Probate Judge Reopens Case With Ties To Abraham Lincoln

A probate judge in Coventry has reopened the 55-year-old estate of a relative of Gideon Welles to determine if rare artifacts, including handwritten notes by President Abraham Lincoln, were illegally sold and not included as part of the estate.

For the past five months, the Welles and the Brainards, descendents of Gideon Welles who served as Lincoln’s secretary of defense during the Civil War, have been appearing before Probate Judge James K. Kelley arguing about what happened to what could be priceless items — from as many as 713 handwritten notes by Lincoln to Gideon Welles to a rare Spencer carbine rifle that Lincoln gave to Welles after firing it once himself. The rifle was said to be the 16th ever made.

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