Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Interesting Clippings: Heir to Four Million

While doing research with newspapers, I came across an interesting article about a man named Ansel White in Port Angeles, Washington who was the sole heir of a 4 million dollar estate in New York and apparently never knew it. The man died in 1888 and it wasn't until 1895 when his grand nephew finally found him and his death information, that allowed he and 15 others to inherit the 4 million instead. The nephew traced White from Utica, New York to Missouri, and then to California where it was assumed he drowned in the San Francisco Bay. The nephew put an ad in the paper there and it was answered by a former neighbor of White, confirming the identity of White and his death.

4 million split 16 ways would have been only $250,000, but this was in 1895, and as we all know, $250,000 was worth a lot more in 1895 than it would be today. How much more? Calculating the equivalent worth is complicated and depends on the type of value in question. I like to use MeasuringWorth.com to give me an idea of historical money worth, and in this case, I would use one of the three "Income or Wealth" values.

The "historic standard of living" value would be $7,270,000, the "economic status" or "prestige value" would be $60,400,000, and the "economic power" is $275,000,000. That's still a pretty big range, but it gives you an idea that today, they would have still been multi-millionaires.

In comparison, the original 4 million would have been relative today to a range between 116 million, to 4.4 billion.

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