One more thing probate records do: make unexpected connections between unexpected places in unexpected ways.
These records connect two early Midwestern movers and shakers. Micajah Terrell Williams -- an Ohio politician-entrepreneur with an interest in improved transportation and a founder of Milwaukee, Wisconsin -- had died in Cincinnati. William B. Ogden, Chicago's first mayor and a transportation leader cut from much the same cloth, was making a claim on Williams's estate. Following Williams's death, Ogden had been involved with land Williams had owned in (among other places) La Porte and Porter Counties in Indiana. Williams's probate appears to have been a tangled and lengthy affair, and there may be more to the story.
Only because a wealthy Cincinnatian invested in some Indiana farmland did a bit of long-gone Chicago history survive the fire in this courthouse 60 miles away. This piece of history will be a lot easier to find once we get these probates abstracted and indexed!
Micajah T. Williams estate no. 336, loose papers, La Porte County, Indiana; microfilm E-1, County Clerk, La Porte.
Harold Henderson, "Records in Unpredictable Places," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 2 October 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]