First estimate of value of my grandfather’s estate at close of probate

House on a farm where Ulvog family lived for a while, back when my dad, aunts, and uncles were growing up.

The probate document for my paternal grandfather listed the assets in his estate. What is the total value of his estate? Let’s ponder that question.

Values for some items are listed in the probate document. Prices of asset purchases and sales during the time between his death and filing of probate document can be used to estimate other values. For example, I estimated values for livestock at this earlier post.

Here is a summary of the assets:

livestock       4,508
oats and corn       1,794
tractors          450
tractor drawn equipment          150
horses          400
horse drawn equipment          140
other equipment          180
car          300
total assets, without $400 liability       7,922


My estimate for the value of the individual items in his estate as listed in the probate filing are accumulated below. I’ll update this analysis later if I can get better definition for value of some assets.

item quantity  price  value basis for price
 —  —  —
cows 15         132      $1,980 calc from filing
bull 1         100          100 filing
yearling 14           47          658 calc from filing
calves 25           30          750 filing
spring pigs 20           51       1,020 calc from filing
horses 4         100          400 wild guess
John Deere Model D tractor 1         300          300 filing
John Deere Model B tractor 1         150          150 guess based on D being largest in Deer lineup
John Deere cultivator 1           50           50 wild guess
three bottom (plow?) 1           50           50 wild guess
2 bottom plow 1           50           50 wild guess
“other old machinery” ???
binder (horse drawn) 1           20           20 wild guess
disk mower (horse drawn) 2           20           40 wild guess
plows (horse drawn) 2           20           40 wild guess
stacker (horse drawn) 1           20           20 wild guess
hayrake (horse drawn) 1           20           20 wild guess
small tools 1           10           10 wild guess
elevator & hoist 1           30           30 wild guess
manure spreader 1           20           20 wild guess
wagons 2           50          100 wild guess
hay rake 1           20           20 wild guess
1936 Ford V-8 Sedan 1         300          300 guess in relation to $600 sale price of truck
(car had heater *and* radio!)
new hay, stacks, 2  ?  ??? I have no idea
hay, tons 7  ?  ??? I have no idea
household furniture
corn, bushels 800        1.24          992 “Fred” database from St Louis Fed
oats, bushels 1000      0.802          802 “Fred” database from St Louis Fed
assets       7,922
liabilities  —-
administratrix fees (to Lydia)        (400) filing
no other liabilities mentioned            –
liabilities        (400)
net worth      $7,522

An unknown number of chickens at an unknown price per head is not included above. Probably should include $163 on the basis that the many dozen of chicks are worth at least as much as was paid for them three months earlier. Probate filing does not give a count of the number of chicks or full grown chickens.

My goal is to eventually roll this back to the date of his death. There is a long list of assumptions I have to work through to back into those valuations.


The St.  Louis Federal Reserve Bank maintains a database with an astounding range of information, to include crop prices and production levels by years, going back decades and decades. That is the source of the market prices for corn and oats.

Corn prices obtained from the “Fred” database:

  • June 1945 – $1.18/bushel – Wholesale Price of Corn for Chicago, Il. –
  • April 1946 – $1.24/bushel – Wholesale Price of Corn for Chicago, Il. –

Oat prices:

  • June 1945 – $0.711/bushel – Wholesale Price of Oats for Chicago, Il. –
  • April 1946 – $0.802/bushel – Wholesale Price of Oats for Chicago, Il. –

The values above are somewhat soft, especially the various pieces of farm equipment. Here is a breakout of how the numbers were developed, which shows most of the valuation is firm, with only about $1,300 consisting of estimates or guesses:


basis of valuations:
mentioned in filing or calculated based on specific numbers  4,808 64%
market prices for St Louis Fed  1,794 24%
Estimate in relation to other prices in probate filing     450 6%
wild guesses     870 12%
specific liability mentioned   (400) -5%
 —–  —–
estimated value of estate at close of probate  7,522 100%


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