Cherokee County, Georgia Genealogy: 5 Resources You Might Not Know About

Psst! If the land records in this post interest you, sign up for my upcoming “Land Records: The Cornerstone of Georgia Genealogy” presentation for the Georgia Genealogical Society on August 8, 2024.

As a Cherokee County, Georgia-based genealogist who loves to get out of the house and go bother other people about history, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring our local courthouse, the Georgia Room at RT Jones Library, and all the archives at History Cherokee (who run our excellent Cherokee County History Museum.) During all those years of nosiness inquisitiveness, I’ve run into some awesome resources that folks might not know about. So here they are!

1. The Cherokee County courthouse has a binder tracing land transactions by land lot number

The original Big Cherokee County (which made up what is now much of northwest Georgia) was divided up by section, district and land lot. Then each land lot was auctioned off in the Cherokee Land Lottery of 1832, the Cherokee Gold Lottery of 1832 and an additional smaller land lottery in 1833 to sell off fractional lots. 

An example of the sizes of 1832 Cherokee land and gold lottery sections, districts and land lots, but not to scale. Like, at all.

Now, while we no longer only sell land in large parcels of 40 or 160 acres, to this day parcels in Cherokee County are identified by those same section, district and land lot numbers that were created way back in the 1830s. And the good folks in the Deeds & Records office put together a binder that traces every transaction by section, district, and land lot.

This means that you can visit the courthouse, ask for that binder, look up the land lot(s) you are interested in, then note down all of the transactions for that land lot. The binder gives you the deed book letter and page, all right there in one handy location. 

Image of a page from Section 2, District 15, land lots in the 860s. This was a quick pic for my own use that day. If I’d known I was going to write this blog post I would have taken a much clearer picture. Sorry, folks!

Also, the clerks at our Superior Court are extremely nice. They have looked at the very old and delicate deed books in the vault when I’ve found issues online. (It turned out to be an issue with the actual book index, not the scanning. Womp womp.)

Deeds & Records are part of the Superior Court and their office and reading room is on the bottom floor of the courthouse. 

Now, I know I don’t have to warn y’all about this, but don’t rely on this derivative source as absolute truth. Like any index, this binder contains mistakes or has missed transactions. So I’d still check out the original indexes, too. (Which, by the way, were also compiled later and also likely missing transactions! Argh!)


2. Cherokee County has put all land records until 1989 online 

Recently FamilySearch’s catalog was subject to a bug where some previously-digitized local databases (I noticed Cherokee and Forsyth County, Georgia) were showing as microfilm-only. But I wasn’t overly worried about Cherokee County while this bug was being squashed, because the county has also put all of their land records between county formation in 1832 to 1989 online!

When doing Cherokee County land research, I actually turn to the county’s OnPoint deed database before I go to FamilySearch. This is because they have made it easy to look up indexes by first letter of first name. Then once you have found the deed book and page of the record you are looking for, you can just enter it and be taken to the exact deed book and page.

Like many counties, the Cherokee County GIS system also allows you to look up exactly where your ancestors lived as long as you have their section, district, and land lot number. And since virtually every land transaction lists that information, the county has provided a quick and easy way for you to locate your ancestors!

I have two video tutorials on this system here:

3. The county historical society’s entire catalog is entirely online 

Cherokee County has a fantastic and long running historical society and they have accumulated quite a collection over the years. 

As someone who loves land records, one of my favorite things to look at there are the old, old 1830s land grants, many with the original seals! They also have thousands of pictures, artifacts like the bell from the Little Hook, the train that crashed in Buffington community very close to where I grew up, and even vintage clothing, uniforms, quilts, and more. And I’m really just scratching the surface and telling y’all about things that interest me, like recordings of the oral histories that have been taken from Cherokee County folks throughout the years. (And not just from the rich and powerful.)

As we all know, it can be difficult to determine what a historical society or museum has in their collections without spending days and days there. 

Fortunately, History Cherokee has put their entire catalog online

Download these handy PDFs then use the ctrl-F or cmd-F feature on your computer to search for surnames, communities, events, etc. 

Pro Tip: History Cherokee has a big, beautiful new museum, the Cherokee County History Center, that you all should visit. (While you’re there, buy the Salty Dog Goes to Denim Day book written by yours truly!)

But no museum can display everything in their collection. Most of their collection is in storage, so call or email with plenty of notice should you like to come in and look at something in particular. This will be a lot more convenient for you, and, once they know what you are looking for, the dedicated historians at History Cherokee may find more items or books or artifacts that you didn’t even know about!

4. Historic Cherokee County marriage licenses are searchable online

The Cherokee County Probate court has provided a quick way to search marriages online

Just enter the bride’s or groom’s name (consider alternate spellings and only using surnames) and be sure to filter by date. Even if you don’t know the date, use some filtering, otherwise it will only show you the first 100 or so results. Since Cherokee County has exploded in growth since the 1990s, without filtering, you’ll likely only get recent marriages unless the name is very uncommon. 

Homepage of the Cherokee County Probate Court’s marriage & estate search page

One note: Marriage records in Cherokee County, Georgia are extant from 1841 but it is unclear if the very first marriage book is in this system. The earliest marriages I have found using this system have been from the 1850s. 

So again, just like any derivative record, don’t stop here if you don’t find what you’re looking for. But this can be a quick and easy way to determine if your relative was married in Cherokee County. You’ll need to visit FamilySearch, Ancestry or another database to see the actual marriage licenses. Find out more about where to find these marriage records at the Family History Wiki entry for Cherokee County, GA.

You’ll notice there is a probate search on this page, too! But that search appears to be a bit broken at the moment, with date filtering not working. So if you are seeking out probate records for someone with a common name, you may not be able to return a search request for them. Instead, the search will just give you the 100 or so most recent estate cases.  It’s always good to remember that these resources, while handy for genealogists, weren’t made with us in mind. They were generally made to make the lives of our hardworking court clerks and other officials a little easier, so we can’t expect everything to work just the way we need it to.

However, that search can be useful for someone doing DNA work or heir tracing. But for genealogists searching for historic records, I recommend using the online probate databases such as those found on FamilySearch and Ancestry. (Again, see the Family History Wiki for an overview of what is available online.) 

You can also visit the extremely friendly, knowledgeable and competent clerks at the Cherokee County Probate Court, but again, it’s advisable to make an appointment in advance and know what you are seeking. I’ve never been to our Probate Court where they aren’t utterly bustling with the modern day pressing business of the county, so merely walking in and asking for historic records is generally not the best option. 

5. RT Jones Library has an index to probate records

Cherokee County is part of a 3-county Sequoyah Regional Library system. A library in each county (Cherokee, Pickens, and Gilmer) has one location that has genealogy records. In Cherokee County, ours is the Georgia Room at RT Jones Library, which is run by the incomparable Lisa Fowler. 

In that Georgia room is an index to Probate records. These are in three big black binders on the bookshelf to your right as you walk in. These are the same probate records that can often be found in online databases like FamilySearch and Ancestry, but the reason I’m mentioning them here is that this index goes past the usual early 1900s indexes you can find online. For instance, I was looking for probate records from the early 1930s and found their location in this paper index but nowhere online. 

So, if you are looking to view these newer probate records, and you can get to RT Jones library, use this index before reaching out to the county’s probate court about viewing them. 


  1. The Deeds & Records office at the Cherokee County, Georgia courthouse has a binder tracing historic land transactions by section, district, and land lot number
  2. The Cherokee County Superior Court has put deed indexes and deed books from 1832-1989 online
  3. History Cherokee, the local historical society, has put their catalog online in PDF format
  4. The Cherokee County Probate court has an online search for historic marriage records
  5. The RT Jones Library’s Georgia Room has several binders full of probate case indexes

What other Cherokee County resources have you found? 

Being from here for many generations, I’ve been researching in Cherokee County for most of my life. But I’m sure there are resources I’ve neve heard of. We simply can’t know everything! Have you run across any other fantastic Cherokee County resources? 

A challenge to other researchers

And for researchers with expertise in other counties and who have made it this far, I’d love to see you write a post like this to help your fellow researchers out! If you do, let me know in the comments. 

Happy detecting!


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