Vermont, Franklin County Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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United States
Vermont
Franklin County
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Vermont, Franklin County Probate Records, 1796 to 1921 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Franklin, Vermont, United States
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Flag of Vermont
US Locator Map Vermont Franklin.png
Location of Franklin County, Vermont
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Location of Vermont
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1796-1921
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites



What Is in the Collection?

The collection consists of images of probate papers located at the Public Records Office, General Service Center, Middlesex. It includes records for the years 1796 to 1921. This collection is being published as images become available.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Vermont, Franklin County Probate Records, 1796 to 1921.

Collection Content

Sample Images

Probate records are court documents may have included both loose papers and bound volumes. These records were generally known as an estate file, case file, or probate packets.

These files normally included the following types of documents:

  • Wills
  • Letters of administration
  • Settlement papers
  • Guardianships
  • Inventories
  • Receipts
  • Distributions
  • Name changes
  • Adoptions
  • Any other records pertaining to estates

Vermont was originally part of Massachusetts. In 1749, New Hampshire claimed a large portion of the area. In 1764, New York claimed jurisdiction over a large portion of the land held by New Hampshire. In 1777, Vermont became independent and was made a state in 1791. Probate records for those who died before 1777 may be in the records of the county and state who claimed the area before Vermont was formally created. Probate courts began recording probate records soon after the county was created. There are 14 counties but 18 probate districts. The four southern counties have 2 districts each. Probate records cover approximately 40 percent of adult males who left wills, but this may be less than 25 percent in some areas. Less than 10 percent of women had wills or estate inventories. Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas. A higher percentage of individuals died without a will, but they may have had their estates probated and distributed through the courts. Wills and other estate documents are found in the estate files.

Probate records were used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. If the deceased had made a will, the probate process transferred the following from the deceased to an executor or executrix:

  • Legal responsibility for payment of taxes
  • Care and custody of dependent family members
  • Liquidation of debts
  • Transfer of property title to heirs

If there was no will, the transfer went to an administrator or administratrix. A guardian or conservator was appointed if the deceased had heirs younger than 21 or if the heirs were incompetent due to disability or disease.

The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceedings are reliable, but realize that there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members or those who had previously received an inheritance. In some cases, the spouse mentioned in the will was not the parent of the children mentioned. Also, some wills do not name family members.

What Can This Collection Tell Me?

These records usually include the following:

  • Name of testator or deceased
  • Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
  • Name of executor, administrator, or guardian
  • Names of witnesses
  • Residence of testator
  • Dates the documents were written and recorded (Used to approximate event dates, i.e. a will was usually written near the time of death)
  • Description and value of personal property or land owned by the deceased

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the deceased
  • Other identifying information such as the place of residence and the approximate death or probate date

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select "Browse" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the appropriate "County"
⇒ Select the appropriate "District"
⇒ Select the "Record Type, Date Range and Volume " which takes you to the images

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family.

I Found Who I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives.
  • Use the document (such as the will) or the recording dates to approximate a death date.
  • Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records since the probates exist for an earlier time period.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.
  • Use the occupations listed to find other types of records such as employment or military records.
  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions.
  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents.
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct. Keep in mind that wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

Known Issues With This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation
"Vermont, Franklin County Probate Records, 1796-1921." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. Citing Probate Court. Supreme Court of Vermont, Administrative Services, Montpelier.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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