County Records 

 

County Records can be as different as the number of counties. Records are kept in different ways. The same records can have different names, or be in different places. For example, in one state, birth certificates might be at the state level in vital records. In another state, birth certificates might be at the state level in the health department. It’s a good idea to fine out where the records are, that you need, before you start out. It just takes a phone call or an email. You may want to contact a library, in the area, of your interest. The City or County library can usually give you the information, to find the specific records that you need.

 

These records tell a story of different times. A beginning with the difficulties of a few people moving to an eastern shore wilderness, in the before the 1600’s, forming a government, providing a labor force, obtaining land, erecting buildings and resolving disputes. Through county records and vital registers we see couples getting married and sometimes divorced, starting families, living and dying. The lives of the eastern shore settlers are played out over the years, moving westward.

 

County Records can give you a good deal of information. Some county Records are online, and others are available at the particular court house. County records, just like all other kinds of records, can have mistakes, errors or omissions. We are trying to cover all of the record titles, in this section. Over time, some of the titles involving the county records area have changed. Some areas of cases, have changed entirely.

 

There are county records that have been destroyed, because of fire, floods or other natural events. Some counties have had the foresight, and the financing to backup their records. Then there are counties, that have their records piled in a room in the basement, in no particular order what so ever. Those records often get thrown out, because of damage or neglect. There are many ways, for a county to store and keep their records safe. Some counties can ask for volunteers to help with that. A local genealogy society will, often help.

 

Some of these records are county records. Some of these records reach over into federal, state, or municipal.

 

Hopefully you will know more about the way these terms and records work and where they, can be found.

 

Some of the terms and records, that may be available online or at the actual court house, library, archives or museum are:

 

Adoption Records – Adoptions in the past were open. Now most of those records are closed. In the past, there was no formal adoption, children were taken in. Often there was no paperwork, instead families would take children, because they wanted a child or because they needed some to work on the farm or in the house, doing various jobs. Sometimes in the past churches would take it upon themselves, to divide the children up and send them to good homes, hopefully. People had large families, and if both parents died, then the children would be divided up, in some way. Sometimes the  authorities would divide them up. In some cases records were kept. In some cases no records were kept. We have found some such church records in Virginia. Church records or public records of adoption are rare, in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. We found some in Brunswick County, Virginia, which came from the time of the American Revolution. If you are an adopted child or a birth mother of an adopted child; there are ways to reach each other. You can go online to one of the social networks. You can also, go to the hospital, where the birth took place. There you can leave a letter, for a child or a birth mother. The hospitals have become repositories for these communications. Many an adopted child and birth mother have been reunited by this method. This is also, a much more private way to make contact.

 

Bankruptcy Records – There are many reasons that might cause someone to need to file bankruptcy, some of these reasons or events may include:

  1.  The death of a family member or bread winner.

2.    Crop failure could be a factor.

3.    An illness in the family, which caused unexpected expenses.

4.    Business failure due to loss of customers.

5.    Business failure due to mismanagement.

6.    Loss of property due to natural forces, such a storms, flood, hurricane, earthquake, tornado or another event.

7.    The arrival of another baby or multiple babies.

8.    The arrival of other family members, who must live with you.

There are many other reasons for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy makes any difficult situation even worse. When there are children involved, it can be much worse to see children go without. Bankruptcy records,may be found at the federal, state or county level. These records are usually public, at the time. Bankruptcy records can be available at libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Bastardy Bonds and Records – While few people would want to have a bastard ancestor, those kinds of mistakes are part of life. Bastardy bonds were part of holding the father or mother of the child, in question, responsible for the child’s support. If a mother refused to name the father,then she was held responsible for the cost of the welfare of the child. Sometimes the court records fill the gap of the missing bonds, since the mother and father were brought to court as a part of the process. The bastardy bonds exist from the seventeen hundreds. Some of these records have been destroyed, by fire or some other natural occurrence. Some of these children were bound out to families or trades or artisans. This was also, the case with orphans. We are glad to report that some of these records survive, on the county level, in various counties throughout the sixteen hundreds to the mid eighteen hundreds, depending on the state and county. The Bastardy Bonds and Records may be available in libraries, archives or museums.

 

Birth Certificates and Records – Birth certificates are probably the best evidence that a specific person was here on this earth. This information is very useful to officials in the government, to parents and other relatives, but for genealogists, it is so important, to know this person is the specific person, who is your ancestor or another relative, such as an aunt, uncle or cousin. These records may be found at the state or county level. The information of interest on a birth certificate includes:

1.  The Register Number

2.  The Registration District and Sub District or particular area within the District.

3.  When the child was born, the exact time and the date. the time may be especially important, if there are multiple births.

4.  Where the child was born, the hospital, birthing center, home of a midwife or mother’s home address. In the past, many midwives were the closest person to a doctor, around. When a number of babies were due at about the same time, the midwife would have all of the expectant mothers come to her house. This is because, she wasn’t going to be able to travel from one end of the county to the other in time, to help two or more babies come into the world.

5.  The Name of the Baby. The surname or last name. The middle name, in the past or even today, some people don’t receive a middle name.

6.  The Sex of the Baby

7.   The Name or Surname of the Father. If the father’s name did not appear on the birth certificate, then it could mean, that the child was illegitimate. In a few cases, the true father’s name was replaced by the name of the new husband, in case the true father was deemed to be an undesirable father, by the mother or the new couple. This was in case the true father wanted, at some point, to came and take the child. It is usually assumed that the husband is the father of the child. Be sure to look at all the dates, so that you may get a more correct answer.

8.   The Name and Maiden Name of the Mother. The mother may have been married before. The mother’s first married name may be the name listed as the maiden name.

9.   The Occupation of the Father. The occupation of the father may not be on the birth certificate.

10.   Name, relationship and residence of the informant. This information may or may not be on the birth certificate.

11.   The Date that the birth was Registered. The date should be soon after the birth. If it is some time before the date is registered, then the exact date may be forgotten.

12.   The Details of the names listed after the registration. Sometimes one or more of the grandparents may be listed.This is especially true if the one or more of the grandparents are well known, famous, wealthy or leaders in the community.

13.   There may be a certificate given to the family by the hospital, which is more information, but it is not a birth certificate.

14.   Additional information may be found on the Christening certificate or baptismal information. This information may be available for long before birth certificates were part of the United States governmental structure. Each state was different in the way they created birth certificates.

 

Borough Court Records – A borough is a town or district that is an administrative unit, in particular, or an incorporated municipality in certain United States areas. An example of this is each of the five boroughs of New York City. The borough court records would be from any of the boroughs, large or small, across the United States. The records of any borough court would be found at libraries, archives or museums, in the area.

 

Building Permit Records – Building Permits were issued by government agencies or other regulatory body, before the construction of a new or existing building can legally occur, or that allow individuals or companies to conduct the business of building structures within the government’s jurisdiction. The United States Census reports the finalized number of total monthly building permits on the eighteenth day of work of every month. It is the authorization to start building issued by the local government. The building permits would probably be issued at the city or county level. The records of building permits would probably be found at libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Business Licences Records – Business Licences are permits issued by government agencies that allow individuals or companies to conduct business within the government’s geographical jurisdiction. It is the authorization to start a business issued by the local government. The business licences would probably be issued at the city or county level. The records of business licences would probably be found at libraries, archives and museums in the area.

 

Calendar of Events – Many different organizations have a calendar of events. Genealogist might look at the following types of organizations:

Public and Private Schools

Theaters

The Federal Government

States Governments

Public and Private Schools

Town and City Governments

County Governments

Municipal Government

Churches

Heritage Organizations

Masonic Organization

Public and Private Schools

Colleges and Universities

Fraternities and Sororities

Youth Organizations

Chambers of Commerce

Fraternal Organizations

Religious Organizations

Political Organizations

Veterans and Military Organizations

Athletic Organizations

Charitable Organizations

Boards of Directors

Women’s Oranizations

Any Organization with which your family was involved.

 

Circuit Court Records – Serving the particular state through a number of judicial circuits, the circuit court is the general jurisdiction trial court with authority to try all types of civil and criminal cases

 

Civil Case Records – Civil cases are cases or disputes between two parties, often involving land disputes. These civil case records could be available at the county level. Records of civil cases may be found at libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

County Clerk’s Office Records – The County Clerk’s Office Records would involved any disputes involving the county. These Records would usually found at the county level. The County Clerk’s Records could probably be researched at the libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

County Court Records – County Court Records would involve any case related to the county. These records are usually found at the county level. County Court Records could be researched at the libraries, archives and museums, in the area. Some of the records a genealogist might find include:

Court Case Topics

Lists of Useful Court Case References

Justice of the Peace Courts Cases

Court Case Proceeding

Researching Court Case Records

List of Court Case Record Types

Types of Court Case Records

Divorce Case Records

Probate Case Records

Court Indexes

Court Cases Dockets

Court Case Minutes

Court Case Orders

Appointment of Guardians Cases

Judgment Court Cases

Court Case Files

Court Witness Lists

Jury Records

Attorney Records

Records of the Marshal, the Sheriff, the Constable or the Chief of Police

Records Produced by the Court Executive

Records Created by Law Enforcement

Memorials

Naturalization Court Cases

Equity Court Cases

Court Case Proceedures

Overview of Court Case Records

 

Death Certificates and Records – Sometimes a genealogist can’t get a birth certificate. As a death certificate occurs later, it can be more likely that one can find a death certificate. There is also, always information one can use from documents like death certificates. When looking for death certificate, it can be confusing. Before you start traveling to fine any documents, be sure to do your research as to where the information actually exists. You don’t want to go to a place where Aunt Nellie said that the family lived, only to find, that no one ever heard of your family. So get  online or the phone and make sure, where you are going will get results. Each state has their own date as to when they started requiring Death Certificates. These records may be found at the state or county level. Some of the information that death certificate may contain include:

1.    The Register number

2.    The Registration District and Sub District or particular area within the district.

3.    Where a person died, is usually where the person in question lived.

4.    When a person died, can tell a genealogist how old the person was, when he died.

5.    The Person’s Given Name, Surname, Middle Name and Nick Name. A person’s given name may be entirely different than the name that he was called by the time of his death. If a man didn’t like his given name; he would often change it. The two names that men would most often change a given name to were Joe and Bill.

6.    The sex of a person. Usually a person was the same sex as they appeared. Sometimes there was a surprise, at the time of death. During the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Civil War, there were some women who portrayed themselves as men. This usually stems from an intense sense of patriotism. Sometimes they are found out. Sometimes they go through the war and are never found out.

7.    The Age of a Person. When the person is a child, the names of the parents are almost always included in the obituary. Sometimes a person has been falsely claiming they were younger then they actually are. One man who was a minister or preacher, was telling his family and his community that he was seventy years old. He was actually seventy-six years old. It could be that if people knew how old he was, he may have lost his job. He was a circuit preacher. The United States Census revealed his age.

8.    The Occupation of the deceased is sometimes included on the death certificate. The Occupation is usually in the obituary, if you can find one. If the individual, who died is a farmer or holds a more common occupation, then there is a chance that the information may not have anything to say about what he did. In the past, if a woman has a job, the information about her work will usually be there. This is because, a woman with an occupation is more unusual and news worthy. The jobs a woman might hold include: Teacher, after the Civil War, Nurse, Landlady, Store Owner, Cook, Housekeeper and Midwife. A midwife could also, serve as a doctor, if the doctor was too far away.

9.    What is the Cause of Death. In the past, sometimes the cause of death was not known. In and around 1900, tuberculosis was very common. Whole families died of tuberculosis. Women died more than men from tuberculosis, because they were the care givers. During the Civil War more men died of disease, than died in battle. Genealogists see the term consumption often, because if a doctor or coroner may not know what killed someone. Consumption was used for tuberculosis, cancer or any other disease. In the past, the term, consumption covered just about everything.

10.    The Name and Address of the Informant. The informant can be a friend, a relative or a total stranger, who saw an accident, witnessed a fight or was there, when someone fell down and died. The informant may know the person, who died, very well or are they, only casual friends. A genealogy hopes that the information on the death certificate is accurate.

11.    The Date When the Death Certificate is registered.

 

Deed History or Records – Deeds are records of land ownership and transactions. To find out the history of a piece of real estate, researcher can work backward or forward from one deed to the next. Each deed tells, who conveyed the right of possession of land to whom. the list of owners in succession is called the chain of title. Records of deeds may be found in libraries, archives and museums, in the area. Deeds are usually found at the county level.

 

District Attorney’s Office – The District Attorney’s Office Records would include all the cases from the office. These would feature his views on each case. The District Attorney’s office records would have his thoughts and written notes. These records would be available at the county level. The District Attorney’s office records would be available, after a time at libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

District Courts – The term of a district court, parish court or city court judge is six years. District Courts: Jurisdiction. A district court has jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters. It is the exclusive original jurisdiction of felony cases and of most cases involving property. This is of particular interest in Louisiana. These records may be found at the county or parish level. These records may be available at the court house of parish records building. If the records are older they may be at libraries, archives or museums, in the area.

 

Divorce Records – Divorce records are normally at whatever level, one finds the marriages. Divorce records are usually found at the county level. A genealogist may know that there great grandfather was married more than once. What the genealogist may not find is a divorce record. In the past, when Social Security Records and other records had not been created yet, men would leave a wife and sometimes some children, to go someplace else and possibly have another family. This happened over and over again. These men were usually not found out. One man left several families; he was very brave in three different United States Military Campaigns, for which he used three different common names. Late in his life, with another wife and children, he was receiving three different pensions for the three different campaigns under three different names at the same address, and living well. Women would also leave, but not if they had children normally.

 

Domestic and Juvenile Relations District Court – Serving the state through a number of judicial districts, the domestic and juvenile relations district court is a limited jurisdiction trial court that hears cases involving children and families. The records for the domestic and juvenile relations district courts would probably be available at the state level, however it is up to the state, when and if these particular records will be available.

 

Election and Voting Records, County and State – The State Election Board Records include:

Election Returns

Minutes

Correspondence

Candidate Filings

Poll Books

Legislative and Congressional District Maps

Expense Affidavits

Contested Election Files

Voter Lists

Street Lists of Voters

Municipal Primary Elections

The State Election Board usually oversees elections. The counties usually administrate the elections. State election board records may be found at state libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Family Matters Records – are usually found at the state level. Any family matters records, that are available would probably be available after a period of time, and that time period would be determined by the state, or federal law. Family matter records may be found in libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Foreclosure Records – Foreclosures is a legal process, in which a lender attempts to recover the balance of loan from a borrower who has stopped making payments to the lender by forcing the sale of the asset used as the collateral for the loan. Formally, a mortgage lender mortgagee, or other lien holder, obtains a termination of a mortgage. Foreclosure Records, if they are available, would be found at the county level. Foreclosure Records may be found in libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Foreclosure Sales – A Foreclosure is a legal process, in which a lender attempts to recover the balance of a loan from a borrower, who has stopped making payments to the lender by forcing the foreclosure sale of the asset used as the collateral for a loan. Foreclosure sale records if they are available, would be at the county level. Foreclosure sale records may be found in libraries, archives or museums, in the area.

 

Fornication or unfaithfulness – Intercourse between people, not married to each other. There were laws, in the past, forbidding adultery and fornication. Another definition of fornication would be extramarital sex, extramarital relations, infidelity or cuckoldry, impurity before marriage or sexual immorality. The records of fornication, as unlawful may be found, after a period of time, to be determined by the state, in libraries, archives and museums, of the area.

 

General District Court – Serving the state through a number of districts, the general district court is a limited jurisdiction trial court that hears civil case involving amounts in controversy up to a certain amount, and conducts trials for traffic infractions and misdemeanor offenses.

 

Guardianship Records – the position of being legally responsible for the care of someone, who is unable to manage their own affairs. One example, would be the guardianship of a child or children, whose biological parents were dead, and no responsible relatives could be found. Legal guardianships would usually be under the laws of the state. Therefore, found at the state level. Guardianship records, if available after a period of time, determined by the state, could be in libraries, archives or museums, in the area.

 

Gun Permits Records – Concealed carry or carrying a concealed weapon, or CCW, is the practice of carrying a weapon, such as a handgun, in public in a concealed manner, either on one’s person or in close proximity. Gun or weapons permits records, are usually found at the state level. This is a more recent law. If not found at the state level, a genealogist might try libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Jury Service or Duty Records – are usually found at the county level.

 

Justice of the Peace Court Records – are usually found at the county level. A keeper of the peace is a judicial officer, of a lower or puisne court, elected or appointed by means of a commission, to up keep the law. In past centuries the term commissioner of the peace was often used with the same meaning. Justice of the peace court records could be available at the libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Juvenile Court Records – or young offender’s court, is a tribunal having special authority to pass judgements for crimes that are committed by children or adolescents, who have not attained the age of majority. However, as of 2007, no United States data reported any exact numbers of juvenile offenders prosecuted as adults. Juvenile court records are usually closed for a number of years. That number, is determined by the particular state or federal laws. When the juvenile court records are released to the public, the records could be at libraries, archives or museums, in the area.

 

Immigration Records and Immigration Courts Records – Immigration Court is an administrative court that hears removal and deportation proceedings. Foreign nationals can acquire legal status in the United States or may be removed from the United States depending on the decisions made by immigration judges. Appeals from the Immigration Court are heard by the Board of Immigration Appeals. The Executive Office for Immigration Review or EOIR is an office within the United States Department of Justice that is responsible for adjudicating immigration cases in the United States. The EOIR oversees immigration courts in the United States through the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge. Immigration Records are usually found at the federal level. If and when, these records are released, they would be available at libraries, archives and museums.

 

Land Records are covers in a separate section.

 

Liability -the legal definition of legal liability includes, obligations under law arising from civil actions, torts or under contract. Legal liability can only be decided by courts even if the settlement is made out of the court by mutual agreement. Liability insurance normally covers only the liability arising from torts and not from the contractual obligations. Another definition of liability means responsible or answerable in law; legally obligated. Legal liability concerns both civil law and criminal law, and can arise from various areas of the law, such as contracts, torts, taxes or fines given by government agencies. The claimant is the one who seeks to establish, or prove, liability. Claimants through a myriad of different theories of liability. Which theories of liability are available in a given case depends on the nature of law in question. For example, in cases involving a contractual dispute, one available theory of liability is breach of contract; or in the tort context, negligence, respondent superior, vicarious liability. strict liability or intentional conduct are all valid theories of liability. If and when liability or legal liability are released, in a particular case, they could be found at the county level. As to where to find these records, they may be found in libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Liens, Adverse – To discover if a current property has any liens on it, you will need to perform a lien search. You can do this in a number of ways, but the simplest and most cost effective method is to do an online public records search. On an online search database, type in your county, enter the search details, and view the documents right online. You also, can download the documents to your device or print them. A public records search can give you information about involuntary liens including state tax liens, IRS liens, mechanic and material liens, abstracts of judgement, hospital liens and child support liens. A visit to the county recorder’s office is another way to research potential liens on property. Lien records, that are older and could be used for genealogy purposes, may be found at libraries, archives or museums, in the area.

 

Lien Releases – When a person pays off a loan in full, the lien is removed, The asset is no longer pledged to the creditor when the balance is completely paid. When this happens, the creditor acknowledges the release of the lien by signing a Mortgage Release of Lien Certificate. Lien Release records may be found at the county court house, or the county records building. Older record may be found at libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Local Court Records – are usually found at the local level.

 

Magistrate Services – Serving the state through the offices of a number of judicial districts, according to each state. The magistrate’s primary functions are to conduct probable cause hearings on complaints of criminal conduct brought by law enforcement or the general public and to determine whether an arrested person is eligible for bail. These records would probably be available on the state level. It would be up to the state, when and if these particular records would be available. When the records are available, they would be found at the library, archives or museum, in the

 

Marriage Licenses and Records – are usually found at the county level. Some of the information that Marriage Licences and Records may contain include:

1.     The Register Number

2.     The Registration District

3.    The Place, Where the Couple was Married. Now people, often get married away from home, or in romantic places. In the past, people usually got married close to home. Now, it is easier to travel.

4.     The Name of the Groom. In the past and sometimes now, couples usually live closer to the husbands home, because that’s where he works. As the most common reason for a women’s death was child birth. Many men got married a number of times.

5.     The Name of the Bride. In the past, and sometimes now, couples usually get married closer to the brides family. Women would, use their married name form their first or last husband. Some women would have a whole list of surnames, because husbands kept dying.

6.     The Age of the Bride and Groom. In the past, when the groom had to be twenty-one years of age to get married, men or boys would lie about their age. Before identification, such as drivers licences, the lie worked. In the past, when the bride had to be eighteen years of age to get married, women or girls would lie about their age too. Girls actually lied about their age more than boys, sometimes they lied to the husband, about their age.

7.    The Occupation of either Person, in the Couple. In the past, women didn’t usually work at a job outside the home. A man’s occupation was very important. He was considered to be the bread winner.  A women worked in the home, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, baking, taking care of the children and often making something or doing something to bring in more money, for the family.

8.     The Residence of each of the People in the Couple. The Bride and the Groom usually live in the same town, city, county or community, at least in the time before everyone had their own personnel computer. The state, county and town or city are almost always part of the information of the marriage licence or certificate. The specific addresses of the individuals are not always listed on the marriage licence or certificate.

9.     The Name of the Father of the Bride and the Groom. The name of the father of the bride is more likely to be on the marriage licence or certificate. Because the father of the bride gives his daughter, in marriage, to the groom in the ceremony. Some counties in some states, give the names of both fathers or both parents. Of course, at times a the name of the father or parents may not be on the marriage licence or certificate because they have already died. Some officials or participants may choose to have the name or names on the document, anyway. Sometimes information is written on the marriage licence or certificate to add to the information on the document, that the people involved feel is important. Any more information can be helpful.

10.    The Different Ways that a Couple can be Married include: Wedding Banns, Marriage Licence and Marriage Certificate.

11.     The Signatures or the Marks of the Couple and the Witnesses. The further we look back in time, the fewer people know how to read and write. Before the United States mandated school, only the wealthy could get a good education. After schools were created, we have a much more thoughtful general public. The Groom was more likely to be able to read and write.  Some people, even though they were wealthy, didn’t feel it was important to educate girls. Some people, who couldn’t read or write, still learned how to write their name. Many people felt they had to be able to write their name.

 

Meeting Minutes also, known as protocols, formal notes or informal notes, are an instant written record of a meeting or hearing. The minutes, typically describe the events of a meeting. they may include a list of attendees, a statement of issues considered by the participants, and related responses or decisions on the issues. Meeting Minutes Records may be available at the federal, state or county level. These records may be found at libraries, archives or museums, in the area.

 

Mortgages – A mortgage is a legal agreement by which a bank or other creditor lends money at an interest rate, in exchange for taking title of the debtor’s property, with the condition that the conveyance of title becomes void upon the payment of the debt. Another definition is to convey a property to a creditor as security on a loan. An example: the estate was mortgages to the hilt. Another definition is a mortgage is a loan in which property or real estate is used as collateral. The borrower enters into an agreement with the lender, usually a bank, wherein the borrower receives cash upfront, then makes payments over a set time span until he pays back the lender in full. If these records are released to the public, it would be at the county level, at the court house or at the county records building. As the records get older, the records could be at a library, archive or museum, in the area.

 

Municipal Court Records – A definition of municipal court is a court the sits in some cities and larger towns and that usually has civil and criminal jurisdiction over cases arising within the municipality. The origin of the municipal courts in the United States began between 1810 and 1820. The municipal court records are usually found at the local level. These record may be found at the court house or the county records building. If the records are older, they may be in libraries, archives or museums, in the area.

 

Parish Courts Records – There are parishes within counties, which are parts or sections of people divided up into groups. Louisiana calls their counties, parishes. So, Louisiana has parish courts, rather than county courts. Any parish court cases or parish court business would be found at the parish level. The Parish court records would be available in libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Passport Records – Passports are usually found at the federal level. Passport applications can be an excellent source of genealogical information. The National Archives and Records Administration or NARA has passport applications from October of 1795 to March of 1925; the The United States Department of State has passport applications from April 1925 to present. You may do research in passport applications, 1795 to March of 1925, in person at the National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington D.C., 20408-0001. Begin your research at the Robert M. Warner Research Center. There is a staff available to answer your questions. Researchers, who are coming from some distance may want to call in advance of their visit, to verify the research room hours and to have any additional questions answered. The Consultant’s Office can be reached at 202-357-5400.

 

Patent and Copyright Courts and the Law – A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state or inter governmental organization to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time, in exchange for a detailed public disclosure of an invention. A patent may include many claims, each of which defines a specific property right. Patent and copyright records are usually found at the federal level.

 

Phone Books, Address Directories and Related Records – A telephone book is a book containing an alphabetical index of names and addresses of persons in a city, district, organization, etc. Some of the other things that one might be able to learn from phone books or address directories are name or names of occupants of the home, address, titles,business, occupation, organization memberships and others. Some early address directories and phone books can be a fountain of information. Phone books and address directories are usually found at the local level. The old versions of the phone books and address directories may be found at libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Plat Maps, Histories and Records – These Plat Maps, Histories and Records are usually found at the county level or the state level. These items of research may be available at libraries, archives and museums. A list of these items includes:

Plat Maps

Surveys

Land Ownership Maps

Townships and County Boundaries

References

Websites

Maps of Cemeteries

County Maps

Homestead Surveys

Homestead Maps

Township Maps

State Histories

County Histories

Histories of Boundary Changes

Public Land Surveys

Maps of Roads and Trails

Inherited lands

Land Grants

Land Patents

 

Probate Court Case Records – When wills are contested, the probate court is responsible for ruling on the authenticity of the document and the mental stability of the person, who signed it. Probate court case records are usually found at the state or county level. When the records are released by the courts, they could be at the county court house or county records building. The older records may be found at libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Property Tax – A property tax or millage rate is an ad valorem tax on the value pf a property, usually levied on real estate. The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located. This can be a national government, a state government, a county government, a geographical region or a municipal government.

 

Public Records – The legal definition of public records is a record required by law, to be made and kept, a record made by a public officer or a government agency in the course of the performance of a duty, a record filed in a public office. Most of the public records are at the county level. If those, records are not available at the court house or in the county records office or building; those records may be available at the libraries, archives or museums, in the area.

 

Separate Maintenance – Separate maintenance is very similar to alimony. It is a way for one spouse to continue to support the other , during or after a legal separation. Separate maintenance, is a legal term, by definition, can be during a legal separation, as a general rule, a gross income includes amounts received as alimony or separate maintenance. The records of separate maintenance may be found at the county level, at the county court house or the county records building. The records of separate maintenance, that are older may be found at libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Sex Offender Records- The legal definition of a sex offender, the generic term for all persons convicted of crimes involving sex, including rape, molestation, sexual harassment and pornography production or distribution. This information may be available in sex offender records, of trials and hearings. These records may be available in court houses or court record buildings. The older records may be found in libraries, archive and museums, in the area. If not found there, then the records may be found in newspapers, of the time.

 

Sheriff’s Office Records – Historically, a sheriff was a legal official with the responsibility for a shire or a county. In modern times, the specific combination of legal, political and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from county to county. In the United States a sheriff is a sworn law enforcement officer and the duties of the office vary across states and counties. A sheriff was generally an elected county official, with duties that typically include policing the unincorporated areas, maintaining county jails, providing security to the courts in the county, and in some states, serving warrants and court papers. In addition to the policing and correctional services, a sheriff was often responsible for enforcing civil law, within the jurisdiction. A sheriff or high sheriff is a ceremonial county of city official in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, sheriffs are judges. in the Republic of Ireland, some counties and in the Cities of Dublin and Cork, sheriffs are legal officials similar to bailiffs. In the United States the sheriff’s records and the sheriff’s office records are usually found at the county level. The records of the sheriff’s office may be found, at the county court house, or the county records building. As the records get older, they may be found at libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Small Claims Court Records – Small claims courts primarily resolve relatively small monetary disputes. Lawsuits in small claims courts are limited to between $3,000 and $10,000, depending on the state, the limits can be different according to the state. No all types of claims are aloud in small claims court. The small claims court records may be found at the county or state level. The small claims court records may be available at the county court house or the county records building. Older records of small claims court may be found at libraries, archives and museums, in the area.

 

Special Court Records – Special Courts have limited jurisdiction, that deals with a particular field of law, rather than a particular territorial jurisdiction. Some of the Courts that come under the category of Special Courts include: the United States claims court, or suits against the United States Government, concerning taxes, the territorial courts, Courts of the District of the Columbia, the Armed Services Court of Appeals, Veterans Court of Appeals, The United States Tax Courts. Some of these records may be available at the federal level, after a period of time.

 

Special Justices – Judicial officers appointed by the chief circuit court judge, who are especially authorized by statute to hear mental health commitment cases. These records would usually only, be available after a certain time, decided by the state. These records would be at the state or county level, if available.

 

State Census – are taken at the county level. Some of these censuses may be available online, or online, with a local library card. Please see your local library. The state censuses can be available at the state or county level, depending on the state. In some states the censuses are available at a central point. In some states these censuses are available county by county. Some counties, in some states maintain their own censuses in libraries, archives or museums. Some of the counties have destroyed these records. It is a good idea, to find out where a particular census is before you go looking for it. Email or make a phone call to a state archive or library, to start your search, this will keep from wasting your time and money.

 

State Court of Appeals – The intermediate appellate court, or the Court of Appeals reviews decisions of the circuit courts, in domestic relations matters, traffic infractions and criminal cases, except death penalty cases, appeals from administrative agencies and decisions of the state workers’ compensation commission.

 

State Supreme Courts – Most State Supreme Courts are courts of last resort. The state supreme courts review decisions of the Circuit Court and the Courts of Appeals, when such appeals have been allowed, decisions from the State Corporation Commission, and some disciplinary actions of the State Bar, where attorney are concerned.

 

Tax on Deeds – A legal document that grants ownership of a property to a government body, when the property owner does not pay the taxes due on the property. A tax deed gives the government the authority to sell the property in order to collect the delinquent taxes and transfer the property to the purchaser.

 

Tax on Property – A property tax or millage rate is an ad valorem tax, on the value of a property, usually levied on real estate. The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located. This can be a national government, a federated state, a county or geographical region or a municipality. The Property tax assessor in your municipality will likely assign a value to the house and calculate your taxes based on that assessed value. It is important to note that assessed value is usually not the same as a property’s fair market value.

 

Titles – In property law, a title is a group of rights in one piece of property, in which a party may own either a legal interest or equitable interest. The rights in the bundle may be separated and held by different parties. It may also, refer to a formal document, such as a deed, that serves as evidence of ownership. The difference between a property deed and a title.  A Title is a legal way of saying you own a right to something. For real estate purposes, a title refers to ownership of property, meaning that you have the right to use that property. Sometimes the deed is referred to as the vehicle of the property interest transfer. At the basic level a title is a document, that indicates recognition of ownership, in a government that acknowledges individual property rights.

 

Traffic Case Records – Traffic court is a municipality’s specialized judicial process for handling traffic ticket cases. In the United States, a person, who is given a citation by a police officer, can either plead guilty and pay the indicated fine directly to the court house, by mail, or in some more urban municipalities , on the internet. This definition is usually how the process works, at this time. In the past, a person could go to court, to see a judge and try to get the fine lifted, or pay the fine. Even before that, a fine could be levied for a person driving a carriage to fast, through town, in the 1860’s.

 

United States Census Records – are usually found at the federal level, and are available online for a fee, at your library for free or at home with your local library card, for free. Please see your local library, for a library card, and to find out about the particulars. The United States Census is taken every ten years. These records are available to the general public after seventy-two years. Although there are many errors in the United States Census, it is still one of the best sources, that we have today.

 

Veterans Information – A veteran is a person, who has had a long service or experience in a particular occupation or field. A military veteran is a person, who has served or is serving in the armed in the armed forces. A county may have lists of those, who enlisted, received a pension, were wounded, died or came home as a hero, among others. Another definition of a military veteran is any person, who has served for any length of time, in any military service branch including the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Marines. Certain Coast Guard personnel operating under the War Department. Navy Department, or Department of Defense are also, military veterans. However, some other uniform wearing agencies are also, military veterans.

 

Vital Records – Vital Records are records of life events kept under governmental authority, including: birth certificates, death certificates, marriages and divorce records. These records are available from state and territorial records. In some jurisdictions, vital records may also, include records of civil unions or domestic partnerships. In some states one may find birth certificates and death certificates, at the state health department.

 

Wills, Inheritances and Estate Records- Wills, inheritances and estate records can be a very useful genealogy sources. For example: if a son or daughter is not in the will of a father, then it is likely that the son or daughter is already dead. Usually, if one of the family has fallen out of favor, then he or she would still be in the will. The amount of money or anything else, that he or she inherits would be very little, such as a penny in the past or a dollar today. This is meant as a sign, that this individual was not forgotten. If the individual was forgotten and not listed in the will, he or she could challenge the will. Wills Inheritances and Estate Records may be found at the county or state level. These records may be found in libraries, archives and museums, in the area. Some of the information in these  records that may be available include:

Whether or not some of his or her children or other relatives are still living or dead.

What kinds of things were in his or her will, including: money, homes, household goods, furniture, livestock, farm or plantation equipment, clothing, land and slaves. Slaves, that is people were considered property.

What personal items did he or she own. By this we mean: books, Jewelry, shoes and other things.

In some cases, in some states, and if he bought curtain items, he could will these items to people. If he bought jewelry for his wife in the past, he could will those things to his mistress. In some cases, he wills all of her things away, to a mistress or his children.

What did he or she own, while he or she was alive.

What caused his or her death.

When did he or she die.

Where did he or she die.

The names of those relatives and friend, who are still living.

What was the age of the man or the woman.

Who, of his or her relatives, was in his or her good graces.

Who, of his or her relatives, was not in his or her good graces.

Who, of his or her friends, was in his or her good graces.

Who, of his or her friends, was not in his or her good graces.

Where family members live. If the relatives live further away, his or her location, may be included in the will.

The will may explain if there is more than one person, with the same name.

The will may tell those left behind, what organizations that he or she was involved with.

The will may tell those left behind, what occupation or occupations he or she held.

A genealogist may get an idea of his or her views on politics.

A genealogist may get information on the investments that the person, in question, is interested in.

This is just some of the information, that may be available, to genealogists, from wills.

 

Witnesses – There are different kinds of witnesses. The Legal definition refers to the court supervised recital of that sensory experience, in writing, a deposition, but preferably in person and under oath, called testimony. another version of the term witness is a person, who testifies under oath in a trial, or a deposition which may be used in a trial, if the witness is not available, with first hand or expert evidence useful in a lawsuit. A party to the lawsuit, either plaintiff or defendant may be a witness. A person, who sees an event. A person, who observes the signing of a document. The types of witnesses include: Expert Witnesses, Runaway or Viva Voce Witnesses, Adverse Witnesses, Evidence Witnesses, Attesting Witnesses, Accomplice Witnesses, Witness of Sight, Hearing, Smell or other sensory perceptions and Affidavit Witnesses, among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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