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Divorce Case Listed in Tract Book

Yesterday I learned that a document number listed in a Cook County tract book was actually the case number for a divorce granted in the Superior Court. Here's the story:

A few weeks ago, I visited the Tract Department in the Cook County Recorder of Deeds office (118 N. Clark Street, Room 120, Chicago, Illinois 60602 ) and got some help book and paging some c. 1910 documents that I wanted to view. As the clerk looked at the list, three document numbers stood out to her. One had the letters "M L" following the number. I learned that this means "mechanic's lien" and that those early records aren't available.

One of the other two numbers--six digits each--had "C" following it and the other had an "S." The clerk mentioned that they might be "corporation" documents. It seemed a bit odd--the transaction appeared to be between family members--but we book and paged them and I went across the hall to have the corresponding microfiche pulled. The clerk there told me those particular records would have to be retrieved from the warehouse, so I placed the order.

Yesterday I stopped in to view the two corporation records. I verified that the document numbers matched but the records were from the 1880s and the names and property descriptions weren't relevant to my search. I asked if there might be another set of records with the same document numbers and in talking to the clerk in the Tract Department trying to puzzle things out all of a sudden we both realized that the "C" might not mean "corporation" at all. What if it meant "Circuit?" And what if the "S" meant "Superior?" What if they referred to court records?

I went across the street to the Circuit Court Archives, checked the Superior Court index, and made a discovery.The document listed in the Tract Book (266999 S) was indeed the case number for a divorce granted to the two people whose names were entered in the book. I had actually made copies from that file a few weeks ago.

Looking at the tract book page again I see many things that I didn't notice before--in part because I was focusing on finding documents rather than understanding the index and in part because I should have put my glasses on the first time around. : )

(These entries were actually in the middle of the page. I moved them up so the column headings would be visible.)
 First notice that the lines with case file numbers don't have a "Date of Instrument" date listed, just a "Date of Filing." It makes them stand out visually on the page. Second, notice that the first entry probably says "Di" in the Instrument column. I'm guessing that stands for "divorce." And notice that the note underneath seems to say "AmdBill" which I'm guessing means "Amended Bill."

I suspect I will find that the document number followed by a "C" is a Circuit Court case and looking back through my notes, I don't believe I've looked at that file. I'm hoping it might provide new insights into a complicated story. I also think a few of the other entries on the page might be for court documents as well and I plan to follow up.

I'm adding this image as a follow-up to the comment made by K Craine. I believe it shows the notation for probate.


Laura Aanenson said…
Very interesting information; thank you for sharing! I did chuckle at the pesky reminder to learn the resource before diving into the records (a lesson I am reminded of repeatedly - ugh) and the need for glasses. :o)
K Craine said…
There's also a designation in these records for probate. From my notes from Grace DuMelle's House History class at the Newberry, "" indicates "deceased", and there should be a Document Number referring to the probate case file.
K Craine said…
Apparently the characters I wrote aren't recognized by the blog. It is:

Less Than (<)
D (letter)
Greater Than (>)
I have an example of a probate entry on the same tract book page. I'll add an image in the blog post above.

Any idea what the word to the right says?

Thanks for the helpful comments.

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