A couple of weeks ago, a tweet passed through my Twitter stream from @FSHistRecords announcing that North Carolina Probate Records had been added to FamilySearch. Since I have many, many ancestors who lived in North Carolina, I immediately clicked on the link. This is one of those non-indexed databases that FamilySearch is doing now, in order to get the images out there as quickly as possible. I must say, I’m thrilled that they are doing this. I can browse through images online just like I can microfilm. I clicked on browse images to see if any of my known counties were represented and was pleased to see so many county names.
I wasn’t doing any research at the time, just watching TV and catching up on my RSS feeds, so I decided to go on a little fishing expedition.
First I clicked on McDowell County, because that’s the last place that my Hemphill lines lived before coming to Georgia and I figured the chance of finding at least one Hemphill represented was pretty good.
As you can see there are a number of options, including estate records, executor records, and wills. I zeroed in on the Will Index and skipped through until I found the page with Hemphills listed.
“Thomas B.” jumped out at me; that probably would be Thomas Bratcher Hemphill, brother to my 3rd great-grandfather, Ben Hemphill, and half-brother to my 2nd great-grandfather, J. Y. Hemphill. The index told me that Thomas B. Hemphill’s will was probated in 1903 and was recorded in Will Book 2, on page 554.
I went back to the McDowell County page and looked at the options again. It isn’t organized by Will Book name, but rather by date, so I chose the link that included 1903, which is called “Wills 1869-1903.” I quickly realized that the page number from the will book didn’t match the image numbers from the database, so I started jumping around in the images toward the end, until I narrowed in on p. 554, which turned out to be image number 308.
Sure enough, in the middle of the page, a new will started for “I, Thomas Bratcher Hemphill.” Yay!
I printed out Thomas’ will, which took up 3 pages in the will book, but is only two images online.
Thomas never married, so he left all his property to various nieces and nephews, including my 2nd great-grandmother, Josephine (Hemphill) Butler.
This whole process only took 29 minutes. And I did it all in my pajamas from the comfort of my living room sofa. I love 21st century genealogy!