24 February 2012

In all the trips I made to Michigan after Mom moved back and before she moved down to Texas, I never once made it to the Ottawa County court house or archives or wherever they have records.  Most of my trip time was spent visiting, not researching.  I did occasionally spend some time at Herrick Library, and I wandered in a few cemeteries.  But I never got up to Grand Haven, the county seat, where I assumed records would be. 
Finally, last fall I made a trip to Holland just to get more stuff out of storage.  No Mom to visit (although I did visit a bit with aunts and cousins).  So I allowed an extra day to do some research.  I looked online first to find out where probate records are, and called to make sure they would be available. (They are not available from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.)  And so, on one snowy day in November, I had my first real research day!
I first went up to the counter and said I would like to look at old wills.  The building also holds the juvenile and family courts, and it looked like everyone else was there for that.  The nice woman behind the counter asked what name I wanted.  Well.  I started a list!  She looked at the 9 or 10 names so far and said maybe she should just bring out the index volumes for me to look through.  Good idea!  So she buzzed me in and set me down with the volume of the first half of the alphabet.  I started scribbling lists of names, film and file numbers.  After a bit, she came around and took a set of numbers and pulled films for me. 
Now, even though I had not done this type of research in Ottawa County, I have done plenty of courthouse research.  I was expecting microfilms of will books.  I picked up the first one, popped in the film cartridge and fast forwarded to the right file number.  Whoa!  Not will books.  These are films of the complete probate packets.  Fabulous!!  (Well, ok, makes sense now that it needed a file number.)
Some of the pages were pretty poor and a few actually illegible.  Sadly, the originals no longer exist, so was not possible to request a copy from an original.  But most were fine.  I started to hit the print button.  Then went to ask the crucial question - how can I pay?  Once she said they take a credit card, I printed at will. 
I was there from about 10 a.m. until about 4 p.m.  I nearly closed the place up!  Everyone was astounded at the number of pages I printed at the outrageous price of $1 per page (you don't want to know!).  But, I am so glad to have the information, it was worth it to me. Very considerately, they did not charge me for the pages they thought were unreadable - even though I was happy to have them, however poor the copy. 

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