Columbia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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

County Facts
County seat: Bloomsburg
Organized: March 22, 1813
Parent County(s): Northumberland and Luzerne[1]
Neighboring Counties
Sullivan  • Montour  • Schuylkill  • Northumberland  • Luzerne  • Lycoming
See County Maps
Location Map
Columbia County PA Map.png
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County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

Columbia County was named for Columbia, a poetic name for the United States that alludes to Christopher Columbus. It is located in the east-central section of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Columbia County Courthouse
35 West Main Street
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
Phone: 570-389-5600
Register and Recorder's Office: 570-389-5632
Office of the Prothonotary: 570-389-5614
Columbia County Website

County Clerk has birth and death records 1893-1905, marriage records from 1888, court records from 1814 and divorce records[3]

Columbia 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
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1893 1888 1893 1814 1813 1813 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]

  • County seat: Bloomsburg[4]
  • Parent Counties: Columbia was part of Northumberland and Luzerne Counties. Created 22 March 1813.[5]
  • 3 May 1850: Montour County formed, giving Columbia County its current boundaries.

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

The following are locations in Columbia County, Pennsylvania:

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:[6]

Unincorporated communities
  • Central
  • Elk Grove
Census-designated places

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

Census Records[edit | edit source]

For links and tips on using Federal (or United States) census records online for Columbia County, see: Pennsylvania Census.

Federal Census

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1820 17,621
1830 20,059 13.8%
1840 24,267 21.0%
1850 17,710 −27.0%
1860 25,065 41.5%
1870 28,766 14.8%
1880 32,409 12.7%
1890 36,832 13.6%
1900 39,896 8.3%
1910 48,467 21.5%
1920 48,349 −0.2%
1930 48,803 0.9%
1940 51,413 5.3%
1950 53,460 4.0%
1960 53,489 0.1%
1970 55,114 3.0%
1980 61,967 12.4%
1990 63,202 2.0%
2000 64,148 1.5%
2010 67,295 4.9%
Source: "".

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.

Columbia county pennsylvania churches.png

The Columbia County Historical and Genealogical Society maintains files on over 300 area churches. The files are comprised of church histories, membership rolls, marriage records, and more. An index to the files can be accessed by going to the "Resources" tab on the home page and then clicking on the "Churches and Cemeteries (Files)" link. Society volunteers will search the files for others. Those interested are encouraged to contact the society by telephone (570-784-1600).

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational

Contains church records of:
  • Berwick: First United Methodist Church; St. Paul Methodist Church; United Methodist Church
  • Bloomsburg: First Presbyterian Church; Lutheran Church; Trinity Reformed Church (United Church of Christ); Wesley United Methodist Church
  • Catawissa: First United Methodist Church
  • Espy: St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Fowlerville: Lutheran Church
  • Millville: United Methodist Church
  • Philadelphia: Columbia Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church; Covenant United Presbyterian Church


St. John's Lutheran Church, Catawissa

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.

Court of Common Pleas
The Courts of Common Pleas are the trial courts of Pennsylvania. Major civil and criminal cases are heard in these courts. Judges also decide cases involving adoption, divorce, child custody, abuse, juvenile delinquency, estates, guardianships, charitable organizations and many other matters. The Common Pleas courts are organized into 60 judicial districts. Columbia County shares its judicial district with Montour. Judges of the Common Pleas courts are elected to 10-year terms. A president judge and a court administrator serve in each judicial district.[8]

1814-1861 Common Pleas dockets FHL Films 955613-14. Includes naturalizations, divorce petitions, deeds, insolvency, contracts, and lunacy.

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.

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 Columbia County began in 1800. These records are filed with the Register and Recorder's office in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts, indexes, mortgages, leases, grants, sheriff sales, land patents, and maps. Property records include liens as well as livestock brands and estray records.

Online Land Records

  • 1974–present Columbia County offers free online access to indexes. Fees apply to view images.

Land Records on Microfilm

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Montour CountyNorthumberland CountyLycoming CountySullivan CountyLuzerne CountySchuylkill CountyPA COLUMBIA.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

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

Naturalization records available for Columbia County, Pennsylvania include the following:

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records

Original Naturalization Records on Microfilm

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 Columbia County

Online Newspapers

Online Newspaper Abstracts

Newspaper clippings collected by the Old Buncombe County, North Carolina Genealogical Society.

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.

Obituaries are generally found in local newspapers where the person died. However, sometimes an obituary is found in the location from which he or she originated. To find an obituary, see the information under the Columbia

Online Obituary Abstracts

PA-Roots Obituaries for Columbia County.

Other Records[edit | edit source]


Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate matters in Columbia 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.

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 Columbia 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]

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

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

Thomas Beaver Free Library
317 Ferry Street
Danville, PA 17821
Phone: 570-275-4180
Fax: 570-275-8480

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

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

Columbia County Historical and Genealogical Society
225 Market Street
P.O. Box 360
Bloomsburg, PA 17815-0360
Phone: 570–784-1600

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), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  2.,_Pennsylvania accessed 2/2/2017
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists : United States of America, 10th ed., (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002) Columbia County, Pennsylvania, p.589
  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), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "Columbia County, Pennsylvania," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Pennsylvania, accessed 17 January 2020.
  7. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  8. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania accessed 10 July 2012.
  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
  11. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at