Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Peruse Probate Records

An article in from The Daily Notes (Canonsburg, Pennsylvania) provides details of the will of my husband's 2nd great-grandfather, John Cowden. He died at the age of 81 on September 29, 1909, in Mt. Pleasant Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania. The article mentions several pieces of property:
Genealogy and Probate Records
The Daily Notes
October 14, 1909

  • a farm in Mt. Pleasant township,
  • a lot and two houses on Pike street, 
  • two lots on Grant street, Houston, Pa.,
  • a house on Pike street, Houston, known as the Hutchison house,
  • house and lot on Plum Run, Chartiers township, 
  • farm in Beaver county, Pa.,
  • farm in Kansas, and 
  • lot in the state of California

Since FamilySearch has Pennsylvania probate records online, I decided to read the actual will for myself. This required browsing the Washington County wills for 1907-1910 but was really very simple. It didn't take me too long to find the John Cowden will, which he signed on June 12, 1909. 

For probate records that are online, locating a will varies by state and even by county. For example, if you need to find a will in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, it takes three steps:
  1. Browse the Estate Index based on surname and first name to see if there are any probate records for your ancestor. (Be sure to look at the Russell Index page at the beginning of the scanned file to guide you to the page you need.) This step will provide you with the volume, page and block numbers you need for the Proceeding Index;
  2. Using the details found in the first step, browse the Proceedings Index to see if there is a will, which will be indicated by WB for will book;
  3. Based on the will book details found in the second step, browse the appropriate Will volume to find the page number for your ancestor's will.

Unfortunately, I didn't learn any new information from reading John Cowden's will, but it's always a good idea to check the records related to newspaper articles about your ancestors.

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