This is one in a series of researching tips taken from presentations by Betty R. Darnell, a noted local historian and genealogist. These notes are copyrighted by her.
A guardian was appointed when the father was deceased, or when a minor was inheriting property from, for example, a grandparent. A guardian was also appointed when a person was deemed unable to manage his own affairs. The records include the appointment of the guardian, and periodic settlements (bills paid, payments received).
The Circuit Court Order Book is a brief record of each case before the court. Some Kentucky counties have sent the original books to the state archives at Frankfort.
Circuit Court Case Files are the original records. Some Kentucky counties have sent the case files to the state archives in Frankfort. Most are indexed by at least the name of the plaintiff. Indexes are on microfilm at the state archives.
Common Law (or Ordinary) cases answer the question, “What is the law?” These case files are usually very brief; many deal with unpaid debts.
Equity (or Chancery) cases answer the question, “What is fair?” These case files can range from just a few pages to hundreds of pages. There are usually depositions from the parties and from other witnesses.
Plaintiff – the one bringing the suit; the party who complains or sues
Defendant – the party being sued
Infant – minor under age 14; a guardian is appointed for him. A minor (under age 21) over 14 years of age can choose his guardian.
Guardian ad litem – guardian appointed by the court
Trespass vi et armis (with force and arms) – seeking damages for trespass; the trespasser was actually on the property
Fieri facias (to cause to be done; commonly written fi fa) – an order to the sheriff to sell property to settle a court judgment
Vendition – the act of selling the property
The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, 1984. Information on getting the most out of county records
The Handybook for Genealogists, Everton Publishers, various editions. General list of available records in each county of the US; some information on research in other countries.
Black’s Law Dictionary, several editions; 4th edition (1951) is the last to include obsolete terms Kentucky Genealogical Research, George K. Schweitzer, 1987. Details type of record and dates of records available for each county.
Kentucky Ancestry, Roseann Reinemuth Hogan, 1992. Provides contact information for county clerk; inventory of microfilm for each county available at the Kentucky Historical Society, University of Kentucky Special Collections Library, and Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives.