The Dowager of Dower Pond

AtoZ Challenge...Letter D's 'fiction from forgotten fotos'

"Get out of my house...you no good *Jackleg Lawyer!"

"But, madam, you must sign this *'Dower Release' in order for the property to be sold."

"Yes, I know," replied my great great grandmother.  "Now, my daughter will show you to the door, and you can tell my husband to go jump in the property's pond."

Those words echo in my head as I sit here with pen in hand contemplating the 'Dower Release' before me. The two generations of women before me faced this same piece of paper.  Had they signed, I wouldn't be in this position today.  Yet, I must consider the times...

Great Great Grandmother was known as the Dowager of Dower Pond long before she became a widow.  And, no her husband did not 'go jump in the pond' and drown, although he probably contemplated it more than once after years of wheeling, dealing and gambling with the 'Pond Property'.  The Dowager stood firm in her refusal to sign as did her daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter.

That was then...and even through all the 'Wheeling and Dealing' the family home remained intact.  The Dowagers house was home to generations of daughters who refused to sign and threw out the Dower Release paper pusher Jackleg Lawyers.  This is now, and times have changed.  The family properties have been divided and divided again with each Dowager Daughters daughters. 

I am the last Dowager Daughter, and as I stand here looking out over 'Dower Pond', as it has been called since the first 'Dower Release' refusal, I hear the first Dowager's words in my head...."Get out of my house...you no good Jackleg Lawyer".
As this latest Dower Release is falling in tiny pieces around my feet, I am thinking...
To Hell with it! 
My Jackleg Lawyer soon to be Ex-husband can...'Go Jump in Dower Pond'...
right beside his Beloved Boat!
*Jackleg Lawyer...characterized by unscrupulousness, dishonesty, or lack of professional standards. Merriam-Webster
*Dower Release...A married man in many U.S. locations could not, by law, sell land unless his wife consented.  She was interviewed apart from her husband and swore she was under no compulsion or duress from her husband regarding the sale.  She then swore and signed a 'Dower Release'.  pg 246 How To Do Everything Genealogy
~Photo from My Great Grandmother's Album...Unidentified, but possibly my Great Grandfather's Mother and Sisters from Tennessee.


  1. Hi Sue .. so interesting .. as I don't think women had property rights here at that stage. Dower Release - I'm not sure I'd heard of it before ...

    Is that your Dower House - no wonder none of the daughter's of the house wanted to give it up .. nor would I ..

    Cheers - such as interesting post - Hilary

  2. How wonderful. This is so fascinating!

  3. I am enjoying the stories although I haven't commented on all of them. I think of my grandmother with the Dower Story. She was a property owner and I can't imagine anyone daring to ask her to sign anything. Thanks also for the information on the memorial on Find a Grave. I know my cousin has a military memorial but didn't know about Uncle Gene. Thanks so very much.

  4. What a great part of history I knew nothing about, women having property rights. So much to learn! And what a wonderful atmospheric way to learn it.
    Liz at Bead Contagion

  5. A dower release? Wow I love learning new things :). Interesting stuff Sue..

  6. Another great story....so full of emotion!!

  7. Love it. They can all go jump in the pond. I love a strong woman.

    Brandon Ax: Writer's Storm

  8. Lovely concept to keep these stories alive and to share them with others. Thank you for sharing and I love the house it looks beautiful. The women in your family are obviously wise and determined - way to go ladies!

  9. I have a number of records in which there is a statement that the wife was interviewed "apart and privily" and she swore she agreed; however, I never saw a separate document like this one. Hmm, interesting!

  10. Oh Sue! I learn new things from you. I love strong willed women. They are my favorites. I would not give up my property either! Great story and your photos are beautiful.



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