Washington, County Probate Case Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Washington, County Probate Case Files, 1832-1950 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Washington, United States
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Location of Washington
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1832-1950
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in This Collection?

The collection includes probate records for the years 1832 to 1950. This collection includes probate records created in the following county courts:

  • Clark
  • Cowlitz
  • Grays Harbor
  • Lewis
  • Mason
  • Pacific
  • Skamania
  • Thurston
  • Wahkiakum

Each county began keeping probate records from the time the county was created.

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: the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and 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.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Washington, County Probate Case Files, 1832-1950.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Most probate records include the following information:

  • Name of the deceased
  • Death date
  • Death place
  • Residence
  • Heirs (these are usually family members)
  • Executor
  • Witnesses
  • Court where the estate was probated
  • Court location
  • Court date of probate

Collection Content

Sample Images

How Do I Search This Collection?

You can search the index or view the images or both. Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • Name of the person
  • The location or date of the event

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page. br>

  1. Select County
  2. Select Surname Letter
  3. Select Individual's Name, Year

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.

What Do I Do Next?

If these are indexes, the original records may contain additional information than was not indexed, or the information might have been indexed incorrectly. You may want to search for the original record at the Washington State Archives.

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Copy the citation below, in case you need to find this record again later.
  • Use a Probate record to identify adoptions, guardians, heirs and relatives.
  • Use a probate record to approximate a death date, then find a Washington Vital Records.
  • For earlier years, use the probate record or will to substitute for civil birth and death records.
  • Use the age or estimated birth date to find county or Washington Vital Records such as birth, baptism, and marriage, records.
  • Search for death or burial information in Washington Cemeteries and Washington Newspapers.
  • Use the information found in the record to find Washington Land and Property.
  • Use the information found in the record to find Washington Emigration and Immigration.
  • Use the information found in the record to find additional family members in the Washington Census. Witnesses were usually family members.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records were kept years before counties and governments began keeping records. They are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you find possible relatives.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching Oregon Vital Records.
  • Try different spellings of your ancestor’s name.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Check the info box above for additional FamilySearch websites and related websites that may assist you in finding similar records.


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
"Washington, County Probate Case Files, 1832-1950." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. State Archives, Olympia.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
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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