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  • Writer's pictureTheFormidableGenealogist

Don't forget the receipt

Here's a probate receipt from November 3, 1795. From Philadelphia, it mentions the receipt of Andrew McFarlane and Francis McFarlane (Jen's 4th-great-grandfather) of £47 for the land of their deceased brother, James, who had recently died leading rebels in the Whiskey Rebellion.

Using the historical currency converter at, that equates to about $6,000 in current US dollars.

Probate receipt from 1769
Probate receipt from 1769

Small items like this are interesting and can add dimension to the facts you already know.

Many times, however, these little slips of paper can provide bigger details.

The mother of Joshua Wyatt (Holly's 6th-great-grandfather) was previously unknown. Creating a timeline suggested she died before 1758. Creating a relationship map proved that her children Joshua and Mary Wyatt were the grandchildren of William Long, so she must have been a Long. There turned out to be just one record that provided her name. Her brother James Long died unmarried around 1760, and his probate documents divided his assets among his siblings. The receipt below from a 1762 accounting implies that his deceased sister was Sarah Wyatt.

Probate receipt from 1762
Probate receipt from 1762

The last example is an accounting receipt from the estate of Edward Rogers, who died in November 1843. The account contains an entry dated August 1843 with the description that Edward paid for a coffin for his sister. Edward and his brother Wellington were born in Virginia in the 1810s. By 1827, their father had died and their mother remarried. It appears the brothers set out together, as teenagers or very young men, for Illinois. They even married sisters once they got there. The remainder of the Rogers siblings all seemed to be accounted for; the only sister, Nancy, died in Virginia in 1896. However, this accounting entry implies that there was another sister who had died in 1843.

I don't know her name yet, or even where she died. She may have come to Illinois with her brothers. An entry in September 1843 stated that Edward also paid for a coffin for his hired man. Perhaps some sickness swept through Edward's location, killing him before he could pay the recent bills for his sister and laborer. Or the delay in paying the bill may have been that this sister died in Virginia. Their mother had been widowed a second time, and probably did not have an income. Perhaps Edward was considered one of the more successful siblings and his payment for the funeral was to have been done via mail. Whatever the story, at least I know that there was another Rogers sister. Maybe someday another tiny slip of paper will tell me her name and give her back her identity.

Probate Record from estate of Edward Rogers
Probate record from estate of Edward Rogers


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