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In our quest for answers to our genealogical problems we understandably reach for the most easily accessed documents first. That’s the logical place to start, of course, but our search should not stop there. Just as fast food can satisfy our physical hunger, that first document may seem to be enough. The will names the heirs, for example. But it’s only an appetizer—and no substitute for a leisurely dinner at a fine restaurant. Successful researchers do not stop until they have sampled all five courses.


The records we research are rarely created in isolation, but are normally part of a related set of documents. Agencies charged with fulfilling the laws governing inheritance, for example, generally employ a multi-step process. If we look only for a will—or, having found one, stop there—important evidence may be overlooked. With continued searching one might uncover a petition, an administrator’s bond, guardianship bonds and accounts, partition of land, and more. Although the policies and format may vary by time and place, the somewhat predictable steps taken in settling an estate generate documents containing valuable information for the researcher, and each step adds to the paper trail.


Elias D. Pine’s will and its related records illustrate the point. The will named only two individuals, but the petition created during the probate process identified forty-seven descendants in one family, stating their relationships and places of residences. Had he considered only the will, author Robert Meyers would have missed key details that helped him unravel a complex family. Certainly luck played a role in this case. The original petition cannot be found, but it had been copied into the will liber, thereby preserving critical clues that helped solve a mystery. 


Such riches will not always fall into our laps. The diligent family historian will remember the lesson illustrated by Elias’s petition and approach the research process prepared. Before tackling a problem, we should understand the various documents created—the processes during which they were made, their creators, and their purposes. Locating and accessing those records may not be a simple task; many people become discouraged and stop short. But with persistence, and sometimes with a stroke of luck, we usually find additional layers of related records—each one a potential breakthrough.



Laura Murphy DeGrazia, CG


Karen Mauer Green, CG


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Genealogical and Biographical Record

VOLUME 143 October 2012 NUMBER 4


Jacob Cornelisen Swits/Swiths: A New Netherland Expatriate in Amsterdam

by Christopher A. Brooks 245

A Pine-Pettit-Dorlon Connection: Untangling the Family of Elias D. Pine (1793–1866) of Hempstead, Long Island, New York 

by Robert J. Meyers 251

Magdalena Hendricks, Wife of Cornelis Vonk/Vonck, and Her Mother, Catharina Cronenberg, Wife of Jan Teunissen Dam 

by Carolyn Nash, MS 265

Col. John2 Moore (1686–1749) of New York City: Merchant, Public Servant, and Churchman (concluded)

by Terri Bradshaw O’Neill 276 

James Snowden, Stonecutter on the Erie Canal: Part 2—The Snawden/Snowden Family of Farnley, Yorkshire (concluded)

contributed by Ronald A. Hill, PhD, CG, FASG. 292 

Additions and Corrections to Articles in The Record 308

Volume 143 Table of Contents 323

Volume 143 Contributors 325

Volume 143 Index 327

Regular Features

The Editors’ View 243

Reviews 317

Horne. Wenzel Gerlich: Court-Locksmith of Mainz and His Descendants. By F. Warren Bittner, CG