Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Marilyn Markham’s New England, part 2

Marilyn Markham
“New England: Probate, Land, and Tax Records”
Fri., 28 August 2009, 3:00
Salt Lake Family History Expo

Marilyn MarkhamProbate Records:

Giving background on probate records.
testate=there is a will
intestate=there is no will

Covering what wills contain. [I think my energy level is dropping fast!]

Son-in-law used to mean “son insofar as the law is concerned” which includes step-sons.
The New A to Zax - good for old word meanings
Blacks Law Dictionary - good for interpreting probate.
Children often owed money to their parents, so pay attention to who owed money to the deceased.
Dower rights - by law, widow got 1/3 of deceased' estate. That's why previous to death you often see wife's permission on deeds when land is sold.
In inventory, “To” was abbreviation for item.

Settlements and Distributions
- list all those receiving property.
- Tells the locations of the people receiving property.
- Tells married names.
Dower rights are literal: 1/3 of house, barn, etc.
Guardianships are part of probates. May not be surviving parent if large amount of property; guardian may be relative or really good friend.
Probate records at:
- Rhode Island
- Connecticut
- Vermont
- Maine
- Massachusetts
- New Hampshire
See The Genealogists Handbook for New England Research.
(BTW, I see that Digest of the Early Connecticut Probate Records is online: Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 are on Google Books.)

Land records:
Majority of males can be found in them.
Exist from beginning of settlement.
Contain clues of where births were.
In early Rhode Island, land records were called Land evidences.

Tax records:
Poll=person free to vote and over age 21.
Seeing who paid taxes on a plot can indicate when husband died
... or a widow remarried.
Finding places: http://geonames.usgs.gov/domestic/index.html - gives log/lat for modern places, objects.
Giving places to check county boundary changes.

Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920 [Thorndale and Dollarhide]
Animap - software program
[Many Animap maps have been posted on FamilyHistory101.com. In the left column, click on County Formation Maps.
There is also the Newberry Library’s collection of maps of historic county boundaries.]

Done with 3:00 session.

This article is one in a series of session reports from the recent 2009 Salt Lake City Family History Expo taken from my live tweets of the event. Please see my Tweeting Presentations Policy for further information, including the formatting guidelines I attempt to follow and instructions for correcting errors. Additions are in italics.


  1. In your tweets, the presenter uses the term 'probate' for the word 'estate'.

    Probate refers to proving a will (testimony of its witnesses or other persons as to its legitimacy) and secondarily to proving who the heirs are to an estate.

    Many estate records include probate records. But the general term is 'estate records'. Execution of a will or administration of an estate, including collecting debts, paying creditors, partition of lands, and distributions to heirs all take place *after* probate.

  2. Probably probately my mis-reporting. You can safely assume that Marilyn's terminology was more correct than mine.

    -- The A.I.

  3. Thank you, AI, that's good to know.


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