Copyright 2000 by Robert W. Scott
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This volume combines records of different sources. The major sources are two volumes of transcriptions done in the 1940s. One record is labeled Wills and Administrations of Jefferson County, Indiana and was typed by Miss Mary Hill in April 1945, according to the title page. The heading on the second page, where the transcriptions begin, is labeled Wills, Deeds and Administrations of Jefferson County and includes a number of Deeds that settle estates. The other volume is titled Wills of Jefferson County, Indiana 1854-1883 and bears no date or author. Both were presented by the John Paul Chapter DAR. The second volume has the inscription Mrs. Paul Peddie, Regent and was probably also typed by Miss Hill. [Ann Laura Peddie still lives in Madison. (1999) and was probably done about the same time.] Both volumes are in the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library. Despite its name, the second volume lists several estates with probate dates of before 1854. In many cases, both volumes have book and page numbers, but not the year of the record and in some cases none of this information is given.
I have added information from John Pauls Sheriffs book (indicated as JP), which included a handful of estates. I have also added some estates that were settled through assignment of powers of attorney in the second half of the 19th Century and recorded in Miscellaneous Records kept in the Recorders Office, and guardianships, kept in a Guardianship Book, covering the middle of the century, and kept in the Court Clerks office. I have not thoroughly transcribed those sources. I have also added occasional court records involving partitions that cover families I research.
Miss Hills records also include some intestate estates and some settlements detailed in deeds. She also included comments, such as burial information about testators, references to Revolutionary War records and mentions of heirs if they appeared in the records of other decedents. I have removed most of these, although it is sometimes difficult to determine what material was added by the DAR I have added some deeds that settle estates. I have added some intestate estates of families I have researched and also have check the first part of Will Book A. Neither volume comes close to including all intestate estates recorded in Jefferson Co., many of which give complete listings of heirs.
The DAR transcriptions were not indexed, nor were they completely alphabetized. For example, the one volume had the Bs together, but not in exact alphabetical order so that names might be in the order of Brown, Bell, Bain, Beckett, within the B section. Having this work on computer will remove much of the need for indexing as word searches can be used to find name. Having researched only part of Book A and some sections of Complete Probate books, I can testify to how difficult transcribing these records are and just how much work the original transcriptions involved.
About Estate Records.
During the middle part of the 19th century Wills were not filed in volumes labeled as Will Books, but were entered in volumes labeled Probate Books. In these cases, the wills were not presented until the probate was somewhat advanced, instead of being filed shortly after time of death. To the casual researcher, it might appear that most of the wills from the middle part of the century are missing, but the wills from the formation of the county appear to be complete. The county resumed record wills in volumes bearing the name Will Books in the 1850s. The result is that there is a Will Book A starting with the formation of the county. In the 1850s, the clerks office started over with another Will Book A.
Names that are obvious variants (Griffen, Griffin) are alphabetized together by first name as if they were spelled the same. Less obvious variants are alphabetized as if they were different names, but are cross-referenced. Testators with the same Christian name are listed by the date of their will or estate. So John Smith, who wrote a will in1817, is listed before John Smith who wrote a will in 1845.
Sometimes the 1854-1884 volume lists Book A, without specifying if it means Will Book or Probate Book. Also, the correct term of some volumes is Probate Order Book. There are also Complete Probate Records. I have followed the transcription. In a few cases, no book is listed. On records I have personally checked, I designated Probate Order Book or Complete Probate Record, etc.
The volume 1854-1884 frequently list estates with no dates. However, from the book number, you can sometimes determine the rough period. The transcriber apparently recorded exact dates when wills were listed. In many cases, the original individual probate record in the Jefferson County Clerks office has no date and you must go back several pages to the first record for a particular session to determine the dates of all probate activity for that session. This is probably the reason the DAR did not include many dates of intestate records.
My work is a transcription of transcriptions, except for the perhaps 10 percent of records where I have personally examined the originals. So it is Caveat Emptor as to accuracy, particularly as to middle initials and exact dates. I can also testify from reading full wills that the DAR omitted many interesting facts, such as who got what land, and there are many errors. The omission of heirs in the transcription seems to be the most common. The next most common stems from the previously mentioned difficulty in reading the originals. Another problem I faced was the paper used by the DAR did not lend itself to easy photocopying and there were difficulties in reading some pages.
I have followed Miss Hills practice of listing legal land descriptions without using the Section, Range, or Township designations. However, in Jefferson County the range is always East and the Township is always North. The first number is always the Section number, the second Township and the third the Range. So 34-4-11 means Section 34 Twp. 4N Range 11E. Aliquot parts (parts of sections) always indicate quarter sections of 40 acres if SW, SE, NW, NE is given. A half (80 acres) is indicated S, N, E, or W is given alone. SW 34 is the southwest quarter of section 34. Ranges in Jefferson County go from 8E through 12E, counting from West to East. Townships go from 2N to 5N from south to North.
I have followed practice in the two transcriptions. Book A-55, means Book A page 55.
The 1854-1884 volume frequently has entries that were corrected by typing over the first entry. This makes it difficult fifty years later to determine which is the intended entry. I have tried to indicate where there are questions.
Wills Not Transcribed.
The transcriptions have a handful of wills that, for some reason, are indicated by the DAR records as not having been transcribed.
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