Ohio, Probate Records, 1789-1996 is a free collection at FamilySearch with a searchable name index and images of early Ohio probate records from county courthouses in Ohio.
Probate records were used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. If the deceased had made a will, the probate process transferred the following from the deceased to an executor or executrix: the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title to heirs. If there was no will, the transfer went to an administrator or administratrix. A guardian or conservator was appointed if the deceased had heirs younger than 21 or if the heirs were incompetent due to disability or disease. Probate records are generally well preserved, but some may have been lost in fires or other disasters.
The collection consists of probate records and estate files from county courthouses in Ohio. The content and time period varies by county.
Fires have destroyed some Ohio county courthouse records. The following list may be helpful to you:
- Adams County. A courthouse fire in early 1910 destroyed most of the probate records up to that point. Will book abstracts from 1849 to 1860 and some pre-1860 guardianship papers survived
- Delaware County. A fire in 1835 destroyed most early records. Will records from 1812 survived
- Hamilton County. The courthouse has had three fires: one in 1814, the second on 9 July 1849, and the third on 30 March 1884. The 1884 fire resulted in the most lost records
- Licking County. A courthouse fire on 3 April 1875 destroyed many of the early probate court records
- Champaign County. A courthouse fire in 1948 destroyed the intestate records in the probate court
- Fulton County. The first courthouse was located in Ottokee. A fire broke out on the night of July 14, 1864, and destroyed many of the early records. It seems that a Judge Barber had made a personal record of the early wills. This old book is referred to as “Barber’s Abstracts” and is available at the county records center
- Henry County. The courthouse was destroyed by fire on 17 April 1847. The court records were destroyed in the fire
- Seneca County. The courthouse was destroyed by fire on 29 May 1841. Probate records exist from 1828. Some of the records in this county have been reconstructed in part by using other documents such as deeds and early newspaper accounts of individuals’ deaths
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What Can I Learn from early Ohio Probate Records?
Probate records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees, and other court documents.
- Name of the testator or deceased
- Names of heirs, such as spouse, children, other relatives, or friends
- Name of the executor, administrator, or guardian
- Names of witnesses
- Residence of the testator
- Document and recording dates