Vermont, Bennington County, Manchester District Estate Files, 1779-1935 is a free collection at FamilySearch with browsable images from Bennington County, Vermont estate records. These images are in batches sorted by box number, file number, and an alphabetical surname range.
“Vermont was originally part of Massachusetts. In 1749, New Hampshire claimed a large portion of the area. In 1764, New York claimed jurisdiction over a large portion of the land held by New Hampshire. In 1777, Vermont became independent and was made a state in 1791. Probate records for those who died before 1777 may be in the records of the county and state who claimed the area before Vermont was formally created. Probate courts began recording probate records soon after the county was created. There are 14 counties but 18 probate districts. The four southern counties have 2 districts each. Probate records cover approximately 40 percent of adult males who left wills, but this may be less than 25 percent in some areas. Less than 10 percent of women had wills or estate inventories. Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas. A higher percentage of individuals died without a will, but they may have had their estates probated and distributed through the courts. Wills and other estate documents are found in the estate files.”
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What Can I Learn from Estate Records?
Estate records related to the settlement of an estate after a person’s death may include:
- Name of the deceased
- Place of Residence
- Date of will
- Names of heirs
- Name of the administrator or representative for the estate
- Name of any guardian for the deceased
- An Inventory of the estate’s belongings (description of property and who it goes to)
- Court records including filings, petitions, bonds, orders, accounts, claims, appraisals, minutes, and final settlements
How Can Estate and Probate Records Help Me Find Other Records?
With Vermont estate records information you can:
- Use the names of heirs to find close family members and friends
- Use the inventory to learn about the person’s financial situation, occupation, and family members to whom the belongings were given
- Use any claims on the estate to learn more about the deceased’s life
- Use the residence to search for land, tax, and court records
- Look for the deceased person in the state or federal census and put an entire family together
- Use the person’s age or death date and residence to search for birth records if no birth record is included in the probate file
- Search for the person and any related heirs in local city directories and extract any information the city directory provides
- Use the person’s age to estimate draft registration date and find draft registration records or military service records
- Extract surviving family member information from death records and research each family member