South Dakota, Pennington County Probate Case Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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South Dakota, Pennington County Probate Case Files, 1880-1937 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Pennington, South Dakota, United States
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Flag of South Dakota
US Locator Map South Dakota Pennington.PNG
Location of Pennington County, South Dakota
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Location of South Dakota
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1880-1934
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of images to probate case files from the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre. The collection is arranged by case number and covers the years 1880 to 1937.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for South Dakota, Pennington County Probate Case Files, 1880-1937.

Collection Content

Sample Images


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.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Although the exact content varies with each probate case, the genealogical facts in generally 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 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 names of family members who may be mentioned in the probate case.

Compare the information on the image to what you already know about your ancestor to determine if it is the correct family or person. You may need to compare several images before you find your ancestor.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page then select the Case File Number and Date Range.


For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

Whenever possible, view the original records to verify the information and to find additional information that might not be reported. These pieces of information can lead you to additional records and family members.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Use a Probate record to identify adoptions, guardians, heirs and relatives.
  • Use a will to approximate a death date, then find a death certificate.
  • Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records for earlier years.
  • Use the information to locate census, christenings, marriage and land records.
  • Use the occupations to find employment or military records.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

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

  • Try viewing the original record to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of South Dakota, United States Genealogy.
  • Search in the South Dakota Archives and Libraries.

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:

"South Dakota, Pennington County Probate Case Files, 1880-1937." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing South Dakota State Historical Society, Pierre.

Image Citation:

When looking at an image, the citation is found 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 South Dakota, Pennington County Probate Case Files, 1880-1937.

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