The Oddest Things Bequeathed in Dead People’s Wills

Some dying wishes should stay as just that - wishes.

Matt Branhamby Matt Branham

The Oddest Things Found in Dead People's Wills
It’s hard enough to deal with the passing of loved ones, but then we also have to handle the absurd requests left in their wills. Ironically, some of the ways the deceased are best remembered are from the oddest things they bequeathed in their wills. Here are 10 of them and be thankful you weren’t the executor.

Slapping the Skin Drums

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American hatmaker, Solomon Sanborn, requested his skin to be removed from his body and used as the skin of two drums. The drums were to be given to a friend of his and then played in commemoration of the Battle at Bunker Hill every June 17 at dawn to the beat of “Yankee Doodle.” Talk about marching to the beat of your own drum! The rest of him was to be made into compost fertilizer.

Sexist Library

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We’ve heard of sexy librarians, but never a sexist library. Iowa attorney T.M. Link passed in 1930 and requested his fortune be spent on constructing a beautiful library with but one stipulation: no girls allowed. Not only did the library not welcome women, it specifically was to have no literature by female authors and contain no artwork or furniture made by women. He left five dollars to his daughter and nothing to his wife. Safe to say Mr. Zink was not a fan of the ladies.

Janis Joplin’s Last Hurrah

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A last minute edit to Janis Joplin’s will testified that she demand $2500 to be set aside for a kickass 200-person afterparty to celebrate her death and “have a blast” after she was gone. (The party was held at her favorite pub in San Anselmo, California.) After she made the amendment to her will, Janis Joplin overdosed two days later.

Harry Houdini’s Cruel Trick

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The magician who pulled many a bunny from his hat donated those bunnies to children of his friends, but the real trick was when he left 10 words to his wife, random words for contacting him in the realm beyond. She held seances every Halloween for 10 years using the 10 words, but Houdini never showed up. Either there isn’t much of an afterlife, or Houdini burned in hell for all the bunny cruelty.

Cat House

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Jonathan Jackson was a lover of animals and in 1880, it became abundantly clear just how much. He left in his wake a fortune to be used for a cat house, including an auditorium, dining hall, furnished bedrooms and a gym. He believed the animal kingdom should be watched over by man, which might explain why the roof was built for climbing too.

Charles Bronson Wins the Lottery

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Audrey Knauer could technically be classified as a fan of Charles Bronson. After all, she left $300,000 to him in her will and nothing to her family. The best part: He accepted the money (half). He donated it to charity, and the rest went to a local library. It’s safe to say she wasn’t too considerate of her family.

Ghost Dinner Party

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John Bowman wholly believed he would be reunited with his wife and daughters in the afterlife, so much so that he left $50,000 to have his home kept and meals served every night by the servants so that if they came back to the home one day, there would be food ready for them. This started in 1891 and continued until 1950 when the money finally ran out. That’s got to be the longest streak of meals where somebody didn’t finish their vegetables.

Eleanor Ritchey’s Generous Dog Bone

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A wealthy Florida woman left $4.5 million to her 150 dogs — that’s a lot of dogs for one person — in 1968. The will, however, was contested for five years and by the time it was sorted out, the trust grew to $9 million, but more than half of her dogs had already died. Bet she didn’t see that coming.

Napoleon Splitting of Hairs

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Mr. Bonaparte was a lot of things, but a good gift giver was apparently not one of them. In his demise, Napoleon requested that his head be shaved and his hairs be distributed amongst his friends. Boy, I would have loved to be there when they received those parting gifts. You really shouldn’t have.

Pringles Can Man

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He was the creator of the Pringles chip can, so it seems only fitting that Fred Baur’s urn would be none other than a Pringles can holding his remains. I think I could stop after just one in this case.