Dallas County Probate Records: 1850 - 1900
The Dallas County Probate Records from 1850 to the early 1900's are currently available on microfilm on the 8th floor (Genealogy section) of the downtown branch of the Dallas Public Library (Directions).
The following information was provided by the group of volunteers who created the microfilm from the original records in 1977 and should be of interest to anybody viewing either the microfilm or the images (when the become available) on the Portal to Texas History:
When an estate was filed for probate, it was assigned a number. (This is also true of guardianship and lunacy cases). This number is found in all the Probate Books and on the original documents in the probate packets. In about 1935 all of the cases completed were assigned a NEW number and classified as ‘disposed cases’. For this reason the number found in the records is different from the number that the cases are now filed under. To locate the records, the NEW number must be used.
The numbers in this index are the NEW numbers that were assigned to these cases in the 1930’s. These NEW numbers appear to have been assigned to these cases by ten year periods according to the time they were completed and all for that ten year period was put in somewhat alphabetical order and then the process started over for the next ten year period. This process was continued for all the completed cases to about the year 1935.
The probate cases of Dallas County, Texas also include guardianship cases and lunacy cases. Guardianship cases not only pertain to minor children, but to a person of any age who was not able to competently handle his own affairs. Lunacy cases included not only those who were insane or mentally incompetent, but of advanced age who were unable to take care of their own affairs due to senility. These first 3,100 probate cases have been microfilmed by members of the Dallas Genealogical Society, totaling 35 reels of film.
Without the dedicated help of the following Dallas Genealogical Society members this project could not have been completed:
PROJECT CHAIRMAN: Helen Lu and Margaret Smith
MICROFILMING TEAM: Mary Badget, Anna Baker, Judy Ceccucci, Minnie Champ, Anne Cochran, Bill Crawford, Bob Garvie, Lois Hayes, Adrienne Jamieson, Helen Lu, Gwen Neumann, Millicent McCoy, Nola Van Pierce, Gladys Pointer, Margaret Smith, Renee Smith, Margaret Ann Thetford, Anne Trickette.
INDEXING STAFF: Alline McCrary, Nell Dishman, Mary Sue Caruth, Carol Dillon, Anne Cochran, Judy Ceccucci, Glyna Ferguson, Adrienne Jamieson, Gwen Neumann, Gladys Pointer, Margaret Smith, Helen Lu, Lois Hayes, Louise Anderson, Deborah Watts, Lola Engelhart. Judy Filingeri.
A very special thanks to Grace McKnight, Ralph Harvey and Brooking N. Wadley, Jr.
Our sincere appreciation to L.E. ‘Larry’ Murdich, County Clerk of Dallas County, Texas and his entire staff for the courtesy shown the Dallas Genealogical Society and their interest in this much needed and worthwhile project.
Helen Mason Lu
Cwen Blomquist Neumann
Margaret Gilmore Smith
In 2013 the University of North Texas asked for proposals for funding (up to $1000) for a series of grants they were offering to digitize Texas records. The DGS proposal to digitize the probate records from the microfilm’s was one of the proposals that was accepted. All 35 reels of microfilm will be digitized and (eventually) made available on the Portal to Texas History website. Although the actual digitization of the films will be performed by UNT at no cost to the DGS, the board of directors did authorize additional funding ($900) to make duplicates of the films (on the advice of the curators at UNT… the process they use to digitize would have damaged our master films).
Volunteers transcribed the 60 page index to these records that was created in 1977: This data was used to create the on-line index and will be used to create the descriptive metadata for each case. Thanks to the following volunteers for contributing their time and skills to complete the transcription:
DGS webmaster Tony Hanson created a program that parsed the information from the index database to create the metadata (a file containing descriptive information in the Dublin Core metadata format) for each of the 3100 cases and provided the files to UNT.