Reasonably Exhaustive Search

Reasonably Exhaustive Search for George’s Probate

When reviewing the research I’ve done on my 4th great grandfather, I realized that my citation for his probate was incomplete. GASP!

Not a big surprise to me. My earlier research attempts were a bit slapdash. I also haven’t spent a ton of time of this one line, but that changes this year. If I had stopped at the initial search of Ancestry’s “Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998” collection, I would only have a part of the story.

A case study follows for why we should conduct a reasonably exhaustive search and a few tips for digging below the surface of online collections.

The initial search found records from 2 Executors Bonds Books (1,2) and 2 Administration Records Books (3,4). I felt like there should be more. Where was the Will?

To check other unsearchable books, I clicked on the book name when viewing the image. (See Image 1)

Image 1: Screen grab of menu that appears when you click on book name

You can scroll through the drop down menu and pick other books that cover your target timeframe. To cut down your browsing time, check whether the book has an index in front or in back.

The strangest factor was that a Will was not listed in the Index of Wills (5) nor the Will Records (6), even though George J Trump had a sizeable estate and large family. Stranger still is that an early (Probate) Journal record indicated that a Will was produced (7). Later Journal records indicated that the purported Will was set aside (8) and referenced another Journal record (9). An Administration Docket book mentioned the Court of Common Pleas (10).

A jump from Ancestry to FamilySearch catalog for Stark County, Ohio Court Records lists records for the Court of Common Pleas. (See image 2). Luckily the digital images cover the timeframe that I am interested in. While this collection is not searchable, it is browseable.

Image 2: Browse through imaged books in a collection

I checked “General index-direct 1887-1894, vol 8, L-Z,” but, don’t see Trump v Smith. I checked the cover of the digitized book and realize that this group of digital images are mislabeled. L-Z is A-K and A-K contains a listing for Trump v Smith (11). Besides the Vol K-2 p 375 (12) mentioned in the probate records, there is an additional listing for vol K-2 p 111 (13). The Journal entry starting at p 111 contains the original Will and lists all the plaintiffs and defendants and the reason the Will was contested.

I now have a better understanding of what happened, but I don’t fully understand the personal motivation of why the plaintiffs contested the Will.

Have I looked at all the references? Not yet, but I’m working on it.

Your Reasonably Exhaustive Search should include:

  1. A search of the collection using the tools provided
  2. Browse through the images when they are available.
  3. Check the imaged book index or browse through images around your target date or certificate number.
  4. Follow the trail and check other books or collections when they are referenced.
  5. Check covers and title page images when you don’t find what you are looking for to check whether image groups were labeled correctly.


“Stark County, Ohio, Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998.” digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 3 Feb 2020); Citing Ohio County, District, and Probate Courts.
(1) Executors Bonds, Vol E, 1876-1893, 15 Feb 1881, Isaac and George W Trump
(2) Executors Bonds, Vol E, 1876-1893, 13 Sep 1881, George W Trump
(3) Administration Records, vol 37-38, 1878-1881, vol 38, 27 Jul 1881, pp 356-364, George J Trump Estate
(4) Administration Records, Vol 38, 1880-1881, p 356, 27 Jul 1881
(5) Stark County, Index of Wills, 1809-1890, created by the Canton Chapter of D.A.R.
(6) Will Records, Vol E-F, 1873-1883
(7) Journal vol H, p 227, 10 Feb 1881, and , p 228, 11 Feb 1881
(8) Journal vol H, p 254, 14 Mar 1881
(9) Journal vol H, p 333, 20 Jun 1881
(10) Admin Docket, p 343, 10 Feb 1881

“Ohio, Stark County Court Records, 1809-1917.” Images. FamilySearch. ( : accessed 7 Feb 2020). Citing Court of Common Pleas. County Record Center, Canton.
(11) General index-direct 1887-1894, vol 8, A-K, Entry for Lydia Trump vs Daniel Smith et al, May 1881, #1647
(12) Common Pleas records 1881 vol 80, pp 111-121
(13) Journal vol K-2 1879-1881, p 375

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