Archive for the ‘Estate Records’ Category

Using Estate Records Online For Genealogy Purposes Hon. John McLEAN of Jackson, NY part 2

Continuing from part 1…

Go to, scroll down to the bottom of the home page, click on ‘United States‘. Wait for the screen to load and click on ‘New York‘ in the left hand column. At present there are 31 fabulous collections of original microfilmed records that have been digitized. Scroll down to ‘New York, Probate Records, 1629-1871‘. Click on ‘Browse through 14,045,812 images‘ – select ‘Washington’ county.’

Now you must use the ‘Will index 1788-1896‘ to locate your subject person, in this case, John McLEAN of Jackson. You will have to poke around some to get to just what you need but if you guess right it won’t take long. Up on the top bar is the image counter ‘M’ is in the middle of the alphabet and there are 148 images so lets pick 74 and hit the ‘Go’ button. That takes us to the typewritten index page number 111 which seems to be ‘MA’ name. Here is where you must be patient. In the days before computers people that indexed names never seemed to follow any convention when they indexed those pesky Scottish names of Mc and Mac. In this case they put them at the end of M pages so on image 85, page 130, we find John McLEAN, Will Book B2, Page 285. I do have a very good shortcut to finding these wills in another website, but am hesitant to describe it here. If you want to know, send me an email and I will tell you how.

Now go back to the Wills page and click on ‘Wills 1830-1845 vol A2-B2′. What this means is that there are two Will books on one roll of microfilm. Book B2. Page 285 would be near the end of the film so go to Image #554 and there it starts. There are several pages to this Will and we will abstract just some of the pertinent points. We will presume that a county judge would have a pretty good idea as to how to write a will.

“In the Name of God Amen, I John McLEAN of the town of Jackson, county of Washington and State of New York, considering the uncertainty of this mortal life & being of sound mind and memory, do make and publish this my last Will in manner -form following, Viz. -

First – I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Mary McLEAN, one thousand dollars, or the yearly interest threof during her natural life, together with such of my house hold furniture as she may choose, to the amount of three hundred dollars, a one horse wagon, harness and horse for the same, one cow, the horse and cow to be kept for her, winter and summer, and to have the use and occupation of such front of my dwelling house, left to my son Henry R. McLEAN as she may choose for her necessary convenience, and to be found sufficient firewood for the same, and as much wool and flax, as she needs for her own use, and sufficient provisions for her [bouid?] during her natural life, and as long as she remains my widow, and at her decease the property bequeathed to her, be at her own disposition, except the one thousand dollars or the interest thereof, and privilege in the dwelling house.”

“… to my sister Jane McLEAN, five hundred dollars or the yearly interest thereof…”

“… to my grand child Jane, daughter of Aaron M. PERINE, and Caty his wife now deceased, one thousand dollars, at her arriving at lawful age, or at her marriage, is – should be the case…”

“… order and direct that the remainder of my estate both real and personal, (after paying my just debts) and an allowance of personal property, to be made to my son Henry R. McLEAN, be divided equally amongst my six children Viz Thomas King McLEAN, Isabella wife of David CAMPBELL, John McLEAN, Lewis McLEAN, William VanKirk McLEAN and Henry Rutgers McLEAN – except the share of my son John McLEAN I order and direct to be reduced fourteen hundred dollars on account of the expense of his education and study of his profession, and that there be deducted from the share of my son William VanKirk McLEAN, nine hundred dollars on account of his eduction and expense of studies of Physic.”

“To my son Thomas King McLEAN, I give and devise to him, his heirs and assigns, the farm on which he now lives and improves, containing about two hundred and thirty acres of lands.

To my daughter Isable wife of David CAMPBELL, I give and devise the farm on which they now live and occupy in Anaquaskoke Pattent, contains about four hundred acres of land, to them their heirs and assigns.

To my son Lewis McLEAN I give and devise the farm on the east side of the ponds on which I now live, containing the whole of the two lots which I now own on the east side of the ponds, formerly bought of Goldsbrow BANYAR, to him, to his heirs and assigns.

To my son, William VanKirk McLEAN, I give and devise that part of my land on the west side of the ponds, being the remaining part of the aforesaid two lots I purchased of Goldsbrow BANYAR, to him his heirs and assigns.

To my son John McLEAN I give and devise all my lands which I bought of the state in the town of Sullivan, County of Madison and State of New York, it being four lots of land for which I have certificates given to me by the proper state officers, for the purchase of the same, to him his heirs and assigns.

To my son Henry Rutgers McLEAN I give and devise the farm lately owned by Abraham DUNHAM, and formerly owned by Levi DOWNING, and which is now in the possession and occupation of his brother Lewis McLEAN, containing nearly two hundred acres of land. – And also all my right to the cotton factory and machinery belonging to the same, and the grist mills and implements belonging thereto, together with the sawmill at the same place, and together with all my right to the mill lot so called and a lot of land lately Bot, of John ROBERTSON joining said mail lot, and also a small lot of ground purchased from John TEFFT joining the mill lot, and lot bot, of said ROBERTSON, which two last mentioned lots in conveyed jointly to John McLEAN and Daniel ANTHONY, excepting any reservations that may be made for Lewis McLEAN for water privilege and ground for woolen machinery and fulling, the last described property except the farm on which Lewis McLEAN now lives is lying and being in the town of Greenwich in Washington county, and lately owned by Thomas McLEAN and others to him, his heirs and assigns, and further I give and bequeath to my said son Henry Rutgers McLEAN two good working horses such as he may choose of what I own, one yoke of oxen, four milch cows, one half of my young cattles, forty sheep, all my swine, and all my farming utensils of all descriptions and all my household furniture except such as his mother shall choose to take, and the said stock of beasts farming untentials and household furniture is not to be computed or considered as any part of his legacy in the divisions with my other heirs.

And in addition to what’s before devised to my son Lewis McLEAN, I give devise and bequeath to him all my cloth dressing untential together with the wool carding machines and implements thereto belonging, and wattering privilege of running the same at the place where they are in operation (other than in the cotton factory building) and to build sufficient buildings to work and carry the said woolen machinery on, or as far as my right extends at the said woolen machinery on, as further privilage of ground to build on will be necessary other than what I at present own he will have to agree for and purchase from Daniel ANTHONY to him his heirs and assigns.”

The will continues with many more details on his wishes for distribution of property. For those of you interested you should go and read and transcribe the rest of this document. For my use as a description of the sorts of items that you might find we have enough details.

John’s three sons, Thomas King, John and Henry R. as well as son-in-law David CAMPBELL were appointed executors. The will was written 21 JAN 1828 and proven 03 JUL 1837. Witnesses were William A. WILSON and William ERVIN. Alexander ROBERTSON was the Surrogate.

Typical Old Water Powered Mill

Typical Old Water Powered Mill

Interesting to note that Hon. John McLEAN had holdings in several different mills, such as a cotton mill, woolen mill, saw mill and a grist mill. As cotton would not have been grown in this part of the country, there must have been a brisk trade with southern markets in order to have raw cotton sent by ships to New York City and then by sloop up the Hudson River to Troy and overland to the mill.

Now this has not led to any discovery about my Abel HOWARD, however what does come to mind after this research effort is something that I have overlooked in the past. While recording some of this data on the Family Group Sheet of David CAMPBELL and his wife, Isabella (McLEAN) CAMPBELL, it dawned on me that David was also a mill operator, which will lead to further research on the mills of the Battenville, because Abel HOWARD named one of his sons, Archibald Campbell HOWARD. Was this in honor of the operator of the mill that he worked at?

I’ll let you know.

Using Estate Records Online For Genealogy Purposes Hon. John McLEAN of Jackson, NY part 1

Within the past few years FamilySearch has made so many new collections available to the armchair genealogy  researcher that it is just astounding!  For those of you with Upstate New York ancestors (as well as anywhere else for that matter,) it has never been easier to look at images of original source documents that will allow you to find answers without having to rattle the bones of you deceased ancestors.

In the past few months I have been so busy going back and filling in all of that delicious data that is held in the 1855, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925 New York State Census returns, which are all very nicely indexed on the LDS site.  The 1865 NYS Census is there but it is not indexed (yet) however you may browse the communities where your ancestors lived and find them that way.

Lately I have been using Wills, Administrations, Guardianships and other official court records that are available online at FamilySearch.  I have always recommended going to the county of record and obtaining photocopies of the “complete” file packet for any ancestor’s estate records as they will give you some of the best answers or clues to your hardest research problems.  Actually I would still recommend this as not all of the estate files were filmed by LDS.

Battenville 1853 Washington County, NY Wall Map section

Battenville 1853 Washington County, NY Wall Map section

Abel HOWARD (c1770-1844) was my mother’s great great grandfather, born in Hebron, Connecticut and as an infant moved to Lyme, New Hampshire, ending up in the Cambridge, Greenwich and Jackson areas of Washington County, New York where he and his wife Hepsabeth (CURTIS) HOWARD (c1773-aft 1855) raised a large family of twelve children all of whom grew to adulthood and most had issue.

Abel HOWARD is buried in Battenville, a hamlet that is mostly in the town of Greenwich, but immediately across the river the cemetery is actually located in the town of Jackson.  This old cemetery was the burying ground for local families and it at one time surrounded the church building of a Reformed Dutch Church that most likely was of the Presbyterian bent as many in the community were of Scotch descendancy.  One thing that I need to do is to find the exact history of this church, its pastors and any possible church records that might exist.  I have tried sporadically to work on this but have never nailed anything down on this project yet.

Abel HOWARD is found on the 1800 and 1810 federal census in Cambridge, Washington County, NY.  He is listed in Jackson, Washington Co. in 1820, and Greenwich in the 1825 New York State census, he is also in Greenwich on the 1830 and 1840 census.  All of these listings could have been in almost exactly the same place or within a mile or so from where he is buried.  So for 40 years he is found on many census returns, however not once have we ever located him on any other type of document.

Abel HOWARD is not found on any deeds or land records of any type that we have ever found.  I have gone so far as to extract five names on each side of him on each census listing and looked up the deeds or land records of all of those people in the hopes of finding Abel’s name shown in a survey description as a bordering property owner or occupant.  No such luck.

Abel was never in any newspaper article that we have found, he never sued anyone, never was sued, and other than several family letters that we have that mention him or were written to him from the batch of kids that mostly went west, we have never found anything more about our Abel HOWARD.

As I have been at this for about 40 years and Miss Harriet Howard and her genealogist uncle Clarence HOWARD worked on him for about fifty years before I started, it is fair to say that we have beat many bushes with no positive results.

So here is my theory.  Abel HOWARD left Lyme, New Hampshire as a young man and took the road up over the mountains out of Thetford, Vermont and came down into the Rutland, VT. area (which was really the only route that he could have taken at that time period,) and somehow or other worked his way down into Washington County, NY.  This would be a fairly typical migration route.

Battenville NY 1901 Topo Map

Battenville NY 1901 Topo Map

My theory continues that he met Hepsabeth CURTIS somewhere along the way, probably in the Greenwich area, got married and started having kids.  If he was not a farmer, then the only thing that would likely have sustained a large family such as his was to have a solid job in one of the many mills on the Battenkill River that came down through this area.  Some mills are still in existence today in this community.

My lifelong research on the early “Families of the Old Cambridge District” led me to discover that the primary mills in the Battenville area were owned or operated by the McLEAN family and Daniel ANTHONY, the father of Susan B. ANTHONY (1820-1844.)  Susan would have known my Abel HOWARD, seems to me.

This leads me to the reason for this blog post.  By reading the will of Hon. John McLEAN of Jackson, it tells a lot about his immediate family and also breaks down some of the distribution of the mill property and equipment, that some day may lead me to some other type of business records somewhere that will help with our Abel HOWARD research.  Surely Abel must have lived in a mill workers tenant house that the good Judge McLEAN owned, or so I would like to think.

So what follows is a demonstration of the types of things that you will find when you transcribe estate records and why it is so important to use them in your genealogy pursuit.  Remember the McLEANs are not my kin, or not that I know of, but this sort of thing helps to build a better picture of the time period.

Folks, I have had to split this post into two parts as it is stopping my blog from working properly.  I hope that it will start working well for everyone now.  This post is continued in part 2.


Subscribe via RSS
Follow Me On Twitter
Donations Greatly Appreciated:
Pay on WePay
MyHeritage Top 100 Websites
Top genealogy site awards