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Tag Archives: John Croy

Probate Records: Why Historians, Genealogists, and Writers Should Love Them

Mary Moore Croy never remarried after David Croy's death in 1878 at 35. The inventory gives insight into her life and interests.

Mary Moore Croy never remarried after David Croy’s death in 1878 at 35. The inventory gives insight into her life and interests.

How excited can one genealogy/history/historical fiction writer get…over probate records?

  • Historically, you discover what ordinary people valued and find hints regarding social hierarchies.
  • Genealogically, the records can provide answers to specific genealogical questions, from the names and relationships of heirs to the actual death date of the deceased, not to mention unveiling the personalities of those involved.
  • For writers, these records paint a picture, through the details found there, of the life they lived.

I didn’t have time to delve any new records on-line. I was busy with the “final” edits of my book of historical fiction based on my Pennsylvania family history and starting a new one on my New Haven roots. So I tried to ignore the big event, Ancestry’s grand reveal of a host of new will and probate records. I tried. I couldn’t do it, and I am so glad I gave in and took a peak!

With a special shout out to the distant cousins, and anyone else out there who follows my blog-search these records! Unfortunately, if you didn’t log on during the Labor Day weekend, Ancestry’s freebie “come-on” has passed. But the information is worth gold (well, come on, I’m a history nerd).

One caveat, the records are NOT complete, so don’t forget to contact individual courthouses and libraries. For example, of all 88 of the Ohio Counties, only eight are included.

I recommend going directly to the new information on the Ancestry site. Here’s how:

  1. After logging on to Ancestry, make sure you are on their home page.
  2. At the top you will see “New and Exclusive U.S. Wills and Probate Records.” Click “Search Now”
  3. There you may begin your search, get a quick introduction, or view a research guide. Note: you must view all this on their new site. They are encouraging those who use Ancestry to break away from the old version of their search site.
  4. Now put in the name you are interested in researching. I used surname only so I could browse with my family sheets in mind.

What did I find so far? (I say so far because it will take some time to ferret out all the wonders hiding in these records.)

  1. Probate records for Alexander Huston, Montgomery County (father of Mary Huston Croy Roberts…the heroine in my book of historical fiction), including wonderful tidbits like the fact that he owned a Rhone, Sorrel, and Bay mare and colts. Also, his wife, Mary Ann, purchase 8 yds Muslin for $5, 1 and ¾ gallons whiskey for $1.32, and 1 lb coffee for $.50. The purchases of other family members are also recorded.[i]
  2. The will of Jacob Oswalt II who married Sarah Huston. (Parents of Susannah Oswalt who married Andrew Croy, my 3x great-grandfather.) Recorded in Seneca County, where he finally ended up, it includes this comment “Michael Oswalts, John Oswalts, Samuel Oswalts, Jacob Oswalts and Joseph Oswalts…each one Dollar to be paid out of my money that Jacob Shoe Jr has in his possession…” His daughters split the proceeds from the “two forty acre lots lying in Big Spring Township, and one town lot lying in the town of Springville, Seneca County, Ohio…” (I also found the records of Jacob Oswalt’s father, his stepbrother, and his son.)[ii]
  3. The names of two of Edward Huston’s children. (A son of Alexander)[iii]
  4. The will of Mat(t)hias Croy (likely brother of Jacob Croy, husband of Mary Huston, out of Londonderry Township, Bedford PA) which included the married names of his daughters.[iv]
  5. The probate record of John Croy (again, the likely brother of Jacob Croy) where, on one of many pages, I found this: “…money on hand at the decease of John Croy on the 2nd of August 1824” (and the records of a number of his children).[v]

And then, when I didn’t think it could get any better, this e-mail arrived: “I have copied the handwritten recording of the will of Alexander Houston.  I have also copied the Chancery Record of John Huston v. Henry McGrath (40 pages).  For these copies and postage, please send $10.05” So, never let Ancestry or any on-line source be the only place you research. If you aren’t lucky enough to live where you’re researching, a letter (snail or e-version) and a stamp do wonders.

Media credit:Probate Records of Mary Moore Croy, wife of David Croy: 1 December 1899. Washington County Probate Court, 205 Putnam St., Marietta, OH. Microfilm Copies: acquired 13 August 2015.

[i] Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [database on-line, accessed 9 September 2015] Montgomery County, Ohio, Case # 139, Ca. 1810-1887; Probate Place: Montgomery, Ohio.

[ii] Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [database on-line, accessed 9 September 2015] Probate Records, 1828-1954; Probate Place: Seneca, Ohio; Probate Date: 26 September 1836.

[iii] Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [database on-line, accessed 9 September 2015] Montgomery County, Ohio, Case # 3234, Ca. 1841-1861; Probate Place: Montgomery, Ohio.

[iv] Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [database on-line, accessed 9 September 2015] Will Records, 1804-1919; General Index to Estates, 1801-1935: Ohio. Probate Court (Belmont County); Probate Date: 9 October 1837.

[v] Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [database on-line, accessed 9 September 2015] Montgomery County, Ohio, Estate Files #597-666, # 659, Ca. 1810-1887; Probate Place: Montgomery, Ohio.

“The family became widely scattered.” Part 2:

Posted on


Range VII Township 8: The Croy Brothers and the Ohio River Survey         

Our country’s new leaders loosely governed a nation land rich and money poor. Nearly our only resources, land and people, required a system of documentation. The Constitution required a count of the population, the 1790 census being the first, and the Land Ordinance of 1785 outlined how land would be surveyed and recorded. From a genealogical perspective, I salute them. These records help clear a foggy past. For my family, which was moving from Pennsylvania to Ohio, these records clearly help with some issues; and not others. But the things I DON”T know will be left to another blog.

An excellent article about the various Ohio survey systems explained that, Ohio was on the edge of the frontier at that time and it became a veritable testing ground for survey systems and the birthplace of the Public Land Survey System, (PLSS).” [i] Fort Stuben was built on the Ohio River in 1786 to protect the surveyors and was the site of the first Federal Land Office. By 1805 the Croys, Oswalts, and Hustons began registering claims for PLSS land at the Stubenville Land Office. For much more detail regarding the survey system of Tracts, Ranges, and Sections, including the above-mentioned article and an interesting history of the fort, check here

In 1793 Richard Croy still lived in Bedford County, Pennsylvania,[ii] but by 1798 tax recorders listed him as “unseated,”iii his land abandoned. He was likely exploring the Ohio lands with his family, trudging by foot and by horseback, through thicketed mountains. They perhaps crossed the wide confluence of rivers in Pittsburg to enter country where native tribes viewed them as intruders. It was an adventurous and dangerous undertaking, and he was up to the challenge. By now, about forty years of age, he had lived most of his life in the wilderness of Pennsylvania and spent ten of those years on numerous scouting missions as a Revolutionary War militia man. [iii]He was looking for a new frontier.

Migrating slowly westward from the Ohio River, the family settled in what would be Beaver Township: Township 8, Range 7 of the Ohio River Survey. Beaver Township would, over the next fifty years, be included variously as part of the counties of Belmont (1806), Guernsey (1811), and, finally, Noble (1851).[iv]

Another Croy named Mathias, settled there, as well. Hoping to clear up some inconsistencies, I submit two observations about him. While the dates 1734-1840 are carved into his tombstone sitting in Farmington Cemetery, Belmont County, Ohio,[v] the 1830 census indicates his age between 70 and 79,[vi] putting his birth between 1751 and 1760, a more likely scenario. He was also designated a Revolutionary War Veteran, but his name isn’t on any actual military record that I have found, only the 1789 list of men “subject to the militia laws of this state.”[vii] Perhaps a larger than life man, or his children, created a larger than life persona. We do know Mathias left Londonderry, PA after 1797 and registered land in Township 8, Range 7 of the Ohio River Survey, the same time as Richard and a John Croy.[viii]

Range 7 Township 8 Section 10

Range 7 Township 8 Section 10

The History of Noble County states, “John Croy and James Edgars lived on a farm together. They came soon after 1812.”[ix] Could this be the John Croy who married Susannah Huston in Pennsylvania?[x] My suspicion is that it was, and that these three Beaver Township settlers were brothers who, joined by the bond of kinship, tackled this new wilderness together. They settled here and, through the 1820-1830’s, raised children who also began to appear on tax and census records.

But another likely brother, my 4x great grandfather Jacob Croy, along with some Oswalts and Hustons, reached out across the murky Ohio River into other directions. In one of those directions they met the slick, greedy hand of one of the unscrupulous people taking advantage of the Ohio land grab, John Cleves Symmes, the subject of my next post.


[i]John e. Dailey, LS, “Ohio Lands and Survey Systems,” The American Surveyor (Winter 2004) Cheves Media • digital image:
[ii] Source Info: Ohio, Tax Records, 1800-1850 (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014 Original data: Ohio Tax Records, 1800-1850. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013 Londonderry Township, Bedford County, PA
[iii]National Archives, M246, “Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, #602384: 93, Pennsylvania, Enslow’s company of Bedford County Militia: 1782-83 digitalized image:
 [iv] This information taken from this excellent website that includes interactive maps that walk through the historic unfolding of various boundaries, particularly helpful when determining changing county boundaries.
 [v] Find a Grave on line M. Croy: Farmington Cemetery, Belmont county, OH
[vi]1830 US Census; Census Place: Beaver, Guernsey, Ohio; Page: 358; NARA Series: M19; Roll Number: 131; Family History Film: 0337942. 1830 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
[vii] “A List of the Inhabitants of London Derry Township Mde Subject to the Militia Laws of this State.” Pennsylvania Archives digitalized image:
[viii] Mathias Croy was listed as Michael Croy on three occasions: 1790 US Census: Census Place: Londonderry, Bedford, Pennsylvania (where the ages, number, and sex of children match his family) and the 1827 and 1828 Ohio Tax Records for Beaver, Guernsey, Ohio (where the Township 7, Range 8, Section 10 and 159 acres listed matches tax records for years previous to and proceeding these years.) This lessens the likelihood of a separate Michael Croy, brother listed in some genealogies. There is a separate Michael Croy, married to Anna Marie found as a sponsor of a baptism at Sherman’s Union Church in York County, PA, 1767. Lineages, Inc., comp.. Sherman’s (St. David’s) Union Church, York County, Pennsylvania, 1751-1800 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000.Original data: William J. Hinke. Records of Sherman’s ( St. David’s) Union Church, York County, Pennsylvania, 1751-1869. 1939. Manuscript by the author.
[ix] History: Noble County, Ohio (L.H. Watkins, 1887,) pgs 576-579; digital images, New York Public Library, GoogleBooks
[x] See Chancery Documents for Alexander Huston from previous blog