Nebraska Court Records – A Guide to Courthouse Research

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State Courthouse RecordsNebraska Government records cover a broad range of genealogy subject areas that can help you as part of your research, such as land ownership, courts, taxes, and naturalization’s. Given that Nebraska court records cover such a wide selection of topics, they could aid you in many different ways. As an example, they could aid you in finding ancestors’ residences, identify occupations, locate financial information, determine citizenship status, or shed light on relationships between individuals. The whole thing relies upon on the type of court records that the ancestors” names show up in. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.

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.


State Court Records

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.


State Land 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


State Probate Records

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


State Tax Records

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


State Immigration Records

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


State Government Records

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.

State of Nebraska County & City Government Links
County

Government

County Seat

Government

County

Government

County Seat

Government

Adams Hastings Jefferson Fairbury
Antelope Neligh Johnson Tecumseh
Arthur Arthur Kearney Minden
Banner Harrisburg Keith Ogallala
Blaine Brewster Keya Paha Springview
Boone Albion Kimball Kimball
Box Butte Alliance Knox Center
Boyd Butte Lancaster Lincoln
Brown Ainsworth Lincoln North Platte
Buffalo Kearney Logan Stapleton
Burt Tekamah Loup Taylor
Butler David City Madison Madison
Cass Plattsmouth McPherson Tryon
Cedar Hartington Merrick Central City
Chase Imperial Morrill Bridgeport
Cherry Valentine Nance Fullerton
Cheyenne Sidney Nemaha Auburn
Clay Clay Center Nuckolls Nelson
Colfax Schuyler Otoe Nebraska City
Cuming West Point Pawnee Pawnee City
Custer Broken Bow Perkins Grant
Dakota Dakota City Phelps Holdrege
Dawes Chadron Pierce Pierce
Dawson Lexington Platte Columbus
Deuel Chappell Polk Osceola
Dixon Ponca Red Willow McCook
Dodge Fremont Richardson Falls City
Douglas Omaha Rock Bassett
Dundy Benkelman Saline Wilber
Fillmore Geneva Sarpy Papillion
Franklin Franklin Saunders Wahoo
Frontier Stockville Scotts Bluff Gering
Furnas Beaver City Seward Seward
Gage Beatrice Sheridan Rushville
Garden Oshkosh Sherman Loup City
Garfield Burwell Sioux Harrison
Gosper Elwood Stanton Stanton
Grant Hyannis Thayer Hebron
Greeley Greeley Thomas Thedford
Hall Grand Island Thurston Pender
Hamilton Aurora Valley Ord
Harlan Alma Washington Blair
Hayes Hayes Center Wayne Wayne
Hitchcock Trenton Webster Red Cloud
Holt O’Neill Wheeler Bartlett
Hooker Mullen York York
Howard Saint Paul

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