Green River County?: A Pre-Territorial Docket Book

 

The volume called "Records of the Probate Court, Green River, UT" is one of the oldest documents in the Wyoming State Archives. Its first entry predates Wyoming Territory by 8 years.

The first entry in “Records of the Probate Court, Green River, UT” predates Wyoming Territory by 8 years.

One of the oldest local government records in the Wyoming State Archives dates from the years before Wyoming Territory was created.  The bound volume is titled “Records of the Probate Court, Green River County, U.T. [Utah Territory],” and covers the years 1861 to 1871.  The southwest corner of what would be Wyoming was part of Utah Territory for 18 years prior to July 25, 1868, when Wyoming Territory was created.  In addition to recordings related to probate matters, the volume includes information normally maintained by a county clerk.

One of the very first cases handled by the  probate court of Green River County was to settle the estate of Michael Martin in 1861. Looking at a portion of the inventory of his estate, it appears that he ran a general store.   Bolts of cloth, jars of pickles, barrels of crackers, tobacco and pipes, cans of fruit and even "stomach bitters" appear on the list along with their valuation.

One of the very first cases handled by the probate court of Green River County was to settle the estate of Michael Martin in 1861. Looking at a portion of the inventory of his estate, it appears that he ran a general store. Bolts of cloth, jars of pickles, barrels of crackers, tobacco and pipes, cans of fruit and even “stomach bitters” appear on the list along with their valuation.

Only that portion of the volume from 1861 to 1866 pertains to probate proceedings.  Famed Fort Bridger sutler William A. Carter was the Probate Judge during this time. His son-in-law, James Van Allen Carter (no relation before  marriage), served as Clerk of Court.  Entries refer to filings and proceedings related to wills, inventories and appraisements, and the settlement of estates.  There is also mention of a divorce case considered in probate court in 1866. (In modern courts, divorces are handled by the civil court)

In 1869, the County Clerk recorded the contract between Charles P. Regan and James Bright for the sale of the Fort Bridger Brewery. Bright paid $2,500, which is equivalent to approximately $43,000 today.

In 1869, the County Clerk recorded the contract between Charles P. Regan and James Bright for the sale of the Fort Bridger Brewery. Bright promised to pay $2,500, which is equivalent to approximately $43,000 today.

Much of the volume contains records of the County Clerk.  A variety of instruments were recorded, such as homestead claims, mining claims, chattel mortgages, bills of sale, powers of attorneys, and a lengthy record concerning the issuing of bonds for the Union Pacific Railroad. Some references are made to the re‑recording of these records in volumes maintained by the county clerk, which is probably the newly created Uinta County Clerk.  An index is included at the beginning of the volume.  Overall, the record provides information about early settlement and property holders in the southwest corner of Wyoming.

— Curtis Greubel, Wyoming State Imaging Center Supervisor

This map, filed with the county clerk, shows the location of the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak (COC &PP) Express Company.

This map, filed with the county clerk, shows the location of the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak (COC &PP) Express Company in 1862.

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