Probably the least used resource of all are the Orphan's Courts found in many states.  These courts do not deal only with small children without parents, but also handle a variety of records which can be most profitable.

First we must understand that the legal definition of an orphan is one who lost his natural father.  It is not tied to the mother or to any specific age.

Orphan court records, called "dockets," are used to appoint or change appointments of guardians for orphans, incompetents, and sometimes indigents.

They also record administrators for estates and frequently trustees.  Many property transfers, inventories of estates, marriages, births, and deaths are to be found in these "Orphan Court Dockets."

You might even uncover and elusive maiden name for when a widow asks that an individual be appointed guardian for her son.  It's possible that they are related.

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