Ex-Gripman Gets Principal Part of Fortune.


The legal battle for the $600,000 estate left by Harry Augustus Floyd-Gopcevic has been brought to an end by compromise. The relatives who contested the young lady’s will, which gave all her property to her husband, have been given $50,000 and the ex-gripman will be left to enjoy the remainder. All litigation in the matter was dismissed yesterday afternoon at the request of the opposing attorneys.

The strange marriage, the untimely death and the peculiar will of the deceased woman, combined with the serious charges and multifarious litigation that followed her demise have aroused great public interest during the last two and a half years.

Harry Floyd was the only daughter of one of California’s richest families. Her father in dying left his estate to his wife. When she passed away the property was left to Miss Floyd in trust for whatever children might come to her when she should be married. In the event of her death, unmarried or childless, the estate was to revert to charities and to other relatives.


Harry Floyd had every opportunity to enjoy her early years, and it is said she made the most of her chances. She was particularly bright and vivacious in her early womanhood, but changed somewhat as she approached the age of 30 years. It is said that she was of a peculiarly sensitive nature, and that too close of the characters famous in history and fiction made her somewhat depressed at times after she passed 25. She was fond of impersonating some of these people created in the progress of events, or by author’s brain, and was often completely carried away in such endeavor. These facts were adduced by the contestants of the will.

Her friendship with Eliza Prichard was Damon and Pythias over again in the feminine gender. For a few years previous to her marriage she was extremely exclusive. Of this later history, almost nothing is known except by her few intimates, who declared at the trial that she was perfectly sane.

One day while Harry Floyd was riding on a Sacramento street cable car her attention was drawn to the sturdy gripman. She used to watch him pass the house after that, and finally she spoke to him. In a short time they became well acquainted. He told her that he was a descendant of the royal family of the Obrenovich dynasty. She listened eagerly to the tales of adventures in the Servian hills and in the streets of troublous Belgrade. Again he told her the strange history of the Obrenoviches, who descended from goatherds.


Almost without warning, Gopcevic of the storied European principality and Harry Floyd, the Californian heiress, stole away one bright October day in 1903 and were married by Judge Sayre at Lakeport. The news of the wedding created profound astonishment. The gripman was metamorphized into a capitalist who could buy and sell all his fellow workmen. He received unbounded congratulations from his friends, and her unexpected act brought perfunctory recognition from hers.

Milos Mitrov Gopcevic at once took charge of the property and administered its affairs until his bride’s death on February 11 of the following year, four months after the nuptials. Then commenced a battle for the estate. The contestants were Mary Floyd McAdoo, sister of the dead girl’s father; John Hume and Julia Hume, children of another deceased aunt, and Jane Parker, Lucy Matthews, Ida Matthews, Rosalie Lloyd, Robert Matthews and William Matthews, heirs of Mrs. I. S. Matthews, also an aunt. Litigation of various kinds was instituted to keep the ex-gripman from getting the immense fortune he knew so well how to enjoy.


Up to the time of the compromise the legal decisions had been unfavorable to the contestants. Judge Sayre of Lake County had decided that the will was valid and the case was on appeal to the Supreme Court. Another proceeding of similar nature was on trial in the San Francisco Superior Court. Still another proceeding to determine the validity of the trust clause in the will of Harry Floyd’s mother had been instituted, and it looked as if litigation might eat up the fortune. None of the parties concerned wanted this to happen and so a compromise was suggested. As one of the lawyers puts it, "Neither side suggested a compromise. It just happened like two people deciding to get married."

Gopcevic’s lawyers, Charles Wheeler and Judge John F. Davis, figured out about what it would cost to fight the case to a finish, and $50,000 is an amount upon which they decided to compromise. Judge James Maguire and Carl Lindsay, on the other side, helped their opponents to believe future litigation would cost that much, and so it was agreed all around to settle and quit.

King Peter of Servia lacks the money to buy a crown, and in honor of the season, Gopcevic, even though he be of the Obrenovich pretenders, ought to remember his royal compatriot.

The San Francisco Call, Sunday, December 24, 1905, p. 39:5