Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tip: Why It's Helpful to Fill Out Family Group Sheets by Hand

Today I'm continuing to work on a major genealogy organization project starting with just one surname. When I visited family in Kansas last month, I printed out Family Group Sheets from my RootsMagic program. But, I really didn't like the format. So, today I've been filling one out the old fashioned way - by hand.

I started by filling out the details for my 3x great grandfather, Johann Charles/Carl Guenther Werther:
BORN: 17 May 1819 n in Berka, Sonderhausen, Prussia (Germany)
RELIGION: Protestant
MARRIED: about 1845, probably in Berka
DIED: 19 Apr 1899
CAUSE OF DEATH: dropsy (from obituary)
BURIED: Forest Cemetery, Circleville, Pickaway County, Ohio

The question about the will got me thinking.... have I ever looked for Guenther's will? Is it possibly online?

My first stop was FamilySearch. I went to "search" & then "records" & clicked on the United States on the map. Then I scrolled down to "Ohio" and, after clicking that, clicked on "start researching in Ohio."At the bottom of the page is a section called "Probate & Court" and I went into "Ohio, Probate Records, 1789-1996." Then it's time to browse through almost 7 million records!

In Pickaway, there are a lot of files to search through. I started with "Administration Dockets" but found Charles Guenther Werther in quite a few of the volumes. Some were just indexes and others just stated that the case was ongoing. But, I eventually found Guenther's will!

I knew that Guenther lived with his married daughter, Lena (Werther) Webbe, at the time of his death. It was kind of frustrating to see that he left all his "personal property and real estate" to Lena and her heirs. He had at least 4 (possibly 5) other children still alive at this point.

And, here's a couple of questions:

This will is from the Pickaway County, Ohio, will book so it was evidently copied by a secretary (or whoever would copy them). But, for Guenther's name, the handwriting is very different! Does anyone have an idea of how this would have got in the book? Did the 'secretary' try to copy his signature? Or could his daughter have written it?

Also, I'd really love to get a copy of the original will.... something I haven't really learned how to do yet. Any hints on how to find it?

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

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