Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Finding Your Ancestors in Federal Court Records

If you are like me, you are unaware of the genealogical resources that are available to us because the U.S. District Court is located in Cincinnati. Additionally, you may not be aware that we are privileged to have a member, Pam Schaffner, who is the District Court Librarian. Earlier this month we were fortunate to have a talk presented by Pam at the Main Library.

Pam led us through the complicated history of the District Courts as our young country struggled to define legal jurisdiction at the same time that we were rapidly adding states. She gave us an overview of the kinds of cases that have been decided by the Circuit Courts.

Many of us were surprised to find out that the Court has some naturalization records. After a period of time, all records stored locally are forwarded to the NARA for permanent storage.In the process of preparing for this talk, Pam discovered some long-forgotten records that should have been forwarded to NARA but were still housed here.

Pam brought the resources of the District Court alive by referring to a famous Cincinnati case that involved our own local bootlegger, George Remus. There are several books available on  Amazon that discuss this colorful citizen of Price Hill.
One interesting point was that George Remus acted as his own attorney in a case where he claimed to be not guilty by reason of insanity. What's even more insane as that he won the case! The citizens of Cincinnati did not seem to take kindly to any efforts aimed at limiting their beer consumption.

Pam Schaffner
There is no way I can do justice to the wealth of information provided by Pam that day. Luckily for us, she is  a member, local, and runs the Circuit Court Library. If you have questions about these resources, I suggest you visit her blog, Digging Down East, and leave a comment. After all, bloggers love comments!

Submitted by Kathy Reed

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