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30 November 2013

Locating the Relatively Recent

Sometimes in our attempts to research back into the distant past we forget the relatively recent past and the ancestral clues that may be contained there. 

Did your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents have any first cousins who died without descendants? If so, the settlement of their estate may name immediate (and not so immediate) members of their family? The situation is even better for the genealogist if the relative who died without descendants also had no siblings of their own as the inheritance may have been more involved and mention additional family members. 

My grandmother had a first cousin died in the early 1980s. This cousin had no children of his own and was an only child. His only heirs were his first cousins and his estate settlement essentially documented all the descendants of both sets of his grandparents who were all deceased by the 1920s.


  1. I wouldn't have a clue about how to find estate settlement records that I wasn't involved with. If these are public records, how can you research them???

  2. Court records are public records. Records of the settlement of the estate of a deceased individual should be filed with the local county court--in the United States. That's the place to start looking.

  3. One special category of singles occurred to me: What about priests, nuns, brothers and other clerics? In my family, one was a diocesan priest, owning personal property, but most were members of religious orders. Do civil records exist wherein they surrendered all their worldly goods? Must we know both their birth names and their "religious names" in order to research properly? One of my great-grandfather's siblings was a US-born nun, who was later assigned to Germany to her order's motherhouse, and died there... Finding her records could possibly help us figure out where our German ancestors were born.