Courthouse indexes were created before computers, databases, and digitization of records. As a result those indexes may be different from more modern ones that a person used to. A few things worth remembering when using courthouse indexes to records:
- Indexes to courthouse records are not always strictly alphabetical. Sometimes they are indexed only the first letter of the last name.
- Some indexes are partially by last name and then by first name.
- Some clerks created their own indexing system.
- The Mc and Mac names can be at the front or the end of the “M” section.
- Not every party in a lawsuit appears in the defendant or plaintiff index.
- Not every grantor or grantee on a deed will appear in the index.
- Indexes are not every name indexes.
- Indexes can be incorrect or missing.
- Courthouses may have indexes to records that were not filmed by the Family History Library.
A good idea is to ask a local person from the area who is familiar with the records. These people can be an excellent resource.