Last Will & Testament
In the name of God Amen I Bodo Otto of the Borough of Reading in the County of Berks and State of Pennsylvania Medical Doctor being aged, but of perfect memory and understanding. Thanks be to God therefore, having taken into consideration the mortality of mankind do hereby make my last Will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say Principle and first of all I recommend my Immortal Soul into the hands of Almighty God who gave it, and my body to be buried in the Earth in a Christian and decent manner at the discretion of my herein after named Executors, and as touching my worldly Effects wherewith God was pleased to help me with, I give and devise in manner and form following:
I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Margaret, all and singular my household furniture of what nature forever, be the same plate, Pewter, Brass, or Copper utensils, beds, bedsteads and their furniture, and all I hereby order my hereinafter named Executors to pay unto her as long as she shall remain my widow yearly and every year the interest money arrising from one thousand pounds; but should she again intermarry it is my will that she shall receive yearly during her life only one third part of said interest, which said household furniture and interest shall be in full and in lieu of all her claim against my Estate.
I give and bequeath unto my Eldest son Frederick Christopher Otto, all my apparel and whatsoever thereto belonging, and Sundry serviceable books and instruments belonging to his profession.
I give and bequeath unto my son John August Otto all my capital instruments together with the remainder of all my books. If the principal sum of one thousand pounds should be paid, I give said sum to my sons, Frederick Christopher Otto and John Augus Otto or their representatives, they paying annually to my beloved wife as above directed and out of said sum to pay the children and heirs of my deceased son Bodo Otto the sum of fifty dollars in speci to be divided amongst them in equal shares, alike, and also of said sum to pay unto the children of heirs of my deceased daughter Maria Elizabeth Marxen the like sum of fifty dollars in speci to be divided to and amongst them in equal shares alike or to either of their representatives, and which said sum shall be in full of all their inheritance of and from Estate having fully assisted their parents in their life time – the residue- when of said Principal sum shall be divided amongst them my two sons Frederick Christopher Otto, and John August Otto or their representatives in equal shares, and should my beloved wife Margaret die as my widow it is my will that all and singular the residue of her household furniture of what nature shall be divided to and amongst my said two sons Frederick Christopher and John August Otto, or their representatives, share and share alike and I hereby Constitute and appoint my beloved wife Margaret and my loving son John August Otto to be Executors of this my last Will and Testament, In Witness, whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the twenty second day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven.
Bodo Otto signature and Seal
By the time Bodo Otto wrote his will, Maria Elizabeth had been dead for nineteen years and her husband for two years. It had long been believed that Bodo Otto had mistakenly referred to the husband’s first name when writing his will.
The will states “said sum to pay unto the children of heirs of my deceased daughter Maria Elizabeth Marxen the like sum of fifty dollars in speci to be divided to and amongst them in equal shares alike or to either of their representatives, and which said sum shall be in full of all their inheritance of and from Estate having fully assisted their parents in their life time”
The descendants of Maria Elizabeth had difficulty proving that even though her father’s will states that Marxen was her husband’s name, his name was in fact Mark Carman. With the discovery of a receipt among the papers of James E. Gibson the necessary proof was finally located.
Nineteen years after Bodo Otto’s death and five years after the death of his third wife, Frederick Carman, Maria Elizabeth’s only son, signed a document acknowledging receipt of the legacy left to him and his sisters in their grandfather’s will.
The following is a transcript of the receipt:
Received August the thirtheenth One Thousand
Eight Hundred and six of Doctor John Augustus
Otto, Executor of the last Will and Testament of
of Bodo Otto Practioner of Physic late of
the Borough of Reading in Berks County
deceased the sum of Fifty Dollars a Legacy
bequeathed by the Last Will & Testament of the
said deceased unto Frederick Carman, Mary
Saul, Catharina Bender, and Elizabeth Davis.
I say received by me in full.