200 South Juliana Street, Bedford, Pennsylvania 15522 (Corner of Penn and Juliana Streets)
General Court House (814) 623-4807
Register & Recorder (814) 623-4836
Prothonotary (814) 623-4833
Archives (814) 624-2248
Bedford County's records start in the year 1771 and extend to the present day. For records prior to 1771 look in Cumberland County. Bedford County was the mother county of Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset. Records for the region that would become Huntingdon are found in Bedford's between 1771 and 1787. Records for the region that would become Somerset are found in Bedford's between 1771 and 1795. Records for certain portions of the region that would become Cambria are found in Bedford's between 1771 and 1804. Records for certain portions of the region that would become Blair are found in Bedford's between 1771 and 1846. Records for the region that would become Fulton are found in Bedford's between 1771 and 1850.
The Estate Files are maintained in the Register & Recorders Office, and are open to the public. The original dockets containing Wills and Deeds are not maintained in this office; all the records have been microfiched, but the microfiche are quite readable and useable. The microfiche files are kept in a room located to the left upon entering the Office; and through a room in which current dockets are filed. A book form index to the files is available in the room where micro-fiche readers are located; this index includes estates filed into the year 1992. Also available is a computer on which the index has been transcribed; this index contains up-to-date estates. Both forms of index refer the researcher to an estate files number, which is the number of the microfiche on which it has been photographed. The microfiche sheets are kept in a leaf storage unit in the center of the microfiche reading room. Researchers are welcome to help themselves to the microfiche files. You are on the honor system to return them to their proper sequential location in the storage unit. A microfiche copier is available, but only the clerks may operate it. A photocopier is available and it can be used by researchers without assistance. A fee is charged for use of both copier machines. The computer files may be accessed by the researcher on any of four computer terminals without charge. A table, with four chairs, is available for use in the microfiche files room. Elsewhere in the Office are counters for use.
The Orphans Court Files are maintained in the Prothonotary Office, and are open to the public. The Orphans Court Dockets, Birth and Death Dockets, Continuance Dockets, Marriage Dockets, Widow Appraisement Dockets, Court of Quarter Sessions and various others are all stored in a small, shelved room located to the left upon enterring the Office and past a swinging gate in the counter. Many of the original documents for the Orphan's Court are also stored in this room in drawer shelves; none of these records have been microfiched to date. Some of the older original documents have been removed from these files in recent years and stored elsewhere for safer keeping. The researcher may request to have an item photocopied by the clerks; a fee is charged. By request, certain items may be taken across the hall and photocopied on the Register & Recorders copier for the cheaper fee charged there. The only problem with using the Prothonotary Records is the lack of space to work comfortably. Two window ledges in the docket room are available and counters in the Office are available, but there are no tables.
The Tax Assessment Records until recently were maintained in Vault #1, located in the basement and directly beneath the Prothonotary Office. Access to this vault is by obtaining the key from the clerk of the Register and Recorder's Office. The original tax assessment records, after being damaged by a broken water pipe in 1996, were moved to the Pioneer Historical Society of Bedford County at 242 E. John Street. The vault still contains various types of original documents/ records including Election Returns, Tavern Licenses, Land Warrants, Fox and Wolf Scalp Orders. Numerous other minor court records are filed in boxes and shelves in the two vault-rooms which make up Vault #1. These records are all the original documents and all researchers are on the honor system to treat them with the respect that they deserve. Despite the fact that the space is small, a narrow table, with two chairs, is available for use in Vault #1.
The Civil Court Records are maintained in Vault #2, located in the basement and directly beneath the Register & Recorders Office. Access is by obtaining the key from the clerk of the Register and Recorder's Office (as noted above for Vault #1). Some Naturalization Papers were kept in this vault, but the researcher should inquire for these at the Prothonotary Office because the Prothonotary had, at one time, removed them to that office. Whether that was a permanent move of the records is not known. The Vault #2 still contains Constable Reports and certain other similar types of documents
Topographic maps and certain other maps of the county and her townships can be obtained at the Tax Office located in a small building adjacent to the court house on its south side. It can be easily found, located beside the parking lot at the rear of the court house.
Personal photocopiers are not permitted in the Register & Recorders Office or the Prothonotary Office; they are permitted to be used in the Vault storage areas, though. Portable computers and word processors may be used in the Offices if permission is requested, and such equipment is not too large.
|Note: The comments in this section were derived from numerous, random visits to this Court House over a period of time. They might not represent everyone's experience at this Court House. They are presented here because certain of the Courts have consistently exhibited ill-will toward both, genealogical and historical researchers.|
The Bedford County Court system has very cooperative personnel. It doesn't matter in which office you are performing research, the clerks and officials are helpful and congenial. The clerks will sometimes perform cursory research for you by phone inquiry (depending on the extent of information requested) and photocopies of documents will be mailed, for a fee.
The researcher who has ancestors to hunt for in Bedford County is fortunate that he/she can do so in an atmosphere of ease and friendliness.