The office of coroner was established while Ohio was part of the Northwest Territory.  Created in 1792 as an appointee of the territorial governor, the office was continued by the 1802 State Constitution as an elective post for a term of two years, which was extended to four years in 1936.  The county coroner was responsible for holding preliminary investigations over the bodies of all persons believed to have died by violence or accident.  In addition, the coroner held concurrent jurisdiction with the sheriff in attendance upon the court, execution of process, and the arrest of criminals.  This concurrent jurisdiction of the coroner, however, was repealed in 1805.  Since 1945, the coroner has been required to be a licensed, practicing physician.

Duties of the county coroner have not changed appreciably since the inception of the office.  As in 1792, the coroner is required to take charge of any body when death has apparently resulted from criminal or violent means, suicide, or in any suspicious or unusual manner.  An autopsy may be performed and an inquest held with witnesses examined under oath in order to determine the cause of death.  Once such determination has been made, the coroner’s verdict becomes legally accepted as the cause of death.

Recent duties added to the coroner’s office include the establishment and operation of a county morgue, which has not happened in Union County; the appointment of assistants, pathologists, and technicians; and the maintenance of a complete record of all cases coming under the coroner’s jurisdiction.  In Union County the coroner’s inquests from 1820 to 1989 were held and maintained by the clerk of courts, and those records are also found in the clerk of courts section.


 Records of Inquests (1883-1989)