Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower

Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Aug 28

Genealogy is Like a Puzzle by Joan Donovan

Posted on August 28, 2020 at 8:59 AM by Melissa Dalton

The next issue of our newsletter, Beyond the Clocktower, will be published next week, and we wanted to offer our readers a little highlight from our Favorite Record series. This week, we learn about one of Joan’s favorite records, a Petition to Partition. If you aren’t familiar with these records, be sure to keep reading! You may realize just how beneficial these records might be in your own research.

If you like puzzles, you know they can be both fun and frustrating. Some of the pieces fit together easily, some pieces are difficult to find. Genealogy is like a puzzle, and records are like the pieces of a puzzle. Some records are easy to find, some are more difficult, and some seem to be totally missing. How do you complete a puzzle without that missing piece? How do you make that family connection without that missing record? Sometimes, the answer to the last question turns out to be my favorite record, a Petition for Partition.

A Petition for Partition is a court record. It can be found in early Common Pleas Record books. One definition of a partition is “a division between several persons of property which belongs to them as co-owners; it may be compulsory (judicial) or voluntary” (Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition). A Petition for Partition may occur when someone dies intestate (without a Will), has surviving heirs, and died owning real property (land). The petitioner asks the court to partition/divide the property for the heirs. The heirs may include the widow and the children, and sometimes the grandchildren, of the deceased. One (or more) of the family members will be the petitioner while the other family members are the defendants.

One of the great things about a Petition to Partition for a genealogist is that the heirs are all named: the widow, the sons, the daughters, and also the daughters’ husbands. Grandchildren can also be named if a son or daughter was predeceased (died before the parent). As a bonus, the county/state where each one lived is provided.

In the early part of the nineteenth century in Ohio, there were no birth records, and marriage records did not include parents’ names. So, without a birth record, and with a marriage record with only the couple’s names, how do you prove that this Mary Smith who married James Johnson is the daughter of this John Smith? A Petition to Partition can be that proof, a record that provides a link between a parent and a child.

So, if you have a missing link in your genealogy, check court records! Perhaps you will find a Petition to Partition, your missing piece of the puzzle.

Below is a great example of a Petition to Partition (dated 1838): Isaac Swadener & Evalina his wife vs. The Widow and heirs of William Watts decd. (Greene County Common Pleas Records, Vol I, p 556-564). In this example, all parties and relations are identified, and the location of the property and how it was divided is specified. Read through it to see just how much is truly included!
Common Pleas Court Record Vol I, 1836-1838 p 556
Common Pleas Court Record Vol I, 1836-1838 p 557
Common Pleas Court Record Vol I, 1836-1838 p 558
Common Pleas Court Record Vol I, 1836-1838 p 559
Common Pleas Court Record Vol I, 1836-1838 p 560
Common Pleas Court Record Vol I, 1836-1838 p 561
Common Pleas Court Record Vol I, 1836-1838 p 562
Common Pleas Court Record Vol I, 1836-1838 p 563
Common Pleas Court Record Vol I, 1836-1838 p 564


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