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

County Facts
County seat: Smethport
Organized: March 26, 1804
Parent County(s): Lycoming[1]
Neighboring Counties
Cattaraugus (NY)  • Warren  • Cameron  • Elk  • Allegany (NY)  • Potter  • Forest
See County Maps
McKean County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Location Map
McKean County PA Map.png
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County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The county was named Thomas McKean. It is located in the North Central tip of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

McKean County Courthouse
500 W. Main Street
Smethport, PA 16749
Phone: 814-887-3270
Orphan's Court Phone: 814-887-3263
McKean County Website

McKean 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[3]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
bef 1906 1827 bef 1906 1827 1806 1827 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 Lycoming County 26 March 1804. [4]
  • County seat: Smethport[5]
  • 18 April 1843: Elk County created. [6]
  • 29 March 1860: Cameron County created. [7]

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

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

The following are locations in McKean County, Pennsylvania:

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of McKean 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

  Additional Cemetery Resources

Census Records[edit | edit source]

For links and tips on using Federal (or United States) census records online for McKean County, 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[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.

Mckean county pennsylvania churches.png

County-wide Database – Multi-denominational

Some lists of early church members may be found in the Beers' history of McKean County[8] When congregations were too far distant for early county settlers, they would sometimes form a Union Church Society or a Union Sunday School. These groups met as Christian congregations, without being officially recognized by any one sect.

Baptists began meeting in McKean County in 1840. The Regular Baptist Church of Bradford was organized in 1852.[8] Additional congregations were in Turtle Point, Annin Township, Smethport, Port Allegany, Norwich (1820-21), and Kane Township. Baptists and Methodists shared the Union Church in Eldred.

St. Bernard's was the first Catholic congregation established in Bradford. This happened in 1877. [8] Additional churches were St. Mary's in Newell Creek, Eldred, St. Elizabeth's in Smethport, St. Gabriel's in Port Allegany, and Kane township.

Many town had Congregational congregations. The ministers came from New England towns. Addition congregations were in Port Allegany, and Duke Centre. Methodist Church was organized in the spring of 1880 in Bradford. [8]

Mount Jewett had a Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church established in 1888. An additional congregation was in Port Allegany. Three Swedish Lutheran congregations were founded in Kane Township between 1876-1885. Methodist Church was organized in the spring of 1880 in Bradford. [8]

Methodist Church of Tunuanguant was organized in 1848. The First Methodist Church of Bradford congregation was established in 1878. An African Methodist Church was organized in the spring of 1880 in Bradford. [8] Kendall township established a Methodist congregation in 1881. Additional congregations were in Annin Creek, Smethport, Port Allegany, Liberty Township, Otto Township, Duke Centre, and Kane Township. Baptists and Methodists shared the Union Church in Eldred.

The First Presbyterian Church of Bradford was organized in June, 1879. [8] A second congregation was established in Kendall township in 1885. Additional congregations were in Mount Jewett, Port Allegany,and Kane Township.

Protestant Espiscopal
The Protestant Episcopal church (St. Luke's) was formed in Smethport as early as 1842. Addition congregations were in Port Allegany and Otto Township.

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.

The Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts is located under Departments at the McKean County website.The Court no longer accepts passport applications. Passports must be processed at the local post office.

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

For online resources, passenger lists, and specific groups coming to Pennsylvania, see Pennsylvania Emigration and Immigration.

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

For groups that came, see People section of the Pennsylvania Emigration page.

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

The Orphan's Court ensures the best interests of those not capable of handling their own affairs: minors, incapacitated persons, decedents' estates, and more.[9]
Orphans Court
McKean County Courthouse
Register Clerk of Orphans' Court
500 Main Street
Smethport, PA 16749
Phone: 814-887-3263

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 McKean County began in 1804. These records are filed with the Recorder of Deeds office in Smethport, Pennsylvania.

Online Land Records

  • 1973–present Images are available online using the Landex system. There is a fee to view the images.

Land Records on Microfilm

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

Media:Mckean county pennsylvania townships.pngMckean county pennsylvania townships.png
About this image
Click the image to see an enlarged version

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Mckean County


Migration[edit | edit source]

Early migration routes for European settlers to and from McKean County included:[10]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

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

Naturalization records for McKean County, Pennsylvania include the following:

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records

Original Naturalization Records on Microfilm

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Newspapers may contain obituaries, births, marriages, deaths, anniversaries, family gatherings, family travel, achievements, business notices, engagement information, and probate court proceedings. Newspapers are often found in local or university libraries, historical or genealogical societies, or state archives in the area where the newspaper was published. See Pennsylvania Newspapers for more information.

Newspapers of McKean 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

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.

Obituary Abstracts

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate matters in McKean 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

Complete Collection:

McKean County Only:

Original Probate Records on Microfilm

School Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Vital records are handled by the County Orphans' Court. Between the years 1852-1855 Pennsylvania made a failed attempt to record birth, marriage and death events at the county level. County marriage records were kept in earnest in 1885. Births and deaths, at the county level, were begun in 1893 and kept through 1905. For the most complete set of records, contact the County Orphans' Court.

Birth[edit | edit source]

Early births 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. For more information, see Pennsylvania Vital Records.

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Pennsylvania marriages were created by county officals. Contact McKean County Courthouse

Death[edit | edit source]

Early deaths 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. For indexes and records, 1906 and later, see Pennsylvania Vital Records.

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Divorce records are available through the office of the Prothonotary.

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

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.

  • The 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 Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes.

  • The main FHC for McKean County is the Cameron County Historical Society. The Cameron County Historical Society is an affiliate of the Family History Library, located in Salt Lake City, Utah. As an affiliate, patrons of the Cameron County Historical Society can rent most microfilms and microfiche that are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog. For additional nearby Family History Centers, search online in the FHC directory.

Libraries[edit | edit source]

  • Bradford Area Public Library
    67 West Washington Street
    Bradford, PA 16701-1234
    Phone: 814-362-6527
    The library will do limited research for a fee. Their collection includes cemetery listings, city directories, local histories, and civil war volunteers listings.
  • Hanley Library, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford
    300 Campus Drive
    Bradford, PA 16701
    Phone: 814- 362-7610
    The Hanley library holds the McKean County Genealogical Society collection. This collection includes local and regional histories, cemetery records, and family genealogies.

Museums[edit | edit source]

  • Eldred WW II Museum & Learning Center
    201 Main Street
    PO Box 273
    Eldred, PA 16731
    Phone: 814-225-2220

Societies[edit | edit source]

  • Painted Hills Genealogy Society
    Mary E. Bryant: Founder and President
    This Society covers the Painted Hills Area of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania, particularly the counties of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Steuben in New York and the Pennsylvania counties of McKean and Potter .

  • Bradford Landmark Society
    45 East Corydon Street
    Bradford, PA 16701
    Phone: 814–362-3906
    This Society covers the city of Bradford, McKean County. Online information includes obituary and cemetery indexes and a Civil War Veterans' index. The society will do research within their collection of city birth and death records 1881-1905, city directories, church and school records. Articles concerning historic buildings and people of Bradford City are posted on the society website under the heading "Time Capsule Index".

Websites[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2.,_Pennsylvania accessed 2/12/2017
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  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. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 History of the counties of McKean, Elk, Cameron and Potter, Pennsylvania, with Biographical Selections. (Chicago, Illinois : J.H. Beers and Co., 1890), 185-186. FamilySearch Books Online Free online digital copy.
  9. The Philadelphia Courts at Common Pleas accessed 10 July 2012
  10. Handybook, 847-61.
  11. 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.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at