FamilySearch has many terrific record sets, but researchers, particularly newbies, might not realized that many of them are overlooked because they are not indexed. Well, that is not exactly true. The records are not indexed in FamilySearch’s name search engine.
What am I talking about here? My latest GeneaGem discovery is the Missouri Probate Records, 1750-1998 collection available on FamilySearch.
Look at the size of this collection – we are invited to browse through 1,642,790 images and it doesn’t even include Andrew or Cole Counties, which are a separate collection.
Here is where the “non-indexed” misunderstanding comes in. While it does take some effort to find a person here, it doesn’t require much because many (not all) of the volumes have handwritten indexes at the front of each book.
I decided to look for probate files for John S. Alberty, who died in Newton County, Missouri in 1862, right in the middle of the Civil War. I clicked on the browse 1,642,790 images link.
The next screen was a very long list of Missouri counties, so I scrolled to Newton and clicked again.
Newton County records are quite intact. At first glance, it didn’t look like there would be records for someone who died in 1862. Two wrong assumptions might be made here. First, because the war was raging all around them in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, some court visits were greatly delayed, which happened with John S. Alberty’s estate, which was admitted to probate in 1865, three years after he died. The second wrong assumption is that all of these files are in chronological order. Look at the last set of records in the right hand column. Those files, with its own index, begin in 1847.
I actually found records pertaining to John S. Alberty in multiple volumes – from notice of approval of an administrator, an appointment of a second administrator and even a notice filed after the final settlement of one further just debt to be paid.
It took me a while to find all of these, but every volume in which I looked had an index at the beginning.
Records for Linn County are already separated out in ABC order:
I was specifically looking for files on Holland or Hollen families. John who died in 1855 with no will has a file over 300 pages long with documents dating back ten years before he died. There is also an interesting series of letters in there between Mr. Matthews and Elizabeth Holland, John’s widow, regarding her son John, who apparently ran off from his apprenticeship soon after his father died. You never know what will turn up in a probate file, but John’s certainly gives more than a glimpse of his daily life.
Since my husband has various family branches wandering through Missouri from 1818 until the early 1900s, I will be mining this treasure for a while.
By the way, this collection is indexed and available on Ancestry, but if you don’t have a current subscription, the same records are available for free right here.
If you have Missouri roots, you will want to check this collection out for yourself! Missouri records are fabulous!