Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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

County Facts
County seat: Greensburg
Organized: February 26, 1773
Parent County(s): Bedford[1]
Neighboring Counties
Armstrong  • Fayette  • Allegheny  • Cambria  • Washington  • Somerset  • Indiana  • Butler
See County Maps
Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Location Map
Westmoreland County PA Map.png
Adopt-a-wiki page
Pa-rootsbuttonwiki.gif This page adopted by:
PA Roots and its members
who welcome you to contribute.
Adopt a page today

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The county was named for the county of Westmorland, England. The county is located in the southwestern area of the state. [2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Westmoreland County Courthouse
2 N. Main Street
Greensburg, PA 15601
Phone: 724-830-3826
Clerk of Courts: 724-830-3734
Prothonotary: 724-830-3502
Clerk of Orphans' Court: 724-830-3177
Register of Wills: 724-830-3177
Westmoreland County Website

County Clerk and Orphans' Court has birth records from 1893-1905, marriage records from 1893, birth, marriage, and death records from 1852-1855, and estate and probate records from 1773, Orphans' Court records from 1773 to present
Prothonotary Office has divorce records
Clerk of Courts has court records
Register of Deeds has land records[3]

Westmoreland 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 1893 bef 1906 1773 1773 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 Bedford County 26 February 1773. [5]
  • County seat: Greensburg[6]

Note: The lands of Westmoreland County were claimed by both Virginia and Pennsylvania. A compromise extending the 1767 Mason-Dixon Line was proposed 31 August 1779, ratified by Pennsylvania 19 November 1779 and by Virginia 23 September 1780, and physically run and marked 23 August 1785.[7] Several counties were set off over the years.[8]

For animated maps illustrating Pennsylvania county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Pennsylvania County Boundary Maps" (1673-1878) may be viewed for free 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:[9]

Unincorporated communities
Census-designated places
Historic communities
  • Franklin Township

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]

Indentured Servants

  • Immigrant Servants Database hosted by Price Genealogy - Includes indentured/imported servants and transported convicts who served labor terms in Colonial York County, Pennsylvania.

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Westmoreland 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


  • Cemetery records often reveal birth, marriage, death, relationship, military, and religious information.

Additional Cemetery Resources

  • PA-Roots
  • Names in Stone
  • Ancestry($)
  • The Mennonite Heritage Center
    565 Yoder Road
    Harleysville PA 19438-1020
    Hours: Tuesday thru Friday, 10am–5pm, Saturday, 10am -2pm
    The Cemetery Database at the Mennonite Heritage Center includes 86,000 burial records from 125 local cemeteries. Records cover cemeteries in the counties of Berks, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, and Westmoreland. The database provides transcriptions from Mennonite, Brethren, Lutheran, Reformed, Union, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, community, and private cemeteries. Search the list of cemeteries and the alphabetical surname lists in Adobe PDF format.
    Visit the Mennonite Heritage Center to search the cemetery database by various criteria. The transcriptions are available for further research at the MHC library.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Federal Census

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 16,019
1800 22,726 41.9%
1810 26,392 16.1%
1820 30,540 15.7%
1830 38,400 25.7%
1840 42,699 11.2%
1850 51,726 21.1%
1860 53,736 3.9%
1870 58,719 9.3%
1880 78,036 32.9%
1890 112,819 44.6%
1900 160,175 42.0%
1910 231,304 44.4%
1920 273,568 18.3%
1930 294,995 7.8%
1940 303,411 2.9%
1950 313,179 3.2%
1960 352,629 12.6%
1970 376,935 6.9%
1980 392,294 4.1%
1990 370,321 −5.6%
2000 369,993 −0.1%
2010 365,169 −1.3%
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.

Westmoreland County Pennsylvania churches

The Westmoreland County Historical Society's library has church records and histories. You can look at them at their library for free if you are a member or for a minimal fee if you are not. Check their webpage for current prices. You can also have research in the records by mail. Instructions are under "Genealogy and Research" on their Internet site.


  • 1843 -1943 "100 years of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese 1843–1943". Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society Quarterly, 17:1. FamilySearch Library book 974.8 B2wg. Contains chronology, map, county-by-county information.


First Lutheran Church, Greensburg

Hoffman's or Hope Lutheran Church, Smithton

St. John's Lutheran and Reformed Churches, Mt. Pleasant Township

St. John's Lutheran Middle Church, Mt. Pleasant

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hempfield Township


Congruity Presbyterian Church, Salem Township

Unity Presbyterian Church, Unity Township


Harrolds Reformed Church, Hempfield Township

St. John's Lutheran and Reformed Churches, Mt. Pleasant Township

St. John's Reformed Middle Church, Mt. Pleasant

St. Paul Reformed Church, Hempfield Township

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.

Indentured Servants

  • Immigrant Servants Database hosted by Price Genealogy - Includes indentured/imported servants and transported convicts who served labor terms in Colonial York County, Pennsylvania.

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.[11]

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 Westmoreland County began in 1773. These records are filed with the Recorder of Deeds office in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. If your ancestor lived in the area which became Westmoreland County, they may have filed land claims with Virginia when the area was known as the District of West Augusta.

Online Land Indexes and Records

Media:Westmoreland county pennsylvania townships.pngWestmoreland county pennsylvania townships.png

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Butler CountyArmstrong CountyIndiana CountyCambria CountySomerset CountyFayette CountyWashington CountyAllegheny CountyPA WESTMORELAND.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War
Local men served in the Westmoreland County Militia. A guide at the Pennsylvania State Archives website identifies townships where specific companies recruited soldiers, see Revolutionary War Militia Battalions and Companies, Arranged by County.

Westmoreland County men also served in the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment,[12] the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment[13] and the 9th Pennsylvania Regiment.[14]

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 Westmoreland 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.

Online Newspaper Abstracts

Newspaper Excerpts and Abstracts

  • Original research and additions by Della Reagan Fischer; compiled and typed by William L. Iscrupe, Marriage and Death Notices from Weekly Newspapers, 1818-1865, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Volume 1 (Laughlintown, PA:Southwest Pennsylvania Genealogical Services, c1977) FHL film 844896 item 2; book 974.881 B3f, 1977
  • Originally compiled by Della R. Fischer, Death Notices from Weekly Newspapers, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 1866-1900 (Laughlintown, PA:Southwest Pennsylvania Genealogical Services, c1983) At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 974.881 V4f
  • Collected and arranged by Carmella Corcetti Shirley, Marriages & Anniversaries Taken from the Leader Times Newspapers, 1922-1962-1997-1998-1999-2001 & the Vandergrift News, 1997-1998-1999-2001 (Chicora, Pennsylvania:Mechling Bookbindery, c2002) FHL film 2401877 item 8; book 974.88 V2sc

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

Obituary Excerpts and Abstracts

  • Compiled by Yvonne L. Blair Morgan, Index of Census, Newspaper Obituary Files and Microfilm:Fayette, Green, Washington and Westmoreland Counties (Apollo, Pennsylvania:Closson Press, c2003) At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 974.88 V42m
  • Copied by Della Reagan Fischer, Pa. Argus Marriages and Deaths, 10-17-1900 - 03-04 and 05 Tribune - Review newspaper office, Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pa., copied from micro-film 2285, 2509 (McKeesport, PA:Fischer, 1976) FHL fiche 6099933; book 974.881/G1 V4f
  • Compiled by Della Reagan Fischer, 7491 Death Notices, 1866-1900 Old Newspapers, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Copied from Microfilms, the Tribune-Review Newspaper Office, Greensburg, Pa (1969) FHL film 1036655 item 2; book 974.881 V23f
  • Compiled by Carmella Corcetti Shirley, Obituary Extractions Taken from The Vandergrift News, Vandergrift, Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania, 1992-1996 (S.I.:C.C. Shirley, 1996?, c2002) FHL fiche 6006540 and 6006660; book 974.881 V1 V48s volume 1 and 2

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate matters in Westmoreland 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]

Teachers Montly Reports of Independent School #3, Derry District, 1872-1877
New Kensington High Graduates, 1921
Mineral Villa School, Smithton, 1895/1896

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

  • 1783, 1786 Returns of Taxables for the Counties of Bedford (1773 to 1784), Huntingdon (1788), Westmoreland (1783, 1786), Fayette (1785, 1786), Allegheny (1791), Washington (1786) and Census of Bedford (1784) and Westmoreland (1783) (Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. 22). Digital versions at Ancestry ($); Google Books
  • 1798 Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798 at Ancestry ($).

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.

The Register of Wills have incomplete birth records from 1852 to 1855 and complete records 1893 to 1905.

Marriage[edit | edit source]

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

The Register of Wills has incomplete marriage records from 1852 to 1855 and complete records 1885 to the present. In May 2012, the Register of Wills of the Orphan Court discovered marriages performed by District Judge, Raymond Tubbs from 1974 to 1989 had not been filed. This office is now trying to reconstruct the marriages.

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.

The Register of Wills has incomplete death records from 1852 to 1855 and complete records 1893 to 1905.

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 Westmoreland 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 Westmoreland County. For state-wide library facilities, see Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries.

Westmoreland Library Network
Email: info@wlnonline.org
WLN consists of 25 public libraries in Westmoreland County. Each library has access to genealogical databases - especially newspaper sites. Many are accessible with your library card from home.

Greensburg Hempfield Area Library
237 South Pennsylvania Ave.
Greensburg, PA 15601
Phone: 724-837-5620
Microfilmed newspapers collection for the area from 1832 to the present.

Museums[edit | edit source]

Compass Inn Museum
1382 US Route 30
P.O. Box 167
Laughlintown, PA 15655
Phone: 724-238-4983
Email: jkoontz@compassinn.com
The Museum is run by the Ligonier Valley Historical Society. Costumed docents provide guidance and instruction throughout a small area including a barn, blacksmith shop and cookhouse.

West Overton Museums
109 Overton Rd
P.O. Box 3
Scottdale, PA 15683
Phone: 724-887-7910
Email: info@westovertonmuseums.org
The museum includes collections related to local industries.

Societies[edit | edit source]

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

Westmoreland County Historical Society
362 Sand Hill Road, Suite 1
Greensburg, PA 15601
Phone: 724-532-1935
Fax: 724-532-1938
Email: history@westmorelandhistory.org

Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-4080

Baltzer Meyer Historical Society
642 Baltzer Meyer Pike
Greensburg, PA 15601-9711
Phone: 724-836-6915
Email: baltzermeyer@juno.com

Chestnut Ridge Historical Society
1698 State Route 711
P.O. Box 242
Stahlstown, PA 15687
Phone: 724-593-3102

The Ligonier Valley Historical Society
1382 US Route 30
P.O. Box 167
Laughlintown, PA 15655
Phone: 724-238-4983
Email: jkoontz@compassinn.com

Websites[edit | edit source]

  • USGenWeb project.Westmoreland County. May have maps, name indexes, history or other information for this county. Select the state, then the county.
  • An early history of the county published in 1906 and biographical sketches of early residents can be found in this transcription project: Westmoreland County History.
  • Westmoreland County PA Genealogy
  • 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. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westmoreland_County,_Pennsylvania accessed 2/12/2017
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists : United States of America, 10th ed., (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), p. 593.
  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. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  8. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  9. Wikipedia contributors, "Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westmoreland_County%2C_Pennsylvania, accessed 5 February 2020.
  10. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/images/2/20/Igipennsylvaniat.pdf.
  11. The Philadelphia Courts at Common Pleas accessed 10 July 2012
  12. 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.
  13. Wikipedia contributors, "8th Pennsylvania Regiment," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8th_Pennsylvania_Regiment, accessed 31 May 2012.
  14. Wikipedia contributors, "9th Pennsylvania Regiment," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9th_Pennsylvania_Regiment, accessed 31 May 2012.
  15. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/images/2/20/Igipennsylvaniat.pdf.