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.
A | B | C | D | E, F | G | H | I, J | K | L | M | N, O | P, Q | R | S | T, U, V | W and Y, no X or Z |
Information Included in the Index
The original index includes a Plaintiff Index as well as the reverse Defendant Index located on ISA microfilm 'St. Clair County Index to Court Records,' roll number 30-1441.*
This Web site presents only the Plaintiff Index as found on the film (chronological order within each initial letter – A, then B, etc.) 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 given 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.
Each entry found in the index contains the following categories of information: the case number, the names of the plaintiff and defendant, kind of action, and the court term disposed. The original index also includes the record book and page in which the clerk’s 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
Documents contained in these case files 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.**
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 (1825–1874), and Circuit Court Order Books (1801–1881) 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).
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.
Appeal | Assumpsit | Attachment | Certiorari | Covenant
Debt | Divorce | Ejectment | Petition to Sell Real Estate
Replevin | Scire Facias
Trespass no. 1 | Trespass no. 2
How to obtain copies of St. Clair County Circuit Court Case Files
All original Circuit Court Case Files for St. Clair County 1790–c1844 are located at the Illinois State Archives, Norton Building – Capitol Complex, Springfield, Illinois 62756.
It is impossible to predict ahead how many documents might be included in a case file. 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.
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.
Provide the complete information for the case file that is found in the St. Clair County Circuit Court database entry.
Photocopy fees are 25 cents per page for Illinois residents. Non-residents of Illinois are also charged 25 cents per page in this particular case (the usual $10.00 fee for non-Illinois residents is waived).
*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 at Carbondale has St. Clair's Circuit Court Indexes from 1790 –1913, and Case Files dated post - c1844 . Order any post - c1844 file from the IRAD.
**Most divorces and division of property cases were heard in Chancery Court. The ISA Web site hosts the St. Clair Circuit Court Chancery Case File Index (1815 – 1870).
The Circuit Court Case Files Index 1790–1818 compiled by Karl Moore of the ISA is found in the St. Clair County Genealogical Society Quarterly, 16: 2, 1993, pp. 76–111. The surnames found in Moore’s compilation are extracted in the SCCGS Quarterly Surname Index online under the appropriate volume, issue and page. The original case files are at the ISA.
Information may be linked to but not copied. Authorized by SCCGS Board of Directors.