The Fabulously Wealthy Man Who Used His Will To Inflict Maximum Pain On His Family
Michigan’s Wellington R. Burt worked his way into an unimaginable fortune, which he took great pains to keep away from his family after he died
When a person passes away, their will is a legal mechanism to get their affairs in order as much as possible, and in many cases distribute money and other assets to loved ones. However, if the desire is there, these last wills and testaments can have quite the opposite effect, which was exactly the plan of the incredibly wealthy Wellington R. Burt, who more than a century ago arranged his final wishes to inflict has much pain and discomfort on his family as possible, as final pay back for a nasty inner-family feud.
Burt’s story began in the small town of Pike, New York where he was born in 1831 to a poor farming family. He grew up as the oldest boy among 13 siblings, yet was still able to pursue more education than the average person of his time. This was despite his father dying when he was only 12. Although he assumed the responsibilities of managing the family farm, he still found a way to continue his schooling, including attending college briefly before signing on as a sailor in order to see the world. His travels took him across the globe, instilling in him a worldly perspective that would later strongly influence his business ventures.
Ultimately, upon his return to the United States, Burt found work in Michigan’s booming timber industry, where he worked his way up from a common laborer to eventually establishing his own lumber company. It was through his company that he also built the community of Melbourne in Michigan, which was the name of his favorite city when he spent time traveling abroad as a young man.
Despite setbacks, including a devastating fire that razed his enormous mill in 1876, Burt’s astute investments in timber, iron mines, salt, railroads, and international ventures allowed him to amass an enormous fortune.
Married twice and fathering a total of seven children, Burt’s wealth unfortunately didn’t prevent him from having family problems. When he died in 1919 from the effects of senility, he was estimated to be worth $40-$90…