In 1899, at age 14, Benjamin Franklin Kneubuhl ran away from his home in Bloomington, Iowa, lied about his age and joined the Navy. While he sailed around the world six times, and mastered many skills, Lena Pritchard, traversed the Pacific Ocean between Apia, Samoa, New Zealand, and Pago Pago. Ben’s last stop was Pago, where he and Lena married. Ben built an enormous mercantile and shipping enterprise, while Lena assiduously collected as much land as possible. The only conflict in their many years together was Lena’s citizenship.

The Legal Archive

Perhaps in 2000, my brother John, then a systems engineer in Los Altos, muttered in frustration over the mountains of paperwork and misunderstandings engendered by the unending Kneubuhl Family “Troubles” advising that we ought to save some trees and throw it all up on the internet.  Well, he was right, of course, so here it is at last.  I hope he and you like it.

Historical Documents

The family carefully wrote up every agreement and understanding they deemed important.  The scant dozen or so posted here were carefully filed away.  Only the judges read them, and rarely were they offered together.

The Trustee

No subject so frustrated the High Court and was so fraught with dissension than the Trustee.  Each beneficiary thought they could be their own.  But, in the Will contest, there were three trust estates for the six beneficiaries to consider.  We are fortunate that this is behind us at last.

Estates in Land

No one in the family was qualified to inherit or own the land, other than Lena herself.  She made the trust defensively, but, like some of her children, never accepted they would not own the land.  Deeds and recordations flew, most with no effect, except to enliven the Courthouse.

Commercial Assets

Ben and Lena took advantage of their unique position in the Pacific as an American mid-Pacific outpost, and started many businesses.  Ben formally incorporated these late in his life, and not to soon, as the Minutes of BFK, Inc. will show.

Litigations of 1978-1982

Sadly, “The Troubles” erupted after Ben passed away, and the children returned.  The estate Trustee correctly began to impose strict management controls, and the long history of litigations began, beginning with a Will Contest and 5 additional litigations.

Subsequent Litigations

Despite settlement, the will contest Agreement held only for a brief moment.  The family returned to the High Court of several occasions, mostly suing one another, with a flurry of documents and new questions at each new event.


Present Litigation

The present litigation concerns three or four issues, none more important than the fact that the entire 1982 Settlement Agreement of the will contest has been reopened to ask the court to clarify title to land and to interpret the Trust once again.

Lawyers and Judges

An astonishing number of attorneys have been retained by the family to clarify issues.  Conflicts abound.  Our High Court Judge Richmond went off island and placed the matter under advisement, and was replaced by Judge Elvis Patea in 2018.

Robin’s Research

The examples, which appear extensively throughout this website are reduced here to give light to the research section on “Definitions”, most of which are taken and compiled from this website from Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Ed., West Publishers, 1990.

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