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If you have never visited a courthouse in person for research here's some helpful information

Most of the people at the courthouse are friendly and helpful but the staff is very small and can't give you a lot of help. Copies are 50 cents each and you make them yourself. The staff will show you how to set the copy machine for legal paper and how to reduce the print to be able to get a copy of the whole page of one of the record books. You keep track of your copies and pay before you leave. You are on the honor system on your copies so please don't abuse it. They will take out-of-state checks.

The back door to the courthouse faces onto Hwy 62 and has a war memorial in front of the door. The front door faces Hwy 62B. When you enter thru the back door the restrooms are next to the door. The Tax Assessors office is on the left and the county clerk's office is on the right.

The county tax assessor does not have a track book (this is a large ledger book that gives the chain of ownership for any given parcel of property). They work off of an actual map platt, a huge thing that hangs on the wall. If you know where your ancestor lived (section, township, range) then you can locate the property on this map and see who the current owner is/are. But give up the idea of finding out who all has owned that given piece of property - you will have to do it the hard way by tracing the deeds yourself <huge sigh>.

There are two Abstract (title) companies in town and neither are interested in helping genealogists.

Your first stop once you get inside the courthouse - should be the office just past the stairs. From the Back Door - Go past the stairs and immediately go left into a short hallway to the county judge's office. The nice folks in this office will give you a free county map. This has all the roads, creeks, lakes, etc. of Marion Co listed but the most important thing is that the map shows all the townships, sections and ranges for the county.(you can get a copy of this map by writing to the courthouse % County Judge's Office and requesting a "free county map". Be sure to send a self-addressed stamped envelope.)

If you don't have a cell phone take change for the pay phone. You can't use the courthouse phones they simply don't have enough lines. There is a snack machine and soda machine in the basement by the record vault.

There are no restaurants within easy walking distance of the courthouse. However, the pizza parlor and the Subway shop are only about a block away.

CURRENT RECORD ROOM: There are a few of the older books in the Records room located in the County Clerk's office on the main floor (and of course this is subject to change).

Guardian Bonds 1897-1914
Will Book A
Will Book B 1910-1931
Marriage books begin with Book E (1888-1917) - the first 3 marriage books have been transcribed and can be found at the Library or look at the Resource Page for where you can buy the transcriptions.
Letters of Administration - The book has preprinted forms - 2 to a page giving the deceased person's name, date of death, date the executor filed for approval to execute the estate, who the executor is, etc.
Probate Court Book A - Feb 1888-1905
Chancery Court Records Feb 1888-Mar 4 1897

The records room is a little room packed with current record books and you have to stand to look at the records. The oldest records (other than the ones listed above and a few others) are located downstairs in the vault. Check in with the court clerk's office and they will give you the key if the vault's not already unlocked.

OLD RECORDS IN THE VAULT: The vault is tiny, tiny (I mean maybe 12 x12 at the most). (See Photo of John Matthew in the center of the Vault) The Genealogy Society bought racks for the books and most are racked but since there's not enough wall space a lot of the books are on the floor. You will need to heave and move some of them. This is one dusty, dirty place so be sure that you dress accordingly and, be sure to wear your most comfortable shoes. There is no place to sit inside the vault. There are chairs outside in the hallway and you can haul books out there to sit down and transcribe records. There is a table in the hall that you can use to work on, you just have to drag a chair down to the table. And for those of you who have never done courthouse research the large record books are about the size of the entire glass copying area of a copy machine. They are about 10 to 12 inches deep and weigh about 10+ pounds. If you have back problems I suggest you take someone with you to lift the books on and off the shelves and the copy machine.

The light switch is right inside the vault doors on the left. The switch also has two electrical outlets so you can plug in a personal copier and/or a laptop. I put my personal copier on a pile of books. I plugged in my laptop and put it on another pile of record books. Certainly not the comforts of home but you simply have to make the best of what's there. At least there's outlets to use.

There is a copier in the office down the hall (left when you leave the vault - office on your right) where you will need to take books to make copies.

Here's where I found things the last time I was at the courthouse, but as people use the books they don't always replace them in the same place.

Please re-rack the books in the same place you found them and if you move the stacks on the floor please put them back where you found them because, believe it or not, there is some type of order to the room.

If you are interested in Deeds there is a master index book. The last time I was there the index was on the center rack as you enter the vault. The first deed book indexed in the oldest index book begins with deed book C. The index for Deed Book A is a loose set of pages found in the front of Book A. This index is literally crumbling to pieces. The index to Deed Book B is a separate index found on the rack on the left wall. The Deed books themselves are on the same center rack on the left side of the rack. A lot of deeds were re-recorded (after the fire) in Deed book A, B & C. There is an index for Deed Book C that is also on the rack on the left wall however this index for Deed Book C is screwy. Use it in conjunction with the 1st Master Index book and hopefully between the two you can located your deeds, however you might have to look at each page of Deed Book C.

Some of the things that you will want to look at that are not microfilmed and items that I didn't have the time or money to copy:

VOTER BOOK: It's a mid sized brown ledger book marked "Voters". I copied the 1st year before my copier ran out of toner (guess how I found out there's no office supply store anywhere close?). This is a list of people who paid poll taxes from 1893 up through 1902 or so. A Wonderful resource! But it's not indexed with a master index. Each year the taxpayers are listed in alphabetical order for that year.

MINING CLAIMS: Old ledger books that record mining claims. (I found them on the far right wall.) Some have a "kind of" index, but all the books are small and can be quickly checked page by page. You will be surprised at the number of local people who filed for mining claims. If you don't find your ancestor in these little ledgers check upstairs in the current records room - there is one mid-sized ledger marked "Quit Claim Deeds" which are mining claims also.

JUSTICE DOCKET BOOKS: I have copied the indexes of all I could find and you can check the indexes (see Transcribed Records). These books contain the records of the court cases heard by Justices Of The Peace. They are not labeled as anything except Justice Docket so you will need to check the index to find the one you want.

OFFICER BONDS: I also copied the index to the Official Bonds ledger. This is a medium sized brown ledger book. It is noted on the front "Official Bonds" but you have to look close to read it. The book contains the actual record of the bonds that were put up for the office holder and their surety (bondsmen). Even if your ancestor wasn't a county officer if he was a bondsmen there is quite a bit of information about him.

ACCOUNT BOOKS: I found these on the right wall. Two small ledgers. One is the account book for Ella Davenport and one is for the Yellville bank. They are not indexed you will have to flip thru them to see if your ancestor is listed.

COURT DOCKET BOOKS: There are several Court Docket Books. These are the lists of court cases to be heard. No index, not alphabetical, they are listed in date order of when the court case was to be heard. You can use this information to locate a court case.

SURVEYORS' BOOKS: There are a couple of Surveyor Record books from about 1913-1915.

WARRENT BOOKS: There are several Warrant Books for roads and schools. These contain lists of taxpayers who did not pay their road and school fees. No indexes, not in alpha order. Set up by townships for roads and by school districts for schools. The people are listed in the order they didn't pay their taxes. Find the years you are interested in and turn pages.

ESTATE SALE INVENTORIES 1897-1904: This is a listing of the estate sales that were held to satisfy debts of deceased persons. The book is set up by the name of the deceased and then lists all the items sold and who they were sold to. You have to look at each page as there are no indexes and the deceased people are listed in the date order of when the sale was held.

COURT CASE PAPERS: (I found these on the back wall) Racks of small metal boxes (most are labeled) and they contain loose papers that relate to court cases. If you find your ancestor in the docket book you might find the copies of the trial or hearing in these boxes

There are many other books that give lists of names. Miscellaneous Records; Allowance books (a list of people paid by the county for one reason or another); tax assessor assessments, etc. Most are not indexed. Many have alphabetical lists of names, but the names are grouped into different divisions within the books.

Please, please treat all of these old books with care. Many are falling apart, covers are splitting and pages are brittle. Treat them with loving kindness so that they will be there for the next researcher.

More Information (21 Sep 2009) - Thanks to Mysty McPherson

    Actually, more has been done to improve the basement vault and "rescue" it's contents than you'd imagine. The county basically never has had much interest in "doing about" the county records. No enough money, not enough interest, never any volunteers.
    Several years ago, with the help of a wonderful county judge, the Heritage Society went in there and did what should have been done long ago. We removed every single book, box of papers, wooden Venetian blinds, ad infinitum, built in 6 steel shelves back to back in a rectangle in the center, installed flourescent light with a switch next to the entry plus two outlets, cleaned every single book and put them back. This alerted folks in the courthouse to our interest in county records.
    Then came Whitewater - the big Clinton real estate scandal. By the time the media, lawyers, abstractors, realtors et al got through "tossing" the vault for information that never was there, it was a mess - a real mess.
    LDS was here sometime back in the mid-1980s I think and microfilmed everything they felt pertinent to genealogical records *except* land records. The Society has these microfilm at the library along with a wonderful top-of-the-line computerized film reader/printer.
    There has never been enough space for all the records the county kept. A look thru legislation indicated that not all of what was being saved was necessary. Consequently, Quorum Court passed an ordinance giving to the Society all the current and future Real Estate and Personal Property Tax Assessment Books beginning in 1887. Every one of them thru 7 years ago now resides in our Research Room at the Marion Co Library and is available for on-site research.

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Linda Haas Davenport