Getting Your Tuches* to the Archives

*tuches  (Yid.) The part of the body which you sit upon.  Rear end, bottom, backside, buttocks.

As I mentioned in my last article, my recent trip with my mom included several genealogical research opportunities.  In particular, I had called and emailed the St. Joseph County Archives to request that they pull probate records for a number of my relatives. It was fortunate that my schedule with mom was pretty flexible because on the Friday beforehand I learned that the archives would be closed on Tuesday due to the elections. That left Monday morning as my only chance to get in there. Mom was quite cooperative and dropped me off at the building while she went off to do her own thing.

Once at the archives I was able to catch up with one of the ladies who runs the place. I had talked with her the last time I was there and she had been quite helpful in learning about the contents of the archive.  When I had been there last year I had made copies of the wills of many of my Engel family.  It was at that time that I learned of the probate files, but really did not have the time to pursue them.  This time I had time to scan the files they had pulled and chat some more.  I was glad to hear about the efforts by the local genealogical society volunteers to index more of the records there. What a great help that will be! We talked a bit about the 1940 census indexing and the snafu with Indiana being counted as completed when really it was only about 18%.

After scanning about 40 different pages of paper from the various probate files I did find a few interesting tidbits.  My great great grandfather, Samuel Engel’s file included a number of references to his store and the description of the lot.   This information could be helpful in determining when Samuel was able to open his store at 401 S. Michigan St and find out more about his business.

Engel, Samuel Probate Record

It was not until I was back home and looking through all of my scans that I realized that it’s quite important to close the scanner lid when dealing with older documents.  Can you guess why?


Engel, Samuel Probate Record

The thinner onion paper scans so well that it picked up my lovely hand holding down the paper.  Doh!  Another great addition to my files was my great great grandmother, Dora Engel’s probate file which included a number of the relatives and their addresses in 1943.

Engel, Dora Probate Record

 As you can see, there could be something really wonderful hidden in your ancestor’s probate files.  I found in my family’s files an inventory of the household, addresses of potential heirs, an estimate of the value of the estate, and much more.  Lastly, I leave you with one item that came from my grandmother’s personal items.  Dora was a wonderful woman that was remembered fondly by many.  Here is a page from her funeral book that was signed by her daughters, Blanche and Jeanette (my great grandmother).


Engel, Dora Funeral Book

This blog entry was originally written for “The In-Depth Genealogist”.

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