Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Benjamin F Troutman's estate file and a genealogical good deed

I'm always amazed at the willingness of strangers to come forward and offer help to fellow traveler genealogists! It warms my heart when I hear of such tales but when it happens to me, honestly, words fail. Here's what happened.

I was stumbling around and not getting very far establishing a connection between my gg grandmother, Nancy Anna Troutman (1826 - 1882) and her father Benjamin Franklin Troutman (1780 - 1856). Oh, there was no doubt in my mind that they were father and daughter, but proof was what I was after. (You can read about that proof here.) Ever have that happen, when you just know there's a familial relationship but the documents elude you? Well, that's where I was.

I knew exactly what I needed, and it was in Benjamin F. Troutman's estate papers. He had a will, so there was that, but it stated "all my children", which is of no use to us at all. "What are their names," I kept asking him in my mind. Why couldn't he have taken a minute and had the foresight to just name them all? But he didn't. Yeah, sometimes it's like that.

So where was I going to find that list of children? Had to be in the estate papers. I looked around the internet in the usual places for mention of the estate papers and a list of heirs and sure enough, clues indicated that there were estate papers and they named all the children.

I picked up a clue that the genealogical and historical society in Benjamin's residential county had them so checked their web site. Sure enough they provided a research service for a fee. I filled out their research request form and mailed it with a check with a fee for copying the rumored 27 pages in the file. I know these things take a while so I waited and waited. Finally there was a letter that said they lost some staff and were backlogged and it would be even longer before they could work on it. Too bad for me.

Now what? I put out some feelers to folks I had met online in my search for the Troutman family and someone suggested going right to the county courthouse. It was rumored that if you could find the right person they would copy stuff for you! Wow! Couldn't wait to call.

I called. Found the right person. Jeff was his name. He did it, he found the pages I needed and scanned them, and ... drumroll please... emailed them right to me right then! I couldn't thank him enough. It was easy for him to do, so why not, he said in an email. And he really would rather not have to print out a copy, slide it into an envelope and use postage to mail it. Free and easy all around, and one super happy customer.

Sure, I know that this isn't the only county that does this and Jeff isn't the only county clerk to jump in and find a record. It's just that when you really want a specific record and it means a lot to you, and then one person come to the rescue it feels like so much more. I know you "get this".

Nancy Anne (Troutman) Workman (1862 - 1882).

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