Yesterday morning I noticed that FamilySearch had added a new collection to its Georgia Records: Georgia, Probate Records, 1742-1975. With the impending closure of the Georgia Archives, I’m glad to see more of our state’s records coming online. This collection contains over 2 million records. It’s browsable only at this time, but it is organized by county and many of the records were filmed from bound books, so they typically have a handwritten index at the beginning. The images are easy to navigate.
I decided to start with Murray County. My family has lived here since 1837, so I’m likely to find something of value in most of the books. Yes, I could go look at these books in person, and I have many times, but I’m always in a hurry. I’ve never had a whole afternoon to peruse the probate records at my leisure.
With that in mind, I decided to be methodical and start with the first item in the alphabetical listing: Administration and guardian bonds 1844-1896. When I was doing the Probate lesson for the NGS Home Study Course, I found the first book in the series on top of the shelves in the book vault, pushed way to the back. It is a slim volume, in very bad condition.
This image is from the microfilm and was taken in 1964. You can imagine how much worse it is almost 50 years later; all the pages have come loose from the binding. I’m really glad these books have been filmed to prevent the records from being lost.
I didn’t look through this book at that time, other than to get the information necessary for my assignment, so I was interested to see if I would find anything related to my personal research.
I hit pay dirt immediately on the B page of the index.
When I saw this, I remembered that I had found Andrew living in James’ household in 1850. That’s when I learned their mother’s name – Sarah – because she was in the household also. Sarah was the only person of the older generation living in the household, so I assumed that she was a widow. It makes sense that a guardianship bond would have been issued for Andrew, if he was a minor when his father died.1
Turning to page 5 in the book, I found the actual bond.
The first part shows the summary: James Baxter Guardian Bond of Andr B. Baxter a minor. Now I have confirmation of Andrew’s middle initial, which was not in the index. I’m confident this is my Andrew. The first paragraph also says the bond was taken out by James Baxter and William Baxter. This strongly suggests that both James and William were brothers of Andrew B. and that both were at least age 21. William was probably the 2nd son, since James is named first in the bond; James was born about 1822 or 1823, which argues for William being born about 1824.2 3
A bit further down, we see the date of the bond: 1st day of September 1845. It also names “Andrew B. Baxter orphan of Andrew Baxter deceased.”
This is great. Now I have the father’s name for this family and I know that he died sometime prior to 1 Sep 1845.
Andrew B. Baxter was about 21 in 1850, so he would have been about 16 at the time of the bond. There were no other guardianship bonds for Baxters, so Andrew was probably the youngest child in the family. Any other boys would likely have been 21 or older and any girls age 21 and/or married.
This was my first foray into Guardianship Bonds as a record group. I’m glad I had such good luck so early on; I went through the rest of the book and found nothing else. But this one record is worth its weight in gold.
- 1850 U. S. Census, Murray County, Georgia, population schedule, , p. 216 (penned), dwelling 1480, family 1480, James Baxter household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 March 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 78. ↩
- Murray County, Georgia, Georgia, Probate Records, 1775-1967, James Baxter guardianship bond of Andrew Baxter; “Administration and guardian bonds 1844-1896,” digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org: accessed 29 September 2012); the Baxter bond is imaged as p. 21 of the Murray County bonds. ↩
- 1860 U. S. Census, Murray County, Georgia, population schedule, Militia District 1011, p. 113 (penned), dwelling 805, family 762, James Baxter household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 March 2012); citing FHL microfilm publication 803,132. ↩