Friday, January 20, 2012

Find A Case - Court Database

Legal Records Hold Background Information
Of course as genealogists we know legal documents can reveal our ancestors’ social history, family relations, work environments and more. But have you actively searched for these legal documents. Find A Case search is an online holding of over 5.5 million legal cases. I did an inquiry for Harold Strader, my father and grandfather’s name on the Find A Case website.  And expecting nothing, I was quite surprised. The day of Pappo’s stroke was chronicled in Find A Case: Strader v. Kansas Public Employees Retirement System,(*note below.) This Kansas Supreme Court case detailed information on my Grandfather’s health, the day he had a stroke, where he worked and more. I never knew there was such a Kansas Supreme Court case.  

Find A Case includes court cases from a vast library of state and federal court records, including the U.S. Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit Courts, the Federal District Courts and all state appellate courts. Many of our libraries date back to 1930, with some dating back even further, like the U.S. Supreme Court which dates back to 1886.

All US Supreme Court cases may be found as early as 1886 the state of Florida State Appellate Courts date as early as 1910 and Montana 1925. There are many Federal Circuit Courts, and Federal District Courts that date as early as 1930. Even Puerto Rico court cases are included in the State Appellate section for cases dating after 1998.

I Was Four When He Had The Stroke!
All I can remember is the principal coming across the hall to the kindergarten room and asking me to take a phone call. I was 4 years old and it was 9 Sep 1965. Grandma explained that I needed to tell Daddy that Pappo was very sick. Daddy was to call immediately.

I attended kindergarten at the same school where my father taught 5th grade. Brother Lance was in first grade down the hall.  And Daddy was upstairs (that’s where they taught the big kids).

I hung up the phone and walked quickly (running not allowed) to my father’s classroom. He was teaching Math at the time. His back was towards me, and all the big 5th graders stared at me when I entered the room. It was hot, the windows were opened and it stunk.  Grant Elementary, an all black school, was down-wind from the slaughterhouses.  

Daddy rescued me from my paralyzed state at his classroom door, and picked me up.  I remember feeling safe but having difficulty giving the message. I concentrated. Grandma said it was VERY important and she had repeated it twice on the phone. I was in Kindergarten and a big girl.  Plus, brother Lance would tease me if I got it all wrong. He was mad I got to go to kindergarten at the age of four. He had to wait until the age of six.

I stumbled over the message, but managed to get out that Pappo was VERY sick and Daddy was to call Grandma immediately. Lyons, Kansas still had a pseudo party line, so finding Grandma wasn’t an issue I imagine. I don’t remember writing down a phone number. But I do remember relating that Pappo was at the hospital.

Daddy was proud of me, but he took Lance and me out of school that day. We picked up Mama in the 1963 Dodge Dart from Northeast Jr. High School where she was the School Librarian, and we went home, to gather the “little boys.” Baby Rhett was only 12 weeks old; Todd was 2.5 years old. The next few hours were hectic: suitcases, diaper changing, and then the long ride to Lyons, KS.  Grandpa had had a massive stroke.

I don’t remember Grandpa before the stroke. I remember sitting in the parking lot holding the baby while my parents went into the hospital. I remember Todd hanging out the car window trying to get us all into trouble. Even at 2.5years old he was already misbehaving. I almost never got into trouble, but Lance and Todd were always doing something against the house rules.

Grandpa was paralyzed on his left side but was able to regain his speech. He was left handed so I only knew him to have horrific handwriting using his right hand. His car was a stick shift, and he put a ball on the steering wheel so he could drive it. Sometimes his reflexes were slow, so by the time he shifted the gears and regained the steering wheel ball, we were heading towards the middle of the street. But it was the one sheriff town of Lyons Kansas. Pappo died in 1994.

The day of his stroke was chronicled in Find A Case: Strader v. Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. I never knew there was such a Kansas Supreme Court case.
(*Note as FindACase updates their database, this case can be found on Court Listener.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers


  1. Great post Kathleen! I found court cases involving my family by following your link!

    Thank you!

  2. Thank you for sharing this resource. I am going to have to check this out.