I am looking on Ancestry.com and trying to locate the detail of the following records to establish more information and parents and the orphans themselves.

It is known two Michael Saussers were in Berks county PA that passed away in 1821 as well as one of their sons Michael Sausser in the area but he would have only been 14 at the time of these records and unlikely able to be a guardian. The younger of the two Michaels had several children including a Joseph and Catherine... but Catherine was 19 in 1821 and Joseph was 15 so unlikely to need a guardian they also had younger children not listed. The only other known person named Joseph Sausser/Sauser/Souser at the time was 6 years old with unknown parents / siblings.

Ancestry has later probate/adoption records on file in the 1840s but nothing from this time period I have found.

My primary question is where can I find the detail of these index records to find out who these individuals were?

I searched Berks County's website of Probate records and found one entry for one of the Michaels mentioned above and plan on likely submitting a research request for it but it wouldn't necessarily contain the details of these adoption records which is the detail I am specifically after. There are no birth records though being returned for any variant of the surname for the time period on their site.

Document 1: From 1821 referencing page 481-483? Michael listed as "Children Guardian" as well as "Inquisitor"? Catherine and Joseph as "Guardian Appointed"

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Document 2 From 1821 referencing page 483. Michael listed as "Children Guardian" Catherine and Joseph as "Guardian Appointed".

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Document 3: From 1824: Michael Sauser listed as "Account" referencing page 390. enter image description here

I have found in other adoption paperwork that the appointed guardian is supposed to report every three years until I believe at least the child's 14th birthday their state of being so I am guessing that is what the 1824 record entry is listing.

The first and the third are from: Index to Orphans Court Proceedings, Vol 001-017 Source Information Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Pennsylvania County, District and Probate Courts.

The second is similar information from as the first and is from: Orphans Court Proceedings, 1752-1857; Index; Author: Pennsylvania. Orphans' Court (Berks County); Probate Place: Berks, Pennsylvania

  • 1
    Thanks for accepting my answer, but aren't we still missing a document? Presumably the same process can be used to find the accounting in the volume holding the accounting records. Do you want to break that out into a different question? P.S. Upvoted because it is good to know how to use the browse on Ancestry because there are many records in the new probate collection which have NO names at all in the index. In one of my counties there are nearly 4000 entries with no name indexed at all.
    – Jan Murphy
    Nov 28, 2015 at 0:04
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    @JanMurphy Technically yes, but the info you provided helped a lot and let me read the detail as well as provided me direction for finding more. So if I need to break out more into another question I will after reading more.
    – CRSouser
    Nov 28, 2015 at 0:10
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    P.S. I think your question would be a bit more clear if you led off with the "where can I find the detail of these index records to find out who these individuals were?" and put all the material above it at the end. Yes, your research question is to establish the identity of all the people, but your G&FH.SE question is how do I use the index to locate the full records? I say this as someone who is also guilty of talking too much about the research question in the how-do-I-find-it question.
    – Jan Murphy
    Nov 28, 2015 at 0:15
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    I think I have found the document which your index entry #3 belongs to, and I've added it in an update to my previous answer.
    – Jan Murphy
    Nov 29, 2015 at 20:46

2 Answers 2


For Document 2, you say:

The second ... is from: Orphans Court Proceedings, 1752-1857; Index; Author: Pennsylvania. Orphans' Court (Berks County); Probate Place: Berks, Pennsylvania and Document 2 From 1821 referencing page 483. Michael listed as "Children Guardian" Catherine and Joseph as "Guardian Appointed".

The index appears to say Volume 7 page 483.

  1. On Ancestry.com, go to Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993
  2. Using the Browse function on the right-hand side of the page, select Berks county from the drop-down box.
  3. Choose Orphans Court Proceedings, Vol 006-008, 1803-1825
  4. With some trial and error, I was able to locate the target page for the start of volume 8, which is (at the time I write this) image #441. The index for each volume is at the end of each volume, so the pages immediately before that should be the index for volume 7.
  5. Locate the S section in the index to find your people. The following snippet is from image 437 of 731:

image 437 from Volume 7 index

I make this out to read:

  • Souser Michael child of guard app 483
  • ----- Catharine makes choice of a guard ib (presumably 'ibid' meaning the same page)
  • ----- Joseph ---- d[itt]o ----- d[itt]o ----- ib[id]
  • ----- Michael Inquisition 491

The last page of Volume 7 before the index is the left-hand sheet on image 427 and is labeled page 536. Using the filmstrip, I went backwards until I reached image 400, which shows pages 482 and 483, and then worked my way forwards until I reached image 404, which shows pages 490 and 491.

Page 483 is an account of the day's cases -- Catherine's entry is the last full entry on the page, and Joseph's follows it, continuing on the next page (the left-hand side of the next image in the 'microfilm'):

The same day before the same Judges, upon the petition of Catherine Souser, a daughter of Michael Souser, late of the township of Tulpehocken in the county of Berks deceased, setting forth, that she is a Minor above the age of fourteen years and hath no Guardian appointed to take care of her person and Estate -- She therefore prayed the Court to assist her to make choice of a Guardian for the purposes aforesaid. And on being admitted She made choice of Jacob Himmelberger of Tulpehocken Township, which choice is approved by the Court.

Page 491 is much longer so I'll leave that for others to help transcribe.

For more help, I highly recommend the blog The Legal Genealogist. Judy G. Russell also has a course in the Ancestry Academy, The Records of Death: Using Probates in Family History (requires subscription to Ancestry Academy)-- here's her blog post announcing the course.

Also useful -- the free lecture by Anne Gillespie Mitchell (aka "Ancestry Anne") in Ancestry Academy, Navigating Wills and Probates on Ancestry, which has sections on Browsing For Your Ancestors and Understanding Indexes.

Other helpful posts:

For document 3:

Looking at other pages in the Index to Orphans Court Proceedings which had a better image quality than the snippet you posted, I saw that each part of the index had headers at the start of the letter sections that stated what Volume the index entries belonged to. Since we know Volume 7 covers 1821, I guessed that Volume 8 might hold the entries for 1824, and advanced to page 390 of Volume 8. That page is currently image 637 of 731:

Account of Catherine Souser

This appears to contain information about a name change for Catherine, but I can't make it out.


It looks like Ancestry has done a semi-indexed pass-through of FamilySearch's Pennsylvania Probate Records.

If you go to FamilySearch directly, their microfilm set includes not only the Orphan's Court Proceedings for Berks County, Pa., but also the Orphan's Court Dockets, the wills & administration files, and the estate files themselves (although the latter take quite a bit of patience and determination to plow through).

In Pennsylvania at that time, any unmarried person under 21 was considered a "minor", although there was generally a distinction made between children under and over age 14. Children under 14 were presumed to require support from their deceased father's estate, whereas those over 14 were usually (not always) presumed to be able to fend for themselves.

If a husband or wife predeceased his/her own father, often a guardian other than the widowed spouse would be appointed to insure that the minor children received their share of their grandfather's estate.

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