Index to 1700s-1800s Laws Affecting Washington County PA_Washington County Genealogy_PAGenWeb Project

Washington County PAGenWeb 
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Genealogy researchers often have unexpected and even unusual questions when reviewing county-made records (i.e. governmental).  Genealogists may wonder:

  • Why did the tax on a horse vary from 10 to 25 or 40 in the same tax year and same township?

  • What is the difference between a person's estate on a tax list (i.e. deceased person) and an estate listed under a living person's name?

  • When did tax laws change, year to year?

  • What governed the wording of some of the common Court records?

  • What governed Jury selection and service?

  • What were the rules for lawsuits between citizens?

  • What were the election district boundaries in the county? (Use the search on the link for specific years.)


Although some genealogy questions may seem "silly", whenever a researcher can increase the understanding of particular records, the researcher becomes more experienced in working with court records.

Very often, current Court House workers cannot answer these questions--Clerks are elected officials who employ staffs to manage and oversee the records within their offices, but none are lawyers, judges, or part of the legislature.  They simply do not have the specific expertise to answer what often seem to be very general questions.  As well, even if they have some understanding of certain record types, it would be impossible for them to know specific records or the laws that dictated the record-creation when the records span a 200 year county history.  Even attorneys use Law Clerks to research historical laws and precedents--there are just too many laws and too much historical data to know or remember every area.

The Law Office in the Court House can sometimes answer *some* genealogy questions that relate to PA Laws, but they do not do research for people. 


The Pennsylvania Code is available online, but those Codes are current law.  


So, where can researchers find answers?  Luckily, PA has a Legislative Reference Bureau which has archived many of the Session Laws and others under which our ancestors lived.  This web section gives links to some of the documents at the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau.


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NOTE: I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this copy, and they were not always in alpha order. You can obtain a xerox through Citizens Library, 55 College St., Washington PA 15301. Please don't ask me to re-check my copy. 

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Website updated by current webmaster from 2005 continuously through current year ; See Site History

To submit material for the website or to report a broken link, start your subject line with "WCPA" followed by specific subject and email me at:  Washington.Co.Pa.Webmaster AT     ( "AT" ).   I spend most of my time adding new material so please allow at least 14 days for a reply.

Notice: Links the webmaster gives to outside websites are provided to enhance your research and understanding of history and genealogy. However, The USGenWeb Project does not offer any endorsement of any outside sites or their contents.  This notice applies to all pages within the "Washington County PAGenWeb".

2006 to 2012 ;  2013 Judith Ann Florian, all rights reserved.  Website is updated weekly or monthly, as I receive submissions or when I complete a transcribing project. The materials (files) located on this website are the property of the webmaster and the contributors. Material is for personal research and may NOT  be included in any for-fee collection or publication.

History of this website - The first PAGenWeb Washington County coordinator was Jean Suplick Matuson [who developed She was followed by Georgeann Malowney [who took over], then Peggy Tebbetts, and lastly, Christina Hunt who each held prior copyrights over this website.  Each coordinator has contributed much to the preservation of Washington County genealogical information/history.

This Washington County PA website is a current member of PAGenWeb and the USGenWeb.

This page last updated Thursday, February 04, 2016