their new father in Yosemite.
My Dad never mentioned AEtheline when I was young and as little as possible even when I was interviewing him for his recollections after agreeing to take on the work which needed to be done to ensure Grandfather’s legacy was, as Dad said, “understood and remembered.”
Dad always spoke of his sister, Grace, as mothering him through his childhood. He acknowledged this by maintaining a life insurance policy for her benefit in case she had need of funds after the death of her husband, Arthur Young. Dad outlived her and assigned the life insurance to his estate to be shared between his children.
The remains of Dr and Mrs Ernest S. Pillsbury were cremated and buried in the Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles at 1831 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Their eldest son was also buried at Rosedale. Ernest Jr. died October 11, 1960 at 10:40PM. Residence is listed as 1200 N. State St., Los Angeles. Funeral director was Mountain View Mortuary. Interred in Rosedale Cemetery, Los Angeles.
Ernie was struck by a car while crossing the street and died on his younger brother's birthday. I remember the day as Dad came home very late and the celebration was put off. I did not know he existed until he had died. Ernie was a highly skilled photographer and cameraman who worked in the film industry, for the Coroners Office In Los Angeles and made beautiful furniture.
I have no idea why Dad had Ernie's grave stone made out as you see below. Or maybe I do, now that I think about it.
Dr. Ernest had ordered a car but the one he had driven the day of the accident was also his own.
To the Right: Ernie's grave stone is to the Right top. The marker for Dr. Ernie and Sylvia are at the Bottom Left.
Pillsbury, Ernest S & Sylvia Pillsbury No. Lot G Section One, Plot 1 North and 4 East
Ernest Pillsbury, Jr. No. Lot G, Section 19 ½, Plot 2 West 2 North Uncle Ernest
The accident took place and events continued to unfold. Sam Ball stalled the action in court. Both Arthur C. Pillsbury and his mother, Dr. Harriett Foster Pillsbury, frantically worked to ensure the children would remain with people who loved and knew them. Title Insurance Company, facing bankruptcy, files for control of the estate and physical custody of the children.
In times of crisis we encounter the best and the worst in human nature.