Friday, July 27, 2007

Using the FHLC to find probate records

DearMYRTLE has a detailed post that should be required reading for all genealogists who do not know about or use the LDS resources found in the Family History Library Catalog.

Her post is at

Ol' Myrt's correspondent had an index citation for a will of Henrietta Nichols in Chambers County, Alabama in Will Book 3, 1855-1872. Myrt went through the process of finding the FHL holdings for the County and provided the listing of probate record resources available on microfilm. In the end, the specific will volume was not listed in these records, but the index was.

Ol' Myrt suggested writing a letter to the probate court and requesting the full estate record for Henrietta Nichols. That is one way to get these records.

However, it appears that the FHL has microfilms of the Chambers County Estate Records filed by alphabetical surname for 1832-1915. The citation is:

"Estate files and index, 1832-1915, Chambers County, Alabama," -- records housed at Probate Judge Office in Chambers County Courthouse in LaFayette, Alabama. There are 77 microfilms for these records - each microfilm has a citation like this:

"Estate case files, Blair, Adam - Blount, William T. (folder 5 of 6), 1832-1918
/ VAULT US/CAN Film 1221960"

Ol' Myrt's correspondent should order the microfilm that has Henrietta Nichols' estate file at a Family History Center (FHL Microfilm 1542472). This microfilm should contain more than the will - it will probably contain the probate court affidavits, the will, an inventory, an account, a distribution, and perhaps more records of her ancestor's estate. And even better, these are probably the original records with the actual will and other papers, all probably enclosed in a probate packet closed by a twine thread. These estate case files are the best probate record you can find.

I sent the above information to Ol' Myrt last night and she posted it to her blog at

Myrt points out that in her experience, the will is not in the probate packet or estate file. My experience, mainly in New England records, is that the original will is in the probate packet. Like Myrt, I have not researched in Chambers County, Alabama so I do not know for sure that the estate file includes the will.

What I do know for sure is that Myrt's correspondent got a lot of good advice and information for the price of an email. Maybe someone who knows about this county's records can enlighten us on the contents of the estate files.

Thanks to DearMYRTLE for the great blog post and the opportunity to climb up on my soapbox and remind researchers that the FHLC microfilms contain wonderful resources that are otherwise available only at the local courthouses or other repositories. You can order the microfilms for about $6 each for a 4 week rental, and copy the pages you want onto paper or onto your flash drive or CDROM (if the FHC is equipped with them).

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