There’s Not Just One Index to Court Records–Usually

Local (county) court records usually have indexes that are seemingly limited in their scope.  Usually there is a plaintiffs’ index and a defendants’ index and those indexes usually only index the first named plaintiff in each case and the first name defendant in each case.

That’s why it is important to search for all family members in these indexes.

Another key factor for the genealogist to be aware of is how many courts the county had during the time period of interest. Counties may have had more than one court–typically one court that heard equity or chancery cases and one that heard “law” cases. At the risk of oversimplifying, equity or chancery cases were those where parties could not agree amongst themselves and they were asking the court to reach an equitable decision for them. “Law” cases involved a violation of the “law.”