To request editing rights on the Wiki, click here.

Bradford County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Guide to Bradford 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.


Bradford County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Bradford County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Founded February 21, 1810
County Seat Towanda
Bradford County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Address Bradford County Courthouse
Recorder's Office
301 Main St.
Towanda, PA 18848
Bradford County Website
Adopt-a-wiki page
Pa-rootsbuttonwiki.gif This page adopted by:
PA Roots and its members
who welcome you to contribute.
Adopt a page today

Bradford County Pennsylvania Historical Facts[edit | edit source]

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[1]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1895 1885 1895 1813 1812 1812 1790
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1906. General compliance by 1915.

Parent Counties: Formed from Luzerne and Lycoming Counties 21 February 1810.[2]

County Seat: Towanda

Neighboring Counties:

Description[edit | edit source]

It is named for William Bradford, who had been a chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and United States Attorney General. It is located in the Northeast section of the state.[3]

Boundary Changes[4][edit | edit source]

Note: Connecticut claimed the area which included what is now Bradford County before 1808 or 1827, depending on the source.

  • Before 1772: Most of today's Bradford County was included in Northampton County, the rest was not included in any county until 1785.
  • 1772: Northumberland County, including the part containing future Bradford County was carved from Northampton County.
  • 1785: The remainder of future Bradford County was annexed to Northumberland County.
  • 1786: Luzerne County, which then included future Bradford County, was formed from Northumberland County.
  • 21 February 1810: Ontario County (now defunct), which included future Bradford County, was carved from Luzerne County. [5]
  • 6 March 1812: Ontario County was renamed Bradford 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.

Records Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Bradford County Pennsylvania Genealogy Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Green check.png
The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.

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

Additional Cemetery Resources

Census[edit | edit source]

For tips on accessing Bradford 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[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.

Bradford county pennsylvania churches.png

Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

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

County-wide Database[edit | edit source]


Contains church records of:
  • Athens: First Presbyterian Church; Trinity Episcopal Church
  • Burlington: Broad Street United Methodist Church; Union Street Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Canton: First Presbyterian Church; First United Methodist Church
  • Evergreen: Evergreen Baptist Church
  • New Albany: New Albany Baptist Church
  • Sayre: First Presbyterian Church; St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Stevensville: St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Francisville
  • Towanda: First United Methodist Church
  • Ulster: Presbyterian Church
  • Wilmot: St. John's Lutheran Church
  • Wyalusing: Trinity Episcopal Church
  • The Bradford County Historical Society genealogical library and research center has a collection of church records that can be used onsite. They are creating a list of those and it will be added to the site when it is complete.
  • The Tri-Counties Genealogy and History website has a number of Bradford, Chemung, and Tioga county church links connecting users to histories and records of those churches.
Baptists[edit | edit source]

Baptists were among the earliest settlers in Bradford County. Several Baptist missionaries toured the region at the start of the 19th century, and a large group of Baptist migrants from Pittsford, Vermont, founded the Burlington (now Troy) Baptist Church in 1808. They were organized under the Chemung (County, New York) Baptist Association.

Catholic[edit | edit source]

The Catholic church took hold in the early 1820s when there was a large influx into the area.

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

The Lutheran congregations were established by Germans in the mid-1800s.

Methodist[edit | edit source]

The Methodist Episcopal church, though not a large group, had an early presence in the county.

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Many of the Presbyterians began as Congregationalist in the late 1700s.

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Bradford County, Pennsylvania Genealogy court records are housed at the Bradford 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[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. Bradford has its own judicial district. A president judge and a court administrator serve in each judicial district.[6]

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.[7] For the Bradford 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 Bradford 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.[8]

For Bradford 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 Bradford 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.

Ethnic Groups[edit | edit source]

Germans[edit | edit source]

Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Genealogy[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

The History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, with Biographical Sketches, by H. C. Bradsby, 1891 is available at the Tri-Counties Genealogy and History website.

Published Histories[edit | edit source]

Land and Property[edit | edit source]

Land records in Bradford County began in 1812. These records are filed with the Recorder/Register/Clerk of the Orphan's Court office in Towanda, 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.

Be aware that (particularly in the early 1800s) deeds were not always recorded. Sometimes the early tax assessments will make mention of these early land transfers--giving the name of the grantor and grantee.

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 Bradford County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:

Maps[edit | edit source]

Bradford County

Migration[edit | edit source]

Early migration routes for European settlers to and from Bradford County, Pennsylvania included:[9]

Military[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. 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 Bradford County, Pennsylvania include the following: Online Naturalization Indexes and Records

Finding Naturalization Indexes at Other Repositories

Additional naturalization indexes can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Bradford County, Pennsylvania Genealogy naturalization  in online catalogs like:

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Bradford 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 Bradford 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.

  • The earliest newspaper coverage for Bradford County predates the organization of the County. These early newspapers are available online through the Wyoming County Historical Society. Newspapers postdating the organization of the county are available through the Bradford County Historical Society.  The Society has indexed the vital record information from these newspapers. This index is available at the Bradford County Historical Society's research center.

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

  • Fray, Robert G., Bradford County, Pa., Area Deaths (Allentown, Pennsylvania:R.G. Fray Publishing, c2000) FHL book 974.857 V4f v.1 Includes deaths as reported in the Evening Times, orginally published at Syre, Bradford, Pennsylvania. Includes index.

Occupations[edit | edit source]

Indentured Servants[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Poorhouse, Almshouse[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate matters in Bradford 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:

Bradford County Only:

Online Probate Indexes

Original Probate Records of Microfilm

Probate records are located at the Bradford County Courthouse and at the Bradford County Historical Society. Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

Additional probate indexes or abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Bradford 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]

Bradford County Courthouse
Recorders Office
301 Main St.
Towanda, PA 18848
Phone: (570) 265-1702
Fax: (570) 265-1721

Orphans' Court
Phone: (570) 265-1702

Clerk of Courts/Prothonotary
Phone: (570) 265-1705
Fax: (570) 265-1788

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

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

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.

Libraries[edit | edit source]
  • Bradford County Library
    16093 Route 6
    Troy, PA 16947
    Phone: (570) 297-2436
    The Bradford County Library is the headquarters for a nine member Bradford County Library System.
Museums[edit | edit source]
  • LeRoy Heritage Museum
    257 Mill Street
    LeRoy, PA
    Phone: (570) 364-5003

    Mailing Address:
    8051 Southside Road,
    Canton, PA 17724
    The Museum's research library includes materials about historic residents of LeRoy Townhip, former Barclay Township (Barclay Mountain) and Granville Township.
Societies[edit | edit source]

Taxation[edit | edit source]

The original early tax records are housed at the Bradford County Historical Society in Towanda, Pennsylvania. As of May 2011, these records have not been microfilmed. Because these records are in such a fragile condition, the Historical Society has been attempting to make photocopies of the records. The records that have been photocopied have also been indexed--but because of the scope of this endeavor, the indexes may contain errors.

These tax records are contained in individual books for each individual township for each year. There are some years which are missing. The names are listed roughly in alphabetical order.

Early tax records for Bradford County are particularly valuable because they contain the "Poor Children" records. If the head of household was considered "poor", the tax collector would list the head of household and all children in the household between the ages of 5 and 12. The government was then required to pay for the schooling of these children. Typically ages were also listed with the children's names. In many cases, these are the only existing records containing the names of these children.

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

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Divorce records are available through the office of the Prothonotary. 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 Bradford County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Vital Records in online catalogs like:

Genealogy Societies and Libraries[edit | edit source]

Bradford County Pennsylvania Genealogy Websites[edit | edit source]

Bradford County Pennsylvania Places[edit | edit source]

The following townships are located within Bradford County: Albany, Armenia, Asylum, Athens, Barclay, Burlington, Canton, Columbia, Franklin, Granville, Herrick, Leroy, Litchfield, Monroe, North Towanda, Orwell, Overton, Pike, Ridgebury, Rome, Sayre, Sheshequin, Smithfield, South Creek, Springfield, Standing Stone, Stevens, Terry, Towanda, Troy, Tuscarora, Ulster, Warren, Wells, West Burlington, Wilmot, Windham, Wyalusing, Wysox.

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

Towanda (Bradford County Seat)


Bradford County Pennsylvania Genealogy References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Bradford 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.,_Pennsylvania accessed 2/1/2017
  4. 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].
  5. 5.0 5.1 Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  6. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania 10 July 2012.
  7. Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, Clerk of Courts in (accessed 25 Aug 2012)
  8. The Philadelphia Courts at accessed 10 July 2012
  9. Handybook, 847-61.
  10. 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.