Moving Beyond Published Abstracts

For years, genealogists have depended on published abstracts of records to gather data they would otherwise have difficulty accessing. As we get greater access to digitized original records, however, the weaknesses of abstracts are becoming more apparent. Take, for example, the first entry in Will Records of Montgomery County, Kentucky, 1796–1821:

Will Book A

Page 1 Will of Elias Lansom

My daughter, Mary Allison

My wife, Elizabeth and David Wilcox, Exe.

My grandson, Samuel Allison

Written: 6 October 1796

Witnesses: Thomas Almond and Robert Wood

Probated: 3 May 1797[1]

Examining this abstract, we might extract several pieces of data that we can then use to further our research:

  • Elias Lansom made a will
  • that will was made 6 October 1796
  • that will was probated 3 May 1797
  • that will was made in Montgomery County, Kentucky
  • Elias Lansom had a daughter Mary Lansom
  • daughter Mary Lansom married —?— Allison
  • Elias Lansom had a wife Elizabeth (—?—) Lansom
  • Mary (Lansom) Allison had a son Samuel Allison
  • Elias Lansom was associated with executor David Wilcox
  • Elias Lansom was associated with witness Thomas Almond
  • Elias Lansom was associated with witness Robert Wood
  • Associates presumed to be of Montgomery County
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