Periodically, I have been known to surf through the Wills and Probate Records Ancestry.com has recently added. And we have to admit, that genealogy would be so much easier if all our ancestors had wills.
For instance, my great-great-great grandfather, John Stearns Percival, who died in 1841, died intestate. Granted he was only 48. A young man by current standards, extremely middle-aged by the standards of the time. Young, as his own father died in April of 1841 at the age of 81.
I've long looked for any ancestor who had a will. One of my favorite ancestors, great-great-great grandfather, Alexander Oliphant, surveyor, actually took the time and wrote two wills, one in 1872 and one in 1875. Alexander traveled a lot as a surveyor, so maybe he thought he should provide for his loved ones.
It was curious, therefore, when I discovered his will on Ancestry.com. He left one third of his estate to his son Ralph, one third to his daughter, Mary G. Maitland nee Oliphant and one third to his grandchildren James and Mary Black, children of his late stepdaughter, Joanna Nesbit.
Nice, huh? His widow is not even mentioned. I hope he assumed their children would provide for her. They did. Both his son and widow refused to qualify as executors and instead recommended Alexander Maitland, son-in-law, for the position, which he accepted. All of this information was record on September 28 1878. I don't know how many times I typed it before I realized the significance of the date. One hundred one years prior to my marriage!
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