Jefferson County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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United StatesGotoarrow.png Pennsylvania Gotoarrow.png Jefferson County

Jefferson County, Pennsylvania genealogy and family history research page. Guide to genealogy, history, and 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.

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Online Records

Jefferson County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Jefferson County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Founded March 26, 1804
County Seat Brookville
Jefferson County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Address Jefferson County Courthouse
200 Main Street
Brookville, PA 15825
Jefferson County Website
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Historical Facts

Beginning dates for major county records
  • Parent Counties: Formed from Lycoming County 26 March 1804. [1]
  • County Seat: Brookville
  • Neighboring Counties: Jefferson County, Pennsylvania Genealogy residents may also have records in [2]Elk (north) • Clearfield (east) • Clarion (west) • Forest (northwest)  • Indiana (south)  • Armstrong (southwest)


Named for Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States.


Boundary Changes

  • 18 April 1843: Elk County was set off from Jefferson including parts from Clearfield and McKean Counties as well as the future Cameron County.
  • 11 April 1848: Set off Forest County with parts from Jefferson and Venango counties.


Bible Records


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

Online Grave Transcripts Published Grave Transcripts County Cemetery Directories

Family History Library

WorldCat Names in Stone


Billion Graves

Pennsylvania Genealogy

 ; Epodunk

Pennsylvania Gravestones

Billion Graves

Names in Stone

Access Genealogy


See Pennsylvania Cemeteries for more information.

LDS Cemetery Records
US Vol. 1 page 92 - Sugar Hill


For tips on accessing Jefferson 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.

Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

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

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational
Jefferson county pennsylvania churches.png

The Reverand Jonathan Nichols was the first preacher in the Jefferson County area to hold the beliefs of the Baptist denomination. The first Baptist was organized in 1834 in the barn of Henry Keys. The second congregation was established in 1836 in Brookville.[3]


The Methodist church arrived several years after the Presbyterian church. However, the church records were poorly kept and many have been lost.[4]

The Methodist Episcopal Church in Jefferson County, Jefferson County Genealogy Project


Reverand Robert McGarrough was the founder of Presbyterianism in Jefferson County. By 1850 the number of Presbyterian churches in the county was nine and grew to twenty-one by 1870. Early services were held at various homes in the county and the first organized church in the county was the Bethel Church in 1824. However, it did not have a permanent building until 1842 and the name was changed to Brookville.[5]

The Second Presbyterian church was organized in 1832 but it too did not have a permanent structure until 1841.[6]

Jefferson County Presbyterian Church, Jefferson County Genealogy Project

Roman Catholic

Catholics were in the county as early as 1832. Services were held in members homes until the church building was dedicated in 1854. St. Ann's Academy was built in 1855-1856 at Corsica. It was used as a chapel and a boarding school for young women.[7]

United Brethren

Organized by individuals from Pennsylvania and Maryland, the United Brethren were organized in 1800. The first structure in Jefferson County was erected in 1874 in Knoxdale.[8]

Court Records

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

Clerk of the Court

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 Jefferson 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 Jefferson County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Prothonotary office information.

Orphans' Court

Register of Deeds/Register of Wills
Clerk of Orphans' Court
Jefferson County Courthouse
200 Main Street
Brookville, PA 15825

Telephone: (814) 849-1610
Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. / Monday thru Friday

Finding Court Records at Other Repositories

Additional court records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Jefferson 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





Published Histories

Land and Property

Land records in Jefferson County began in 1818. These records are filed with the Recorder of Deeds office in Brookville, 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:

Land Records on Microfilm

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 Jefferson County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:




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.

Original Naturalization Records on Microfilm


Jefferson 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 Jefferson 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.

Online Newspaper Abstracts

Newspaper Excerpts and Abstracts

Steele, Patricia M. Who, When and Where:Jefferson County, Pennsylvania (Evansville, Indiana:Whipporwill Publications, c1987) At various libraries (WorldCat; FHL book 974.862 V2s v.2 Volume 2: Newspaper items 1834-1837, 1854-1889.


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

  • Baggs, Josephine Y. and Leader Vindicator (New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), Obituaries, ca. 1988 (SLC, Utah, 1991) FHL film 1697507 item 7


Indentured Servants


Poorhouse, Almshouse

Probate Records

Probate matters in Jefferson 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

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:

Jefferson County Only:

Original Probate Records on Microfilm

Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

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


Register of Deeds/Register of Wills
Clerk of Orphans' Court
Jefferson County Courthouse
200 Main Street
Brookville, PA 15825

Prothonotary/Clerk of Court
Tonya S. Geist

Family History Centers

Taylor Memorial Museum
765 Park Street PO Box 73
Brockway, PA 15824
(814) 265-8519


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


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.


Birth records for Jefferson County began in 1893. The Jefferson County Clerk of Orphans' Court maintains birth records upto 1906. To obtain a copy of birth record in the 1893–1906 time period contact the Jefferson County Courthouse.

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
PO Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

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


Jefferson County marriages are maintained at the Jefferson County Courthouse. Jefferson County began recording marriages in 1885 although some registrations took place from 1852–1855. Marriage licenses from 1885 are available at the Clerk of Orphans' Court in Brookville.

  • 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.
  • 1852-1855 – Registration of Marriages FHL film 931896
  • 1885-1950 - Pennsylvania County Marriage, 1885-1950 Extracted marriage records – free. Most of the records consist of marriage licenses, certificates, applications, docket books, and affidavits. This database is incomplete for all counties. May also contain marriage records earlier than 1885.
  • 1885-1916 - Marriage License Dockets (Jefferson County, Pennsylvania) – FHL film 927546 (first of 15)

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


Jefferson County began recording deaths in 1893, although some were recorded from 1853–1854. These records are available in the Jefferson County Courthouse in Brookville. You may request a death record from the Clerk of Orphans' Court.

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

Web Sites


Populated Places


  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Jefferson County, Pennsylvania" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at,_Pennsylvania (accessed 17 July 2012).
  3. Kate M. Scott, "History of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania" (Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason and Co., Publishers, 1888), 276-278. WorldCat 793031; FHL book 974.862 H2s
  4. Kate M. Scott, "History of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania" (Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason and Co., Publishers, 1888), 260. WorldCat 793031; FHL book 974.862 H2s
  5. Kate M. Scott, "History of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania" (Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason and Co., Publishers, 1888), 237-248. WorldCat 793031; FHL book 974.862 H2s
  6. Kate M. Scott, "History of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania" (Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason and Co., Publishers, 1888), 237-248. WorldCat 793031; FHL book 974.862 H2s
  7. Kate M. Scott, "History of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania" (Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason and Co., Publishers, 1888), 293-303. WorldCat 793031; FHL book 974.862 H2s
  8. Kate M. Scott, "History of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania" (Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason and Co., Publishers, 1888), 291-293. WorldCat 793031; FHL book 974.862 H2s
  9. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania accessed 10 July 2012.
  10. Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, Clerk of Courts in (accessed 25 Aug 2012)