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Since I asked the question about working with unindexed probate records, I have located some card indexes for administrations in Queens County New York online (as images which can be browsed) and one record of interest is here:

"New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-28762-20483-96?cc=1920234&wc=9VQM-4WP:213304701,222253201 : accessed 30 Jul 2014), Queens > General card index 1900-1987 Kinna, Florence May-Koenig, Evelyn E. > image 931 of 6104.

This is a rough transcription of the card:

KISPERT, Pauline

317-1902

(Ad) 6-17-1902

6-8-1902 College Point

This is an administration for Pauline Kispert who died in College Point, Queens County, New York. I have several newspapers from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and other Brooklyn newspapers -- an obituary, court calendar entries, news items about the administration of her estate, and the dispute about her estate between Pauline's husband Edward Kispert and her brother Charles R. Herre.

Since there are multiple instances in the newspaper about the administration of her estate, I didn't know what to expect if I found an index. But I am assuming that the Court would attempt to keep all the papers relating to her estate in a single file.

I have looked at the first roll in this series of microfilm rolls, but I don't see a card with a legend explaining what these entries are. The apparent dates are American style (m-dd-yyyy).

The bottom line "6-8-1902 College Point" is her place and date of death (it agrees with Ancestry's online index [New York City, Deaths, 1892-1902; online index, Ancestry.com] and articles in the papers).

(Ad) probably refers to an administration, since I know from the newspaper accounts that her husband was granted letters of administration. So presumably the "(Ad) 6-17-1902" refers to his petition to the court? This would be the right time period, since the newspaper articles say that he was granted the letters of administration around 25 Jun 1902.

I've navigated to what I thought might be the correct file:

"New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971," Queens > Letters of administration 1898-1903 vol Y-AA

Pauline's record is here:

"New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-28693-16545-0?cc=1920234&wc=9V35-YWL:213304701,226063101 : accessed 30 Jul 2014), Queens > Letters of administration 1898-1903 vol Y-AA > image 889 of 1210.

This is definitely a record about the people I am looking for. Note the handwritten note at the top of the page that the letters were revoked in October 1903. The name of the Surrogate at the bottom of the grants is the same name as I found in the newspaper articles.

But what is this mysterious number 317-1902 from the index card? It is not the page number of this grant -- the printed number in this volume at the top of the page is 386.

Might it be a pointer to a box or file #317 for the packet of loose papers about the estate, and the reason I'm not seeing it yet is that the films are not yet online? I did see a note in one of the wiki articles that the Queens County Probate records were not online, so perhaps that was referring to the probate packets themselves and not these bound volumes.

Any tips or a pointer to a 'how to use the index' document would be appreciated.

Links to the records and articles about the records:

Possibly of interest:

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Hypothesis:

Could "317" be a case number in the New York, Queens County, mixed proceedings, 1899-1932 Mixed proceedings, case no. 305-319, 1902 Granite Mountain Record Vault United States & Canada Digital 5041799 (digital images online -- no microfilm)

Note that the catalog says:

Some cases do not have the number listed and may make it difficult to see where cases are divided. Many case number ranges overlap.

Since the last case file in this group of digital images is number 319 and I wanted 317, I started at the end of the group of images and started working backwards, stepping backwards in groups of ten, and when I reached image #400 -- Eureka!

Case file 317

Previous experience with the image-only Naturalization records has shown that sometimes the file jackets were filmed as the beginning of the images and some at the end. Given the caution that case number ranges overlap, and knowing the wide calendar range involved in this particular case, I plan to view the entire set of images, and possibly others, after I've assembled a timeline from the newspaper accounts of the dispute over Pauline's estate.

However, it now seems clear that the 317-1902 on the index card is indeed referring to case file 317 from 1902.

"New York, Queens County Probate Records, 1785-1950," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-23688-22316-45?cc=1916211&wc=SXSP-GP8:203264701 : accessed 22 Nov 2014), Mixed proceedings 1902 file 305-319 > image 400 of 488; Surrogate's Court, Jamaica, New York.

  • Because of a dispute over the estate, several different files were incorporated into this packet, resulting in about 80 pages of documents. – Jan Murphy Nov 26 '14 at 2:45

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