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Looking Backward: The 'old' Lysander districts No. 6, No. 12 and No. 18

Beyond his simple farm of some 50 acres, Halsted's only other property consisted of bonds and mortgages, all loans that he made with "unusual care." In 1869, Halsted moved from his humble log cabin to the home of his niece, Mrs. John Vanderveer, who cared for him until his death. But, in 1874 Halsted executed a questionable will, which according to an 1880 edition of the Baldwinsville Gazette, included this controversial clause: "{Q}I give and bequeath all the rest, residue and remainder of my said estate to the town of Lysander{Q} to be kept as a perpetual fund in said town, the income thereof to be used annually in the support of common schools therein, the said fund to be taken care of in the same manner and loaned out in the same way as the school fund of said town is now managed through its proper officers." It was this clause that brought the entire will into question.

Halsted had suffered a stroke on Sept. 15, 1874, the very same day that he executed this new will. Another niece, Mrs. R.W. Carter, testified that on Sept. 17 that same year, "Her uncle did not recognize her in any way. She went to the lounge and said, 'how do you do, Uncle John?' and he paid no attention to her. She sat by the side of the lounge and talked with Mrs. Vanderveer . . . . about the clothes which Mr. Halsted was to be laid out in. He paid no attention to this conversation." The judge in the case concluded that "The bequest of this will, to the town of Lysander, the income of which is to be used for the support of common schools of said town, is a little peculiar. It is not to give more enlarged facilities for educational purposes, build more schoolhouses, nor create any new department in said schools, but is rather a gift to the taxpayers and rich men of the town to relieve them from a burden otherwise imposed on them by law .It is rare indeed that we find a person making a bequest to another or to a school in which he has never heretofore appeared to have taken any interest ." The judge determined that Halsted was not of sound mind when he made his new will. He ruled against the town and its schools, awarding the entire $90,000 estate to Halsted's nieces instead.

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