Ohio Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Ohio, Probate Records, 1789-1996 .
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Ohio, United States
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Flag of Ohio
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Location of Ohio
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1789-1996
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites

What is in the Collection?

This collection includes records from 1789 to 1996.

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. Probate records are generally well preserved, but some may have been lost in fires or other disasters.

The collection consists of probate records and estate files from county courthouses in Ohio. The content and time period varies by county.

Fires have destroyed some Ohio county courthouse records. The following list may be helpful to you:

  • Adams County. A courthouse fire in early 1910 destroyed most of the probate records up to that point. Will book abstracts from 1849 to 1860 and some pre-1860 guardianship papers survived.
  • Delaware County. A fire in 1835 destroyed most early records. Will records from 1812 survived.
  • Hamilton County. The courthouse has had three fires: one in 1814, the second on 9 July 1849, and the third on 30 March 1884. The 1884 fire resulted in the most lost records.
  • Licking County. A courthouse fire on 3 April 1875 destroyed many of the early probate court records.
  • Champaign County. A courthouse fire in 1948 destroyed the intestate records in the probate court.
  • Fulton County. The first courthouse was located in Ottokee. A fire broke out on the night of July 14, 1864, and destroyed many of the early records. It seems that a Judge Barber had made a personal record of the early wills. This old book is referred to as "Barber's Abstracts" and is available at the county records center.
  • Henry County. The courthouse was destroyed by fire on 17 April 1847. The court records were destroyed in the fire.
  • Seneca County. The courthouse was destroyed by fire on 29 May 1841. Probate records exist from 1828. Some of the records in this county have been reconstructed in part by using other documents such as deeds and early newspaper accounts of individuals’ deaths.
You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Ohio, Probate Records, 1789-1996.

Collection Content

Sample Image

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Probate records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees and other court documents. They include the following information:

  • 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
  • Residence of the testator
  • Document and recording dates

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • Name of the deceased
  • Other identifying information such as death or probate date and county of residence

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "County" category
⇒Select the "Volume Title and Year" category which takes you to the images.

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details. Add this new information to your records of each family. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Use the document (such as the will) or the recording dates to approximate a death date.
  • Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records since the probates exist for an earlier time period.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.
  • Use the occupations listed to find employment records or other types of records such as military records.
  • You may be able to use the probate record to identify heirs and relatives and to learn about:
land transactions
adoptions or guardianships of any minor children and dependents
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; 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 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.
  • The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the deceased or the testator.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after 1900.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.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.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.  

Collection Citation:

"Ohio, Probate Records, 1789-1996." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing County Courthouses, Ohio.

Image citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Ohio, Probate Records, 1789-1996.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

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 also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.