New York Probate and Land Records Online

Lately my research into my Mayflower line has taken me to upstate New York along Lake Ontario.  I have been using two wonderful collections of records on FamilySearch:

Both have been on FamilySearch for at least a couple of years, but neither has been indexed through FamilySearch.  They aren’t searched when you search through the FamilySearch search page.  You need to look at the images directly.  (If you have access to Ancestry, they have indexed New York probate records at New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999.  It can always help to double-check the originals because indexing isn’t perfect.)

Just because records aren’t indexed on a website doesn’t mean that you will have to search through them page by page.  Most records have an index in the collection, like the Wayne county “Grantor index 1823-1869 A-K” that I am currently using.  And even if there isn’t an index listed for the county of interest in the time frame of interest, many of the books will have an index in the front.

Just some quick tips when using these records.  Remember for land records that the grantor is the land seller and the grantee is the land buyer.  Each record should be indexed under both.  I like to search both the grantor and grantee indexes for my surname(s) of interest.

Also, look near the front of the indexes for the guide to how that index is formatted.  In general, these indexes are not strictly alphabetical.  Instead, many indexes have a page or pages for each of the possible first three letters of the surname.  For example, surnames that start “Cas” are on a certain page.  On that page they are chronological, oldest first.  The guide at the start of the index lists the page number in the index for each of those combinations.  For example, surname that start “Cas” are on page 248 and “Cos” are on page 321 in the current index I am using.  There are a variety of index formats, so not every one will follow this first three letter system, but this was one of the most common systems.

One day these New York collections will probably be searchable through the main FamilySearch page, but until then, check out the New York Land Records and New York Probate Records for details about your New York families.

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