Historical Facts of Montana Counties

Montana County records differ extensively from county to county in both quality not to mention quantity. Some happen to have been very carefully maintained and some have been much neglected and uncared for. Some Montana records have simply disappeared. For genealogists carrying out research in Montana there’s no valuable substitute to have an on-site search of county courthouse records.

Montana is divided into 56 counties. Montana has two consolidated city-counties—Anaconda with Deer Lodge County and Butte with Silver Bow County. Montana State Government is located in Helena.

Montana Counties

County seats in Montana are the location of the county clerk and recorder (vital records and deeds) and the clerk of the district court (probate and court records). The latter includes civil and criminal files and naturalizations.

The links in the table below link to county and city government offices and is limited to government-maintained websites. If you know of a Montana county that has an official government web site but is not linked, or if the link is in error, please contact us so we may edit our database.

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Beaverhead February 02, 1865 Montana Territory as a Original County Dillon
Big Horn January 13, 1913 Rosebud and Yellowstone Counties Hardin
Blaine February 29, 1912 Chouteau County Chinook
Broadwater February 09, 1897 Jefferson and Meagher Counties Townsend
Carbon March 04, 1895 Park and Yellowstone Counties Red Lodge
Carter February 22, 1917 Fallon County Ekalaka
Cascade September 12, 1887 Chouteau and Meagher Counties Great Falls
Chouteau February 02, 1865 Montana Territory as a Original County Fort Benton
Custer February 02, 1865 Montana Territory as a Original County called Big Horn County, name changed in 1877 Miles City
Daniels August 30, 1920 Sheridan and Valley Counties Scobey
Dawson January 15, 1869 Unorganized lands Glendive
Deer Lodge February 02, 1865 Original County Anaconda
Fallon December 09, 1913 Custer County Baker
Fergus March 12, 1885 Original County Lewistown
Flathead February 06, 1893 Missoula County Kalispell
Gallatin February 02, 1865 Original County Bozeman
Garfield February 07, 1919 Dawson County Jordan
Glacier February 17, 1919 Teton County Cut Bank
Golden Valley October 04, 1920 Musselshell and Sweet Grass Counties Ryegate
Granite March 02, 1893 Deer Lodge and Missoula Counties Philipsburg
Hill February 28, 1912 Chouteau County Havre
Jefferson February 02, 1865 Original County Boulder
Judith Basin December 10, 1920 Cascade and Fergus Counties Stanford
Lake May 11, 1923 Flathead and Missoula Counties Polson
Lewis And Clark February 02, 1865 Montana Territory as a Original County called Edgerton County, name changed December 20, 1867 Helena
Liberty February 11, 1920 Chouteau and Hill Counties Chester
Lincoln March 09, 1909 Flathead County Libby
McCone February 20, 1919 Dawson and Richland Counties Circle
Madison February 02, 1865 Original County Virginia City
Meagher November 16, 1867 Chouteau and Gallatin Counties White Sulphur Springs
Mineral August 07, 1914 Missoula County Superior
Missoula February 02, 1865 Original County Missoula
Musselshell February 11, 1911 Fergus, Meagher and Yellowstone Counties Roundup
Park February 23, 1887 Gallatin County Livingston
Petroleum November 24, 1924 Fergus County Winnett
Phillips February 05, 1915 Blaine and Valley Counties Malta
Pondera February 17, 1919 Chouteau and Teton Counties Conrad
Powder River March 07, 1919 Custer County Broadus
Powell January 31, 1901 Deer Lodge County Deer Lodge
Prairie February 05, 1915 Dawson and Fallon Counties Terry
Ravalli February 16, 1893 Missoula County Hamilton
Richland May 27, 1914 Dawson County Sidney
Roosevelt February 18, 1919 Sheridan County Wolf Point
Rosebud February 11, 1901 Custer County Forsyth
Sanders February 07, 1905 Missoula County Thompson Falls
Sheridan March 24, 1913 Valley County Plentywood
Silver Bow February 16, 1881 Deer Lodge County Butte
Stillwater March 24, 1913 Carbon, Sweet Grass and Yellowstone Counties Columbus
Sweet Grass March, 05 1895 Meagher, Park and Yellowstone Counties Big Timber
Teton February 07, 1893 Chouteau County Choteau
Toole May 07, 1914 Hill and Teton Counties Shelby
Treasure February 07, 1919 Rosebud County Hysham
Valley February 06, 1893 Dawson County Glasgow
Wheatland February 22, 1917 Meagher and Sweet Grass Counties Harlowton
Wibaux August 17, 1914 Dawson, Fallon and Richland Counties Wibaux
Yellowstone February 26, 1883 Custer County Billings


Interactive Map of Montana Counties Formation

(Montana maps made with the use AniMap Plus 3.0 & with the Permission of the Goldbug Company)

Montana Extinct Counties

Montana has counties that no longer are in existence. They were organized by the state, provincial, or territorial government. A lot of these counties were established and disbanded within the 19th century; county boundaries have modified very little since Nineteen hundred in the vast most of states. These counties need to be checked out when you are performing genealogy research. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was abolished or combined with some other county.

  • Big Horn County, Montana: created by the Territorial Legislature in 1865, renamed Custer in 1877
  • Edgerton County, Montana: created by the Territorial Legislature in 1865, renamed Lewis and Clark County in 1867

Montana Counties with Burned Courthouses

The destruction to Montana courthouses significantly has a affect on genealogists in every way. Not only are most of these historic buildings ripped from our lifetimes, so are the records they housed: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others. Once destroyed they’re gone forever. Even though they have already been put on mircofilm, computers and film burn up as well. The most heartbreaking side of this is the reason that almost all of our courthouses are destroyed at the hands of arsonist. Though, you cannot assume all records were lost. Many Montana counties have experienced a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.