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Kentucky Court records cover a wide range of genealogy topics that can help you in your research, including land ownership, courts, taxes, and naturalizations. Since Kentucky court records cover such a wide variety of subjects, they can help you in many different ways. For example, they may help you locate ancestors' residences, determine occupations, find financial information, establish citizenship status, or clarify relationships between people. It all depends on the type of court records that your ancestors" names appear in. For Definitions of all court trems see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.
There are four types of court records that are most likely to have information relevant to your genealogical research.
Kentucky Court Website Links - The Kentucky Court of Appeals was given its judicial powers by the first constitution of Kentucky. Other courts in Kentucky were the following: Superior, County, Chancery, Quarterly, Circuit, Justice of Peace, Police, District, Quarter Sessions, Oyer and Terminer, General.
Records from those courts may include minutes, orders, dockets, and case files. Kentucky court records may also include records relating to taxes, land, and probate issues. Original court records may be found in boxes, cabinets, drawers, folders, and books in the various court offices and repositories. Some of the books of court records have been placed on microfilm. Some have also been published. However, most of the original records have not been copied and only exist in the various files, folders and boxes kept by the court clerks and offices.
Kentucky court jurisdictions have changed several times over the years. In fact, some types of early Kentucky courts no longer exist. Some have also had their names changed. Since records may not be titled or filed in an organized manner, it can be difficult to locate the records of interest. So, all county court records must be examined. Up until 1852 county courts presided over criminal and civil matters. Then circuit courts (or quarterly quarts) were put in charge of some criminal matters. Some criminal and civil matters were handled by circuit courts as well, along with divorce cases. The circuit courts also acted as courts of appeals. Up until about 10 years after Kentucky gained its statehood the quarts of quarter sessions usually handled cases that involved large amounts of money.
The Department for Libraries and Archives holds copies of a lot of county court records on microfilm. The FHL, University of Kentucky Library, Filson Library, and Kentucky Historical Society all have transcribed county court records on file as well. Other regional and local libraries have collections of transcribed and published records as well.
Courts and their jurisdiction have altered over time in Kentucky. Some early courts are no longer extant. Some have undergone name or jurisdictional changes.
Kentucky Immigration and Naturalization Website Links
Kentucky Probate Website Links - Typically the county clerk has jurisdiction over county probate records, which are stored in each county courthouse. Probate records may include records of: wills, estates, administrators, executors, inventories, settlements, sales, accounts, guardianship, orphans, insolvent estates, bastardy, apprentices, insanity.
There are also probate record volumes that may include records of: Administrations, Court Proceedings, Court Minutes, Estates, Executors, Guardians, Inventories, Probates, Sales, Settlements, Wills.
Those records may be organized under a variety of titles and in a variety of ways. For example, some loose papers may be tied together, or organized in folders. Also, some estate records may be mixed in with other county court records. Disputes over inherited estates may be included in the records from circuit courts. Some early wills have also been transcribed and stored among county records, as well as in certain repositories, including Filson Library and the Kentucky Historical Society.
The FHL, Kentucky Historical Society, University of Kentucky Library, Filson Library, and Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives each have microfilmed copies of probate records on file. The Kentucky Court of Appeals book J (1780 to 1788) contains some inventories and will records as well.
There are 120 county courthouses in the state of Kentucky. Each of them keep their own records. However, some records have been destroyed in accidents or fires throughout the years. Some of those records have been replaced, and blanks can also be filled in using other sources, such as church records and newspapers. However, researchers must go back several years before the dates of the lost records in order to get as much information as possible from those other sources.,
County probate records are filed at the respective county courthouse usually under the county clerk’s jurisdiction.
Kentucky Tax Website Links - Early tax records from Kentucky can be extremely helpful for researchers who are interested in family history. From the time of each county being founded, most of them have kept annual records for tax purposes. Some of the earlier tax records may list some or all of the following information: Men Aged 16 to 21, Men over 21, Real Estate Acreage, Real Estate Value, Watercourses, Horses, Slaves.
The FHL and the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives each have microfilmed copies of most tax records for each Kentucky county through 1892. There are also several 1892 original tax records on file at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Tax records from 1875 can be found at the Kentucky Historical Society.
Each tax list for Kentucky is organized by county and then sorted in chronological order. Records are organized according to district, and many records are then arranged by last name of the resident. Although, some records are not perfectly alphabetized. Some research libraries also have published tax records on file.
Most counties have yearly tax records from the date of organization.