Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Family History Mission: A Genealogist's Goldmine

No. 25

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them.

As I spend time looking at probate, guardianship, and indenture records at the Maryland State Archives, I am seeing records that assist in finding complete families. The guardianship records are from the Orphans Court Proceedings and often contain a way to identify every one of the children in a family. We usually look to probate records and hope to find a will from an ancestor, but so far, I have seen very few will transcripts but a lot of guardianships.

Apparently, when the father in the family died, guardians were appointed for any minor children. This could be the mother or some other member of the family. The purpose of the guardianship to protect the children's inheritances from third parties or in the event that their mother remarried. If the husband left all of his estate to his wife, then, if the wife remarried, all of the estate would then be owned by the new husband. In some cases, husbands left their wives property under the specific provision that the inheritance would be forfeited if the wife remarried. This was not so much a matter of jealousy but of the way the law worked. If the husband wanted the property to stay in his family lines, then the provision was mandatory.

Because of these particular ownership and inheritance laws, when money was left to minor children, it was necessary to protect the children's interests by appointing a guardian. Genealogists benefit immensely from the information contained these probate/guardianship files.

Perhaps, this observation on me types of records we are digitizing at the Maryland State Archives give you some idea of our motivation to spend the time to volunteer as missionaries.

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