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Member of the National Genealogical Society 2018
Member of the New Mexico Genealogical Society 2018

Where Do I Go From Here? Wills, Baby....Wills!

Oh heavens! We've passed 1850 and we're heading backwards in time. How the heck do these people find the names of someone's wife and children? I mean, where does that come from?

Wills, Baby! I know. They don't even sound like fun, but way back when, your male ancestors would have their wills typed or handwritten (more common), and filed in the appropriate county office. It was there for everyone to see and there was no question as to whom got what in his estate.

Generally, it didn't tell you if that was his first or second wife, but there are times you can figure this out. What I enjoy is that most or all his children were listed, unless he disowned someone. Married names for daughters may appear.

Another advantage is that if you discover an ancestor with 19 children, and only five are included in his will, trust the five until you find further documented information. As I have reported before, there were only 15 to 20+ James Pattons at any given time in a county. They didn't all belong to the same family, though you will find those who try to place them all on their family tree.

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