Dissing the probate files?
What's with anyone NOT willing to even try to take a peek inside these probate files?
Numbers on SAMPUBCO site don't lie! Too few visitors bothered to see what is available for Probate Files, relying way too much on will books as only solution.
Madison County, New York is a good example
Will books accounted for only 1957 wills recorded by transcription from 1800 to 1876.
Probate Files? Staggering 3495 files. Out of that less than 1957 wills that are ORIGINAL may or may not be found in them.
What else is in the probate files anyway?
All original records:
Letters of Administration
guardianship petitions by the minors who are over 14 years old
Names of heirs with their residences
Receipts of debts and payments
Inventories of estates, right down to even the sewing pins. Nothing is spared.
Notices to heirs, some are 20 years later (I will talk about this in another blog.)
And that is not all.
Probate Files are NOT limited to the deceased. No one is spared:
Spend thrifty (spend like crazy and not know how to manage)
commitments to poor houses
bad boys/bad girls get committed to state reformatory for boys or girls (they do exist!)
Dowers (not exclusively widows, even children can petition)
Minors regardless of whether parents are living or deceased, grandparents are on records filing petitions for custody. List their birthdates or specific ages you can't find anywhere else.
Miscellaneous papers are unique because they contain information not found elsewhere.
Not all states are alike. Oregon, Wisconsin, Texas, and Michigan to my knowledge are maintaining NO will books. They use probate file method. Erie County New York is only one within the state of New York not using will books, they use probate file system.
I can name a few speakers who will tell you same things I just spoke of. They spoke in last 2 years about the importance of the probate files versus will books.
Normally the wills account for around 10 percent of general estates.
Too poor to have anything, I refer you to "poor house", guardianship, etc. No one is left without any trace.
I know of one probate file where it was NOT closed until the last of 4th generation died, 80 years later.
You will see increasing entries for Probate files at http://www.sampubco.com over the next several months.