Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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United StatesGotoarrow.png Pennsylvania Gotoarrow.png Elk County

Elk County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Elk County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Founded April 18, 1843
County Seat Ridgway
Elk County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Address Elk County Courthouse
250 Main Street P.O. Box 448
Ridgway, PA 15853
Elk County Website
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Historical Facts

Beginning dates for major county records

Named for the elk that historically inhabited the area.

Boundary Changes

29 March 1860: Part taken along with parts from neighboring counties to create Cameron County. [1]


Bible Records


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

Online Grave Transcripts Published Grave Transcripts County Cemetery Directories
Findagrave.com Family History Library Findagrave.com
Interment.net WorldCat Names in Stone
USGenWeb Billion Graves
Pennsylvania Genealogy Epodunk
Pennsylvania Gravestones
Billion Graves
Names in Stone
Access Genealogy

See Pennsylvania Cemeteries for more information.


For tips on accessing Elk 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

Elk county pennsylvania churches.png

Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

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

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational
  • "100 years of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese 1843–1943," Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 1. FHL Book 974.8 B2wg. Chronology, map, county-by-county information.

Court Records

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

Emigration and Immigration

Ethnic Groups





Published Histories

Land and Property

Land records in Elk County began in 1844. These records are filed with the Register and Recorder office in Ridgway, 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

  • 1972–present Elk County offers online access to records. Fees apply.

Land Records on Microfilm

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 Elk County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:


Ancestor Tracks has posted free downloadable images from the 1855 Map of Elk County.  This wall map located in the Library of Congress shows major landowners and geographic sites at the date of publishing. While the physical maps are in the public domain, the images we have taken of the maps belong to us and are not to be used commercially.  We hereby give permission to use them strictly for personal use; please attribute to Ancestor Tracks.



Naturalization and Citizenship


Elk 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 Elk County, Pennsylvania

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


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 Obituaries Abstracts


Indentured Servants


Poorhouse, Almshouse

Probate Records

Probate matters in Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy are handled by the Orphans' Court and start when the county was created. To obtain original probate records, contact the Orphan's Court in the County Courthouse.

In addition to wills and administrations, the Orphans' Court also handles: audits of accounts of executors, administrators, trustees, and guardians; distribution of estates of decedents, incompetents, and minors; appointment and control of guardians; adoptions; appeals from the Register of Wills involving probate matters; inheritance tax appeals and various petitions and motions.

Online Probate Indexes

  • 1843–1880'sElk County Wills at PAGenWeb. Index of the first 100 wills recorded in Elk County, Will Book A. Lists name of deceased, residence, date written, date proved, executors, and witnesses. [Project did not continue on to add all wills recorded in Book A.]

Online Probate Records

Original probate records for some Pennsylvania counties are available free online as digital images at [1]. 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:

Elk County only:

Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

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



Elk County Courthouse
250 Main Street, P.O. Box 448
Ridgway, PA 15853

Family History Centers

Rich in history, Elk County, Pennsylvania Genealogy contains a number of societies dealing with the history of the area.

  • Elk County Genealogical Society
    P.O. Box 142
    Johnsonburg, PA 15845


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.


Some birth records exist for the 1852–1853 time period for Elk County. Only a small percentage of births were recorded in this time period. These records are available at:

  • 1852-1854- Pennsylvania Births Ancestry.com – $ Index with images
  • Birth Records, 1852-1853–  FHL film 1317012 Item 1
  • Elk County Courthouse
    240 Main Street
    PO Box 237
    Ridgway, PA 15853

Birth records for Elk County began in 1893. The Elk County Clerk of the Orphans Court maintains the birth records from 1893–1906. To obtain a copy of birth record in the 1893–1906 time period you may contact:

Clerk of Orphan's Court
Elk County Courthouse
240 Main Street
PO Box 314
Ridgway, PA 15853

The birth records for Elk County were microfilmed by FamilySearch. These microfilms may be ordered into a local FamilySearch Center or authorized public library for a small fee.

An alphabetical listing of 1893–1906 births from Elk County was published by Charles Howard Starr. The book is available at the Family History Library.

Beginning in 1906 Pennsylvania birth records are available through the Department of of Health. Birth records become public after 105 years. A statewide index is available. Once an individual is located in the index a certificate can be obtained by writing to:

Division of Vital Records
ATTN: Public Records
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

The cost for an non-certified birth certificate is $3.00.

Some Elk County births can be found online in Pennsylvania, Births and Christenings, 1709-1950.


Elk County marriages are maintained by the Clerk of the Orphans' Court. The county began recording marriages in October 1885. A few marriage records were created by the county in the 1853–1854 time period. To obtain a marriage record you may go to or contact the Clerk of the Orphans' Court at:

Elk County Courthouse
240 Main Street
PO Box 314
Ridgway, PA 15853

A free online index with images to some Elk County marriages can be found in the FamilySearch Records Collection, Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885 – 1950. Most of the records consist of marriage licenses, certificates, applications, docket books, and affidavits. These records have been microfilmed.


Divorce records are available through the office of the Prothonotary. The office of the Prothonotary is located in the main courthouse building:

Elk County Courthouse
240 Main Street
PO Box 237
Ridgway, PA 15853
(814) 776-5344

Email: sschneider@countyofelkpa.com


Elk County began recording deaths in 1893 although some were recorded from 1853–1854. These records as well as records from 1893–1906 are available at the County Courthouse in Ridgway. You may request a death record from the Clerk of the Orphans' Court. The address is:

Elk County Courthouse
240 Main Street
PO Box 314
Ridgway, PA 15853

These county death records were microfilmed by FamilySearch.

Death Records, 1893–1907FHL film 1288684

Pennsylvania death certificates become public records after 50 years. An annual index is released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Records less than 50 years old are kept by the Division of Vital Records and are not public certificates. Only certain people can request a non-public death certificate. To order a non-public representative you must be:

  • Legal representative of decedent's estate
  • Immediate family member
  • Extended family member who indicates a direct relationship to the decedent
  • Power of Attorney (Please note that a Power of Attorney document is no longer valid upon the death of the individual)

See the Pennsylvania Department of Health website to obtain a copy of a non-public death certificate. The cost is $9.

The cost for a non-certified public death certificate is $3.00. Indexes for Pennsylvania public death records are available online through the Department of Health for 1906 through 1961. Once an individual is located in the index a certificate can be obtained by writing to:

Division of Vital Records
ATTN: Public Records
PO Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

Finding Vital Records at Other Repositories

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

Web Sites


Populated Places

  • Benezette Township
  • Benzinger Township
  • Fox Township
  • Highland Township
  • Horton Township
  • Jay Township
  • Jones Township
  • Millstone Township
  • Ridgway Township
  • Spring Creek Township


  1. 1.0 1.1 Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002]. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "HBG" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Adams County, Pennsylvania" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adams_County,_Pennsylvania (accessed 17 July 2012).