Ezra Sanford – Probate – Order Papers

(Third article in a series about the probate of the estate of Ezra Sanford.)

Transcription Tuesday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.This week, for “Transcription Tuesday,” I am looking at the Inventory Papers of the Probate of Ezra Clugston Sanford (1763-1813)[i]. The Order Papers are images 7, 8, and 9 of the 19 images contained in the probate file. Ezra and Mercy (Gay) Sanford are my 5th great-grandparents and are among my few known New England ancestors.

Image 395 – Commission to distribute (Title)

Commission to distribute the estate of Ezra Sanford
——  —–


Image 394 – Commission to distribute (Preamble)

For the Probate district of Bennington least by one of yourselves-

Given under my and and seal in and of office this second day of August in the year of our lord one thousand eight hundred and thirteen

Josiah Wright P. Judge

Bennington County 20th September 1813 Obediah Dunham and Isaac Kimbill were duly sworn on the within _____ before John Mackinton, Justice of Peace Pownal 20th September 1813 John Macinton was duly sworn on the within before Obadiah Dunham ???  ??? to the business of our appointment on on the within commission made at division of the estate of Ezra Sanford late of Powal division both real and personal which are herewith return.

            Josse Blackington        \
            Obadiah Dunham        }   Commissioners
            Isaac Kimbill                /

Image 396 – Commission to distribute (Detail)

To Obediah Dunham, Isaac Kimbill, & Jesse Blackington all of Pownal in Probate District of Bennington sufficient freeholders – Greetings,

Pursuant to the powers to me given in and by the laws of this State – I do hereby appoint and authorize you those, Obadiah Dunham, Isaac Kimbill, & Josse Blackington a committee to distribute to emer among the lawful heirs of the estate of Ezra Sanford Late of Pownal deceased so much as by law ??? belongs to them or ?? of them as the will accommodate without prejudice to or showing the whole performance being had to the males in doing which you as to deal impartially as you are sworn, moreover if any of the heirs of the said deceased have received anything of him in his lifetime in advance towards their portions you are to signify the same to me and how much each one has received –

When you go about your business let all parties con ??? have notice and if any dispute arise about the quantity of any parcel of land you may procure an artist for the survey that, and if all parties are satisfied with your proceedings, let them signify the same by county signing. Finally, Seal up this commission with your doing therein and return the same with all convenient speed into the Register’s office.

Facts I learned

I was reminded that the handwriting legibility of clerks was not a requirement for them to be elected or appointed to office. I was also reminded that some documents have no genealogical value. Better luck next time.


[i] Author: Vermont. Probate Court (Bennington District); Probate Place: Bennington, Vermont – Ancestry.com. Vermont, Wills and Probate Records, 1749-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.


Ezra Sanford in the Early Censuses

Census Sunday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.One essential action in researching an ancestor is to find that individual in all of the census records during their lifetime.  Ezra Clugston Sanford was a frustration for me.  He died on 22 Jun 1813, in Pownal, Bennington County, Vermont, so he should be in the 1810 census.  Search as I would, I couldn’t find him. Finally, I used a FAN (Friends, Acquaintances, and Neighbors) search technique and found something quite interesting.

1800 Census

Looking for Ezra in the 1800 Census was a success[i].  I found:

1800 Census – Ezra Sanford – Pownal, Bennington, Vermont

Ezra is the 7th entry down from the top.

Ezra Sanford in the 1800 Census

Ezra Sanford || 1 – – 2 – || 2 1 – 1 –

1800 Males in Household

  • Under 10     = 1       Ezra (Junior) would have been 8.
  • Age 26-45 = 2       Ezra (Senior) should be 47.
  •                                     Unknown male.

1800 Females in Household

  • Under 10     2       Lucy would have been 1
    Sally/Sarah should have been 4.
  • 10-16            1        Electa would have been 10.
  • 26-45           1       Mercy would be 39.

So, the 1800 Census shows all of the children of Ezra and Mercy that I would expect. It does suggest Ezra is two years younger than he probably is, but I’ll accept that. Finally, an unknown male was living with Ezra and Mercy in 1800.

1790 Census

Ezra and Mercy married in 1786. I would expect the Ezra Sanford Household of 1790 to consist of:

1 (or 2) Free white male(s) age 16 and up and two white females.

Ezra was born in Newtown, Fairfield County, Connecticut, but he married Mercy in Sharon, Litchfield County, Connecticut. Finally, the couple lived in Pownal, Bennington County, Vermont in 1800, so I would expect Ezra and Mercy to most likely be in one of those three locations in 1790.

A search for Ezra on Family Search yielded three results for the 1790 Census.

Ezra – Litchfield, Litchfield, Connecticut – 1 – 0 – 3.

Litchfield and Sharon are about 25 miles apart so, and this is possibly them.

Ezra – Redding, Fairfield, Connecticut – 2 – 1 – 3.

Reading and Newtown are about 11 miles apart. Likewise, this is a possible location.

Ezra – Warwick, Orange, New York – 3 – 1 – 7.

Warwick, New York is about 85 miles from Sharon and Newtown and over 150 miles from Pownal.  Also, their having a household with seven females would make this a very complex household.  Based upon the location and household makeup, I’m sure the Warwick Ezra is not mine.

Which is my Ezra – The one living in Litchfield or the one living in Reading?  To clarify, I went to the 1800 Census and looked there for Ezra. (Mine was in Pownal, VT) It shows an Ezra Sanford living in Redding, Fairfield County, Connecticut, in 1800, so my Ezra must be the one living in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1790[ii].

Ezra Sanford in the 1790 Census

Ezra – Litchfield, Litchfield, Connecticut

Ezra Sanford   1  || 0  3.

  • Free white male 16 or older = 1 – Ezra.
  • Free white females = 3           Mercy
  •                                                 Electa (probably born in 1790)
  •                                                 Unknown daughter (probably born 1787-1789)

1810 Census

I returned to searching for Ezra in the 1810 Census.

A search for “Ezra” in Bennington County yielded 11 results. None of them had a surname beginning with San…. or ending in …ford.

A search for “Sanford” in Bennington County yields six results. Four were in Sandgate, and two were in Dorset township. I found it interesting that NONE of the findings included anyone in Pownal. I then browsed the 1810 Census records on Ancestry.Com. There, various townships were listed, but Pownal was not one of them. I manually reviewed all of the pages of a group under, “Township not listed.” I was not successful finding anyone resembling “Ezra Sanford.”

Finally, I looked at the names in the 1800 census that were near Ezra. They included people like Obadiah Dunham (who we’ll see named in Ezra’s probate actions) and Israel Osborn. I was able to find them enumerated in Peru, Bennington County, Vermont. Peru?  Peru is a town at the opposite corner of Bennington County from Pownal could this really be?

<<Insert Peru/Pownal Image>>

Pownal misidentified as Peru on Ancestry.Com

Then I noticed that although the search and Ancestry  Page designation indicated it was Peru, the top of the actual page indicated it was Pownal. Very near in the 1810 Census record for Obadiah Dunham is an entry for “John Samford.”[iii]

John Samford – 1 – – 1 || – 2 1 – 1

This looks like “John Sanford” to me.

My view of the name indicated that “Sanford” was just as likely, if not more likely, as “Samford.” So, I wondered, could this be Ezra? The household consisted of the following:

    • Male 10-16     Ezra (Junior) would be 17 ???
    • Male >45         Ezra (Senior) would be 47
    • Female 10-16  Lucy would be 11
    • Female 10-16  Sally/Sarah would be 14
    • Female 16-26  Electa would be 20
    • Female >45     Mercy would be 49

So, the location and family unit for Ezra Sanford appears to fit John Samford/Sanford. John does not show up in Bennington County, Vermont, in either the 1800 nor the 1820 Censuses, so I believe that “John Sanford” in the 1810 Census is Ezra Sanford. I don’t know if Ezra’s full name was “John Ezra Sanford” or “Ezra John Sanford” or if the census enumerator just got his name wrong, but I am fairly certain that John is Ezra, and that the location of Pownal is correct. Thanks to looking into Ezra’s neighbors, I was successful finding who I believe to be Ezra.

My goal to find Ezra Sanford in all of the census records during his life is successful.  Another good day.

Continue reading “Ezra Sanford in the Early Censuses”

ThruLines – William Henry Brown – Part 1

ThruLines Thursday

In Part 7 of my ThruLinestm analysis, I’m looking closely at matches with my 2nd great-grandfather, William Henry Brown (c. 1843- c. 1888). The first group of matches included 12 matches descended from Arthur Durwood Brown. I looked at those matches just a few months ago in Part 2 of this series. However, as I have learned how to use ThruLines better, I feel it is important to revisit them.

The 12 Children of Arthur Durwood & Mary Elizabeth (Manning) Brown

Clyde Leroy Brown (1894-1971) – No DNA Matches.

Clyde Leroy Brown – Married twice – had seven children (that I know of).

Victoria C. Brown (1896-1998) – One Known Match

I confirmed the one descendant of Victoria C Brown who has tested with Ancestry DNA and who has a tree on Ancestry previously.

Clarence Arthur Brown (1897-1988) – No DNA Matches.

Clarence Arthur Brown – Married twice – had four children (that I know of).

Martin Brown (1900-1900) – Died as an infant.

Cora Elsie Brown (1901-1986) – No DNA Matches.

Cora Elsie (Brown) Seaborn Petersen – Married twice – had four children (that I know of).

Richard Earl Brown (1903-1990) – Four DNA Matches

The four matches descended from my grandfather Richard Earl Brown. I either manage or am in regular contact then.

Dorothy Brown (c. 1906-1908) – Died as a young child.

Edward Lewis Brown (1908-1998) – One DNA Match.

Next is a descendant of Edward Lewis Brown. After contacting “TB,” I have determined that “TB” is a 2nd cousin once removed.

Arthur Eugene Brown (1912-1996) – Two DNA Matches.

Next, are two descendants of Arthur Eugene Brown. The first one, “J.B.,” and I have been in contact previously.

The second match reminds me that Ancestry DNA ThruLines does get it wrong sometimes. “JO,” according to Ancestry, is a 2nd cousin with whom I share 20 cM of DNA. That is far below the range expected of 2nd cousins (should be 46 to 515 cM). His online Ancestry tree only has his father’s name and doesn’t connect with anyone I have in my tree. So, I’ve emailed him to see if he has a tree elsewhere. Followup!

Charles William Brown (1914-1990) – No DNA Matches

Charles William Brown – Married twice – had six children (that I know of).

Delores Sarah Brown (1917-2011) – Three DNA Matches

I have two second cousins and one second cousin once removed that descend from Delores Sarah Brown. The three are each descended from a different “Larson” girl.

“TB” and I share 180 cM across 12 Segments. I have been in contact with him, however, not for several years.

“CL” is descended a great-grandchild of Deloris. We share only 25 mM of DNA. That is lower than typical but still within the range of 2nd cousins once removed. I have messaged him on Ancestry twice earlier this year and have not received a response. He appears not to have logged into Ancestry since January 2018 (over a year ago). Followup!

“CB” and I share 147 cM over nine segments. CB and I share trees and are friends on FaceBook.

Nettie M V Brown

Finally, I have two 2nd cousins descended from Nettie Brown. I have been in contact with “BB” and “NB” through both email and Facebook.


I was astonished to learn that of the ten children of Arthur and Mary Brown who lived to adulthood, I only had DNA Matches on Ancestry with six of them. If you are a descendant of Clyde, Cora, Clarence, or Charles and have not tested with Ancestry DNA, I encourage you to do so. It will be great to see you added to the tree. Also, if you have tested with Ancestry DNA and haven’t linked you and your DNA to a place on a tree, please do so. It will help us better understand this pioneer family’s descendants. Although Arthur died long before I was born, I remember Great-grandma Brown quite well from the dozen or so visits we had in Motley.

All of my ThruLines posts are listed under the ThruLines Thursday category.


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Estate of Ezra Sanford – Inventory Papers

Transcription Tuesday
by Don Taylor

This week, for “Transcription Tuesday,” I am continuing my review of the Probate of Ezra Clugston Sanford (1763-1813)[i]. The first section of the Inventory Papers are images 4, 5, and 6 of the 19 images contained in the probate file.

Image 4 (391 – Cover)

Estate of Ezra Sanford – Inventory Papers (front)

Ezra Sanford
Commission to
O. Dunham to appraise.

Image 5 (392 – Cover – left side)

Estate of Ezra Sanford – Inventory Papers – Front Page Notes

Bennington County fs Pownal 10th July 1813 Personally appeared Obadiah Dunham before me and was duly sworn to the faithful performance of his duty as directed in the within commission before me.

Samuel Wright, Justice of Peace

Bennington County fs Pownal 10th July 1813

Isaac Kimbell was sworn to the faithful discharge as his duty as a commissioner on the estate of Ezra Sanford estate, late of Pownal deceased, according to the ?? Commission. 

Before Me —- Obadiah Dunham Justice Peace

Image 6 (393 – a standard printed form with blanks filled in*)

Estate of Ezra Sanford – Inventory Papers – Appraisers assigned to do inventory.

To Obadiah Dunham & Isaac Kimbill of Pownal in the district of Bennington good and sufficient freeholders.


By virtue of the authority vested in me, by the laws of this state, I do hereby appoint you the said Obadiah & Isaac commissioners to appraise the estate both real and personal of Ezra Sanford late of Pownal deceased, and you are hereby directed and empowered to apprize the same according to its true and just value in cash, according to your best judgment, and to make a true Inventory thereof under oath of your fidelity therein, and the same return into the registry of the court of probate for the district of Bennington together with this commission under your hands, and a true copy of said inventory to give to the administratrix of such estate on or before the first Monday of August 1813.

Dated at 5th this day of July 1813


Attest, B Edwards

Register. Protem.

Facts I learned

I learned that Obadiah Dunham and Isaac Kimbill were likely family, friends, or neighbors of Ezra Sanford. I had seen Obadiah’s name before, but it was clearer and more readable in this document then it was in previous documents.


NOTE:  The Cambridge Dictionary defines “transcribe” as to “make a complete written record of spoken or written words.” My transcriptions are seldom perfect but I do my best to convert handwritten documents into typed words for my genealogical purposes.  If you see anything that I have incorrect, please let me know your thoughts via the Contact Form at the bottom of the page.

* Handwritten entries are in bold.


[i] Author: Vermont. Probate Court (Bennington District); Probate Place: Bennington, Vermont – Ancestry. Vermont, Wills and Probate Records, 1749-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.Com  Operations, Inc., 2015.

Estate of Ezra Sanford – Guardian Papers

Estate of Ezra Sanford – Guardian Papers (for Lucy Sanford) – 5 July 1813

Transcription Tuesday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.This week, for “Transcription Tuesday,” I am looking at the “Estate of Ezra Sanford, Mercy Sanford, Admrx || Mercy Sanford Guardian – Bond – $1000.” [1]

This document provides the guardian papers wherein Mercy Sanford received guardianship of Lucy Sanford, her minor daughter and heir of the estate of Ezra Sanford. The document was a printed form with specific information handwritten in.  I have identified the handwritten parts with bolding.

KNOW all men by these presents, that Mercy Sanford as principal, and Aticiah Dunham as surety, are bolden and stand firmly bound unto Josiah Wright, Esq. judge of the probate of wills, and granting administrations within and for the district of Bennington in the full sum of one thousand dollars, to be paid unto the said Josiah Wright his successor or successors in the said office, or to his or their assigns; for which payment will and truly to be made, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors, and administrators, and every to us, firmly by these presents, sealed with our seals, dated this 5th day of July Anno Domini, 1813.

The condition of the above obligation is such, That if the above bounden Mercy Sanford who is nominated, appointed, and allowed to be guardian unto Lucy Sanford minor and heir to the estate of Ezra Sanford late of Pownal, deceased, shall will and truly perform and discharge the trust and office of guardian unto the said Lucy and that in and by all things according to law: and shall render a plain and true account of her said guardianship upon oath, and all and singular such estate as shall come to her hands and possession, by virtue thereof, and of the profits and improvements of the same, so far as the law will charge bring therewith, when she shall thereto be lawfully required; and shall pay and deliver what and so much of the said estate, as shall be found upon account remaining in her hands, the same being first examined and allowed by the judge or judges of the probate of wills,  &C. for said district, for the time then being, until the said minor when she shall arrive at full age, or otherwise, as the said judge or judges, by his or their sentence or decree, pursuant to law shall limit and appoint, then the above obligation to be void and of no effect, otherwise to remain in force and future .

Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of

Benjm Edwards

Marcy Sampson
Obadiah Dunham

Estate of Ezra Sanford – Guardian Papers – 1813 – Via  Ancestry.Com.

Facts I learned

From other records, I knew that Lucy was about 14 when her father died. So, her requiring guardianship would be expected.

I found it interesting that the document indicated Mercy as Lucy’s guardian, however, the signature reads as “Marcy” to me. Consequently, I’ve added “Marcy” as an alternative name.


NOTE:  The Cambridge Dictionary defines “transcribe” as to “make a complete written record of spoken or written words.” My transcriptions are seldom perfect but I do my best to convert handwritten documents into typed words for my genealogical purposes.  If you see anything that I have incorrect, please let me know your thoughts via the Contact Form at the bottom of the page.


  1. Vermont; Wills and Probate Records, 1749-1999, Ancestry.Com, Probate – Ezra Sanford (1753-1813) – Page 03 (00390). Guardianship Papers – Assigning Mercy Sanford as guardian for Lucy Sanford, 5 July 1813. https://search.ancestry.com/collections/9084/records/325523/.