Ted O. Brooke has spent several decades researching wills probated by Georgia citizens.
His book “In the Name of God, Amen, Georgia Wills, 1733-1860,” published in 1976, listed the testators (those whose wills were being probated) and the date and location of each will up through 1860.
After that Brooke began to hear from people who found other wills that had been probated but not recorded in county will books. There were instances, for example, where a courthouse had burned and the will turned up in a court case, or in private hands.
These “stray” wills, as he called them, began to accumulate, and now he has published 541 wills that have been discovered in his new book “Georgia Stray Wills 1733-1900.”
In his introduction Brooke thanks 26 people who helped locate wills. The book includes the complete text of each will, the county where it was probated, and the location of the original. The wills are arranged in alphabetical order, with an index covering the many names found within them.
Included are the wills of ordinary citizens as well as members of some of Georgia’s most prominent families, such as Louisa Greene Shaw, the daughter of Gen. Nathanael Greene. That will was found at the Georgia Historical Society. Forty-nine wills were found within the Georgia Supreme Court case files at the Georgia Archives, and many were found in county records other than will books. Some wills are fragments, but most are whole.
This landmark book is a must for anyone researching an ancestor in Georgia, since it fills a research gap. Published with a grant from the R.J. Taylor Jr. Foundation, the book is available for $35 postpaid from Ted O. Brooke, 2055 Foster Drive, Cumming, GA 30040.
Georgia wills online
Many wills recorded in the regular will books in Georgia county courthouses, as well as those for other states, can be found on www.familysearch.org. More records are added frequently, so keep checking.
Calendar of genealogy events
Dick Eastman, whose free genealogy newsletter can be found at www.eogn.com, is now offering a service where he will post your genealogical society’s seminars, lectures and webinars for free.
Go to the site and on the right under “navigation” see “calendar of genealogy events.” Each state has its own section.
You also can sign up for his e-newsletter for free. It is well worth subscribing, since he covers the latest news on genealogy happenings, websites and discoveries.
Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr. at P.O. Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or www.gagensociety.org.