Out of the two cases I was looking for, a criminal trial and a divorce petition, I found the petition.
After much scrolling of microfilm, I located both cases listed in a handwritten index (in multiple indexes, in fact, which was a bit confusing). In a roll of district court minutes, I learned the divorce was transferred to a special district court.
The special district minutes, on a different roll of microfilm, reported the case was dismissed with court costs to be paid by the plaintiff, my great-grandmother (that made me chuckleshe was destitute; I doubt they ever got their money), but didnt say why.
On yet another roll of film, I scored a pretty good hit: The case file held the divorce petition with my great-grandmothers accusations against her husband, as well as a court order for the sheriff to serve him. Hed pled guilty to violating local liquor laws and was a guest of the state penitentiary at the time.
His case was even more challenging. The index gave a minute book number and a page number, but neither seemed to match up with the content on any roll of the FHLs court records microfilm for the county. The trial was in June 1913, yet the case file number in the index corresponded to cases in the 1880s, long before my great-grandfather was in the country.
On the recommendation of the information desk consultant, I checked the 1880s case file film to see if a long-ago court clerk had misfiled the records. A batch of files that wouldve included my great-grandfathers case file number was missing. There mustve been a blip in the numbering system at some point.
Then I scrolled through the case papers for 1913maybe the indexer wrote down the wrong number. Nothing.
The consultant pointed out that keeping track of the papers a court action generated over a stretch of time was particularly difficult before computers. And of course its possible the records escaped microfilming or are just gone.
I once requested my great-grandfathers case records from the county court, but at that time all I knew was the date, not the information from the index, and my letter was returned with the note found nothing. Now, having spent hours glued to a microfilm reader getting nauseous from the whirring images, I hope my request didnt cost the clerk half a days work.
Ill probably risk the clerks ire and send another, very polite, request for a search, along with a photocopy of the index page.