In addition to the death records, I searched for probate files but I was not successful in finding anything on George Brown (d. 3 Dec 1891). Then I got lucky for there was a guardianship case for Esther Brown which took place in the fall of 1893. This court case is several years before her death on 13 Aug, 1895 followed by a probate file. Esther’s real age has not been confirmed according to my cousin she was about 86 plus years old.
When you research court or estate files you have several paths to follow:
1. The court clerk’s transcriptions of documents into the court books and the actions taken by the court. This is usually a good area to study because it gives you the progression of the court case.
2. The court case packet, or the probate/estate packet which contains the actual papers filed, documents, receipts, letters, affidavits, heirs-at-law forms, appointments, bonds, inventories, publish notices, testimonies, final settlements etc.
For this Guardianship case I found the court case packet #2107 and digitally photographed it.
Source: #2107 Incompetency and Appointment of Guardian to Esther Brown, September 4, 1893, Lapeer Co. Probate Court, State of Michigan, FHL#976603 Estate Files Nos. 2102-2145 1893.
The court case included the following documents which were filmed in what appears to be film in a backwards manner. I am not certain I have clearly identified the progression of the case.
1. Proceedings Petition for Appt of Guardian Sept. 4, 1893 Ester Brown Incompetent Sept 4th 1893:
For reasons of extreme old age and other causes said Esther Brown is now mentally incompetent to have the charge and management of her said property [ ] been mentally incompetent for some time past.
Lists the interested parties in the estate.
- William Henry Brown, Manitoba, nephews and nieces
- Jeremiah Brown, son Wyoming, Ontario
- John Brown, son, Manitoba
- George Brown, son, Florida
- Matilda Clement, daughter, Manitoba
- Richard, son, Manitoba
- Isabella McIntosh, daughter, residence Burnside
- Minor children of a deceased daughter Eliza Clement who reside at Burnside.
2. Citation of Ester Brown Incompetent, Sept. 7, 1893.
Esther agrees to being declared incompetent and signs with her mark and waving the 14 day waiting period.
3. Order appointing Guardian and Appraisers…Sept. 13th, 1893
4. Ester Brown Incompetent Letter of Guardianship, Sept. 13, 1893
5. Order Appoint of Guardian,
6. Bond & Letters
7. Appt of Guardian Sept 13, 1893.
8. Guardian’s Bond, Sept. 13, 1893
9. Petition for the Appointment of Guardians of Infants…Sept. 24, 1893
Isabella McIntosh is Esther’s daughter and sibling to the other listed “interested parties.” Her husband is William McIntosh and therefore the son-in-law of Esther as stated in the citation. They are the only adults that could take on the care of Esther at this time for the others are all in Manitoba, Ontario or Florida or were minor children.
The really good news is that is lists all the children of Esther Brown and their residences. The estate file will further corroborate these facts.
Why “incompetency?” Well, it probably has something to do with the requirements for guardianship at that time in Michigan and it would require a study of the law to determine the circumstances of this case. It also might mean that Esther was ill and it was a matter of time and we will see that there was no will.
Again, I am not totally content with what I found and how it was filmed. The jacket should come first, then the document that goes with that jacket and the file should be filmed in date order. Apparently it was filmed as the documents were in the file oldest to the more recent which makes it difficult to follow. I will probably have to revisit the file or film. There is also a certain amount of duplication in court cases which can be confusing. There were approximately 13 documents in this court case.