The theme for this week is “Lucky.” My first thought was “Did I have anyone whose nickname was Lucky.” .But I did not. My second thought was to find an ancestor who was in some way lucky. I really did not find anyone who fit that category. Then I thought about the ways I have been lucky in genealogy. I immediately thought of one of the things that happened as I prepared for my trip to Salt Lake City at the Family History Library with the New England Historic and Genealogical Society. Before I went, I spent a lot of time with their catalog figuring out what I wanted to look at. There were more things that I wanted to see than I had time to do. One of the items I wanted was the microfilm for the will boxes for Norfolk County, Massachusetts. My Richards ancestors lived in Dedham, Norfolk County since 1634 and I was interested to see exactly what was in those boxes. While most of the microfilms are in the library, sometimes you have to order them. I had to do that for the will box microfilms as they were stored in at the Granite Mountain Vault. So I filled out the form to have them available when I was there. Several days later, I received an e-mail saying that they were now online.
I was delighted with my luck. I had more time to devote to things that were only available to the library and could spent as much time as I wanted online at home looking at the will boxes. So was I lucky in terms of what I could find in those will boxes? I think so, perhaps luckier with some people than others. Let me use Abiathar Richards, Jr., my great times 3 grandfather. There are 38 items in his will box. About half of them are pages with only his name and file number on them. However, others are a wealth of information. First in the box is his will—that makes sense. It was pretty straight forward. He left $1 to all his children with the exception of his unmarried daughter, Catherine, who was to receive $100. His wife, Elizabeth, was to have the use of his property and any income from it until his death or until she remarried. His sons, Luther and Abiathar, were to split his clothing. What surprised me was that his wife, Elizabeth, was appointed as the Executrix of his estate. I do know think of women at that time playing that role.
I was most interested in the inventory of his estate as that gives me an idea of what the person did and was like. Abiathar Richards was a farmer and his property reflects that. The value of his real estate—2 ½ acres of woodland was $40 and his personal property was worth $299. There was really nothing too surprising in his property—he owned some livestock (hog and a cow) farm implements, and crops in terms of cider and winter apples, potatoes, rye, etc. I was more interested in the fact that he had two sets of fine china, 12 sets of sheets and pillowcases, blankets, and quilts and of course, bedsteads, tables and chairs. Too me that was a pretty well appointed house. The expenses for the estate were pretty routine—payment of the legacies to his children, medical expenses ($6.00), taxes ($7.15), and funeral expenses ($14.50) and grave stone ($11.50). However, the very best part of the expense report was at the bottom was Elizabeth Richards signature!
I was lucky finding that the will boxes are on line and the information in them. I am always more interested in the lives of my ancestors than when they were born, married and died.