October 29, 2022 | Last updated Mar 8, 2024

Buddy the Dog, Heir to the Estate

Mary Ellen Voorhees of Omaha didn’t leave her dog everything in her will, but she did provide a $1,000 legacy to ensure his continued care (about $17,000 in 2022 dollars). In 1930 that was lot of money. According to the Omaha World-Herald (May 21, 1930), the money actually went to John Seifert, an employee at Voorhees’ home, on the condition that he care for her bulldog. Under the headline “Dog Gets $1,000 Legacy,” the World-Herald reported a surprising amount of detail about a private will: the size of the estate ($40,000 –  $50,000), which relatives and charities would receive a share of the money, how much was to be spent on a monument ($300), and Mrs. Voorhees’ instruction that she “was to be buried in her own good clothes and not any furnished by the undertaker and that $25 be spent in manicuring her nails, preparing her hair and getting her ready for burial.”

Apparently Mrs. Voorhees left nothing to chance, so we assume she didn’t misplace her confidence in John Seifert as guardian for her beloved (and apparently well-fed) Buddy. Buddy’s photograph, which ran with the World-Herald story, came to the NSHS as part of the Nathaniel Dewell collection.

Dewell was a commercial photographer working for the Omaha Chamber of Commerce in the 1920s and 1930s. NSHS Collections staff are digitally scanning the deteriorating negatives before placing them in cold storage for preservation. Among Dewell’s many photos are a number of people and their pets . . . more about that in an upcoming post. —     David Bristow, Associate Director / Publications. Research by Vince Goeres.

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