Iowa, Poweshiek County Probate, School, and Court Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Iowa, Poweshiek County Probate, School, and Court Records, 1850-1954 .
This article describes a collection of records at
Poweshiek, Iowa, United States
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Location of Poweshiek County, Iowa
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Location of Iowa
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1850-1954
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites

What is in the Collection?

These records include probate proceedings from Poweshiek County for the years 1850-1954. They include estate files, wills, administrations, minutes, guardianships and other records related to probate.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Iowa, Poweshiek County Probate, School, and Court Records, 1850-1954.

Collection Content

Sample Images

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Probate records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees and other court documents. Genealogical facts in entries are:

  • 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
  • Document and recording dates

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the deceased
  • The approximate death or probate date
  • The place of death

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the appropriate "Volume Title and Year" which takes you to the images.

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.

What Do I Do Next?

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.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • 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.
  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions.
  • 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 records or military records.
  • Document dates can be used to approximate the death date because they are often written at or near the time of death.
  • 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 also died in the same county. 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.
  • Probate records often have information about adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents. Be aware that the spouse named may not be the parent of the children listed.
  • The records may omit the names of deceased family members and those who have previously received an inheritance.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
  • 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.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Check for an index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

General Information About Probate Records

County officials began keeping probate records from the time the county was formed. Probates are generally recorded in the county were the person resided. These 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 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.

Probate records 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. The exact contents of probate records vary greatly depending on the prevailing law and the personality of the record keeper.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

“Iowa, Poweshiek County Probate, School, and Court Records, 1850-1954.” Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2016. State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moine, and Poweshiek County Clerk's Office, Montezuma.

Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Iowa, Poweshiek County Probate, School, and Court Records, 1850-1954.

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