The United States probate materials on are, like any other online source, prone to errors and omissions.  It’s when the omissions are intermittent that it is frustrating.

As an illustration for another blog post, I wanted an image from the 1903 era probate of Barbara Haase of Hancock County, Illinois. I’ve been through the actual case file several times, so knew what I was looking for. I also had used digital images at of other probate case files for Hancock County, so finding Barbara’s file should be a piece of cake.


It wasn’t.

A search of Illinois, Wills and Probate Records, 1772-1999 at failed to locate a reference to Barbara in the probate case files. Various entries in the probate journals were located, but I wanted the actual case file of original papers. Searches for Bar* Haa* located the journals, but not the case files. I broadened my search for just the last name of Haa* (with Hancock as a keyword) and still not index entry for Barbara’s probate packet. I did locate the case file for her ex-husband, Conard Haase, who died at about the same time and whose estate was probated in Hancock County, so I must have been doing something right.

Deciding that her name must have been read incorrectly on the cover packet for the case file, I decided to search the online digital images of the estate index to Hancock County probates at FamilySearch. There she was, with an entry indicating her case file was in box 308.


I went back to and searched for only Hancock as a keyword in Illinois, Wills and Probate Records, 1772-1999 with 308 as the case number. Certainly I could read the list of names and determine which one was probably Barbara.

There was on match from the 1890 era. There had to be more entries in box 308–after all, the “H” section of the index indicated there was one other packet in that box besides Barbara’s.

In reviewing the online inventory of Illinois probate materials at,  I discovered that box 308 was not included in their online images. Use of their inventory of online materials is cumbersome at best. Users unfamiliar with this type of record probably won’t even bother to use it.

Box 308 is simply not on the site–even though many of the other Hancock County case file boxes are online. Why box 308 is not is beyond me.

My search approach was not bad. I should have looked at‘s online inventory first. I just didn’t think they’d skip a few boxes when so many of them are on their site.

Fortunately I made digital copies of Barbara’s probate years ago when I was at the Family History Library. I’ll just have to dig out those digital images.

One can’t assume that even when has quite a bit of a run of materials that they have them all.

And why a few boxes were left out from the digitization is beyond me. They are on film at the Family History Library.





4 Responses

  1. I also had a copy of the listing of the case files from the city of Philadelphia from LDS microfilm years ago so I did find one probate ( did not come by in a name search) by browsing through images. But a second case file was missing. I actually kept browsing case files one-by-one but that one was gone so I understood your frustration. I wonder if those missing probates were because the file was empty or lost so they did not bother to state that information?

    • In this case, I think simply didn’t upload the roll of film. I’ve seen the actual packet of papers in the courthouse and used the LDS microfilm as well–so I know it’s there.

      However, there is an estate packet that is missing from the actual records around 1912–that one I don’t think I will ever find.

  2. Did you scroll to either side of where this image should have been?

    When willbooks were uploaded for one of my ancestral counties on FamilySearch, I found that one of my ancestors’ wills was not in the book where it should have been. I had the page number and already had a photocopy of the will as recorded.

    Once the same willbook was uploaded by Ancestry, I went back to see if this will had been included. Nope, it still was not where it should have been. I scrolled forward and found it 20 pages later than its proper location. I have no idea why this was out of order.

    There are many ways these mistakes can happen.

    • At this point, I haven’t because the roll that contains the box of interest doesn’t appear on the list of digitized materials has for this county. I’m guessing that the roll simply was overlooked or somehow inappropriately catalogued. Since I already have a set of digital images from the microfilm, I’m not going to invest too much time in trying to see if it’s really on there. If had indicated that Box 308 was available, I might have spent a little more time trying to find it on their site.

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