Centre County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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

County Facts
County seat: Bellefonte
Organized: February 13, 1800
Parent County(s): Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland, Huntingdon[1]
Neighboring Counties
Clinton  • Union  • Blair  • Mifflin  • Clearfield  • Huntingdon
See County Maps
Centre County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Location Map
Centre County PA Map.png
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County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The county is located in the central area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Centre County Courthouse
102 South Allegheny Street
Bellefonte, PA 16823
Phone: 814-355-6727 Fax: 814-355-6707
Prothonotary/Clerk of Courts: 814-355-6796
Recorder of Deeds: 814-355-6801
Register of Wills/Orphan's Court: 814-355-6724 Fax: 814-355-8685
Centre County Website

County Clerk has birth and death records 1893-1905 and marriage records from 1885
Prothonotary Office has divorce records from 1890, court and naturalization records from 1800
Register of Wills has probate records from 1800
Recorder Deeds has land records from 1801[3]

Centre 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
1893 1885 1893 1800 1801 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 Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland and Huntingdon Counties 13 February 1800.[5]
  • County seat: Bellefonte[6]
  • 27 January 1750: Centre County was originally part of Cumberland County when the county was created.
  • 9 March 1771: When Bedford County was carved out of Cumberland County, the western 2/3 of what is today's Centre County was part of Bedford County and the eastern 1/3 remained part of Cumberland County. A very small portion of the eastern-most point was in Berks County.
  • 21 March 1772: When Northumberland County was created, the western 1/3 of today's Centre County remained in Bedford County, while the eastern 2/3 of today's Centre County was included in Northumberland County.
  • 19 September 1789: When Mifflin County was formed, much of today's Centre County became part of Mifflin County; the eastern-most point (about 20% of the county) remained in Northumberland County.
  • 13 April 1795: When Lycoming County was created, a small portion of today's eastern Centre County. was absorbed into Lycoming County, the rest of eastern Centre County remained in Northumberland County, a small southeastern portion offuture Centre County was part of Huntingdon County,and the bulk of the county remained in Mifflin County.
  • 21 January 1839: Clinton County set off.

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

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Centre County Biographies

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

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Centre 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

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Federal Census

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1810 10,681
1820 13,796 29.2%
1830 18,879 36.8%
1840 20,492 8.5%
1850 23,355 14.0%
1860 27,000 15.6%
1870 34,418 27.5%
1880 37,922 10.2%
1890 43,269 14.1%
1900 42,894 −0.9%
1910 43,424 1.2%
1920 44,304 2.0%
1930 46,294 4.5%
1940 52,608 13.6%
1950 65,922 25.3%
1960 78,580 19.2%
1970 99,267 26.3%
1980 112,760 13.6%
1990 123,786 9.8%
2000 135,760 9.7%
2010 153,990 13.4%
Source: "Wikipedia.org".

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.

Center county pennsylvania churches.png

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational

Contains church records of:
  • Bellefonte: Faith United Methodist Church; St. John's Lutheran Church; Trinity United Methodist Church
  • Boalsburg: St. John's United Church of Christ
  • Houserville: United Methodist Church
  • Madisonburg: Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Milesburg: United Methodist Church
  • Philipsburg: Trinity United Methodist Church
  • Pleasant Gap: United Methodist Church
  • Rebersburg: Sinking Creek Presbyterian Church; United Methodist Church
  • Runville: United Brethren Church Runville Charge
  • State College: St. Paul Methodist Church
  • Zion: Zion Lutheran Church

Centre County PAGenWeb is finding and making available church records of Centre County. They are beginning with four topics to try to understand the religious inclinations of Centre countians:

  • 1877 History of Religious Affiliation
  • 1906 Census of Religious Adherence
  • 1990 Census of Religious Adherence
  • Current Listing of Religious Organizations



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.

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

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

African Americans

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 Centre County began in 1843. These records are filed with the Centre County Recorder of Deeds office in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.


  • Centre County Land Records & Deeds online at: PA USGenWeb Series 3, Volume 25, pp. 785-809
  • Warrant Map of Centre County State College, Pennsylvania: Centre County Genealogical Society, 2011. FHL book 2974.853 E7cc

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

Civil War

World War II

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 Centre County

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.

Free Lance (monthly) - April 1887-April 1904
State Collegian (weekly) September 28, 1904-June 10, 1911
Penn State Collegian (weekly) September 28, 1911 to August 2, 1940
The Daily Collegian (daily) September 5, 1940 to present.

Online Newspaper Abstracts

Archived Historical Newspapers

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

Obituaries and Indexes

Obituary Excerpts and Abstracts

  • Compiled by John H. Wion , Deaths in Central Pennsylvania; an Index to the Obituaries Appearing in the Democratic Watchman, Bellefonte, Pa (S.I.:s.n., 1969) FHL book 974.8 V4w Volume 2
  • A scrapbook kept by martha M. (Hoy) Vonada; index prepared by R. Fred Houts, Martha Vonada Scrapbook (Minneapolis, Minnesota:R.F. Houts, 1995) FHL book 974.853 V3v Martha Vonada saved funeral cards and obituaries from Centre County, Pennsylvania.
  • Compiled by Nancy Lee Stover, Centre County, Pennsylvania Newspaper Death Notices, 1821-1869 (S.I.:N.L. Stover, 1999) FHL book 974.853 V4s

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate matters in Centre 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.

The county's probate and court records begin with the founding of the county, the land records in 1801.

Online Probate Index and Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

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 Centre 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, Centre County Courthouse.

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Greene 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 Centre County. For state-wide library facilities, see Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries.

Centre County Library & Historical Museum: Pennsylvania Room
203 North Allegheny St.
Bellefonte, PA 16823
Phone: 814-355-1516, ext. 214
Email: paroom@centrecountylibrary.org
Specializes in genealogy collections, obituary and marriage indexes, Pennsylvania county histories, church and cemetery records, original Centre County records, newspapers (1821 - present), and abundant historical and genealogical periodicals. The Spangler Collection is an unique indexed collection of 18th- and 19th-century records about many central Pennsylvania families.[12]

Roller-Hojeth Memorial Library
431 Scotch Valley Rd.
Hollidaysburg, PA 16648
Phone: 814-696-3492
Collection covers Blair and surrounding counties, particularly Huntingdon, Cambria, and Bedford Counties.

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

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

Centre County Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 1135
State College, PA 16804-1135

Centre County Historical Society
1001 East College Ave
State College, PA 16801
Phone: 814-234-4779

Websites[edit | edit source]

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. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centre_County,_Pennsylvania accessed 2/1/2017
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists : United States of America, 10th ed., (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002) Centre County, Pennsylvania, p.589
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Centre County, Pennsylvania. Page 588-593 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 579-581.
  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, "Centre County, Pennsylvania," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centre_County,_Pennsylvania, accessed 17 January 2020.
  8. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/images/2/23/Igipennsylvaniac.pdf.
  9. The Philadelphia Courts at Common Pleas accessed 10 July 2012
  10. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/images/2/23/Igipennsylvaniac.pdf.
  11. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/images/2/23/Igipennsylvaniac.pdf.
  12. Pennsylvania Room at Center County Library and Historical Museum (accessed 3 October 2012).