John Guy Vassar, nephew of the Founder and a founding trustee of the college, died after a prolonged illness, aged 77.  His will contained specific bequests to the college totaling $130,000: $40,000 for a chair in modern languages to be named for the donor; $40,000 for a chair in natural history; $10,000 to be applied to the supplying and administration of the Vassar Brothers Laboratory; $20,000 to be used toward the expenses of the music department;  $20,000 for the John Guy Vassar Art Fund to be used toward the expenses of the art department.  An additional bequest of “certain articles of nominal value” was appraised at $10.

After preliminary litigation, Vassar’s will passed through probate court in 1890.  In addition to the specific bequests, the college—along with the Vassar Brothers' Hospital and a proposed John Guy Vassar Orphan Asylum—received 1/3 of the residue of his estate bringing the college’s total share in the estate to $658,516.05.

16 nonlinear descendants of John Guy Vassar filed an appeal of the probate judgment on several technical grounds. In 1891, the board of trustees and the appellants settled just before the case was to be heard.  In the end, the college received about $500,000 from John Guy Vassar’s estate.      The New York Times, The Vassar Miscellany