An "executor" is named by the testator and is required by the court to post a bond. An "administrator" is appointed to handle the affairs of one who dies intestate (without a will).
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In 1820 the Federal Government began requiring ship manifest lists but the early years can be difficult to locate.
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Probate records refer to wills, inventories, letters of administration and guardianship. They are usually held at the county courthouse unless archived and they are indexed by the name of the testator.