Uncle Dock's Money Has Been Found!

Roumlous W. Mc Fry, better know as "Dock," and best known as "Uncle Dock" by most of his heirs, was the third child and second son of Esther Jane McFry. Jane died before any of her four children. Dock's older brother Walter McFry and his sister Molly McFry both preceded Dock in death. Dock, like Jane and Molly, never married. He was survived only by his younger brother, George McFry, and the heirs of his brother Walter. Dock did not leave a Will. The Probate Court of Calhoun County, Alabama, administered the distribution of his estate among his heirs, when Dock died in 1935. His bills were paid and the remainder of his estate was equally divided between his brother George, and the heirs of his brother Walter. In spite of the many claims to the contrary, it was a 50-50 split. Those who doubt that fact need only go to the Clerk of the Court's Office in the Court House at Anniston, Alabama, and ask to see Equity Case # 3594. I have personally seen the file, and have copies of the cancelled checks made payable to various heirs.

For those who contend some unfairness surrounded the division of Dock's Estate, I will readily admit, some of the claims presented against his estate will cause one to lift an eyebrow. For example, one "would be heir" remembered in January of 1936, that in November of 1904, he had hauled "7 loads of corn" for Uncle Dock, and had not yet been paid $7.00 owed him! That same individual had about 125 more such memories that spanned a 31 year time period and came to a total of $1191.00, which was owed him, to which he duly swore before a notary, and presented to Uncle Dock's Administrator a bill for payment. It's in the file!

After Dock's bills were paid, the remainder [$36,096.71, less $1500.00 "...said sum...fixed by the Court as a reasonable compensation to the ...Administrator...for services...and for traveling expenses incurred..."] was equally divided between George and Walter's five children. Well, not all of it! Harry McFry, the Court Appointed Administrator didn't find ALL of Uncle Dock's money. That's what this article is about.

As Audrey grew up, notices from a bank in Birmingham, Alabama, addressed to R. W. McFry, Route 2, Piedmont, Alabama, were delivered to Larry McFry, [Audrey's father] at Route 2, Piedmont, Alabama, long after Uncle Dock had died. Apparently the mail carrier knew two things: R.W. was dead. Larry was a relative of R. W. In those days, the post office never would have thought of sending the notice back to the bank.

As Audrey remembers, the notices were sent saying "bring in your little black book and we will update your account." No one knew where the "little black book" was, nor considered it possible that anyone could obtain the money without the book. So, years went by, Audrey married, Larry died, and eventually notices from the bank stopped arriving. But all of us continued to remember that Uncle Dock had money in a bank in Birmingham.

In the early part of the 1970s decade, Audrey and I decided to look for Uncle Dock's money. We think it was probably the year 1973. We had been living in Australia, came back to the U.S. that year, and probably needed money pretty badly. We were grasping at straws. Anyway, we went to "a" bank in Birmingham. I don't remember the name. Audrey thinks it was "Federal something or other!" We both remember two things distinctly. It was a very huge bank, plush in every way. But we were never invited to "sit down." We stood and talked with a bank employee. The gist of what he told us was, after twenty years of inactivity, the bank was required by law to turn over such accounts to The State of Alabama. Further, after "X" number of years, The State of Alabama would put the money into the State Treasury and that would be the end of it. The twenty years would have ended in 1955, and it was then in the 1970s. Surely, the State had closed the matter. So we gave up on pursuing the matter further.

In early July, 2002, Lucy Baxley, Treasurer of The State of Alabama, had an article ran in newspapers across the state about a scam currently effecting the operation of her office. People, businesses, or whatever, were offering citizens of Alabama the service of finding "their lost money" for a fee. Ms. Baxley wanted citizens of Alabama to know, her office handled "Unclaimed Property" and under proper procedures such funds could be claimed by rightful owners FREE OF CHARGE! She even gave an internet address [www.treasury.state.al.us] where by one could search for lost funds, and file claims online, for unclaimed property. Just on a whim, I visited that internet site, found the search engine, and typed in "McFry." The very first name to pop up was "McFry, R. W. , Estate of." Well hell! I'd found Uncle Dock's money.

While online, I was given Claim No. 471338, for Property ID 804736, with Holder ID 9896 that had been reported to the State in 1973, by CITY FEDERAL SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION. God, what a coincidence! Audrey and I were looking for the money in early 1970s, at a bank in Birmingham. In 1973, the money was reported to the State by a bank in Birmingham.

The unclaimed property currently carries the title "Estate of...." How did that designation get attached to the account? I can just see Uncle Dock going into the bank, opening an account, the clerk asks him in what name shall the account be opened, and he says, "Estate of R. W. McFry." Really! How did that get on the account? Did the State check Vital Statistics to decide? Get a copy of Uncle Dock's Death Certificate and you'll wonder if it really is him - "RUMBEL MCFRYER." That's what his Death Certificate states. How do we know it is his Death Certificate? We knew Dr. Hamilton, the attending physical, personally, and the informant was Audrey's Grandfather. We also know the date of death, the place of burial, and other particulars. So we are fairly sure, it is Uncle Dock's Death Certificate. But if you didn't know those things, how would you ever guess "Rumbel McFryer is really Roumlous W. McFry? But some genius figured out, R. W. was dead so this money belongs to his Estate.

How much money are we talking about? Well, we figure it must have been a pass book savings account. Why else would the notices have said, "we will update your record." So an interest bearing account, that must have compounded on some repeating basis, which drew interest at some rate for approximately forty years [known to have been at least 38 years] would come to a whopping total of ... of.... $1010.73, in 1973 when it was reported to the state. How much did Uncle Dock put into the account? If he made a one time contribution of $100, received interest at 6% for about forty years, it would grow to slightly more than the amount held by Unclaimed Property. A hundred dollars was a lot of money in the early thirties! Maybe no one stole anything. But so many coincidences does make one wonder.

So much for who stole what. What now? As for the plans Audrey and I have, the money will forever remain in that limbo of "unclaimed property." If Audrey could get her part off the top, it would only be $12.63. But alas, that can never happen. We went to the Unclaimed Property Office in Montgomery. The amount will never be more than $1010.73. The State DOES NOT pay interest. They will pay the amount reported to them. We are convinced, they will be happy to write a check in the amount of $1010.73 payable to The Estate of R. W. McFry, and present it to whomever says they have a right to receive it. But who could cash the check? Judge Murray, Judge of Probate for Calhoun County informed us, since there was a Final Probate Decree on Uncle Dock's Estate, it will take "a special appeal" to get the case reopened, and have someone appointed as an administrator for this "unclaimed property." He said, "I feel sure, it will require the services of a lawyer. A layman might get it right, but I seriously doubt it." So there is at least $500.00 of the money gone, if not all of it. In addition to needing a lawyer, there must be "bonding of the administrator." Then of course there will be a fee for "filing the probate." There would have to be compensation to pay the administrator's expense of finding approximately 100 - 150 heirs. Finally, any money left would be divided along the lines of the original probate, half to Walter's heirs, and half to George's heirs. You couldn't buy a coke with what you'd get.

So, there you have it. Now you know, Uncle Dock's money is in limbo!

Written by B. B. Simpson, August 9, 2002, bsimpson@bsimpson.net