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Bradford County, Pennsylvania
Map
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Bradford County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Facts
Founded February 21, 1810
County Seat Towanda
Courthouse
Bradford County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Address Bradford County Courthouse
Recorder's Office
301 Main St.
Towanda, PA 18848
Bradford County Website
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Contents

Historical Facts

Beginning dates for major county records
Birth
Marriage
Death
Deeds
Probate
1893
1885
1893
1812
1812


Boundary Changes[3]

Note: Connecticut claimed the area which included what is now Bradford County before 1808 or 1827, depending on the source.

  • Before 1772: Most of today's Bradford County was included in Northampton County, the rest was not included in any county until 1785.
  • 1772: Northumberland County, including the part containing future Bradford County was carved from Northampton County.
  • 1785: The remainder of future Bradford County was annexed to Northumberland County.
  • 1786: Luzerne County, which then included future Bradford County, was formed from Northumberland County.
  • 21 February 1810: Ontario County (now defunct), which included future Bradford County, was carved from Luzerne County. [1]
  • 6 March 1812: Ontario County was renamed Bradford County.[1]


Resources

Bible Records

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-transcripts Billion Graves
Pennsylvania Genealogy Epodunk
Pennsylvania Gravestones
Billion Graves
Names in Stone
Access Genealogy
Ancestry($)

See Pennsylvania Cemeteries for more information.


The Bradford County Historical Society maintains indexes to the burials that have taken place in the Bradford County Cemeteries.  Cemetery information is also listed on the Tri-Counties Genealogy & History website.  Over time, not all burials have been recorded.

Census

For tips on accessing Bradford 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.
Bradford county pennsylvania churches.png
Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

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

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational
Contains church records of:
  • Athens: First Presbyterian Church; Trinity Episcopal Church
  • Burlington: Broad Street United Methodist Church; Union Street Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Canton: First Presbyterian Church; First United Methodist Church
  • Evergreen: Evergreen Baptist Church
  • New Albany: New Albany Baptist Church
  • Sayre: First Presbyterian Church; St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Stevensville: St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Francisville
  • Towanda: First United Methodist Church
  • Ulster: Presbyterian Church
  • Wilmot: St. John's Lutheran Church
  • Wyalusing: Trinity Episcopal Church
  • The Bradford County Historical Society genealogical library and research center has a collection of church lecords that can be used onsite. They are creating a list of those and it will be added to the site when it is complete.
  • The Tri-Counties Genealogy and History website has a number of Bradford, Chemung, and Tioga county church links connecting users to histories and records of those churches.
Baptists

Baptists were among the earliest settlers in Bradford County. They arrived around 1891 from Chemung (now Wellington) New York.

Catholic

The Catholic took holf on the early 1820s when there was a larg influx of itis into the area.

Lutheran

The Lutheran congregations were establidhed by Germans in the mid-1800s.

Methodist

The methodist Episcopal church, though not a large group, had an early presence in the county.

Presbyterian

Many of the Presbyterians began as Congregationalist th the late 1700s.

Court Records

Bradford County, Pennsylvania court records are housed at the Bradford 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. Bradford County, Pennsylvania has its own judicial district. 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]

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 Bradford 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 Bradford County, Pennsylvania Prothonotary office information.

Orphan's 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 Bradford County, Pennsylvania Orphans' Court contact information see the Courthouse section on this page.

Finding Court Records at Other Repositories

Additional court records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Bradford 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

The History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, with Biographical Sketches, by H. C. Bradsby, 1891 is available at the Tri-Counties Genealogy and History website.

Published Histories

Land and Property

Land records in Bradford County began in 1812. These records are filed with the Recorder/Register/Clerk of the Orphan's Court office in Towanda, 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.

Be aware that (particularly in the early 1800s) deeds were not always recorded. Sometimes the early tax assessments will make mention of these early land transfers--giving the name of the grantor and grantee.

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 Bradford County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:

Maps

  • Ancestor Tracks has posted free, downloadable images from the Map of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, From Actual Surveys by Lake Ames & Davidson (Philadelphia: Wm. J. Barker, 1858).  This wall map 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 comercially.  We hereby give permission to use them strictly for personal use; please attribute to Ancestor Tracks.
  • 1858 Map of Bradford County, PA has been posted online at chanur.com

Migration

Early migration routes for European settlers to and from Bradford County, Pennsylvania included:[7]

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.

Finding Naturalization Indexes at Other Repositories

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

Newspapers

Bradford 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 Bradford 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.

  • The earliest newspaper coverage for Bradford County predates the organization of the County. These early newspapers are available online through the Wyoming County Historical Society. Newspapers postdating the organization of the county are available through the Bradford County Historical Society.  The Society has indexed the vital record information from these newspapers. This index is available at the Bradford County Historical Society's research center.

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

Obituary Excerpts and Abstracts

  • Fray, Robert G., Bradford County, Pa., Area Deaths (Allentown, Pennsylvania:R.G. Fray Publishing, c2000) FHL book 974.857 V4f v.1 Includes deaths as reported in the Evening Times, orginally published at Syre, Bradford, Pennsylvania. Includes index.

Occupations

Indentured Servants

Periodicals

Poorhouse, Almshouse

Probate Records

Probate matters in Bradford 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:

Bradford County Only:

Original Probate Records of Microfilm

Probate records are located at the Bradford County Courthouse and at the Bradford County Historical Society.


Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

Additional probate indexes or abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Bradford County, Pennsylvania probate wills in online catalogs like:

Repositories

Archives
  • The Pennsylvania Archives collection 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

Bradford County Courthouse
Recorders Office
301 Main St.
Towanda, PA 18848
Phone: (570) 265-1702
Fax: (570) 265-1721
Hours: 9:00 - 5:00 Monday - Friday

Orphans' Court
Phone: (570) 265-1702

Clerk of Courts/Prothonotary
Phone: (570) 265-1705
Fax: (570) 265-1788

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 Bradford County, Pennsylvania is the Towanda Pennsylvania Family History Center. For additional nearby Family History Centers, search online in the FHC directory.

Libraries

Bradford County Library
16093 Route 6
Troy, PA. 16947
Phone: (570) 297-2436

The Bradford County Library is the headquarters for a nine member Bradford County Library System.

Museums

LeRoy Heritage Museum
257 Mill Street
LeRoy, PA
Phone: (570) 364-5003

Mailing Address:
8051 Southside Road,
Canton, PA 17724

The Museum's research library includes materials about historic residents of LeRoy Townhip, former Barclay Township (Barclay Mountain) and Granville Township.

The Home Textile Tool Museum
PO Box 153
Rome, PA 18837
Phone: (570) 247-7175

Learn how your ancestors made their clothing

Societies

Bradford County Historical Society
109 Pine Street
Towanda, PA 18848
Phone: (570) 265-2240

The BCHS maintains a research center/library.  The library's holdings include early probate records, early tax records (including poor children records), an index to vital information in early Bradford County newspapers, an index to cemeteries, local history books, family name files, and many other valuable genealogical records.  The library does not participate in inter-library loan.  Research requests are $50.00 per surname.

Taxation

The original early tax records are housed at the Bradford County Historical Society in Towanda, Pennsylvania. As of May 2011, these records have not been microfilmed. Because these records are in such a fragile condition, the Historical Society has been attempting to make photocopies of the records. The records that have been photocopied have also been indexed--but because of the scope of this endeavor, the indexes may contain errors.

These tax records are contained in individual books for each individual township for each year.  There are some years which are missing.  The names are listed roughly in alphabetical order.

Early tax records for Bradford County are particularly valuable because they contain the "Poor Children" records. If the head of household was considered "poor", the tax collector would list the head of household and all children in the household between the ages of 5 and 12.  The government was then required to pay for the schooling of these children. Typically ages were also listed with the children's names. In many cases, these are the only existing records containing the names of these children.

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.

Births

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

Marriages

Pennsylvania marriages are located at the county level. Contact the Bradford 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.
  • Bradford County Marriages–extracted from newspapers.
Divorce

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

Deaths

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

Finding Vital Records at Other Repositories

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

Web Sites

Places

The following townships are located within Bradford County:  Albany, Armenia, Asylum, Athens, Barclay, Burlington, Canton, Columbia, Franklin, Granville, Herrick, Leroy, Litchfield, Monroe, North Towanda, Orwell, Overton, Pike, Ridgebury, Rome, Sayre, Sheshequin, Smithfield, South Creek, Springfield, Standing Stone, Stevens, Terry, Towanda, Troy, Tuscarora, Ulster, Warren, Wells, West Burlington, Wilmot, Windham, Wyalusing, Wysox.

Populated Places

Towanda (Bradford County Seat)

Wysox

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 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. Pennsylvania line : a research guide to Pennsylvania genealogy and local history, 1990 ed. (Laughlintown, Pa.: Southwest Pennsylvania Genealogical Services, 1990), [FHL book 974.8 D27p 1990].
  4. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania http://www.pacourts.us/T/CommonPleas/accesssed 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
  7. Handybook, 847-61.
  8. Paul A. W. Wallace, Indian Paths of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, Pa.: PA Historical and Museum Commission, 1971), 46-48. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974.8 H2wp.

 

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