Bad Lady Lawyer Story

To my lawyer friends, don’t worry. The lawyer in this story is long gone and the profession has long moved on from the kind of exploitation this chick engaged in.

History has a billion stories. Many stories fit in or tie in with the grand narratives, some better than others. This story involves a African American widow who lived in Shaw and a bad questionably moral white female lawyer.

July 16, 1916  Washington Post reported the death of Sergent Major George R. Garnett, a retiree from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, who died at home at 1743 11th St NW in Shaw at the age of 63. Two days later there were funeral arrangements at Metropolitan Baptist Church and he was buried at Arlington Cemetery.  He left behind his wife Virginia (nee Robb) Garnett.

A few days after his death, Ms. Rose M. Sefton, listed in the city directory as an Claim Agent, visited Virginia Garnett to “help” her get a widows pension. Looking at the pension record it the story gets really confusing. Sefton with a notary in tow, came over to 11th St. NW to get Mrs. Garnett to sign papers to allow Sefton to collect a $25 attorney’s fee for “helping” the widow. Sefton was not entitled to $25, which would have come out of whatever pension Garnett received. Mrs. Garnett claimed that she did not have her reading glasses on the day Sefton visited and thus could not read all the papers she signed that day. Later the Pension office investigated and suggested Sefton be disbarred. However, I’m not sure Sefton ever passed the bar to begin with. In the pension papers she calls herself an attorney.

Sefton’s actions just seem shady. She swoops in before the body is cold, gets the widow to sign a bunch of papers to collect the maximum fee (it should have been $15 dollars) which was to be taken out of the widow’s pension. It’s not like Garnett went looking Sefton.

I can’t find evidence of Mrs. Garnett’s death. I did find her in the 1931 City Directory. She had moved from 11th Street to 930 P Street NW. Ms. Sefton died on Boxing Day in 1921 and is buried at Rock Creek Cemetery.

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