The Orphans Court administers and maintains record of all guardianship proceedings. The guardianship proceeding is where children of a recently deceased person requires a guardian. In days past, if a father died, the mother would generally be disenfranchised from the family. Because of the mores of the times, the wife did not possess any legal standing during the marriage, and therefore did not possess any upon the husbandís demise. She then would seek out and marry another man. The children of the deceased father may or may not remain with their natural birth mother as a result of this.
The Orphans Court was, in effect, named that because of the volume of guardianship proceedings, taking care of the orphans, that the county courts had to deal with.
The guardianship proceeding was normally worded as: "Came into court, Mary Smith, daughter of John Smith, late of Frankstown Township, to request that a guardian be appointed to handle her affairs." As a result, you can obtain valuable information in regard to the children of a deceased individual, or from the opposite direction, the parents of a child recently orphaned. Also, the person who would volunteer to become the legal guardian of the child was often (but not necessarily always) a relative or neighbor.