|The Substance of Genealogy = Old Wills and Estates|
There is more personal family information and clues contained in old wills and estates than a census record. And it is more accurate because it was written by an ancestor who wished to be remembered, and found later in time; after he had gone. It usually provides all yhe names of the children and their spouses, grandchildren, siblings, parents and could even include the names of relatives residing in foreign countries. Reading an old last will and testament, along with its inventories, sales, annual returns and other estate data is an open book into the life experiences of another person. Also, it provide multiple clues to discovering other relatives, should we examine it more closely. Not only do we get the whereabouts of family members, but also origins. One mention of a relative in a foreign country, for example, is worth thousands of research hours. Actually, estate details provide a parcel of clues in the Annual Returns. These returns commence with the last illness, funeral details, and as additional returns are filed (annually until the final settlement), tidbits appear of personal data appears, such as letters received from relatives in other places and all sorts of clues where to search next. Names of relatives, neighbors and friends are plastered all over those records. And do not forget to search for receipts! If you do this much, more family members will emerge and as well as a pattern of clues.
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