Centre County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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United StatesGotoarrow.png Pennsylvania Gotoarrow.png Centre County

Centre County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Centre County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Founded February 13, 1800
County Seat Bellefonte
Centre County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Address Centre County Government and Register of Wills
Willowbank County Office Building
414 Holmes Street Suite 2
Bellefonte, PA 16823
Centre County Website
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Historical Facts

Beginning dates for major county records

Named for being in the middle of the state. There is a story that the legislature could not determine whether to put the State College in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, so they drew an X through the state and put the school where the X crossed.

Boundary Changes [3]

  • 27 January 1750: Centre County was originally part of Cumberland County when the county was created.
  • 9 March 1771: When Bedford County was carved out of Cumberland County, the western 2/3 of what is today's Centre County was part of Bedford County and the eastern 1/3 remained part of Cumberland County. A very small portion of the eastern-most point was in Berks County.
  • 21 March 1772: When Northumberland County was created, the western 1/3 of today's Centre County remained in Bedford County, while the eastern 2/3 of today's Centre County was included in Northumberland County.
  • 19 September 1789: When Mifflin County was formed, much of today's Centre County became part of Mifflin County; the eastern-most point (about 20% of the county) remained in Northumberland County.
  • 13 April 1795: When Lycoming County was created, a small portion of today's eastern Centre County. was absorbed into Lycoming County, the rest of eastern Centre County remained in Northumberland County, a small southeastern portion of  future Centre County was part of Huntingdon County,  and the bulk of the county remained in Mifflin County.
  • 21 January 1839: Clinton County set off.


The county's probate and court records begin with the founding of the county, the land records in 1801. Except for a brief period of time when birth, marriage and death records were kept in the 1850's (approximately 1852-1855), there were no civil vital records kept by the county until marriages began again in 1885 and births and deaths in 1893. The keeping of birth and death records was discontinued after 1905 when the state of Pennsylvania began keeping those records.

Bible Records


Centre County Biographies


The Centre County Genealogical Society has taken on the monumental task of identifying all burial places in Centre County. Their ongoing efforts can be found at:


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.


For tips on accessing Centre 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.

Center county pennsylvania churches.png
Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

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

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational

Centre County PAGenWeb is finding and making available church records of Centre County. They are beginning with four topics to try to understand the religious inclinations of Centre countians:

  • 1877 History of Religious Affiliation
  • 1906 Census of Religious Adherence
  • 1990 Census of Religious Adherence
  • Current Listing of Religious Organizations

Court Records

Court of Common Pleas
Clerk of the Court
Orphan's Court (see Vital Records)

Emigration and Immigration

Ethnic Groups





The Centre County Historical Society has an online address:  http://www.centrecountyhistory.org/

Published Histories

Land and Property

Land records in Centre County began in 1843. These records are filed with the Centre County Recorder of Deeds office in Bellefonte, 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:


  • Warrant Map of Centre County. State College, Pennsylvania : Centre County Genealogical Society, 2011. FHL book 2974.853 E7cc

Note that the "Maps" section below 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 Centre County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:




Naturalization and Citizenship


Centre 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 Centre County

Free Lance (monthly) - April 1887-April 1904
State Collegian (weekly) September 28, 1904-June 10, 1911
Penn State Collegian (weekly) September 28, 1911 to August 2, 1940
The Daily Collegian (daily) September 5, 1940 to present.

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

Archived Historical Newspapers


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

Obituaries and Indexes

Obituary Excerpts and Abstracts

  • Compiled by John H. Wion , Deaths in Central Pennsylvania; an Index to the Obituaries Appearing in the Democratic Watchman, Bellefonte, Pa. (S.I.:s.n., 1969) FHL book 974.8 V4w Volume 2
  • A scrapbook kept by martha M. (Hoy) Vonada; index prepared by R. Fred Houts, Martha Vonada Scrapbook (Minneapolis, Minnesota:R.F. Houts, 1995) FHL book 974.853 V3v Martha Vonada saved funeral cards and obituaries from Centre County, Pennsylvania.
  • Compiled by Nancy Lee Stover, Centre County, Pennsylvania Newspaper Death Notices, 1821-1869 (S.I.:N.L. Stover, 1999) FHL book 974.853 V4s


Indentured Servants


Poorhouse, Almshouse

Probate Records



Centre County Government:

Centre County Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts
Centre County Courthouse
Bellefonte PA 16823-1488
Phone: 814.355.6796
Hours: 8:30 am - 5 pm M-F
The Office the Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts keeps civil and criminal records, divorces, etc. Copies cost $.50.

Recorder of Deeds
Willowbank County Office Building
414 Holmes St
Bellefonte PA 16823-1488
Phone: 814.355.6801
Hours: 8:30 am - 5 pm M-F
All records relating to real estate in Centre County recorded since 1800.

Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphan's Court
Willowbank County Office Building
414 Homes St.
Suite #2
Bellefonte PA 16823
Phone: 814.355.6724
Hours: 8:30 am - 5 pm M-F
The register of wills maintains records of wills and probate, marriage licenses, and adoptions.

Family History Centers
  • The Pennsylvania State University - Pennsylvania's State University


  • The Pennsylvania Room and Historical Museum

(State and Local History & Central Pa. Genealogy)
203 North Allegheny St.
Bellefonte, PA 16823
(814) 355-1516, ext. 214
Monday - Friday: 10:00 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 4 p.m.

842 W Whitehall Rd., State College (814) 237-1958
Hours: Tues & Wed 9 am - 2 pm, 6:30 - 9 pm


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.

County-wide Databases

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

  • Pre-1810 – Pennsylvania Marriages Ancestry.com – ($) This database is incomplete for all counties. Includes 35,000 marriage records from vol. VIII of of the second series of the Pennsylvania Archives.

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:

Centre County Prothonotary
Centre County Courthouse
Bellefonte PA 16823-1488
Directions: Map
Phone: (814) 355-6796
Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday - Friday


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

  • 1852-1854 – Pennsylvania Deaths Ancestry.com – ($) Index with images.

Finding Vital Records at Other Repositories

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

Web Sites


Populated Places

  • Boroughs: Bellefonte, Millheim, Philipsburg, State College
  • Townships: Benner, Boggs, College, Ferguson, Gregg, Haines, Harris, Halfmoon, Patton, Potter


  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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adams_County,_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].