I am still struggling to get caught up on my Salt Lake Community College Genealogy Course assignments. This latest assignment was on Land and Probate Records. I have to be honest and tell you this was virgin territory for me. I've taken classes on this subject but never searched actual records.
What I learned is there are a LOT of records made during whole recording process. They are really important records and I need far more practice than this one assignment gave me. I was just focusing on Washington County, New York in my attempts to find some family members. Just my luck the images were on line, but not indexed. Ok, there are crazy indexes at the beginning of the records, but not one you can just type in who you're looking for. Ugh! I just hate those records. These are nothing more than digitized microfilms and personally I think the microfilm would have moved faster than FamilySearch and my internet browser tonight. I suppose if I considered the time it takes to ordering a film, waiting for it to come in, it would have been faster to look at the digital images online.
I spent FOREVER looking at records and didn't find anyone. Oh, I noted all the people with the same surnames, and they could turn out to be important, but I can't holler about anything great right now. Sure saw some cool stuff but nothing I can claim for my family story at this point. We were asked to write up a summary of why land and probate records help us with our research. I'm sharing it with you, but just be warned a lot of it came from the FamilySearch Wiki. If I had found a great discovery I could have written a more intriguing summary.
Land and Probate Records Summary
There is a wide variety of information that can be found in the land and probate records.
Probate records are all records which relate to the disposition of an estate, whether the person died leaving a will or not. They are essential for research because they often pre-date the birth and death records kept by the civil government.
In the collections of probate records, you can learn the deceased date of death, and residence. You can learn about their FAN club, i.e. name of spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, and their places of residence. Wills and probate records are good resources for learning the names of married daughters, which is often hard to trace. You can also learn about adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependants.
Through the inventories, you can learn about the person’s trade or occupation, and their economic standing in the community. The wording of the will could tell you what religious faith the person belonged to. Additional clues are former places of residence, land ownership, former spouses and their military service. All these items can help you locate additional records on the individual.
Land records are primarily used to learn where an individual lived and when he lived there. The availability of affordable or free land in the United States attracted many immigrants. Land ownership was generally recorded as soon as settlers arrived. They are important records because they exist when few other records are available during early periods.
Land records usually contain the following information.
1. Names of interested parties
2. Date of transaction
3. Legal description of the property
4. Monies exchanged
5. Details of the transaction
6. Names of witnesses
These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. They often reveal other family information, such as the name of a spouse, heir, other relatives, or neighbors. Sales between parent and child can help confirm relationships that might not be found in any other records. You may learn where a person lived previously, his occupation, if he served in the military, if he was a naturalized citizen, and other clues for further research.
See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!