No Story Too Small has issued a New Year’s Challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”
This week , being in Boston for Easter and the Marathon, I seized the chance to hunt down some Essex County probate records.
The Essex County Probate Office is located at 36 Federal St, Salem, Massachusetts. A 30 minute ride from Boston via commuter rail, then a 2 minute walk.
From Boston, I headed to the North Station commuter rail (inside the TD Garden, home of the Bruins & Celtics) and bought a round trip ticket to Salem on the Newburyport/Rockport line. The tickets are $6.50 each direction at the ticket office, but cost $9.00 each way if you buy them on the train. I arrived about 10 minutes prior to departure, and had plenty of time to purchase tickets and board. The train schedule can be found here.
On arrival, I crossed the road to the court house. After security, I headed to the second floor, where a sign read: “Essex Probate and Family Court is moving to its new location at 45 Congress St., Ste. 170, on April 28, 2014″. It appears that the new location is about 1.3 miles from the train station.
The room was fairly small. Indexes dated back to the early 1600’s. The early indexes and probate documents are microfilmed and on file at NEHGS on Newbury Street; but I got better photographs of the “Pinder” entries from these books. Bound indexes run through 1988. A file cabinet holds index cards for records 1988 and forward. I also noticed a series of divorce record indexes (I neglected to record the date range).
The staff was VERY nice. Unlike past probate experiences in other locations, every person I encountered here went out of their way to help me; all were upbeat and friendly. I overheard a few “crazy” customers during my visit; there wasn’t an ounce of frustration from the employees. They happily and patiently dealt with each issue/question.
I located six index entries related to my and my husband’s ancestors and completed one form (located at the front desk) for each docket. Within minutes the dockets were delivered. I was given permission by the manager to photograph the records with my Iphone! I have found that probate offices usually don’t allow cameras, typically I spend a small fortune making copies and scanning them into my tree later.
Using Ancestry.com’s Shoebox application, I photographed, tagged and immediately uploaded each image to my Ancestry.com tree.
My search included my husband’s 2nd g-grandmother, Anna/Annie Elizabeth Callahan/Callan of whom I have written previously: here – I had hoped to find a copy of the handwritten will, mentioned in a newspaper article shortly after her death.
I was not disappointed, it reveals a bit of her personality and perhaps a strained relationship between Annie’s daughter and husband.
Anna/Annie Elizabeth Callahan/Callan was likely born about 1868, near Dublin, Ireland. She immigrated to Massachusetts and married first, William Brown/Braun, a German immigrant. They had one known child, Anna Maria “Annie” Brown, born 24 July 1894. William likely died before 1905. She married second, a German immigrant, John Carl Blazer, in Portland, Maine, on 7 December 1905. He had one known living child, Carl Paul Blazer from his first marriage to Mary Louise Therault. Mary and their infant son, Phillip, died in 1899.
In 1910, Annie E., John and children Annie M. and Carl, rented a home on 364 Summer Street, Lynn, Massachusetts; shared with two boarders. In 1920, Annie E. and John were renters at the same residence and living alone. By 1930, they were listed as owners of 394 Summer Street in what appears to be a co-owned home. Annie E. and John Carl were enumerated with a boarder. Daughter Annie M., was enumerated with her husband Herbert White/LeBlanc (also listed as owner at the same address), their daughter Dorothy, her husband David Little and their infant son David.
Dorothy and David Little went on to have six known children – Annie’s g-grandchildren – at least three of whom were born prior to her death. David R., Dorothy Elizabeth, Herbert John, Anna “Chick”, Donald and Robert.
Home in 2014
On 24 March 1937, Annie died from Grippe-Acute Bronchitis Myocarditis Mitral Regurgitation at the age of 69. She was buried at St Mary’s Cemetery, Lynn.
Her handwritten will reads:
West Lynn, Mass
Sept 14, 1936
My Final Will
I Annie E Blazer of good sound mind and judgement will my half Share of house at 394 Summer St to my daughter Annie M White of 394 Summer St West Lynn Mass I also want My husband John C Blazer to have the use of the same rooms we both now use and to make his home there as long as he lives or else do just as he wishes about his living.
I also want Annie M. White to Pay all bills due on house and fence I also want her to be able to take a $2,000 morage [mortgage?] on house and Pay taxes and fix up the way I want it fix for Annie M White knows all my wishes I also leave around $600.00 file Insurrender [?] to my husband John C Blazer to pay all my funeral expences also John and myself have $1,000 in GE Bonds we also have a Joint Bank acount in West Lynn Secicurity [Security?] Trust company of a little over $200.00 all to go to my husband John C Blazer
Carl P Blazer owes me $50.00 cash. I also wish to call it square his share I want my husband John C Blazer to make over to his son Carl P Blazer all GE Co life insurance also the Weapidy Insurance witch will give Carl P Blazer more than My daughter Annie M. White I also want my grand daughter Dorothy E Little to have all my clothes also my Paino and Diamond Ring and watch.
I also want my husband John C Blazer to have our dog killed when he wont be able to take care of her himself
I want no fighting when I am gone between Annie John and Carl I ask in the name of God for peace and quietness I would like my husband John C Blazer to cash a few GE Bonds and take a trip to germany this is my Sinciar [sincere] wishes I want Lawyer James Sullivan and Lawyer Walter Pyne of Lynn to take care of everything as I wish it
Annie E Blazer 394 Summer St West Lynn Mass
Grace B Camor 444 Essex St Lynn witness
Mrs Julia Coates 10 Circuit Ave Lynn
Mrs. Thelma Smith 406 Essex St Lynn
Annie E.’s daughter Annie M., died in 1942 and granddaughter Dorothy in 1964. Annie M.’s husband Herbert White/LeBlanc appears to have disowned all six of Dorothy’s children (his grandchildren). His sister Agnes’s five children are named as heirs to his $19,000 estate (another “find” at the Essex probate office). I am hoping to track some of these descendants (a few still living) to discover more of “the story”.
2016 UPDATE on Herbert White/LeBlanc: https://passagetothepast.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/another-oops-in-my-tree-learn-from-my-mistake/