In Georgia, most genealogically significant
records are found in county records. Each county has a Superior Court
and a Probate Court. The Probate Court was
formerly known as the Court of Ordinary and
prior to that, it was known as the Inferior
Superior Court records include:
- Deeds. Transfer of real property
(land or slaves) from one individual to
another. Generally includes a
description of the property and the name(s)
of grantor (seller) and grantee (buyer).
Includes date of transfer in the body of the
document and date recorded at the end.
Recording date can be years later. In
cases of courthouse fire, individuals will
sometimes have their deeds re-recorded.
- Civil and Criminal Case Files.
- Minutes. A daily record of the
proceedings of the Superior Court. At
the very least minutes will contain
references to all civil and criminal cases;
in some instances, more detailed information
is included. Also included are corporate
charters; naturalization records; attorney
petitions to practice law.
Probate Court records include:
- Marriages. Georgia law did not require
marriages be recorded until 1805.
Generally, marriage records include the names of
the bride and groom, and the individual who
married them. 19th century Georgia
marriages do not provide parents names. If
the bride has property, sometimes there will
be a marriage contract recorded in deed
- Court Minutes. Minutes for
Ordinary purposes generally relate to
estates, and individuals. Minutes for
County purposes relate to roads and
- Estate Records. Estate records are particularly useful for connecting
generations. To successfully use estate
records, it's important to understand the process.
If an individual left a will, there is an executor
appointed. If there is no will, or the executor is
unable to serve, then the court appoints an
administrator to the estate.
- Administrator Bonds. A bond
posted by the administrator with the
Ordinary to ensure that the administrator
performs all required duties related to the
- Annual Returns. Submitted annually
by the executor or administrator until the estate is settled, these returns
record all receipts and disbursements for an
- Distributions. Record of who got
what. Often, these are not clearly
marked and they are frequently recorded with
- Guardian Bonds. Bond posted by the
guardian of minor child or children of the
estate to ensure proper care and
education if provided. In 1845, the law
for widowed mothers to be vested with
control and guardianship of any minor(s) as
long as she did not remarry.
- Letters of Administration.
Document that gives the administrator
responsibility for administering an estate
when the deceased died intestate (with no
will) or when the executor is unable to
serve. Temporary Letters of
administration are issued when an estate is
in need of an administrator before the 30
day notice period elapses.
- Letters of Dismission. Document
that dismisses the administrator, executor
or guardian either because all duties have
been completed, or the estate was
mismanaged. These are not always
recorded and early ones are rare.
- Inventories and Appraisements.
Itemized listing of all personal property in
an estate and the value of each item.
- Receipts or Vouchers. Records of
payments and receipts related to the estate.
- Sales. Records documenting
items sold from the estate.
Includes name of purchaser and amount
- Wills. Written prior to death, a
will contains the last wishes of an
individual as they related to the
distribution of his or her property (real
and personal). A will is filed (or
the Ordinary after the death of the
What next? If your ancestor was an
attorney and died in the latter part of the 19th
century to the mid 20th century, check out
the memorials published in the
Reports of the Annual
Sessions of the Georgia Bar Association