Divorces 1850 - 1913
Divorces in Clatsop County, Oregon, From The 1850s To 1913
By Liisa Penner firstname.lastname@example.org
Whenever I asked the staff at the Clatsop County Courthouse about finding information about divorces, I was always told to look at the Judgment Rolls. Thinking that perhaps an index to divorces in the county would be of value, I began abstracting the names of those in the Judgment Rolls involved in lawsuits in which the plaintiff and the defendant have the same surnames. I deleted those cases where both appeared to be the same sex. In many cases, names were identified only by initials. I decided to keep these on my list although there may be cases in which they are the same sex. This list probably contains some cases that are not divorces but actions brought by a brother against a sister or child against a parent, etc. Without looking up each case, it is impossible to tell. If you find a set of names which should not be on this list, please let me know so that I can make the corrections.
I searched through two sets of books to find these Judgment Roll case numbers. They are: the Index to Journals, Judgment Rolls and Register of Actions and the Circuit Court Index. The indexes to the first are located in the basement of the courthouse through the County Clerk's office. This is also where the earliest Judgment Rolls are now located. They will all be moved eventually to the old jail and workers from the Court will have to go over to the jail to pick up the Judgment Rolls. The Circuit Court Index is located at the office for the Court on the top floor of the courthouse.
You can order a copy of the material in the Judgment Roll by writing to: Circuit Court Clatsop County Courthouse 749 Commercial Astoria OR 97103 or call them at (503) 325-8555. Give them the number of the Judgment Roll and names of the couple.
If you wish to visit the courthouse, you need to obtain the Court's permission to look through the records. Just ask at the office window on the top floor of the courthouse.
The first Judgment Roll Index book contains two indexes, one by the plaintiff and one by the defendant, one on the left hand side of the book and one on the right. There is a separate plaintiff index book and defendant index book in the later years. The second set of books contain all the listings that are found in the first book, but occasionally the spelling of names varies slightly.
Many actions for divorce were not successful. In some cases, it took several tries before the couple was finally divorced. If you find a name in this list, I would urge you to look at the original indexes for all the records. There may be more than one entry for the person, with valuable additional information.
Names, in some cases, have been abbreviated to fit this list.
There were some scattered entries in the Judgment Roll Index that perhaps should have been entered by the court clerk in a book covering a later period. Whether they were entered into the earlier book by accident is unknown. Some entries do not have Judgment Roll numbers listed; these will refer to entries in other records. It will be necessary to scan the indexes in the books described below for these names and references.
Diminutives and nicknames were used to a large extent, so look for Lizzie as well as Elizabeth, etc.
It is possible that some divorces were missed in abstracting. If you see any errors, please let me know.
Index books abstracted: 1. Judgment Rolls Index Lists cases Number 1 through about 3605 for dates from about 1855 to 1899. Contains index by both Plaintiff and Defendant in one book. Index method: All the surnames beginning with a letter are sorted together, for example, Allen, Abbott, Bardsley, Bacon, Coffey, Callahan, Cornelius, Donaldson, etc.
2. Judgment Roll Index Gives the name of the plaintiff, the defendant, the Judgment Roll case number and the volume and page of entry in the Circuit Court Journal. There are two books in the set, one, the Indirect Index by the plaintiff and the other, the Direct, by the defendant. (I've been unable to locate the Direct-Defendant index.) It dates from about 1855 to 1913. The case numbers range from about 2000 to 6900 with a few in the area of 13,000. These later ones probably commenced during the same period as the rest but were completed at a later date. The index method is one in which the first section has names in which the surname starts with A and the first name starts with A; the next section has the surnames starting with A and the first names starting with B. The next has surnames starting with A and first names starting with C, etc.
3. Circuit Court Index (the earliest the Court has) Gives the Circuit Court case number, Judgment Roll number, and names of Defendant and Plaintiff. A's went from 1806 to 6656 H's are 1855-6986, plus one odd case from 8915 These books are alphabetized like number 1 above.
I did not look at the later books and have not extracted any later divorces.
The Judgment Rolls are loose sheets of paper folded together, on the average, numbering about 15 pages. In them will be found a list of charges made against the defendant, the defendants answer and the decision of the court. Often there is a wealth of historical and genealogical information included in these papers that can be found no where else.
Sample dates follow:
Roll Number Year
The five digit numbers such as 13496 were found in the second Judgment Roll Index book and refer to cases initiated within the range of years, probably from the 1880s to 1913. They may have been closed at a later date than these cases or have been assigned these numbers for some reason I haven't learned.
In the cases in which we can identify a male and female, it appears that sixty-five percent of the same surname lawsuits in Clatsop County were initiated by women.
* is Schoenbaechler
I'd like to thank Karen Lowery for helping to abstract these names.
Liisa Penner September 9, 1996 Rt. 3, Box 525, Astoria OR 97103 (503) 325-7852 E-mail email@example.com
The copyright for this book belongs to the the Clatsop County Genealogy Society, 1996. An exception to this is: The Family History Library of the LDS Church is given the right to microfilm this book and use it in any way they wish.
Plaintiff JR No.
Abelsen, Edward Gehardina 5679