How to find the Children of Ancestors who died without a Last Will and Testament
Genealogy Tips by Jeannette Holland Austin
It is frequently difficult to locate the names of the children of persons who died intestate (without a last will and testament naming the heirs). One method is to examine the details of his estate, viz: annual returns, estate sales, vouchers, etc. Another is the deed records. It was and is a common practice to make a “Gift Deed” to the children prior to death. For persons who had small estates, this method was a simple division of different tracts of land to the sons. Other items consisted of furniture and slaves, usually given to the daughters. The Gift Deed is proof of descent. There are many reasons to search the deed records and to take note of the activities. (1) Relatives and in-laws were frequent witnesses to transaction. (2) To determine the period of residency by particular counties. (3) The place of birth of the children can be determined by when and where the ancestor resided. (3) The approximate death date can be determined by the date of the last deed transaction and place of burial. Simultaneously, tracking the ancestor via Tax Digests assists in the same manner, particularly viewing the “ names of tax defaulters” because something occurred that year, like a move, or death.