Monday, January 17, 2022

Women are suing over a 1913 Illinois law that says they can’t sell land to men – and they’re not the only ones

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A lawsuit filed in a federal court in Illinois challenges a 1913 Illinois law that said any woman who moved to Illinois and bought property “was deemed a sovereign citizen of the United States” and their property would be protected from going into probate court.

When the owner of the $400,000 home in Morgan County bought it, she thought she was buying “automobiles or jewelry that could be withdrawn from probate court and used elsewhere,” according to the lawsuit. “Instead, [she] became a widow with a dead husband.”

Megan Stolberg, the Illinois resident filing the lawsuit, paid $1,000 in rent to the registry in Grant County to buy the house. “Ms. Stolberg was unsure if the deed said anything about a high-security home and was confident that no one would be able to figure out how to open her garage doors,” the lawsuit said.

In 1986, Mr. Stolberg died.

Ms. Stolberg and the Illinois corporation that owned the property, Donovan House Inc., asked the court to reconsider the law and keep them from having to remarry.

“Never before in American history have a broad group of natural-born natural citizens been able to deny property to their own widows,” wrote Peter B. Hunt, an attorney who is representing the couple.

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