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Illinois Genealogy Resources

Probate Records and Wills

In 1819 probate jurisdiction was granted to the clerk of a county's commissioner's court, a court that served as administrators for the county.  All matters involving estates and the guardianships of minor were included as duties of the court.  The circuit court for that county had jurisdiction in probate cases when actions of the commissioners were appealed. In 1821 probate functions were moved from commissioner's courts tot he county's probate court.

When county courts were established in 1848, jurisdiction of probate matters was transferred to them. Beginning in 1870, counties with a population of over 50,000 had probate courts separate from county courts. However, the minimum population number changed several times after that. Effective 1 January 1964, probate functions were turned over to circuit courts.

Illinois Regional Archives Depositories has a large collection of probate records and continues to acquire these genealogically valuable resources. Their collection includes files beginning in 1813. Some very early estate records are included in the Kaskaskia Manuscripts and in the J. Nick Pierrin collection at the Illinois State Archives in Springfield.

Records not accessioned by the Illinois State Archives and the regional depositories are at the office of the circuit court clerk serving that county. The Family History Library catalog should also be searched to determine what microfilms of county records are in its collection as well.