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Guide to Columbia County, Pennsylvania ancestry, family history and genealogy in courthouse sources including birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, wills, deeds and land records, Civil War records, Revolutionary War records, family histories, cemeteries, churches, tax records, newspapers, and obituaries.

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Columbia County, Pennsylvania
Map
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Columbia County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Facts
Founded March 22, 1813
County Seat Bloomsburg
Courthouse
Columbia County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Address Columbia County Courthouse
35 West Main Street
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
Columbia County Website
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Contents

Columbia County Pennsylvania Historical Facts

Beginning dates for major county records
Birth
Marriage
Death
Deeds
Probate
1893
1885
1893
1813
1813
Pacolumbia.jpg
  • County Seat: Bloomsburg
  • Neighboring Counties: Columbia County, Pennsylvania residents may also have records in:[2]

Boundary Changes

  • Before 1813: Columbia was part of Northumberland County.
  • 3 May 1850: Montour County formed, giving Columbia County its current boundaries.

For animated maps illustrating Pennsylvania county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Pennsylvania County Boundary Maps" (1673-1878) may be viewed for free at the MapofUS.org website.

Records Loss

For a list of record loss in Pennsylvania counties see: Pennsylvania Counties with Burned Courthouses

Columbia County Pennsylvania Genealogy Resources

Bible Records

Biographies

Cemeteries

Cemetery records often reveal birth, marriage, death, relationship, military, and religious information.

Online Grave Transcripts Published Grave Transcripts County Cemetery Directories

Findagrave.com

Family History Library

Findagrave.com

Interment.net

WorldCat

Names in Stone

USGenWeb-transcriptions
USGenWeb-tombstone photos

Billion Graves

Pennsylvania Genealogy

Epodunk

Pennsylvania Gravestones

Billion Graves

Names in Stone

Linkpendium

Ancestry($)

Access Genealogy

See Pennsylvania Cemeteries for more information.


Census

For tips on accessing Columbia County, Pennsylvania Federal (or United States) census records online, see: Pennsylvania Census.

There are no county or state census records available for Pennsylvania. County and city tax records can be used as a substitute when census records are not available.

Church Records

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. In Pennsylvania, church records are often used as a substitute for birth, marriage, and death information. For general information about Pennsylvania denominations, view the Pennsylvania Church Records wiki page.


Columbia county pennsylvania churches.png

The Columbia County Historical and Genealogical Society maintains files on over 300 area churches. The files are comprised of church histories, membership rolls, marriage records, and more. An index to the files can be accessed by going to the "Resources" tab on the home page and then clicking on the "Churches and Cemeteries (Files)" link. Society volunteers will search the files for others. Those interested are encouraged to contact the society by telephone (570-784-1600).

Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

Additional church records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Columbia County, Pennsylvania Church Records  in online catalogs like:


County-wide Database - Multi-denominational
Contains church records of:
  • Berwick: First United Methodist Church; St. Paul Methodist Church; United Methodist Church
  • Bloomsburg: First Presbyterian Church; Lutheran Church; Trinity Reformed Church (United Church of Christ); Wesley United Methodist Church
  • Catawissa: First United Methodist Church
  • Espy: St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Fowlerville: Lutheran Church
  • Millville: United Methodist Church
  • Philadelphia: Columbia Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church; Covenant United Presbyterian Church
Lutheran

St. John's Lutheran Church, Catawissa

Court Records

Columbia County, Pennsylvania court records are housed at the Columbia County, Pennsylvania Courthouse. For many counties copies of court records may be found at the Pennsylvania State Archives and in the FamilySearch collection. Note that within these collections some films may contain the same records, but have different titles. Other titles are not duplicates. See Finding Court Records at other repositories within this section for links to the online catalogs for these two collections. Films at the Pennsylvania State Archives are not available for inter-library loan. If court records are available FamilySearch films may be ordered at a local Family History Center.


Court of Common Pleas

The Courts of Common Pleas are the trial courts of Pennsylvania. Major civil and criminal cases are heard in these courts. Judges also decide cases involving adoption, divorce, child custody, abuse, juvenile delinquency, estates, guardianships, charitable organizations and many other matters. The Common Pleas courts are organized into 60 judicial districts. Columbia County, Pennsylvania shares its judicial district with Montour County. Judges of the Common Pleas courts are elected to 10-year terms. A president judge and a court administrator serve in each judicial district.[4]

1814-1861 Common Pleas dockets FHL Films 955613-14. Includes naturalizations, divorce petitions, deeds, insolvency, contracts, and lunacy.

Clerk of the Court

The Clerk of Courts prepares and maintains the records for the Criminal Division of the Court of Common Pleas. The Clerk signs and affixes the Seal of the Courts to all writs and processes, administers oaths and affirmations, and assumes custody of the seal and records of the Courts. The Clerk certifies and distributes orders of the Court. The Clerk also certifies and prepares bills of costs for the defendants and utilizes the computerized financial management system to disburse fines, costs and restitution.[5] For the Columbia County, Pennsylvania Clerk of Courts address see the Courthouse section on this page.


Prothonotary

The office of the Prothontary is the custodian of all civil matters in the county. This includes naturalization, immigration, equity actions, judgements, federal and local tax leins, city liens, family court, arbitrations, license suspension appeals, appeals to higher court, commercial code filings, applications for passports and divorce proceedings. See the Courthouse section on this page for the Columbia County, Pennsylvania Prothonotary office information.


Orphans' Court

See Vital Records
The Orphans' Court is responsible for a wide range of matters. The name of the Court is derived from the more general definition of "orphan," that being a person or thing that is without protective affiliation or sponsorship. This would include those not capable of handling their own affairs, minors, incapacitated persons, decedents estates, nonprofit corporations and trusts. It is the role of the Court to ensure that the best interests of the person or entity are not compromised.

It is believed the name of this court was borrowed from the Court of Orphans of the city of London, England which had the care and guardianship of children of deceased citizens, in their minority.[6]

For Columbia County, Pennsylvania Orphans' Court contact information see the Courthouse section on this page.


  • 1814-1869 Orphans' Court dockets FHL Films 955824-27. Indexes are found at the beginning of each volume.

Finding Court Records at Other Repositories

Additional court records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Columbia County, Pennsylvania Court Records in online catalogs like:



Emigration and Immigration

For information about emigration into Pennsylvania, see the Pennsylvania Emigration and Immigration page.


Ethnic Groups

Germans

Gazetteers

Genealogy

History

Published Histories
  • Freeze, John G. A History of Columbia County, Pennsylvania. Bloomsburg, Pa.: Elwell and Bittenbender, 1883. Digital version at Internet Archive - free.

Land and Property

Land records in Columbia County began in 1800. These records are filed with the Register and Recorder's office in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts, indexes, mortgages, leases, grants, sheriff sales, land patents, and maps. Property records include liens as well as livestock brands and estray records.

The following are examples of available resources:

Online Land Records

  • 1974–present Columbia County offers free online access to indexes. Fees apply to view images.

Land Records on Microfilm

Additional Resources

Note that the "Maps" section below includes maps related to land ownership.

See Pennsylvania Land and Property for more information about using land records, especially about original land warrants, surveys, and patents filed at the state land office.

Additional resources can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Columbia County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:

Maps

https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/images/0/04/Columbia_county_pennsylvania_townships.pngColumbia county pennsylvania townships.png
About this image
Click the image to view an enlarged version


  • Maps of Pennsylvania (1673-1878)
  • Ancestor Tracks has posted free downloadable images from the 1876 Atlas of Columbia & Montour Counties, Pennsylvania.  This atlas located in the Library of Congress shows major landowners and geographic sites at the date of publishing.  While the physical maps are in the public domain, the images we have taken of the maps belong to us and are not to be used commercially.  We hereby give permission to use them strictly for personal use; please attribute to Ancestor Tracks.

Migration

Military

Naturalization and Citizenship

Naturalization records can contain information about immigration and nativity. Prior to 1906, it is rare to find the town of origin in naturalization records. See Pennsylvania Naturalization for more information about the types of records and availability.

Naturalizations granted at the county level were kept by the office of the Prothonotary. Naturalizations could also be granted on the Federal Court level.


Naturalization records available for Columbia County, Pennsylvania include the following:

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records


Original Naturalization Records on Microfilm

Finding Naturalization Indexes at Other Repositories

Additional naturalization indexes can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Columbia County, Pennsylvania naturalization in online catalogs like:

Newspapers

Columbia County, Pennsylvania newspapers may contain genealogical value including obituaries, births, marriages, deaths, anniversaries, family gatherings, family travel, achievements, business notices, engagement information, and probate court proceedings.

To access newspapers, contact public libraries, historical/genealogical societies, college or university libraries, or state archives in the area where the newspaper was published.

For information on state-wide newspapers see Pennsylvania Newspapers


Newspapers of Columbia County

Online Newspapers

To learn if there are newspapers online for a specific town or city in Pennsylvania, see news.google.com/newspapers and search for the town or the name of a newspaper

Online Newspaper Abstracts

Obituaries

Obituaries are generally found in local newspapers where the person died. However, sometimes an obituary is found in the location from which he or she originated. To find an obituary, see the information under the Newspaper heading


Online Obituary Abstracts

PA-Roots Obituaries for Columbia County.

Occupations

Indentured Servants

Periodicals

Poorhouse, Almshouse

Probate Records

Probate matters in Columbia County, Pennsylvania are handled by the Orphans' Court and start when the county was created. To obtain original probate records, contact the Orphan's Court in the County Courthouse.

In addition to wills and administrations, the Orphans' Court also handles: audits of accounts of executors, administrators, trustees, and guardians; distribution of estates of decedents, incompetents, and minors; appointment and control of guardians; adoptions; appeals from the Register of Wills involving probate matters; inheritance tax appeals and various petitions and motions.


Online Probate Records

Original probate records for some Pennsylvania counties are available free online as digital images at FamilySearch.org. The dates vary significantly for each county and not all counties are listed. Some counties may only have probate indexes. This Pennsylvania collection of images may be browsed through the links listed below:

Complete Collection:

Columbia County Only:

Original Probate Records on Microfilm

Repositories

Archives
  • The Pennsylvania Archivescollection contains county archive records that can be searched onsite. Currently the Archives' staff cannot provide research or make copies of these records. Their collections include Almshouse Registers; Tax records; Birth, Death and Marriage Indexes and Records; Midwife records; African American records; Wills; Deeds; Naturalizations; Coroner's inquests; and Orphan's Court dockets. A list of the Archive's county holdings are on Microfilm or Manuscript form.


Courthouse

Columbia County Courthouse
35 West Main Street
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
Phone: 570.389.5600
Hours: M-F, 8 am - 4:30 pm

The Register and Recorder's Office can be reached at 570.389.5632.

Office of the Prothonotary
Columbia County Courthouse
35 West Main Street
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
570-389-5600

Family History Centers

Family History Centers (FHCs) are branches of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and are located all over the world. Their goal is to provide resources for family history research.

The main FHC for Columbia County, Pennsylvania is the Berwick Pennsylvania Family History Center. For additional nearby Family History Centers, search online in the FHC directory.

Libraries
Museums
Societies

Rich in history, Columbia County, Pennsylvania contains a number of societies dealing with the history of the area.

Columbia County Historical and Genealogical Society.
225 Market Street
P.O. Box 360
Bloomsburg, PA 17815-0360
Phone: 570–784–1600

Montour County Genealogical Society, MCGS
205 Ferry Street
Danville PA 17821
570-275-6177

Genealogy Room: Thomas Beaver Free Library, 2nd Floor
Hours: Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Mondays 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Fee: $2.00 an hour for non-members, no charge for members

The collection includes records for Columbia, Montour and Northumberland Counties. Research requests may be submitted in writing using a printable form which includes the fee schedule

Taxation

Vital Records

Vital records are handled by the County Orphans' Court. Between the years 1852-1855 Pennsylvania made a failed attempt to record birth, marriage and death events at the county level. While the records for that time period are available, there were few events recorded. County marriage records were kept in earnest in 1885. Births and deaths, at the county level, were begun in 1893 and kept through 1905. Abstracts and copies of vital records are available for some counties, but most are incomplete. For the most complete set of records, always contact the County Orphans' Court.



See also How to order Pennsylvania Vital Records


Birth

Early births 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. See the heading Court Records on this page for contact information.

Indexes for Pennsylvania birth records are available through the Department of of Health for 1906 and 1907. Once an individual is located in the index a non certified Birth certificate can be obtained by writing and sending $3.00 to:

Division of Vital Records
ATTN: Public Records
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103


Marriage

Pennsylvania marriages are located at the county level. Contact the Columbia County, Pennsylvania clerk's office for these records.

  • 1700-1821 - Pennsylvania Marriage Records Ancestry.com – ($) This database is incomplete for all counties.
  • 1725-1976 - Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1709-1940 - free index. Not complete for all years. This index is not necessarily intended to index any specific set of records. This index is not complete for any particular place or region. This collection may include information previously published in the International Genealogical Index or Vital Records Index collections.
  • Pre-1810 – Pennsylvania Marriages Ancestry.com – ($) This database is incomplete for all counties. Includes 35,000 marriage records from vol. VIII of of the second series of the Pennsylvania Archives.
  • 1852-1854 - Pennsylvania Marriages Ancestry.com – ($) Index with images.
  • 1885-1950 - Pennsylvania County Marriage, 1885-1950 Extracted marriage records – free. This database is incomplete for all counties. May also contain marriage records earlier than 1885.
  • 1895-1907 USGenWeb indexes several marriage lists for Columbia County.
  • Marriage Records of Columbia and Montour Counties at Ancestry.com - ($); book transcription; Marriages taken from newspapers Columbian Democrat and The Intelligencer.
Divorce

Divorce records are available through the office of the Prothonotary. The office of the Prothonotary is located in the courthouse building.

Death

Early deaths 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. See the heading Court Records on this page for contact information.

Indexes for Pennsylvania death records are available through the Department of Health for 1906 through 1962. Once an individual is located in the index a non certified death certificate can be obtained obtained by writing and sending $3.00 to:

Division of Vital Records
ATTN: Public Records
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103


  • 1852-1873, 1893-1905 - Columbia County Death Index 1852-1873 and 1893-1905 in International Genealogical Index at FamilySearch - free.[3]
  • 1852-1854 – Pennsylvania Deaths Ancestry.com – ($) Index with images.
  • 1893-1905 - USGenWeb indexes several death lists for Columbia County.

Finding Vital Records at Other Repositories

Additional vital records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Columbia County, Pennsylvania Vital Records in online catalogs like:


Genealogy Societies and Libraries

Columbia County Pennsylvania Genealogy Websites

Columbia County Pennsylvania Places

Populated Places

Columbia County Pennsylvania Genealogy References

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Adams County, Pennsylvania" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adams_County,_Pennsylvania (accessed 17 July 2012).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/images/2/23/Igipennsylvaniac.pdf.
  4. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania http://www.pacourts.us/T/CommonPleas/ accessed 10 July 2012.
  5. Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, Clerk of Courts in http://www.pacourts.us/T/CommonPleas/ClerksOfCourts.htm (accessed 25 Aug 2012)
  6. The Philadelphia Courts at http://www.courts.phila.gov/common-pleas/orphans/ accessed 10 July 2012

 

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  • This page was last modified on 19 November 2014, at 18:03.
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