And along with death comes the final papers of each deceased person, be it a will and/or probate records.
I have found two probate records belonging to two ancestors in my husband's family. Because of modern technology, we can now see digitized copies of these papers.
22 October 1867, Ogle County, IL
Probate Record of Ernst C. Reif, deceased 19 October 1867, of Forreston, IL
The father-in-law of Ernst Reif appeared before the Judge, Sheriff and County Clerk. Ernst Reif had died intestate....he did not have a will. The petitioner, Ludwig Foy, knows that Ernst, owned a home and a lot, a set of carpenter's tools, and household of furniture. His heirs were Catherine (Foy), his wife and Mary M. Reif, a child. Ludwig identifies himself as the father-in-law of the deceased.
Ludwig posted a Three Hundred Dollar bond, as required by the law, when he acted as administrator for his son-in-law, as his daughter waived her right to act as such, and probably was too distraught to do so, seeing she had a small child to care for.
At the top of the second page, entitled Estate of Ernest C. Reif, Administrator's Bond, there is a notation that the petitioner swears that the estate is worth less than $1,000.
At the end of the Letters of Administration, Ludwig Foy, as administrator, agrees that the third Monday of December will be set aside for settling all adjustments and claims against the estate.
So that is what a probate assignment record looks like from Ogle County, Illinois in 1867.
Next, we have a record from a neighboring Illinois county....Whiteside
9 September 1883, Whiteside County, IL
Probate Record of Louis W. Reif, deceased 13 February 1883, of Sterling, IL
The widow, Ellen Reif, appears before the Judge of Whiteside County, Illinois, stating that her deceased husband, Louis W. Reif, had owned real estate and household furnishings at the time of his death. His two heirs, being herself as the widow Ellen Reif, and their daughter, Florence Mary Reif, were in her sworn statement. She also mentioned that she estimated the total worth of Louis' belongings were about Seventy-five dollars.
Ellen asks that administrator duties be bestowed upon Christian Eisele. And, Christian signs that he has taken the oath as administrator of the estate of Louis Reif. On the second page, the Administrator's Bond is posted as Two Hundred Dollars. But another person has been added as an administrator....Jacob Eisele. So who are Christian and Jacob Eisele? These administrator's assignments do not identify them as family members. Let's check the family tree....
Louis W. Reif had several siblings, one of which was Ernestine Juliane Reif. She married Chrisian Eisele in Whiteside County. So, Christian Eisele was Ellen Reif's brother-in-law. And, after further searching, Jacob appears to be Christian's brother. Nice to have a brother-in-law to step up and help out in a time of despair.
Is this the end of the story? No. There are more papers, I am sure, that had to be filed to make sure that the creditors were paid, property was sold or transferred and any monies due to both Ernst and Louis Reif were transferred to the heirs, before the cases could be considered closed. In this case, both sets of heirs were the widows and daughters of the deceased men. BTW....Ernest and Louis were brothers.
So, if you are interested in looking at probate/wills in your family research, check your county records. And, some are digitized and can be downloaded right to your computer. Check FamilySearch for some of these at www.familysearch.org .