Probate records can be a gold mine

Here’s Art Petty’s comment on the new Ancestry records:

This is a great addition to Ancestry’s database! The very first name that I typed in resulted in 135 pages of probate records for an aunt in Alabama. No will, so court records were extensive, including a detailed listing of all the heirs; children (many) and which ones were deceased, surviving in-laws, and all living grandchildren. Interestingly, one child died and one grandchild born between the death date and the probate settlement. These were noted in the records. Also from the distribution of funds, it was easy to determine the number of grandchildren in each family. Since the sale of some property was required to equitably distribute the estate, each heir of legal age and each minor child (via their legal guardian) was subpoenaed for input to the court prior to the sale of property. This provided the location (county and in some cases district) of each heir. This was particularly useful in a couple of cases where the grandchildren were living with other relatives following the deaths of their father and/or mother. It also provided clues to the location of legal guardianship appointments, also included in the same database. An incredible amount of new information was learned about this family from this single probate record.

Art Petty

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