Wednesday, May 28, 2014

John Froman's Intestate Court File as it Pertains to Family History

I never know what I'll find when I look at a court file so it's been interesting to transcribe and evaluate this one.  Learning so many details helps me place all of the family members in time and environment, but it leaves a lot to be desired in the way of family history information.

Nowhere in the file was Widow Catherine's maiden name mentioned.  Nowhere in the file was any family relationship mentioned except for naming John's wife and children.  I was pleased to see the list of children and their birth dates (even if they may be inaccurate).  I  was disappointed in the absence of information about John Froman's death.  Other than the vague "died about a year ago" I didn't learn his actual date of date, cause, location, or cemetery of burial.

What I hoped to learn (but did not)
  • John's date of death
  • the location of John's death
  • the cause of death
  • his burial location

The family history information contained in the file
  • John died about December 1871
  • John's wife's name was Catherine (but her maiden name was not given).
  • John had six children at the time he died.  Another was born in January, 1872, several months after his death.
  • the names and birth dates of his children
  • John owned property in West Salem Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania and in Beaver Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania.  In and of itself this is not family history information but searching property and deeds may reveal some family history information.

John and Catherine's children were named on several documents in the file.  Several of the names had variations in different documents.  Below are their names/variations and dates of birth as given in the file.
  • John, born January 18, 1863
  • Jacob, born October 20, 1864
  • Lizzie, born January 5, 1866  (Lizzie's name is never noted as Elizabeth.)
  • Tress/Theressa, born Aug 20, 1867
  • Adam, born November 15, 1868
  • Gust/Augustus, born October 18, 1870
  • Kate/Catherine, born January 29, 1872

Possible family history information
  • Jacob Seylor/Seyler/Sailer was the administrator of the estate.  He was also named as Jacob D. Seylor/Seyler.  Catherine's maiden name is Saylor and her father's name is Jacob.  It's possible that the administrator is Catherine Saylor Froman's father.  Because of the spelling variations with a name like Saylor/Seyler I don't know a way to make a connection between the name in this file and any other Jacob Saylor that I might find in a census record or some other document.
  • C. Froman and Casper Froman may be the same person.  Both names were one lists of people to whom John owed money.  I have a passenger list with Johannes, Casper, and Heinrich Frommann sailing together.  C. and Casper may be John's brother or some other relation.
  • H. Froman is named as one of the men to whom John owed money.  Is H. Froman the same Heinrich Frommann on the passenger list mentioned above?  Could H. Froman be one of John's relatives? 

The more I learn the more questions I have.

Other posts about this court file:
Of Orphans and Widows
Petition for Guardianship for Theressa Froman
The Intestate Estate Record of John Froman - Part 1:  Administrator's Bond and Inventory
The Intestate Estate Record of John Froman - Part 2:  Petition, Exhibits 'A' and 'B', Petitions, Decree
The Intestate Estate Record of John Froman - Part 3:  Sale of Real Estate, Accounts, Inventory of Children 



  1. This is a good exercise in sorting out the facts and plotting your next questions to solve (or attempt to). Did Catherine have both a father and brother named Jacob? It's likely she would have had a close and trusted relative serve as administrator. If there were other Jacob Saylor/Seylor/Sailors in the area, they were probably cousins as opposed to total strangers with the same name. Without anything more definite, you might just have to be content knowing Jacob S was a family member.
    Same with C and H -- it is LIKELY they're Casper and Heinrich, but unless they sued John and you can find a chancery cause matching names and dollar amount, you might not learn any more. We need more hours in the day to solve our genealogy problems!!

    1. Thank you for your insightful comment, Wendy.

      Since I haven't yet found census records for Catherine as a child -- at least not ones that I'm confident are her and her family -- that will be my next step. With so many name variations and the common first name of "Jacob" it might be a fair challenge to identify the family.

      I'm also going to search through probate files to see what I find.

      Chancery cause is a new term for me. As far as I can tell, Pennsylvania didn't have a chancery court (is it a court?). It seems to have been very popular in Virginia and New Jersey, and maybe some of the other east coast states.

      I have lots to do to figure out the childhood families of Catherine and John!

      I appreciate your help and suggestions.


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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