Your Ancestors left the answer. Did you find it?

By Jeannette Holland Austin

If you did not locate a will or estate which spelled everything out for you, then the next record to search is the county minute books (found with the probate records). The primary action is to read through each section as the clerk recorded community assignments and activities. Typically, the last will and testament itself was not copied into the minute book; however, frequent entries appear announcing that it was filed with the clerk. If there is a notation, that proves that one existed.

Court houses kept original wills in the record room, or vault, or even the basement along with other other documents. It woud be ideal to have both the original and the copy which the clerk made in the will book. However, most originals were filed away in filing cabinets and/or cold storage. Eventually lost. Therefore, we must reply upon the clerk's copy (in his own hand-writing, with misspelled words, etc.). In one rare instance, I discovered a line missing where the name of one of the heirs was omitted. Unfortunately, later on, a fire may have destroyed the clerk's records.

One is inclined to think that triviality is not important in genealogy, but it does provide the finer details which fill in the gaps. We all have questions concerning dates, places and why.

Despite the fact of court houses fires and such losses, there are other means in discovering facts from family traditions. Did you notice the odd first names of some children? Traditionally, the first child was given the name of both grandparents of the couple. After that, maiden names and names of aunts and uncles were included. Oftentimes, certain names make us suspicious that a child belongs to a particularly family. I have one family of five children where all of the boys were given surnames. After much frustration, I connected those surnames to nearby families in the same county. As the connections were unravelled, the result were very interesting. One family name was a Revolutionary soldier who resided in Abbeville, S. C. simultaneously with my kin and they all traveled to Georgia and settled in the same county. The mother who named the children wanted us to know about these very special relatives, so she left her clues!

Digging deep into the roots of the families is what makes genealogy so fascinating.

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