I arrived in Knoxville from a week of research in Kentucky archives and libraries–the Kentucky Historical Society, the Filson Club, the Kentucky State Archives, and various public libraries.
When I took genealogy classes to learn how to t race a family tree instructors said that two states only kept and filed original wills: New Jersey and Kentucky. Those for New Jersey are filed in the state archives in alphabetical order. They have been indexed and microfilmed for easy access.
Those for Kentucky, apparently, do not exist in the state archives as an alphabetical file. The archivist I talked with said there may be files for specific counties, who retained the original wills–although he did not know of any. So, since I have taught that KY has original wills on file, I am going to investigate the counties to see if some did keep the originals.
Original wills include signatures ! Wills copied by the county clerk into the will books and registers often include omissions or misinterpreted words and phrases. If the will is written in German or French, it was not recorded in the register at all–it ended up in “loose papers.”
Stay tuned for my report on if or if not Kentucky counties kept original wills.
I also got to drive around northern Kentucky drinking in the beautiful bluegrass countryside. Seeing the local landscape where your ancestor lived out his days–placing his story “on the ground” surrounded by trees and rivers and mists provides a sense of place. And a context for that ancestor’s life. Proximity of geographical features to home and outbuildings, and to neighbors, churches, graveyards, railroad lines, county officials, and government buildings provides insight and relationships that are hard to capture any other way.
Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle
PS Sharings from Tennessee to come next post.
PPS If you know anything about original wills in KY, please share with all our readers. Send me an email.