Friday, April 8, 2011

Was It Really Worth It?

My husband's side of the family ~the Pointer's~ seem to think they have the corner on bad ancestors. When in Iowa last summer, I got the chance to ask a few of them just why they thought their ancestors were so bad.  More than one replied, "Because," and in a loud whisper they continued,"We have a murder in the family. Possibly two. And possibly 2 murderers"

[Snort.] Well, I'm no mathematician, but in my family? 6 murders + 1 possible murderer + 1 possible pirate + 1 accused & imprisoned witch + 2 publically accused fornicators (one who later married the publically accused & imprisoned witch = I win. [Not that I'm keeping count of all the naughty people in the family, or anything.]

Now, Big Paw Paw never murdered anyone, at least not that I've found. And no one ever murdered him, which is amazing. Again, I'm not a mathematicion, but his 4 marriages + 3 divorces + 2 confirmed extra-marital liasions [may have been more, but hard proof on extra-marital affairs is hard to come by] + being a lousy husband 4 times + being a lousy father 2 times + being kicked out of his family 1 time + being kicked out of the Catholic Church 1 time [may have been more & may have been a formal excommunication] = 1 naughty Big Paw Paw.

And it's very easy for me to list all of Big Paw Paw's faults and mistakes.  [Mainly because there are so many of them.]  And it's also very easy for me to forget that Big Paw Paw didn't always make bad choices.  Why? Because those who knew him, didn't think very highly of him. And Big Paw Paw didn't leave much of a paper trail behind on things he did get right.

However, I'm proud to announce that I've found hard proof that indicates that Big Paw Paw wasn't wrong all the time. [Amazing. I know.] Well, at least the 45th District Bexar County Court Judge didn't think Big Paw Paw was wrong in 1938.

I mentioned in my post A Review of All the Players a piece of property with a house that Big Paw Paw sues his sister, Jane Rosin, over.  When I first read in the San Antonio Express that Big Paw Paw had sued his sister, I rolled my eyes and shook my head. Suing a family member never turns out well. If divorcing his 1st wife, who was the younger sister of Otto Rosin, Jane's husband, wasn't bad enough, then suing Jane later over some property and a house definitely did not help familial relations. But, of course, you and I have 20-20 vision in this case and Big Paw Paw was a bit nearsighted [and so was Jane].

Big Paw Paw first acquired the house and property located at Lot number 14 in Block numbered 1, New City Block 6000 in the City of San Antonio, said lot having 50 feet fronting the East side of Palmetto Ave. in Dignowity Place on 20 Aug 1925 from a C.E. and Alice Scull [sic].  So, he purchased this home approximately 2 years after his divorce from Emma.

Then, according to his 2nd wife's petition to the court during their divorce [Her story is forthcoming. LOTS of drama], Big Paw Paw had practically abandoned this home, which she was living in at the time she filed for divorce. This petition was filed Aug 1927. She explains to the court that Big Paw Paw was refusing to pay her weekly allowance of $15 set by the court; that he wasn't paying the mortgage or the insurance on the home; that he wasn't paying the creditors on the liens on the home; that he wasn't securing the home against theft and vandalism; and that he wasn't paying the payments on the furniture in the home. Basically? Big Paw Paw just wasn't paying for diddly squat when it came to Oveta. So they asked the court to appoint a receiver to handle all the community property. The best part of this petition? She states the actual address of the house [Hallelujah!]: 730 N. Palmetto, on the southeast corner of Palmetto & Burnett [sic] Streets. [But don't go rush to look it up just yet. Lemme finish the story. Then, I'll show it to you.]

I'm sure by know Oveta was thinking she pulled one over on Big Paw Paw. A receiver, Bernard Loben, was appointed to take over the community property 7 Oct 1927. [Poor Bernard. And Oveta. They had no clue who they were up against.]

On 5 Dec 1927, Big Paw Paw files a Public Affidavit [Gawd, I love his paper trails.]. In this affidavit  he says this same property was purchased before his marriage to Oveta, that she had no interest in it whatsoever, that she had abandoned him, and that she hadn't lived with him for at least 6 months. [So there.] Interestingly, the affidavit wasn't filed until 7 Mar 1928. [Hm.]

Because Big Paw Paw apparently didn't like to leave anything to chance, he executed a Warranty Deed with V/L [Vendor's Lien] with a John Marshall, Jr. of Galveston, Texas [who I've always believed to be his older brother] on this same property for $5000. And like the affidavit, it was executed on 5 Dec 1927 and filed 7 Mar 1928 in Bexar County, Texas.  The Vendors Lien part just meant that Big Paw Paw would go on making the lien payments and at the conclusion of the liens, the property would be owned outright by John.

So, Round 1, Big Paw Paw.

Remember how I told you in my post Smiling Big and Laughing Hard that Big Paw Paw's first wife, Emma [Again. This was Otto Rosin's, Jane's husband's, little sister.], contracted tuberculosis and died 11 Mar 1931? Good. Keep on remembering that.

Now. The next bit of documentation on this property that I could find was where John Marshall, Jr. [Big Paw Paw's big brother] executes a Warranty Deed with Otto Rosin effectively selling this property & house of Big Paw Paw's [or what used to be his] "...for a good valuable and sufficient consideration to me in hand paid..." No amount was recorded for the selling price. It was filed on 5 Feb 1932. Coincidentally less than a year after Emma died at such a young age.

Then in an act that would wake the sleeping giant, Otto Rosin executes a Warranty Deed with his wife Jane Rosin [Big Paw Paw's oldest sister], and sells her the same property for $3000 on 24 Jun 1937.

Enter Big Paw Paw.

On 2 Jul 1937, Big Paw Paw files a lawsuit in the 45th District Court of Bexar County.  And he claimed the following [But I re-worded the legalese. You're welcome.]:
  • That around 30 Jun 1937, Jane Rosin, et. al. "seized and possessed" the now infamous [at least in my mind] property.
  • That Jane Rosin, et. al. [Otto] "unlawfully entered...and ejected" Big Paw Paw from his house and took possession of his house to the tune of $7500 in damages. [Now, that? I would've loved to have seen.]
  • That the rental value of the home was $500 per month.
  • That he purchased the home from Mr. Schull in 1925.
  • That in 1928 he conveyed the property to his brother, John Marshall, Jr. [Do you realize how many hours I looked for direct proof of their kinship? To think that all this time it was just sitting there. In a lawsuit. Yowzer.] And that the deed was to be held in trust by John Marshall, Jr. and that no consideration was paid. 
  • That in 1932 that Big Paw Paw requested that his his brother, John, place the deed in the name of a person in San Antonio [Remember. John was from and in Galveston, Texas] " order to facilitate the handling of said property." And it was understood, according to Big Paw Paw, by all parties that the deed was to be held in trust by Otto Rosin and that Otto didn't pay anything for the property. So, according to Big Paw Paw, John essentially transferred the deed to Otto Rosin. I guess Big Paw Paw was still paying on those liens on the property. Otherwise, why not sell it back to Big Paw Paw?
  • That before the execution of the deed from Otto to Jane on 30 Jun 1937, that Jane had no interest in the property and that even though the deed had been conveyed from Otto to Jane, it had not been "...placed of record in Bexar County, Deed Records." [Oops.]
  • And that  Big Paw Paw had been unlawfully kicked out of his home. That no money had changed hands between Otto and Jane. That this was fraud. And that, "Jane Rosin well knew that her said husband had been the holder of the title to said property in trust for plaintiff..." all before the transaction. [Big Paw Paw was fit to be tied.]
And what did the court find? That Big Paw Paw was right:
  • That the first conveyance to John Marshall, Jr. "...constituted nothing more than a mortgage, and the legal title remained vested in Joseph Marshall." 
  • That Big Paw Paw payed off the debt.
  • That John conveyed it to Otto at the insistence of Big Paw Paw; that "...Otto received said deed for indemnity purposes constituting a mortgage, the legal title remaining in plaintiff."
  • That Jane & Otto had no "further liability."
  • That Jane had been fully aware of the situation before the last conveyance from Otto to herself.
  • That Jane Rosin, et. al., give the deed to Big Paw Paw.
  • That Jane Rosin, et. al., not pay any damages to Big Paw.

Round 2, Big Paw Paw

So what happened to the property?  Well, Big Paw Paw and my grandmother, Paw Paw (his 4th wife), finally sold it in 1946 to an Isaac and Esther Mora and their son, Oswaldo Mora for $3000.

And what does it look like today? Well, I didn't get a chance to go by there when I was last in San Antonio because my silly living relatives wanted to do a whole bunch of stuff. [It's hard balancing the living and the dead.] But I did find it on Google Maps. It's depressing, really. It looks abandoned. The windows are all boarded up. However, if I ever win the lottery and after I purchase my 2nd great-grandparent's home which is 3 blocks south of the Riverwalk there in San Antonio [prime real estate], I'm gonna buy this house.

But I think it's ironic and sad that Big Paw Paw worked so hard to keep this house, and now it's abandoned. I also think it's ironic and sad that Jane SO wanted to get back at Big Paw Paw [O.K., I'm guessing.] with this house, and now it's abandoned. Was it really worth it?

The address is 730 North Palmetto, southeast corner of Palmetto and Burnet, but the address doesn't take you to the southeast corner of Palmetto and Burnet. But this is the photo of the house on the southeast corner. [If you're not able to see it here, then click the link, "View Larger Map" down below.]

View Larger Map


  1. What a great story! You did great making what could have been a somewhat boring story very entertaining! :)

  2. what an interesting man big paw paw was. i had to go back and read the other stories to catch up. looking forward to reading more.

  3. It's pretty cool that there is a house still there and not just an empty lot or a commercial building, which is so often the case!

  4. I do so love your family stories!

  5. wow, I have been amissin' your great stories! My kind of deep down research combined being atuned to the place and time.---And funny as well.

  6. Congratulations on your research and turning legal documents into such an entertaining story. Big Paw Paw was something else ;-) Wish I had naughty ancestors! Jo

  7. Cool post! I would like you to know that I've awarded your very interesting blog the Lovely Blog Award! You can receive it at:

  8. Wonderful post. Someday when I grow up I hope that I can relate what I find as well as you. I have asked similar questions when viewing abandoned homes.

  9. Loved this! It seems you kinda have a soft spot for the old scoundrel (and apparently you're not alone - how many women fell for him?). As for the legal battles, sad as they were at least they weren't shooting one another.

  10. Thanks, Susan. Funny you should mention shooting. Wait till you meet his next wife. ;)



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