Utah Department of Administrative Services

Division of Archives & Records Service

Series 3168

Washington County (Utah). Probate Court Civil and criminal record books

Dates: 1856-1886.

0.35 cubic foot and 2 microfilm reelsSkip to Containers

These records are housed in the Utah State Archives' permanent storage room.

Historical Note

An agency history is available.

Scope and Content

The Washington County Probate Court originally held jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases, as well as estate distribution. Record Books A, B, and D contain primarily criminal cases and divorce and naturalization records, but also a few guardianships, estate settlements, and land claims adjudication. In the beginning, the probate clerk recorded details of civil and criminal cases, but in 1865 the clerk changed the format to that of court minutes. In 1873, the court ceased to handle civil and criminal cases with the exception of divorce, so from that date Record Book D is exclusively divorce records.

Most civil cases in Book A were divorces or declarations of intention to become a citizen. Most criminal cases involved theft. Beginning in 1856, with the case of Enos an Indian, sentenced to be "punished by wearing a heavy chain on his leg and hard labor for three months," for stealing some flour and running off sheep, the early records are filled with details of the cases heard. From 1865, when the court was moved to the newly established county seat in Saint George, until 1873, the clerk kept only minutes in Record Books A, B, and D. These minutes reported which cases were heard, which witnesses testified, who was on the jury, and what verdicts were pronounced, but no longer provided details of the cases presented. The majority of cases involved debt collection, but also included divorce, larceny, a rape case, a murder case, and other cases relating to disputes over property ownership. Within the minutes the clerk recorded a few estate settlements after 1865. And in 1871-1872, when the court's attention focused primarily on adjudicating claims for city lots in Saint George, the clerk recorded more than a hundred individual claims in the minutes of Book B. Since the court ceased to handle criminal and civil cases with the exception of divorce in 1874, most of Book D is exclusively divorce records. The clerk once more provided details.

Arrangement

Chronological

Research Note

After 1865 the Civil and Criminal Record Books make no reference to declarations of intention to become a citizen, but inserted in Record Book B, between pages 114 and 115, is a typed list (dated 1915) of citizens who had been naturalized in Washington County.

Related Records

Probate record books from the District Court (Fifth District : Washington County), Series 18215, contain the bulk of the court's probate and estate records. Probate record books were kept in continuum by Fifth District Court in Washington County which superseded the county probate court at statehood.

Land claims adjudication record books from Washington County (Utah). Probate Court, Series 22875, relate exclusively to the land claims adjudicated by the court from 1873-1886. This is a continuation of special sessions like those described in Record Book B.

Claims abstracts from Washington County (Utah). Probate Court, Series 23578, contain summaries of land claims adjudication conducted by the probate court.

Mining notices of location from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 81372, shared Mining Record Book X, so part of this book contains divorce cases.

Access Restrictions

This series is classified as Public.

Preferred Citation

Cite the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the creating agency name, the series title, and the series number.

Processing Note

Washington County Probate Court Record Books were microfilmed by the Utah Genealogical Society in October 1966 and processed by Rosemary Cundiff in October 2000.

Finding Aids

Other: Court dockets appear at the end of Record Books A and B. The dockets do not appear to be complete, and refer to case numbers which are only randomly identifiable in association with minutes or cases in the books. Book D is not indexed.

Indexing Terms

  • Criminal courts--Utah--Washington County.
  • Divorce suits--Washington County (Utah).
  • Naturalization--Washington County (Utah).
  • Judgments--Utah--Washington County.
  • Washington County (Utah)--Habeas corpus.
  • Washington County (Utah)--Actions and defenses--Cases.

Container List

REEL BOX DESCRIPTION
1 1 1856-1867; Record Book A
1 1 1867-1873; Record Book B
2 1 1873-1886; Record Book D