Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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Adams County

Guide to Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy ancestry, family history, and genealogy research page in courthouse sources including birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, wills, deeds and land records, Civil War records, Revolutionary War records, family histories, cemeteries, churches, tax records, newspapers, and obituaries.


Adams County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Adams County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Founded January 22, 1800
County Seat Gettysburg
Adams County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Address Adams County Courthouse
111 Baltimore St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-2312
Adams County Website
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Adams County Pennsylvania Historical Facts

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[1]
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.

Parent Counties: Formed from York County in 22 January 1800.[2]

County Seat: Gettysburg

Neighboring Counties: Cumberland York Franklin Frederick County, Maryland Carroll County, Maryland


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's county seat is Gettysburg. It was organized January 22, 1800. It is located in the Northwest corner of the state.[3]

Boundary Changes

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

Records Loss

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

Adams County Pennsylvania Genealogy Resources

Bible Records


Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
PA Cemeteries WorldCat BillionGraves
PAGenWeb Archives Linkpendium
Interment PAGravestones
BillionGraves (Name) Epodunk
PAGenWeb Interment
See Pennsylvania Cemeteries for more information.

Additional Cemetery Resources


For tips on accessing Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Federal (or United States) census records online, see: Pennsylvania Census.

There are no county or state census records available for Pennsylvania. County and city tax records can be used as a substitute when census records are not available.

1890 Census

Church Records

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. In Pennsylvania, church records are often used as a substitute for birth, marriage, and death information. For general information about Pennsylvania denominations, view the Pennsylvania Church Records wiki page.

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.

Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

Additional church records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Church Records  in online catalogs like:

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 free 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

German Reformed Congregation, New Oxford

St. John's Evangelical and Reformed Church, Fairfield

Trinity Reformed Church, Gettysburg

Court Records

Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy court records are housed at the Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Courthouse. For many counties copies of court records may be found at the Pennsylvania State Archives and in the FamilySearch collection. Note that within these collections some films may contain the same records, but have different titles. Other titles are not duplicates. See Finding Court Records at other repositories within this section for links to the online catalogs for these two collections. Films at the Pennsylvania State Archives are not available for inter-library loan. If court records are available FamilySearch films may be available at a local Family History Center. Call ahead for availability.

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. Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy has its own judicial district. Judges of the Common Pleas courts are elected to 10-year terms. A president judge and a court administrator serve in each judicial district.[5]

Clerk of the Court

The Clerk of Courts prepares and maintains the records for the Criminal Division of the Court of Common Pleas. The Clerk signs and affixes the Seal of the Courts to all writs and processes, administers oaths and affirmations, and assumes custody of the seal and records of the Courts. The Clerk certifies and distributes orders of the Court. The Clerk also certifies and prepares bills of costs for the defendants and utilizes the computerized financial management system to disburse fines, costs and restitution.[6] For the Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Clerk of Courts address see the Courthouse section on this page.


The office of the Prothonotary is the custodian of all civil matters in the county. This includes naturalization, immigration, equity actions, judgements, federal and local tax liens, city liens, family court, arbitrations, license suspension appeals, appeals to higher court, commercial code filings, applications for passports and divorce proceedings. See the Courthouse section on this page for the Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Prothonotary office information.

See Divorce

Orphan's Court 

See Vital Records
The Orphans' Court is responsible for a wide range of matters. The name of the Court is derived from the more general definition of "orphan," that being a person or thing that is without protective affiliation or sponsorship. This would include those not capable of handling their own affairs, minors, incapacitated persons, decedents estates, nonprofit corporations and trusts. It is the role of the Court to ensure that the best interests of the person or entity are not compromised.

It is believed the name of this court was borrowed from the Court of Orphans of the city of London, England which had the care and guardianship of children of deceased citizens, in their minority.[7]

For Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Orphans' Court contact information see the Courthouse section on this page.

Finding Court Records at Other Repositories

Additional court records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Court Records in online catalogs like:

Emigration and Immigration

For information about emigration into Pennsylvania, see the Pennsylvania Emigration and Immigration page.

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 Groups





Published Histories
  • A. Durant, J. Fraise Richard, Bennett Bellman, History of Cumberland and Adams Counties Pennsylvania: Containing history of the counties, their townships, towns, villages, schools, churches, industries, etc.; portraits of early settlers and prominent men; biographies; history of Pennsylvania, statistical and miscellaneous matter, etc., etc. (Chicago: Warner, Beers & Co., 1886). Digitized and free online at Internet Archive.

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.

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.

The following are examples of available resources:

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.
  • PA Original Land Records The Rev. Neal Hively has done extensive land record compilations and land mapping of York and Adams counties with indexes available online.

Land Records on Microfilm

Additional Resources

Note that the "Maps" section below includes maps related to land ownership.

See Pennsylvania Land and Property for more information about using land records, especially about original land warrants, surveys, and patents filed at the state land office.

Additional resources can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Adams County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:


  • Ancestor Tracks has posted free, downloadable images from the 1858 Map of Adams Co., Pennsylvania by G. M. Hopkins. This wall map located in the Library of Congress shows major landowners and geographic sites at the date of publishing. While the physical maps are in the public domain, the images we have taken of the maps belong to us and are not to be used to commercially. We hereby give permission to use them strictly for personal use; please attribute to Ancestor Tracks.



Revolutionary War

Men from what is now Adams County (then York County) served in the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment.[9]

Civil War

Civil War service men from Adams County served in various regiments. Men often joined a regiment or a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are the military units that were formed in or had many men from Adams County.

Civil War Battle

The following Civil War battle was fought in Adams County.

  • 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
  • Map showing Civil War battles in Pennsylvania.

Naturalization and Citizenship

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

Naturalizations granted at the county level were kept by the office of the Prothonotary. Naturalizations could also be granted on the Federal Court level.

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

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records

Original Naturalization Records on Microfilm

Finding Naturalization Indexes at Other Repositories

Additional naturalization indexes can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy naturalization in online catalogs like:


Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy newspapers may contain genealogical value including obituaries, births, marriages, deaths, anniversaries, family gatherings, family travel, achievements, business notices, engagement information, and probate court proceedings.

To access newspapers, contact public libraries, historical/genealogical societies, college or university libraries, or state archives in the area where the newspaper was published.

For information on state-wide newspapers see Pennsylvania Newspapers

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 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 Newspaper heading.

Online Obituary Abstracts


Indentured Servants


Poorhouse, Almshouse

Probate Records

Probate matters in {{{1}}} 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 Records

Original probate records for some Pennsylvania counties are available free online as digital images at The dates vary significantly for each county and not all counties are listed. Some counties may only have probate indexes. This Pennsylvania collection of images may be browsed through the links listed below:

Complete Collection:

Online Probate Indexes

Original Probate Records on Microfilm

Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

Additional probate indexes or abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy probate wills in online catalogs like:

  • 1800 - 1864 Young, Henry James. An Index to the Wills and Administration Bonds of Adams County, Pennsylvania (Books "A-G") 1800-1864. 1940. Digital version at FamilySearch Books Online - free.



The Pennsylvania Archives collection contains county archive records that can be searched onsite. Currently the Archives' staff cannot provide research or make copies of these records. Their collections include Almshouse Registers; Tax records; Birth, Death and Marriage Indexes and Records; Midwife records; African American records; Wills; Deeds; Naturalizations; Coroner's inquests; and Orphan's Court dockets. A list of the Archive's county holdings are on Microfilm or Manuscript form.

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


Adams County Courthouse
111 Baltimore St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-2312
Phone: (717) 334-6781
Hours: M - F 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

The courthouse houses records of county births and deaths (1893-1905) and Marriage records (1885- to the present). The Office of the Prothonotary is located in the courthouse and is a good place to search for divorce and civil case records.

County of Adams Prothonotary
117 Baltimore Street
Room 104
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Phone: 717-337-9834

County of Adams Clerk of Courts & Orphans' Court
117 Baltimore Street
Room 103
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Phone: 717-337-9806

Accounts, Adoptions, and Guardian records are filed in the Orphans' Court. The court maintains records from 1800 to the present. They also have indexes to birth records from 1852 to 1855 and 1893 to 1905, indexes to death records from 1852 to 1855 and 1893 to 1905, and indexes to marriage records from 1852 to 1855.

Family History Centers

Family history centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.

Family History Centers (FHCs) are branches of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and are located all over the world. Their goal is to provide resources for family history research.

The main FHC for Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy is the Gettysburg Pennsylvania Family History Center. For additional nearby Family History Centers, search online in the FHC directory.


Adams County Library System
140 Baltimore Street
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Phone: (717) 334-5716
Fax: (717) 334-7992
Mon-Thurs: 9 am to 8:30 pm
Fri/Sat: 9 am to 5 pm
Sun: 1 pm to 5 pm


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


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


  • 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

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. While the records for that time period are available, there were few events recorded. County marriage records were kept in earnest in 1885. Births and deaths, at the county level, were begun in 1893 and kept through 1905. Abstracts and copies of vital records are available for some counties, but most are incomplete. For the most complete set of records, always contact the County Orphans' Court.

See also How to order Pennsylvania Vital Records


Early births 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. See the heading Court Records on this page for contact information.

Indexes for Pennsylvania birth records are available through the Department of of Health for 1906 and 1907. Once an individual is located in the index a non certified Birth certificate can be obtained by writing and sending $3.00 to:

Division of Vital Records
ATTN: Public Records
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

  • 1726 - 1930 Pennsylvania, Births and Christenings, 1709-1950 - free index. Not complete for all years. This index is an electronic index for the years 1726 to 1930. It is not necessarily intended to index any specific set of records. This index is not complete for any particular place or region. This collection may include information previously published in the International Genealogical Index or Vital Records Index collections.
  • 1852 - 1854 Pennsylvania Births – $ Index with images.

Pennsylvania marriages are located at the county level. Contact the Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy clerk's office for these records.


Divorce records are available through the office of the Prothonotary. The office of the Prothonotary is located in the courthouse building.


Early deaths 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. See the heading Court Records on this page for contact information.

Indexes for Pennsylvania death records are available through the Department of Health for 1906 through 1962. Once an individual is located in the index a non certified death certificate can be obtained obtained by writing and sending $3.00 to:

Division of Vital Records
ATTN: Public Records
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

  • 1852 - 1854 Pennsylvania Deaths – $ Index with images.

Finding Vital Records at Other Repositories

Additional vital records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Adams County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Vital Records in online catalogs like:

Genealogy Societies and Libraries

Adams County Pennsylvania Genealogy Websites

  • 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.

Adams County Pennsylvania Places

Populated Places

  • Bonneauville
  • Carroll Valley
  • East Berlin
  • Fairfield
  • Gettysburg
  • Littlestown
  • McSherrystown
  • New Oxford
  • York Springs
  • Berwick
  • Butler
  • Conewago
  • Cumberland
  • Franklin
  • Freedom
  • Germany
  • Hamilton
  • Hamiltonban
  • Highland
  • Huntington
  • Latimore
  • Liberty
  • Menallen
  • Mount Joy
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Oxford
  • Reading
  • Straban
  • Tyrone
  • Union
  • Charmian

Fountain Dale

Jack's Mountain

Census Designations
  • Bendersville Station-Aspers
  • Cashtown-McKnightstown
  • Hampton
  • Lake Heritage
  • Lake Meade
  • Midway
  • Orrtanna

Adams County Pennsylvania Genealogy References

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Adams 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.
  2. referer=brief_results Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  3.,_Pennsylvania accessed 2/1/2017
  4. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  5. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania 10 July 2012.
  6. Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, Clerk of Courts in (accessed 25 Aug 2012)
  7. The Philadelphia Courts at accessed 10 July 2012
  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. 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.
  10. Heritage Preservation Services, Civil War Battle Summaries by State, (accessed 7 August 2012)
  11. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at