County courthouse records now in a digital format

WINTERSVILLE – The Ohio Genealogical Society, Jefferson County Chapter, has completed another chapter in its work for digitalizing original records obtained from the Jefferson County Courthouse that include common pleas records, naturalizations, criminal records, coroners’ records, inventories to estates, veterans’ documents and various other records.

A complete updated listing can be found on the free website at

Now all probate packets have been digitalized through the work of Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints missionaries Albert and Lynn Mooney, who have been working to get the important documents from 1797 to 1930 unfolded, the wrinkles ironed out and mended when needed and rehydrated, making papers ready to lay flat on the photography table for missionaries Bill and Beverly Pace to digitalize for prosperity.

The purpose of the preservation project in Ohio and around the world is to preserve records and to make them available online for everyone to access for genealogical research, according to Bill Pace.

It’s been a long journey since the genealogy society received records from Jefferson County Probate-Juvenile Judge Samuel Kerr in 2009. The many boxes of numbered probate court records completed are stacked around the Jefferson County Chapter OGS headquarters as evidence of its work, as well as the work of local volunteers. Another job in the future will be to list the packets by name, along with numbers, as they are identified now.

The Paces said they were taking 1,000 or more images a week of the probate packets.

The Mooney couple will complete their 18-month service in the middle of March and will be going back to their home in the Carolinas.

The Paces will be leaving in May, but until then they will be digitalizing the loose papers and wills and then doing the larger record books.

Included in the working staff at the headquarters located at 100 Fernwood Road, Wintersville, are two young missionaries, Trey Rudd of Mesa, Ariz, and Brayden Young of Utah, who started their missionary journeys after high school and will continue for two years.

Young has been in the Jefferson County area for six weeks of his 13-month mission. Rudd has been in the Wintersville area for 18 weeks. He explained that transfers are done in six-week increments. Typically, there are four to six transfers in a mission.

Genealogy is important to their mission. “In our religion, those who have passed on are important for us to search out and learn their histories,” Young said.

Rudd’s dad and brother served in missions and he grew up to see that example in the family.

The work of the volunteers can be viewed at an open house to be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 11 at the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints in Wintersville. In the event of inclement weather, the date will be March 18.

The chapter is excited about the work that has been completed to date on all the records obtained from the courthouse and wants the public to see the success, according to VerStraten-Merrin.

“We want everyone to know that we are finishing up with filming the probate packets. Next it will be the wills and ledgers. We would like to have any cemetery, township, military or village records brought to us to digitalize as well. This will give people anywhere in the world access,” she said.

“This is bigger than us. The digitalization is going on in Italy, Spain, France and other nations too. The family search is massive. It can be done for anywhere in the world,” VerStraten-Merrin said.

“We will have images to show on how to use the family search and five-minute videos on how to access the records needed at the open house. Viewers will see that they can sit in the comfort of their living room and look for ancestors. We want to promote our free source and show how easy it is to access.

Also, we are having a membership campaign for new and renewal members. The cost is $20 for single, $25 for couples and $500 for a lifetime membership. A form can be printed from the website of,” VerStraten-Merrin said. “We want all volunteers who helped us in any way, if it was carrying boxes in from the courthouse, preparing the documents for digitalization or whatever, to come to the open house. And we want the officers who were so helpful in this process to be there too.”

VerStraten-Merrin noted how Gordon Grafton, a board member and trustee, had been helpful.

“He died last February and we kept his office seat open until this past January in respect to him. His work came from the heart,” she said.