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Roosevelt's will goes on display at Nassau courthouse

After Theodore Roosevelt died, his will was submitted to Nassau County Surrogate Court, where it remained out of sight of the public for the next 91 years - until Tuesday.

That's when the framed seven-page handwritten document goes on display on the third floor of the Nassau County Courthouse, at 262 Old Country Rd. in Garden City. The exhibit will continue until the end of the month.

Roosevelt's is one of more than 150,000 wills filed in Nassau's Surrogate Court, which handles estate issues, in the 111 years since the county was carved out of Queens.

"We've been thinking over the years of what we have that is interesting," said the Nassau County surrogate, Judge John Riordan. "And he is the most prominent person that we had and I thought it would be something that the public would like to see." The exhibit was timed to include Presidents' Week, which begins Sunday.

The 26th president's document will be displayed with the first will probated by the Nassau Surrogate Court - the two-page framed last testament of Lewis Pearsall of East Rockaway, which was approved Jan. 4, 1899, three days after the county was created.

While Pearsall's will is written in a rough hand, Roosevelt's was done with a flourish - probably by a professional scrivener, Riordan said.

TR signed the will Dec. 13, 1912. He died at Sagamore Hill in Cove Neck just more than eight years later, on Jan. 6, 1919, at age 60. The will was filed Jan. 11, 1919, and approved by the surrogate exactly two months later.

The document notes that since Roosevelt had given his older daughter Alice all of the silver service he and her mother, Alice Lee, had received upon their wedding, his remaining silver was to be shared equally by his other five children. A $60,000 trust fund set up by his father, Theodore Sr., was also to be divided among the children. The rest was left to his second wife, Edith Kermit Roosevelt.

Tweed Roosevelt of Boston, a great-grandson of TR, said Monday, "I'm delighted to hear that Nassau County is putting this document on display because it was his home."

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