17 October 2019


In the last three weeks we’ve introduced you to JAMES VIATOR HAWKINS (1874-1940) Part I and Part II and William Stark Hawkins (1910-1971) Part III. Now it’s time for the final chapter for William Stark Hawkins and the best part. Williams Stark Hawkins was a District Judge and attorney in Kootenai County, but more important to the history of Robert R. Romero, Attorney at Law, PLLC was William’s connection to the home at 627 N. Government across from the courthouse that would later become the law firm of Brown, Justh, and Romero.

William S. Stark was an attorney, Judge, family man, and community member. I’m sure many who encountered him could tell many stories about Bill, but here are some more that we know about.


Read more about the current state and battle for this beautiful pieces of history, once the home of William and Agnes Hawkins

Little Jimmy couldn’t have more than seven years old. Attorney Bill Hawkins was in court, passionately pleading his case before Judge Featherstone when the Judge interrupted Bill and said, “Mr. Hawkins.”

Bill promptly replied, “no, Judge hear me out.” Judge Featherstone again attempted to stop Mr. Hawkins and again Mr. Hawkins replied with an exasperated “no” because he was on a roll and so passionately trying to argue his case!

Finally realizing the severity of the situation, Judge Featherstone blurted out, “Mr. Hawkins! Will you stop and turn around and see why I’ve been trying to get your attention!” One can only imagine the shock when Mr. Hawkins witnessed flames shooting out of the upstairs bedroom of his home.

As it turns out little Jimmy was playing with matches and lit the curtains on fire in his bedroom.

Other members of the community have recalled visiting the Hawkins family home for choir practice with Agnes Hawkins. We have heard many stories over the years about this beautiful home and the family that once graced its doorway. We’d love to hear more stories about this old home and the Hawkins family. Please share in the comments with us if you knew the Hawkins family, or have a story about them.


One cannot cruise the newspaper for long before it becomes abundantly clear that the Elk’s Lodge was a huge part of Bill’s life. James V Hawkins, Bill’s father had been a charter member and the exalted ruler in 1913-14 of the Coeur d’Alene lodge 1254. Bill Hawkins would also be a part of the Elks throughout his adult life, quite literally until the day he died. He was the exalted ruler from 1935-37.

Bill was also involved in the Masonic Lodge, Shriners, and the Coeur d’Alene Eagles. Bill was also an active member of the Democratic party, often speaking for the party and hosting events for the party. The Hawkins believed in community service and gave back where ever they could.

Agnes was also heavily involved in the community. She was the Jr. Choir Director for their church. She provided music to community social events such as the Sons of the American Revolution, who her husband was a member of.

One membership that Bill was a part of extends all the way back to The Revolution. Bill’s ancestor was Marshal Dixon. This is one membership that is handed down from generation to generation and each member holds proudly to the knowledge that their ancestors played a role, no matter how small, in the creation of this great nation, The United States of America. This heritage came to him through his grandmother Ora Stark, which is where his middle name comes from. She was the daughter of John Wesley Stark, the son of William Halstead Stark, the son of Elizabeth Dixon, the daughter of the Revolutionary soldier, Marshal Dixon.

Bill died in New Orleans, LA while attending a Nation Elks Convention on 21 July 1971. He was buried in the Forest Cemetery in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

10 October 2019



Please join us for another part in the Hawkins family story. If you have not already, please read JAMES VIATOR HAWKINS (1874-1940) Part I and Part II
James V Hawkins may not have enjoyed being an attorney, but it’s clear he had an influence on his son who would become the next attorney in the Hawkins family and even go on to be a District Judge in Kootenai County.
William Stark Hawkins was born on 4 August 1910 in the family’s home in St. Joe, Idaho to James and Ora (Stark) Hawkins. He would never know life in St. Joe as two weeks after his birth the family’s home and town were destroyed in the Great 1910 fire. He would, however, grow up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho as a result of this tragedy and even come back to Coeur d’Alene after college and make his entire life in the town he loved. 
One of William’s favorite things to do was swimming in the Coeur d’Alene Lake. One story recounted on the interactive Kiosk at the Coeur d’Alene Library is that of Bill (William) and his best friend Harley Hudson in the 1920s would go out on the steam-wheelers and dive down for the nickels thrown into the lake by tourists. They would stuff the change in their mouth and then go buy a five-cent hamburger or two with the change. 


09 Jul 1959, Thu  •  Page 16

Young Bill Hawkins went through the Coeur d’Alene public school system. He then left to attend college at the University of Idaho and graduated there in 1932. After graduating college he returned to Coeur d’Alene where he practiced law. 
The early days of Bill’s career as an attorney were spent in the prosecutor’s office from 1937 to 1943 before leaving to serve his country. Bill spent two years as a U.S. Naval officer during World War II. Upon returning home from the war he was appointed district judge of the Eighth Judicial District in 1945.


Family was very important to Bill. It was a pleasure to hear the stories recounted by his son James. Bill married Agnes M. Ramstedt on 15 November 1934 in the Lutheran Church. She was from Moscow, Idaho. Bill and Agnes had three children; James, Ruthann, and Willie Mae.
In the 1940 U.S. Census Bill and Agnes are living at 1001 Front in Coeur d’Alene. In the household are James (3) and Ruthann (1) and their maid, Francis Alexander. Willa Mae was born later. The unique thing about the 1940 census is it asks where the person lived in 1935, prior to the Great Depression, in Bill’s case the answer was “same.” The census was taken in April of 1940. It wasn’t long after the census that William and Agnes would buy the home at 627 N. Government in Coeur d’Alene, across from the courthouse. The deed was recorded on July 8, 1940, in book 114 of Deeds, page 106. The home at 627 N. Government remained the family home until Agnes sold the home at which time it became a law firm. The last law firm to occupy the home before the county bought it for the land, was Brown, Justh, and Romero.

03 October 2019


Welcome back as we continue to explore the life of James V. Hawkins in this second part of our mini-series on the Hawkins Family. We rejoin his story at the beginning of his life in Kootenai County, Idaho.


All census records put the birth of their first child James Hawkins in 1909 in California. This is strange that every census from 1910 to 1940 states that he was born in California because according to William’s son, Jimmy, the family never was in California. Was James then born while they were traveling on vacation? There are no other known family ties to California. The only other tie known to California is a set of California Reporters from the 1800’s today sitting in the law office of attorney Robert R. Romero, Jr., which has the name James V. Hawkins on everyone. However, I wouldn’t think that he brought this set of California Reporters back at that time because the set would not have survived the 1910 fire. So we may never know why they were in California, but when they returned they had their first little bundle of joy. A second child would be born on 4 Aug 1910 in St. Joe, Idaho. His name was William Stark Hawkins.

Continue Reading

26 September 2019


Each community has its prominent people, and the legal community of Kootenai County, Idaho has the Hawkins. Join us for a mini-series of articles on the Hawkins family. The Hawkins’ story begins in Nebraska before James V. Hawkins travels west.
It was the Spring of 1874 in Dewitt, Nebraska. Dewitt had only been incorporated as a town just two years before. It is still a little farming community and today it only has a population of 513 people and in 1880 had a population of 305, so you can imagine how small it was in 1874. It was the 17th day of April 1874 when James Viator Hawkins was born to John P. Hawkins, an Irishman, and Hattie C. (Gray) Hawkins, a girl from Iowa. He was their second child. He had an older brother, John, just one-year-old and would later gain two more siblings, Mary and Raymond. 
In the 1885 Nebraska Census, it is recorded that John Hawkins was a druggist. It’s no wonder that his grandson and other descendants would go into the medical field, but James would follow a different path into law. 
James spent his childhood preparing for his future. It started at the age of ten when he raised a hog and the proceeds from that began his education fund. He worked hard and prepared for his future. By the time he went off to normal school in Chicago to begin his professional education, he had saved enough money mostly funding his own education. He then took a year and taught in the public schools before returning to Nebraska and entering law school. He was a boxer in college, which was contrary to his personality. His grandson Jimmy said he never liked confrontation or arguing. One must wonder why he chose the area of law if it was so contrary to his personality. Regardless, he did become an attorney.

07 September 2019

William Riddle Dawes Application Analysis

We are at a point in history where our whitewashing of both our country, family, and global history is coming back to bite us. For centuries stories have been passed down in families, groups, the schools have written books, and countries have proclaimed certain facts as history, and now that information is literally at our fingertips many of us are calling it all hogwash.

Here is just a small example of how a family has been so convinced for so many generations that their ancestor was wrongfully denied his Indian heritage and his right to land and how with the help of research and a detailed analysis I’ve been able to prove that in fact he was rightfully denied the inclusion to the Dawes Rolls because, well he wasn’t Native American at all. This article may infuriate some people, but I’ve never been one to sugar coat anything.

Below is a list of the questions and answers in the interview of William Riddle born about 1846 in Tennessee and the records that debunk his many false answers. Choctaw MCR 6027, William M. Riddle, Department of the Interior, Commission of the Five Civilized Tribes, July 9, 1902, In the Matter of the Application of William M. Riddle. Note the questions and answers below are not all that was asked of him. I’ve selected the ones that support who he was and the ones that were outright false. Many other questions were asked with mundane details, and to publish the entire thing would make this article too large.

  1. Q. How old are you? I’m about fifty eight - That would be about right. This would put his birth year at about 1847 which is supported by all records found on him putting his birth year at about 1846-1847.
  2. Q. How much Choctaw blood do you claim to have? A. about half - This would mean that one of his parents would have to have been full Native American. Later he is asked:
  3. Through which, one of your parents do you get your Choctaw blood? Mother - In looking at a photo that has been shared in the family that is supposed to be the photo of his mother Elizabeth Brown I find it hard to believe that she is a full-blooded Indian.
  1. Q. Where were you born? Chickasaw Nation - Q. How long did you live in the Chickasaw Nation? A. I don’t know maybe ten or twelve years - Q. Where did you move to? A. Mississippi - see below
    1. No, all records from 1850 to 1910 indicate he was born in Tennessee, and there isn’t a single record that indicates any other place.
  2. Q. How long did you stay in Mississippi? I don’t know how long but my mother she went back there and died and I tried to make my way back here to the nation.
    1. Not even close - All records of Elizabeth indicate she lived her entire life in Tennessee until 1880 when she moved to Tracy, Kentucky, then she died in Bonham, Texas and is buried in the same cemetery with three of her children; John, Thoms, and Catherin. Which would indicate that she went to Texas, likely to live with one of her children during her later years.
  3. Q. Did they ever live in Mississippi? Yes - When? Till the Indians came to this country and then come here. - Did they move out here when the Indians first moved out west? Yes. - Your mother came with them? Yes.
    1. A few things strike me about his answer. First, the fact that he states “till the Indians came to this country.” This is a statement made by a man that does not naturally belong to this group. He is not referring to his own people. If he had been referring to his own people he would have been more likely to call them, my family, my people, our tribe, etc. If he were telling the truth, a truthful statement would have included him in the group. Instead, he is subconsciously referring to a group of people that his subconscious knows he is not a part of.
    2. There is no record of him ever living in Mississippi. All records found indicate he lived in TN, IN, KY, TX, and OK.
    3. The Dancing Rabbit Creek treaty was signed in 1830. The Choctaw Nation was one of the first tribes to be removed and relocated to the Indian Territory between 1831 and 1833. This would have been before William was born, so if William were telling the truth then he would have been born in OK, and not TN. None of the children of Thomas and Elizabeth Riddle were born in OK. All were born between 1834 and 1859 in TN. Just more proof of his deceptive answers.
  4. Did any of your ancestors live in the old Choctaw Nation in Mississippi and Alabama in 1830 when this treaty was made? seventy-two years ago? No dont think so.
    1. This is the first truth he states that contradicts what he previously stated.
  5. Q. Your mother came out west with her father and mother in the year 1833? Yes
    1. Yet her family was always in the census records living in TN from 1820 to 1870. He states later in the interview that his grandfather was Joseph “Jodi” Brown and grandmother was Katie, which is true and with that information, I was able to find Elizabeth’s family, which just further confirms that she was not Native American.
Often you hear about how the commission was giving land to the white. I believe that did happen and I think this is how it happened. I think it was through the interviews and those who were smart enough to keep the stories straight and be able to back up enough of what they were saying probably successful obtained land in this very dirty and underhand method. But in this case, I believe that the commissioners saw that his story was not believable. He even contradicted himself within the interview, without all the research I’ve found I still would have had trouble believing him.

Original records are invaluable and it’s so important that if you are doing research that you go look at the original record. I can’t stress that enough! GO LOOK AT THE ORIGINAL! Because you don’t get the whole story until you do, and sometime you will even find more detail in the original that can either further your research or in some cases clue you into the fact that the record does not belong to the person you are research. Research requires that you look at ALL the details and not just create a family tree based on databases that are missing a lot of information.

02 July 2019

Be Independent!

Webster's Definition for Independent:

"independent adjectivein·​de·​pen·​dent | \ ˌin-də-ˈpen-dənt \
Definition of independent
(Entry 1 of 2)
1: not dependent: such as
a(1): not subject to control by others : SELF-GOVERNING(2): not affiliated with a larger controlling unitan independent bookstore
b(1): not requiring or relying on something else : not contingentan independent conclusion
(2): not looking to others for one's opinions or for guidance in conduct
(3): not bound by or committed to a political party
c(1): not requiring or relying on others (as for care or livelihood)independent of her parents
(2): being enough to free one from the necessity of working for a livinga person of independent means
d: showing a desire for freedoman independent manner
e(1): not determined by or capable of being deduced or derived from or expressed in terms of members (such as axioms or equations) of the set under considerationespecially : having linear independencean independent set of vectors
(2): having the property that the joint probability (as of events or samples) or the joint probability density function (as of random variables) equals the product of the probabilities or probability density functions of separate occurrence"

I can't help but take this opportunity for a little education and venting.  I certainly wouldn't consider myself an expert at genealogy because it seems I'm always learning something new from those who have been doing this so much longer than I have. However, I've been doing this enough years (almost 15) to know the basics of genealogical research. There is a trend that I am seeing that is quite scary and it destroying our research.

Today, Ancestry.com, 23andMe, and others have hyped everyone up on the DNA tests. Yes, as a genealogist they are an invaluable tool, and anyone I am doing work for I encourage a DNA test if at all possible because it opens up so many avenues for a researcher. However, those who don't want to take the time, don't have the patients or even an idea where to start they get their test results back and start making connections. The downside is they start connecting to everyone and everything that looks like it belongs in their lines without doing their due diligence. The only way to accurately create a tree with DNA is to use records and source that trace the stories of your ancestors along the trail that created your DNA. DNA alone will NOT create a tree! They become followers (the opposite of independent) of those that share their DNA and have created a tree, whether it's accurate or not.

Stop being followers. If you want to do this, then I must visit the words of my grandfather Von Joseph Roe, though he died when I was young, my mother reminded me of his famous phrase many times in my childhood, "If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing right the first time." And that can't be truer in genealogy. Think about it. What happens when mistakes are made in trees that are published online? In this digital age, those mistakes are multiplied ten-fold before you even realize you've made the mistake. Oh, and yes, I'm speaking from experience. One where I thought I had done my due diligence and all records were pointing to this one person being the father of my subject, but as more records became available I discovered where timelines didn't match up and that person could not have been the father of my subject. But by the time I had discovered that multiple people had copied my tree, and I still, frustratingly find this same mistake in my Woolsey line, and I was the culprit that started it, but the followers didn't due to their own research. If each of them had, one of them might have been able to send me an email and ask. "Hey, where did this come from because this is what I see?" But no, the copy and paste is so much easier than doing your own work. STOP BEING A FOLLOWERS! DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH!

Be Independent! I do not use other trees. As a matter of fact, I have that feature turned off on my leaves. I don't want to see other trees until I have exhausted all other sources. I do my due diligence and allow the documents to lead me to as correct of a conclusion as possible. Keep in mind, errors still happen even to the most diligent researchers, but at least we are able to trace back through our work and usually find where we went up the wrong tree. I only review other trees when I am completely stumped to see what other's may have seen that I missed. Occasionally, something they have found helps me break down my brick wall, but more often than not I just get frustrated at the messes I see and the lack of due diligence.

If you want to discover the true story of you, do a DNA test and create an Independent tree, free of all other influences. If it cannot be backed up with sources, or first-hand accounts, then leave it! Okay, I'm done venting.


08 April 2019

Madness Monday - Jerry Roe Mystery Solved!

I'm reposting this one today as part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 15 DNA. This is been my most memorable brick wall breakthrough as a result of DNA to date.

I started the Madness Monday movement in 2009 and my third Madness Monday brick wall was Jerry Roe. I have been searching for so many years for the parent's of my great great grandfather, that I thought I would never solve this mystery. Today I am jumping for joy and screamed for joy so loudly that I started my daughter, who indulged me by sitting beside me while I explained to her how the documents I just found ties it all together and brought my brick wall crumbling to the ground!

I first wrote about this mysterious family in 2008 in my post "Where Were Your Ancestors 100 Years Ago? 1908." At the time I knew very little about my great grandfather Frank Roe other than finding him in the 1910 census with his brother Pier, whom we knew about, a younger brother, who was a discovery to us, and his parents Jerry and Rachel Roe living on an Indian Reservation in Ote, Oklahoma. At that time I was shocked to discover that I had a great great grandmother, Rachel, who claimed to be half Chippewa Indian. DNA and eventual research when that brick wall would break would dispell that myth as well.

Then in 2011, I wrote about this family again when a cousin to my husband and whose husband is a cousin of mine, Jeanette Perrin Coaly, made a find that teased me for the next six years. I wrote about this find in my post Madness Monday - Jerry Roe. She had helped me find Jess Roe, that later would be confirmed as a connection with DNA, and the marriage record of Jerry Roe and Rachel Mason which was finally online. But like always it just wasn't enough, and for the next six years, their ancestry would elude me.

Then in the spring of 2017, my mother did her DNA. Little by little I have been chipping away at that wall. First I began to look at all the Roe connections she had, and those that had trees far enough back all lead back to one particular Roe ancestor. His name was Jeremiah Roe born in 1750 believed to be in Ireland and immigrated to Pennsylvania in the late 1700's. That was a long way back and was going to take a lot of work, but what the heck, I hadn't solved this mystery any other way. So I began to research all of Jeremiah's descendants and I've been focusing on just this line for the better part of the last year. I've learned a lot about the Roe's. I have a lot of lines completed of his descendants, and again thinking I may never solve this because I still wasn't finding the connection.

One of the techniques I used was to search through my mother's DNA connections for connections with surnames that belonged to wives and mothers of Jeremiah Roes sons and grandsons. There were two of Jeremiah's sons that I showed a very strong DNA connection to their descendants and shared the surnames of their wives.

The first was Jeremiah Roe who actually had six wives that I could find of whom three gave him children. I had shared DNA connections with the surname Selbee or Selby, which would have come from his wife Ursula, so I traced their only son, George to find that there was no direct link there with my great-grandfather. Now his first wife was Mary Jane Emily Grove, and again I found Grove's in amongst my already established Roe connections, though not strong connections. In the end, I could only find the name of one son. Jeremiah "Mize" Roe III, who again I was able to establish I did not connect to. I know Jeremiah II and Mary had four other boys based on the 1820 and 1830 census, but to date, I've not been able to discover their names.

The second matching line belonged to Jeremiah I's son, Johnathan Roe, which for one caught my attention because even though my great grandfather name was spelled Jothanan on the delayed birth certificate of his son Pier Roe, I was certain it was probably meant to be Johnathan. Johnathan Roe was married to Lucretia Van Valkenburg. Wait, that might explain where my mother's 5% Scandinavian DNA comes from, that I've never been able to explain!

Here is where the research got hard. Johnathan and Lucretia had eight children, three were girls, so even though I did find some records on them, I knew they wouldn't pass on the surname. I began to focus on the boys. The story turned sad very quickly, and also may help explain why records on this family are so hard to find. Johnathan died in December 1838 and Lucretia died in 1839. It is believed by some that they died of the flu, though I've not confirmed that. I started with their son Michael Van Valkenburg Roe because his name, being so unique, made it easy to find records on him. I didn't rule him out completely, but I believed that his first son was Charles D. Roe who was born in 1861, about two years after my great great grandfather was born, so even though there was still the possibility that he had a son before Charles, it wasn't looking likely. The family was also consistently in Indiana and then Michigan and never seemed to leave Michigan where all their children were born. My great great grandfather was born in Iowa, so this wasn't looking likely.

The next son I looked at was Jonathan Roe born in 1825 in Fayette, Indiana. It was easy to find so many records of this family, that I was certain that if my Jerry was his child, then he would have shown up in one of the many records. Also, this family went to Michigan as well and remained there the rest of their lives and all of their children were born in Michigan.

That left two more sons to research, Joel and Richard. Richard, I have yet to find any records on him. I was not even able to determine how old he was when his parents died. His name came from other researchers that claim that Johnathan and Lucretia had a son named Richard.

Joel was fun to research. It was a case of multiple Joel Roe's born roughly about the same time and trying to keep them straight. I was finding records and would have to compare where each Joel (and they were all cousins from the other lines) was at in certain points in their life and who they were married to in order to keep the records straight.

I finally weeded out all the records for Joel R Roe born in Ohio and live in Iowa and Missouri and compiled his family. I used census records from 1870 to 1900, Iowa Marriage records to his wife Julia Ann Richardson, Civil War Records, Military Disability Records, Missouri death certificate, and newspaper articles in Missouri newspapers. Here is what I came up with as his family.

Joel R Roe was born 19 December 1832 in Ohio to Johnathan Roe and Lucretia Van Valkenburg. I don't know how he ended up in Iowa or what family member took him in after the death of his mother, as he was only about four years old. He married his wife Julia Ann Richardson in Clayton, Iowa on the 15 Oct 1857. They had eight children Josiah born 1859, Eugenia Ellen born 1867, Rossen born 1869, Lawson born 1871, Joel P. born 1873, Sarah Angeline born 1874, Susan born 1877, and Julia born 1880. Yes once I discovered Josiah I was on pins and needles because I had a feeling he was a missing piece of my puzzle. He's the right age, born in Iowa, his name is just spelled differently. I kept digging and trying to find information on Josiah born in 1859, but the trail seemed to run cold. Just like I could not find anything on my Jothanan Jossiers "Jerry" Roe prior to his marriage in Missouri to Rachel Mason, I couldn't find anything on Josiah after his childhood. Could he be my great great grandfather? Here are the other interesting parallels; Josiah was born in Iowa, same as Jerry, then the family moved to Livingston, Missouri, the same location where Jerry married Rachel. Too many coincidences.

I kept researching the other children, hoping that one of them would lead me back around to Josiah or another connection to my Jerry, but one thing kept bugging me. What if whoever transcribed the record that gave me the name Jothanan Jossiers Roe had transcribed it incorrectly because the name was so unusual and I had never found the name like that again in any of the other records where I either found him as Jerry or J. J. Roe. I knew then I needed to find the original.

I went back to my records of Jerry Roe and went through them one by one to see which one gave me that name. It was Pier Roe's delayed birth certificate, which is suspicious in its self because of it far removed from the event. At the bottom of the record on anestry.com is source information. I learned that there was an FHL number 1673333. I wasn't sure if I would be able to access it online, but I looked up the roll on Familysearch.org anyway. I was in luck. I could access it, it just wasn't index. Oh, so much fun! I determined the volume that would likely contain his record based on his year of birth, Births 1897-1898 vol 6, now the fun part, all the counties. I went back to my research on Pier again to see if I had his place of birth. I had the city as Minnesota Lake. Well, that didn't give me the exact county but gave me two counties to look at. The most likely being Faribault, which according to Google contained the majority of the city. So I started there. Oh, that's sweet, at least the records are in alphabetical order. It wasn't long until I finally found the record. Followed by a deep sigh of disappointment. There in black and white typed, unmistakable letters, is his father's name as Jothanan Jossiers Roe. There was no mistake made. I don't know what possessed me to do it but I scrolled down just a bit more and that's when I screamed. Below the title "Certificate of Parent or Other Informant" is the signature of Jennie E Norton, Relationship - Aunt! Jennie Norton is the sister of Josiah Roe who as a child was known as Eugenia E Roe who then married Carl E Norton and often went by Jennie in many records. Jennie, you were the final pieces, and guess what is even more ironic, she lived her life and died just thirty minutes from where I live now, in Spokane, WA! Jennie, I will find the time to go visit your grave! I may never have solved this mystery if you had not signed Pier's delayed birth certificate.

I now know through DNA and through the paper trail that I descend from Jeremiah Roe who was possibly born in Ireland in 1750 and immigrated to Pennsylvania in the late 1800's. More than then years of research waiting on that chance discover that was not transcribed or records on the ancestry.com and could have only been discovered by seing the orignal. Lesson in this is never rely on transcribed records. They are a source of information, but always go to the orignal source to ensure you are getting the entire story, like who his Aunt is!

25 February 2019

Modern Day Sleuth of Probate Heirs

What happens when a person dies and leaves no children or a spouse to inherit their estate? A probate is opened and heirs must be found.

When you say genealogist what comes to mind for most people are us silly people that like to research the dead. But there are other needs for a genealogist. My genealogy skills come in handy on more than one occasion. Not only am I a genealogist, but I'm also a paralegal for a local attorney, Robert R. Romero Jr. and I have had the privilege of using my genealogy sleuthing skills on more than one occasion.

The first time I was ever called upon to research a family was in a case where a man left no children. He had left everything in his will to his common-law wife. Unfortunately, she passed away before he did. His second choice to leave his earthly possessions to was his brother, who had also passed away before him. That's when I was given the task of researching his family.

In Idaho, if a person leaves no issue to inherit their estate, then the estate goes back to the person's parents. In this case, his parents were also deceased. Next in line would be his siblings. He only had the one brother who was also deceased. This is when the family tree started to grow and get very interesting. Now I needed to go back one more generation to find his parents siblings on both sides of the family. No surprise they were all deceased, but then the tree starts to grow roots and the lines start ending with second and third cousins of his who are still living.

What I also discovered in my research was that the deceased had a half-brother, whom he may have never known about because he called his brother his only brother in his will. This adds a whole new dimension to the disbursement of the estate. We ended up with twenty-two names in the deceased generation. Of course the deceased and his brother were already known to be deceased. As I researched the other twenty I found that only seven were possibly living. The degree of heirship would end there with their line, however, we would then need to find the heirs of the other thirteen. A handful of them also died having never married or had children, a small number had living children, but we could end there.

The court will then use my research to help determine who the heirs of this estate are. But before this goes to court each potential heir will be sent a letter informing them that they are a potential heir. After some time for them to respond the case will go to court where a determination will be made as to who the heirs are. I'm not sure how this case ended because I left the firm before the end of this case but enjoyed every minute of the research on this project. I was able to apply my true love and passion in my career.

Even at my current firm, Robert R. Romero Jr.  I have to help clients track down distant family that they have no idea where they are in order to let them know that they are an heir to an estate, or in some case research to determine if a family member who may have passed left any heirs.

Like they say, when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. There is no better way to work then to incorporate your passion into your career.

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks