In March 2015, I contacted Dane County, Wisconsin for copies of a will and probate records pertaining to George Anderson (he died Jan. 10, 1879 at the age of 94). He was my third great-grandfather, born in New Jersey. Months later, I learned that the entire probate packet was 101 pages long. I just read those pages this past week, his will is below, transcribed by me, followed by the actual copy, and the correspondence to the courthouse. There is no need to read it until you get to September. (I included it for my documentation.)
It took almost a month to get the exact copies I needed from the courthouse. There is a big twist to this story because six months after I initially wrote, I made a discovery. If I had waited until September, I could have saved some money and a whole lot of time and no confusion.
The Will and Codicil
I George Anderson of the town of Sun Prairie-Dane County, Wisconsin being of sound mind 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 has the use occupation and income of the real estate but it is not my will or intention that she should sell or incubus 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 Euphemia 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
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 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 hereinbefore 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 in favor 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 hereunto 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 foregoing 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 in the city of Madison Dane County and State of Wisconsin. Do hereby make and declare this to be 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 have become convinced that my son Cornelius Anderson is dead do hereby revoke and amend any and all
(* Martha Maria Adams was my great-great-grandmother. Her husband had recently died. She possibly asked for some help with her three children under 15.)
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 it 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 made by him at the same time published and declared to be a codicil This said Last Will and Testament, __?__ 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 of said codicil.
C. Gregory Madison, Wis.
T. A. Phinney Madison, Wis.
Correspondence with the Dane, Wisconsin Courthouse
I initially called the Dane County courthouse in Wisconsin on March 6, 2015 to 608-266-4311 or 608-266-4142? and was told to send an email request.
date: Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 11:01 AM
subject: George Anderson probate records
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 Thank you.
(I received an automated reply stating they received my email and I should hear from them.)
ADAMS & ANDERSON
Karen Meier <Karen.Meier@wicourts.gov>
Mar 23, 2015
This email is in response to your request regarding probate records for your great-grandfather. I have found the probate record on microfilm. There is a $4.00 fee for the search and copies are $1.00 per page. Are you looking for anything specific to be copied? For such an old case, there are a lot of documents on microfilm.
When I've determined the total cost due, I'll email you an invoice. Upon payment of the invoice, I will email the copies to you.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Karen B. Meier
Dane County Circuit Court
215 S. Hamilton Street
Madison, WI 53703
Mar 23, 2015
Yes, please let me know the cost for all the pages.
Thank you so much.
Mar 26, 2015
Things haven't slowed down here in the record center. After I got off of the phone with you the other day, I realized that I had already copied some of the documents from the microfilm. I want to go back to the film to see what more was on there, but since I'm out of the office starting tomorrow until 4-6...what I'm going to do is send you what I've already copied...it's attached to this email. Take a look at it and when I get back, we can touch base and see if you need anything further and determine the cost.
Mar 27, 2015
It's now Friday evening, and I want to thank you for going over and above in getting the documents to me so I can see them. A brief count shows 14 (but 2 are repeats), I need to do it again when I'm not rushed.
Yes, we will touch base when you return. I am pleased and they provided a few clues.
When you get the chance, I'm here. Enjoy your week, and Happy Easter as well.
Apr 8, 2015
Thanks for your patience. I do sometimes make duplicate copies, just to make sure if you can't read something on one of the copies, you will be able to on another. Of course, you'll only be charged one copy fee.
I've attached a copy of the court docket entries to this email to help you determine what additional documents you would like copied. I don't know why I didn't think of doing that before I went on vacation...but there it is.
I did also take a quick look at the microfilm again...most of the documents are 1 or 2 pages long...just a reminder that our copy fee is $1.00 per page and there will be a $4.00 search fee as well.
I'll wait to hear back from you which additional documents you would like copied. I did notice if I blow up the size of the page, it's a little easier to read.
Apr 9, 2015
I'm gone for the day, but will write tomorrow. OR, may I call you tomorrow?
Apr 9, 2015
I'm on the main phone lines all day today...so today would not be a good time to call me and tomorrow I have to be in the mailroom for part of the day...why don't you start by writing me and we'll take it from there.
Apr 10, 2015
I see you wear many hats on your job! I'm glad you aren't spending all your time looking at film.
I think we can end this project, the last document you sent didn't seem to have much that I needed, so I'll pass on that. From my count, there are 12 pages. I do have a few questions:
Could you tell me the title of the film and 1st-page number? (I'd like the source.)
My pages are the electronic ones or do you send hard copies?
Lastly, my bill is? (12 + 4, or is it more because you mentioned that some pages were longer.)
Apr 14, 2015
Barbara, your comments are funny, as my first job with Dane County Clerk of Courts some 30 years ago was preparing files to be microfilmed and then checking the films once they were developed to make sure everything was legible. I do have much more variety now : )
This case is on Dane County Circuit Court Probate Film 171-A-98 and is the first case on Index #4 which is Box 268.
I'm coming up with 11 pages for the number of copies...the last page is just one of those covers that used to get filed with documents indicating what was being filed...so I won't charge you for that. I have attached our invoice to this email for the search and copy fees. Payment instructions are on the invoice. If you choose to mail a check please enclose a copy of the invoice with it. I just saved the documents from the microfilm right to a PDF, so I didn't print out any hard copies.
I'm glad you were able to get some useful information from these records. Please let me know if you have any other questions.
Apr 14, 2015
Thank you very much. The check and envelope are written and they will be in the mail tomorrow.
It was very nice doing business with you.
Apr 14, 2015
I enjoyed working on your request. Take care.
Sep 2, 2015
I must share this with you. Back in April, I requested a will of George Anderson's, and you provided it. Since there were a lot of pages in his packet, it took some time, but you did it.
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.
Sep 3, 2015
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".
Take care and happy researching.
Below is what Ancestry dot com listed, and you can see it was a huge packet of legal papers, including the will.
I never got around to printing out the 101 pages or even reading it until this week. I used the below link as my source: From Ancestry.com (Sept. 2015). Unfortunately, six years later, the link doesn't take me to these records.
However, when I did the link today, to compare, it takes you right to the packet.
Wisconsin, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1800-1987