Friday, July 6, 2012

Where there's a will, there's a way: FamilySearch to the rescue again, New York Probate Records, 1629-1971

Cousin April and I have been on the hunt, seriously now, for months to find out or prove the parents of Jacob Raynor, our common ancestor. We looked at earmark records in the state archives in Albany, we looked at inventories of estate in the archives at Hofstra University, and our next step was to visit the Queens County Surrogate Court to look at wills. Well, the wills have found us. is constantly updating the records available online at their website and so I check back regularly. Yesterday I realized that they have probate records for many (not all) of the counties in New York State, including, that's right, Queens County. Hallelujah! The genealogy gods are finally taking pity on my broke, weary soul! The only problem is, if you like easy solutions, that these sections aren't indexed - they're organized, to an extent, thank god, but not indexed. But you wouldn't be into genealogy if you liked easy solutions, would you? It took me most of the day yesterday to find some of the things I was looking for, but find them I did, after checking the index for names, and then matching those names to either letters of administration for people who didn't have wills, or to actual wills. It looks like, at least in Queens County, the wills are transcriptions of wills, not the actual wills, but it's the whole deal, not just an abstract. Whitehead Raynor, god bless his racist soul, was quite descriptive about family relationships in his will, and Samuel Seaman, another great-plus-grandfather of mine, I was actually able to prove for the first time was my great-plus-grandfather thanks to his descriptiveness of relationships. I have only glanced at Jacob slightly - I'm not sure I have the will or stamina to jump into that without Cousin April's support. But if you have New York family history and more than a few hours on hand, I highly recommend looking at this set of records. I checked out Kings County and Westchester County as well to look at family there and the categories and breakdown of records are similar to Queens, though not exact. It, like everything else we do in this field, is a puzzle that you have to put together, but the pieces are there! I can't wait to get back to it...good luck in your searches!

Happy weekend, y'all! :)

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