Nebraska Courthouse records change extensively from county to county in both level of quality and volume. You will find different kinds of court records that are most likely to possess information related for your genealogical research below.
Nebraska Court Records
The district court clerk’s office holds many records, including those relating to the following: Felony Cases, Cases of Appeal, Divorce Cases, Civil Cases, Naturalization Records
Naturalization records may include petitions and final papers, as well as declarations of intention and other related paperwork. The FHL and the Nebraska State Historical Society each have some naturalization records available on microfilm. See Also Research In Court Records.
Nebraska Land Records
The federal government originally distributed Nebraska land, which makes it what is known as a public domain state. On January 1, 1863 the first United States homestead claim was made. It was made by Daniel Freeman in Gage County, about 9 miles to Beatrice’s west. Homestead National Monument now stands in that spot. The homestead case files at the National Archives are now being copied on microfilm and those copies being transferred to the Homestead National Monument. Most early Nebraska settlers who created homesteads were veterans of the Civil War. They came from multiple states, including New York, Iowa, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. They all came to the area because the federal government was offering cheap land.
Multiple land offices distributed Nebraska’s land. Land offices that were open in the 1800s included: Omaha City (1854), Brownsville (1857), Nebraska City (1857), Dakota City (1857), Beatrice (1868), Lincoln (1868), Grand Island (1868), West Point (1869), Lowell (1872), North Platte (1872), Norfolk (1873), Bloomington (1874), Niobrara (1875), Neligh (1881), Valentine (1882), McCook (1882), Sidney (1886), Chadron (1886), O’Neill (1888), Alliance (1890), Broken Bow (1890)
The last land office, located at Alliance, closed its doors in 1933.
Microfilmed tract book copies and land office records can be found at the Nebraska State Historical Society. There are some indexes available for those records as well. The Wyoming State Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has Nebraska land patents on file, but finding those records can be difficult without an exact description of the land.
Almost 10% of the land in Nebraska was acquired by the railroads initially. They then sold it to settlers in order to get commerce to develop, especially along railroad routes. In some cases homesteads may have been settled and then acquired by the railroad and resold. So, researchers must be careful to check the register of deed’s office for all titles to a piece of land and trace its history completely. Federal records should also be consulted. A fire destroyed many of the original land sale records from the railroads. However, the Missouri River Railroad and Burlington Railroad records can be found at the Nebraska State Historical Society. The website for the BLM lists 1908 gas and oil patents. Patents are organized according to state, county, and description of land. However, some of the Nebraska land that went to patent has not been included in the database.
Land changed hands multiple times after original federal land grants. All of those subsequent records were recorded in the register of deeds office of each county. Researchers should look for deeds in the county of index. Those deeds are organized in various collections, including mortgages, grantor and grantee records, and deed books of cemetery records. Some entries were made at the Lincoln land office as part of the 1862 Homestead Act. Those records can be found in several land offices. Each county also holds several other claim records and abstracts. The FHL and the Nebraska State Historical Society also have some microfilmed copies of county deeds available. See Also Guide to U.S. Land Records Research
- BLM Land Records (glorecords.blm.gov)
- Original land transfers of Nebraska: How the West was almost given away (amazon.com)
- Nebraska Deeds Online (nebraskadeedsonline.us)
- Nebraska, Broken Bow Homestead Records, 1890-1908 (familysearch.org) 1,824 Homestead Land Entry Case Files of the Broken Bow Land Office, 1890–1908, consisting of unbound documents that include final certificates, applications with land descriptions, affidavits showing proof of citizenship, Register and Receiver receipts, notices and final proofs, and testimonies of witnesses. The files were arranged chronologically and assigned a final certificate number. NARA publication title: Land Entry Case Files of the Broken Bow Land Office, Broken Bow, Nebraska: Homestead Final Certificates, 1890-1908 (NARA M1915). Index courtesy of Footnote.com..
- Nebraska Land Record Books (amazon.com)
Nebraska Probate Records
The county court clerk’s office in each county is home to the probate records for that county. Among those records are estate records, bonds, probate books, wills, and guardianship records. Adoption records are also in the county court clerk’s office, but access to them is restricted. The Nebraska State Historical Society has copies of some county probate records. The FHL has several copies of probate records from the various Nebraska counties on microfilm as well. See Also Guide to U.S. Probate Records Research
- Nebraska Probate Record Books (amazon.com)
Nebraska Tax Records
Each county still holds a lot of the tax records relating to that county. However, the Nebraska State Historical Society has most of the records from before 1912 on file. County records are transferred to the Nebraska State Historical Society on a regular basis. So, it now holds assessment records for many of the counties and tax records for about 50% of the counties. The Public Records department at the Nebraska State Historical Society should be contacted in order to determine whether or not the records of interest are located there. The county treasurer’s office at the county seat should be contacted for personal and real tax records, if those records are not held by the Nebraska State Historical Society. See Also Guide to U.S. Tax Records Research
- Nebraska Tax Record Books (amazon.com)
Nebraska Immigration & Naturalization Records
Naturalizations that occurred before 1906 have been cataloged in a card index, along with naturalizations in some parts of Iowa was created by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in the 1930s and 1940s. It can now be found at the Nebraska State Historical Society on microfilm. The cards list names, naturalization dates, countries of origin, and where the naturalization took place (state, county, and court). However, many of the Nebraska cards only list county, not state. The location of the record (page number and volume) is listed on the back of each card, along with the naturalization type. Anyone who received their final papers within the state is listed in that index. However, it does not include those who simply announced their intention to become naturalized in the state. More than 80% of the district court naturalization records for Nebraska are located at the Nebraska State Historical Society. Many U.S. District Court records can also be found on microfilm at both the Nebraska State Historical Society and the FHL. See Also Guide to U.S. Immigration Records Research
Nebraska County & City Government Links
Nebraska contains 93 counties. Each county is the local level of government within its borders. The links in the table below link to county and city government offices and is limited to government-maintained websites. If you know of a Nebraska county that has an official government web site but is not linked, or if the link is in error, please contact us so we may edit our database. Nebraska State Government is located in Lincoln.