History & Facts of Nevada Counties

Nevada Counties  •  Nevada Extinct Counties  •  Nevada Burned Courthouses

Nevada County records differ extensively from county to county in either quality and quantity. Some have already been carefully conserved while some have been much misused and overlooked. Many Nevada records have purely vanished. For genealogists carrying out research in Nevada you will find no valuable substitute to have an on-site search of county courthouse records.

Nevada is divided into 16 counties and and one independent city. On November 25, 1861, the first Nevada Territorial Legislature established nine counties. Nevada was admitted to the Union on October 31, 1864 with eleven counties. In 1969, Ormsby County and Carson City were consolidated into a single municipal government known as Carson City.

Carson City, the state capital, is also an independent city, which doesn't belong to any county. However, it has a similar status to that of the 16 counties in the state. Carson City used to be the county seat of Ormsby County, but the two were consolidated in 1969. Each of the 16 counties in Nevada has a sheriff, board of commissioners, district attorney, public administrator, and other various officials with specific jobs to do. Each town and city in Nevada was granted a charter from the state legislature, and many of the cities and towns operate using a governmental system including town council members and a mayor.

Nevada Counties

Each county may have its own records on file. However, many county records can be found on microfilm at the FHL and at the Nevada State Library and Archives.

County recorders are responsible for most county land records. However, two counties have their land records at the county assessor's office. The court records are maintained by the clerk of the courts and the probate records are maintained by the county clerks in each county. The county pages below contains contact information for each county's offices. The Nevada State Library and Archives has a list of which county offices hold which types of records.

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Carson City 1969 Founded 1858, consolidated with Ormsby County in 1969. Carson City
Churchill November 25, 1861 Original County in the Nevada Territory Fallon
Clark February 5, 1909 Lincoln County Las Vegas
Douglas November 25, 1861 Original County in the Nevada Territory Minden
Elko March 5, 1869 Lander County Elko
Esmeralda November 25, 1861 Original County in the Nevada Territory Goldfield
Eureka March 1, 1873 Lander County Eureka
Humboldt December 20, 1855 Original County in the Nevada Territory Winnemucca
Lander December 19, 1862 Original County in the Nevada Territory Battle Mountain
Lincoln February 26, 1866 Nye County and territory ceded by Arizona. Pioche
Lyon November 25, 1861 Original County in the Nevada Territory Yerington
Mineral February 10, 1911 Esmeralda County Hawthorne
Nye February 16, 1864 Esmeralda County Tonopah
Pershing March 18, 1919 Humboldt County Lovelock
Storey November 25, 1861 Original County in the Nevada Territory Virginia City
Washoe November 25, 1861 Original County in the Nevada Territory Reno
White Pine March 2, 1869 Lander County Ely

Nevada Extinct Counties

Nevada has counties that no longer are in existence. They were created by the state, provincial, or territorial governing administration. Most of these counties were created and disbanded in the 19th century; county borders have changed little since Nineteen hundred in the great number of states. These counties really should be checked out when you are conducting genealogy research. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was abolished or joined with a different county.

  • Bullfrog County was created in 1987 from a part of Nye County; abolished in 1989
  • Carson County was created in 1854 by Utah Territory with jurisdiction over an area now in Carson City, Churchill, Douglas, Esmeralda, Humboldt, Lyon, Mineral, Pershing, Storey, and Washoe counties; abolished in 1861
  • Humboldt County (old) was  created in 1856 by Utah Territory with jurisdiction over an area now in Churchill, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, and Pershing counties; abolished in 1861
  • Lake County was created in 1861 as an original county; renamed Roop in 1862; annexed in 1883 by Washoe County
  • Ormsby County was created in 1861 as an original county; combined with Carson City to form the independent municipality of Carson City in 1969
  • Pah-Ute County was created in 1864 by Arizona Territory with jurisdiction over an area now in Clark County; abolished in 1871
  • Rio Virgin County was created in 1869 by Utah Territory with jurisdiction over an area now in Clark County; abolished in 1872
  • Roop County was Created in 1861 as an original county called Lake; renamed Roop in 1862; annexed in 1883 by Washoe County.
  • Saint Mary's County was created in 1856 by Utah Territory with jurisdiction over an area now in Elko, Eureka, and White Pine counties; abolished in 1861.

Nevada Counties with Burned Courthouses

The damage to Nevada courthouses significantly has a bearing on genealogists in almost every way. Not only are these kinds of historic buildings torn from our lifetimes, so are the archives they stored: marriage, wills, probate, land records, among others. Once destroyed they're destroyed permanently. Although they have already been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn up too. The most tragic side of this is the reason that virtually all of our courthouses are destroyed from arsonist. However, you cannot assume all records were destroyed. A number of Nevada counties have dealt with a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.

  • White Pine County Courthouse - In early 1880's, the county courthouse in Hamilton was burned down along with much of the business section by an embezzling county treasurer. In 1885, a store owner caused a devastating fire which burned down the Court House which had been moved to the Withington Hotel.. Only a pitiful few records from the Sheriff’s office were salvaged. The town of Hamilton had suffered previous fires before the last which resulted in its faster demise.
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