From: Randy Seaver
I read your blog post "Getting to the original will" about the Alabama estate records. I really like posts that lay out the research process the way you did it.
However, as I checked some of the FHL Catalog items, I noticed that it appears that the FHL has microfilms of the Chambers County, Alabama Estate Records filed by alphabetical surname for 1832-1915. The citation is:
"Estate files and index, 1832-1915, Chambers County, Alabama" -- records housed at Probate Judge Office in Chambers County Courthouse in LaFayette, Alabama. There are 77 microfilms for these records - each microfilm has a citation like this:
"Estate case files, Blair, Adam - Blount, William T. (folder 5 of 6), 1832-1918 / VAULT US/CAN Film 1221960"
Your correspondent should order the microfilm that has Henrietta Nichols' estate file at a Family History Center (FHL Microfilm 1542472). This microfilm should include more than the will - probably the court affidavits, the will, an inventory, an account, a distribution, and perhaps more records of her ancestor's estate. And even better, these are probably the original records with the actual will and other papers, all probably enclosed in a probate packet closed by a twine thread. These estate case files are probably the best and most complete probate records you can find. And all for the cost of renting a film and making copies of the papers.
I was going to post this on my own blog but thought I would pass it on to you first - perhaps you can add the above to your post and really save Patsy the $25.
Cheers -- Randy Seaver
Thanks for taking the research challenge a step further than Ol' Myrt considered. While the original post looked specifically for "Will Book 3" not covered in the FHL microfilm collection, your suggestion is valuable. While it has not been my experience that wills are included in estate papers, I'll admit I haven't done any Chambers County, Alabama courthouse research.
In the places (and time periods) Ol' Myrt has researched, wills are posted in a will book when probated, and usually the loose alpha/chronological index at the beginning of the will book lists not only the page in the book for the posting of the will, but the case number and other identifying info to make it easier for the Clerk to find the probate packet or as it is sometimes called the estate file.
I wonder if it is unusual that the estate files would be in strict alpha order. Would that every county clerk had time to arrange things as well.
Thanks, Randy, your experience comes shining through. And you know, this points out how important it is to discuss our research challenges with others when as in this case, another set of eyes can sometimes view the problem from a different angle. We get by with a little help from our friends.
Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.
(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.