The Bullitt County History Museum

Research in KY County Clerks Offices
by Betty R. Darnell

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.

First things first, on arrival at the office ...

  • Ask if there’s a specific area for the older records (probably not deeds, as title searchers use those); original records available for research and copying?
  • Ask about making copies (anything not to be copied, how to pay).
  • Clerks are busy with today’s records; frequently don’t know anything about the older records.

Marriage Records

  • Marriage register: names of parties, date of marriage; may have date of license, name of minister or JP; copied from original records – may be errors
  • Original records (Bonds, Licenses, Ministers’ Returns) may be available, in boxes or files
  • Bonds: name of bondsman, sometimes but not always, a close relative of bride or groom; accompanied by verbal or written consent in one of parties under age
  • Licenses: later ones give birthplace and names of parents; some give age of parties
  • Returns: occasionally give name of parents, residence of parties, place of marriage
Where are they?

Bullitt Co.: (in storage) bonds, 1797-1855; licenses, 1849-1941; minister returns, 1798-1870; 1872 – license and certificate copied onto forms in marriage register. Some early bonds, 1797-1823, not accompanied by a return, were not recorded in register

Nelson Co.: Older books in archives room adjacent to deed room: Register; photocopies of bonds and returns, 1785-1832, in files

Spencer Co.: Register; Bonds 1827-1864 in books, partially indexed; Licenses & Returns 1824-1897 in books; original licenses in boxes

Will & Estate Records

  • Wills: transcripts of original wills
  • Inventories, Appraisals, Sales: called for when there was no will, family needed cash to settle estate or provide for children; sales bills can include names of neighbors and relatives
  • Settlements, Guardian Records: periodic settlements made until children of deceased reached legal age; occasionally gives ages and residence of children, references to marriage of daughter of deceased. Guardian appointed for children inheriting property, even if parents living.
Where are they?

Bullitt Co.: Will index also includes Inventories, Appraisals, Sales, Settlements, and Guardian Records. Separate books for Guardian Records in 1823, Inventories, Appraisements & Sale Bills in 1882, Settlements in 1882

Nelson Co.: Will Books, indexed; Separate books in 1879 for Executors & Administrators, and Guardians; some estate settlements in file boxes

Spencer Co.: Will Books, indexed; Executors & Administrators books from 1824, Guardian Bonds from 1852, Guardian Settlements form 1829; Original wills from 1824 in boxes


  • If deceased left property and no will, there may be a deed from "Heirs of ...," giving their names and places of residence.
  • Deeds frequently detail relationships, "to my son;" occasionally give place of former residence, or mention that they're preparing to move
Where are they?

Bullitt Co.: Indexed in same book by grantor (seller) and grantee (buyer). Early deed books also include wills. Commissioners' Reports, 1876-1928, indexed in separate book. T. C. Carroll Plat Maps (collated from deed books and various sources); indexed

Nelson Co.: Indexed by grantor and grantee, A to A, A to B, etc.; some original deeds in archival boxes; land entries, 1789-1823 ("Processioners Reports"); Land Deposition Book, partially indexed, land disputes, early 1800s

Spencer Co.: Indexed by grantor and grantee; Commissioners' Deeds, from 1877, indexed in deed index books

County Court Minutes/Order Books

  • A summary of County Court business: laying out roads, recording of deeds, ordering estate appraisals, binding out orphans and apprentices, granting tavern and ferry licenses
Where to Look...

Bullitt Co.: 1797-1900+; Book B, 1800-1807 is lost, not on film; no index for Book J (1867-1873)

Nelson Co.: 1785-90 (no index); 1791-?

Spencer Co.: Order Books from 1824, indexed


  • Poke around, check any old-looking books, anything marked "Index."

References for KY Courthouse Research

  • Hogan, Roseann Reinemuth, Kentucky Ancestry (Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, Inc., 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.
  • Schweitzer, George K., Kentucky Genealogical Research (Knoxville Tenn., privately published, 1987). Details type of record and dates for each.
  • Everton Publishers, Inc., The Handybook for Genealogists, 9th Edition (Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, 1999) [10th edition has been published]. General list of available records.
  • Szucs, Loretto Dennis, and Luebking, Sandra Hargreaves, The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy (Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, Inc., 1984). Information on getting the most out of county records.

The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 08 Sep 2020 . Page URL: