Chester County Pennsylvania Genealogy

Chester County Pennsylvania Genealogy is part of the Pennsylvania History and Genealogy Project. My name is Dennis Partridge and I am the county coordinator. If you have information about this county you would like to place online, then please contact me using the contact form on this website. The American History & Genealogy Project (AHGP) is a group of like-minded individuals committed to providing free access to American genealogical and historical information online. Organized by locations, volunteers host states, counties, and sometimes town or city websites specializing in their areas of interest. Come join us today!

Chester County, Pennsylvania, is situated in the south-eastern part of the State. It is in the form of an irregular oblong, with its greatest length, from northeast to southwest, and with no boundary corresponding to the cardinal directions, except the southern, which runs nearly east and west, separating it from Maryland and being the famous Mason and Dixon’s line. A portion of the southeast boundary is the section of a circle, separating the county from the State of Delaware, and the other portion of the southeast boundary is Delaware County, Pennsylvania, which was once a part of Chester County. Montgomery County bounds it on the northeast, the two counties being separated from each other by the Schuylkill River. On the northwest it is bounded by Berks County and Lancaster County, the latter extending from Berks County down to the State of Maryland.

The county lies between 39 degrees 42 minutes and 40 degrees 30 minutes north latitude, and between 75 degrees 15 minutes and 7G degrees 15 minutes west longitude from Greenwich, England, and between 55 minutes and 1 degree 40 minutes east longitude from the Capitol building at Washington, District of Columbia. In Maryland the counties which border it are Newcastle, Delaware and Cecil. The line of the Pennsylvania Railroad passing through the county from east to west is thirty miles long. The extreme length of the county from north to south is thirty-six miles; its northern boundary is fifteen miles long; its northeastern twenty-one miles long; its southeastern, eighteen miles; its southern, thirty miles, and its western border line twenty-eight miles, so that its entire periphery is 112 miles in length. The area of the county is equal to 763 square miles, or 488,320 acres. It has a gently rolling surface, there being within its limits no considerable elevations, the highest point on any railroad passing through it being 750 feet above the level of the sea, and its greatest depression 200 feet above the same level.


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Table of Contents

Townships of Chester County Pennsylvania

Biographies of Chester County, Pennsylvania

Biographical Sketches of Chester County, Pennsylvania Residents

Memoirs of Chester County, Pennsylvania Residents

Cemeteries in Chester County Pennsylvania

Most of these are complete indices at the time of transcription, however, in some cases we list the listing when it is only a partial listing.

Census and Tax Records for Chester County Pennsylvania

Census Returns for Chester County, Pennsylvania

  • Septennial Census Returns, 1793-1863
    Section 4 of the 1790 Pennsylvania State Constitution required that “within 3 years after the 1st meeting of the general assembly, and within every subsequent term of 7 years, an enumeration of taxable inhabitants shall be made in such a manner as directed by law.”

Tax Returns for Chester County, Pennsylvania

Church Records for Chester County Pennsylvania

History of the Churches of Chester County, Pennsylvania

Records of the Churches of Chester County, Pennsylvania

  • Inscriptions on Gravestones in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church-Yard
    Great Valley, East Whiteland, Chester County, Pennsylvania
  • John Humphrey Collection of Pennsylvania Birth Records $
    The John Humphrey collection of Pennsylvania birth records were extracted from early Pennsylvania church records by the late noted Pennsylvania genealogist John Humphrey. Mr. Humphrey left the rights to his collections to the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania. There are a total of 16 books representing 15 counties in the collection.
    • Chester County Births 1682-1800
  • Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985 $
    • Chester Springs: St. Matthew’s United Church of Christ; St. Peter’s Pikeland United Church of Christ
    • Coatesville: Friendship United Methodist Church; Presbyterian Church; The Presbyterian Church of Coatesville
    • Compass: St. John’s Episcopal Church
    • Downingtown: Central Presbyterian Church; Messiah Lutheran Church; St. James Church; St. James Episcopal Church; St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church; United Methodist Church
    • East Coventry: Coventry Mennonite Cemetery
    • Elk Ridge: Elk Ridge Methodist Episcopal Church
    • Kerford: Oak Grove Cemetery
    • Landenberg: United Methodist Church
    • New London: New London Methodist Episcopal Church; Protestant Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist; St. John’s Episcopal Church
    • Oxford: Oxford Circuit Methodist Episcopal Church; St. Andrew’s Church
    • Paoli: Salem Methodist Episcopal Church
    • Parkesburg: First United Presbyterian Church of Parkesburg
    • Philadelphia: Norris Square Methodist Episcopal Church
    • Phoenixville: St. Peter’s Chapel; St. Peter’s Episcopal Church; United Church of Christ – Hungarian Reformed
    • Salem: Salem Methodist Episcopal Church
    • Spring City: Vincent Mennonite Cemetery
    • West Bradford: Marshallton United Methodist Church
    • West Chester: Church of the Holy Trinity; Oakland Cemetery; St. Agnes’ Roman Catholic Cemetery
    • West Marlborough: St. James Church
    • West Nantmeal: Goodwill United Methodist Church
    • West Vincent: St. Matthew’s United Church of Christ
    • West Whiteland: Grove United Methodist Church
  • Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania Confirmation Registers, 1911-1950 §
    Microfilm of original records at the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Confirmations come from all parishes in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. The parishes may be alphabetical under each locality and each locality may or may not be in alphabetical order within each year. The Diocese in 1927 included the counties of Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, and Bucks.
  • Extracts from Reformed Church records of Pennsylvania and Maryland, Vol. I. §
    Contents: Records of Allegeny and Alsace in Berks Co. Microfilm of manuscript material at the Franklin and Marshall College Library, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. 360 p.
    • East Vincent Church, Chester Co., 1758-1821

Members of the Churches of Chester County, Pennsylvania

Court Records for Chester County Pennsylvania

  • Record of the courts of Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1681-1697
  • Affidavits, Depositions, Interrogatories, 1781-1834
    This is an index to records filed in the Court of Common Pleas (civil cases). They contain sworn or affirmed statements of witnesses or plaintiffs and defendants in the cases. They include affidavits, rules to take depositions, depositions, and interrogatories.
  • Assigned Estates, 1821-1942
    These records pertain to estates put up for sale by the owners acting through an assignee in order to raise money for payment of creditors. Types of papers include: petition for appointment of appraisers, inventory, bond, account and petition of assignee, report of auditor. These cases were handled by the Court of Common Pleas.
  • Divorce Records, 1804-1902
    Prior to 1804 all divorce cases for Chester County were handled at the provincial or state level.
  • Index to Equity Cases, 1844-1940
    An index to cases that came before the Court of Common Pleas sitting as a Court of Equity. Equity is a system of jurisprudence administered by certain courts that are empowered to decree impartial and equal justice as between 2 persons whose rights or claims are in conflict. In an equity case there is no trial by jury and a judge can make decisions that oppose accepted common law precedents.
  • Inquisitions and Executions, 1700-1800
  • Insolvent Debtor’s Petitions & Bonds, 1724-1850
    Insolvent Debtor Petitions and Bonds are papers filed by an insolvent debtor to institute proceedings that will enable him to take advantage of provisions for the benefit of insolvents. Debtors surrendered their property and upon assent of creditors, were discharged from all further liabilities. Papers vary depending on laws of the period. They include petitions to give bond, bonds from the insolvent debtors, proof of service and petitions for benefit of insolvent laws. After 1850, insolvent debtor cases may be found in the Court of Common Pleas Miscellaneous Dockets.
  • Abstracts of Feme Covert Declarations for Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1832-1848
    In Pennsylvania before 1848 a married woman (in legal terminology, a feme covert) could not directly receive money from land sales or partitions of estates by orphans’ courts; she could only receive the money through her husband. One provision of a law passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in 1832 allowed a married woman to make a declaration to enable her husband to receive the money due to her on her behalf without posting any security.’ Declarations of femes covert (married women) were filed in orphans’ court during the period 1832-1848. These declarations link married women to estates to which they were heirs.

Chester County Prison Records

  • Gaol (Jail) Keepers’ Docket, 1804-1857
    Records of the sheriff as jail keeper of Chester County. Entries may include: Name of prisoner and person who had prisoner committed, charge against prisoner, number assigned to prisoner, date committed, turnkey and others’ fees, costs, number of days in gaol, date of discharge, signatures of those who received their fees.
  • Prison Docket, 1840-1857
    Entries in this docket may include: Name of prisoner, when and by whom committed, charge, court term when tried and verdict, sentence of the court, description of prisoner and when and how discharged. Descriptions may include but are not limited to: height, foot length, age, nativity, scars or other distinguishing physical features, hair and eye color, temperate/intemperate, marital status, occupation, previous convictions, tattoos, whether they have children or parents living.
  • Languishing Prisoner Petitions, 1718-1790
    An index to petitions submitted to the court by prisoners seeking release from jail.
  • Oyer & Terminer, 1802-1910
    County courts of oyer and terminer and general gaol delivery were established by the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1790 to hear and determine capital crimes (murder, rape, treason, burglary, robbery, arson, etc), formerly a function of the Pennsylvania supreme court. The 1st county court of oyer and terminer in Chester County was held May 1792. The entries for the proceedings from 1792-1802 are found in the quarter sessions dockets.
  • Prison Discharges, 1843-1872
    These are papers filed with the clerk of courts for the release of prisoners who had served their sentence in the county prison but had not paid the costs of prosecution or fine. If in the judgment of the board of prison inspectors the prisoner was unable to pay the fine or costs, the prisoner made an affirmed statement that he had no property other than wearing apparel.
  • Quarter Sessions Indictments
    This index is to the Quarter Sessions dockets and indictment papers. The Court of Quarter Sessions heard criminal cases and also served several administrative functions. The most common cases that appear before the court are: fornication & bastardy; assault & battery; theft; horse theft; counterfeiting; rioting. The court also heard complaints regarding: servant/master disputes (see also Indentured Servant Records); individuals operating taverns without license; township overseers of the poor attempting to establish residency of a pauper;appointments to vacant township offices; desertion cases involving the Directors of the Poor.

Chester County Pennsylvania Probate, Estate and Guardianship Records

Feme Covert Records, 1832-1848

In Pennsylvania before 1848 a married woman (feme covert) could not act independently (separate from her husband) in a legal transaction. An 1832 Pennsylvania law outlined the process used by Orphans’ Court to distribute shares of estates to married women. In order for a husband to receive outright the money due to his wife, she had to state she did not require him to give security for the money.

Orphans’ Court Estates, 1714-1923

Orphans’ court is a valuable but under utilized source for genealogical information. Many people are confused by the name of the court, as its duties extend beyond caring for children. Orphans’ court is a county court. It has additional duties now, but the court’s earlier jurisdiction fell into 3 general categories: guardianship of minor children, the sale or division of real estate out of a decedent’s (deceased person’s) estate, and the confirmation and auditing of estate accounts. Orphans’ court records should always be checked when working with probate records.

Orphans’ Court Bonds, 1746-1893
When the Orphans’ Court issued a decree adjudging the land of an intestate to his eldest son, a bond was taken with surety to the heirs, conditioned on the payment of their respective shares and also to payment of their proportions of the widow’s part at her death.

Orphans County Transcriptions

Register’s Court, 1795-1917
The register’s court was established by the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1790. Made up of the register of wills and judges of the court of common pleas, the court heard appeals of decisions made by the register of wills. Typical cases concerned the validity of wills or the appointment of administrators. The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1874 abolished the register’s court, transferring the court’s jurisdiction to the orphans’ court.

Wills and Administrations, 1714-1923

Chester County Archives has probate (estate settlement records) for the years 1714-1923. Before 1714, records were filed in Philadelphia. Even after the Chester County records start, some residents still filed wills and administrations in Philadelphia. This practice of filing where it was convenient continued until the Revolution.

  • Philadelphia administrations, 1683-1744 [abstracts] §
    Microfilm of original 2 vol. work at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Index and abstract for volumes A-B appeared in the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, vol. XIX, no. 3. Abstract of Book D was made by Carl T. Smith. Includes abstracts for original books A-E of letters of administration for Philadelphia city and county. Each volume includes an index. “Administrations were also granted for estates of individuals who were residents of Chester Co., Bucks Co., and the present state of Delaware.”

Directories of Chester County Pennsylvania

Genealogy of Chester County Pennsylvania

Historical Newspapers in Chester County Pennsylvania

West Chester University Student Newspapers

  • The Amulet
  • The Green Stone
  • The Quad Angles
  • The Quad

History of Chester County Pennsylvania

Civil Lists

Civil Licenses

  • Dog Register, 1855-1912
    Book kept for recording registration of dogs. Entries may include: Name and residence of owner; date of registration; registration number; description of dog that includes name, sex, breed, age, height, lenght, color, value and additional descriptive remarks, signature of clerk.
  • Peddler’s Petitions, 1722-1869
    Papers relating to the licensing of hawkers, peddlers, and Indian traders. The terms “hawker” and “peddler” are synonymous and signify a person who travels from place to place selling his wares. An Indian trader is someone engaged in trade with Indians. Types of papers include: petition, bond, fee receipt.
  • Registry of Automobiles, 1903-1905
    In 1903, a State Law was passed requiring the registration of automobiles with the Prothonotary’s Office in each county. This law was in effect until December 1905, when the state took over the responsibility on January 1, 1906.
  • Tavern Petitions, 1700-1923
    Papers relating to the process by which the court granted licenses for taverns, eating houses, temperance houses, and distilleries. Types of papers include; petition to court, bond, remonstrances and fee receipt.

Poorhouse Records

  • History of the Chester County Poorhouse
  • Poor School Children Records, 1810-1841
    This index is created from the Commissioners and Treasurers Account Books which record the final list of children qualified to receive free schooling as well as the tax lists. The account books are arranged by year and then by township. The list of poor school children are typically found on the last pages of each township’s tax list, usually following the list of freemen. It is recommended that researchers see both the tax lists and the account books for each entry unless otherwise noted.
  • Poorhouse Records, 1800-1910
    • Ennion Cook Account Book
      The digitized account book of Ennion Cook consists of 256 scanned pages and dates from 1798 to 1836. Found within this volume are Cook’s financial records as a school teacher, including student boarding fees, firewood purchases, and guardianship accounts. The back of the book also includes account records for the Birmingham Society of Friends’ burying grounds. Ennion Cook (1773-1841) was born to Stephen and Margaret Williams Cook in London Grove Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. A teacher by profession, Cook moved to Birmingham Township, Chester County in 1798 and was a prominent member of the Quaker community. Cook married Agnes Garrett in 1800, and, in 1802, began teaching in the four-sided school house located next to the Birmingham Meeting House. He later taught in the Octagonal Schoolhouse (known as Harmony Hall), a building recognized on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. In 1808, Cook was appointed Librarian of the Birmingham Library, which operated out of his residence, and within the year, also began serving as the sexton of the Birmingham graveyard. Cook’s account book includes an index of 89 names followed by detailed account records that list individual items purchased and amounts paid. Typical charges to account holders include school supplies, boarding fees, clothing, shoes, firewood, tuition, and tutoring fees. A listing of Agnes Cook’s boarders from 1798-1822 is provided on pages 111-112, and a record of eight personal bond purchases is listed on page 123. In the back of the book, Cook kept separate entries relating to his role as sexton of the Birmingham graveyard from 1809 to 1834, and these entries include account records for individual plot purchases and the amounts paid. The entirety of the Ennion Cook Account Book Collection is housed and available for research use at the Chester County History Center.
    • Bound Apprentices, 1801-1825
    • Children’s Board Book, 1856-1884
      This book records children who came under the care of the Chester County Poorhouse.
    • Examination Book Index 1841-1850
    • Land Seizures Index 1803-1835
    • Record of Diseases Index 1840-1842
    • Stewards Book Index 1821-1829
    • Outdoor Allowances, 1800-1856
      Outdoor allowances were monies paid to people who did not qualify for full support in the poorhouse, yet needed financial assistance to live on the outside. Often, monies were paid to a 3rd party who acted as physical and/or financial caretaker of the individual receiving support.

Professional Registers, 1683-1970

Chester County, Pennsylvania School History and Records

Servant and Slave Records

  • Fugitive Slave Records, 1820-1839
    This index, which covers the time period 1820 – 1839, is to the evidence gathered in cases in which an African-American was claimed in Chester County as a fugitive slave. The records contain the information specified in “An act to prevent kidnapping,” which was passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature on March 27, 1820.
  • Indentured Servant Complaints, 1700-1855
    Papers relating to actions before the Court of Quarter Sessions involving problems between masters and indentured servants or apprentices. The papers may include the following: petition of servant or apprentice, petition of master, master’s account, indenture, petition to transfer assignment of indenture.
  • Negro Servant Returns, 1788-1821
    On March 1, 1780, Pennsylvania enacted a law for the gradual abolition of slavery. The act provided that thereafter no child born in Pennsylvania should be a slave. However, if the child was born to a slave mother, that child would be considered a servant until the age of 28.
  • Slave Manumissions
    Records of slaves manumitted (set free) by their masters that were filed with the Recorder of Deed’s Office.

Land Records of Chester County Pennsylvania

  • British Depredations, 1777-1782
    This register, compiled in November 1782, contains accounts of property of Chester County residents seized or (not as frequently) destroyed, without compensation, by the British Army, aided by “adherents” (Pennsylvania Tories), during their march toward and occupation of Philadelphia, from the fall of 1777 until June 1778. Most of the accounts are for damages that occurred during the British march through Chester County in mid-September 1777.
  • Deeds, 1688-1865
    Beginning is 1688 land conveyances have been recorded at the Chester County Recorder of Deeds Office. While it was in the interest of both parties to record their contracts, many deeds and mortgages in 18th and early 19th century were not recorded. It was also not uncommon for Chester County residents to record their land conveyances in Philadelphia.
  • Deed Book Index, 1688-1865
  • Inquisitions and Executions, 1700-1800
    After the Court of Common Pleas rendered a judgment, the debtor had to satisfy the judgment debt and other costs. If he did not comply with the judgment, the court would proceed with execution. If a writ of fieri facias was issued, the sheriff was commanded to levy and sell as much of the defendant’s personal estate as necessary to pay the debt. If there was not sufficient personal estate, the sheriff levied upon the defendant’s real estate to pay the debt. (This index only includes executions that seized real estate.)
  • Index
  • Letters of Attorney, 1774-1845
    Letters of Attorney are documents through which a person appoints another to legally act on his/her behalf. They are commonly drawn up by individuals who have business or property in one area but live in another; or by individuals who, due to sickness or other debility, feel themselves incapable of completing transactions themselves.
  • Mechanics’ Liens, 1828-1868
    The following is an index to claims filed by mechanics (workmen) to insure the recovery of costs incurred in construction and renovation work in Chester County. Claims may include the following information: Name of Party claimant (and signature) and owner or contractor of building; amount claimed (itemized to show how much material cost, plus labor); description, type and location of building (including owners of adjoining property); dates material furnished and labor performed; date of claim; filing date of claim, number assigned to claim (if numbered) which corresponds to Mechanics Lien Docket.
  • Miscellaneous Deeds, 1821-1834
    Miscellaneous Deed Books contain a variety of private transactions of which parties required official documentation. The series may contain: leases, assignments (the transfer of claim, right, or interest in a property), bills of sale (transfer of ownership of personal property), deeds of trust (transfer of legal responsibility), releases (the relinquishment of a right, title, or claim of property to another), receipts (written acknowledgment that a specified article, sum of money, or delivery of merchandise has been received), articles of agreement (to bind by articles set forth in a contract), deeds of water rights (to give control of water flow and maintenance), and occasionally marriage contracts These transactions were recorded in Deed Books prior to 1821.
  • Petitions for Sheriff’s Deeds, 1728-1835
    Petitions for Sheriff’s Deeds are petitions to the court from purchasers of land at sheriff’s sales, requesting title to the land because the sheriff had not given title to the petitioner prior to his death or retirement from office.
  • Property Research Guide
  • Sheriffs’ Deeds, 1773-1875
    Sheriff’s deed books contain sheriff’s deeds, commonly called deed polls. These deeds record the sale by the sheriff at a public auction of real estate that the sheriff had seized by court order. This court order was issued after the property-owner had failed (after a grace period) to pay judgments against him or her awarded in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas. The public sale generally marked the last stage in this legal process, which began with the plaintiff, or creditor, bringing suit against a defendant for his alleged failure to pay a debt.
  • Sheriffs’ Deeds, 1776-1830
  • Sheriffs’ Deeds, 1830-1875

Military Records of Chester County Pennsylvania

  • PA National Guard Veterans’ Card File, 1867-1921
    Consists of 4″ x 6″ cards originally maintained by the Office of the Adjutant General. Data generally shown about each veteran includes name, rank, age, physical description (height, complexion, hair and eye color), occupation and residence; the date and place of enlistment; the date and reason for discharge; and the unit (company and regiment) to which assigned. Information about federal service rendered by the veteran and the date of death or first appearance in the military records also routinely appears.

Chester County Pennsylvania in the Revolutionary War

  • Revolutionary War Military Abstract Card File
    Arranged alphabetically by surname of soldier. The abstract card file contains transcriptions of data extracted from original records in the custody of the State Archives concerning Revolutionary War service in the Pennsylvania Militia, Pennsylvania Line, and the Navy. Note that duty after November 1783 is not considered Revolutionary War service. Information provided is name and rank of soldier, whether active or inactive duty, county of residence, battalion in which served, and record from which information was extracted. Also noted are whether soldier was delinquent and fined or whether militia fines were abated.
  • Militia Officers Index Cards, 1775-1800
    Index card file of the names of Pennsylvania militia officers who served during the American Revolution, in Indian campaigns in northwestern Pennsylvania, and in quelling the Whiskey Rebellion. The cards are arranged alphabetically by surname of officer. Information provided is name, county, rank, company or battalion, dates of service, township, and occasionally district within township. In rare cases, other pertinent information is provided such as place of burial, wounds received, names of children, names of any expeditions or campaigns, name of person whom they succeeded, and date discharged.

Chester County Pennsylvania in the Civil War

  • Civil War Veterans’ Card File, 1861-1866
    These 3″ x 5″ cards were initially prepared to serve as an index to Samuel Penniman Bates’ “History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865,” (Harrisburg, 1869-1871). The Office of the Adjutant General later expanded the scope of the cards by transcribing onto them data found on the original Civil War Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1861-1866 {series #19.11}. The information generally includes the soldiers’ names, military units, Bates’ citations (volume and page), ages at enrollment, descriptions (complexion, height, color of hair and eyes), residences and birthplaces; the dates and places where enrolled; the dates and places where mustered in; and the dates of discharge. The listing is not inclusive.
  • Board of Relief Records (Civil War), 1861-1865
    This collections represents all extant records of the Chester County Board of Relief from 1861 through 1865. The Chester County Board of Relief was set up by the Act of May 15, 1861 P.L. 749, entitled “An Act to Create a Loan and to Provide for Arming the State” to aid local families of Civil War soldiers. Funded by state appropriations, its members included the County Commissioners and Court of Common Pleas Associate Judges. Township boards of relief were set up individually without legal precedent when townships felt the County Board did not meet the need for aid. Townships could petition the Board to assist their families although the Board did not always agree to help and the township boards assisted families without assistance from the county. The materials in this collection document the actives of the Board of Relief and provides detailed information on the families who sought its assistance. This collection is divided into four record series: account books, applications, correspondence, and administrative records.
  • Civil War Bounty Records, 1862-1865
    To guarantee a certain number of troops during the Civil War the federal government set quotas of soldiers to be enlisted from each state. The state (PA) in turn divided the number by the population of townships, boroughs, etc and set a quota for each to fill. If enough volunteers enlisted to fill a local quota a county draft wasn’t used. Men from Chester County were 1st drafted in August 1862. To fill quotas County Commissioners could borrow, tax, and levy county residents to pay each soldier, volunteer and draftee, a bounty or promissory note (script) for a certain amount of money depending on how long the soldier enlisted to serve. The townships did the same with local funding. In an effort to get the men from other townships to fill their quotas some townships paid more money than others
  • Civil War Equalization Bounty & Pension Records, 1863-1868
    On July 23, 1866 the United States Congress passed the Equalization Act. This Act provided an additional bounty of $100 to all honorably discharged soldiers (or the widow, minor children or parents of the soldier) who served no less than 3 years and were entitled to or received a bounty under the earlier laws. The 2nd section of the law provided an addition bounty of $50 for men (or their heirs as stated above) who served at least 2 years or had been discharged on account of wounds.
  • Militia Fines & Exonerations, 1847-1863
    This index includes the names of men and women excused from paying militia fines, 1847-1863. Each entry includes the date and township of residence. County men were fined if they failed to attend militia drill practice. Men were excused from paying the fine for such reasons as: being in another township or state; physical, mental or psychological inability to practice; sickness or death; poverty; names being incorrectly entered twice; current service in the army or militia; various emergencies; or lack of citizenship.
  • Veterans’ Burials, 1885-1979
    From 1885 until 1915 county-financed burials were provided for honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, and marines who had served during wartime but “died without sufficient means to defray the necessary burial expenses.” In 1915 the death benefit was extended to the indigent widows of honorably discharged veterans as well as to indigent men who had served in the state militia during the Civil War. In 1935 the benefit was further extended to include women who had served in the enlisted nurse corps or in other capacities in the military. Moreover, the death benefit was no longer just for those who had died in poverty, but was granted without regard to economic status.

Chester County Pennsylvania in the Spanish American War

  • Spanish American War Veterans’ Card File of United States Volunteers
    The card file of veterans who participated in the Spanish-American War was created by the Office of the Adjutant General in 1941 from information taken from the official records of the United States War Department. Information found about each veteran includes name, race, residence, place and date of birth, date and place of enlistment, military organization to which attached, rank, and dates serving overseas in either Cuba or the Philippines. Sometimes extensive comments at the bottom of the cards provide information on the reasons for, and the type of, discharge as well as a record of prior military service.

Chester County Pennsylvania in the Mexican Border War

  • Mexican Border Campaign Veterans’ Card File
    These cards, bearing the title “Mexican Emergency, Call of President, June 18, 1916,” contain the following information about veterans: name and rank, regiment and company, age and place of birth, a physical description (height, complexion, hair and eye color), date of commission or enlistment into service, home station and date of rendezvous, and date of acceptance into United States service. Additional remarks may indicate the date that the soldier’s enlistment was to expire and the name and address of a person to be contacted in case of an emergency. All of the cards also bear a stamp indicating that a Mexican Service Medal was issued to the veteran, along with a corresponding number.

Chester County Pennsylvania in World War 1

  • World War I Service Medal Application Cards
    These cards were originally submitted by veterans and their survivors who applied for service medals in accordance with the Act of April 21, 1937 P.L. 331, sections 1 and 2. Information provided about each veteran consists of name and serial number, place of residence at time of entry into service, date and place the veteran entered into service, rank, military unit to which attached, place and date of honorable discharge, and the signature of the applicant. Also present are the initials of the person by whom the remittance was received and of the person acting on behalf of the Adjutant General, and each card is stamped with the date of approval. The reverse side of each card shows the name of the veteran or survivor applying for the medal, and the residence to which the medal was to be mailed.
  • World War I Servicemen Records (County War Aid Association), 1917-1921
    This index is to the soldiers’ cards and letters from the records of the Chester County War Aid Association (CCWAA). The Association was a relief organization set up in December 1917 for Chester County servicemen in World War I. The CCWAA kept records of Chester County soldiers and nurses who served in the war. It provided items such as sweaters, socks, combs and Christmas packages.

Chester County Pennsylvania in World War 2

Chester County Pennsylvania in the Korean War

Chester County Pennsylvania in the Vietnam War

Naturalization Records of Chester County Pennsylvania

This index to naturalization records filed in Chester County covers the years 1798-1935. There are no pre-1798 naturalization records for Chester County, with the exception of a 1728 petition for a small group of Germans, most if not all of whom lived in what is now Lancaster County. This record has been published in 2 sources. The non-Mennonite names appear in The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine (vol. 37, no. 4, 1992, pp. 367-373). Names of German Mennonites who petitioned appear in Mennonite Family History (vol. 8, no. 3, July 1989, pp. 112-113).

Vital Records of Chester County Pennsylvania

Chester County Pennsylvania Birth Records

Chester County kept birth records for limited years. The 1st set of records covers the years 1852-1855. Birth records were not kept again until 1893. In 1906 the State of Pennsylvania began keeping the records; Chester County discontinued its records in 1907. Other than the listed years, the county did not record births.

  • 1852 – 1855 Birth Index for Chester County Pennsylvania
  • 1893 – 1906 Birth Records
  • Delayed Birth Records, 1857-1906
  • John Humphrey Collection of Pennsylvania Birth Records $
    The John Humphrey collection of Pennsylvania birth records were extracted from early Pennsylvania church records by the late noted Pennsylvania genealogist John Humphrey. Mr. Humphrey left the rights to his collections to the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania. There are a total of 16 books representing 15 counties in the collection.
    • Chester County Births 1682-1800

Chester County Pennsylvania Death Records

Chester County kept death records for the years 1852-1855 and 1893-1906. In 1906 the State of Pennsylvania began keeping the records. Other than the listed years the county did not record deaths and alternative sources should be consulted.

Chester County Pennsylvania Marriage Records

Chester County kept marriage records for the years 1852-1855 and 1885-present. Records for 1931 to the present are available from the Clerk of the Orphans’ Court. Other than the listed years (1852-1855, 1885-present) the county did not record marriages and alternative sources should be consulted.

Chester County Pennsylvania Divorce Records

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