Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Notorious Brawdy Family, Part 1 (The Russell Index)

This is a series of posts about the startling discoveries we made at GRIP  (July 2014) in the Intermediate Genealogy class. Our head instructor, Paula Stuart-Warren, chose a random Pittsburgh will for us to research and see what we could uncover about the family. She had no idea of the amazing stories we would find...

Our will was for Martha Jane Brawdy who died in Birmingham, Allegeheny County, Pennsylvania. A classmate quickly realized that this was a copy of the will written in the court book and not the actual will. So, we all headed over to FamilySearch to look for the actual will.

Here are the steps to finding the will:
  1. Go to
  2. Go to "search" then "records"
  3. Click on the U.S. on the map and then "Pennsylvania" on the list
  4. Click "start researching in Pennsylvania"
  5. Go to the last item, "Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994"
  6. Click on "browse through 3,200,560 images (this number could change)
  7. Click on "Allegheny" to get to the correct county
  8. Click on "Estate index 1788-1971 surname B, first names K-Z" since the surname "Brawdy" starts with "B" and "Martha" starts with "M"
  9. Image 6 is a Russel Index which shows how to locate the person you are searching for
Russell Index image from familysearch
I'd never seen a Russell Index before & it took a little while for me to understand it. I got some help and I was finally able to understand. So, let me try to talk you through it.

We are in the file where all of the surnames start with "B". This particular page is showing you how to locate first names that start with "K", "L", or "M". We need "M" for Martha Jane.

You start with the surname, in this case Brawdy. After the initial letter, B, you mark off any letters that aren't on the key - L, M, N, R or T. In our case we only have the "R" left. (If you have more than two letters left, you still only use the first two.) We are looking for just "R" in the first column. Once you locate the correct letter(s) in the first column, you use the second column if the first name starts with a K or L & the second column if the first name starts with an M. Ours is M (Martha), so we need to look for section 1140.

Now you have to kind of jump around the various images to locate the section where pages are numbered 1140. I first went to image 400 which was record 1415, BUT the first names started with R. I have went way too far. Image 220 is labeled 2013. I need to keep going back. Image 160 is labeled 1143. I'm getting close! Image 140 is labeled 1141. So, I'm just going to page back from here. (By the way, if you 'jump' to an unnumbered page, just scroll forward or backward a page or two until you see a number.)

from FamilySearch
I found the first page of the 1140 series on image #124 of 818. (Under the 1140 you will see a 1 for the first page in the series.) On the first page of a series, you'll find a list of commonly seen names and the 'special' pages these are located on. "Brawdy" is actually listed on this page and it says you can find the "Brawdy" surname on 2017.

Now, we need to find 2017 the same way - kind of jumping around until we land on the correct series. Remember to watch the first names and make sure you don't get out of the names with the first name starting with an M! (I found the first page of 2017 on image #228 of 818.)

from FamilySearch
We find "Brawdy, Martha J" as the 5th person on this page. It lists her residence as "Birmingham" and her Personal Representative as "Wm C Moreland Exr". Lastly, it tells you were to find the proceedings index: Volume 12, page 220, block 1.

Our next step is to go back to the "Allegheny" probate records & look for the "Proceedings Index" volume 12. (The entire title is "Proceedings index 1788-1971 vol 11-12.) Remember, there are TWO volumes here so you need to be looking in the later half of the images! Once again we will 'jump around' until we find page 220. I found it on image #690 of 929.

And, we have found Martha J Brawdy as the first image! It lists her executor, Wm C Moreland. It lists three documents, including the will which is located in Will Book #15 on page #68. This is where we'll start for Part 2.

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