Sunday, July 15, 2012

Probate Court- Guardianship records

A gold mine for information is in the case of the process when a father dies with minor children or a wife has died and her family leaves money where she had surviving minor children. Both of these scenarios provide a source of genealogical related data that may not be found in any other source. When the father died the court's of the county appointed a guardian for all children under 18 that survived in a household. This occurred even when the mother survived. It was felt that the women were not able to take care of the children so a man was appointed to make the decisions. The papers filed were included in the deceased Probate records. The court establishes the date of death of the individual, age of children with birth date, full name of children and name of guardian. I have seen in cases prior to the normal filing of vital records this to be a gold mine of data. In one situation I was able to get the exact date of death for a individual prior to 1860 along with children's birth dates going back into the 1830's. Each year after the guardianship was established the court reviews the case to make sure that the children are getting proper care. This generated more paper work on the children. The second scenario that would fall into a guardianship proceeding is when the mother has died and money is being left to the children from the mother's side of the family. Here again the children are identified along with birth dates and the mothers death date. Connection to the person leaving the money is also established. This is a outstanding way to establish the maiden name of a wife. Court records are a overlooked resource when doing your family research. Irony it can provide valuable information about a family unit that can be found no where else. Make certain to check for Guardian files on your family members when a parent died with minors. These records were filed also even when the person may not have left a will. Good luck with your search and please give me your input.
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