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Houston County, GA Research Information

WILLIAM A. MILLS (Perry, Georgia) E-MAIL: wa-mills@juno.com


Mr. Mills has researched Houston County courthouse records for the past 15 years and published numerous volumes.     See http://www.geocities.com/ResearchTriangle/Forum/8795/   for complete information about these books, ordering information, and research services available.

Below are posted his helpful discussions which can be applied to ALL Georgia County Research.


Helpful Topics

Agriculture Schedule
Burned County Records
Cemetery Clean-ups
Cemetery - Unmarked Graves
Churches and Cemeteries-LDS Film
Deeds Research
Estray Books
Guardian and Administrator Bonds
Inferior Court Minutes
Land Lottery
Libraries with Houston County Materials
Marriage Research
Migration Trails
Newspapers
Probate Research
Published Resource
Road Names in Houston County
Superior Court
Tax Digests
Wills


Libraries with Houston County Materials

Please note: I do not show a street address on all of these libraries, as I only have a Post Office Box address on them. I feel certain that you can get an actual street address from the Internet, if you need it.

If you are aware of other libraries than these, which are known to have collections of books and other resources pertaining to Houston County, Georgia, please share this info with the members of this Houston-L list. My listing is far from complete. Take care & happy hunting!

U. S. LIBRARIES HAVING COLLECTIONS OF BOOKS & RESOURCES PERTAINING TO HOUSTON COUNTY, GEORGIA

ALABAMA:
==========
1. PUBLIC LIBRARY OF ANNISTON & CALHOUN CO.
ANNISTON, AL

2. HUNTSVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY
HUNTSVILLE, AL

3. WALLACE STATE COMM. COLLEGE LIBRARY
801 MAIN STREET, N.W.
HANCEVILLE, AL

4. BIRMINGHAM PUBLIC LIBRARY
2100 PARK PLACE
BIRMINGHAM, AL

5. MOBILE PUBLIC LIBRARY
701 GOVERNMENT STREET
MOBILE, AL

ARKANSAS:
===========
6. ARKANSAS HISTORY COMMISSION
ONE CAPITOL MALL, 2B-215
LITTLE ROCK, AR

CALIFORNIA:
============
7. CALIFORNIA STATE LIBRARY
SACRAMENTO, CA

8. CARLSBAD CITY LIBRARY
1250 CARLSBAD VILLAGE DRIVE
CARLSBAD, CA

FLORIDA:
=========
9. POLK COUNTY HISTORY LIBRARY
THE OLD COURTHOUSE
BARTOW, FL

10. STATE LIBRARY OF FLORIDA
R.A GRAY BUILDING
500 S. BRONOUGH STREET
TALLAHASSEE, FL

GEORGIA:
=========
11. C.E.L. REGIONAL LIBRARY
2002 BULL STREET
SAVANNAH, GA

12. ATHENS REGIONAL LIBRARY SYSTEM
2025 BAXTER STREET
ATHENS, GA

13. SATILLA REGIONAL LIBRARY
717 EAST WARD STREET
DOUGLAS, GA

14. EAST CENTRAL GA REGIONAL LIBRARY
902 GREENE STREET
AUGUSTA, GA

15. BRADLEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY
1120 BRADLEY DRIVE
COLUMBUS, GA

16. BRUNSWICK REGIONAL LIBRARY
208 GLOUCESTER STREET
BRUNSWICK, GA

17. CHESTATEE REGIONAL LIBRARY
127 NORTH MAIN
GAINESVILLE, GA

18. THOMASVILLE GENEALOGY & HISTORY LIBRARY
135 NORTH BROAD STREET
THOMASVILLE, GA

19. GEORGIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY LIBRARY
501 WHITAKER STREET
SAVANNAH, GA

20. MARIETTA PUBLIC LIBRARY
266 ROSWELL STREET
MARIETTA, GA

21. SARA HIGHTOWER REGIONAL LIBRARY
205 RIVERSIDE PARKWAY
ROME, GA

22. STATESBORO REGIONAL LIBRARY
124 SOUTH MAIN STREET
STATESBORO, GA

23. UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA LIBRARY
GEORGIA ROOM
ATHENS, GA

24. LADSON GENEALOGY LIBRARY
VIDALIA, GA

25. WASHINGTON MEMORIAL LIBRARY
1180 WASHINGTON AVENUE
MACON, GA

26. ATLANTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY LIBRARY
3105 ANDREWS DRIVE, NW
ATLANTA, GA

27. GEORGIA DEPT. OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY
330 CAPITOL AVENUE, SE
ATLANTA, GA

ILLINOIS:
========
28. NEWBERRY LIBRARY
60 WEST WALTON STREET
CHICAGO, IL

INDIANA:
========
29. ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
FORT WAYNE, IN

KANSAS:
========
30. WICHITA PUBLIC LIBRARY
223 S. MAIN
WICHITA, KS

MISSISSIPPI:
===========
31. MISSISSIPPI DEPT. OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY
JACKSON, MS

MISSOURI:
=========
32. MID-CONTINENT PUBLIC LIBRARY
15616 EAST HIGHWAY 24
INDEPENDENCE, MO

NEW YORK:
===========
33. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
11 W. 40TH STREET
NEW YORK, NY

NORTH CAROLINA:
=================
34. NORTH CAROLINA STATE LIBRARY
109 EAST JONES STREET
RALEIGH, NC 27611

SOUTH CAROLINA:
=================
35. SOUTH CAROLINIANA LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA
COLUMBIA, SC

TENNESSEE:
============
36. MEMPHIS PUBLIC LIBRARY
1850 PEABODY AVENUE
MEMPHIS, TN

37. TENNESSEE STATE LIBRARY & ARCHIVES
403 7TH AVENUE, NORTH
NASHVILLE, TN

TEXAS:
=======
38. FORT BEND COUNTY LIBRARIES
1001 GOLFVIEW
RICHMOND, TX

39. MIDLAND COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
301 W. MISSOURI
MIDLAND, TX

40. FORT WORTH PUBLIC LIBRARY
300 TAYLOR STREET
FORT WORTH, TX

41. CORPUS CHRISTI PUBLIC LIBRARY
805 COMANCHE
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX

42. DALLAS PUBLIC LIBRARY
1515 YOUNG STREET
DALLAS, TX

43. HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
500 McKINNEY STREET
HOUSTON, TX

44. TEXAS STATE LIBRARY
GENEALOGY DEPT.
AUSTIN, TX

UTAH:
======
45. FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY
35 NORTH WEST TEMPLE STREET
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

VIRGINIA:
=========
46. NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY LIBRARY
4527 17TH STREET, NORTH
ARLINGTON, VA

47. VIRGINIA STATE LIBRARY
1101 CAPITAL AVENUE
RICHMOND, VA

WASHINGTON, DC:
=================
48. DAUGHTERS OF AMERICAN REVOLUTION LIBRARY
1776 "D" STREET, NW
WASHINGTON, DC

WISCONSIN:
===========
49. STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF WISCONSIN
816 STATE STREET

MADISON, WI

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Probate Records: Overview


Will Book A Index of Surnames

Will Book B Index of Surnames

1. WILLS & LETTERS TESTAMENTARY:

There is an index at the front of the Will Books and the Letters Testamentary Registers.

A Will is a written and legal expression of the individual's wishes for himself and his property at the time of his death. The Will usually describes the estate and gives the names and relationships of heirs or beneficiaries. The Probate process is as follows:

  • 1. WILL IS WRITTEN: Any person of legal age, sound mind, and freedom from restraint had the right to leave a Last Will and Testament.
  • 2. TESTATOR DIES: An individual who left a Will, is said to have died "testate". Someone who did not leave a Will, died "intestate".
  • 3. WILL IS PRESENTED FOR PROBATE: The Will is presented to the Probate Court with the testimony of witnesses as to its authenticity. The affidavit of the witnesses includes the date or proof of death. If accepted by the court, a copy of the Will was recorded in the Will Book kept by the clerk of the court. The clerk may have made errors when he transcribed the Will, but the original Will is often kept in the probate packet.
  • 4. EXECUTOR IS CONFIRMED: The court appointed an individual to settle the estate. The Will usually named an individual whom the deceased wanted to serve as "executor" of his estate. The court authorized the executor to proceed by issuing LETTERS TESTAMENTARY. These letters may include the death date. The executor was usually an heir or a close friend of the deceased.
  • 5. INVENTORY & APPRAISEMENT OF ESTATE: The executor prepared an inventory that listed the property in the estate and obtained an appraisal of its value. These records are recorded in the APPRAISEMENTS & SALES BOOKS.
  • 6. ANNUAL ACCOUNTINGS: The executor may have had to first sell some of the property to clear any outstanding debts. He submitted accounts to the court of all transactions pertaining to the administration of the estate. These records are recorded in the ANNUAL RETURNS BOOKS. They can identify persons known by the deceased during his lifetime, including family members, friends, and creditors.
  • 7. DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATE: After receiving the inventory and appraisal, the court ruled on how the estate was to be distributed. The court then authorized the executor to distribute the estate. When the distribution was completed and payments to the creditors and heirs had been made, the executor presented to the court, a record or decree of distribution and settlement.
  • 8. PROBLEMS AND VARIATIONS: Since it is almost impossible to please everyone when an estate is settled, problems could arise. Contested Wills and Appeals may have been filed.

2. APPRAISEMENTS & SALES:

There is an index at the front of the Appraisements & Sales Books.

Once the Will was proven and recorded, and the executor appointed, the court appointed a group of men to appraise the property of the deceased. The appraisement listed everything the deceased owned, and the value of it. Here is where you will find the true circumstances of the family.

Some Wills specified that certain property of the deceased was to be sold. Others specified that the residue of the estate, after all the legacies had been distributed, was to be sold. This record listed every item sold, the buyer's name, and the price it was sold for.

3. ANNUAL RETURNS & VOUCHERS:

There is an index at the front of the ANNUAL RETURNS & VOUCHERS books.

Annual Returns were the reports made annually by the executor or administrator to the Probate Court concerning income and expenses of an estate. The executor may have had to first sell some of the property to clear any outstanding debts. He submitted accounts to the court of all transactions pertaining to the administration of the estate. These records are recorded in the ANNUAL RETURNS & VOUCHERS BOOKS. They can identify persons known by the deceased during his lifetime, including family members, friends, and creditors.

4. ADMINISTRATORS BONDS, TEMPORARY ADMINISTRATORS BONDS, LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION, & TEMPORARY LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION:

There is an index at the front of these Record Books regarding the administration of intestate estates.

The Probate process is as follows:

  • 1. DEATH OCCURS: An individual who did not leave a Will (or a valid Will) died "intestate". The probate process is similar to that of a "testate" estate, where there was a valid Will.
  • 2. APPLICATION FOR LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION: If there was no Will, the court appointed an "administrator". This person served essentially the same purpose as an "executor" of a testate estate, where there was a valid Will. An heir, creditor, or other interested person could apply to be the administrator of an intestate estate.

    This applicant was making an application to the court, and requesting the right to settle an estate. This application may name the heirs of the deceased, their relationship, and sometimes their residence.

  • 3. ADMINISTRATORS BOND: In most cases, the court required the administrator to post a bond to ensure that he would properly complete his duties. The bond required the administrator to pay a fee to the court if he failed to adequately administer the estate. One or more persons were required to co-sign the bond as sureties or securities. These individuals were often members of the family or closely associated with the family.

    The Administrators Bond will list the date of the bond, name of the administrator, names of securities, amount of bond, and the name and residence of the deceased.

  • 4. LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION GRANTED: When the court appointed an individual to settle an intestate estate, that "administrator" was issued Letters of Administration. These Letters may include the death date. The date of the Letters is sometimes used in place of an actual death date. The administrator was usually an heir or a close friend of the deceased. He may have been a creditor.
  • 5. INVENTORY & APPRAISEMENT OF ESTATE: The administrator prepared an inventory that listed the property in the estate and obtained an appraisal of its value. These records are recorded in the APPRAISEMENTS & SALES BOOKS.
  • 6. ANNUAL ACCOUNTINGS: The administrator may have had to first sell some of the property to clear any outstanding debts. He submitted accounts to the court of all transactions pertaining to the administration of the estate. These records are recorded in the ANNUAL RETURNS BOOKS. They can identify persons known by the deceased during his lifetime, including family members, friends, and creditors.
  • 7. DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATE: After receiving the inventory and appraisal, the court ruled on how the estate was to be distributed. Since there was no valid Will, the estate was divided according to the Laws of the State. The court then authorized the administrator to distribute the estate. When the distribution was completed and payments to the creditors and heirs had been made, the administrator presented to the court, a record or decree of distribution and settlement.
  • 8. PROBLEMS AND VARIATIONS: Since it is almost impossible to please everyone when an estate is settled, problems could arise. Appeals may have been filed.

5. GUARDIANS BONDS & LETTERS OF GUARDIANSHIP:
Administrator and Guardian Bonds 1865-1870

There is an index at the front of the above named Record Books regarding Guardians.

The Court of Ordinary (Probate) would appoint guardians to care for minor children or incompetent adults. In some cases, a parent was appointed as the guardian for his *own* child. In most cases, the court required the guardian to post a bond to ensure that he would properly complete his duties, and provide for the minor's needs. The bond required the guardian to pay a fee to the court if he failed to adequately care and provide for the minor. One or more persons were required to co-sign the bond as sureties or securities. These individuals were often members of the family or closely associated with the family.

The Guardian Record Books may include:

1. Letters of Guardianship, showing the appointment of a
Guardian.
2. Guardians Bonds.
3. Sale of property to provide for a minor's needs.
4. Accounts of the Guardian's services and support in behalf
of the minor.
5. A final account when the child comes of age and a
Guardian is no longer needed.

PLEASE NOTE

Part 4 of this series, deals with the administration of intestate estates. Part 5 deals with Guardians, orphans, and deceased parents of minors.

The first place that most genealogical researchers search for, is the Will of their ancestors. However, many times there is no such Will. With the exception of a Will, Administrators & Guardians Bonds contain some of the most *valuable* genealogical information about your ancestors. For this reason, I have spent the last 2 years abstracting (summarizing) and compiling all of the pre-1900 Administrators & Guardians Bonds of Houston Co., GA. I have published 2 volumes so far:

1.  1852-1870.
2.  1871-1900.

I have saved the 1821 to 1851 Administrators & Guardians Bond Abstracts for last. This book is in very poor condition, and the Clerk of Court had the *worse* penmanship that I have ever seen. It is almost unreadable. And to compound matters even further, the Administrators & Guardians Bonds are *mixed* together in the same Record Book. This is almost unheard of!

When a person is abstracting records, they usually follow a regimented format for transcribing the data. When I get around to abstracting the info from this book, it will almost surely be a very confusing adventure. I have already obtained a grant to produce this book, but haven't had the ambition and patience to begin it yet. It will take about a year to compile this info into a book.

I usually have to explain to most folks, exactly what Administrators & Guardians Bond Abstracts are. In essence, they are the "gold that I have panned" out of the intestate (without a Will) estate accounts.

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Guardian Bonds

The time period between 1865 and 1870 is one of the most difficult to trace, for those seeking the names of an orphan's parents. And since the Civil War was just ending in 1865, and this country was going thru the Reconstruction Period up into the 1870s, America was basically in a transitional period.

You would be amazed at the number of widows and orphans who made an exodus out West, usually heading to Texas and various points in between. Therefore, I am going to post the 1865 to 1870 Guardians Bonds from Book "A", pages 110 thru 154.

This information is part of a book entitled: HOUSTON COUNTY, GEORGIA, ADMINISTRATORS & GUARDIANS BOND ABSTRACTS 1852-1870: By William A. Mills. Copyright 1998.

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2000 Copyright - William A. Mills

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