Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files, 1804-1846
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Orleans Parish, Louisiana, United States
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Flag of Louisiana
US Locator Map Louisiana Orleans.PNG
Location of Orleans Parish, Louisiana
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Location of Louisiana
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1804-1846
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Probate Court. New Orleans City Archives


What is in This Collection?

The collection consists of an index and images of probate estate files, from 1804 to 1846. Each estate file consists of multiple images.The event date is the probate date.

County probate records were kept from the time a county was formed to the present. This collection includes records for the years 1804-1846. With the adoption of the 1845 constitution, the official term for all of Louisiana's primary civil divisions has been parishes. Prior to 1845, there were both counties and parishes. 

Estate files are folders containing loose papers. These files normally included wills, settlement papers, inventories, successions, receipts, and other records pertaining to the estates. Estate files were generally well preserved, though there may be some record loss due to fire or other disasters. Each county began keeping probate records from the time the county was created. Until handling of probate records was assigned to the Clerk of the District Court for each parish in 1845, probate records were kept in county Probate Courts. Some of the early records in this collection that were created shortly after the Louisiana Purchase were written in French.

In Louisiana, probate records are also referred to as succession records. Estate files are compilations of wills, successions, petitions, letters, bonds, inventories, settlements, and other probate records. Probate records are 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 are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.

Probate records are used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. The probate process transfers the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title. The transfer is to an executor or executrix if the deceased had made a will, to an administrator or administratrix if the deceased had not made a will, or to a guardian or conservator if the deceased had heirs under the age of twenty-one or if heirs were incompetent due to disease or disability.

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.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files, 1804-1846.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The following information may be found in these records:

Probate records (or succession records) include petitions, successions, inventories, accounts, decrees and other court documents. Information found in these records includes:

  • 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 (These are used to approximate event dates, i.e., a will was usually written near time of death)

Collection Content

Sample Images

How Do I Search This Collection?

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the individual
  • The date of the event or the name of a spouse or child

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:

  1. Select the Surname Letter
  2. Select the Individual's Name, Year to view the images.


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. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

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

  • Use a probate record to identify adoptions, guardians, heirs and relatives
  • Use a will to approximate a death date, then find a death certificate
  • For earlier years, use the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records
  • Use the information found in the record to find vital records such as birth, baptism and marriage
  • Use the information found in the record to find immigration and land records
  • Use the information found in the record to find additional family members in census records

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

  • Indexes and transcriptions may not include all the data found in the original records. You could get a copy of the original record from the Probate Court. New Orleans City Archives
  • 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 records of a nearby town or county
  • Try different spellings of your ancestor’s name
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names

Research Helps

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

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:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details page in the section Citing this Collection.
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.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

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 Records.

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