Livingston County Probate Case Files Index (1837–1958) Illinois State Archives

Compiled by the Illinois Regional Archives Depository System, Illinois State University


The Livingston County Probate Case Files Index was compiled by interns for the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) System at Illinois State University in Normal. The 12,114 records in the database were extracted from the Livingston County Probate Case Files (IRAD Accession 3/0142/01).

The index provides the name of the estate and the case number. The type of case and additional remarks are also often included. Types of cases include: probate (P), adoption (A), conservatorship (C), guardianship (G), insanity and feeble-minded (I), Real Estate Sales Tax (R), Tax (T) and will (W).

The holdings of the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) System include case file numbers 1 through 10,000 with the exception of case numbers 8,419 through 9,000 which were missing for the circuit clerk's office. Case numbers 9,450 through 9,549 were apparently skipped in the numerical sequence. The skipped case file numbers appear to be a numbering error and there probably were never any files with these numbers. The probate case files held by IRAD date from 1837 to 1958, but many of the later years are incomplete. Livingston County Probate Cases Files that are not in IRAD are still in the circuit clerk's office.

Names of estates were transcribed directly from the case files. Every attempt was made to obtain accurate spellings of names. If the spelling of a name could not be determined from the case jacket, a search of the various case documents was conducted. However, names were often spelled a variety of ways throughout the case documents. It was also sometimes difficult to decipher handwriting in some case files. Therefore, when searching this index, we suggest that researchers check alternative spellings of names if they do not find an entry for the name for which they are searching.

Probate Jurisdiction

Probate records created prior to 1848 were maintained by the Probate Court in Livingston County. The Constitution of 1848 moved original jurisdiction in probate cases to the newly created County Court. [Constitution of 1848, Article V, Sections 16-18] Therefore, probate records recorded after 1848 were maintained by the County Court acting in probate. The Constitution of 1870 gave the General Assembly the authority to create probate courts in counties with populations of 50,000 or more. [Constitution of 1870, Article VI, section 20] However, probate jurisdiction remained with the County Court in Livingston County until January 1, 1964 when the functions of both the probate court and county court were transferred to the circuit court. [Constitution of 1870, 1962 Amendment, Article VI, section 4]


Probate case files show the court term; the names of the estate, judge and court clerk; the petitions, bonds, oaths, and letters of estate administrators, executors, guardians and conservators; the court's approval of estate inventories, appraisement bills, petitions to sell property, reports of sales, accounts, reports of receipts and expenditures, and final reports; and the orders and decrees of the court. The record may also show the names of heirs, claims against the estate, and recordation of wills.

The County Court also heard cases involving adoption, tax delinquency, commitment of the insane and feeble-minded, naturalization, guardianship of minor children, and conservatorship of the insane, blind and deaf & dumb. The County Court recorded oaths and bonds of court officials and petitions of good moral character. These types of cases were often recorded in the Livingston County Probate Case Files when the County Court was acting in its probate capacity.


Copies of the files found in this index may be obtained by mail or telephone. Inquiries should be made directly to the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at Illinois State University in Normal. IRAD cannot accept requests by email at this time. Please contact:
Illinois Regional Archives Depository
Illinois State University
2016 Warehouse Road
Campus Box 1520
Normal, IL 61790-1520

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