Friday, August 10, 2012

Knox County Library Digitizes Early Indiana Probate Records

The Knox County Public Library in Vincennes has digitized Indiana probate records from 1790 through the 1820's that are in the collection of their genealogy center, the McGrady-Brockman House. These probate records were digitized thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (administered by the Indiana State Library) and can be accessed online by going to Indiana State University's Wabash Valley Visions and Voices Digital Memory Project and selecting "Early Vincennes 1732-1835" from the drop-down menu.

Because Vincennes was the territorial seat of Indiana before statehood, and Knox County was the parent county from which all other Indiana counties were formed, these probate records contain information on many early Indiana settlers, from wealthy business owners to common farmers. For example, among the probate records is information on John Small, Indiana's first sheriff and a captain in the militia, as well as Patrick Thomas, a blacksmith who was one of Indiana's first African-American businessmen.

Probate records are a great way to get insight into the lives of these early Indiana settlers - accounts and receipts show the prices for common goods and services and how business was transacted, while inventory and appraisement documents show the settler's possessions and give clues as to their occupation.

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