Law on the Farm

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, July 19, 1911: Nothing doing.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I guess that it was a slow day on the farm a hundred years ago today, so I’ll tell you about an interesting question and answer column call Law on the Farm that I found in the July 1911 issue of Farm Journal. Here are two questions submitted by Pennsylvania subscribers and the answers:

Will of a Married Woman

Where a married woman dies, leaving her husband, but no children surviving, can she give all of her property by will to her niece to the entire exclusion of her husband?

Pennsylvania Subscriber

No; under the Pennsylvania Act of 1893, a married woman is given full power to make a will, provided, however, that nothing in the act shall affect the husband’s right of courtesy nor his right to take against the will as provided by existing laws.

I wonder if the answer would have been the same if a married man died, leaving a wife, but no children.

Here’s another question that was in the column:

Rights in Running Stream

Has the owner of land through in which a stream runs the right to empty slops and wash water into it or to dam the water up? If he does the latter, has the lower proprietor the right to go on the land and turn the water loose?

Pennsylvania Subscriber

Every one who owns land along a running stream owes to lower proprietors the duty not to pollute the stream, nor to dam up or divert the water so as to cause damage to the lower owners. The proper remedies of the latter, however are by an action for damages or an injunction, and the aggrieved parties are not entitled to come on the land of the upper proprietor and turn the water loose unless such action is urgently necessary to prevent serious injury.

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