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USING ALLEGHENY COUNTY PROBATE RECORDS
written by Larry Thompson, February 2013
(posted: Feb. 20, 2013)



To get to Pennsylvania Probate Records click on the below link;

https://familysearch.org/search/collection/list/?page=1&region=UNITED_STATES




Wait for the next page to fully load then scroll down until you see Pennsylvania listed in the left hand column (as shown below) and click on it.

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On the page that loads scroll down until you see:
Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994

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Click on that and when the following page loads click on;
Browse through 3,201,289 images (over time that number may change)

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On the following page click on the link for Allegheny (as shown below).

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Using
the Estate Index.

We’ll use one of my ancestors for an example. I’m going to go through finding what records are available for William H. Bassett who died about 1902. The first step is to go to the estate index surname B, and since we want William we’ll use first names K-Z. Click on that link.

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The first page that appears is the film number. Most films have multiple indexes. The first index is usually on page 4 through 6. In this case the first index is on page 5. However that index is for first names K-M. To find the index that includes W will require a little searching. In this case the index for first names with W are on page 495 (shown here).

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(search reminder--we're looking for William H. Bassett)
The top row has the first names columns. First name W is included with X Y and Z. To find what key letter to use you first ignore the first letter of the surname, than evaluate the rest of the letters of the surname one at a time and compare it to the Key Letter in the left hand column. The first letter is A and there is no key letter a so it is ignored. The next letter is S, there is no S and no E. The last letter is T, and there is a Key letter T. Any letters which are repeated, in this example S, the second occurrence is ignored. If the name had been Thompson the key letters would have been MN.

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(Note To Researchers: Microfilmed Image Numbers DO NOT match Page Numbers listed at top of each imaged page).
Using Key letter T indicates that the first name W is located on page 1750 (image 664).  Note that on page 1750 at the top of the page you’ll see the names Beatty – Beattie. Common names will have their own index section. In this case the index for those two surnames would be found on page 2041.

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Since Bassett is not among the common names you just start scrolling down the page, advancing pages as necessary until you find the name you’re looking for. In this case there is an entry for Bassett W H or Wm H which has a date of Aug 7, 1902. The right hand columns has 16 284  9. This tells you that you want to go to Proceedings Index Volume 16 page 284 block 9.


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PROCEEDINGS INDEX

Going back to the search page

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above and scrolling down the Proceedings Index 15 and 16 are combined in one file so the page of interest would be in the second half of the microfilm roll which turns out is on microfilm image 753. On page 284 there are 10 blocks, 9 is the block of interest.


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Scrolling down to the 4th line it has a listing for Will, and scrolling across it has WB 73 201 which tells you that the will can be located in Will Book Volume 73, page 201. Moving down 3 lines there is an entry Sale R E  OC 147 136. This indicates there is an additional record in Orphans Court dockets  Volume 147 page 136.


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WILLS

You will find that there are actually two or three entries for each will book. In this example scrolling down to wills on the main page it shows;
Wills vol 73-74
Wills vol 72 no 61 –vol 73 no 208
Wills vol 73 no 209 –vol 74 no 225

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Wills vol 73-74 is the actual copies of the will books. The will books are actually transcriptions of the original wills. But, like all transcriptions there are often errors in the transcriptions. The will book entry for one of my ancestors left off two of his descendants that were in the original will. Allegheny County is unusual in that they also have the original wills on file. In the other two entries I listed above you can find the actual wills as well as some other estate papers.


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It’s a good idea to go to both entries. Since we are interested in will book vol 73 no 201 it will be found in the second entry above. Searching through the second source is really hit and miss because every estate file will different number of pages. In this case the first page of the estate file is page 1903 of the microfilm file. The same method will find the appropriate entry in the actual will book.



ORPHANS COURT DOCKET

Orphans court records are pretty straight forward. Simply select the proper volume and go to the indicated page.


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Larry
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My genealogy page
http://twothompsongenealogies.com/

Allegheny County Maps page
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~lt0168/maps/