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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Ohio, Cuyahoga County Probate Files,1813-1917 .

Record Description

The collection consists of case files of the Probate Dockets from the Cuyahoga County courthouse in Cleveland for the years 1813 to 1917. The files are arranged by docket number and case number. 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). Docket folders marked with a "C" or "No Docket Specified" are miscellaneous files. ;They contain out of order documents from several dockets. Dockets 62, 69, 80, 87, 94, 105, 110, 111, 112, 115, 120 and 125 in their entirety are not available for public use and were not imaged.

This collection is being published as images become available.

For a list of docket numbers currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.

For more information about these records see the section "General Information About These Records" below.

Record Content

Information found in the probate varies by case and may include any of the following:

  • 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:

  • If the individual lived within the county at any time.
  • The approximate date the event occurred.
  • The name of the individual or individuals

Search the Collection

To search the collection:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the "Docket Number"
⇒Select the "Case Number and Date" which takes you to the images.

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person 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.

Using the Information

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. For example:

  • 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.
  • 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 and guardianship of any minor children and dependents.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • 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.
  • 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.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • 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.

General Information About These Records

County officials, usually the county clerk, began keeping records from the time the county was formed. 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. Other cases reflect the variety of issues that were solved in the Probate Court system.

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.

Probate Dockets contain many different types of cases.

  • Estates - 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) Sometimes found are copies of probate cases from other states or localities for previous county residents still owning properties in Cuyahoga County. Also, by treaty, foreign nationals who died within the US required a probate case.
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

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
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.

Related Websites

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 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.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box: Ohio, Cuyahoga County Probate Files, 1813-1917

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 Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

"Ohio, Crawford County Obituaries, 1860-2004" Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing County Genealogical Society, Galion.