In my blog post on 30 Jul 2018 I wrote about the Civil War Pension of Sgt. George F. Hall, my husband’s great granduncle. You can read that post here.
From there I thought I would try to find a probate record for George, if one existed. I went to familysearch.org and located New York Probate Records, 1629-1971 for St. Lawrence County, New York. This record set contains 14,045,639 images. By narrowing it down to ONLY St. Lawrence County and then to the specific years, you get a smaller set of records to browse. Thank goodness for that.
Here were my steps for finding this probate record:
- Go to FamilySearch.org
- Click on >search>records>research by location>click on the area (United States)>select New York from the drop down list>scroll down to Image-Only Historical Records>scroll to Probate and Court and select New York Probate Records 1629-1971
- Now click on “Browse through 14,045,639 images”
- Select St. Lawrence
- Now find the Wills and the year you’re specifically interested in – in this case I selected Wills 1895-1897 vol 29 (because George died 14 May 1896). NOTE: Wills are sometimes probated many months or even years later, but you have to start somewhere, and I usually choose the year of death.
- Selecting the record set indicated above will open up the images. Once you have that first page on your screen, click over to the left side of the screen on the little set of boxes.
I, personally, make a note of the record set, volume number, dates and then record this microfilm number and any other pertinent information contained in the first few images. Doing that allowed me to return to this set two weeks after I’d found it, and immediately find it again. You could also create a link to the record set in Legacy (that’s for another discussion).
Here’s what you will see after you’ve clicked on the area indicated by the red arrow above.
- Knowing that this record set is NOT indexed I checked for a table of contents and didn’t find one. Now it’s up to me to figure out how these records are arranged.
- I have selected page 7 of 436 images in this record set. To view that page I will double click on it. I want to view several of the first few pages to determine how this set of records is recorded. Is it in alphabetical or date order? Or something else?
- I determined that these records are in date order. Not specific date order, but close enough that I will be able to find the records for 1896 and hope that George had a will and that it was recorded.
After about 30 minutes, I was able to locate George’s last will & testament on images 213 and 214 of 436 images. The probate took place in Sep 1896, and was recorded on pages 400 & 402 in the will book. Page 401 was blank.
Who would I find named in George’s will? His wife, Sarah had died in 1892. They had no known children together. Stay tuned and I’ll transcribe the will and share it with you.
I actually enjoy browsing images. Having them indexed is easy and I’m glad so many are, but I like the challenge of having to work to find what I am looking for. Reminds me of scrolling through microfilm, which I still enjoy.
I don’t think we will have a time when every single record is indexed, so having this skill set is necessary for our research.
Have you browsed images on familysearch.org or some other website? Do you usually find what you’re looking for? I’d love to hear about your experiences.
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