Series 5062
District Court (Fourth District) Minute books

Dates: 1878-1896.

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These records are housed in the Utah State Archives' permanent storage room.

Historical Note

An agency history is available.

Scope and Content

This series is made up of minute books which record the official acts and proceedings of court terms held in three different judicial districts while sitting in Ogden, Weber County, Utah. Cases include those from Weber County as well as from Box Elder, Cache, Rich, and Morgan counties. These records were created and maintained by the court clerk, who was required by statute to keep a record of proceedings (Compiled Laws of Utah, 1876, sections 1062 and 1065).

The minutes are a daily, handwritten record of documents filed and actions taken with regard to every matter brought before each session of the court, largely regarding documents submitted, appearances before the court, and orders issued. A typical case spans multiple dates. Minutes are not transcripts, but do include a brief description of the hearing, including the title of case, case number, names of attorneys, date of each development in the case, record of witnesses and evidence introduced, what pleadings, petitions, or motions were made and by whom, and summaries of injunctions, rules, orders, verdicts, and judgments. Administrative details and meeting logistics (such as the court site, officers present, the selection and dismissal of jurors, and scheduling and assigning cases) are noted. These minute books document the legal process and the administration of justice.

In August and December of 1878, territorial Governor George W. Emery issued proclamations fixing a term of the Third District Court in Ogden, the Weber County seat, each calendar year. Later proclamations authorized up to four terms. Weber County as well as Box Elder, Cache, Rich, and Morgan counties were moved from the Third District and made the Northern Division of the First District Court in 1880. The Northern Division then became the newly created Fourth District in 1892. Cases still pending at statehood were transferred to the district court of the appropriate county, mostly Weber.

According to federal and territorial statutes, the district court has jurisdiction in all matters not prohibited by law. The majority of these cases are civil matters. Suits to recover money owed to plaintiffs are the predominant type of action. These proceedings arise out of failure to honor promissory notes or other contract terms and non-payment of rent, lease payments, and court-ordered judgments. Petitions for divorce are also common. Other routine legal actions include voluntary withdrawal or dissolution of corporations as well as petitions for a writ of habeas corpus (a court order requiring that a prisoner be brought before a judge to decide the legality of his detention or imprisonment). Criminal matters may involve larceny, trespass, burglary, robbery, assault, battery, rape, prostitution, sodomy, gambling, narcotics, riot, perjury, or murder. Unlawful cohabitation or polygamy cases were common in the 1880s.

The district court was restricted to adjudication of actions involving real property located within the judicial district, those in which the defendant resides within the judicial district, and those involving incidents occurring within the judicial district. The court's appellate jurisdiction extends to all cases arising in probate, justice's, or U.S. Commissioners court. Upon receipt of an appeal, the district court conducted a complete retrial of the case. Certified copies of pertinent court documents were provided to the district court while the inferior court retained the original documents in its case file.


Chronological by court dates

The minutes are chronological by court dates. Separate volumes are arranged in alphabetical order. However, Volume H includes entries for two distinct time periods: The first half includes minutes for September 9, 1892, to December 31, 1892, while the second half covers October 8, 1894, through May 29, 1894.

Research Note

Case indexes, Blotters, Register of Actions, and Judgment Dockets also may be used to find the unique case number corresponding to the appropriate case.

Related Records

Northern division civil and criminal case files from the District Court (First District), Series 1529, detail information noted in the minutes

Criminal case files from the District Court (Fourth District), Series 1629, include records for the minutes recorded here.

Plaintiff's index from the District Court (Fourth District), Series 1666, document proceedings in these court cases

Minute books from the District Court (First District), Series 10035, record minutes of district court sessions conducted in these counties prior to removal of the northern division of the first district court and creation of the territorial fourth district court in 1892.

Naturalization index book from the District Court (Second District : Weber County), Series 13160, provides an index to naturalizations noted in minute books.

Criminal registers of actions from the District Court (Fourth District), Series 17462, document the proceedings of each case.

Civil and criminal registers of actions from the District Court (Fourth District), Series 17825, note dates of actions recorded in the minutes.

Plaintiff index from the District Court (First District), Series 21018, document proceedings in these court cases.

Judgment index from the District Court (Fourth District), Series 24808.

Custody History

Throughout the territorial period, minute books were created and maintained by the clerk appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the judge of the district court. At statehood, the Weber County Clerk was constitutionally designated as ex-officio clerk of Second District Court in and for Weber County. The county/district court clerk maintained custody of the case files until their transfer to the Utah State Archives.

Access Restrictions

This series is classified as Public: Public..

Preferred Citation

Cite the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the creating agency name, the series title, and the series number.

Processing Note

Archival processing of the minute books was completed in April 1999 by W. Glen Fairclough, Jr. and updated in 2002.

Finding Aids

Indexes: An index to volumes A-K of the minute books, presumably still in the custody of the Second District Court in Weber County, was noted in the Preliminary Inventory of the County Archives of Utah, vol. 29, Weber County (January 1940). There is a separate naturalization index to naturalizations noted in the minutes.

Indexing Terms

  • Divorce suits--Utah.
  • Post-conviction remedies--Utah.
  • Utah--Trials (Divorce).
  • Utah--Actions and defenses--Cases.
  • Utah--Criminal courts.
  • Utah--Habeas corpus.

Container List

1 1 a 1878, December 9-1880, January 16; 3rd, 3rd District
1 1 a 1880, February 25-1884, February 16; 1st District
1 2 b 1885, May 4-1887, February 17; 1st District
2 3 c 1887, February 17-1888, November 30; 1st District
2 4 d 1888, December 1-1890, March 27; 1st District
3 5 e 1890, March 28-December 13; 1st District
4 6 f 1890, December 15-1891, November 19; 1st District
4 7 g 1891, November 19-1892, May 31; 1st District
4 7 g 1892, June 1-September 8; 4th District
5 8 h 1892, September 9-December 31; 4th District
5 9 i 1893, January 1-November 25; 4th District
6 10 j 1893, November 27-1894, October 8; 4th District
5 8 h 1894, October 8-1895, May 29; 4th District
6 11 k 1895, May 31-1896, January 4; 4th District

Page Last Updated October 18, 2012.