Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Serious genealogists utilize probate records in the course of their research. Since probate transfers property from one generation to the next, it is a gold mine of family data that are often overlooked by inexperienced researchers. That valuable material in one Midwestern county has been compiled into the publication, LA PORTE COUNTY, INDIANA, EARLY PROBATE RECORDS, 1833-1850 by Harold Henderson, Mary Leahy Wenzel, and Dorothy Germain Palmer.

     Bordering on Lake Michigan as well as the state of Michigan, La Porte County was created in 1832 from St. Joseph County. This helpful new volume presents extracts of genealogical information gleaned from the county’s earliest probate records. The set of records consist of (1) Probate Order Book A, 1833-1842, which tracks the daily activities of the probate court noted by its clerk; (2) Probate Complete Record [Book] A, 1833-1848, which provides full accounts of some of the completed cases and includes the clerks’ copies of some of the items submitted to the court; and (3) the first roll of microfilmed “loose papers” (probate packets), 1836-1850, that were submitted to the court during the probate process. The loose documents may encompass administrator’s reports, receipts, bills, inventories, sales, bonds, letters, and miscellaneous items—usually original papers with the original signatures. As a result, data in the various records often overlap and may contain repeats of details in a case. But facts sometimes may only appear once, so each source may have information not found in the other.

     Although the authors omitted the names of judges, clerks, and attorneys because they were repetitious, they naturally furnish the names of all decedents, heirs, and administrators. In addition, they give the names of buyers at estate sales, persons providing security (bail), and individuals who signed their names (if readable). Because names of these persons are included, they may provide clues about a possible relationship to the deceased.

     Since the La Porte County wills have been previously published, the authors do not include them in this work. But they do make a note of original wills mentioned or included in their sources. A few recurring surnames in this new book are ARGABRITE, BARNES, BECKNER, BRADLEY, DAWSON, DINWIDDIE, EGBERT/EGBURT, EVERTS, HIBBARD, KEWLEY, LUCAS, MCCLANAHAN, NILES, PATTEE, PEASE, PINNEY, PROVOLT, SHARP, STANTON, and WILKINSON.

     Attempting to locate and go through the various forms of probate documents is often time-consuming. In addition, reading the original nineteenth-century documents requires the ability to decipher the old style of handwriting. Many genealogists, therefore, will welcome the accessibility of so much valuable material in LA PORTE COUNTY, INDIANA, EARLY PROBATE RECORDS, 1833-1850.

     The 290-page work has soft covers, an introduction, and an index listing both full names and place names (if they are outside of La Porte County). To the book's price of $29.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211 (For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website ).

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