Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Almost four years ago, Dorothy Germain Palmer, Mary Leahy Wenzel, and I divided up the county's earliest probate records and started abstracting them. Dorothy took Probate Order Book A, which recorded the daily activities of the local probate court from the founding of the county up to about 1842. Mary took Probate Complete Record Book A, which recorded the larger probates in detail from the founding of the county up to 1848. I took the first microfilm reel of loose papers (AKA estate packets), which run from 1836 up to 1850.
Once we had abstracted them, we indexed every name excepting judges, clerks, and attorneys in the bound volumes; in the loose papers we indexed all decedents, heirs, administrators, buyers at estate sales, those providing security (bail), and those who signed decipherable names (on receipts, for instance). Since almost all individuals connected with every probate are included, researchers can use this book to place many people in early La Porte County who did not themselves die during the 1830s and 1840s.
Some probates appear in all three records (the county's first will book starts about 1850). Some appear in only one. This book allows the researcher to get an overview of where any given individual appears, and to find him or her readily in the original records in the county clerk's office. The original records may contain additional information; in a few cases, diligent administrators compiled what amount to credit ratings for those who owed the estate money. (The consolidated approach is unusual, and it would be difficult to use in any projects covering later years, as the bound volumes and the loose papers all become more out of sync with each other.)
The resulting book is 290 pages long and sells for $29.95. All royalties will go to the La Porte County Genealogical Society. Copies can be purchased either via the society website or from the publisher, Genealogical.com, whose people were very helpful in getting the book properly formatted.