Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Importance of Last Wills and Testaments

When dancing with the ancestors, don't discard the importance of the last wills and testaments of . . . your direct ancestors siblings. 

Last Wills and Testaments, when you can find them, are treasure troves of information. In many cases, they'll list the spouse/children of your ancestors which will help confirm whatever information you already have, or add information that you didn't have about spouses/children of your direct ancestors.

The last wills and testaments of the siblings of your direct ancestors can do the same thing. Case in point: Mary Eliza Masterson, my 2 x great grandmother Julia Amanda Masterson-Watson's sister. In her will, Mary Eliza listed the following siblings: Helen, Washington, Robert, Hilary, Green, Meridy (short for Meredith), James, Ann Thomas, Lucinda Smith, Julia Watson, and Elizabeth Hicks. These names all jived with what I had, but . . .

. . . it gave me some other important information which helped me correct my family tree.

Based on information I had previously found, but not 100% confirmed, I thought James, Lucinda, and 2 x Great Grandma Julia were deceased prior to 1890. Well, if they were dead, I sure as heck don't know why Mary Eliza Masterson was leaving her dead siblings money in her last will and testament when she wrote it in . . . December 1890.

So, thanks to her will, I know knew that Lucinda, James, and 2 x Great Grandma Julia were still alive in December 1890 and not, unless they came back as zombies (hey, you just never know), when their sister wrote her will. I also found out the married names - which I had, for the most part - of the sisters.

So, when dancing with the ancestors, don't forget to attempt to find the last wills and testaments of your direct ancestors siblings. You never know what important information you'll discover.

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