Maine, Knox County Probate Estate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.

Contents

Record Description

The collection consists of estate files located in the Knox County Probate Record Office in Rockland, Maine for the years 1800 to 2007. This collection is being published as images become available.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Maine, Knox County, Probate Estate Files, 1861-1915.

Record Content

Probate records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees, oaths of executors, forms about guardians and other court documents. Genealogical facts in entries include:

  • Name of testator or deceased
  • Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
  • Names of witnesses
  • Residence of testator
  • Lists of belongings, property, and so forth
  • Document and recording dates (Sometimes the date of death will be given. Recording dates are also used to approximate event dates, i.e. a letter of administration was usually written shortly after the time of death.)

How to Use the Record

To begin your search you will need to know:

  • The name of the deceased
  • Identifying information such as the place of residence or the approximate death or probate date

Search the Collection

To search the collection:
⇒ Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the appropriate "County"
⇒ Select the appropriate "Case File Number and Year Range" which takes you to the images.

Many of these volumes have indexes at the beginning or end. You should search these first. If your ancestor is in the index download a copy or write down the page numbers listed for your ancestor. You can then quickly turn to those pages.

If you do not find your ancestor in the index, look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:

  • 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.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • 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.
  • Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.
  • The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the deceased or the testator.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after 1900.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).

General Information About These Records

Probate records were court documents and may have involved loose papers and/or bound volumes. These records were generally known as an estate file or probate packet. These files included all documents related to estate settlement, including settlement papers, inventories, receipts, wills, and other records pertaining to the estates, including accounts, administrations, appraisals, minutes, bonds, petitions, guardianships, inventories and settlements.

Wills, estates and other probate matters are under the jurisdiction of the County Register of Probate in each county. The Probate Court has had several names over the years; the Widows and Orphans Court, the Poor Court, and the Court of Protection. The Probate Court handles the following types of procedures:

  • Adoptions
  • Guardianships
  • Conservatorships
  • Change of Names
  • Estates
  • Trusts

Probate records are used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. The probate process transfers the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title to heirs from the deceased to an executor or executrix if the deceased had made a will, to an administrator or administratrix if the deceased had not made a will, or to a guardian or conservator if the deceased had heirs under the age of twenty-one or if heirs were incompetent due to disease or disability.

The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceeding are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members and those who have previously received an inheritance, or the spouse mentioned may not be the parent of the children mentioned.

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Contributions to This Article

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Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

"Maine, Knox County, Probate Estate Files, 1861-1915." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Probate Record Office, Rockland.

Image citation:

The citation for an image is available on each image in this collection by clicking Show Citation at the bottom left of the image screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Maine, Knox County, Probate Estate Files, 1861-1915.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 8 October 2014, at 21:11.
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