Tennessee, Shelby County, Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.|
These records include probate case files and probate journals from Shelby County, Tennessee for the years 1828 to 1930.
Probate records usually include the following facts:
- 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 it is helpful to know:
- The place of residence
- The approximate death or probate date
- The name of the deceased
Search the Collection
To search the collection by name fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.
If you did not find the person you were looking for, you may need to search the collection image by image.
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the appropriate "County"
⇒ Select the appropriate "Volume Title and Year" which takes you to the images
Look at the images one by one. Again you will need to compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor.
Be aware that with either search you may need to compare the information about more than one person 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.
- If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
- Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.
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.
- 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 nicknames and abbreviated names.
- Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies may also have indexes to local records.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
General Information About These Records
Probate records in the state fall into two general categories: wills and estate papers. Most records mention the names of heirs and frequently specify how those heirs are related. Names of children may be given, as well as married names of daughters. Probate records may not give an exact death date, but a death most often occurred within a few months of the date of probate.
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. The transfer is 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 contents of probate records vary greatly depending on the prevailing law and the personality of the record keeper. 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 Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- “Tennessee, Shelby County, Probate Records, 1828-1930.” Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville
- This page was last modified on 5 September 2014, at 20:06.
- This page has been accessed 234 times.
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