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Friday, September 13, 2013

What Money Is Worth Today: Inflation Calculator

As I was reading my great-great-grandfather's will, written in 1864, I wondered how much in today's money was he willing to people.

Soon, I was wondering how much he actually had. I turned to an inflation calculator to determine what his gifts were worth, what he was leaving to his children and grandchildren. One of his children was my great-grandfather and received the will to his land and the buildings.

He gave $100 to each of his twelve grandchildren and $800 to each of six living children,. To the grandchildren of his three dead daughters, he gave them their mother's share to divide. In today's money, accounting for inflation,, he gave the grandchildren $1,447. 64  each and to his children he gave $11,581.10 to each of his living children. After all his possessions were sold, anything left over was to be divided amongst his daughters or the children of dead daughters. In all, not counting his land and buildings, he left in cash $83,257.68 to his heirs. I think I remember that he owned 800 acres of land in North Carolina.

My husband, a college student in 1966, made $55 which is $358 in today's money. We lived on that and paid for tuition for both of us and rent and all the other expenses of life. He actually made more than any other student on campus. Oh, his was a part time job.

Back to my g-g-grandfather. He left his wife practically destitute--a bed and some blankets and she could live in the house for four years if she lived that long. ??? I can say times have changed for the better! Oh, and three hogs, some bushels of wheat and corn.

I hope you can have fun, learn something, and most of all waste as much time as I did with the inflation calculator.


  1. I hope the g-g-grandmother didn't live too long. That doesn't sound very nice, but I mean because she would have lived in poverty unless her children took care of her.


    1. Janie,
      I was a little horrified, too. I thought it was this will, but maybe it was the g-grandfather who wrote a will, and two or three years wrote a codicil stating his wife could keep things for her own as long as she lived. I can imagine she put up a fuss about only possession a bed for three or four years.

      Back then, it was assumed the wife would remarry and the men did not want another man getting his things. That is true now, but the law will not allow a man to just cut his wife off from needs after three years.

      I do believe I have evidence somewhere that her son took care of her and she lived in the house with him until she died.

  2. It was interesting to read the title of my last house, which was very old. My sister, who is an attorney noted that the house was part of a post-nuptual in one title change that left it to an heir but had to guarantee the wife could live in it until she died. My sister commented that this was rare and generous in the 19th century.

    1. How interesting. The law did not much protect women-s interests back then. Thanks for that tidbit.

  3. That was really cool, but I'm not sure he loved his poor wife very much. :-( Did she live for more than 4 years after him?

  4. Sue,
    I think men thought more about another man getting his horse and dog along with the wife. Plus, they wanted land left in the family for the use of sons, especially. I am certainly not excusing him, but that was a custom of the time...leave the wife to depend on a son or marry another man. Maybe others did leave more to their wives. I ill have to check on how long she lived.


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