Monday, November 6, 2017

Grandpa's Trouble with Debt

My grandfather David D. Fast #112876 (1884-1974) learned a hard lesson about debt in the Great Depression.  About a year ago, I wrote a post about my courthouse research on his mortgages.  Shortly after that, Adam from Niceville, Fla., in an act that truly represented the name of his town, contacted me to say that he was cleaning up his grandfather's stuff and had found some documents related to my grandfather's mortgages.  He was kind enough to Fedex them to me, postage-paid.

The documents were seven interest coupons on a mortgage that my grandfather made with C. H. Bailey on 28 February 1921.  My grandfather owed $350 interest every six months, and he apparently sent it in with an interest coupon that he cut from a sheet of coupons.  Here's the first coupon in the series:

 I was glad to get the coupons, but they weren't that exciting until I compared the due dates with the dates of payment stamped or written on the front.   The first one, shown above, was paid on time, as was the second one.  But the third one was paid five months late, the next six months late, against six months late, and then seventh one (due on 28 August 1924) was on time again.

Interestingly, my grandfather married on 10 June 1924, and my grandmother, Elisabeth Suderman #55577 (1892-1981), came from a moderately well-to-do farming family.  She had owned land before she married, and I have the impression that they did not tolerate being late in payments.  Since the next payment due after they were married was the seventh one (the first time Grandpa had been on time on for a couple years), I wonder if it was under her influence that he caught up on payments.

In any case, it didn't matter in the end.  Grandpa continued rolling over the principal because he couldn't repay it and finally lost his farm on 4 August 1931 as the falling wheat prices of the Great Depression took their toll.  But read my post linked at the beginning for the happy ending to the story.

BTW, both Adam and I wondered how these items wound up in his grandfather's possession.  He also found documents from other unrelated people in the Midwest in the same stack.  He said that his grandfather was a flea market seller, so I've wondered if perhaps the interest coupons were in an item of furniture that was sold at some point.  But it's all speculation.  In any case, I'm extremely grateful that he contacted me and gave me the interest coupons.

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