Washington County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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Washington County

Guide to Washington 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.


Washington County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Founded March 28, 1781
County Seat Washington
Washington County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Address Washington County Courthouse
1 South Main St.
Washington, PA 15301
Washington County Website
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Washington County Pennsylvania Historical Facts

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[1]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1893 1885 1893 1781 1781 1781 1790
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1906. General compliance by 1915.

Parent Counties: Formed from Westmoreland County 28 March 1781. [2]

County Seat: Washington

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

Named for General George Washington of the American Revolutionary War.


The county was named for the George Washington. Its county seat is Washington and was founded March 28, 1781. It is located in the southwest tip of the state.[4]

Boundary Changes

The lands of Westmoreland County were claimed by both Virginia and Pennsylvania. A compromise extending the 1767 Mason-Dixon Line was proposed 31 August 1779, ratified by Pennsylvania 19 November 1779 and by Virginia 23 September 1780, and physically run and marked 23 August 1785.[5]

  • 27 Jan 1750: Part of Cumberland County.
  • 9 March 1771: Became part of Bedford County when it was was erected.
  • 26 January 1773: The future county became part of Westmoreland County.
  • 24 September 1788: Allegheny County set off. [6]
  • 9 February 1796: Greene County set off. [7]
  • 12 March 1800: Beaver County set off. [8]

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

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
Findagrave.com Family History Library Findagrave.com
HomeTownLocator WorldCat BillionGraves
PAGenWeb Archives Linkpendium
Interment PAGravestones
PAGenWeb Epodunk
Pennsylvania Genealogy Access Genealogy
BillionGraves (name)
See Pennsylvania Cemeteries for more information.

Additional Cemetery Resources


For tips on accessing Washington 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.

Washington County Pennsylvania churches

Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

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

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational
Contains the church records of:
  • Canonsburg: Canonsburg United Presbyterian Church
  • Finleyville: Mingo Presbyterian Church
  • Peters: Center United Presbyterian Church
  • Washington: Covenant United Presbyterian Church; Faith United Presbyterian Church; First Presbyterian Church; First United Methodist Church; Jefferson Avenue United Methodist Church
Roman Catholic
  • "100 years of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese 1843–1943". Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society Quarterly, 17:1. FamilySearch Library book 974.8 B2wg. Contains chronolgy, map, county-by-county information.

Court Records

Washington County, Pennsylvania Genealogy court records are housed at the Washington 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. Washington 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.[9]

Clerk of the Courts

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.[10] For the Washington 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 Washington 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.[11]

For Washington 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 Washington 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


Family Histories

  • (Walton) Walton, John. "Job Walton of Fleming County, Kentucky," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 1 (Mar. 1964):15-24. FHL Collection 973 B2ng v. 52




Published Histories

Land and Property

Land records in Washington County began in 1781. These records are filed with the Recorder of Deeds in Washington, Pennsylvania. If your ancestor lived in the area which became Washington County, they may have filed land claims with Virginia when the area was know as the District of West Augusta.

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

  • 1967–present Images are available online using the Landex system. There is a fee to view the images.

Online Land Abstracts

Land Records on Microfilm


  • MacInnes, Sharon Cook. Early Landowners of Pennsylvania: Atlas of Township Warrantee Maps of Washington County. Apollo, Pennsylvania : Closson Press, 2004. FHL book 974.882 R2m

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

Additional Resources

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 Washington County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:

Local Histories

  • History of Washington County : from its first settlement to the present time ... 1870 by Alfred Creigh.  Digitized book from archive.org.  Digitized book from Penn State.
  • History of Washington County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men, 1882, by Boyd Crumrine. Digitized book from archive.org  Digitized book from Historic Pittsburgh  Transcription from chartiers.com.
  • Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens...1893, by J. H. Beers.  Volume 1 Transcription from chartiers.com.
  • 20th Century History of the City of Washington and Washington County, Pennsylvania and representative citizens, 1910 by Joseph Fulton McFarland, 2 volumes.  Digitized book online from archive.org:  Volume 1   Volume 2
  • Some pioneers of Washington County, Pa. A family history, 1902 by Francis Smith Reeder. Digitized book  from archive.org.
  • The centennial celebration of the incorporation of the borough of Washington, Pa., in its Old Home Week of October 2-8, 1910 from GoogleBooks
  • A century of education; or, The history of the schools of Burgettstown, Washington County, Pennsylvania, for one hundred years, 1898, by William Melvin. Digitized book at archive.org.
  • Centennial anniversary of the founding of Monongahela City, Pa. : celebrated November 15th, 1892 by C. W. Hazzard.  Digitized book at Historic Pittsburgh.


Washington County



Revolutionary War

Local men served in the Washington 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.

Men living in what is now Washington County (then Westmoreland County) also served in the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment.[12]

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


Washington 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 Washington County

Online Newspapers

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

Online Newspaper Abstracts

Miscellaneous Newspaper Items] A part of a Washington County PAGenWeb Genealogy Project 

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 Abstracts

Obituary Excerpts and 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 Indexes

Online Probate Records
Original probate records for some Pennsylvania counties are available free online as digital images at FamilySearch.org. 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:

Washington County Only:

Online Probate Abstracts

Original Probate Records on Microfilm

Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

Additional probate indexes or abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Washington 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.

Genealogy Resources describes and limitations on research requests. Additionally,
Research Portal lists resources and links for researchers.
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 Washington County, Pennsylvania Genealogy is the Washington Pennsylvania Family History Center. For additional nearby Family History Centers, search online in the FHC directory.The Monongahela Center is also nearby.

  • Washington County Library System consists of 14 public libraries in Washington County. Each library has access to genealogical databases - especially newspaper sites. Many are accessible with your library card from home.
Visit main website (above) for all library locations, hours, services and available resources, or
Visit WCLS locations
They publish a newsletter about the history of the area.
The Society offers tours of the museums throughout downtown Washington. One house, the 199-year old LeMoyne House, was an Underground Railroad.[13]
Visit website for hours and services
The Research Library has some tools to help the researcher in the area of Washington County.
The Keyhole is the Society's quarterly publication; the index is archived on the internet. At various libraries(WorldCat)
The focus of the WPGS is the 26 counties west of Centre County, including Washington County. They are based out of Pittsburgh, PA in the Pennnsylvania Department of the Carnegie Library. [14]
Visit website for research services and fees. [15]

School Records

1877 Common School Report
Donora High School, 1919
East Bethlehem Senior Annual, 1919
West Bethlehm "Last Will and Testament for 1929"
Pennsylvania Reform School, 1893.


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 Washington County, Pennsylvania Genealogy clerk's office for these records.

Marriage records recorded in the Register of Wills Office are from 1885 through the present. Write for the records at:[16]

Register of Wills Office
1 South Main Street
Suite 1002,
Washington, PA 15301
Hours: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm


Divorce records are handled by the office of the Prothonotary. While no on-line indexes or records are available, records may be obtained by visiting or writing to the Prothonotary at:


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

Washington County Pennsylvania Genealogy Websites

Washington County Pennsylvania Places

Populated Places

Washington County Pennsylvania Genealogy References

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Washington 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, "Washington County, Pennsylvania" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_County,_Pennsylvania.
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_County,_Pennsylvania 2/12/2017
  5. Boyd Crumrine, "The Boundary Controversy between Pennsylvania and Virginia, 1748–1785," in Annals of the Carnegie Museum, Vol. 1, 1901–1902 ([Pittsburgh] : Published by authority of the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Institute), pp. 510, 521–524.
  6. referer=brief_results Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  7. referer=brief_results Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  8. referer=brief_results Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  9. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania http://www.pacourts.us/T/CommonPleas/ accessed 10 July 2012.
  10. Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, Clerk of Courts in http://www.pacourts.us/T/CommonPleas/ClerksOfCourts.htm (accessed 25 Aug 2012)
  11. The Philadelphia Courts at http://www.courts.phila.gov/common-pleas/orphans/ accessed 10 July 2012
  12. Harold Frederic, William C. Frederick III with William J. McMaster Sr., Path of Blood: The Untold Story of the Kittanning PA. Regiment in the American Revolution (Kittanning, Pa.: W.C. Frederick, 1998). FHL Book 974.8 M2ff
  13. Information from http://www.wchspa.org/tours.html.
  14. http://www.wpgs.org/default.aspx
  15. http://www.wpgs.org/default.aspx
  16. Information from: http://www.washingtoncourts.us/pages/roGenealogyResources.aspx
  17. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/images/2/20/Igipennsylvaniat.pdf.