THE THUMS
GARDENERS AND BOTANISTS

__ Part VII __

BY UNHAPPY LAWSUITS...



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In the years that followed, various drafts of the catalogues of plants and rarities at South Platt were compiled by Thum in collaboration with Billius and Dr. Benjamin Worfe. (see p. 24). Following publication of the catalogue in 1956 our knowledge of Thum stems mainly from legal documents, such as the deed of gift of 1959 by which the collection of rarities was assigned to Billius, and the recensions in two subsequent wills (see pp. 41-2). He successfully answered a charge in 1959 of ‘making a show of several strange objects without authority from the State of Nebraska.’ and in the same year was summoned (with many others) to face a charge of having ‘willfully ... refused to pay their assessment for poor relief there, to the grave damage of all residents and inhabitants of the county, in evil example ... and against the peace’, an imputation which failed in court. His name also appears in two writs, a Venire Facias of January 1959 and a Capias of April of the same year, both concerning an indictment of the previous October and calling on a large number of citizens ‘to answer touching certain trespasses, contempts and misdemeanors.’

Owen Thum the Younger died on 22 April 1962. Namesakes then still living in .......... County received bequests in his will, as did his widowed daughter, Francie, and four god-children. Family responsibilities fell to his widow, Hester. At her expense a monument to both Thums was erected in the churchyard of St. Eustace at South Platt. However, the mason employed by Hester Thum apparently took unfair advantage of her bereavement in the use of unsuitably soft stone for the monument. Dort described it in 1973: ‘This once beautiful monument hath suffered so much by the weather, that no idea can, just now, on inspection, be formed as to its original inscriptions and carvings.’

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