25 September 2014

Getting Around No Probate Journal Index in Vernon County, Missouri

FamilySearch recently released an update of it's digital collection of Missouri probate records.

It has been a little while since I actively worked on my Missouri ancestor Benjamin Butler and I decided to see if any materials had been posted for Vernon County. Sure enough there had been, but a review of the items currently posted for Vernon County makes it appear that the online records for Vernon County are not a complete set of the materials. The time period covered does not appear to be comprehensive and the probate case files do not appear to have been digitized either.

But I decided to search the materials that were available online while reminding myself that other records may still be available.

Unfortunately many of the various ledgers and court journals for the Vernon County, Missouri, probate records do not include any type of name index which one frequently finds in the front of journals of this type. Typically these journals and ledgers at the very least contain an index to the estates mentioned in their pages. There's never a full name index to these records as that was simply too time consuming for the clerk.

My search of the Vernon County probate volumes would require me to read the relevant journals page by page in an attempt to locate entries to the Benjamin Butler estate.

Then I remembered that I had a copy of the probate packet of Benjamin's estate papers. My review of those pages located a copy of an envelope which is partially shown in this blog post.

I'm not certain what the "140" means, but the other items in the red circle on the image indicate volume and page numbers where Benjamin's estate is mentioned in the probate journals. The notations after the page numbers indicate the action that was taken on the estate.

Chances are the reference to the estate in the journals will not provide any additional information on Benjamin's estate and likely will only indicate what action was taken by or approved by the court. It still will be advised to look at the book and page references.

There is still the possibility that there are additional references to the Benjamin Butler estate in the probate journals that are not mentioned on this envelope. However a review of the journals indicated that the references to estates in the journals typically are short references confirming a court action and are not ones that provide any real details about the estate or Benjamin.

For that reason, it's important to remember what my goal is with Benjamin: to find references that concretely tie him to his several known or probable children--including Florence Ellen (Butler) Sargent (my great-great-grandmother). It is doubtful the journal references will do that given the content of the entries I sampled when locating the ones referenced in the envelope.

It's always important to contemplate how likely a search is to provide the desired information and to compare that likelihood with the amount of time necessary to perform the search. Based on that, I'm not going to search the probate journals page by page at this point as there are records on Benjamin's known or probable children that have a better chance of answering my question or providing more information.

And sometimes one needs to go with probabilities.

But in this case, the probate packet provided index references that the journals didn't. It always does pay to completely analyze what you have--even if it just appears to be bookkeeping notations.