Saturday, August 4, 2007

Many Surprising Genealogical Gems Are Found in Itawamba County’s Old Probate Court Packets

The Chancery Court Clerk’s office in the Itawamba County Courthouse in Fulton houses the county’s old deeds, land plats and court records but perhaps the most interesting records housed in this office are the loose probate court records found filed in cabinets along a wall of the office. There are literally hundreds of packets with each packet consisting of a few pages to literally hundreds of documents. These probate court packets are truly a genealogist’s grab-bag gift of priceless information.

Each packet is numbered and has the plaintiff name and defendant name or estate name labeled on the outside of the packet. However, such labels can be misleading as to the priceless contents that may be uncovered inside. It is always wise to explore the contents of a packet as important genealogical information can be found on families not even mentioned on the packet label. A case in point is Packet Number 337. Simply labeled as “Houston and Reynolds and E.G. Betts vs. G.W. Howard, etal” this packet contains considerable information on the Bullard family.

Houston and Reynolds and E.G. Betts had purchased accounts the estate of A.B. Bullard held. G.W. Howard had purchased land from A.B. Bullard before his death and was to pay for the property in installments. After making three payments, A.B. Bullard died, leaving one installment due the estate from Howard. Howard’s account was one such account sold to Houston & Reynolds and E.G. Betts.

Inside the packet there are probably 25 to 30 loose documents and from those documents the following was abstracted from a single four-page document:

Houston and Reynolds and E.G. Betts, Guard. Complainants
G.W. Howard, residing in Itawamba County, Clarence M. Bullard, resident of Lafayette County, Mississippi, Laura R. Gilstrap and husband C.J. Gilstrap and Mary E. Bullard, residents of Pontotoc County, Mississippi, Emma D. Bullard, resident of Lee County, Mississippi, Martha Susan Boone and husband Squire Boone and James Paul Bullard and William Arthur Bullard, minors residing with their mother and step father Martha Susan and Squire Boone in Arkansas, and whose post office address is Ozark, Arkansas

Complainants state unto the court as follows: That on or about the 8th day of November 1865 A.B. Bullard sold to the defendant G.W. Howard, the following real estate in Itawamba County: E ½ of the SE ¼ of Section 3 Town 10, Range 9 East for the sum of One Hundred and Forty Two Dollars…

That during 1867 the said A.B. Bullard departed this life…leaving a widow Martha Susan who has since intermarried with the Defendant Squire Boone and the two minor defendants James Paul Bullard and William Arthur Bullard who reside with the said mother and step father Boone in Ozark, Arkansas and Clarence Bullard living in Lafayette County, Mississippi, Laura R. Gilstrap and her husband is C.J. Gilstrap living in Pontotoc County and Mary E. Bullard, minor, whose guardian is C.J. Gilstrap and resides with said guardian in Pontotoc County and Emma D. Bullard, minor living with her guardian L.J. Copeland in Lee County…

The above in-depth information on the Arthur B. Bullard family is found in this packet although the Bullard name is not even mentioned on the label. Arthur Bullard was a prominent Cumberland Presbyterian minister and attorney in the town of Fulton where he practiced law under the name of Mitchener and Bullard during antebellum times.

This one document found in the packet details land Arthur B. Bullard owned and later sold in 1865 and the amount received. The document also gives the death year for Bullard and names each of his heirs and where they lived during January of 1874. Additionally, the document shows that his widow had remarried to Squire Boone (also an attorney) and lived in Ozark, Arkansas, near the Oklahoma border at the time of the document signing.

This is just one illustrative case where a researcher can find unsuspecting genealogical data stored away in a probate packet where the packet label does not even mention a particular family. Always remember that a probate court packet can provide a wealth of information on many Itawamba County families. It is important to never rely entirely upon what is written on the probate court packet cover. Always remember that Itawamba County probate court packets may contain hidden genealogical gems providing a vast plethora of information on thousands of early Itawamba settlers.

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