Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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Guide to Adams County, Pennsylvania ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

County Facts
County seat: Gettysburg
Organized: January 22, 1800
Parent County(s): York[1]
Neighboring Counties
Cumberland  • York  • Franklin  • Frederick (MD)  • Carroll (MD)
See County Maps
Adams County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Location Map
Adams County PA Map.png
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County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

It is named after the second President of the United States, John Adams. On 1–3 July 1863, Gettysburg and its vicinity was the site of the pivotal battle of the American Civil War, and as a result is a center for Civil War tourism. It is located in the Northwest corner of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Adams County Courthouse
111 Baltimore St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-2312
Phone: 717-334-6781
County of Adams Prothonotary 717-337-9834
County of Adams Clerk of Courts & Orphans' Court 717-337-9806
Adams County Website

Clerk Court has birth and death records 1852-1855 and 1893-1905 and marriage records 1852-1855 and from 1856.

Prothonotary Office has divorce and court records from 1800
County Recorder has property and land records from 1800[3]

Accounts, Adoptions, and Guardian records are filed in the Orphans' Court. The court maintains records from 1800 to the present.

Adams County, Pennsylvania Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1852 1852 1852 1800 1800 1800 1790
*Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1906. General compliance by 1915.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

  • Formed from York County in 22 January 1800.[5]
  • County seat: Gettysburg[6]

For animated maps illustrating Pennsylvania county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Pennsylvania County Boundary Maps" (1673-1878) may be viewed at the website.

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[7]

Unincorporated communities
Census-designated places
Historic communities

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Adams County, Pennsylvania online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Pennsylvania Cemeteries for more information

Additional Cemetery Resources

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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1800 13,172
1810 15,152 15.0%
1820 19,370 27.8%
1830 21,379 10.4%
1840 23,044 7.8%
1850 25,981 12.7%
1860 28,006 7.8%
1870 30,315 8.2%
1880 32,455 7.1%
1890 33,486 3.2%
1900 34,496 3.0%
1910 34,319 −0.5%
1920 34,583 0.8%
1930 37,128 7.4%
1940 39,435 6.2%
1950 44,197 12.1%
1960 51,906 17.4%
1970 56,937 9.7%
1980 68,292 19.9%
1990 78,274 14.6%
2000 91,292 16.6%
2010 101,407 11.1%
Source: "".

Federal Census

state census

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. For members, they may contain: age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage date and maiden name; death/burial date. For general information about Pennsylvania denominations, see Pennsylvania Church Records.

Adams county pennsylvania churches.png

Perhaps the earliest religious denomination to be established in the county was the Church of the Brethren or the Dunkards who came around 1840. The Church of England or Episcopal congregations if the English were formed soon after. They kept few records. The Dutch Reformed church came around 1865. German Lutherans came to the county around 1780-1800. Other groups to come included Methodists, Irish Catholics, and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. Not all the early churches to settle in the county stayed active to the present day.

The Adams County Historical Society
Archives of the Historical Society contain:

A church and cemetery file.
A collection of Parish Register Transcripts: Many from old Lutheran and German Reformed congregations, and some from Presbyterian, Methodist, and Roman Catholic churches situated in the greater south-central and southeastern Pennsylvania and Maryland areas.
Baptisms, marriages, etc. in over 300 Lutheran & many non-Lutheran Churches in Adams County and area.

The Adams County Historical Society website includes a detailed list of Adams County Clergymen covering the entire period of the county's history (1800-present). Clergymen's names, churches served, and dates served are included in this online resource.

Historical Sketches

County-wide Database

Contains church records of:
  • Abbottstown: St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church; St. John's Lutheran Church
  • Arendtsville: Zion United Church of Christ
  • Barlow: Mount Joy Lutheran Church
  • Bendersville: Bethlehem Lutheran Church
  • Biglerville: St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church; Trinity United Church of Christ
  • Butler: Benders Church
  • Conewago: Sacred Heart Basilica
  • East Berlin: Trinity Lutheran Church
  • Fairfield: St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church; Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Franklin: Lutheran Church
  • Gettysburg: Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church; St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Latimore: Chestnut Grove Evangelical Lutheran Church; Lower Bermudian Lutheran and Reformed Union Church
  • Littlestown: Christ United Church of Christ; St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • McSherrystown: St. Paul Lutheran Church
  • Mount Joy: Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church; Marks German Reformed Evangelical Lutheran Congregations
  • Mount Pleasant: St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church; United Brethren in Christ
  • Straban: St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Uriah: United Methodist Church
  • York Springs: Holy Trinity Lutheran Church; United Brethren in Christ

Conewago Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Conewago Township

Dutch Reformed
Conewago Dutch Reformed Church, Straban Township

Lutheran and Dutch Reformed Church, Arendtsville

Christ's Episcopal Church, York Springs


  • 1785-1874 Adams County, Pennsylvania, 1785-1874: Lutheran and Reformed Congregations at Ancestry ($).

Christ Lutheran Church, Gettysburg

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, York Springs

Lower Bermudian Lutheran and Reformed Union Congregation

Lutheran and Dutch Reformed Church, Arendtsville

Mark's Lutheran Reformed Church, Mount Joy Township

St. Mark German Reformed and Evangelical Lutheran Congregation, Gettysburg

St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church, Gettysburg

St. John Lutheran Church, Abbottstown

Upper Bermudian Church, Huntington Township

The Methodist Episcopal Church, Gettysburg


  • Burial Record of Lower Marsh Creek Presbyterian Church at Ancestry ($).

Rock Creek Congregation, Gettysburg


  • 1785-1874 Adams County, Pennsylvania, 1785-1874: Lutheran and Reformed Congregations at Ancestry ($).

Benders Reformed Church, Butler Township

Bermudian Reformed Church, Latimore Township

Emanuel Reformed Church, Abbottstown

  • 1768-1875 Emanuel Reformed Church, Abbottstown, Baptism Index 1768-1875 in International Genealogical Index at FamilySearch. Batch C510181 Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche.

German Reformed Congregation, New Oxford

St. John's Evangelical and Reformed Church, Fairfield

Trinity Reformed Church, Gettysburg

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court Records[edit | edit source]

For information about records kept in the Orphan's court, Prothonotary Court, Court of Common Pleas, and other courts in counties of Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Court Records Wiki page.

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

For online resources, passenger lists, and specific groups coming to Pennsylvania, see Pennsylvania Emigration and Immigration.

The Scotch-Irish made settlements at the "Marsh Creek Settlement" and the "Great Conewago Settlement" about 1740 in what was a predominantly German area.[8]

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

For groups that came, see People section of the Pennsylvania Emigration page.

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

The Orphan's Court ensures the best interests of those not capable of handling their own affairs: minors, incapacitated persons, decedents' estates, and more.[9]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a specific location and reveal family relationships. Records include: deeds, abstracts, indexes, mortgages, leases, grants, sheriff sales, land patents, maps and more. For more information, see Pennsylvania Land and Property.

Land records in Adams County began in 1800. These records are filed with the Register of Wills/Recorder of Deeds office in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Online Land Records

  • 1800–1936 Adams County offers online access to indexes and images. Fees apply. Refer to the website for current availability and fees.
  • Rev. Neal Hively has done extensive land record compilations and land mapping of York and Adams counties. Information concerning his work can be found online.
  • 1800-1934 Deeds, 1800-1851; Index 1800-1937. FHL films 20666–20676 - images only; click on the camera icon to view images

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Franklin CountyCumberland CountyYork CountyWashington CountyFrederick CountyCarroll CountyPA ADAMS.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War
Men from what is now Adams County (then York County) served in the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment.[10]

Civil War
Regiments. Men in Adams County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (part of a large regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in Adams County:

Civil War Battle
The following Civil War battle was fought in Adams County.

  • July 1-3, 1863 Gettysburg[11]
  • Pennsylvania. General Assembly. House of Representatives. Select Committee relative to the Soldiers' National Cemetery. Revised report of the select committee relative to the Soldiers' National Cemetery together with the accompanying documents as reported to the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.' (Washington [District of Columbia] Library of Congress, Photoduplication Service, 1988), FHL Film 1486517.
  • Pennsylvania. Surveyor General's Office. List of soldiers, (prisoners of war), belonging to Pennsylvania regiments, who died at the military prison, at Andersonville, Georgia : from February 26, 1864, to March 24, 1865.' (Bethesda, Maryland : University Publications of America, c1992.), FHL Fiche 6083894
  • Gettysburg National Military Park helps visitors relive this battle.
  • Map showing Civil War battles in Pennsylvania.

World WarII

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Naturalization records can contain information about immigration and nativity. Prior to 1906, it is rare to find the town of origin in naturalization records. For more information, see Pennsylvania Naturalization

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Newspapers may contain obituaries, births, marriages, deaths, anniversaries, family gatherings, family travel, achievements, business notices, engagement information, and probate court proceedings. Newspapers are often found in local or university libraries, historical or genealogical societies, or state archives in the area where the newspaper was published. See Pennsylvania Newspapers for more information.

Newspapers of Adams County

Online Newspapers

To learn if there are newspapers on line for a specific town or city in Pennsylvania, see and search for the town or the name of a newspaper

Online Newspaper Abstracts

Newspaper Excerpts and Abstracts

  • Stover, Robert, Abstracts From the Republican Compiler, Adams County, Pennsylvania 1831-1851 (Gettysburg, PA:R. Stover, c1976) At various libraries (WorldCat; FHL Collection
  • Sullivan, Raymond (compiler), A collection of newspaper clippings of vital records from the Evening Sun, Gazette and Daily, Adams Co., York Co., Pennsylvania, Carroll Co., Maryland, 1968-1969; Sykesville Times Caroll County Times, Carroll Co., Maryland, 1967-1968, 1967-1969 (SLC, Utah:1969) FHL film 599824–599829 item 1 Includes "Evening Sun," (Gazette and Daily) " "Carroll Co. Times," Sykesville Times," (Gazette and Daily) and "Evening Sun."

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Obituaries are generally found in local newspapers where the person died or where family members lived. Local libraries or societies may have indexes or other sources.

Online Obituary Abstracts

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate matters in Adams County are handled by the Orphans' Court and start when the county was created.

In addition to wills and administrations, the Orphans' Court also handles: audits of accounts of executors, administrators, trustees, and guardians; distribution of estates; appointments of guardians; adoptions; appeals from the Register of Wills; inheritance tax appeals, and various petitions and motions.

Online Probate Indexes and Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

  • Adams County USGenWeb Project This site has the Returns of Taxables of the County of York for the Years 1779, 1780, 1781, 1782, and 1783 online. Adams County was a part of York County during these years.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

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. County marriage records were kept in earnest in 1885. Births and deaths, at the county level, were begun in 1893 and kept through 1905. For the most complete set of records, contact the County Orphans' Court.

Birth[edit | edit source]

Early births 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. For more information, see Pennsylvania Vital Records.

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Pennsylvania marriages were created by county officials. Contact Adams County Courthouse

Death[edit | edit source]

Early deaths 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. For indexes and records, 1906 and later, see Pennsylvania Vital Records.

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Divorce records are available through the office of the Prothonotary.

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Adams County. For state-wide archival repositories, see Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries.

National Archives at Philadelphia
14700 Townsend Road
Philadelphia, PA 19154-1096
Phone: 215-305-2044
Fax: 215-305-2052

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Adams County. For state-wide library facilities, see Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries.

Adams County Library System
140 Baltimore Street
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Phone: 717-34-5716
Fax: 717-334-7992

Museums[edit | edit source]

Appalachian Trail Museum Society
1120 Pine Grove Road
Gardners, PA 17342
Phone: 812-936-3366

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Adams County. For state-wide genealogical societies, see Pennsylvania Societies.

Adams County Historical Society
P.O. Box 4325
111 Seminary Ridge
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Phone: 717-334-4723
Includes Battle of Gettysburg Research Center

Lutheran Historical Society of the Mid-Atlantic
c/o United Lutheran Seminary
61 Seminary Ridge
Gettysburg, PA 17325

Websites[edit | edit source]

  • Adams County USGenWeb Project This site contains a significant number of links to online Adams County genealogical data.
  • Adams County Government Web Site
  • Linkpendium - Adams County
  • Adams County PA Genealogy
  • FamilyHart Online Database, FamilyHart(aka Don & Jeanine Hartman), has the largest collection of York and Adams County family genealogies online (Total database size over 843,000 linked names, most with York and Adams County ties). They also have a large collection of family photographs, documents, and headstone pictures associated with these families.
  • FamilyHart's Harry Senft Cemetery Pictures- 100s of 1000s of headstones in over 200 cemeteries in York and Adams counties that are ALL posted online with associated indices. In conjunction with FamilyHart (aka Don & Jeanine Hartman), Custom Google Maps for each cemetery location have been produced so that the user can easily find the cemetery. An index of the cemeteries listed is also provided by name and by location. In addition, indexing of the actual cemetery picture are being linked to the FamilyHart Online Database. The FamilyHart Online Database contains over 843,000 linked family names, most of which have connections to York and Adams counties. This family database is the most comprehensive and complete listing of York and Adams County names on the Internet. It grows by about 1,500 names per week, and is updated online quarterly.
  • Pennsylvania Dutch Family History, Genealogy, Culture and Life This site contains links to everything Pennsylvania Dutch.
  • FamilySearch Catalog – The FamilySearch catalog contains descriptions and access information for all genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications) in their collection.  Use Historical Records to search for specific individuals in genealogical records.

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. Adams County Pennsylvania accessed 2/1/2017
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists : United States of America, 10th ed., (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002)Adams County, Pennsylvania, p.588
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  6. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Adams County, Pennsylvania," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, Adams County accessed 10 January 2020.
  8. Wayland F. Dunaway, The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania (Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1944), 57-58. Free digital version at PA's Past: Digital Bookshelf at Penn State.
  9. The Philadelphia Courts at Common Pleas accessed 10 July 2012
  10. John B.B. Trussell and Charles C. Dallas, The Pennsylvania Line; Regimental Organization and Operations, 1776-1783 (Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1977). Digital version at Family History Archive.
  11. Heritage Preservation Services, Civil War Battle Summaries by State, (accessed 7 August 2012)