Saturday, October 07, 2006

St. Joseph County, Michigan Will & Probate Records

Back in the late 1970's I wanted to search the will and probate records in St. Joseph county, Michigan. I was looking for clues to the names of Benjamin's parents and siblings and knew that the will and probate records would be a good record to search. Unfortunately, the court records have never been available at the Family History Library.

My second cousin, Susan Hendricks, had ordered a copy of a will for Friend Curtis in 1983 and she sent me a copy of the will to review. The copy was from a microfilm, extremely small and hard to read. Plus there was a large black spot on the top-left corner of the document. Our efforts to read the will resulted in figuring out the names of the children who were mentioned in the will, and Benjamin was not among those mentioned. There wasn't any other clues in the will concerning Friend's relationship to Benjamin Kingman Curtis.

In 2008, I called the county clerk to enquire about the old will and probate records. I was told that a number of years ago the county court records were microfilmed and then the originals were destroyed. The Genealogical Society of Utah did not do the microfilming, therefore the films are not available at the Family History Library. This was tragic news.

Someone needs to spend time reading all the will and probate records in St. Joseph county for a ten year period, between 1845 and 1855.  This means all the will and probate records, not just the records for those with the Curtis surname. I have two options: One is to hire a local researcher to search the court records for all wills and probates; second is to plan a research trip and do the work myself.

Look for the following individuals in the will and probate records:
  • Friend Curtis, 1858 - done through correspondence
  • Hiram H. Curtis, 1864
  • Patience Curtis, 1851
  • Shepard B. Curtis, 
  • Simeon Curtis, 1856
  • William Fuller Card, 1846 - done through correspondence 

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