July 2 - One Man's Fortunes

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On July 2, 1906, about five months after Paul Laurence Dunbar's death, an inventory of his estate was submitted to the probate court of Montgomery County, Ohio, by the executor of Paul's will, Charles D. Higgins.

Inventory and Appraisement of the Estate of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Deceased.  Charles Higgins, Executor.  Filed July 2 1906  Charles W. Dale, Probate Judge

Probate Court Estate 34933, Document 27, Page 424.  Montgomery County, Ohio, Records Center and Archives.

Inventory of Paul's estate 

An inventory of the estate of Paul Laurence Dunbar, filed in the probate court yesterday by the executor, Charles Higgins, showed that the property constituting the estate of the late poet to be valued at $8,402.62.

"Paul Dunbar's Estate Valued at $8,402.62."  The Dayton Journal (Dayton, Ohio).  July 3, 1906.  Page 12.

In August 1908, after encumbrances were deducted and Higgins claimed his expenses as executor, a total of $1,875.90 remained in the Dunbar estate.  This amount was divided between Paul's mother Matilda (who received about two-thirds) and his widow Alice (who received about one-third).

Probate Court of Montgomery County, Ohio.
In the Matter of the Estate of Paul Laurence Dunbar, deceased.
First & Final Account of Charles D. Higgins, Executor.


Balance for distribution, $1875.90
Mrs. Alice Dunbar, $691.96
Mrs. Matilda Dunbar, 1183.94

Charles D. Higgins being duly sworn, says that the foregoing is a true, full and correct statement and account of all moneys coming into his hands as Executor of the last will of Paul Laurence Dunbar, deceased, and that the disbursements and distributions were made as therein shown.

Final account of Dunbar estate, August 1908.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 2).

In his will, Paul described Charles Higgins as "my friend," and newspaper reports indicate he was a part of Paul's youth as well as a pallbearer at his funeral.

DAYTON, O. -- An oratorical contest took place at the Eaker Street church the 22d. Messrs. Paul Dunbar, Joseph Manly, Charles Higgins and Wm. Burns were the contestants.

"Purchased a Coal Yard."  The Cleveland Gazette (Cleveland, Ohio).  January 30, 1892.  Page 2.

The earthly remains of Paul Laurence Dunbar moved from the Eaker Street A. M. E. Church to Woodland Cemetery Monday afternoon.  The body rested in a silver gray couch-casket, covered with masses of American beauty roses and carnations.  The casket was tenderly borne into the church by the active pallbearers Ezra Kuhns, Harry Tressler, Dr. Walter L. Kline, classmates of Mr. Dunbar during his years in Central High School, and J. Edward Deaton, Adam Hickman and Charles Higgins, who nursed the poet during the last few months of his illness.

"Winter Winds Sing Anthem Over Poet's Resting Place."  The Dayton Herald (Dayton, Ohio).  February 12, 1906.  Page 1.

After Higgins completed his formal role of executor of Paul's estate, he continued to serve as a financial advisor to Matilda for many years.  He rented Paul's house to pay off debts, signed contracts for his publisher, and negotiated movie rights with a film production company.  When a biography of Paul was published in 1907, Higgins sold copies of the book.

Mother Dunbar said that the day before her son died he expressed the wish that his friend, the Rev. Mr. Higgins, would "take care of Ma."  Since her sons by her first marriage did not live at Dayton, she very much felt the need of the advice and services of a trusted friend, and when Mr. Higgins had rendered his final accounting as executor of the estate of her deceased son, she passed on the latter's request that he "look after her."  For twenty-eight years he rendered this service.  He has also served as executor of the poet's literary rights.

"An Appreciation of Paul Laurence Dunbar," by Rubie Boyd.  Unpublished manuscript, no date [after 1934].  Paul Laurence Dunbar collection, New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Microfilm edition, Roll 3).  Page 13.

Paul Laurence Dunbar is Dead.  The World's Greatest Negro Poet has passed away, but his works will live forever.  "The Life and Works of Paul Laurence Dunbar" is just off press.  It contains a complete biography, all his poetical works, his best short stories in one complete volume.  500 More Agents Wanted.  Agents are coining money.  Mr. J. C. Williams, Iowa, just writes:  "Have received my Dunbar outfit, and in eight hours sold eighteen copies -- profits $19.00."  C. D. Higgins, Ohio, says:  "Sold seventy-five copies in four and one-half days -- profits $72.25."  Start now and get first choice of territory.  We pay biggest commission.  J. L. Nichols & Co., Naperville, Ill.

Advertisement.  The Cleveland Gazette (Cleveland, Ohio).  May 11, 1907.  Page 2.