Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Searching for Common Pleas Court Records, Jefferson County, Ohio

Supposing that the newspaper might be accurate in reporting that my great-grandfather Abel Armitage's court case had been filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Jefferson County, I decided to see if I could locate those records.

First I looked again at the Jefferson County, Ohio, court records online at FamilySearch to see if I'd missed, misread, or misunderstood the content of those records.  But no, I didn't find Common Pleas records, unless they're not identified as such.

My next idea was to ask if anyone in the Jefferson County Ohio History and Genealogy group on facebook knew the whereabouts of Common Pleas court dockets.  Someone responded that they are at the Jefferson County Genealogical Society offices.  I knew that many court records had been moved from the courthouse a number of years ago.  I was also aware that the records from the courthouse had been scanned by missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and guessed that many of them had been added to FamilySearch.

I emailed the Jefferson County Genealogical Society and while waiting for a reply checked the courthouse website.  They gave no indication whether the records were there or not.

A representative from the gen. society emailed a day or two later and said that yes, in fact, they had the dockets of the Court of Common Pleas in their offices.  I then asked if there was any plan to digitize them and add them to FamilySearch.  The representative responded that yes, those records were online, too.

Back I went to FamilySearch to see what I could find.  In their Ohio image-only collection I clicked on Ohio, Jefferson County Court Records, 1797-1947,

which took me to a list of links to specific court records.

When I clicked on County Court records I arrived at these options:
The index to the civil docket does not list Armitage, Armiddage, nor Harmitage, nor any other spelling variation of Armitage.  Nor do these dockets look like court of common pleas records (or at least not what I expect them to look like).

I emailed the person from the gen. society again hoping to receive a little more direction about where to find the records online (really hoping for a direct link) but I've received no further response.

The Jefferson County Genealogical Society office is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and Saturdays by appointment.  Wintersville, where the office is located, is a 2½-hour drive from my home.

The questions I need to answer now are
  • How much do I want these records?  
  • What information will they provide that will help me find a death date and location for Abel Armitage?
  • Might there be any other information in these records that would be of genealogical interest?

To you who have more experience with court records, are Common Pleas court dockets also known as Civil Dockets?


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. I'm no Judy Russell, but it seems to me that it would be worth your time to scroll through the dockets since they list upcoming cases involving citizens.

    1. Thanks, Wendy. I was debating with myself whether to do that. I suppose I will.... Those indexes at the front could be wrong.

  2. It sometimes helps to look at the Family Search Catalog to see what records are included in a specific collection. (Also I just recently found out that some images are accessible only from the catalog and not directly from records collections page.)

    Jefferson County Probate Court records are the author of the dockets found in the "Ohio, Jefferson County Court Records" record collection.

    There is a record group that has images available only through the catalog called "Common Pleas civil docket, 1804-1854". Unfortunately this doesn't include the time frame you wanted.

    I wish you well with the search!

    1. Thanks, Grace. I should have mentioned in the post that I'd already done that -- put it in, then deleted it. I found the record set you mentioned. Using the catalog is one thing I don't regularly do but need to make a habit, especially because, as you say, some records are only available online through the catalog link.


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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