Monday, February 11, 2013

Still No Christian

As far as I can tell Christian Gerner died in 1899 without a will.   If he died intestate I thought I might find him in probate records of the time and county where he lived.  Therefore, I searched Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994, specifically Probate files 1895-1907 no G343-465.   Many thanks to Michael Hait for leaving a comment on my post, No Christian, pointing out that these records are available at FamilySearch.

This was my first experience searching probate records.  I wasn't sure how they were organized other than that surnames beginning with the letter G were grouped together and that the years in the group were from 1895 to 1907.  In these probate files, the records are not filed alphabetically except by first initial.  They are, however, filed in a generally chronological order.  I assume they are filed by the date they were admitted to probate.  As I looked at some of the records I noticed that a person may have died 3 years before a probate file was opened. 

I searched through image #2273 which was file G-427.  The will in that file was written in January, 1899; the individual died in July, 1904; and the will was admitted to probate in November, 1904. 

Christian Gerner died in February, 1899.  He was not in any of the files I perused.  Would a probate file have been opened after 1904?

According to the 1880 Agricultural Census of Fairview Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, Christian Garner (who may or may not be Christian Gerner) owned at least 43 acres of property.  Perhaps my next step should be a search of property records/deeds.  I hope they're available online or on microfilm!



  1. I heard in a lecture that occasionally nothing was done until it was time to sell the land and sometimes it could be twenty years later.

    1. Thanks for the information, Claudia. Oh, I may have years and years to search. (But, of course, I hope not!)

  2. Most states had laws dictating exactly how long an administrator had complete the administration process.

    1. Thank you for your guidance, Michael. I appreciate it. I just checked current PA law and learned that heirs have 21 years to apply for administration. If that was true in 1899, I have lots of searching to do.


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