FamilySearch.org has massive files done by volunteers to index censuses, draft cards, death certificates, and other similar records that were made on pre-printed forms because the information contained in them is consistent and standardized. Those are the easy records to make available for your researching of an ancestor.
What can be difficult are handwritten documents such as Wills, land records, estate files, probate, court minutes, deeds and tax records. These were often written in narrative or paragraph form. Yet such items such as probate, Wills, land, and tax records are invaluable for the answers they can provide in pre-1850 American family research. Many transactions can involve direct family members, in-laws, and even close friends.
Many of these great sources of information have been digitized but are not indexed yet, making for easier search using a name or keyword. Yet, FamilySearch.org has tried to make the search a bit easier for you. Here are the steps:
Go to FamilySearch.org and then click on ‘Search’, located in the upper right and also can be found the the term ‘Menu’ and the drop down showing ‘Search’. Next click on ‘Records’ and hover over the state you wish to investigate.
For example selection ‘Florida’ there are 71 historical records. Items with indexes such as FL births 1880-1935, FL Confederate and Union Records 1861-1865, and Florida Divorce Index 1927-2001. Scroll further down and a listing of images (no index) only records for Florida are located. A few that Florida has are FL Probate Records 1784-1990; Homesteaded Land Files 1863-1909; Internal Revenue Assessment Lists 1862-1874 and Ft Lauderdale Crew Lists 1939-1945.
The selection of these additional records will vary from state to state on FamilySearch.org. If you had an ancestor visiting or living in different states, you have many topics to check. you never know just what might show up in those lesser used records.
Many of the different state records can be sub-divided also based on time periods or other locations, so check all of them. It can mean scanning over the names yourself without an index but many are at least in alphabetical order, which helps.
Make sure you source any information you find.
Photos: Deed of Land, George H. Hawkins to Sophrona Hawkins, June 20, 1888; Proof of a Will; John Uleman Probate File of 1891; and Calvin Carton, a farmer applied for a homestead in Pike County, Mississippi on August 15, 1870 for 80 acres.
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