Historical and genealogical research in Bucks County could become a lot easier if a proposal by the Register of Wills comes to fruition. Don Petrille, Jr. was the guest speaker at this month’s meeting of the Delaware and Lehigh Valley Genealogy Club. He gave those in attendance a thorough overview of the records available and his idea for a centralized Records Center.

The county is currently in the process of constructing a new Judicial Complex, which would free up the majority of space in the current courthouse. When meeting with the consultants to plan future use of the existing building, he proposed a central records archives to bring together the older records that are currently spread out between several different departments and off-site locations. He envisions the center would be staffed by both county personnel and volunteers, have work space and internet accessibility for researchers and house a wide range of historical records and resources.

Mr. Petrille is not a genealogist, but clearly understands the value and historical significance of the records that he and other departments are responsible for. There is one employee in his office who specializes in the historic records and is always willing to help those in search of genealogical information.

The records available in Mr. Petrille’s office (which also serves as the Orphans’ Court) include original wills from 1684, will books from 1713, estate records and proceedings, marriage records from 1885, birth and death records from 1893 to 1906, inheritance tax records and adoption records (sealed.)

Additionally, the Bucks County Recorder of Deeds Office has the following records dating from 1684: deeds, mortgages, powers of attorney, public official commissions, Notary commissions, trust commissions, UCC filings, land development plans and honorable discharges. The Clerk of the Courts has criminal courts records from the early 1700’s. The Prothonotary has records of civil and family courts matters as early as 1733, as well as naturalization files from 1802 to 1906.

Due to the fact that the records are currently stored in several different offices, as well as in an off-site storage facility, researches are strongly encouraged to make arrangements in advance of a visit to the courthouse. The Register of Wills and Orphan’s Court office can be reached at (215) 348-6261 or registerofwills@co.bucks.pa.us

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