192 – Chleo’s Situation

Chleo Webb Jarvis – 1931

Chleo Jarvis, age 32, had lost her husband. They had met in 1916 in Larned, when Ralph was 22 and Chleo 16. They married in December 1919, just over 11 years ago.

Chleo mourned her loss.

Like so many of our great-grandparents, Chleo became a single parent. Her son Mel was almost 11. Donnie was age 9. But unlike many of those great-grandparents, Chleo wasn’t under financial duress.

She had a farm with a mortgage, a ranch with a mortgage, and a bunch of horses and cattle. Also, Ralph had a life insurance policy. Chleo would deal with Ralph’s affairs, but there was time for an orderly approach.

Chleo would have to decide if she wanted to keep the farm and the ranch. Or would she move into town in Salina. Or would she move back to Larned where her mother lived.


Ralph had a will in which he named Chleo as executrix.

The first order of business was to probate Ralph’s will so Chleo would be authorized to conduct financial transactions. Chleo used the Burch, Litowich, Royce law firm. She knew them well, as they were the corporate attorneys for Public Utility Investment Company and friends of Ralph and Chleo.

The attorneys filed a PETITION FOR PROBATE OF WILL on February 18, the day after Ralph’s funeral.

On February 20, Probate Judge Will Miller adjudged the will to be legitimate, and authorized Chleo as Executrix. Now, Chleo would be able to make financial transactions.

On February 24, the attorneys placed the required notice in the Salina Journal. Ralph’s friends and co-workers Jim Mulloy, Sherley Stewart, and M.J. Kennedy were appointed to inventory the value of his estate. Ralph’s personal secretary Margaret Quinn notarized the document.

On March 23, 1934, two years after Ralph’s death, the court found that the estate had been fully administered, and that final settlement should be made.

Surprisingly, Ralph’s estate was not too complicated. The value of land and cattle sale were a break-even with the mortgages. There wasn’t much cash or stock. Perhaps he sold his Public Utility Investment Company stock when he resigned.

One odd asset was a stock certificate for 600 shares of Godchaux Sugars. Godchaux was a large plantation and sugar refinery in Louisiana. Godchaux operated until 1956, when it sold to National Sugar. Chleo kept those stocks.

In the end, the estate value included the farm and ranch and their mortgages, a few thousand dollars and the sugar stock.

Sell the ranch

One of Chleo’s first decisions was to sell the ranch.

Ralph and Chleo had bought the ranch in two parts, the larger 560-acre part from C.L. Richards and the smaller 80-acre part from C.L.’s brother George Richards. Each part included a house.

The 560-acre part

On April 1, 1932, just over a month after Ralph died, Chleo sold the larger 560-acre part of the ranch back to C.L. Richards.

The price of $19,600 covered her mortgage of $9,600 and the contract amount of $10,000 to Richards. So Chleo broke even on the deal, and Richards bought his ranch back for what he’d sold it for four years earlier.

Tom and Lottie Jarvis were no longer living in the main ranch house on the C.L. Richards part, so that wasn’t a worry.

The 80-acre part

Anna and Sam Stafford still lived in the house on the smaller part of the ranch bought from George Richards.

Chleo kept the smaller 80-acre part of the ranch, so Anna and Sam Stafford would have a place to live. They continued to live there for several years.

In 1935, Anna and Sam Stafford left Salina and moved to Wichita to live near Tom Jarvis. At that time, Chleo sold the small part of the ranch to Hugh Carlin.

Sell the cattle, horses, and ranch goods.

Chleo lined up a sale to sell the horses, cattle, and ranch goods. The sale was on Monday, April 4, 1932. The proceeds were $1,702.90. Chleo didn’t sell their personal horses, which were kept at the farm in Salina.

Life insurance

As his obituary notes, Ralph had let some of his life insurance policies lapse, perhaps $50,000 worth. Fortunately, he had another policy. That policy paid $80,400.

Without the life insurance policy, Chleo’s inheritance would have had almost no value.

That $80,400 in 1932 would be the equivalent of over $1.5 million today.

The Hutchinson News – July 29, 1933

Ralph did that right. His was the highest life insurance payout in Kansas in 1932.

The farm

Chleo decided she would keep the farm in Salina and raise her sons there. She would need some help.

Anna and Jim Webb

Chleo, Mel, and Don Jarvis and Anna Webb – 1932

Chleo’s mother Anna Webb came to Salina to stay awhile and lend a helping hand. She was a comfort and a big help.

Later, Chleo’s brother Jim Webb came to help out. Jim was her elder brother by nine years. In 1931, he was age 40. Jim had never married.

Jim had worked on farms and ranches all his life. He was a great help taking care of the outdoor chores and the farm.

Chleo appreciated both of them so much that she eventually asked them to live with her permanently. And they did. Anna Webb sold the Rock House in Larned, and she and Jim moved to Chleo’s farm in Salina.

Jim Webb, with Mel and Don Jarvis and dog. Horse team are Prince and Queenie. Farmhouse in background. c 1933

Nibbles Extra Credit – Great Depression – 1932

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial – Washington, D.C.

If there was a worse year in the Depression than 1931, it was 1932.

Unemployment rose to 23.6%. 13 million people, almost 1 in 4, were unemployed. Many had lost their savings, and many had lost their homes and farms.

The economy shrank another 13%.

Bank failures

1,700 more banks failed. More than 10,000 banks, 40% of all banks, had failed.


In June, Hoover signed the Revenue Act of 1932. It raised the top income tax rate from 25% to 63%. The act also raised corporate income taxes and sales taxes. Hoover thought it would restore confidence and reduce the federal deficit. But it made the situation worse.

Dow hits bottom

On July 8, 1932, the Dow Jones hit bottom at 41.22. That’s the lowest ever recorded, and a 90% loss from its high in September 1929.

Dust bowl

More than 14 major dust storms hit the Midwest.

Roosevelt elected

In November, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President. He defeated Hoover in a landslide. The American people blamed Hoover for multiple transgressions in dealing with the Depression.

Democrats won majorities in both houses of Congress.

Some hope?

Construction contracts increased 30% by the end of 1932. Department store sales rose 8%. And by September the rate of bank failures had slowed.

A stamp collector himself, FDR understood the power of visual imagery, and he changed the look of stamps to convey messages of hope, optimism, and the solidity of the federal government.

Delivering Hope – National Postal Museum

Timeline – 1932


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