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Genealogy and Local History Resources

Two-Tiered System

The court system in Wisconsin is two-tiered. There are municipal courts (which today are typically for traffic citations, local ordinance violations and minor crimes) and county-wide, or circuit courts that handle more significant criminal violations and civil actions. The UW-Parkside Archives has records for Racine’s and Kenosha’s municipal and circuit courts, as well as some records for other municipal courts within the two counties.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the distinction between the two tiers was primarily geographical, rather than based on the magnitude of the offense. Infractions or actions of any sort that happened within the boundaries of a particular municipality were handled by that court, while all other court actions transpired at the circuit/county level.

Probate Records

Probate records, which have been recorded in America since the first permanent settlement, are the documents generated in the course of settling an estate. Probate case files have important information for genealogists, including transfer of property and familial relationships.

Kenosha County Court Probate Case Files, 1850-1985
Kenosha Series 21

Cases filed from 1850 until 1870 are available in paper format and indexed on register. Cases until 1941 are available on microfilm. Cases after 1941 are indexed only.

Racine County Court Probate Case Files, 1849-ca. 1906
Racine Series 32

Cases until 1870 are available in original paper format and also available on microfilm. Cases until 1900 are available on microfilm. Cases after 1900 are indexed only.

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