Wisconsin, Probate Estate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Wisconsin Probate Estate Files, 1848-1948 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Wisconsin, United States
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Flag of Wisconsin
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Location of Wisconsin
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1848-1948
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites



What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of images to probate estate case files from various counties in Wisconsin. This collection includes records for the following counties:

  • Ashland County (1894-1938)
  • Barron County (1910-1930)
  • Bayfield County (1874-1919)
  • Burnett County (1898-1933)
  • Door County (1862-1938)
  • Dunn County (1858-1940)
  • Fond du Lac County (1848-1948)
  • Green County (1848-1885)
  • Jackson (1897-1935)
  • La Crosse County (1877-1935)
  • Pepin County (1900-1935)
  • Shawano County (1861-1933)
  • Trempealeau County (1900-1920).
  • Washburn County (1890-1935)


You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Wisconsin Probate Estate Files, 1848-1948.

Collection Content

Sample Image


Probate files normally included wills, settlement papers, inventories, receipts, and other records pertaining to the estates. Some probate records were recorded in books which may have carried many titles such as accounts, administrations, appraisals, minutes, petitions, guardianships, inventories, settlements, and so forth.

Probate records were generally recorded in the county where the person resided. Estates were probated for approximately 25 percent of the heads of households in the United States before 1900, whether or not the individual left a will. Wills were more likely to have been found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.

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: 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 proceeding are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members, those who have previously received an inheritance, or the spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned. Some wills do not name family members. The records in this collection are for the years 1848 to 1948.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Probate records or succession records include petitions, successions, inventories, accounts, decrees and other court documents. Information found in these records usually includes:

  • 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 (Used to approximate event dates, i.e. a will was usually written near time of death)

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor.
  • The approximate death or probate date.
  • The place of residence.


View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the "County"
⇒ Select the "Case File Number and Year Range" which takes you to the images.

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. 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.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s probate 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 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.

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

  • Look for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • 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).



Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

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:

"Wisconsin Probate Estate Files, 1848-1948." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin.

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 Wisconsin Probate Estate Files, 1848-1948.


How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.