Ancestry.com recently released their “U.S. Wills and Probate Records” collection, and it’s free this weekend (until Sep. 7). I’ve been having a good time randomly searching for family names to see what I find. I’ve already saved quite a few records to my Shoebox so that I can look at them more later.
Wills and probate records have some great information in them that can tell you a lot about who your ancestors were. Not only will they sometimes mention family members and relationships, but they’ll tell a lot about what they valued–their possessions, land, livestock, business relationships, etc. All these details can help to paint a picture of your ancestor’s life.
One of the wills I found is for my great-great-great grandfather, William Snow. He was a Mormon pioneer, had six wives, and many children. One of the issues I’ve had with him is trying to determine exactly which children belonged to which wife. This is where his will is a godsend. He leaves each of his four surviving wives, Sally Adams Snow, Jane Mariah Shearer Snow, Ann Rogers Snow, and Roxana Leavitt Snow, the houses they lived in at the time, their household possessions, and some land for each, with detailed descriptions of where that land is. He leaves $100 worth of stock in the “Z. C. Rio-Virgen Manufacturing Company” to “my oldest daughter Abigail Kesler whose mother was Hannah Miles deceased”. All other possessions should be divided up among his wives by the executor, according to the number of children of each, and then he lists all his children:
Their children now living as far as I know are: 1st Sally’s children – Julia Maria; Sarah S; Emma L; Chloe Louisa; Lucy Almira; Margaret and William James; To which I add Sariah H. (daugher of my deceased wife Lydia Leavitt) whom Sally adopted and raised and whom I wish to heir with Sally’s children:-
Jane Maria’s children are William; Mariah; Mary Lorena; and Mason:-
The children of Ann are Willard; Jeter; Celestia; Charles; Frank; Bernalla and Orrin Henry:- Roxana’s children by me are Melissa and John L.
So by no means should you overlook wills and probate records. They can contain valuable information to help you sort out relationships, and clues for other records (like land deeds) to look for.
A few weeks ago, I was poking around the top floor of our new home, and found a bit of history that we hadn’t noticed before. In a closet just inside the door on a section of wall where the old wallpaper had come off was some writing in pencil:
Paper hanged by C. W. Brayman 1900 Niagara Street, City March 7, 1922
Paper hanged by C.W. Brayman
1900 Niagara St. City
March 7, 1922
Blane and I bought a 110-year-old house in Buffalo, New York, last month. It’s the type of house I’ve fantasized about owning–a house with history, and one where we can do a little bit of restoration work. The people we bought it from have been in the house for about 35 years, and they told us they had purchased it at an estate sale when the original owner died. This would make us the third owners of a house that has been alive for more than a century!
My first thought when I saw this inscription on the wall was how I could have missed it for so long. We’ve both been up on the third floor several times. It looks like it has only been used as storage space for many years, but is finished with three bedrooms and a hall closet. The wallpaper in the hallway is fabulous! There are bits of old furniture that were left behind, so we’ve been exploring and dreaming about what we could do with the space.
My second thought was wondering who C. W. Brayman could have been, and started thinking about the history of our new home. I immediately logged on to Ancestry.com and started searching for C. W. Brayman in the 1920 US Census. I very quickly found Charles W. Brayman, age 20, living with his parents, Charles A. and Louise Brayman, and step-sister, Catherine Werle [?], in an upper flat of 1920 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY.
From The Ogden Standard-Examiner, Thursday, February 3, 1972:
Joseph James Clausse, Jr. obituary
Joseph J. Clausse Jr.
NORTH OGDEN — Joseph James Clausse Jr., 52, of 469 E. 3100 N., died this morning at the McKay Hospital of a heart ailment.
Mr. Clausse was born Feb. 11, 1919, in Ogden, a son of Joseph James Sr. and Maude Wiegel Clausse.
On Sept. 28, 1940, he was married to Helen Blackinton in Ogden.
He was manage of the Island Park Lodge in Island Park, Idaho.
During World War II he served in the Navy. He was a former member of BPO Elks 719 and a member of United Commercial Travelers.
Surviving are his widow of North Ogden; four daughters, Mrs. William (Sharon) Noice, Idaho Falls, Idaho; Mrs. Robert (Gayle) Jones, Ogden; Miss Susan Clausse and Miss Jill Clausse, both of North Ogden; one grandchild; his mother of Ogden.
Also surviving are four brothers and one sister, Lewis J. Clausse, Harold A. Clausse, both of Sacramento, Calif.; Gerald E. Clausse, Ogden; Kenneth L. Clausse, Orem; Mrs. John (Barbara) Silber, Silver Springs [sic], Md.
Funeral services will be announce by the Myers Mortuary.
Source: “The Ogden Standard-Examiner”, 3 Feb 1972, p. 7D; digital image online at Ancestry.com <www.ancestry.com>.
(Joseph James Clausse, Jr., is my grandmother’s older brother.)
Posted in clausse, Obituaries, weigel
Tagged Ancestry.com, Blackinton, Clausse, Jones, newspapers, Noice, obituaries, Ogden, Silber, Utah, Weigel
From The Ogden Standard-Examiner, Tuesday, April 17, 1973:
Maude Clara Weigel Clausse obituary
Maude W. Clausse
Mrs. Maude Weigel Clausse, 85, of 1603 Childs, died Monday evening at St. Benedict’s Hospital.
Mrs. Clausse was born Jan 14, 1888, in Adair County, Iowa, a daughter of Jacob and Rebecca Hendricks Weigel.
On Nov. 21, 1910, she was married to Joseph J. Clausse in Salt Lake City. He died in 1965.
She was a member of the Golden Hours Center and had been a resident of Weber County for 63 years.
Surviving are four sons and one daughter, Lewis Clausse, Harold Clausse, both of Sacramento, Calif.; Gerald Clausse, Ogden; Kenneth Clausse, Orem, Utah; Mrs. John (Barbara) Silver [sic], Silver Springs [sic], Md.; 22 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren; one brother, Harry Weigel, Oregon.
Funeral services will be conducted Thursday at 1 p.m. in the Myers Mortuary chapel in Ogden with Bishop Delbert Thompsen of the 3rd LDS Ward officiating.
Friends may call at the mortuary Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Thursday prior to services. Burial will be in the Ogden City Cemetery.
Source: “The Ogden Standard Examiner”, 17 Apr 1973, p. 9B; digital image online at Ancestry.com <www.ancestry.com>.
One typo of note–my grandparents’ last name is Silber, not Silver (John and Barbara Silber of Silver Spring, MD.)
(Maude Clara Weigel Clausse is my great-grandmother.)
Posted in Family History
Tagged Adair, Ancestry.com, Clausse, Hendricks, Iowa, newspapers, obituaries, Ogden, Silber, Utah, Wiegel
From The Ogden Standard-Examiner, Monday evening, January 24, 1949:
Leon Lucien Clausse obituary
Leon L. Clausse
Leon L. Clausse, 51, of 433 Second, died Sunday at five p. m. at the family home of a heart attack.
Mr. Clausse was born in Ogden, April 27, 1897, a son of Joseph E. and Pauline Mary Stern Clausse.
He had recently been employed at Ogden arsenal as superintendent of supplies. At one time he was a deputy sheriff, Weber county.
On June 30, 1920 he married Marie Childs.
He was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic church and affiliated with the American Legion. His civic activities included the promoting of polio fund campaigns.
Surviving are his widow, Ogden, and the following sons and daughters: John L., Roscoe E. and Orlon V. Clausse and Mrs. marian Chase, Ogden; a grandchild and the following brother and sisters: Joseph J. Clausse, Mrs. Edith Doyle and Mrs. Stella West, Ogden.
Funeral plans are being made by the mortuary, 3408 Washington.
Source: “The Ogden Standard-Examiner”, 24 Jan 1949, p. 12; digital image online at Ancestry.com <www.ancestry.com>.
(Leon L. Clausse is my great-grandfather’s younger brother.)
Posted in Family History
Tagged Ancestry.com, Chase, Childs, Clausse, Doyle, newspapers, obituaries, Ogden, Stern, Utah, West
From The Ogden Standard-Examiner, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 1967:
Estella Clausse West obituary
Estella C. West
Mrs. Estella C. West, 77, of 2098 Harrison, died Monday at St. Benedict’s Hospital.
Mrs. West was born Dec. 1, 1890, in Galveston, Tex., a daughter of Joseph and Pauline Stern Clausse.
She lived in St. Louis, Mo., as a child and came to Ogden in 1897.
On March 26, 1913, she was married to James Alva West in Ogden. Mr. West died March 12, 1946, in Ogden.
She was a member of BPO Does, Ladies of Woodcraft and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
Surviving are the following sons and daughters: John A. West, Joseph E. West, William H. West, Paul B. West, Mrs. Samuel (Pauline) Attison, all of Ogden; Mrs. Ernest (Betty) Yanni, Murray; 16 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren.
Requiem Mass will be celebrated Thursday at 10 a.m. in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
Holy Rosary will be recited Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Lindquist and Sons Colonial Chapel where friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m.
Burial will be in the Ogden City Cemetery.
Source: “The Ogden Standard-Examiner”, 26 Dec 1967, p. 5B; digital image online at Ancestry.com <www.ancestry.com>.
(Estella Clausse West is my great-grandfather’s younger sister.)
Posted in clausse, Obituaries, stern
Tagged Ancestry.com, Attison, Clausse, Galveston, Missouri, newspapers, obituaries, Ogden, St. Louis, Stern, Texas, Utah, West, Yanni
From The Ogden Standard-Examiner, Monday, August 16, 1965:
Joseph J. Clausse
Joseph James Clausse obituary
Joseph James Clausse, 79, of 1603 Childs, died Sunday night in a local rest home.
Mr. Clausse was born May 19, 1886, in Ogden, a son of Joseph E. and Pauline Stern Clausse. On Nov. 21, 1910, he was married to Maude Weigel in Salt Lake City.
He was an iron worker in construction. He was a member of the international Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, Local 27. He had lived in Idaho six years.
Surviving are his widow, six sons and one daughter, J. Lewis Clausse, Harold A. Clausse, both of Sacramento, Calif.; Gerald E. Clausse, Ogden; Kenneth L. Clausse, Orem; Joseph J. Clausse Jr., North Ogden; Mrs. John J. (Barbara) Silber, Silver Springs [sic], Md.; 23 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, one sister, Mrs. Estella West, Ogden.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Myers Mortuary with former Bishop Delbert Thompson officiating. Friends may call at the mortuary Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Wednesday prior to services. Burial in Ogden City Cemetery.
Source: “The Ogden Standard-Examiner”, 16 Aug 1965, page 7B; digital image online at Ancestry.com <http://www.ancestry.com>.
(Joseph J. Clausse is my great-grandfather. His one daughter, Barbara Clausse Silber, is my grandmother.)
Posted in clausse, Obituaries, stern, weigel
Tagged Ancestry.com, Clausse, newspapers, obituaries, Ogden, Silber, Stern, Utah, Weigel, West