Madison County Genealogical Society

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Missing Probate Records

MISSING PROBATE RECORDS

Missing probate records are records that existed at one time but are now lost. Although one “missing” record was recently found in the Courthouse, this is the exception rather than the rule.

In the early days, the sanctity of the records was, perhaps, not as rigorously protected as it is today. Since there was no easy way to make copies, it was not uncommon for an attorney to “borrow” a probate file from the Courthouse. Whether the Courthouse had an official “checkout system” back then is unknown but in a small town where trust was everyone’s virtue, it is likely that no record of the “borrowing” was kept.

Consequently, some of those borrowed probate files never made it back to the Courthouse. Reasons for this lapse could have been death of the attorney, closure or move of his practice, fire, or accidental destruction of the file.