In a previous post about Minerva Favorite I wrote about the mystery of Minerva and her family. Yesterday at the Family History Center here in Prescott I found, at last, a huge piece in the puzzle. Of course, as with all genealogy, the more we know, the more questions we have, but for now I'm not going to think about those other questions. I am going to celebrate this find.
Just a little background for you, I have been searching for the bits and pieces of the life of Joseph Favorite and his wife Sarah, parents of Minerva for five to six years. About three years ago I discovered a Creditors Notice publication in the Frederick Town Hearld newspaper (online) dated 27 Aug 1831 naming George Kuhn as administrator of Joseph Favorite's estate. Now just a note to others researching, I searched for Favorite and found nothing relevant, only things like "favorite game" or "favorite son"... but since I knew Sarah's maiden name was Kuhn I thought well why not search that and see what comes up. What came up was George Kuhn which lead to Joseph Favorite. Favorite might have come up normally but in the article, Favorite was hyphenated: Favor-ite.
Anyway, now I had a date to start checking probate records so off I went to the FHL catalog to find the film numbers II would need. The next step was ordering the first two films (only two at a time for various reasons) and then the waiting. You know that feeling, right? It should take maybe a week to get the film, those always seem to be the longest weeks. The call finally came from the FHC and off I went, certain of success. And success I had, initially finding the Administrator Bonds in the first film, but no luck in the second film which was the actual Administration Accountings 1828-1831, just a little too early. Next step, order the next two films and wait... again....finally the call came and off I went to the FHC, very hopeful. This time I got really lucky and found the Inventory to Joseph Favorite's estate. Three pages listing everything this young family owned, all with a dollar value placed on it. For me as a family historian, the value of seeing these belongings was priceless but it's hard to imagine something like "2 old scythes" being valued at 50 cents. So many of the articles were valued at a dollar or less There were some things I needed to search for on Google to figure out what they were; most ended up being different types of farming implements. It was apparent Joseph was a farmer but he apparently rented land as no real estate was listed in the inventory. Again the second film did not provide any additional information but I figured if I continued to bat 500 I would be happy.
It was time for two more films so I ordered the next two on the list, knowing for sure one of them would be the one, it would have that Final Accounting I was looking for, it would list the heirs, if there were any of Joseph, it would list Minerva. That was what I really wanted, to see Minerva's name listed there in the official document as his daughter, the final overriding proof. Another week went by and no word from the FHC, then another. Finally the call came, the films are in. By now the dates I was looking at were 1834-1836 and 1836-1840. The Inventory was dated August 1831 so even with a reasonable time delay, the final accounting should occur by 1836 right? Wrong, as I checked out the index in the first film, nothing, no reference to Joseph Favorite or any other Favorite. "That's ok", thought the second film will have it for sure. As I wound the film on the microfilm reader I was sending up silent prayers to the genealogy angels, "please let it be there". I always check the other letters in the index for other names I,m interested in and found nothing but as I approached the "F" page I was holding my breath....[whoose, air out] not one Favorite listed. The list is short so it's was over quick, but not painlessly. As a small consolation, I did find a reference to "the estate of Rebecca Flack" who I knew was a sister of Sarah Kuhn so at least I was rewarded with a little tidbit, not what I wanted but we take what we can get right?
So it was back to the order form and two more films By this time was looking at 1839-1848 and 1840-1845. I know, strange numbering sequence but I was just taking them in order. I couldn't figure out why his estate wouldn't be there, what was I missing? It had been almost 8 years since his death and still no estate settlement.
You know the drill as well as I by now, and the waiting game. Again after about 10 days, the call came from the FHC but this time only one of the films had come in, the other was on back order. The older of the two, the 1839-1848 had arrived. I wan't really very excited about these two films, this one in particular; it was too late. My theory was somehow I had missed Joseph in the previous films; most likely the indexing wasn't accurate and he had simply been overlooked. I put the visit to the FHC off a couple days just out of spite really, I didn't want that disappointment, again, but finally I had a couple minutes, and knowing it wasn't going to take long to just read the index, so I stopped by and sure enough it only took about 5 minutes and I was done. Nothing there, no Favorites listed and certainly not Joseph.
Since I was still waiting on one more film I didn't want to order any more, so back I went to the waiting game.
Last week, on Friday, I came home and notice a message on the answering machine; my last film had come in. "Whoppee" I thought sarcastically, "no hurry here, it's the Memorial Day weekend, the library will be closed and there won't be anything on this film either." Finally yesterday I decided to just go ahead, go to the library, get it over with and check out the film. There wasn't any excitement (well maybe just a little), just put the film on and be done with it. As I got to the "F' page in the index, the second name from the top is "Sarah Favorite, 1st accounting p. 11". WHAT, OMG could it possibly be? chills all over, "I think I've found it, not Joseph, but Sarah his wife"... further down the page there she is again "Sarah Favorite 2nd and Final Accounting, page 470". A Final Accounting, could it possibly be? Quickly I forwarded to page 11 and started reading. Again, as with Joseph's estate, George Kuhn is acting as Administrator in the estate (he is her brother). She died before 17 April 1839, the date of this 1st Accounting. The accounting indicates how much the personal property in her estate sold for, a payment made by a "George Favorite", (nice clue here, perhaps a brother-in-law?) and interest received on the sum. Secondly the administrator prays for an allowance to pay for some things including to "Christian Beahcy for making coffin". Total value of the estate was $507.84 1/2. Can't wait now, I have to get to that final accounting so I zoom through the microfilm to page 470 and find that final, wonderful clue, the final accounting of Sarah Favorite dated 25 Jan 1842 where at the bottom of the page it reads,
Amount for distribution brought forward, $808.69
Distribution according to law as follows To Wit
To Minerva Favorite a daughter of the Intestate $404.34 1/2
To Casandra Favorite a daughter of the Intestate $404.34 1/2
I DID IT.... I FOUND THAT LONG HIDDEN ELUSIVE CLUE. I wish I had better words but I think other genealogists will understand the feelings I was experiencing; we have all had these moments. They are what make all the disappointments worthwhile. So apparently what happened is before Joseph's estate could be finalized with the proceeds going to his wife, Sarah, she died which must have complicated things even more. The one major question I have is why would the court distribute to two minor females. These girls were only 12 and 10 years old. There is no mention anywhere of a guardian, however, I realized while writing this that I checked guardianship records up to 1839. Perhaps I just didn't go far enough. I will be ordering those films immediately.
So the lesson to all of you who take the time to read this LONG post, is NEVER, NEVER give up. The term Exhaustive Search as stated in the GPS means exactly that. I am still so excited about this find, I had to share and my geneablogging buddies are the ones I wanted to share with. Thanks for being there.