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Wisconsin, Probate Estate Files - FamilySearch Historical Records

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Wisconsin Probate Estate Files, 1848-1948
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Wisconsin, 
United States
Wisconsin flag.png
Flag of Wisconsin
US Locator Wisconsin.png
Location of Wisconsin
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1848-1948
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
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Historical Society


What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

The collection consists of images to probate estate case files from various counties in Wisconsin. Probate files normally included wills, settlement papers, inventories, receipts, and other records pertaining to the estates. Some probate records were recorded in books which may have carried many titles such as accounts, administrations, appraisals, minutes, petitions, guardianships, inventories, settlements, and so forth.

Probate records were generally recorded in the county where the person resided. Estates were probated for approximately 25 percent of the heads of households in the United States before 1900, whether or not the individual left a will. Wills were more likely to have been found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.

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, 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 proceeding are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members, those who have previously received an inheritance, or the spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned. Some wills do not name family members. The records in this collection are for the years 1848 to 1948.

To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Wisconsin Probate Estate Files, 1848-1948.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The following information may be found in these records:

Probate records or succession records include petitions, successions, inventories, accounts, decrees and other court documents.

  • 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
  • Document and recording dates (Used to approximate event dates, i.e. a will was usually written near time of death)

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Image[edit | edit source]

Coverage Table[edit | edit source]

This collection includes records for the following counties:

Locality Years
Ashland County (1894-1938)
Barron County (1910-1930)
Bayfield County (1874-1919)
Burnett County (1898-1933)
Door County (1862-1938)
Dunn County (1858-1940)
Fond du Lac County (1848-1948)
Green County (1848-1885)
Jackson County (1897-1935)
La Crosse County (1877-1935)
Pepin County (1900-1935)
Shawano County (1861-1933)
Trempealeau County (1900-1920)
Washburn County (1890-1935)

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate death or probate date
  • The place of residence

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page.

  1. Select County
  2. Select Case File Number and Year Range to view the images

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

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. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives
  • 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
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Try viewing the original record. Indexes and transcriptions may not include all of the data found in the original records. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name
  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name, especially French versions
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of Wisconsin.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

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:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Historical Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.


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