Friday, August 20, 2010

Exploring the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin: Part I


A couple of weeks ago I was searching microfilm indexes at the Circuit Court Archives looking for a divorce entry and I came on some pages that I found close to impossible to read. The writing was small and faded and I had to give up. Unfortunately, I didn't find the divorce in any of the other years I looked at and so the search is hanging.

And soon after, I met a Family History Center patron who has been unable to find a naturalization petition for his grandfather. It's possible the process was never completed but the researcher isn't ready to give up.

In both cases I wondered if there might be an alternate way to search for court records, and the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin came to mind as a possibility. I learned, some time ago, that it's a good way to search for adoptions (see this post and I wondered if it might be a good tool to use to search for divorces and naturalization records, too.

I was able to find one copy of the Bulletin online at Google Books. It's from 1881.

I haven't looked at earlier or later volumes and so I don't know if this one is representative of all of the volumes or just those published in the 1880s, but I'm guessing the information is similar.

So, what's in it?

The first page includes the upcoming day's calendar for the following courts:

Superior
Circuit
Appellate
County

The District Court is also mentioned later in the volume.

The calendar is followed by lists of cases arranged by court. Headings include

New Suits
Judgments
Miscellaneous Orders

And there are specific mentions of bankruptcy, chattel mortgages (deferred payments on furniture and musical instruments), bills of sale, and trust deeds, mortgages, general assignments. I even stumbled on an adoption in the County Court.

Petn of W B Engel et al to adopt child

Divorce cases are listed and the entries could serve as an alternate index. Here ar some example entries:

37111 Linns B Bentley v Lucy Bentley. Bill for divorce. H F Vallette solr.

36995 Meiter v Meiter. Ord for deft to pay $50 solrs fees and $8 per mo alimony.

I believe the number in front of the entry could be used to order the file in from the warehouse at the Circuit Court Archives.

Unfortunately, it's hard to tell if naturalizations were routinely listed. I searched using variations of "petition" and "naturalization" and came up empty handed except for five entries to restore records.

38163 Petn of D H Schwahn to restore record of naturalization

I'm curious to know what these cases were about and I will try ordering in a file the next time I go downtown. I'll also try to find an index entry for an 1881 naturalization so that I can see if mention of it appears.

Watch for "Exploring the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Part II." And in the meantime, if you have a few minutes, you might want to explore the Bulletin on your own. If you find something interesting, please post a comment.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your Chicago genealogy site is always so interesting.

I found a Caroline Walsh in the chattel mortgage section of the 1880 Chicago Daily Law bulletin you linked on google books. I wonder if she is my g-g-aunt-in law who we know was in Chicago around that time visiting Walsh family.

Finding the typed paper instead of reading through handwriting sure would be better and the one on google books is searchable by keyword even.

thanks,
Catherine Green

Anonymous said...

Also found this one somewhat intriguing -

before Judge Barnum, 37110 People ex rel v Superior of House of the Good Shepherd - Hg and relator placed in custody of mother

Who was placed there and who wanted otherwise? I think that was a care home for sick/elderly?

Cynthia said...

Thanks to both of you for the comments. I'll see if I can follow up on the House of Good Shepherd case. I'm curious, too. Cynthia