Court Records ~ Miscellaneous
Estate Partitions, Bankruptcy, Etc.

 

  There are a number of types of proceedings which do not involve disputes between two parties, and therefore do not require being judged by either by a justice of the peace or a common pleas judge. These types of proceedings, though, do require being recorded and filed in the court house. The documentation filed in the court house as a result of these various types of proceedings may be useful to the genealogist or historian.

  When an estate goes to probate (i.e. settlement) if a will has been written by the deceased, the estate will be divided by the court according to the wishes of the deceased. If a will has not been written by the deceased, the disposition of the estate will be decided by the court. This is referred to as intestate proceedings. In the past, the real and personal estate would be divided equally among the spouse and children of the deceased. Estate partition records from the Nineteenth Century are valuable to genealogists and historians because they provide unique and detailed descriptions of the real and personal estate of the deceased. In regard to the real estate, a group of (usually) twelve men, neighbors of the deceased, would be gathered together. They would either visit the deceasedís real estate and walk over it, or refer to previously filed deeds, in order to determine how the total estate might be divided equally among the survivors.

  In a bankruptcy case there is neither a defendant nor a plaintiff. Bankruptcy cases involve either a debtor who files for protection against creditors, or creditors who file against the debtor in an attempt to force the debtor into bankruptcy.

  There are certain cases which are classed as domestic relations disputes. These disputes are those which occur between married couples, and may or may not lead to divorce proceedings.

  Juvenile cases involve charges brought against children who are under the legal age, and therefore not prosecuted as adults.

  The various types of court cases: civil, criminal and all the other miscellaneous types have been recorded in dockets since the 1700s. Proceedings of the court of quarter sessions were recorded by handwriting on paper sheets which were then bound into the volumes, called dockets, during the Eighteenth and early-Nineteenth Centuries. With the advent of typewriters in the mid-Nineteenth Century, the docket books were constructed as binders with removeable sheets so that individual pages could be removed, typed onto and added as required. In more recent years, with the advent of computers, the handwritten or typed docket books have been superceded by computer programs. No matter what the physical structure of the docket, the basic information that has been recorded over the years has remained the same to the present time. In the past (i.e. prior to the advent of computers), the docket entry contained primarily the names of the defendant(s) and plaintiff(s), a docket/case number and the judgement of the case. The modern docket entry normally contains the name of the court to which the case was assigned for judgement, a case number or name, an explanation of the case to identify the reason for its being filed, the name of the judge presiding over the case, the names of the defendant(s) and plaintiff(s), and the names of the attorney(s) involved.

Check the webpage titled simply, Court Records, for a list of available sources of published and unpublished civil, criminal and miscellaneous records.