There are two files (O.S. 3281 and File 781) because, as the kind lady at the Mercer County Courthouse told me, "The O.S. just indicates it’s an old file 1800 – 1885 filings (ex. OS 1). Then in 1886 they started numbering at the beginning again (1). Both files will have probate information. Probably something happened that a new administrator had to be appointed or something additional was filed so a 2nd file number was given. The files may have some duplicate information."
I'm relatively new to court records so I have questions. What would keep a probate file in process for 16 years? I don't know the ages of the man's children when he died but he did state in his will that they could live on his farm until they came of age. Is it possible that if he had very young children the probate would not have been settled until the youngest child came of age? If not, what other reasons could there be for it to have continued so long?
My person of interest in asking all these questions is Jacob Sailor, a possible ancestor. From a county history I discovered that he lived in West Salem Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, and died in about 1870. I suspected that his will -- if he had one -- would have been filed there.
So yesterday I perused the Mercer County will books on FamilySearch and found his will. I was sorry to see that his children are listed collectively as "my five children by my first wife" and "my second wife and my seven children of which she is the Mother." (If this man is my ancestor, I'm a descendant of one of the children of his first wife.)
His will states (to the best of my transcription abilities and minus the line breaks),
I Jacob Sailor of West Salem township Mercer County and state Pennsylvania do make and publish this my last last [sic] will and Testament in manner and form following. That is to say, first it is my will and I do order that all my just debts funeral Expenses be duly paid and satisfied as soon as conveniently can be after my decease. Second I give and bequeath unto my five children by my first wife my share of one hundred and ten acres of land in Crawford County. My share is 900 dollars and John Thomas is 1200 Dollars but is not to be sold for one year unless it sells for as much as was paid for it. Third, I give and bequeath unto Mary [liso?] my second wife and my seven children of which she is the Mother the rite to occupy the farm on which I now reside until the youngest child is twenty-one years old, and after the sail [sic] of the land on which I now reside is held each of the children of both the mothers is to have Equal shares and the money received by the children of the first wife is to be counted in there shares so that Each will receive an Equal amount[.] Jacob Sailor :seal:
Signed published and delivered by the above named Jacob Sailor as and for his last will testament in presents of us who at his request have signed and witnessed The same[.]
John H. Fromman
Before me a Register of wills I in and for said County personally came Charles Rice and John H Fromman subscribing witnesses to the attached instrument of Writing purporting to be the last will and testament of John Sailor decd who being duly sworn according to law [dis???] and say That they were present with and saw said testator sign and Seal as and for his last will and testament and that at the time of his doing he the said testator was of sound and desposing mind memory and understanding to the best or deponents knowledge and belief also that they signed their names as
Witnesses Thereto at the request of and in The presence of said testator and in the presence of other Charles Rice
John H. Fromman
Sworn and subscribed to before me This 1" day of November AD 1870
Geo Reznor Register
Registured [sic] Nov 1" 1870
With the above information and knowing that I'm seeking my great-grandmother Catherine (Saylor) Froman's father, if you were me, would you pay $42.00 for that 74-page partial probate file? Or am I crazy to consider it? Please tell me what you think.
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