Sonoma County District Court records, 1850-1946 (bulk: 1850-1879 )

Finding aid author: Mark Cooper.
Published by the Sonoma County Library
This work is licensed by Sonoma County Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Published Feb 28, 2011
Sonoma County Library
6135 State Farm Drive
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Sonoma County District Court records, 1850-1946 (bulk: 1850-1879 )

Sonoma County Library

Overview of the Collection

Collection Title: Sonoma County District Court records,
Dates: 1850-1946
Date (bulk): 1850-1878 (bulk)
Identification: SCG.00051
Creator: California. District Court (7th Judicial District) California. District Court (22nd Judicial District)
Physical Description: 46 volumes, 1 box
Language of Materials: English
Repository: Sonoma County Library Archives
Sonoma County Library
6135 State Farm Drive
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Abstract: This collection contains records reflect various aspects of the operations of the District CourtDistrict Court. These include: registers of actions in civil and criminal cases heard in the District Court, and fees paid; liens for state and county taxes; lists of defendents and plaintiffs; minutes of each court session, court actions, and rules of the court.

Scope and Contents

There are three series of Sonoma County District Court records: an Old Series, a New Series, and a Complaints in Equity Series (also known as Tax Suits).
The Old Series records comprise 1305 District Court suits numbered 1 through 1294. Ten Old Series suits are numbered with non-integer numbers (49½, 184½, 245½, 300½, 301½, 528½, 592½, 897½, 1128½, and 1142½), and one suit number (918) is used twice. The initial complaints of these suits were generally filed during the years 1850 to 1863.
In “An Act concerning Records of District Courts” approved by the California Legislature 13 April 1863, every County Clerk was required to keep two separate index volumes for all District Court suits, one labeled General Index-Plaintiffs and the other General Index-Defendants. Each page of each of the indices was to be divided into seven columns: Number of Suit, Plaintiffs, Defendants, Date of Judgment, Number of Judgment, Page of Entry of Judgment in Judgment Book, and Page of Minute Book of District Court. The Sonoma County Clerk began a second series (the “New Series”) of Sonoma County District Court suits when he began to enter these suits into the new index volumes. The numbering of these suits began again from the number one. The Clerk was to receive as compensation for entering these suits into the index books fifty cents for each suit, taxed and collected as other court costs.
The New Series records comprise 2943 District Court suits numbered 1 through 2925. 53 New Series suits are numbered with non-integer numbers, one suit uses a letter (623A), and three suit numbers are used twice (468, 1031, and 2407). Thirty-nine suit numbers are not used at all. The initial complaints of these suits were generally filed during the years 1863 to 1879.
The original court papers of both the Old and New Series of records are housed at the California State Archives in Sacramento. Microfilm copies of these original court papers are available at the Archived Records Division of the Sonoma County Superior Court in Santa Rosa. The Old and New Series District Court suits concern a wide variety of topics, ranging from simple breach of contract and insolvency cases to defamation of character, slander, embezzlement, divorce, and even murder cases.
The Complaints in Equity Series records comprise 768 District Court suits numbered 1 through 731 and concern non-payment of taxes (both State and County) on land in Sonoma County. One Complaints in Equity Series suit is numbered with a non-integer number (502½), thirty-eight suit numbers are used twice (546-548, 635-649, and 660-679), and two suit numbers are not used at all (272 and 307). The initial complaints of these suits were generally filed during the years 1864 to 1872. The original court papers of this series are housed at the Sonoma County Archives in Santa Rosa. Microfilm copies of these original court papers are available at the Archived Records Division of the Sonoma County Superior Court in Santa Rosa.
(Index to District Court records of Sonoma County, 1850-1879. Berwyn Hights, Md. Heritage Books, 2016; pages v-vi)
Note:
Some volumes include entries for cases heard in Superior Court following the district court abolition: Docket book (includes entries for 1880) and Index (includes entries for 1880-1946).

Additional Guides

The Sonoma County Genearlogical Society has published an expanded guide to this collection: Index to District Court records of Sonoma County, 1850-1879. Berwyn Hights, Md. : Heritage Books, 2016. Compiled by Sonoma County Genealogical Society.

Court History

District Courts established by the 1849 California State Constitution

The first Constitution of California was written by the forty-eight delegates of the 1849 California State Constitutional Convention meeting at Colton Hall in Monterey during the months of September and October 1849. It was signed by the delegates on 13 October 1849 and ratified by the people of California in an election held a month later on 13 November 1849. Under this constitution the judicial department of California was to consist of a Supreme Court, District Courts, County Courts, Justices of the Peace, and such municipal and other inferior courts the legislature may establish as may be deemed necessary.
The District Courts were given original jurisdiction in law and equity in all civil cases where the amount in dispute exceeded two hundred dollars, exclusive of interest. In all criminal cases not otherwise provided for, and in all issues of fact joined in the probate courts, their jurisdiction was unlimited.15 The California Legislature in “An Act Concerning Divorces” passed 25 March 1851 gave the District Courts exclusive jurisdiction to grant divorces from bed and board and from the bonds of matrimony.
By the California State Constitution of 1849 California was to be divided by the first Legislature into a convenient number of districts subject to alteration from time to time as the public good required. The District Court judges were to be appointed by a joint vote of the Legislature at its first meeting and were to hold office for two years from the first day of January after their election. Their successors were to be elected by the qualified voters of their respective districts at the general election and hold their office for the term of six years.
The first session of the California Legislature held at San Jose between 15 Dec 1849 and 22 April 1850 divided California into nine judicial districts by “An Act to organize the District Courts of the State of California” passed on 16 March 1850.18 Sonoma County was placed in the 7th judicial district as were the counties of Marin, Napa, Solano, and Mendocino, and it remained in the 7th judicial district until 29 March 1876 when the 22nd judicial district was created, composed of the counties of Sonoma, Mendocino, and Marin.

District Courts abolished by the 1879 California State Constitution

The delegates of the second California State Constitutional Convention of 1878-1879 produced a second California State Constitution that was adopted in Convention at Sacramento on 3 March 1879 and ratified by a vote of the People of the State of California on 7 May 1879. Article XXII, section 3 of this Constitution abolished all courts then existing, including the District Courts, except for the Justices’ and Police Courts, and Article VI, section 1 established a new judicial department composed of a Supreme Court, Superior Courts, Justices of the Peace, and such inferior Courts as the Legislature may establish in any incorporated city or town, or city and county. All records, books, papers, and proceedings from the abolished Courts were to be transferred to the new Courts on 1 January 1880.
(Index to District Court records of Sonoma County, 1850-1879. Berwyn Hights, Md. Heritage Books, 2016; pages ix-x)

Access Terms

This Collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Corporate Name:

Sonoma County (Calif.). District Court (7th Judicial District)
Sonoma County (Calif.). District Court (22nd Judicial District)

Topical Term:

Civil procedure -- California -- Sonoma County
Court records -- California -- Sonoma County
Courts -- California -- Sonoma County
Criminal courts -- California -- Sonoma County
Judgments -- California -- Sonoma County
Tax liens -- California -- Sonoma County
Taxation -- California -- Sonoma County

Important Information for Users of the Collection

Conditions Governing Access:

Materials stored offsite, but collection is open to research. In many cases, further details on individual volumes can be found by calling staff at the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library. To view these materials, please call staff at 707 308-3212 to request they be brought from the Archives to the Library

Publication Rights

Property rights reside with the Sonoma County Library. The Sonoma County Library has made this collection available and believes that the collection is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Collection may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries. Preferred credit line is: Courtesy, the Sonoma County Library. Please see additional reproduction and reuse information at https://sonomalibrary.org/locations/sonoma-county-history-and-genealogy-library/order-photo

Preferred Citation:

Sonoma County District Court records, 1850-1946 (bulk: 1850-1879). SCG.00051, Sonoma County Archives, Sonoma County Library, Rohnert Park, California.

Arrangement of Materials:

Series. Arranged in three series and 16 subseries:
Series I. I-01. Civil register, 1850-1859; I-02. Fee book and register, 1850-1863; I-03. Docket book, 1851-1866; I-04. Judgment book, 1855-1866; I-05. Minute book, 1857-1868; I-06. Calendar, 1857-1862; I-07. Index, 1859-1861; and I-08. Records, 1857-1859.
Series II. I-02. Fee book and register, 1863-1878; I-03. Docket book, 1857-1880; I-04. Judgment book, 1866-1879; I-05. Minute book, 1869-1879; I-05. Calendar, 1877-1879; I-06. Index, 1859-1946; I-07. Register of tax suits, 1864-1871; I-08. Decree book A, 1864-1869
Series III. Complaints in equity, 1864-1871

Scope and Contents

Official records

Detailed List of Contents

 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.I
Series I. Old Series 1850-1853

Physical Description:
Extent: 20 volumes
Creator: California. District Court (7th Judicial District)

Scope and Contents

Some volumes include entries for New Series group.
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.I-01
Series I, subseries 1. Civil register 1850-1859

Note:
Series content list:
1850-1859, volume 2 : ARCHIVES CABINET 33 : Civil Register "Plaintiffs and Defendents : Accession 2528
Physical Description:
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Contents

1 Jun. 1850 - 28 Sep. 1859. List of defendents and plaintiffs, A-Z
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.I-02
Series I, subseries 2. Fee book and register 1850-1863

Note:
Series content list:
1850-1859 : ARCHIVES CABINET 11 : Volume A : Accession 1435
1855-1857 : ARCHIVES ROW 31 (CABINET 37) : Register Docket for the District Court, #3 : Accession 2710
1857-1859 : ARCHIVES ROW 31 (CABINET 37) : Volume [???] : Accession [???]
1858-1859 : ARCHIVES CABINET 11 : Volume AA : Accession 1434
1859-1861 : ARCHIVES CABINET 11 : Volume B : Accession 1436
1861-1863 : ARCHIVES CABINET 11 : Volume C : Accession 1437
Physical Description:
Extent: 6 volumes

Scope and Contents

Register of actions in civil and criminal cases heard in District Court, and fees paid
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.I-03
Series I, subseries 3. Docket book 1851-1880

Note:
Series content list:
1851-1857 : ARCHIVES ROW 31 (CABINET 37) : Judgement Docket of the District Court, Volume A : Accession 2651
1851-1866 : ARCHIVES ROW 31 (CABINET 37) : Index to Judgment Book : Accession 2654
Physical Description:
Extent: 2 volumes

Scope and Contents

Judgment docket: v. B. indexes Judgment Book, v. C and D
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.I-04
Series I, subseries 4. Judgment book 1855-1879

Note:
Series content list:
1855-1858 : ARCHIVES CABINET 13 : Volume B : Accession 1545
1857-1860 : ARCHIVES CABINET 13 : Volume C : Accession 1538
1860-1866 : ARCHIVES CABINET 13 : Volume D : Accession 1534
Physical Description:
Extent: 6 volumes

Scope and Contents

Judgement Book D contains entries for New Series
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.I-05
Series I, subseries 5. Minute book 1857-1879

Note:
Series content list:
1857-1862 : ARCHIVES CABINET 13 : Minute Book, Volume B : Accession 1549
1862-1868 : ARCHIVES CABINET 13 : Minute Book, Volume C : Accession 1550
Physical Description:
Extent: 2 volumes

Scope and Contents

Minutes of each court session, court actions, and rules of the court. Minute Book C contains entries for New Series
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.I-06
Series I, subseries 6. Calendar 1857-1862

Note:
Series content list:
1857-1862 : ARCHIVES ROW 31 (CABINET 37) : Calendar Destrict (sic) Court : Accession 2653
Physical Description:
Extent: 1 volumes
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.I-07-
Series I, subseries 7. Index 1859-1861

Note:
Series content list:
1859-1861 : ARCHIVES ROW 31 (CABINET 37) : Index to Register B : Accession 2711
Physical Description:
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Contents

Index to plaintiffs and defendents.
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.I-08
Series I, subseries 8. Records 1857-1859
Accession: ???

Note:
Row 31 (Cabinet 37)
Physical Description:
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Contents

27 Oct. 1857 - 1 Oct. 1859 register of actions in District Court, civil and criminal cases
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.II
Series II. New series

Physical Description:
Extent: 26 volumes
Creator: California. District Court (22nd Judicial District)

Scope and Contents

Some volumes include entries for Superior Court.
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.II-01
Series II, subseries 1. Fee book and register 1850-1878

Note:
Series content list:
1863-1865 : ARCHIVES CABINET 11 : Volume D : Accession 1438
1865-1868 : ARCHIVES CABINET 11 : Volume E : Accession 1439
1868-1871 : ARCHIVES CABINET 11 : Volume F : Accession 1440
1871-1873 : ARCHIVES CABINET 11 : Volume G : Accession 1441
1873-1877 : ARCHIVES CABINET 11 : Volume H : Accession 1442
1876-1878 : ARCHIVES CABINET 11 : Volume I : Accession 1443
1878-1878 : ARCHIVES CABINET 4 : Volume J : Accession 1164
1878-1878 : ARCHIVES CABINET 4 : Volume K : Accession 1165
Physical Description:
Extent: 8 volumes

Scope and Contents

Register of actions in civil and criminal cases heard in District Court, and fees paid
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.II-02
Series II, subseries 2. Docket book 1857-1880

Creator: Sonoma County (Calif.). District Court (7th Judicial District)
Note:
Series content list:
1857-1869 : ARCHIVES CABINET 4 : Docket Book, Volume B : Accession 1123
1862-1873 : ARCHIVES CABINET 4 : Docket Book, Volume C : Accession 1122
1873-1880 : ARCHIVES CABINET 4 : Docket Book, Volume D : Accession 1120
Physical Description:
Extent: 3 volumes

Scope and Contents

Judgment docket: v. B. indexes Judgment Book, v. C and D; v. C indexes judgment book, v. D and E; v. D indexes Judgment Book v. E, F and G. Vol. B is indexed in Index to Road Record by last name of plaintiff. Indexed in Index to Judgment Book; General Index Plaintiff; and General Index Defendent, by name, after June 1863. Entries for
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.II-03
Series II, subseries 3. Judgment book 1866-1879

Note:
Series content list:
1866-1876 : ARCHIVES CABINET 13 : Volume E : Accession 1534
1876-1878 : ARCHIVES CABINET 13 : Volume F : Accession 1537
1878-1879 : ARCHIVES CABINET 13 : Volume G : Accession 1546
Physical Description:
Extent: 3 volumes

Scope and Contents

Initial New series cases recorded in Series I. Old series, Judgement Book, Volume D.
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.II-04
Series II, subseries 4. Minute book 1869-1879

Note:
Series content list:
1869-1874 : ARCHIVES CABINET 13 : Minute Book District Court, Volume D : Accession 1542
1879-1879 : ARCHIVES CABINET 13 : Minutes District Court, Volume F : Accession 1552
1874-1879 : ARCHIVES CABINET 13 : Minute Book, Volume E : Accession 1551
Physical Description:
Extent: 3 volumes

Scope and Contents

Minutes of each court session, court actions, and rules of the court. [1552] More than half is blank. Initial entries for New series cases entered in Volume C and listed under Series I. Old series. Minute book.
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.II-05-
Series II, subseries 5. Calendar 1877-1879

Note:
Series content list:
1877 : ARCHIVES ROW 31 (CABINET 37) : Volume 2 : Accession [???]
1879 : ARCHIVES ROW 31 (CABINET 37) : Volume 3 : Accession [???]
Physical Description:
Extent: 2 volumes

Scope and Contents

Volume numbering continued from Old Series.
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.II-06
Series II, subseries 6. Index 1859-1946

Note:
Series content list:
1859-1861 : ARCHIVES ROW 31 (CABINET 37) : Index to Register B : Accession 2711
1868-1871 : ARCHIVES ROW 31 (CABINET 37) : Index to Register F : Accession 2712
1871-1874 : ARCHIVES ROW 31 (CABINET 37) : Index to Register G : Accession 2713
1873-1946 : ARCHIVES ROW 31 (CABINET 37) : District Court Index H : Accession 2732
Physical Description:
Extent: 4 volumes

Scope and Contents

Oct. 1859 - 19 Apr. 1946 index to plaintiffs and defendents
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.II-07
Series II, subseries 7. Register of tax suits 1864-1871

Note:
Series content list:
1864-1867 : ARCHIVES CABINET 29 : Volume A : Accession 2381 [???]
1868-1871 : ARCHIVES CABINET 29 : Volume B : Accession 2382 [???]
Note:
[2381 / 2382] Incorrectly assigned? Accession record indicates Sonoma County Superior Court as origin
Physical Description:
Extent: 2 volumes
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.II-08
Series II, subseries 8. Decree book A 1864-1869
Accession: 1495

Creator: Sonoma County (Calif.). District Court (7th Judicial District)
Note:
Cabinet 12
Physical Description:
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Contents

17 October 1864 - 25 June 1869. Liens for state and county taxes. More than half of this book (which is composed of forms) is blank
 

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00051.Ser.III
Series III. Complaints in equity 1864-1871

Note:
Series content list:
1864-1871 : ARCHIVES ROW 8 BIN 17 : Complaints in equity
Physical Description:
Extent: 1 box
Creator: California. District Court (22nd Judicial District)