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Research Aids

Learn the local government and court structure in Clarion County.  Most published Pennsylvania "how-to" sources will explain it.

Note:  The Clarion County Courthouse requires all visitors to enter from the basement on the Main Street side and go through a security checkpoint similar to the ones used at the airport for passengers.

Everyone in every office at the Clarion County Courthouse is wonderfully friendly and helpful.  It's a great place to meet local people who are always willing to help you find a family's original home.

Scanners are not allowed in the Register's Office except by prior arrangement.  You can write ahead for photocopies of will book indices and deed book indices.  Send 25 cents per copy and enough money to cover postage (figure 37 cents for each five pages -- consider any "overage" to be a donation for the staff's time).  Better yet, order the indices on microfilm at your local LDS Family History Center and make a list of documents to order and review before you go! A list of Clarion County records on film can be found at the LDS Web site.

Land Ownership Records:

Tax cards (showing the current land owner and a plat map (drawing) of the property are 25 cents each from the Assessor's Office.  There is a new book (published 2002) containing plat maps, owners' names and other information available from the Assessor's Office.


The deed books contain land records and any other document that was considered important enough to register publicly (i.e., agreements, leases, military discharges).

When Clarion County formed from Armstrong and Venango Counties, existing deeds were recorded in the new Clarion County Register's office.  Therefore, Grantee deed records predate the county's formation.

There are two indices:  Grantor (seller) and Grantee (buyer).  The Grantee index is called the Adsectum Index.  All parties to a transaction are indexed.  Witnesses, neighbors, previous landowners, and others named in deeds are not indexed.  There is a short description of the land (usually just a township name).

Both indices are set up alphabetically by first letter of the party's surname.  Within the surname letter, individual entries are arranged in groups by first letter of the given name of the transacting party.  Within the given name groups, the entries are pretty much in chronological order.  But, all the John, Joseph, James, and Jeremiah entries will be mixed up because they share the same initial surname letter.  It can be confusing at first.  And, it can take 20-30 copies to get all the entries for just one group of initials (such as J. Mc.) through a specific date.

Here are the first few entries in the Adsectum Index for J. Mc. records:

McKibben, John - 07 May 1811
McConnell, Jesse - 07 May 1811
McNutt, John - 07 May 1811
McElheny, James - 08 Aug 1814
McKee, John - 03 Jul 1816
McCormac, John - 12 Apr 1816
McFadden, James - 06 Feb 1813
McGonagle, John - 23 Mar 1819
McKee, Joseph - 17 Sep 1823
McCown, Joseph - 30 Oct 1810
McGee, John - 08 Jul 1831
McGee, John - 24 May 1832

Example:  Andrew and Rachel Magee gave land to their daughter, Rachel, who was married to Ira Scott -- but, the gift was to her.  No adsectum index record was found under Ira Scott.  The record was indexed in the S index volume under the given name Rachel.  But, Robert Smith, Reginald Smathers, and Rachel Scott would have all been together on the same index page, with their names entered in chronological order based on the date their deeds were registered.  The subject deed was also cross-indexed under both Andrew and Rachel Magee, but it was necessary to look through all the A. M. and R. M. entries in the Grantor index to find the record.

Probate Records:

Wills and other estate records are located in the Office of the Clerk of the Orphan's Court.  The indices are excellent.  Entries are made by decedent's or ward's names in a similar method to the deed entries described above.  However, it is a little easier to scan through the Orphan's Court indices because they have columns for the given names.  It only takes a few copies to get all the index pages for a group of initials (such as J. Mc.) through a specific date.

Neighboring Counties

Butler -- professional, clean, and easy to get around for new users.  I had no trouble finding what I needed.

Venango -- I have only spent a very short time there and did not get to do any research.  Some residents of Franklin are inconsiderate of tourists who drive slowly through its streets to look at the beautiful architecture.

Armstrong -- The Armstrong County Courthouse folks aren't as friendly as Clarion's.  When I was there, the clerks weren't at all concerned about the condition of the old records.  The corner of one page in a court minute book fell off while I was carefully turning the page.  When I asked the clerk for an acid-free envelope to put the corner into, she swept the pieces into the floor!  I got down on my knees and carefully picked the pieces up and gently placed back them in the book.  Needless to say, I was apalled!

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