Tag Archives: probate records

Where’s The Will? A Probate Records Search

IMPORTANT NOTE

I have decided that Adam Stahler is probably NOT an ancestor of mine (explanation elsewhere), so I am no longer trying to find his will.  I have left this post here because a) it has links to wills of some of my actual ancestors and b) the path I took searching for answers might be of interest to other researchers.

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This week’s challenge for the 52 Ancestors project, “Where There’s a Will“, sounds familiar–drawing us into the fascinating world of probate records. However, at the moment I have to turn that around to “Where’s The Will?” because I am stymied in finding the will of Adam Stahler.

I have enjoyed getting acquainted with ancestors and their families through their probate records in the past. My great-great-grandmother’s first husband died young without a will, but the inventory of goods plainly told me that he was a merchant.   In researching my husband’s ancestors, I found wills for three successive generations in the Manbeck family. From those, and their attached inventories, I learned names of children, what a great-great-great-great grandmother had in her kitchen, what you need to grow flax, and how long it took for German immigrants to switch to the English langauge.

Abraham Brink Will

Abraham Brink the elder Will.

You can read about those ancestors and what I learned from probate records here:

But those were easy.  All those wills and associated papers from probate records were found on line. Hard to read the hand writing sometimes–but at any rate there they were.  And the recorder had kindly written an English transcription of the wills in German, so I didn’t even need a translator.

Asahel Platt Inventory

One of several pages of inventory of belongings of Asahel Platt.

And then there was Adam Stahler.  Ancestry.com coughs up an index entry from the probate records of Northampton County, Pennsylvania (his residence), for Stahler, Adam with John Stahler as administrator, filed in 1804. The index even presents a file number #2284.

Usually, when Ancestry does not give me anything but the index information, I can find the actual document at Family Search.org. Not this time.  I will spare you the gory details, but after two days of eye strain, I still did not have Adam Stahler’s will.

Next step, ask on Facebook at “Genealogy? Just Ask”.

Next step, check Family Search. Someone on the FB group had directed me on how to search more effectively on Family Search.  I  also read a very comprehensive guide to Family Search searching written by Cathy Meder-Dempsey.  Maybe I’m just a bad student, but that didn’t get me what I was looking for either.

Two possibilities, the will never was photographed by Family Search AND/OR it has not been digitized OR the second possibility–it no longer exists. That is just too sad to contemplate, so I am delaying accepting defeat.

Next step, contact the Probate office in Northampton County, Pennsylvania.

So today I sent off an e-mail.  Fingers crossed. And of course I will keep you posted.

Meanwhile,  you can keep yourself amused by looking at the variety of wills I DID find.

Joseph Kaser 1842 Will

My sister and brother and I enjoyed our family reunion/ancestor search trip 2 years ago so much that we are getting together for another ancestor trail trip this summer. In the fall of 2014, thanks to a cousin’s generosity, we had a family gathering at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Sudbury was the home base for many of our maternal grandmother’s ancestors. Follow the link above, or search for “Howe” to find out about the branch of our family that helped build New England towns and fought in the Revolution.

Minutemen

At Minuteman National Park with our family descendants of Minutemen.

This summer, the three siblings are going to revisit ancestor’s territory in Ohio and Pennsylvania, giving us a chance to take a look at our father’s line as well as our mother’s.

In preparation for that trip, I’m taking another look at our Kaser ancestors (Our father) and hope that I’ll have time to look at the Anderson (Our maternal Grandfather) line also.  Both lines tend to disappear in Pennsylvania in the 18th century, before they moved on to Ohio.

Joseph Kaser 1776-1842

I’m starting by adding a piece of information to what I previously wrote about Joseph Kaser (B. 1776), our third great-grandfather.  Although I did not know a lot about him two years ago when I wrote his story, you may want to look at that linked post for reference. It puts in perspective the life of German immigrants and the hardships they faced that forced them every further west, until they settled with ‘their own kind in Ohio.’

Thanks to the new transcripts of probate records added to Ancestry.com in the last year, I can scratch Joseph Kaser’s will off my to-do list. Although this will is in English, I’m guessing there may have also been a version in German, since Joseph probably did not speak English.

Unfortunately, the will does not contain the detail that we’ve found in others. But here’s what Joseph had to say in October, 1842.

After the preamble, he specifies that his wife Elizabeth Kaser should get one stove and a cow, two beds and bedding and such other household and kitchen furniture as she may select, not exceeding eighty-dollars in value.

Comment:  Don’t worry, 80 dollars would be worth approximately $2350 in today’s money.

The rest of his property, he says, should be sold and the money realized “put on interest  for the use and support of my wife Elizabeth Kaser during her natural life and after the death of my wife Elizabeth then the money is to be divided equally amongst any children in such a manner that each of my sons receive twenty-five dollars more than any daughters.

Comment: “put on interest” was the term used in the 19th century for money invested or put in the bank to earn interest.  Why do his six sons each get $25 more than each of his two daughters? Perhaps he had paid $25 dowry for the daughters, or perhaps it is because the expectation is that their husbands will take care of them.

Finally, he appoints John Basto (Spelling?) and his son William Kaser as executors.

Comment: When the will was written, William, the youngest of the family, would be twenty-four years old, but he must have been considered responsible, as there is evidence that Elizabeth went to live with him after Joseph died.

The will, written out by a clerk at the court, notes “signed in German, Joseph Kaser.”

Grave of Joseph Kaser

Grave marker of Joseph Kaser 1776-1842. Photo by Glen Hammel at Find a Grave.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the son of
  • Clifford Kaser, who is the son of
  • Joseph Kaser II, who is the son of
  • George Kaser, who is the son of
  • Joseph Kaser

Notes on Research

  • Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998, Record for Joseph Kaser, Will Records, 1825-1906; Index to Wills, 1825-1965; Probate Place: Holmes, Ohio
  • The “Kaser Genealogy” (aka Green Book) referred to is The Kaser History: A History of Dates and Other Interesting Facts (1994) edited by Deborah D. Morgan and others. Out of print. I obtained information from a cousin who owns a copy of the book.
  • Zions Lutheran Reformed Church, Zionsville, PA index of records at Ancestry.com)Unfortunately the website for the church has been updated and they no longer have the history page, but I have given you a link to the “wayback machine” where you can find the old page.
  • Birth and Death records from census and Find a Grave through Ancestry.com
  • Cemetery records from the New Zion UCC church (formerly German Reform) in New Bedford, Ohio.