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Elisabetha Dietsche was my great-great-great-great-grandmother. She lived in Elzach, Baden (now part of Germany) from 1798 to 1844. Under the law in Baden at the time, she and her partner needed permission from the mayor to marry. That permission was denied, and the couple did not marry. Nevertheless, she went on to give birth to 7 children, all from the same father, all therefore illegitimate. Frustratingly, the name of the father was not recorded in the baptism record of any of the children, nor can I find it elsewhere.

Three of the children emmigrated to Pennsylvania, Xavier, Rosalie, and Conrad - my 3x great-grandfather. Xavier died, and there followed a dispute between his widow and Rosalie/Conrad over the estate. This led to 86 Pa. 219 (Pa. 1878), Appeal of Woltemate, which was decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1878:

However, all I've been able to find is these reports, or very similar ones, of the PA Supreme Court decision (not even the original Orphan's Court decision). I would love to find more; their father is mentioned as being covered in the administratix' auditor's report from the original case (Orphans Court of Philadelphia County: of January Term 1875 No 220) - and presumably, he would be named in that document, or in notes from either the original trial or the PA Supreme Court hearing.

So my question is twofold: 1) is there a chance that that any of that still exists somewhere - a transcript/notes/etc from the Orphan's Court hearings, the auditor's report, and/or the transcript/notes/etc from the PA Supreme Court - anything with more detail than is found in the reported brief, and 2) Where would such records be stored, if they exist, such that I could request copies?

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  1. is there a chance that that any of that still exists somewhere - a transcript/notes/etc from the Orphan's Court hearings, the auditor's report, and/or the transcript/notes/etc from the PA Supreme Court - anything with more detail than is found in the reported brief

There are probably even odds that the judgment of the Orphan's Court remains, mostly likely in microfiche form in a file cabinet somewhere if it exists at all.

There is an outside chance the the court filings in the case are still archived somewhere. Most states have destroyed them, but a few states, mostly in the East, have retained very old records of courts of probate jurisdiction which have been used by economic history researchers to estimate the amount and distribution and character of wealth in the early U.S.

The odds that the transcript, exhibits in the case, the full trial court record that was considered in the case on appeal, or the judge's notes still exists is very low.

  1. Where would such records be stored, if they exist, such that I could request copies?

In roughly the order of likelihood:

  1. The archives of the clerk's office of the successor court to the Orphan's Court.

  2. The state archivist's records.

  3. The historical records department of the local library that included the location of the Orphan's Court.

  4. The records of the historical society closest to the location of the Orphan's Court.

  5. The notes of the judge, if the case was notable enough, might be in the personal papers of the judge, if the judge was notable enough to have deposited his records. This would be most likely with a college or university that the judge attended, or a college or university near where the judge died, or a local library or local historical society near where the judge died or near where the judge lived most of his professional life. The name of the judge should be present in the appellate decision. This said, the likelihood that there is anything about this case in category 5 is remote.

I would suggest beginning with a Google search of "Pennsylvania Orphans Court records" including the name of the relevant county (Philadelphia, in this case). One particularly notable link to these records is this one. This states:

Probate matters in Philadelphia County are handled by the Orphans' Court and start when the county was created.

In addition to wills and administrations, the Orphans' Court also handles: audits of accounts of executors, administrators, trustees, and guardians; distribution of estates; appointments of guardians; adoptions; appeals from the Register of Wills; inheritance tax appeals, and various petitions and motions.

Online Probate Indexes . . . .

1683-1994 Pennsylvania Probate Records 1683-1994 at FamilySearch

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    Thanks, I'll give all that a look.
    – BrianFreud
    Oct 7 at 0:47

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