Vermont, Windham County, Westminster District, Probate Records - FamilySearch Historical Records
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Vermont, Windham County, Westminster District, Probate Records, 1781-1921
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|Westminster, Windham, Vermont, |
|Flag of Vermont|
|Location of Westminster, Windham County, Vermont|
|Location of Vermont|
- 1 What is in This Collection?
- 2 What Can These Records Tell Me?
- 3 Collection Content
- 4 How Do I Search This Collection?
- 5 What Do I Do Next?
- 6 Citing This Collection
What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]
This Collection will include records from 1781 to 1921.
The following towns are currently within the jurisdiction of Westminster Probate District: Athens, Brookline, Grafton, Jamaica, Londonderry, Putney, Rockingham (including Bellows Falls), Townshend, Westminster, and Windham.
Probate records were kept by the probate courts in probate districts. Probate records were court documents and may have included both loose papers and bound volumes. These records were generally known as an estate file, case file, or probate packet. The boxes are usually numbered and the estate documents filed alphabetically by the name of the deceased. These files normally included wills, letters of administration, settlement papers, guardianships, inventories, receipts, distributions, name changes, adoptions, and other records pertaining to estates. Some probate records were recorded in books that may have been labeled with such titles as accounts, administrations, appraisals, minutes, estates, guardianships, inventories, settlements, and so forth. Wills were normally transcribed into a bound volume.
Vermont was originally part of Massachusetts. In 1749, New Hampshire claimed a large portion of the area. In 1764, New York claimed jurisdiction over a large portion of the land held by New Hampshire. In 1777, Vermont became independent and was made a state in 1791. Probate records for those who died before 1777 may be in the records of the county and state who claimed the area before Vermont was formally created. Probate courts began recording probate records soon after the county was created. There are 14 counties but 18 probate districts. The four southern counties have 2 districts each. Probate records cover approximately 40 percent of adult males who left wills, but this may be less than 25 percent in some areas. Less than 10 percent of women had wills or estate inventories. Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas. A higher percentage of individuals died without a will, but they may have had their estates probated and distributed through the courts. Wills and other estate documents are found in the estate files.
Probate records have been kept from the time the county was formed to 1921.
Probate records were used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. If the deceased had made a will, the probate process transferred the following from the deceased to an executor or executrix: the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title to heirs. If there was no will, the transfer went to an administrator or administratrix. A guardian or conservator was appointed if the deceased had heirs younger than 21 or if the heirs were incompetent due to disability or disease.
The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceedings are reliable, but realize that there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members or those who had previously received an inheritance. In some cases, the spouse mentioned in the will was not the parent of the children mentioned. Also, some wills do not name family members.
Image Visibility[edit | edit source]
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To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]
|You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for Vermont, Windham County, Westminster District, Probate Records, 1781-1921.|
What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]
The following information may be found in these records:
- Name of testator or deceased
- Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
- Name of executor, administrator, or guardian
- Names of witnesses
- Residence of testator
- Dates the documents were written and recorded (These are used to approximate event dates, i.e. a will was usually written near the time of death.)
- Description and value of personal property or land owned by the deceased
Collection Content[edit | edit source]
Sample Images[edit | edit source]
How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]
Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:
- The place of residence
- The approximate death or probate date
- The name of the deceased
Search the Index[edit | edit source]
|This collection does not have a searchable index. Only images are available. See View the Images to access them.|
View the Images[edit | edit source]
View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
- Select Record Type
- Select Year Range, Box, Bundle and File Number Range to view the images.
|More images are available in the FamilySearch Catalog at Vermont, Windham County, Westminster District, Probate Records, 1781-1921. Click on camera icon to see images.|
How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]
Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.
What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]
I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]
- Add any new information to your records
- Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives
- Use the document (such as the will) or the recording dates to approximate a death date
- Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records since the probates exist for an earlier time period
- Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records
- Use the occupations listed to find other types of records such as employment or military records
- You may be able to use the probate record to learn about:
- Adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents
- Land transactions
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct
I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names
- Look for another index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties
- Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor
Research Helps[edit | edit source]
The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of Vermont.
- Beginning Research in United States Probate Records
- Vermont Guided Research
- Vermont Record Finder
- Research Tips and Strategies
- Step-by-Step Research
Related Family History Library Holdings[edit | edit source]
- Windham County, Westminster District, probate records, 1781-1920
- Windham County, Bellows Falls, Probate records, 1781-1916
- Westminster District, Bellows Falls, General alphabetical card index to case files, 1781-1962
Related FamilySearch Historical Record Collections[edit | edit source]
Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]
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The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
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