Courthouse Records – Orphans’ Court

WHERE ARE THE ORIGINAL RECORDS?

Orphans’ Court / Clerk of Courts office

10 East High Street, Room 103
Greene County Courthouse
Waynesburg, Pennsylvania 15370

Physical records exist in two formats: Docket Books and original Paper Files. Not all paper files have survived to present day. Some were checked out by attorneys in the past and never returned, others have been lost or destroyed over the last 200 years. However, paper files that are still intact may provide valuable additional details, handwritten signatures, maps, exhibits, and so on.

ONLINE RESOURCES:

Greene County, Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court records are currently being digitized for preservation and access. Most digital records must still be viewed in the office; however, the very oldest Docket Books are also online, as follows:

ABOUT THE RECORDS (courtesy of Chester County, PA Archives):

Orphans’ court is a valuable but under-utilized source for genealogical information. Many people are confused by the name of the court, as its duties extend beyond caring for children. Orphans’ court is a county court. It has additional duties now, but the court’s earlier jurisdiction fell into 3 general categories: guardianship of minor children, the sale or division of real estate out of a decedent’s (deceased person’s) estate, and the confirmation and auditing of estate accounts. Orphans’ court records should always be checked when working with probate records.

There are two types of orphans’ court files:

  • decedent’s estate contains records of an estate settlement; it is a continuation of the probate process. The most common type of record in these files is an account of administration. Most of these are duplicates of accounts that were filed with the will or administration (probate) records. Records related to the sale or division of real estate are not duplicated in the probate file; these papers may list family members. Records related to the auditing of accounts may also contain information of genealogical value.
  • minor’s estate contains guardianship papers. A minor was someone under the age of 21. A child could have a guardian even if one or both parents were alive. The guardian was given charge of the minor’s property; in most cases, the minor continued to live with family members. Guardianship records often name one or both parents and state if the child was above or below the age of fourteen. Typical files contain petitions for guardians; by the second half of the 19th century, inventories and guardianship accounts become more common. The files are not duplicates of probate records.
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