I’m on a mission to attempt to establish through a paper trail and indirect evidence who the father of John Townley was. I recently decided to jump into searching Wills and Probates. Ancestry and FamilySearch have made accessing these collections so much easier, but I didn’t have the best luck.
Ancestry.com made finding the Will for John’s potential father Effingham Townley of New Jersey easier. They have a collection entitled New Jersey, Wills and Probate Records, 1739-1991.
I learned of Effingham ‘s five children, one of which is a John Townley. With John being a common name used in the Townley family, I’m not ready to conclude that John in Cincinnati is Effingham’s son John.
|Probate Records, 1794-1902; Author: New Jersey. Surrogate’s Court (Essex);
Probate Place: Essex, New Jersey
After finding this will, I decided to an attempt to look up Effingham Townley probate files. I found two entries in the New Jersey Probate Records, 1678-1980 which is a browse-only collection on FamilySearch.
Unfortunately, after looking up the docket reference number, I saw a card that read “File Missing”.
When I attempted to look up the second reference, the digital scan skips that number entirely. Now, a genealogy community member suggests that I write the county courthouse and look up the probate files using the case number that I have. It’s possible that when the filmer captured the case files, that mine in use elsewhere and thus skipped. If that’s the case, perhaps a courthouse worker can look up my case and send me something.
One can only hope the person was right. We’ll see.
If you have New Jersey Ancestors, you might have better luck in these two databases. Here’s a video we made to walk you through the research process.