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2019 News

Initial Funding Approved for Restoration of Historic County Will Records

October 31, 2019

Contact: Mary Domres, medomres@buckscounty.org

The Bucks County Records Improvement Committee has approved the expenditure of $5,000 for restoring historic will records kept by the Register of Wills Office. The money, approved by the committee on Oct. 22, is for the first phase of an initiative to restore and preserve valuable historic county resources.

“The members of the records improvement committee have shown a commitment to the restoration and preservation of historic records,” said Donald Petrille, Bucks County Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphans’ Court and a member of the committee.

Committee members “were impressed by our plan to identify and prioritize historic records worthy of restoration,” Petrille said. “As time goes on, we will work with our Historic Records Advisory Panel to continue to identify records worthy of further preservation expenditures.” RegisterOfWillsSeal

The $5,000 expenditure will allow for the preservation of Will Book 1 and Will Book 2, which contain public records of wills probated from 1701 through 1759. The books are consulted by historians and genealogists who review how Bucks County citizens lived in colonial Pennsylvania.

“After ensuring our entire will and marriage license collections dating back to 1684 were digitized, and that the county’s new archive center was available for permanent storage, we reviewed our records management resources and began to prioritize expenditures,” Petrille said. “Look for additional records to be restored and preserved in the coming months.”

The Records Improvement Committee is created in each county by statute. In addition to Petrille, it consists of Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler, representing the county commissioners; Clerk of Courts Mary Smithson; Prothonotary Judi Reiss; Sheriff Milt Warrell; and Treasurer Thomas Panzer.

The office of Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphans Court is responsible for admitting wills to probate, appointing administrators of intestate estates, collecting inheritance taxes on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, issuing marriage licenses and processing filings involving estate disputes, incapacitated persons and adoptions.