Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pennsylvania Probate Records on FamilySearch!

One of the newly added historical record collections on FamilySearch today is Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994.  There are over 3 million browsable images in this collection, organized by County and then by Record type.  Note that there no name indexes for this collection, other than what is in each dataset in the collection.  My educated guess is that these were imaged from the microfilms for the probate records for each county.

The source citation (provided by FamilySearch) for this collection is:

“Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1677-1980,” ''FamilySearch'' (https://www.familysearch.org). from various county offices throughout Pennsylvania. FHL microfilm, Family History Library Salt Lake City, Utah.

You can read more about this collection in the FamilySearch Research Wiki - see https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Pennsylvania_Probate_Records_(FamilySearch_Historical_Records)

I looked for the will of one of my ancestors, Philip Jacob King (1865-1829) of York County.  I figured that he died testate, and was curious if his will, if it existed, named his daughter Elizabeth as the wife of Daniel Spangler.  

Here is the process I used to find this will:

1)  The historical collection description for the Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994, looks like this:



 2  To get to the county list, click on the "Browse through 3,197,552 images" link:


3)  I clicked on the York county link:


The list above provides links to 36 different record collections - each a volume of the probate records in York County.

4)  I picked the "Will Index, 1749-1940" link, and looked through the index for the K surnames.  I found a listing for Philip Jacob King, probated in 1829, on Image 310:


The record above has a listing for:

Decedent:  King Philip Jacob
Residence:  Spring Garden Twp.
Date: March 9, 1829
Executor: Jacob King and George Kass
Book:  Q
Page: 136

5)  Back to the list of collections in image 3 above, and I found that Book Q is in the "Wills, 1818-1833, Vol. O - Q" collection.  I browsed to the image with Page 136 on it ( it was Image 638):


There, in very readable and precise handwriting is the start of the will of Philip Jacob King at the bottom of page 136.  There are two more pages with this will.  

6)  At the top of page 138 is:



That first line reads: "...daughter Elizabeth intermarried with Daniel Spangler ..."  There is one statement that Elizabeth is the daughter of Philip Jacob King.   There is a lot more, of course.  I need to transcribe the whole thing.

It took me all of 15 minutes to find this record.  I think I was probably lucky to find it so quickly.  But this is typical for record collections of this nature.  There are indexes for each record type that refer to a specific record book, and then you look for the specific record according to the finding aids provided.  

I saved the three images for this specific will to my hard drive using the "Save" link in the menu line of the collection in the 5th screen above.

What about a source citation for this specific record?  Here is my first effort (using the example FamilySearch source citation as a model):

"York County, Pennsylvania Probate " digital images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 27 June 2012), entry for Philip Jacob King, will probated 1829; citing Wills, 1818-1833, Vol. Q, pages 136-141; York County (Pennsylvania) Register of Wills, York, Pennsylvania.

Using browsable images on FamilySearch.org is just like using microfilm reels - you have to browse page-by-page, or guess at an image number, and then guess again, until you find the page of interest.  The difference is that you can do this at home any time of the day rather than going to the repository itself or ordering and reading microfilms at a FamilySearch Center or Library.  

Not every search will be as easy as the one I performed above.  These records are not easy to use in some counties - the indexes are not always in alphabetical order, and there may be overlap between different collections.  For instance, York County has Orphans Court Dockets indexes, Orphan Court Dockets, Will Indexes, and Will Books.  Other counties may have different terminology and organization.

There is a wealth of probate records in this Pennsylvania county Probate collection - if you have Pennsylvania ancestry, this collection may become one of your very best resources.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/06/pennsylvania-probate-records-on.html

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

9 comments:

geniemomsmusings said...

Don't you just love the new records that are being added! I found some great stuff in the Ohio Probate records that were added last week.

GeneGinny said...

You were lucky, Randy, that York County has an index to wills. Unfortunately, Dauphin County does not. Took me 40 minutes to find the will when I knew the filing date. Still, it's great to see it in its original form.

A DC Wonk said...

Ok, so what am I missing? When I went to "Browse through 3,197,552 images," the county of Philadelphia is not listed.

Randy Seaver said...

A DC Wonk,

You're right, Philadelphia County/City are not on the list. They have probably not completed that set of records, which is probably the largest of the entire state.

I didn't check the countyl ist to see if it included all counties (except Philadelphia). I see Allegheny (lots of record sets there), Chester, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, etc., which are some of the more populated counties.

A DC Wonk said...

Thanks for the response.

Sigh . . . so my next big check was going to be something in Wyoming County.

That's not listed either . . .

Lynn Turner, AG said...

All,

This collection was scanned from microfilm. If a county was microfilmed, but does NOT show up in the digital collection its because the county did not grant digital rights to FamilySearch. Please know that FamilySearch is currently looking at options to communicate collection coverage to users - thanks for your patience.

Muhammad Zahid Iqbal said...

The difference is that you can do this at home any time of the day rather than going to the repository itself or ordering and reading microfilms at a FamilySearch Center or Library. university of pennsylvania hospital

Lubna said...

There are indexes for each record type that refer to a specific record book, and then you look for the specific record according to the finding aids provided. traffic ticket lawyer

C barclay said...

Thanks for the advice and encouragement! Here's a mystery - I found the name and Vol, page, No. and 2 dates on the image for the probate book, then looked up the will, found it on a different page, and the dates did not match what I saw on the first image. I am confused! I will look again when i am more awake.