Thursday, April 30, 2015

Down the Rabbit Hole Again -- Finding New Jersey Ancestors Probate Abstracts

I updated my Probate Records presentation last week in preparation for "presentation season" (I gave it last week, will give it twice in May, and at least once more after that) and realized that I had not included the colonial New Jersey Probate Abstracts from the colonial New Jersey Archives books.  The New Jersey Archives books are on, in New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817 database (number 22793).  So I added a slide for it with an example abstract.  The audience last week was surprised that there were some will abstracts online.

Of course, the database has more than abstracts in it - there are notes about inventories, administrations and more.

No sooner had I added the slide into the presentation, than I realized that I had not done my "specific database search" on for this database (see Tuesday's Tip - Search Hints by Record Collection for the process I use).  So off I went - it's a BSO!  I used my Seaver-Leland Families" Ancestry Member Tree (because the Hint coverage is better) for this task.

 I used my tree number and the database number (= 2793) and found that there were 19 entries in my Hints for this database.  Of the 19 listed, 7 are for my direct ancestors, and I didn't have this information for any of them.  Here is the top of the list:

And the next screen down:

Benajah Dunham and the second Edmund Dunham are my ancestors.  Cool.

I clicked on the first one for Francis Bloodgood (not my ancestor, but a sibling of my ancestor, Elizabeth Bloodgood (1703-????) who married Thomas Gach (1702-1770).  Here is the record summary:

I clicked on the green "View" link to see the actual page:

I can save this page to my computer, then rename it and add it to my Francis Bloodgood file in my Bloodgood surname file folder.  I can attach this record to Francis Bloodgood in my Ancestry Member Tree, plus a Story that transcribes the record.  I can transcribe the document and add it to my Notes for Francis Bloodgood in my RootsMagic file, along with an event for writing the will and another event for closing the estate, along with source citations for the event.  I can add the image of the abstract to the Media for Francis Bloodgood.

A source?  You want a source citation for this goodie?  Here it is, using the "Book, image copy (online)" template in RootsMagic:

A. Van Doren Honeyman, editor, Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey: First Series -- Volume XXXIII: Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Administrations, etc., Volume IV -- 1761-1770 (Somerville, N.J.: The Unionist Gazette Association, Printers, 1928), page 47, will of Francis Bloodgood of South Amboy entry, 1763; digital images, ( : accessed 20 April 2015.

Note that the record provides an idea of the Source of the Source in the last line -

"Lib. H., p. 622; Lib. I, p. 168."

Now where are those original records from which the abstracts were made?  I think that they are in the "Record of Wills in New Jersey, 1705-1804" in the LDS Family History Library Catalog.  There are 27 volumes there, including Volume H which covers 1763 and Volume I which covers 1767. If a reader knows more about this, then I would appreciate hearing from them.

Some (or maybe all) of these New Jersey Archives books are available on the Internet Archive and other online book sites.  This particular volume was published in 1928, but this volume is available - here.

I much prefer to have the actual will or other probate record, so I will add the probate volume information to my To-do list for the FHL and try to obtain them on my next visit to the Family History Library.

Not a bad haul for chasing the BSO (Bright Shiny Object) down the rabbit hole.  It only took an hour to find these records, and I'm working my way through them and adding them to my database

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Sharon said...

Randy: Thought you'd like to know the following about that NJ Archives probate abstract series: There is an index in the back of each volume listing ALL the people named in each probate file -- EXCEPT for the deceased person himself, who is not indexed. (There is a separate index in the back for places named in each estate.)

The names in the book index (wives, children, etc.) are NOT included in Ancestry's online index.

So, browse to the back of the volume to find wives, sons, daughters, executors, etc. Note the pages listed and browse to those pages. But use the Ancestry index to find the deceased person.

Also the file number at the end of each abstract, such as 12290 C, can be used to obtain the original will (with testator's signature) from the NJ Archives by mail or in person. For some counties, wills have been listed this way on FamilySearch.

Ancestry also has the three-volume index for wills up to 1900. The counties are listed alphabetically, so volume 1 contains Atlantic to Essex, etc. This index is helpful if you want to try to navigate the original documents on FamilySearch. At least you know that there IS a file before you spent hours looking for it.

Ah, the joys of New Jersey research.

Geolover said...

It would be useful to add the County identification to's defective citation :-)

Justin said...

Have you looked at the New Jersey Probate image-only collection at FamilySearch?