History & Facts of Oregon Counties

Oregon Counties  •  Oregon Extinct Counties  •  Oregon Burned Courthouses

Oregon County records can vary widely from county to county both in quality and also quantity. Some have already been very carefully preserved while some have been substantially abused and uncared for. Many Oregon records have merely vanished. For genealogists carrying out research in Oregon you will find no valuable substitute to have an on-site search of county courthouse records.

Oregon is divided into 36 counties. The "Oregon Historical County Records Guide" online resource from the Oregon State Archives is the best resource for finding the location of particular Oregon county resources. So, researchers should consult it first, when looking for any records from the various Oregon counties.

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Baker September 22, 1862 Wasco, Union and Malheur Counties Baker City
Benton December 23, 1847 Polk County Corvallis
Clackamas July 05, 1843 One of the original four districts of the Oregon Country Oregon City
Clatsop June 22, 1844 Twality District Astoria
Columbia January 16, 1854 Washington County Saint Helens
Coos December 22, 1853 Umpqua and Jackson Counties Coquille
Crook October 24, 1882 Wasco County Prineville
Curry December 18, 1855 Coos County Gold Beach
Deschutes December 13, 1916 Crook County Bend
Douglas January 07, 1852 Umpqua County Roseburg
Gilliam February 25, 1885 Wasco County Condon
Grant October 14, 1864 Wasco and Umatilla Counties Canyon City
Harney February 23, 1 889 Grant County Burns
Hood River June 23, 1908 Wasco County Hood River
Jackson January 12, 1852 Lane County and unorganized area Medford
Jefferson December 12, 1914 Crook County Madras
Josephine January 22, 1856 Jackson County Grants Pass
Klamath October 17, 1882 Lake County Klamath Falls
Lake October 24, 1874 Jackson and Wasco Counties Lakeview
Lane January 28, 1851 Linn County and Benton Counties Eugene
Lincoln February 20, 1893 Benton County and Polk Counties Newport
Linn December 28, 1847 Champoeg (later Marion) County Albany
Malheur February 17, 1887 Baker County Vale
Marion September 03, 1849 One of the original four districts of the Oregon territory Salem
Morrow February 16, 1885 Umatilla and Wasco Counties Heppner
Multnomah December 22, 1854 Washington and Clackamas Counties Portland
Polk December 22, 1845 Yamhill District Dallas
Sherman February 25, 1889 Northeast corner of Wasco County Moro
Tillamook December 15, 1853 Clatsop, Yamhill and Polk Counties Tillamook
Umatilla September 27, 1862 Wasco County Pendleton
Union October 14, 1864 Baker County La Grande
Wallowa February 11, 1887 Union County. Enterprise
Wasco January 11, 1854 Clackamas, Lane, Linn and Marion Counties The Dalles
Wheeler February 17, 1899 One of the original four districts of the Oregon Country Hillsboro
Washington December 22, 1845 Grant, Gilliam, and Crook Counties Fossil
Yamhill July 05, 1843 One of the original four districts of the Oregon Country McMinnville

Oregon Extinct Counties

Oregon has counties that no longer are in existence. They were established by the state, provincial, or territorial authorities. Many of these counties were established and disbanded during the 19th century; county borders have evolved little since 1900 in the vast most of states. These counties really should be researched when performing genealogy and family tree research. Pay close attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was abolished or consolidated with some other county.

  • Umpqua County, Oregon - created 1851, gradually reduced in size until 1862, when what remained was incorporated into Douglas County

Oregon Counties with Burned Courthouses

The damage to Oregon courthouses significantly has a impact on family historians in each and every way. Not only are these historic structures torn from our lifetimes, so are the files they kept: marriage, wills, probate, land records, as well as others. Once destroyed they're gone forever. Although they have been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn too. The most sad aspect of this is the reason why almost all of our courthouses are destroyed as a result of arsonist. Although, not all the records were damaged or lost. A number of Oregon counties have experienced a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.

  • Baker County Courthouse - Some will books were lost in a county clerk's office fire in 1890s. One early marriage register missing (as of 2005).
  • Grant County Courthouse - The first courthouse burned August 12, 1870. A second fire occured in 1885. The courthouse again burned on November 17th of 1950
  • Linn County Courthouse - The original county courthouse was erected in Albany in 1853 but was destroyed by fire in 1861.
  • Polk County Courthouse - wooden courthouse destroyed by fire in 1898.
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