Here it is almost March, a year from when I first contacted the Dane County Courthouse in Wisconsin with my will query. On March 6, 2015, I sent an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the following message: "I am requesting copies you have pertaining to George Anderson, aka General George Anderson. He was my 3rd great-grandfather. Below is pertinent information.
Date of death: 10 Jan. 1879, Madison
Lived in Madison, Baraboo and Sun Prairie from abt. 1839 to 1879.
Date of birth: 1784
(I knew there was a will for about a year, but had no idea how long it was nor did I know what was written in it.)
A few weeks later, I heard from Karen, the clerk, and was told the cost was $4 per search and $1 per page. She also wrote, "For such an old case, there are a lot of documents on the microfilm." I then told her I would take the entire document! Good thing she decided to call me because I didn't know how long it was and neither did she. We corresponded for a month, (she took time off for vacation) but I finally got 12 digital pages, most of which I couldn't read, some was due to my poor eyesight, but mostly due to the poor copies, several of which I had to request again.
Our relationship was so pleasant, that I wrote a follow-up to her on September 2, 2015. "Just today, I discovered that Ancestry.com just released millions of wills and probate records to subscribers. (I think it is free for this weekend.) Anyway, I found my George Anderson...all pages are crystal clear and clean, all 101 pages! I thought you would be interested in this, and maybe get a chuckle."
Her response was classic. "I do find this interesting...especially the fact that the copies were so clear. I wonder where they obtained the copies...maybe they have better equipment to print from microfilm than we do. Plus the fact that you got all of these additional documents for free is awesome!
This is information I'll pass on to other people requesting records from us...as I just had someone requesting some old probate records that were difficult to copy.
Thanks for taking the time to email me...I enjoy hearing "the rest of the story".
While I was rereading my correspondence with the clerk, I thought, it was more interesting than the will!
I spent many hours trying to read the new digital copy, but decided against printing it out. It's now on my hard drive. I learned a few pieces of information from it, mostly from the Codicil. I'm only sharing the will and codicil in this post. While, I now know not to look for two of his sons, have to wonder if my 2nd great-grandmother Martha had a middle name of Maria and be curious as to whether George really did have lots of property.
Below are the first page comparisons between the copy I received from Wisconsin Court House and the copy from Ancestry. Quite a difference, and more so if I showed all the earlier copies I printed in March 2015. The transcription of this will and the codicil are below. Even though my Ancestry copies are clean, reading the handwriting was a challenge.
|Page 1717 from the Dane County Court House, Wisconsin|
|Improved copy of page 1717 from the Dane County, Wisconsin, Dane County Probate Records, Box 266-Box 268 [pages 1709-1811], George Anderson Probate Records; "Wisconsin, Wills and Probates, 1800-1987," (Will of George Anderson) Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2015, at Ancestry.com.|
I George Anderson of the town of Sun Prairie-Dane County, Wisconsin being of sound mine and memory and mindful of the uncertainty of human life do make publish and declare this my last will and testament. First—That all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid. Second—I give grant devise and bequest unto my well beloved wife Euphemia B. all my property and estate real and personal for and during her natural life for her comfort and support. It is my will and intention that she use and dispose of the personal property for her own support as she may find necessary or convenient and that she have the use occupation and income of the real estate but it is not my will or intention that she should sell or incumbus the real estate. Third--As a token of my affection and remembrance I give to each of my sons who may be living at the time of my death, the sum of seventy dollars To Wit-Simone Anderson—George W. Anderson—Richard L. Anderson—Cornelius Anderson and Jeremiah T. Anderson to be claimed and paid within one year after my decease and if not claimed within that time to go to the body of my estate.
Fourth—It is my will that all my property and estate real and personal remaining at the death of my said wife Euphremia B. shall be equally divided between my two daughters. To wit Martha Maria Adams wife of Liberty Adams of Genesee County and State of New York and Jane Maria Peckham wife of Benjamin Peckham of Sun Prairie Dane County Wisconsin and I hereby give grant devise and bequest all my estate real and personal which shall remain at the time of the death of my said wife to my said daughters to be divided equally between them and share and share alike—And in case my said daughters or either of them shall not be living at the time of the death of my said wife then the share of such daughter so deceased shall descend and go to the child or children of such deceased daughter or the lineal descendant of any deceased child or children of such deceased daughter in the same proportion as they would inherit by law. It is my intention that this will shall embrace and include all property of which I may (unfortunately, I can't determine the words underlined in red, if you know, please let me know. Thank you.)
or in any manner by entitled to either by inheritance or otherwise at the time of my death. It is my will and intention that my said wife (Note: I received this message from Rand Hall, "My guess is: "die siezed [i.e., 'seized'] or possessed".)
shall use only so much of the personal property as may be necessary for her own support first using the income of the real estate and from real property and in case that shall be found insufficient for her support then she may use so much of the principal of the personal the personal estate as may be necessary for her suitable and comfortable support the reminder and residue to go to my said daughters or their descendant as herein before mentioned Fifth— I hereby appoint my said wife Euphemia B. Anderson executrix of this my last Will and Testament and authorize her to compromise and settle any claims or demands which may be against or infavor of my estate. I hereby exclude My said executrix from giving the residual bonds requested of executors and administrators, and are willing to entrust the keeping and management of the estate to her, as I have full confidence in discussions and integrity. In witnesses whereof I have here unto set my hand and seal this 27th day of January in this year AD one thousand eight hundred and sixty five.
George Anderson SEAL
The above and forgoing instrument consisting of one sheet was signed published and declared by the said testator George Anderson to be his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who have signed our names at his request as witnesses in his presence and in presence of each other this 27th day of January 1865.
B. E. Hutchinson
I George Anderson now residing at the city of Madison Dane County and State of Wisconsin. Do hereby make and declare this to b e a codicil to my last Will and Testament hereto annexed executed by me January 27 1865. To wit 1st Whereas since the making of said will I have advanced to my daughter Martha Maria Adams of Genesee County State of New York what I devise her fair portion of my estate and what I intended for her portion. Now therefore I do hereby revoke and amend any and all provisions in said will for her benefit and any and all devises and bequests therein to her are withdrawn.
2nd My son Richard L. Anderson having died since the making of such will all provisions in the same for his benefit is hereby revoked and amended.
3rd Since the making of said will I having become convinced that my son Cornelius Anderson is dead do hereby revoke and amend any and all Page 1722 provisions in said will for his benefit. It being my wish and intention that said original will shall stand and be in force. The name as if A contained no provisions for the previous herein named. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 25th day of June 1869
George Anderson SEAL
The forgoing codicil to the will of George Anderson of late of January 27, 1865 and being hereby attached to the will before the will was signed was by this said George Anderson who is personally known to each of us designated in our presence and was by him at the same time published and declared to be a codicil This said Last Will and Testament our at the same time as his new request and in his presence and in the presence of each three hereto subscribe our names as attesting witnesses on the day of the date ob said codicil.
C. Gregory Madison, Wis.
T. A. Phinney Madison, Wis.