Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Questions About Brick Walls, Letters of Administration and North Carolina Records

Deb asks:
Do you have a certain step by step method you follow to try and solve brick walls?

The short answer is yes, however, the steps I take depend greatly on where and when this person lived. How I handle someone that was born in 1703 is very different than one that was born in 1903. The exact brick wall matters too. Am I trying to find where a person was born? Or who his parents were? Or who he married? The research goal dictates which directions I go off in. I do formulate an organized research plan so that I don't miss anything. I will be doing a blog post in the near future about research calendars/plans/logs. They are essential in my opinion.

Deb also asks:
When you are working on a brick wall, how do you keep track of everything you have done?

I sort of answered this question in my first answer but I will elaborate here. I have a research calendar/plan/log for every brick wall that I am working on. On this plan I keep track of everything I want to check, everything I have already checked, and what the results were. Stay tuned for an entire blog post on research calendars/plans/logs. By the way, the old school term is research calendar but many people today just call it a research plan or log.

Mark asks:
In the newspaper I found a "Letter of Administration" but I can't find the man's will listed in the will index book.

If there was a letter of administration there won't be a will. When a person died without a will (intestate), an administrator was appointed by the court to handle the person's estate and affairs. The notice that you found in the newspaper was put there by the administrator to notify anyone in the community that might have a claim against the estate (creditors, family members that wanted a cut, etc.). The deceased will still have a probate file in the probate court. It will contain the assignment of the administrator(s),the inventories of the deceased's property, receipts where the estates paid out monies, and various other documents. Sometimes these probate files are quite large and stretch out over many years. If there was any argument between the persons receiving property from the estate it could drag on and on.

Trish asks:
The two wills I need [North Carolina] were lost in a fire. Where do I go from here?

A little background... I have been helping Trish with her King family in North Carolina and she has been hitting wall after wall trying to connect these people up. The time period is the late 1790s to the early 1800s. I have given her several things to check but one resource is exceptional and I want to mention it here for anyone that does research in North Carolina. The North Carolina State Library and the State Archives have a joint website called the North Carolina Digital Collection. On this website you will find North Carolina Family Records Online. They have digital images of MANY Bibles and they have marriage and death notices from North Carolina newspapers. If I am researching a North Carolina family I always check this website. It might be a long shot but if you do find your family here then it is a goldmine.

Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis

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