Difference between revisions of "Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy"

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===== Courthouse  =====
===== Courthouse  =====
[http://www.co.elk.pa.us/ Elk County Courthouse]<br>250 Main Street, P.O. Box 448<br>Ridgway, PA 15853<br><br> [http://www.pacourts.us/T/CommonPleas/ClerksOfCourts.htm Prothonotary and Clerk of the Court]<br>Susanne Straub Schneider<br>Elk County Courthouse<br>240 Main Street<br>P.O. Box 237<br>Ridgway PA 15853<br>814-776-5344<br>Fax: 814-776-5303<br>Email: [mailto:sschneider@countyofelkpa.com sschneider@countyofelkpa.com]<br><br>
[http://www.co.elk.pa.us/ Elk County Courthouse]<br>250 Main Street, P.O. Box 448<br>Ridgway, PA 15853<br><br> [http://www.co.elk.pa.us/regrecorder/ Clerk of Orphans' Court/Register of Wills/Recorder of Deeds]<br>Pete W. Weidenboerner<br>P.O. Box 314<br> Ridgway, PA 15853<br> 814-776-5349<br> Fax: 814-776-5382<br>E-mail: [mailto:pete@countyofelkpa.com pete@countyofelkpa.com]<br>Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:30 - 4:00<br><br> [http://www.pacourts.us/T/CommonPleas/ClerksOfCourts.htm Prothonotary and Clerk of the Court]<br>Susanne Straub Schneider<br>P.O. Box 237<br>Ridgway PA 15853<br>814-776-5344<br>Fax: 814-776-5303<br>Email: [mailto:sschneider@countyofelkpa.com sschneider@countyofelkpa.com]<br><br>
===== Family History Centers  =====
===== Family History Centers  =====

Revision as of 23:30, 2 October 2012

United StatesGotoarrow.png Pennsylvania Gotoarrow.png Elk County

Elk County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Elk County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Founded April 18, 1843
County Seat Ridgway
Elk County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Address Elk County Courthouse
250 Main Street P.O. Box 448
Ridgway, PA 15853
Elk County Website
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Historical Facts

Beginning dates for major county records

Named for the elk that historically inhabited the area.

Boundary Changes

29 March 1860: Part taken along with parts from neighboring counties to create Cameron County. [1]


Bible Records


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 Billion Graves
Pennsylvania Genealogy Epodunk
Pennsylvania Gravestones
Billion Graves
Names in Stone
Access Genealogy

See Pennsylvania Cemeteries for more information.


For tips on accessing Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy 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

Elk county pennsylvania churches.png

Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

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

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational
  • "100 years of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese 1843–1943," Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 1. FHL Book 974.8 B2wg. Chronology, map, county-by-county information.

Court Records

Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy court records are housed at the Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy 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. Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy shares its judicial district with Cameron 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.[3]

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.[4] For the Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Clerk of Courts address see the Courthouse section on this page.


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 Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy 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.[5]

For Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy 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 Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Court Records in online catalogs like:

Emigration and Immigration

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

Ethnic Groups





Published Histories

Land and Property

Land records in Elk County began in 1844. These records are filed with the Register and Recorder office in Ridgway, 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

  • 1972–present Elk County offers online access to records. Fees apply.

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 Elk County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:


Ancestor Tracks has posted free downloadable images from the 1855 Map of Elk County.  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 commercially.  We hereby give permission to use them strictly for personal use; please attribute to Ancestor Tracks.



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.

Original Naturalization Records on Microfilm


Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy 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 Elk County, Pennsylvania

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 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 Obituaries Abstracts


Indentured Servants


Poorhouse, Almshouse

Probate Records

Probate matters in Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy 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 Indexes

  • 1843–1880'sElk County Wills at PAGenWeb. Index of the first 100 wills recorded in Elk County, Will Book A. Lists name of deceased, residence, date written, date proved, executors, and witnesses. [Project did not continue on to add all wills recorded in Book A.]

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:

Elk County only:

Original Probate Records on Microfilm

Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

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


  • 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.


Elk County Courthouse
250 Main Street, P.O. Box 448
Ridgway, PA 15853

Clerk of Orphans' Court/Register of Wills/Recorder of Deeds
Pete W. Weidenboerner
P.O. Box 314
Ridgway, PA 15853
Fax: 814-776-5382
E-mail: pete@countyofelkpa.com
Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:30 - 4:00

Prothonotary and Clerk of the Court
Susanne Straub Schneider
P.O. Box 237
Ridgway PA 15853
Fax: 814-776-5303
Email: sschneider@countyofelkpa.com

Family History Centers

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

  • Elk County Genealogical Society
    P.O. Box 142
    Johnsonburg, PA 15845


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.


Some birth records exist for the 1852–1853 time period for Elk County. Only a small percentage of births were recorded in this time period. These records are available at:

Birth records for Elk County began in 1893. The Elk County Clerk of the Orphans Court maintains the birth records from 1893–1906. To obtain a copy of birth record in the 1893–1906 time period you may contact:

Clerk of Orphan's Court
Elk County Courthouse
240 Main Street
PO Box 314
Ridgway, PA 15853

The birth records for Elk County were microfilmed by FamilySearch. These microfilms may be ordered into a local FamilySearch Center or authorized public library for a small fee.

  • 1893-1906 Births - Elk County, Pennsylvania FHL book 974.885 V2cAn alphabetical listing of 1893–1906 births from Elk County was published by Charles Howard Starr. The book is available at the Family History Library.
  • 1893-1907 – Birth Records FHL film 1288685

Beginning in 1906 Pennsylvania birth records are available through the Department of of Health. Birth records become public after 105 years. A statewide index is available. Once an individual is located in the index a certificate can be obtained by writing to:

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

The cost for an non-certified birth certificate is $3.00.


Elk County marriages are maintained by the Clerk of the Orphans' Court. The county began recording marriages in October 1885. A few marriage records were created by the county in the 1853–1854 time period. To obtain a marriage record you may go to or contact the Clerk of the Orphans' Court at:
courthouse building.

  • 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.
  • 1853-1854 – Marriage records FHL film 1317012
  • 1885-1916 – Marriage License Docket film 1288525 (first of 8)
  • 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.

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


Elk County began recording deaths in 1893 although some were recorded from 1853–1854. These records as well as records from 1893–1906 are available at the County Courthouse in Ridgway. You may request a death record from the Clerk of the Orphans' Court. courthouse building.

These county death records were microfilmed by FamilySearch.

Pennsylvania death certificates become public records after 50 years. An annual index is released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Records less than 50 years old are kept by the Division of Vital Records and are not public certificates. Only certain people can request a non-public death certificate. To order a non-public representative you must be:

  • Legal representative of decedent's estate
  • Immediate family member
  • Extended family member who indicates a direct relationship to the decedent
  • Power of Attorney (Please note that a Power of Attorney document is no longer valid upon the death of the individual)

See the Pennsylvania Department of Health website to obtain a copy of a non-public death certificate. The cost is $9.

The cost for a non-certified public death certificate is $3.00. Indexes for Pennsylvania public death records are available online through the Department of Health for 1906 through 1961. Once an individual is located in the index a certificate can be obtained by writing to:

Division of Vital Records
ATTN: Public Records
PO Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

Finding Vital Records at Other Repositories

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

Web Sites


Populated Places

  • Benezette Township
  • Benzinger Township
  • Fox Township
  • Highland Township
  • Horton Township
  • Jay Township
  • Jones Township
  • Millstone Township
  • Ridgway Township
  • Spring Creek Township


  1. 1.0 1.1 Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002]. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "HBG" defined multiple times with different content
  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. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania http://www.pacourts.us/T/CommonPleas/ accessed 10 July 2012.
  4. Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, Clerk of Courts in http://www.pacourts.us/T/CommonPleas/ClerksOfCourts.htm (accessed 25 Aug 2012)
  5. The Philadelphia Courts at http://www.courts.phila.gov/common-pleas/orphans/ accessed 10 July 2012