Ohio, Cuyahoga County Probate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: Ohio Cuyahoga County Probate Records,1813-1917 .
Collection Time Period
The records for the years 1813 to 1917.
The collection consists of case files of the Probate Dockets from the Cuyahoga County courthouse in Cleveland. The files are arranged by docket number, case number and date. The earliest records are designated Common Plea (before the formation of the Probate Court). The Probate Dockets began alphabetically, A through P, and changed to numeric listing beginning with 17 (replacing Q, the 17th letter). This collection is being published as images become available.
The Probate Dockets contain many different types of cases.
Estate: Three types of cases have been indexed as Estate. There may be several estate cases for one individual
1. Probate cases (described under Record Content) (see example 1) Also found are copies of probate cases from other states or localities for previous residents still owning properties in Cuyahoga County. And by treaty, probate cases were required for foreign nationals who died within the county.
2. Land sales of deceased’s properties, indexed under deceased’s name when possible (see example 2)
3. Trusts or continuations of deceased’s properties
Minor: establishing guardianship for juveniles of deceased, or as otherwise needed
Name Change: Legal name changes, indexed by both the new and the old legal names
Assignment: Before Bankruptcy court was established, trustees were assigned to individuals or companies with financial difficulties.
Appropriation: Cases of eminent domain for parks, roadways, etc. Only the first defendant has been indexed as cases may have dozens of defendants.
Consent to Marry: Parent or Guardians permission for underage marriage
License to Marry: Clergy license
House of Refuge, Industrial Home, Industrial School, Reform Farm, Reform School: assignments of delinquent minors
And a variety of other cases
The biographical information found in the probate cases is:
- Name of the testator or deceased
- Names of heirs, such as spouse, children, other relatives, or friends
- Name of the executor, administrator, or guardian
- Names of witnesses
- Dates the documents were written and recorded (used to approximate event dates since a will was usually written near the time of death)
- Description and value of personal property or land owned by the deceased
How to Use the Record
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- The place where the birth, marriage, or death occurred
- The approximate date the event occurred
- The name of the individual or individuals such as the names of the bride and groom, the infant, or the deceased
Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family.
- Use the date and the locality to search for other records such as census, land, and vital records.
- Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives.
- You may be able to use the probate record to learn about adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents.
- Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records since the probates exist for an earlier time period.
- You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions.
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been born, married, or died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
Keep in mind:
- The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
- Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1900.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one marriage record to another record.
If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
County officials, usually the county clerk, began keeping records from the time the county was formed.
Why the Record Was Created
Probate records were used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. If the deceased had made a will, the probate process transferred the following from the deceased to an executor or executrix: the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title to heirs. If there was no will, the transfer went to an administrator or administratrix. A guardian or conservator was appointed if the deceased had heirs younger than 21 or if the heirs were incompetent due to disability or disease.
The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceedings are reliable, but realize that there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members or those who had previously received an inheritance. In some cases, the spouse mentioned in the will was not the parent of the children mentioned. Also, some wills do not name family members.
Known Issues with This Collection
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection, please read the Wiki Known Issues article. If you encounter additional problems, feel free to report them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.
If you have any questions concerning this collection, please click here to contact FamilySearch.
Related Wiki Articles
Contributions to This Article
| We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We especially need language translations for both content and images. For specific needs, please look for callout boxes throughout the article or visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records. |
Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.
Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should also list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: Help:How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.
Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection
"Ohio, Cuyahoga County Probate Files, 1813-1900." index and images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org: accessed 1 April 2011. entry for Stanford L. Wheeler, will probated 28 March 1879; citing Probate Files, Cuhagoa, Estate files, 1879, docket I case no. 1276-1345, ca. 1879, image 123; Cuyahoga County Courthouse, Cleveland, Ohio.
Sources of Information for This Collection
“Ohio Cuyahoga County Probate Records,1813-1917,” images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org); from Cuyahoga County Archives, Cleveland, Ohio. FHL digital images. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
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