Union County Licenses, 1820-1998
(709 records)
(Updated: November 4, 2015)

This index includes only selected appointments, licenses and commissions recorded in the Clerk of Courts Office.

Appointment, license and commission types included in this index are as follows:

Auctioneer Licenses (1820-1964)
Bar Admissions (1820-1884)
Optometry Certificates (1920-1994)
Railroad Police Commissions (1885-1935)
School Examiners Appointments (1826-1852)
Tavern Licenses (1820-1867)
Vend Merchandise Licenses (1820-1825)


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Auctioneer Licenses (1820-1964)

The records contain a record of licenses issued to sell merchandise at public auction, showing the name of the licensee, date issued, and fee paid.

On January 29, 1818, the Ohio legislature authorized the court of common pleas to appoint auctioneers, who were to give bond and pay a license fee based upon the determination of the court.  The licensing of auctioneers through the courts of common pleas remained in effect until the creation of the State Auctioneers Commission on January 1, 1964.

Bar Admissions (1820-1884)

These records contain a record of individuals who were admitted to the practice of law showing name of the person, the court whom they appeared before and date admitted to the practice of law.

Aspiring attorneys were required to be examined before the Supreme Court of Ohio before they could practice law in the state.  From 1820 to 1851 the Supreme Court held sessions in every county in the state and during these times individuals were examined by the Court to the admission of the practice of law.  Upon the creation of District Courts in 1852 these courts too admitted individuals to the practice of law along with the Supreme Court and after the District Court’s abolishment in 1884 the responsibility devolved completely on the Supreme Court.

Optometry Certificates (1920-1994)

These records contain a records of licenses issued to practice optometry in the county showing optometrist, license number, school of graduation, date issued, and date filed.  These records correspond with the Ohio General Assembly first regulating the practice of optometry throughout the state.  On March 20, 1919, the legislature passed an act “defining optometry, providing a state board of optometry, providing for the licensing of persons to practice optometry and for the revocation and suspension of such licenses, and providing penalties for violations.”  The act defined optometry as The application of optical principles, through technical methods and devices in the examination of human eyes for the purpose of ascertaining departures from the normal, measuring their functional powers and adapting optical accessories for the aid thereof.

The act required starting on January 1, 1920, that every person “to whom a certificates has been issues” by the State Board of Optometry to “register said certificate in the office of the clerk of the court of common pleas in each county” where they practice optometry.  This statute remained in place until it was repealed by legislative act in 1998.

Railroad Police Commissions (1885-1935)

The expansion of railroads in the mid-nineteenth century led to an increase in both passenger travel and the conveyance of goods across the nation.  The ease and swiftness made this mode of transportation the primary means of transport of people, merchandise and materials.  The value of these goods and the possessions of the passengers resulted in the steady increase in train robberies.  To combat this trend, states began authorizing the appointment of special railroad police.  It was the duties of these individuals to patrol trains and prevent crimes aboard them much like the policeman on the city streets.

Ohio enacted its first law for “the employment of a police force by railroad companies” in 1867.  This law allowed the governor to commission men to act as policemen on behalf of railroad companies who hired men to apply to the governor for such appointments.  Each policeman was required to swear an oath “before the clerk of the court of common pleas, in any county through which the railroad” was located and passed through.  They were charged with upholding “the laws of the state” and enforcing “rules and regulations” established by the railroad company on corporation property.  Their commission remained in effect until the railroad informed the various clerks of court otherwise.

The 1867 law was replaced on February 18, 1885.  It was under this law that the modern form and requirements of the commission of railroad police was instituted until the mid-twentieth century.  It was encompassed in Revised Statutes sections 3427 to 3430 and later expanded to section 3436 and General Code sections 9150 to 9159.  It took effect June 1, 1885, and was as follows:

Section 3427.  The governor, upon the application of a company owning or using any railroad in this state, shall appoint and commission such persons as the company may designate, or as many thereof as he may deem proper, to act as policemen for and upon the premises of such railroad, or elsewhere when directly in the discharge of their duties for such railroad; and all policemen so appointed shall be citizens of the state of Ohio, and men of good character; and said policemen shall hold their office for three years, unless their commissions be revoked by the governor for good cause shown, or by the railroad company as provide by section 3432 of the Revised Statues, and all commissions heretofore issued by the governor of this state, under and by virtue of section 3427 of the Revised Statutes of Ohio, as passed March 18, 1867, shall expire, and the authority under and by virtue of the same shall be revoked on and after the first day of June 1885.

Section 3428.  Each policeman so appointed shall, before entering upon the duties of his office, take and subscribe an oath of office, which shall be endorsed upon his commission; a certified copy of such commission, with the oath, shall be recorded in the office of the clerk of the court of common pleas in every county through or into which the railroad for which such policeman is appointed runs, and for which it is intended he shall act; and policemen so appointed and commissioned shall severally possess and exercise all the powers, and be subject to all the liabilities of policemen of cities of the first class, in the several counties in which they are authorized to act while in the discharge of their duties for which they are appointed.

Section 3430.  Each policeman so appointed and commissioned, shall wear in plain view, when on duty as heretofore specified, a metallic shield with the word “Police,” and the name of the railroad for which he is appointed inscribed thereon, except while acting as detective in the discharge of his duties for such railroad.

This act was revised and expanded in later years, but the intent and operating structure of the appointment, commission and recording of the appointments in the clerk of courts office remained the same.

Decline in train robberies and passenger traffic in the mid-twentieth century resulted in a steady drop for the necessity of railroad police.  The responsibilities of the clerk of courts in regards to railroad police were transferred to the Ohio Secretary of State, effective June 4, 1935, who assumed exclusive jurisdiction of the recording of special railroad police commissions.  The Secretary of State maintains this control to the present day.  Currently, the statute commissioning special railroad police is found in Ohio Revised Code section 4973.17(B).

School Examiners Appointments (1826-1852)

These records contain journal entries appointing members of the Board of County School Examiners by the Common Pleas Court Judge.
On February 5, 1825, the Ohio General Assembly passed the first general school law.  The Court of Common Pleas in each county was authorized to appoint annually “three suitable persons to be called Examiners of Common Schools,” whose duties it was to examine teachers for qualification and grant teaching certificates, also to visit and examine the schools throughout the county.  In 1829, the official term on examiners was designated as two years, and their number to be not less than five in each county, nor more than one in each township, later amended to “nor more than two in each township.”

Up to that time women were not eligible as school teachers, but in late 1831 a law was passed allowing School Directors to employ female teachers.  However, the Directors had to signify in writing to the School Examiners that it was the desire of the inhabitants of the said district to employ “a female teacher…”  It was enacted by the law of 1838 that the County Auditor was endowed with the position of Superintendent of Schools throughout the county.  The numbers of School Examiners was reduced to three members for each county, who were appointed by the Court of Common Pleas.  This served as the organization of the School Examiners until the passage of the new State constitution in 1851, which resulted in the reorganization of the school laws.

The school law of 1853, among many other changes, readdressed the subject of the School Examiners.  The law established a three person Board of School Examiners appointed by the Probate Judge with a three year term.  Therefore, appointments of School Examiners post 1852 can be found in the Probate Court Case Index.

Tavern Licenses (1820-1867)

These records contain a record of individuals applying for a license to operate a tavern showing the name of the applicant, location of tavern, date issued, whether “spirituous liquors” could be sold, and fee paid.

The first tavern legislation was enacted on February 1, 1805, and required an individual to obtain a one year operator’s license from the court of common pleas.  The amount of the license was determined by the court and could range from $4 to $50 and starting in 1833 from $2 to $20 if spirituous liquors were not sold.  Taverns at the time were important institutions as they “received about all the coin or currency in circulation” and operated as the “bankers” in the early years of statehood.  On February 27, 1867, the legislature repealed all the laws relating to the regulation of taverns.

Vend Merchandise Licenses (1820-1825)

These records contain a record of individuals applying for a license to sell foreign merchandise showing the name of the applicant, date issued, and fee paid.

An act of February 1, 1805, required an individual selling items of foreign merchandise to pay a $10 license granted by the court of common pleas.  On February 25, 1820, the tax was adjusted to between $10 and $100 to be decided by the court of common pleas.  This statute remained in place, in varying forms, from that time until 1846 when the Alfred Kelley tax law went into effect.