Ohio, Cuyahoga County Probate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Ohio, Cuyahoga County Probate Files,1813-1932 .
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States
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Location of Cuyahoga County, Ohio
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Location of Ohio
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1813-1932
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites

What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of case files to the Probate Dockets from the Cuyahoga County courthouse in Cleveland for the years 1813 to 1932. 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 more information about these records see the section "General Information About These Records" below.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Ohio, Cuyahoga County Probate Files,1813-1932.

Collection Content

Sample Images

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

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

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 Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the deceased.
  • The approximate date of probate.
  • The names of family members who may be named in the probate file.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒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.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s probate 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.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • 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.
  • 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.

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

  • 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.

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 article. If you encounter additional problems, plea se 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, Cuyahoga County Probate Files, 1813-1932." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Cuyahoga County Archives and Cuyahoga County Courthouse, Cleveland.

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, Cuyahoga County Probate Files,1813-1932.

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