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Bedford County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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United StatesGotoarrow.png Pennsylvania Gotoarrow.png Bedford County

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


Bedford County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Bedford County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Founded: March 9, 1771
Parent County Cumberland
County Seat Bedford
Bedford County Courthouse Pennsylvania 200 px.jpg
Address Bedford County Courthouse
200 S Juliana St.
Bedford, Pennsylvania 15522-1714
(814) 623-4812
Bedford County Website
Named for: Fort Bedford
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Bedford County Pennsylvania Historical Facts[edit | edit source]

Beginning dates for major county records
  • County Seat: Bedford
  • Neighboring Counties: Bedford County, Pennsylvania Genealogy residents may also have records in:[2]

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

The original Bedford County, sometimes called "Mother Bedford," encompassed a huge area when it was created in 9 March 1771. Later counties which were originally part of Bedford County include: [3]

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[edit | edit source]

For a list of record loss in Pennsylvania counties see: Pennsylvania Counties with Burned Courthouses

Bedford County Pennsylvania Genealogy Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

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

Online Grave Transcripts Published Grave Transcripts County Cemetery Directories

Family History Library


Names in Stone


Billion Graves

Pennsylvania Genealogy


Pennsylvania Gravestones

Billion Graves

Names in Stone

Access Genealogy


See Pennsylvania Cemeteries for more information.


Census[edit | edit source]

Value, Content, and Search Tips[edit | edit source]

See the United States Census page to learn about the value, content, and search tips of census records of the United States. The United States Census page also points to nationwide and statewide record sets available online and at archives and libraries.

Census Strategy: Start with State-wide Records[edit | edit source]

Free indexes and transcriptions of Bedford county census records abound, but many of these resources are divided into separate files by borough or township. Since townships are relatively small, and since people sometimes crossed township borders without having to move very far at all, it is often useful to begin your search in a statewide index in case an ancestor appears in an unexpected township. Since statewide indexes are not listed on this county page, check the Pennsylvania Census page to see if a statewide index or database is available for the year in question. If for some reason you can't access a statewide collection or if you searched it and can't find an ancestor, visit the United States Census page for listings of nationwide indexes, or return here for links to Bedford County resources.

General Resources for Bedford County Censuses[edit | edit source]

USGenNet has the simplest listing of transcribed Bedford County U.S. census records from USGenWeb from 1790-1860. Also includes an 1890 Veteran's Schedule.

Bedford County Pennsylvania Census Records links to census transcriptions of various townships in various years that were compiled for PA-Roots.

Bedford County, Pennsylvania Census Resources from CensusFinder links to sites containing census data from 1790-1850 and 1890.

Census Resources by Year[edit | edit source]

Church Records[edit | edit source]

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.

Bedford county pennsylvania churches.png

Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

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

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational[edit | edit source]
Contains church records of:
  • Bedford: St. John's United Church of Christ
  • Fishertown: Centre Lutheran Church
  • Londonderry: Wills Creek Charge
  • Pavia: Zion United Church of Christ
  • Saxton: St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • The Bedford County Genealogical Project contains an extensive list of churches in the county. Many of them include locations and brief histories, but few contain records of members or sacramental records.
Catholic[edit | edit source]

The first Catholic church was built in 1817 wnd is still standing. [4]

  • "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.
Lutheran[edit | edit source]

The first protestant church in the county was built in 1770 by Lutherans and Reformeds, though the first services were held in 1758 in the fort. The church in Schellsburg built in 1806, is the oldest one in the county. [5]

Quaker[edit | edit source]

In 1793 the Quakers built a church on Dunning Creek. [6]

  • 1800s-1900s - Pennsylvania Quaker Records: Warrington, York County, Little Brittain, Lancaster County, Centre, Centre County, West Branch, Clearfield County, Dunnings Creek, Bedford County. n.p. Digital version at Ancestry ($).

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Bedford County, Pennsylvania Genealogy court records are housed at the Bedford 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.

Courtesy of the Pioneer Library, Bedford County Historical Society:

Court of Common Pleas[edit | edit source]

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. Bedford 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.[7]

Clerk of the Court[edit | edit source]

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 Bedford County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Clerk of Courts address see the Courthouse section on this page.

Prothonotary[edit | edit source]

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 Bedford County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Prothonotary office information.

Orphan's Court[edit | edit source]

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 Bedford 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 Bedford County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Court Records in online catalogs like:

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

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

Germans[edit | edit source]

Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Genealogy[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

This page contains information on histories of Bedford County. However, histories of Pennsylvania mentioned on the Pennsylvania History page can also yield excellent information on migration patterns and settlers of early counties.

Why Use Histories?[edit | edit source]

For information about why published histories are valuable to the genealogist or what kinds of information they contain, see United States History.

Finding Histories[edit | edit source]
Histories Available Online[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Books Online. A Brief History of Bedford, Pennsylvania, from pioneer days to the present, compiled by Annie M. Gilchrist. 1955 (revised).

FamilySearch Books Online. History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties ... 1884. Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co.

Published Histories[edit | edit source]

WorldCat lists over 180 titles within the subject Bedford (Pa.) History.

Land and Property[edit | edit source]

Land records in Bedford County began in 1771. These records are filed with the Register and Recorder office in Bedford, 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

Land Warrants 1771-1893

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 Bedford County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:

Maps[edit | edit source]

Military[edit | edit source]

Online resources available through the Pioneer Library, Bedford County Historical Society:

Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]

Local men served in the Bedford 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.

Bedford County men also served in the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment,[10], possibly the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment,[10] and the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment.[11]

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. 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 Bedford 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 Bedford County, Pennsylvania Genealogy naturalization in online catalogs like:

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Bedford 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 Bedford 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

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

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

  • Claar, Archie, edited and indexed by Jan Oberle and James D. Boor, Obituary Clippings [in Blair and Bedford Counties, Pennsylvania] (Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania:Hoenstine's, 1990-1996) FHL book 974.87 V4c volume 1-66 Photocopy of newspaper clippings. Each volume contains an index.
  • Mitchell, Caryl A., Extracts from the Bedford Gazette, Beford County, Pennsylvania : September 7, 1832 - September 9, 1836 (Westminster, Maryland:Family Line Publications, 1998) FHL book 974.871/B2 B38m

Occupations[edit | edit source]

Indentured Servants[edit | edit source]
  • List of imported servants and transported convicts from Europe. Online at: Immigrant Servants Database. Includes list of imported servants and transported convicts who served labor terms in Colonial York County, Pennsylvania.

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Poorhouse, Almshouse[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

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:

Bedford County Only:

Original Probate Records on Microfim

Will Abstracts

Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

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

Repositories[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.

Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Bedford County Courthouse
200 S Juliana St.
Bedford, PA 15522-1714
Phone: (814) 623-4812

Clerk of the Court/Orphans' Court
Phone: (814) 623-4833

Phone: (814) 623-4833
Fax: (814) 623-4831

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.

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

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Bedford County Library
240 South Wood St.
Bedford, PA 15522
Phone: (814) 623-5010

Monday - Friday: 9:00 AM - 7 PM
Saturday: 9:00 AM - 2 PM
Sunday - CLOSED

Societies[edit | edit source]

Bedford County Historical Society
6441 Lincoln Highway
Bedford, PA 15522
FamilySearch Wiki page: Bedford County Historical Society

Library has collected 4500 family histories. Website includes free indexes to Alms House Records, Civil War Exemptions Index, Divorce Index, Naturalization Papers Index, Obituary Index, Orphans Court Index (1771-1900), and Military Pension Files (Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, and Spanish American War) of local residents. The Society offers a look-up service to retrieve the actual documents indexed in these databases; family research; court house research; cemetery look-ups; and gravestone photographs.

Taxation[edit | edit source]

  • 1773-1784 - Returns of Taxables for the Counties of Bedford (1773 to 1784), Huntingdon (1788), Westmoreland (1783, 1786), Fayette (1785, 1786), Allegheny (1791), Washington (1786) and Census of Bedford (1784) and Westmoreland (1783). (Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. 22). Digital versions at Ancestry ($); Google Books - free.
  • 1798 - Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798 at Ancestry ($).

Courtesy of the Pioneer Library, Bedford County Historical Society:

Bedford County Commissioner's Records: Includes minutes, assessment books, tax records, election returns & miscellaneous records.

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. 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

Births[edit | edit source]

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

Marriages[edit | edit source]

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

  • 1677–1950 Pennsylvania Civil Marriages, 1677-1950 at FamilySearch — index and images
  • 1700-1821 - Pennsylvania Marriage Records – ($) This database is incomplete for all counties.
  • 1725-1976 - Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1709-1940 - free index. Not complete for all years. This index is not necessarily intended to index any specific set of records. This index is not complete for any particular place or region. This collection may include information previously published in the International Genealogical Index or Vital Records Index collections.
  • Pre-1810 – Pennsylvania Marriages – ($) This database is incomplete for all counties. Includes 35,000 marriage records from vol. VIII of of the second series of the Pennsylvania Archives.
  • 1852-1854 - Pennsylvania Marriages – ($) Index with images.
  • 1885-1950 - Pennsylvania County Marriage, 1885-1950 Extracted marriage records – free. This database is incomplete for all counties. May also contain marriage records earlier than 1885.
Divorce[edit | edit source]

Divorce records are available through the office of the Prothonotary. A free online index is available on the Bedford County Historical Society website. You can also search an index onsite at the Prothonotary's office. The office of the Prothonotary is located in the courthouse building.

Deaths[edit | edit source]

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 Bedford County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Vital Records in online catalogs like:

Genealogy Societies and Libraries[edit | edit source]

Bedford County Pennsylvania Genealogy Websites[edit | edit source]

Bedford County Pennsylvania Places[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

Bedford County Pennsylvania Genealogy References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Adams County, Pennsylvania" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at,_Pennsylvania (accessed 17 July 2012).
  3. Pennsylvania line: a research guide to Pennsylvania genealogy and local history, 1990 ed. (Laughlintown, Pa.: Southwest Pennsylvania Genealogical Services, 1990), [FHL book 974.8 D27p 1990].
  4. Anne M. Gilchrist, A Brief History of Bedford Pennsylvania: from Pioneer Times to the Present Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 2008; digital copy of original published: Bedford, Penn.: Inquirer Print, 1955), 13. FHL digital copy.
  5. Anne M. Gilchrist, A Brief History of Bedford Pennsylvania: from Pioneer Times to the Present Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 2008; digital copy of original published: Bedford, Penn.: Inquirer Print, 1955), 13. FHL digital copy.
  6. Anne M. Gilchrist, A Brief History of Bedford Pennsylvania: from Pioneer Times to the Present Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 2008; digital copy of original published: Bedford, Penn.: Inquirer Print, 1955), 13. FHL digital copy.
  7. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania 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. 10.0 10.1 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.
  11. Wikipedia contributors, "8th Pennsylvania Regiment,", accessed 31 May 2012.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at