Northumberland County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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Northumberland County

Guide to Northumberland 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.


Northumberland County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northumberland County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Founded March 21, 1772
County Seat Sunbury
Northumberland County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Address Northumberland County Courthouse
201 Market Street
Sunbury, PA 17801
Northumberland County Website
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Northumberland County Pennsylvania Historical Facts

Beginning dates for major county records

Parent Counties: Formed from Lancaster, Berks, Bedford, Cumberland, and Northampton Counties 21 March 1772. [1]

County Seat: Sunbury

Neighboring Counties: Northumberland County residents may also have records in [2]

Named for the County of Northumberland in England.


The county was named for Northumberland. It's county seat is Sunbury and was founded March 21, 1772. It is located in the Central area of the state.[3]

Boundary Changes

Several times the county was divided over the years: [1]

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.

Bible Records



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

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

Additional Cemetery Resources


For tips on accessing Northumberland 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.

Northumberland County Pennsylvania Churches

The Northumberland County Historical Society has various records for churches throughout the Northumberland County area. However, the society has not put the records online and to view the records one must go to the society. The society will do limited lookups in the records. See their website for details.

Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

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

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational
Contains the church records of:
  • Danville: Danville Methodist Episcopal Church; Emmanuel Evangelical Congregational Church
  • Fairview: United Methodist Church
  • Milton: Bethany United Methodist Church; Christ United Church of Christ; United Methodist Church
  • Northumberland: Christ United Methodist Church; St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church; United Methodist Church
  • Potts Grove: Presbyterian Church
  • Ralpho: German Reformed Church; St. Peter's Lutheran Church
  • Rebuck: Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed Congregations; Lutheran Church
  • Stone Valley: Zion Lutheran Church
  • Sunbury: Boehm's Reformed Church (United Church of Christ); First Presbyterian Church; Mountain Presbyterian Church; St. Luke's Lutheran Church; St. Matthew's Episcopal Church (Francisville, Pa.); Zion Lutheran Church
  • Turbotville: Trinity United Church of Christ; Zion Lutheran Church
  • Watsontown: First Presbyterian Church



There were many Baptist churches established in Northumberland County, including the Milton Baptist Church organized with 9 members in 1826.[5]


There were many Lutheran churches in the county. One of the earliest Lutheran churches built was the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sunbury in 1791. In Milton, the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church gathered in a union church with the Reformed Church in 1807 although they met before that date. St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northumberland was dedicated in 1818 although they also met together before that date.[6]

David's Lutheran and Reformed Church, Jordan Township

Follmer's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Turbot Township

Himmel Lutheran and Reformed Church, Washington Township

Lutheran Church, Stone Valley

St. Elias Union Church

St. James or St. Jacob's Howarter Lutheran and Reformed Church, Upper Mahanoy Township

St. John's Lutheran Church

Schwaben Creek Lutheran Church, Washington Township

Stone Valley Lutheran and Reformed Congregations, Lower Mahanoy Township

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Milton

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Sunbury Township


In Northumberland, the Presbyterians first record of gathering was written in a journal in 1775, although it was 1787 before they were officially organized.[7]


The first Reformed Church in Sunbury was organized in 1784 and met in the same church building as the Presbyterians until 1841 when they built their own church. It is believed the Reformed Church was the first religion to practice in Milton. However, they didn't have an official building until 1807 when they began meeting in a union church with the Lutherans. The Associate Reformed Church in Milton was organized in 1818 by members originally associated with the Presbyterian church.[8]

Roman Catholics

In Milton, St. Joseph's Catholic Church was created just after 1783.  More Catholic churches were organized as more immigrants moved to the county, including St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church organized by Polish immigrants in 1861.[9]

Court Records

Northumberland County, Pennsylvania Genealogy court records are housed at the Northumberland 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. Northumberland 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.[10]

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.[11] For the Northumberland 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 Northumberland 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.[12]

For Northumberland 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 Northumberland 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 Northumberland County began in 1772. These records are filed with the Register and Recorder office in Sunbury, 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

  • 1903–present Images are available online using the Landex system. There is a fee to view the images.

Online Land Abstracts

Land Records on Microfilm

Additional Resources

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

Media:Northumberland county pennsylvania townships.pngNorthumberland county pennsylvania townships.png
About this image
Click the image to view an enlarged version

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 Northumberland County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:

Local Histories


Northumberland County



Revolutionary War

Local men served in the Northumberland 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.

Northumberland County men also served in the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment,[13] the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment,[13] and the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment.[14]

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 Northumberland 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 Northumberland County, Pennsylvania Genealogy naturalization in online catalogs like:


Northumberland 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 Northumberland County

Online Newspapers

To learn if there are newspapers online for a specific town or city in Pennsylvania, see and search for the town or the name of a newspaper.

Online Newspaper Abstracts

Northumberland Democrat, Aug 18, 1904 and Aug 29, 1907
Mount Carmel ledger, 4th quarter 1892, 1893, 1894
Shamokin Newspaper Abstracts 1862-1893
Shamokin Herald June 15, 1893 and June 23, 1893
Sunbury American, April 1860, April 1861, March 1862
Sunbury Gazette, various dates in 1853

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

Prison Records

Probate Records

Probate matters in Northumberland 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 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:

Northumberland County Only:

Online Probate Abstracts

1772-1859 Will Index
1772-1813 Index to Letters of Administration
Will abstracts, Part 1Part 2, Part 3

Original Probate Records on Microfilm

Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

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


  • 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.

Copies of documents including birth, marriages, deaths, divorces, land, and probate records can be obtained by using: Pennsylvania Public Record. Click on the link for the record you wish to request.
  • Clerk of Courts Phone: 570-988-4148
  • Orphans' Court Phone: 570-988-4143
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 Northumberland County, Pennsylvania Genealogy is the Sunbury Pennsylvania Family History Center. For additional nearby Family History Centers, search online in the FHC directory.

The Mount Carmel Area Public Library collection includes:
The library also provides an obituary look up service with an obituary index located at the bottom of the webpage.
Museum has a library and contains a genealogical collection. Visit website for hours, usage fees and fees for research service by mail Their collection includes:
  • Now and Then Magazine published by the Muncy Historical Society, 1868 to present
  • Cemetery records
  • Marriage records
  • Death records
  • Local Revolutionary War veteran pension declarations
  • Published family genealogies
  • County histories
  • Montour County Genealogical Society, MCGS
    205 Ferry Street
    Danville, PA 17821
    Phone: 570-275-6177
    Genealogy Room: Thomas Beaver Free Library, 2nd Floor
    Visit website for hours and usage fees (no charge for members).
The collection includes records for Columbia, Montour and Northumberland Counties. Research requests may be submitted in writing using a printable form which includes the fee schedule

School Records

Mt. Carmel High School Grads 1887-1892 and 1936
Shamokin High School 1877-1958
Trevorton High School Graduation 1913


  • 1778-1787 Proprietary, Supply, and State Tax Lists of the Counties of Northampton and Northumberland: For the Years 1772 to 1787. (Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. 19). Digital versions at Don's List - free; Google Books - free.
  • 1798 Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798 at Ancestry ($).

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


Pennsylvania marriages are located at the county level. Contact the Northumberland 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

Finding Vital Records at Other Repositories

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

Northumberland County Pennsylvania Genealogy Websites

Northumberland County Pennsylvania Places

Populated Places

Northumberland County Pennsylvania Genealogy References

  1. 1.0 1.1 referer=brief_results Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Northumberland County, Pennsylvania" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at,_Pennsylvania.
  3.,_Pennsylvania accessed 2/12/2017
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  5. Herbert C. Bell, History of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania (Chicago, IL: Runk Brown, 1891), 581; Digital version on Internet Archive; FamilySearch Books Online; At various libraries(WorldCat); FHL film 1000567 item 4.
  6. Herbert C. Bell, History of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania (Chicago, IL: Runk Brown, 1891), 502, 540, 579; Digital version on Internet Archive; FamilySearch Books Online; At various libraries(WorldCat); FHL film 1000567 item 4.
  7. Herbert C. Bell, History of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania (Chicago, IL: Runk Brown, 1891), 506, 507, 538; Digital version on Internet Archive; FamilySearch Books Online; At various libraries(WorldCat); FHL film 1000567 item 4.
  8. Herbert C. Bell, History of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania (Chicago, IL: Runk Brown, 1891), 504, 575, 576 581; Digital version on Internet Archive; FamilySearch Books Online; At various libraries(WorldCat); FHL film 1000567 item 4.
  9. Herbert C. Bell, History of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania (Chicago, IL: Runk Brown, 1891), 568 634; Digital version on Internet Archive; FamilySearch Books Online; At various libraries(WorldCat); FHL film 1000567 item 4.
  10. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania accessed 10 July 2012.
  11. Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, Clerk of Courts in (accessed 25 Aug 2012)
  12. The Philadelphia Courts at accessed 10 July 2012
  13. 13.0 13.1 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.
  14. Wikipedia contributors, "6th Pennsylvania Regiment,", accessed 31 May 2012.