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A Crazy Courthouse

This week I made a trek to the Post Office to pick up my great-grandfather’s probate file. The County Clerk in Illinois had mailed it with postage due, so I had to cough up the extra 84 cents to claim it. I have ordered many estate files in the past, and never before have I encountered the cumbersome procedure followed by this county. Usually I mail a query via e-mail if I can, or else with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. The clerk sends back a response telling me whether they have the file and how much it will cost if they do. I send a check for the fee. They then mail  a copy of the file to me. Simple enough. Everywhere I have worked with before, the cost of mailing the file to me is included in the fee. This county, however, has come up with an odd policy. First of all, they require a money order for the fee (they won’t accept a credit card or a personal check), so I had to drive somewhere to get one. Secondly, they ask for another SASE for their use in mailing the file, but they do not say what size envelope to send or how much postage to affix. I used a single stamp, and of course it was not enough. They had to really work to stuff the pages into the business envelope I provided. It seems obvious to me that setting the fee to cover the cost of appropriate envelopes and postage is the way to go. Why create a procedure like theirs? Either they just have not thought it through, or else they want to discourage genealogists from asking for records. In my eyes, they look ridiculous. I am more and more appreciative of the wonderful folks in Grant County, NE who have e-mail and mail documents for free.

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