Search For Your Ancestors in Historical Documents




Sierra County, California

Sierra County

Sierra County was founded on April 16, 1852 from Yuba County. This county was named for the Sierra nevada in Spanish means “snow saw,” applied to the Sierra Nevada mountain chain because of the jagged, serrated, sawtooth peaks forming the skyline. .

The Sierra County Seat is located in Downieville also, the county government website is

Areas bordering to Sierra County are Nevada County (south), Yuba County (west), Plumas County (north), Lassen County (northeast), Washoe County, Nevada (east) .

Cities and towns located in Sierra County include Loyalton .

Other Communities in Sierra County include Downieville .

Since its creation Sierra County boundries have changed to include these:

  1. Most of Sierra County territory was in Yuba County from 1850 to 1852 when it was separated to create the new county.
  2. Territory was in Yuba County from 1850 to 1866 when it was added to Sierra County.
  3. Territory in Yuba County from 1850 to 1852, and in Sierra County from 1852 to 1866, was in Plumas County from 1866 to 1868, when it was added to Sierra County.
  4. Territory in Butte County from 1850 to 1854, was in Plumas County from 1854 to 1863 when it was added to Sierra County.
  5. Territory which at one time was in Sierra County is now in Nevada County and Plumas County

Sierra County vital records can be found at the California Office of Vital Records has copies of birth, marriage, divorce and death records. There is a fee for each copy requested. Please refer to the information to the Statewide Vital Records in California for current fees and application process.

You can search online for Sierra County Birth, Marriage, Divorce or Death Records. You can also Order Electronically Online or can download an application for California Birth Certificate, Marriage or Divorce Certificate, Death Certificate Applications to mail.

Sierra County consists of Federal Census Schedules to guide in looking into your family tree. Federal Population Schedules can be found for 1860, 1870, 1880 (free index), 1890 (fragment), 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940.

Sierra Co. Mortality Schedules can be found for 1860, 1870 and 1880. Sierra Co. Industry and Agriculture can be obtained for 1860, 1870 and 1880. Sierra Co. Union Veterans Schedules is available for 1890. One can find free online and printable census forms to help you with your research.

Sierra County Societies and Family History Resources

A list of Sierra County Historical  and Genealogical Societies, Forums, Message Boards, Libraries, Archives.

Sierra County Courthouse and Government Records

Sierra County Courthouse

Researchers often overlook the advantages of Sierra County court, probate, and land files as a useful resource of genealogical details. Hidden away in California courthouses and archives everywhere tend to be the dreams and frustrations of the many California inhabitants.

The possibilities are great that your potential forefathers have left a detailed document of at least a number of facets of their lives in the Sierra County court records. Even if your ancestors is not mentioned in a Court case, contemplate all of the other methods that could have lead to her or him showing up in court records.

Courthouse History - On November 26, 1885, local carpenters erected wooden gallows in a yard adjacent to this courthouse for the execution of a 19-year-old Irish immigrant convicted of murder. The next day, the gallows was dismantled and stored in the attic of the courthouse until 1927, when startled county employees discovered it. Despite complaints that it was "not conducive to happy thoughts," the gallows was reerected adjacent to the courthouse and survived the 1947 fire that destroyed the building. Restored in 1988, the gallows is recognized as a California Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Some counties encompass land settled in the eighteenth century; their records pre-date county formation. Land transactions and vital records recorded in the county are at the county recorder's office. The county clerk general has probate books and files from the county's superior court, civil court records, and naturalizations. Divorces may be in either place, depending on how filed.

The following facts indicates whatever marriage, birth, death, land, wills, and court records will be in Sierra County. The years indicated below are considered the first widely known records for this county. Land was later added from counties Yuba (1866) and Plumas (1863 and 1866). Courthouse Fire in 1947 destroyed courthouse. No records were lost


Remember to get in touch with the clerk's dept to verify hours, mailing address, fees and other specifics prior to visiting or seeking information because of in some cases changing contact details. The Department Offices DO NOT DO RESEARCH. The data files are readily available to interested parties, barring private issues. A good number of employees will assist persons in obtaining the materials, but it's up to the person to do the research.
  • Sierra County Courthouse (all departments listed below are located here, unless otherwise noted)
  • Sierra County Recorder-Clerk is s responsible for examination and recording of all documents presented for recording that deal with establishing ownership of land in the County or as required by statute; administers the real property transfer tax law and maintains a permanent record and indexes of all documents for public viewing plus providing certified copies requested by the public; recording of all lawful documents such as deeds, deeds of trust, judgments, liens, affidavits, Uniform Commercial Code Financial Statements, etc; and the filing of Births, Deaths, and Marriages.
    • Address:P.O. Drawer D, Downieville, CA  95936
    • Phone: (530) 289-3295
    • Birth / Death Records: 1857 / 1873
    • Marriage Records: 1853
    • Land Records: 1852
  • Sierra County Clerk of Superior Court has probate books and files from the county's superior court, civil court records, and naturalizations. Divorces may be here or in the Recorders Office, depending on how it was filed.
    • Probate Records: 1852 
    • Court Records: 1852 
  • Sierra County County Treasurer / Tax Collector
  • Local Registrar of Births and Deaths, 100 Courthouse Square, Room 11, Mail to: P.O. Drawer D, Downieville, CA 95936; Office (530) 289-3295

Sierra County Links

The following are web links to Genealogy, Records and Resources relevant to Sierra County. A majority of these genealogy links fall into 3 categories: Business Sites, Private Sites or Organization Sites. Some have free access some require a payment. This is basically a listing which has been gathered or submitted. I do not recommend or promote one genealogy site above another. Feel free to suggest your own preferred Sierra County genealogy or family history associated sites.

Sierra Co. CA Books, Newspapers & Publications

Sierra Co. CA Birth, Marriage & Death Records

Sierra Co. CA Court, Probate Land and Tax Records

Sierra Co. CA Census Records

Sierra Co. CA Cemeteries & Graveyards

Sierra Co. CA Church & Bible Records

Sierra Co. CA Family Websites, Pictures & Histories

Sierra Co. CA General and History Websites

Sierra Co. CA Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers

Sierra Co. CA Military Records

Copyright © 2014,