Three Years in the Probate Files

Probate files contain much more than last will and testaments as volunteers discovered these historic documents. There were stories of missing people who suddenly had relatives ready to claim any assets available, a family cemetery that was willed to the City of Alton, and guardianship files dating from the earliest days of Madison County (predating Illinois statehood).  The elaborate business letterheads and the difference in prices for items from one hundred years ago started many discussions.  Wills were found written on scraps of cardboard in pencil, on notecard-sized sheets of paper, and, at the other extreme, several typed pages of detailed instructions. Favorite stories from the probate files are the subject of this newsletter.