Can a potential father of a child be ruled out if that child is not included in the will?

+4 votes
George Miller born May 5,1809, Poughkeepsie, New York. Moved to Canada 1829. Poughkeepsie Village 1810 Census, only 2 Miller families, Peter Miller, Samuel Miller, both have male child under 10. Samuel Miller married Phebe Kidney June 12, 1804, Poughkeepsie (newspaper). Samuel Miller of Poughkeepsie will, 1839 (widow Phebe, executor Robert Kidney) does not mention George Miller.  Can Samuel be ruled out as a possible father for George?
WikiTree profile: George Miller
in Genealogy Help by Pat Miller G2G6 Pilot (117k points)
If George moved away I wouldn't completely discount it. Samuel might have excluded him because of that due to the difficulty in him actually claiming his inheritance. Or George may not have been on the best terms with his father and that led to him moving away. Or he could be Peter's child. Did any other Miller's move to Canada from Poughkeepsie?
I know of no other family member that came from Poughkeepsie with George. Yet he was already a carriage maker when he arrived. His marriage 1832 lists him as a carriage maker, his obituary says he had a business in Cooksville, Ontario, carriage maker and C.  I'm not sure what that means but for a 20 year old to build carriages near Toronto he must have had some training in Poughkeepsie. I would appreciate any suggestions.

Do you have any Smith in your line?


George Miller

New York State Census, 1875

Name George Miller
Event Type Census
Event Date 1875
Event Place Fishkill, Dutchess, New York, United States
Gender Male
Age 66
Relationship to Head of Household Father-in-law
Birth Year (Estimated) 1809






Charles Smith   M 31  
Lena Smith Wife F 26  
Lizzie Smith Daughter F 8  
Catherine Smith Daughter F 6  
Lena Smith Daughter F 3  
George Miller Father-in-law M 66  
Joseph Waltz Boarder M 28  

Citing this Record

"New York State Census, 1875," database with images, FamilySearch( : 11 March 2018), George Miller in household of Charles Smith, Fishkill, Dutchess, New York, United States; citing p. 75, line 10, State Library, Albany; FHL microfilm 565,246.

Lena Smith would be a miller

Thank you, Amy.  I appreciate your interest.  I have never heard of a Smith in the family. This is a different George Miller.  It reminds me of what a librarian in Poughkeepsie wrote me years ago.  Born in Poughkeepsie, common name, moved to another country age 20, you're going to have a hard time finding out who his parents were.  She was right.
Also, can't trace his movements by ship.  It's clearly a land trip to go from Poughkeepsie, New York to Cooksville, Ontario (Toronto area). 1829 or 1830.  Did they track everyone crossing the border by land?

3 Answers

+5 votes
The genealogical relationship does not depend on being named in a will.

The child in the census return may well have pre-dceased his father, or there could have been family issues (as suggested by Paula).

I have a case where the father of two (adult) children died in 1850. The elder son, aged 27 and married, was not mentioned in his father's will. The younger son, age 23 and single was the Executor and sole beneficiary of their father's will.

(I never did find out why, but the descendants of the two families still don't speak to each other!)
by Peter Knowles G2G6 Mach 6 (66.1k points)
Thank you, Peter Knowles.  Your example was excellent.  I won't drop Samuel Miller as a possible father. I'll keep searching for more records. I was wondering why there were no children named Samuel but if George had a break with his father that would explain why the name wasn't used again.
+3 votes

Unless there's wording in the will that indicates the testator is listing all their children, I agree that a potential child not being named in the will isn't proof that they aren't a child. In addition to family disputes and such, I've also seen cases where some of the children received property or large sums of money from their parent before the parent's death, so those children don't inherit in the will; sometimes the testator will explicitly say "I'm leaving out child X because I've already advanced their share of my estate", but sometimes they don't.

Now, if I were looking at a court record dealing with the distribution of an intestate person's estate, and potential child wasn't named among the heirs, that I would take as strong indication that the potential child isn't actually the deceased's child.

by Sharon Casteel G2G6 Pilot (128k points)
Thank you, Sharon.  I see what you mean.  My grandfather didn't have a will and the estate was divided equally among his four children.
+2 votes
You know what? I think many babies are born and never recorded in a family tree due to relationships the family wants to hide. Additionally, some children are unofficially disowned due to not following a life path desired by elders. These things don't always appear in records. I agree with the comments Paula made. The genetic line can be intact even if lifestyles and actions noted in the family don't project a clear relationship. Some people had two families, or simply disappeared only to resurface as a new person due to moving to another continent. We can sometimes find the line later that was obscured at the time.
Thank you, Tanya. Fascinating. I never thought of this before, that there could be a severe break with his original family.

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