The St. Clair County Courthouse
completed in 1861
St. Clair County Genealogical Society (SCCGS)
Helping genealogists discover their Illinois roots since 1977.
Circuit court jurisdiction during this time period covered all criminal cases and all civil suits for more than $20.00. Further administrative history of the Circuit Court during its early years is explained on the Illinois State Archives (ISA) Web site.
This 1856 Legal Dictionary may help with legal terminology. What you need to know Photocopies
Plaintiff IndexA | B | C | D | E, F | G | H | I, J | K | L | M | N, O | P, Q | R | S | T, U, V | W - Z
Sample Case Files
Transcriptions of the following type of case files will be posted to illustrate the type of documents ordinarily found within a file.
About the Circuit Court Case Files Index
The original index includes both a Plaintiff index and the reverse Defendant index, titled St. Clair County Index to Court Records, locally available on roll number 30-1441 at the Belleville Public Library, one of the microfilm projects of the Illinois State Archives.[1.]
Only the Plaintiff Index as found on the film (chronological order within each initial letter A, then B, etc.) appears on this website. Defendants may be located by searching each index page individually, or by using the Search Box at the bottom of the SCCGS Home Page.
Plaintiffs with no surname (usually slaves) are indexed under the alphabet letter beginning their first name. These and other entries lacking a surname name may be located by entering No surname in the search box at the bottom of the SCCGS Home Page.
Criminal cases are indexed under People.
Case files numbered in the 7000's followed by an asterisk (7246*) have not been located amongst the case files at the ISA or at IRAD, and are presumed lost or misfiled at this writing.
Information transcribed from the original index: the case number, the names of the plaintiff and defendant, kind of action, and the court term disposed.
Not transcribed: the record book and page in which the clerks copy was recorded.
Every attempt was made to obtain accurate spellings of names. However, names were often spelled a variety of ways throughout the index, and handwriting was difficult or faded in some instances. We suggest you check alternative spellings of names.
Contents of the Case Files
Photocopies of the documents contained in the case files indexed on this webpage may include: summonses, affidavits of witnesses, subpoenas, bonds, receipts, depositions, declarations, decrees, jury lists, witness lists, indictments, warrants, writs of habeas corpus, verdicts (few), dismissals, and transcripts of coroner's inquests. Representative case files from each type of case will appear on this Web site in the future.
Facts you may learn from a case file include the distance traveled by the sheriff to serve a summons at the named person's place of abode; former name of a woman; relatives and neighbors of either party; plans to depart the county; the dollar amount of a debt; particulars of a divorce situation, and the names of relatives with right to property being divided.[2.]
Unfortunately the outcome of the case (Judgment, Decree, or Order) is seldom part of the case file. Judgments were filed separately during this time period. St. Clair County Judgment Dockets (18251874), and Circuit Court Order Books (18011881) which are as good as Proceedings, are located at IRAD in Carbondale. The Belleville Public Library has Judgment Dockets on roll 30-2146 (Aug 1827 Sept 1834).
1. The index on microfilm is complete through 1857, and is located at the Belleville Public Library (BPL), 121 East Washington Street, Belleville, Illinois 62220. The Illinois Regional Archives Depository - Carbondale has St. Clair's Circuit Court Indexes from 1790 1913, and Case Files dated after circa 1844 .
2. The Circuit Court Case Files Index 17901818 is found in the St. Clair County Genealogical Society Quarterly, volume 16 number 2, 1993, pp. 76111. Search for surnames in the SCCGS Quarterly Surname Index online under the appropriate volume, issue and page. The original case files are at the ISA.
3. Most early divorces and division of property cases were heard in Chancery Court. The St. Clair Circuit Court Chancery Case File Index (1815 1870) is provided by the ISA. Read about the types of documents in Chancery Court Records.
How to obtain copies of St. Clair County Circuit Court Case Files
Read the Illinois State Archives (ISA), Fee Schedule to order photocopies, located on site at the Norton Building Capitol Complex, Springfield, Illinois 62756. All paper case files 1790c1844 for this index are preserved in its vault.
Provide the complete information for the case file that is found in the St. Clair County Circuit Court database entry.
The ISA recommends researchers send a list of the files for which they want copies. The files will then be pulled, the number of copies estimated, and the researcher contacted by telephone or mail with the cost. It is impossible to predict ahead how many documents might be included in a case file.
If credit card information is provided with the written request, the order is expedited.
Checks or money orders should be made out to the Illinois Secretary of State and sent to the Archives address above, attention Karl Moore, or Barbara Heflin.
Information may be linked to but not copied. Authorized by SCCGS Board of Directors.