FORTUNE AWARDED TO GOPCEVIC BY LAKE COUNTY'S JUDGE.
LAST WILL OF ROMANTIC WIFE IS SUSTAINED
Millions Go to the Former Car Man.
Court Holds the Woman Was Sane.
The cloud surrounding the last testament of Harry Floyd-Gopcevic, the San Francisco girl who surprised society by marrying a streetcar conductor who rang up fares on the line that passed her home on Sacramento street, has been entirely swept away by a decision handed down yesterday by Judge M. S. Sayre of Lakeport, who holds that her final will bequeathing the million dollar estate to her husband shall stand unscathed by the bitter attack made upon it. But this decision means far more than merely that the money shall go to Milos Mitroy Gopcevic for once and all; it means that the memory of this dearly loved girl is cleared of the terrible charges of insanity, of being under the hypnotic influence of her most intimate friend, Eliza Prichard, and of being duped by a mere fortune hunter. Judge Sayre makes it a point in his decision to faithfully dispel all of these accusing theories.
The memory of Harry Floyd, as she was best known in this city, is cleared of all these charges. Her marriage with Milos Gopcevic reads clear with all the sweet romance attached to it that this girl must have felt when she secretly allowed the street car conductor to court her and then, one day, without the knowledge of her relatives, when she gave up to his ardent pleadings and yielded herself to be led away to the altar, that day the happiest girl in San Francisco.
BEQUEATHS ALL TO HER HUSBAND.
Then came her unfortunate death. Before she breathed her last she asked for pen and paper and with her own hand she wrote her will, bequeathing almost all to her husband, whom she still loved with a passion that had lived unabated since the day that she plighted her secret troth to him.
Immediately after the death of Harry Floyd-Gopcevic a contest of the will was instituted by Mrs. L. L. Matthews, Mrs. J. L. Humes and Mrs. M. F. McAdoo, who claimed that she was not competent to make a will and that she had been unduly influenced by Miss Eliza Prichard, a girl whose companionship was one of the dearest possessions of the young heiress, her husband and his brother, Petar Gopcevic, all of whom helped persuade her, it was alleged, to leave the vast estate to Milos, the man of her choice. But by the decision of Judge Sayre the act of the woman is upheld and the contestants defeated.
The most interesting feature of the trial was the testimony adduced to show the habit which Harry Floyd had of impersonating many of the romantic characters she had read about. These were male or female, as the case might be, and when so consumed she would move and act in an atmosphere like, that in which she could imagine that these phantom people really walked. Dumas' Raoul de Bragelonne in the Three Musketeers, as well as the Comte de la Fere and other imaginary personages, were her favorites, and for hours she would revel in the happy imagining that her sensitive mind made real to her. The contestants tried to show that she went so far in these impersonations that she really lost control of her mind, and that she was really mentally unbalanced during these periods, but the testimony proved that these were merely the pleasant pastimes of a clever and innocent girl.
MARRIED LIFE HAPPY.
The relations of the rich young girl with the streetcar conductor were found to have been of the happiest nature. In a letter to her dear friend, Henry E. Mattews, produced in court, she tells him of her intended marriage with Gopcevic. She told of the scene which she saw would be enacted by her relatives when they learned of the secret wedding. Speaking of her new company, she wrote:
"He isnt so very new, though, for I found quite a time ago that he is the dearest boy in the world. I am not quick to care for people, as you know, but when I do I have reason to, and mostly I continue to, because of that fact. You neednt say boo for a day or two, but there is going to be a wedding around here shortly, for Milos and I have decided that we do not like to be apart, and for my own reasons concerning loving kindred and trustees I think if twere done, twere well twere done quickly. Milos is willing to do as I say about that, and we have both agreed that a Justice of the Peace is the best person to tie the knot. You had best notify the banks about the change of signature, for when the event occurs I will sign Harry A. L. Floyd Gopcevic instead of the old way. I wish that you could be here, but as you cannot, I will save you some champagne and cake. Affectionately, H. F."
JUDGE DAVIS ADDRESS.
Judge John F. Davis made the closing speech in support of the dead womans will and his words rang with proper appreciation of her character. His address, is part, follows:
"Harry Floyd was one of the greatest souls, was one of the dearest hearts that I ever knew. Her womans influence is all through this trial. She has spoken from the grave in this trial, an exemplification of the resurrection and the life. These sacred letters tell her story. The friends over whom she exercised her influence are defending her here against the slurs of unsoundness of mind, against the intimation that she was not able to take care of herself.
"She was a grand and noble woman. Over those who truly loved her, her influence was supreme, as that of every good woman. Your Honor, those of us who recognize the power of womans love acknowledge womans influence at all times in our lives. The greatest geniuses of the word have exemplified it is music and art. The glorified motherhood that glows in the canvases of Titian, of Tintoretto and of Raphael is the radiant face of a woman. The most beautiful church on the most beautiful boulevard of the most beautiful city in the world is dedicated to a woman. As for me, it was a woman that smiled above my cradle, and it will be a woman who will weep over my grave. And in the life of this dear dead girl we have the memory of an incarnation of all that we love most in mother and sister and sweetheart and wife of all that is truest and best in womankind a type of the eternal woman that ever and forever shall lead us upward and on.
"Now, how natural that will! To whom would she leave her property if not her husband, with whom she was happy. Wherever she spoke of him it was as her boy and how proud she felt of him. This man was a gentleman and he carried into his most sacred relations all the instincts of a perfect gentleman. He never annoyed her, but did everything in his power to minister to her so that she night have no reason to doubt his love. He was not the brute that some men are, he never trod on all the tenderest feelings of a woman, but he was always tender, reverent, a crowning glory of manhood. What was more natural than that she should leave, with the exception of what she left to the dearest woman friend she had in the world, that she should leave her fortune to him?"
The legal battle was waged by Charles S. Wheeler and Judge John F. Davis for the defendants and Judge Maguire and Attorneys Lindsay, Wykhoff and Houx for the contestants. The trial was brought to a close at Lakeport in May.
DECISION OF THE COURT.
Part of the decision of Judge Sayre is as follows:
It is not true that from childhood up to her death Harry Augustus Lyons Floyd was subject to hallucinations, imaginations and delusions, nor is it true that she lived and impersonated a false and imaginary character or that she gave and closed others with a false character.
It is true that at times prior to the year 1901 Harry Augustus Lyons Floyd impersonated divers characters but the said impersonations were at all times knowingly made by her without any hallucination, imagination or delusion whatever.
It is not true that any time while indulging in any impersonation she was utterly, or otherwise oblivious to the realities of life and those things actually existing around her.
It is true that Eliza Prichard was with Harry Augustus Lyons Floyd Gopcevic during a part of said period and lived in the same house with her. During all of said times their relations were those of intimate friends, and each possessed the confidence if the other, but at no time did Eliza Prichard occupy and maintain a position of legal trust and confluence with Harry Augustus Lyons Floyd Gopcevic.
It is not true that Eliza Prichard ever at any time encouraged Harry Augustus Lyons Floyd Gopcevic in any hallucination, delusion or imagination.
It is not true that in and by any association and confidential relation with Harry Augustus Lyons Floyd Gopcevic, or otherwise, Eliza Prichard from the year 1899 to Harry Augustus Lyons Floyd Gopcevics death acquired and maintained over the latter any controlling and complete influence, ascendency, dominancy and mastery whatsoever.
It is not true that the said Harry Augustus Lyons Floyd Gopcevic was during all of said time, or entirely, or at all, subject to the will and power, suggestions and importunities of Eliza Prichard, nor is it true that she was unable to resist the suggestions and importunities of said Eliza Prichard.
The court orders the trustees of the estate to pay to H. E. Matthews and Peter Gopcevic, executors of the will of Mrs. Gopcevic, the balance of the trust money. The decree also provides that the trustees be each paid $500 as compensation for closing the trust. Oliver P. Evans, attorney for the trustees, was allowed a fee of $2175 for the services. It was further decreed that the plaintiffs must bear the coasts of the suit.
A small part of the estate goes to Miss Prichard, who also gets the Sacramento-street home. Miss Keeler and Mrs. Matthews get $5 each.
The San Francisco Call, Tuesday, July 25, 1905, p. 1.