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From: Leon Zimlich <>
Subject: [TGF] Query: Curse of the Community
Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2013 14:18:53 -0500


Recently I gained access via FamilySearch, among Kentucky probate
records, to a will written by one of my great-great-grandfathers in
Louisville in 1885.

It provides the expected information regarding disposition of his
property to his wife and children, and also presents a puzzle in his
choice of words, unfamiliar as they are to me.

In provision 4 of the will, with respect to his minor children, he
states his desire that his surviving wife Elizabeth provide them with a
home and support until they were twenty-one, and further that she have the

“...authority in her to require them and each of them to perform such
labor as she may demand of them, it being my desire that my children
during their minority shall be brought up to freegal and industrious
habits regarding idleness, as I do, as the curse of the community.”

It's that last turn of phrase that has me scratching my head -- "as the
curse of the community." The expression, if not uncommon, is unfamiliar
to me.

There are several ways to interpret it -- that frugal and industrious
habits were an expectation of the community and as such were the "curse
of the community," the word choice "curse" being perhaps a bit of
hyperbole, or that he was not well regarded in the community and that he
himself was the "curse of the community." I favor the former
interpretation, but my question is whether this was a common expression
in the later-19th century, particularly among German immigrants, and
added to the will as boilerplate language, or if it was uncommon and so
perhaps more meaningful?

The will can be found at:

https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-20798-28197-11?cc=1875188&wc=MMYS-1BM:n748654161

and the passage in question in the first paragraph on page 43.

Many thanks for your thoughts on the matter.

Leon E. Zimlich



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