Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Looking for *Estates* in all the Right Places...

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how the North and South Carolina wills and probate record images have been scanned and placed online for users to browse on the FamilySearch.org website.

Today I was trying to find the probate record for Susan McCoy in Greenville County, SC (1847-1850) and grew increasingly frustrated when I realized that the index (if one existed) was not posted to the FamilySearch.org site. Without an index, I could not figure out what "apartment," "file," or "no." her probate records were filed in. I looked through a bunch of the images to see if I could determine if they were filed by date or by surname, but they were not. I simply needed an index.

On a whim, I went to the Greenville Co., SC USGenWeb site thinking they MUST have an index posted somewhere. Although I didn't find an index I did find a link to the Greenville County Governement Online - with a page dedicated to historical records and there I found an Index to Estate Papers, 1787-1976. I clicked on the "M" link for "McCoy" and it brought up the browsable image index for all the "Ms." This is what I found:

McCoy, David - Apartment No. 5, File No. 339, Year filed 1822, Robert Cox, Admr.
McCoy, Susan - Apartment No. 11, File No. 74, Year filed 1847, Robert Cox, Exor.

Here's what the scanned image looks like:

This is exactly what I was looking for!

Now I have TWO - actually THREE Options: 1) I can go back to FamilySearch.org and look for these probate records in the browsable images 2) I can stay on this site and look for these records or 3) I can do BOTH!

Option #1: 
Searching for Estate Records at FamilySearch.org:

Now I can go back to the browsable images posted on the FamilySearch.org website:

South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers, 1732-1964

Click on the link for Greenville, click the "Probate Court, Probate Records" link, the "1787-1868" date range.

A list of file numbers come up. Since I am looking for file no. 5, I click the link for "Files 04-06, Nos. 215-420."  (Although the link has been included here, I cannot guarantee it will continue to work longterm, so please follow my description of how I found the files.) 

This is the hard part. This set of images only contains file nos. 4, 5, and 6. I have to find file no. 5 in there somehow. I know no. 5 is in the middle somewhere. At the top, it says I am on image 1 of 730. So there are 730 images in this set. That means the middle is probably about image no. 375. I can type in 375 into the Image No. box and press enter to go directly to that image.  This gives me the estate record for Jesse Moody. Going back one page brings up the first page of his estate record which says it is file no. 338. So all I need to do is fast forward until the end and that should take me to David McCoy's file no. 339.

I only had to go 2 more pages to get to David McCoy's file. The first page was missing, however, so I might want to order the entire record from the South Carolina State Archives if I feel as if it is not complete.


Option #2: 
Stay on the Greenville County Government Site and Searching for Estate Records:

Click on the Estate Records link

Start going through images as above. This is system is much slower and the images are of poorer quality. 
HOWEVER, I retrieved only 9 images from the FamilySearch.org site and I retrieved 22 images from the Greenville County Government site!!! 

So my recommendation is... 

Option #3:
DO BOTH!!! - This just goes to show you that even in the realm of genealogy, things really are changing relatively quickly. Sometimes we have to check several places before we give up and then check them again because new things are being added all the time. 

A word of caution: **If** you do pull records from both, please make sure you cite them properly. If you found one loose piece of paper listing all of the children of the deceased off of one site, but that same piece of paper is NOT uploaded to the other site, then it is YOUR responsibility to note that. 

Now if you have ancestors from Greenville, South Carolina, be sure to check out the Greenville County, SC Government Online Historical Records page !!!


  1. Good to know. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Another nice step by step description of a successful research project.

  3. Thanks! I was glad to find this great resource!