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. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia
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. See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.
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.