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. 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.

To Browse this Collection

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

What Can these Records Tell Me?

These Probate records or succession records include petitions, successions, inventories, accounts, decrees and other court documents. This Information is also found:

  • 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)

Collection Content

Sample Image

Coverage Table

This collection includes records for the following counties:

Locality
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)

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 the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page.

  1. Select County
  2. Select Case File Number and Year Range

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.


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

What Do I Do Next?

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.
  • 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. Indexes and transcriptions may not include all of the data found in the original records. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • If your ancestor does not have a common 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, especially French versions.
  • 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 Wisconsin, United States Genealogy.
  • Search in the FamilySearch Library Catalog


Known Issues with This Collection

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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 2017. 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.


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