Monday, October 6, 2008

A Peek into the NC State Archives: Loose Documents of Estate Records

In this post, I'd like to talk about a collection that is part of the Archives: "The Series of Original Loose Documents of Estate Records." This collection contains a serious of documents pertaining to the estates of deceased persons in NC. This collection is sorted by county, then alphabetical by last name.

Documents contained in these files include administrator bonds, affidavits, inventory and estate sales receipts, legal proceedings, division of assets to legatees, etc. These files can be reviewed by filling out a call slip. The call numbers start with a 3-digit prefix assigned to the county of interest. Sampson County's 3-digit prefix is 087. Then the next 3-digits are assigned to document type. For estates, that number is always 508. The last number of the call number is the box number that contains your ancestor's file. This last number is left blank on the call slip. You will put your surname on the call slip instead. They will bring you the box that contains the surname for the county of interest. For example, I might find the loose documents of the estate of Abiah Godwin in Randolph County using the following call number: 081.508.56. Box 56 containing the surname Godwin.

Below is an example of documents contained in the file of Abiah Godwin, Sampson Co., NC (In order of appearance in the file):

Page 1 illustrates how much money the administrator of the estate brought before the judge, probably from the sale of items in the estate. The administrator brought in 79 pounds, 3 shillings, and 11 pence. 39 pounds, 6 shillings, and 8 pence were awarded to the administrator for his duties as administrator leaving 39 pounds, 16 shilling, and 3 pence to be divided between Abiah Godwin's 7 legatees…5 pounds, 13 shilling, 7 pence awarded per legatee.

Page 2 is a scan of what was on the back of the first page. It reads "A settlement of the estate Abiah Godwin, Deceased."

Page 3 is a receipt of monies owed to Samuel Godwin from the estate for his duties of administrator.

Pages 4 and 5 contain an inventory of the estate of Abiah Godwin taken on 4 Feb 1796, consisting of furniture, pots, farm stock, kitchen goods, etc.

The records contained in this series are "Loose Papers" which means they range from administration bonds to petitions for dowers, etc. Some items are frequently misfiled, so it is a good idea to look through all of the folders for the surname you are researching. For example, you might find a court suit about your ancestor in his Father's estate file, even though the two of them died 40 years apart. 

The value of this collection is that it is organized by county and then by surname whereas other bound volumes of estate records are organized by date.

You can read about how to find WILLS at the NC State Archives in my post "Looking for Wills at the NC State Archives - Updated." 

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