Friday, August 24, 2012

Looking for Stephen Cutter's Will in New Jersey Probate Records on FamilySearch

I noticed that the FamilySearch record collection for New Jersey, Probate Records, 1678-1980, had been updated recently, so I went exploring - looking for the will of my fourth great-grandfather, Stephen Cutter (1745-1823) of Woodbridge, Middlesex County, New Jersey.  I knew that there was a will from earlier correspondence with Russ Worthington.

Here is the New Jersey, Probate Records, 1678-1980 record collection front page:

This is a "Browse Only" collection with over 3 million images.  The description says:

"Images of probate records from various court houses in New Jersey. Most records end in 1920 but some counties have records up to the year 1970."

After clicking on the "Browse through 3,084,661 images" link, the list of New Jersey Counties opened:

I wanted Middlesex County, so I clicked on that:

The top of the list of Volume titles and years opened.  The bottom of the page (after scrolling down) looks like:

I wanted a Will, so I checked the "Will Index, 1804-1930, Vol. 1 & 2" collection.  After thrashing about for several minutes, I found an entry for Stephen Cutter on Image 16 of 187:

The Will Index indicated that his Will was in Volume B, page 624, proved 13 August 1823.

Back to the Volume Titles page, and I chose the "Wills 1804-1824, Vols. A-B" title, and eventually found Volume B, Page 624 on Images 605 and 606:

That's great!  I saved the pages to my [Ancestor Files > Family History - Carringer-Smith-Auble-Kemp > Cutter > 01-Stephen Cutter & Tabitha Randolph > Documents] file folder.

Now I need to transcribe the will for Amanuensis Monday some week.  I've already read through it (what, you expected me to wait?) - it mentions his daughter Sally (Cutter) Knapp, my third great-grandmother.  It also describes the Cutter property in Woodbridge, so I may be able to identify the location of their home.

My next venture into these records are earlier wills and estates of my Cutter, Fitz Randolph, Kent, Rolfe, and other ancestral families in Middlesex County, and also my Knapp families in Sussex County.

Note that there are many more record types in this record collection.  I haven't looked for information in the Estate Index, Estates, Orphans courts Minutes, Proceedings Index, or Releases and discharges yet.

Did I mention that these records are absolutely FREE?  They are!  This is like having a slow microfilm reader in my Genealogy Cave.

This was REAL genealogy fun this afternoon!

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Hi Randy:

See my recent posts entitled "Great News" on the Ancestry "New Jersey Unknown" board for more info on how to find records in the NJ Probate Records on Family Search.

For Middlesex County, start with looking up your man in the Estate Index. Cu will probably be in Estate Index 1804-1971 C-F.
When you find your man's name, note the Vol, page and block. Also note the file # in the left column.

From there you can go directly to Estate files (using the file #). This will give you loose documents for the estate. Not every image has the file # on it, so it takes some back and forth to get where you need to go. You may find letters, inventory, etc. here. You may or may not find the original will here. For some counties they are included in the estate files. For others they may be listed separately.

Using the Vol, Page and Block you found earlier, go to the Proceedings Index. There you will find the book and page # for all the Court orders, etc. The book # and page # given here can be used to find the specific records in each type of book: Orphans' Court, Applications for Probate, Administration Bonds, etc.

A time consuming process what with guessing what image you need to go some particular number of pages, but there can be some real gems here.