Erie County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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Erie County

Guide to Erie County, Pennsylvania ancestry, family history and genealogy 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.


Erie County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Erie County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Founded March 12, 1800
County Seat Erie
Address Erie County Courthouse
140 West 6th Street
Room 122
Erie, PA 16501
Erie County Website
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Erie County Pennsylvania Historical Facts

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[1]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1893 1885 1893 1823 1823 1823 1790
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1906. General compliance by 1915.

Parent Counties: Formed from Allegheny County 12 March 1800.[2]

County Seat: Erie

Neighboring Counties: Erie County residents may also have records in:[3]

Named for Lake Erie. Erie is also the name of a tribe of Indians who lived south and east of the lake before 1654. Over half of Erie County was located in an area called the Erie Triangle. This area was under claim by Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. These four states surrendered their claims to the federal government, which in turn sold this area to Pennsylvania in 1792.


The county was named for Lake Erie. It's county seat is Erie. It was organized November 7, 1803. It is located in the Northwest corner of the state.[4]

Boundary Changes

In 1850 a boundary line dispute between Erie and Crawford counties was settled. The line was straightened and a long, narrow strip of land was added to Erie County and some land was added to Crawford County. A number of Crawford County citizens became residents of Erie County and a less number of Erie County residents were shifted to Crawford County.[5]

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

Record Loss

1823 Fire burned the Courthouse on March 23, 1823. The building and all books, papers, and records were destroyed.[5]

For suggestions about research in places that suffered historic record losses, see:

Erie County Pennsylvania Genealogy Resources

Bible Records


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

Additional Cemetery Resources


For tips on accessing Erie 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.

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.

A good reference for early churches in Erie County is History of Erie County, Pennsylvania. The various churches are discussed in each of the township chapters.[6] Some of the early denominations include: Baptist, Methodist Episcopal and Presbyterian.

Erie county pennsylvania churches.png
Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

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

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational

Marriage Records of Rev. George Stuntz Methodist Circuit Rider, Erie County (PA) Genealogy

Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Court Records

Erie County, Pennsylvania Genealogy court records are housed at the Erie 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. Erie County 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.[7]

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.[8] For the Erie 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 Erie County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Prothonotary office information.

Orphans' 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.[9]

For Erie 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 Erie 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.

Ethnic Groups





Published Histories

Land and Property

Land records in Erie County began in 1823. These records are filed with the Recorder of Deeds office in Erie, 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

Land Records on Microfilm

Additional Resources

Erie county pennsylvania townships.pngErie county pennsylvania townships.png
About this image
Click the image to view an enlarged version

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 Erie County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:


Erie County

Ancestor Tracks has posted free downloadable images from the Map of Erie County, Pennsylvania from Actual Surveys by under Supervision of J. Chace Jr. (Troy, NY: McLeran & Morris Publishers, 1855).  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 commercially.  We hereby give permission to use them strictly for personal use; please attribute to Ancestor Tracks.


Catskill Turnpike
Migration routes for early European settlers to and from Erie County, Pennsylvania Genealogy included:[10]


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.


Erie 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 Erie County

Newspapers Available on Microfilm

Newspaper Indexes

Online Newspaper Abstracts


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 Index

Online Obituary Abstracts

Obituary Excerpts and Extracts


Indentured Servants


Poorhouse, Almshouse

Probate Records

Probate matters in Erie County, Pennsylvania Genealogy are handled by the Orphans' Court and start when the county was created. To obtain original probate records, contact the Orphan's Court in the County Courthouse.

In addition to wills and administrations, the Orphans' Court also handles: audits of accounts of executors, administrators, trustees, and guardians; distribution of estates of decedents, incompetents, and minors; appointment and control of guardians; adoptions; appeals from the Register of Wills involving probate matters; inheritance tax appeals and various petitions and motions.

Online Probate Indexes

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:

Erie County only:

Original Probate Records on Microfilm

Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

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




Erie County Courthouse
140 West 6th Street
Erie, PA 16501
Phone: 814-451-6260

Clerk of Courts (criminal records)
Room 103

Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans' Court
Register of Wills, Room 122
Phone: 814-451-6260
Fax: 814-451-7010

Erie County Prothonotary
Erie County Courthouse, Room 120
Phone: 814–451-6250

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 Erie County, Pennsylvania Genealogy is the Erie Pennsylvania Family History Center. For additional nearby Family History Centers, search online in the FHC directory.

The Erie County Public Library (Raymond M. Blasco, M.D. Memorial Library) allows patrons to view limited-access FamilySearch databases.


Erie County Public Library

The Erie County Public Library maintains a large collection of genealogical materials. The majority of this collection is housed in the Heritage Room on the second floor of the Blasco Memorial Library. The focus of this collection is Northwestern Pennsylvania and the tri-state area. An important part of their holdings are the obituary indexes that cover 1822 to the present. The Heritage Room has microfilm copies of the Erie newspapers, going back to 1820. They also have microfilm copies of the 1800 to 1930 censuses for Erie County and selected censuses for other Pennsylvania counties. Additionally the library has city directories for Erie beginning in 1853 and suburban directories beginning in 1957. The library subscribes to Library Edition and to HeritageQuest Online. The Blasco Memorial Library is located at 160 East Front St. Erie, PA 16507.


Erie Maritime Museum
150 East Front Street
Erie, PA 16507
Phone: 814-452-2744

Museum of Erie County History
419 State St.
Erie, PA 16501
Phone: 814-454-1813

The museum explores the history of Erie County from pre-settlement to today. The museum is housed in the Erie County History Center.

  • The ESGR through their volunteer research committee will perform some research requests.
  • A valuable tool that the ESGR provides on their website is a name index to the Keystone Kuzzins publication.


Vital Records

Vital records are kept by the County Orphan's Court. Between the years 1852-1855 Pennsylvania made a failed attempt to record birth, marriage and death events at the county level. There are no known vital records kept from that time period for Erie County. County marriage records were kept in earnest in 1885. Births and deaths, at the county level, were begun in 1893 and kept through 1905.

See also How to order Pennsylvania Vital Records

Birth records for the City of Erie began May 1, 1888. The birth registers for Erie City are maintained by the Erie County Historical Society. They have an agreement with Erie Society for Genealogical Research to handle all genealogy requests from walk-in researchers, people who phone, write in or e-mail requests for information on family history. These birth registers are not indexed and do not list the child's name. You must know the parent's name. If a delayed birth certificate was made then the child's name was added to the register. The records cannot be viewed by the general public. To obtain copies of a birth record that occurred in the city of Erie from 1888 through November 1905, you may write to:

P.O. Box 1403
Erie, PA 16512-1403

Birth records for Erie County began in 1893. The Erie County Clerk of Records maintains birth records through 1905. Individuals are allowed to search these records. The Clerk of Records office will conduct a search for you; check the website for fees. To obtain a copy of birth record in the 1893–1905 time period you may contact:

County of Erie Births
Clerk of Records
Room 122, Erie County Courthouse
140 W 6th St.
Erie, PA 16501

The birth records for Erie County were microfilmed by FamilySearch. These microfilms may be viewed at the Family History Library.

Beginning in 1906 Pennsylvania birth records are available through the Department of of Health. Birth records become public after 105 years. A statewide index is available. Once an individual is located in the index a certificate can be obtained by writing to:

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

Some Erie County births can be found online in Pennsylvania, Births and Christenings, 1709-1950.


Erie County marriages are maintained by the Clerk of Records. Erie County began recording marriages in 1885. To obtain a marriage record you may go to or mail the Clerk of Records office at:

Erie County Courthouse
140 West 6th Street, Room 120
Erie, PA 16501

A free online index with images to some Erie County marriages can be found in the FamilySearch Records Collection, Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885 – 1950. Most of the records consist of marriage licenses, certificates, applications, docket books, and affidavits. These records have been microfilmed.


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


Death records for the city of Erie exist beginning July 5, 1875. They are available from the Erie Society for Genealogical Research (ESGR). According to their website "There are five volumes of the death records dating from July 5, 1875 to January 24, 1908. There are six volumes of indices for these records. Typical information found for each entry is: name, color, sex, age, marital status, occupation, date of death, cause of death, place of birth, ward number, street address, time of residence, name of physician, place of intended interment, date of intended interment, date of certificate, and name of undertaker." They have records to January 24, 1908. These records cannot be viewed by the general public. You may request ESGR to research the city vital records in your behalf.

Erie County began recording deaths in 1893. Records from 1893 – 1905 are available at the Clerk of Records office in Erie City. You may request a death record from the Clerk of Records. The address is:

County of Erie Deaths
Clerk of Records
Room 122, Erie County Courthouse
140 W 6th St.
Erie, PA 16501

These county death records were microfilmed by FamilySearch.

Pennsylvania death certificates become public records after 50 years. An annual index is released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Records less than 50 years old are kept by the Division of Vital Records and are not public certificates. Only certain people can request a non-public death certificate. To order a non-public representative you must be:

See the Pennsylvania Department of Health website to obtain a copy of a non-public death certificate.

Indexes for Pennsylvania public death records are available online through the Department of Health for 1906 through 1961. Once an individual is located in the index a certificate can be obtained by writing to:

Division of Vital Records
ATTN: Public Records
PO Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

Finding Vital Records at Other Repositories

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

Erie County Pennsylvania Genealogy Websites

Erie County Pennsylvania Places

Map of Erie County Pennsylvania With Municipal and Township Labels

Populated Places

Name of City Incorporated Settlement History
Corry 1866 Separated from Wayne Twp. and became borough in 1863.
Erie 1851 Laid out in 1795. Became borough in 1805.


Borough Name Incorporated Settlement History
Albion 1861 Laid out in 1797. Created from Conneaut Twp.
Cranesville 1912 Settled in 1800. Formed from Elk Creek Twp.
East Springfield 1887 Formed from Springfield Twp. Merged back with Springfield Twp. in 1978.
Edinboro 1840 Settled in 1801. Created from Washington Twp.
Elgin 1876 Settled in 1800. Formed from Concord Twp.
Fariview 1868 Settled in 1797.Organized from Fairview Twp. Remerged with Fairview Twp. in 1998.
Girard 1846 Formed from Girard Twp.
Lake City 1926 Settled in 1863. Originally North Girard Borough. Name changed in 1954.
McKean 1861 Settled in 1810. Organized from McKean Twp. Name changed from Middleboro to McKean in 1970.
Mill Village 1870 Formed from LeBoeuf Twp.
North East 1834 Settled in 1800. Created from North East Twp.
Platea 1870 Organized from Girard Twp. Named changed to Platea in 1902. Originally known as Lockport.
Union City 1865 Settled in 1856. Formed from Union Twp as Union Mills. Named changed in 1871.
Waterford 1833 Settled in 1795. Created from Waterford Twp.
Wattsburg 1833 Settled in 1828. Organized from Venango Twp.
Wesleyville 1912 Settled in 1828. Formed from Harbor Creek Twp and Millcreek Twp..


Township Name Incorporated Settlement History
Amity 1825 Settled in 1796. Created from Union Twp.
Concord March 12, 1800 Originally known as Brokenstraw Twp. Name changed in 1821.
Conneaut March 12, 1800 Settled in 1797.
Elk Creek March 12, 1800 Settled in 1797.
Fairview March 12, 1800 Settled in 1797.
Franklin 1844 Settled in 1802. Organized from McKean, Washington and Elk Creek Townships.
Girard 1832 Settled in 1798. Created from Fairview, Springfield, and Elk Creek Townships.
Greene March 12, 1800 Settled in 1800. Known as Beaver Dam until 1840. Portion given to McKean Twp.
Greenfield March 12, 1800 Settled in 1797. Portion given to  North East Twp. in 1841.
Harbor Creek March 12, 1800 Settled in 1796.
Lawrence Park 1926 Organized from Millcreek Twp. Designed by General Electric Co. in 1910 as a company town. Envisioned as a "garden city."[23]
LeBoeuf March 12, 1800 Settled in 1795.
McKean March 12, 1800 Settled in 1795. Portion given to Waterford in 1820 and to Franklin in 1844.
Millcreek March 12, 1800 Settled in 1795. Portions lost to City of Erie over time.
North East March 12, 1800 Settled in 1795. Gained a strip from Greenfield in 1841.
Springfield March 12, 1800 Settled in 1796.
Summit 1854 Formed from part of Greene, McKean and Waterford Townships.
Venango March 12, 1800 Surveyed in 1785. Settled in 1795.
Washington March 12, 1800 Settled in 1796. First called Conneauttee Twp. Named changed in 1834.
Waterford March 12, 1800 Settled in 1795.
Wayne 1826 Formed from Concord Twp. Portion given to form Corry Borough in 1863 and another portion in 1866 when Corry city incorporated.

Erie County Pennsylvania Genealogy References

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Erie 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. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Erie County, Pennsylvania" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at,_Pennsylvania.
  4.,_Pennsylvania accessed 2/2/2017
  5. 5.0 5.1 History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Chicago: Warner, Beers and Co., 1884, [FHL book 974.899 H2h]
  6. "History of Erie County, Pennsylvania" (Chicago: Warner, Beers Co., 1884). WorldCat 2561523; FHL book 974.899 H2h
  7. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania accessed 10 July 2012.
  8. Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, Clerk of Courts in (accessed 25 Aug 2012)
  9. The Philadelphia Courts at accessed 10 July 2012
  10. Handybook, 847-61.
  11. List of turnpikes in New York in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 6 November 2014).
  12. Turnpike in Routes in the Northeastern United States: Historic Trails, Roads and Migration Routes (accessed 6 November 2014). The Ancram Turnpike went from Springield, MA to Catskill, NY; and was called the Catskill Road.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Almira E Morgan, The Catskill Turnpike: A Wilderness Path (Ithaca, N.Y.: DeWitt Historical Society of Thompkins County, 1971), 5. Online digital copy.
  14. Catskill Turnpike in Routes in the Northeastern United States: Historic Trails, Roads and Migration Routes (accessed 6 November 2014). The Catskill Turnpike went west from Catskill, NY to Bath, NY; the east part was called the Susquehanna Turnpike.
  15. Huntting, 97-99.
  16. List of turnpikes in New York in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 1 November 2014).
  17. Anastassia Zinke, The Susquehanna Turnpike and America's Frontier History in Catskill Mountain Foundation (accessed 1 November 2014).
  18. Joan Odess, The Susquehanna Turnpike (pdf accessed 1 November 2014).
  19. Paul A. W. Wallace, Indian Paths of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, Pa.: PA Historical and Museum Commission, 1971), 46-48. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974.8 H2wp.
  20. Handybook, 850.
  21. Handybook, 850-51.
  22. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  23. History of Lawrence Park
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