Spokane County, WashingtonEdit This Page
From FamilySearch Wiki
Guide to Spokane County, Washington genealogy. Birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records, since 1861, when the county was formed.
|Spokane County, Washington|
Location in the state of Washington
Location of Washington in the U.S.
|Founded||January 29, 1858|
|Address||Spokane County Courthouse 1116 W. Broadway Spokane, WA 99260 Spokane County Website|
|Before 1888—and perhaps until the newly-formed county was fully operational—search records of the parent county(s).|
Spokane County, Washington was created 29 January 1858.
Parent County: created 29 January 1858 from Walla Walla
- Abolished 19 January 1863 and merged with Stevens County
- Recreated in 1879 from Stevens County
Neighboring CountiesSpokane County, Washington is surrounded by: Lincoln | Pend Oreille | Stevens | Whitman | Benewah | Bonner | Kootenai
Spokane County was created by legislative act four times. Twice it was not organized by the agents appointed for that purpose. Once it had, after organization, a short and precarious existance, and was merged into Stevens county. From a manuscript by W.P. Winans, who served two terms, beginning in 1862, as auditor of the original county of Spokane, when the county seat was Pinkney City. With free-handed disregard of actual needs and conditions, the early legislatures of Washington territory parceled out the interior in county forms long before towns or even crossroad settlements had come into existence, A number of these counties never had other than mere legal or fictional being, and in that class for several years, belonged the first county of Spokane, that was attempted to be set up by the legislative session of 1857-8, when a bill was enacted January 29, “to create and organize Spokane county, as follows:”
“Be it enacted, That all that portion of the county of Walla Walla embraced within the following boundaries, to wit: Commencing at the mouth of the Snake River, following up said river mid channel to the forty-sixth parallel of north latitude; thence east along said parallel to the summit of the Rocky mountains; thence north along said summit to the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude; thence west along said parallel to the Columbia river; thence down mid channel of said river to the place of beginning; the same is hereby constituted and organized into a separate county, to be known and called Spokane County. That the county seat of said county is hereby temporarily located on the land claim of Angus McLeod.”
Vast, wild and untenanted by civilization was the region embraced within the designated boundaries-- a stretch of plain and mountains, of prairie and forest, of placid lakes and foaming torrents, 200 miles wide and nearly 400 miles long, comprising an area of more than 75,000 square miles, and with scarcely one white person to each thousand square miles of territory. Settlers along the Spokane river, there were none of the white race. The Indians were warlike, insolent and aggressive, and the county was conjured into fictional being on the eve of the allied outbreak of the Indian tribes north of the Snake river.
Public office went begging then in eastern Washington, and found no takers in the remote, unsettled and moneyless county of Spokane; for the officials named in the first legislative act failed to qualify or organize the county government; and one year later the legislature, made a second effort. An act of January 18, 1859 named new commissioners for the proposed new county all to hold office till the next election. No location for a county seat was specified.
This attempt was as futile as the first, but undaunted, the legislature tried again. After a brilliant campaign of 1858, and thorough pacification of the Indians by the troops under Colonel George Wright, it passed another act, in January of 1860, to reestablish the county of Spokane. The boundaries were defined as before, but this time the county seat was temporarily located “on the land claim of Dr. Bates.” in the Colville valley. It flourished for four years; then in honor of the gallant memory of Isaac I. Stevens, first territorial governor, who had fallen in one of the early battles of the civil war, the legislature changed the county's name to Stevens.
On the 8th of May, 1860, the board met and designated Pinkney City the county seat, which was the town or trading post adjoining the site of Fort Colville, three miles north of the present site of Colville. Pinkney City, which was built just across the creek from Fort Colville reserve, was named in honor of the commanding officer of the fort, Major Pinkney Lougenbeel.
Dismemberment of Stevens county began November 27, 1871, with the formation of Whitman county, Then in chronological order, came the formation of Spokane county, October 30, 1879; Kittitas and Lincoln counties, November 24, 1883; Adams, Franklin and Douglas counties, November 28, 1883; Okanogan county February 2, 1888; Ferry county February 21, 1889; and Chelan county, March 13, 1889. So the present Spokane county was formed October 30, 1879 from Stevens county. This is from the book Spokane and the Inland Empire, page 265 by Nelson W. Durham 1912.
Dates of Major County Records
Note: The dates you see below have not yet been adapted to Spokane County, Washington.
|Beginning dates for major county records|
|* For earlier dates, try... Church | Obituaries | Cemeteries|
The types of records that follow are used for genealogy and family history. Most tell what you may learn and how to locate the records. Links to Internet sites usually go directly to Spokane County, Washington entries with names, images, or information.
|Don't overlook Spokane County, Washington items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see Archives and Libraries.|
Cemetery records often reveal birth, death, relationship, military, and religious information. Tombstones, sextons (caretakers) records, and burial records each have slightly different information. See Washington Cemeteries.
|Check every person buried in the plot, as they may be close relatives.|
Contact each cemetery for burial information.
- Fairmount Memorial Park, 5200 West Wellesley, Spokane, WA 99205, 509–326-3800. Search memorials at Find A Grave
- Greenwood Memorial Terrace, 211 N. Government Way, Spokane, WA 99224, 509–838-1405. Search memorials at Find A Grave
- Riverside Memorial Park] 508 N. Government Way, Spokane, WA 99224, 509–838-1405. Search memorials at Find A Grave
- Spokane Memorial Gardens, 5909 S. Cheney-Spokane Road, Spokane, WA 99224, 509–448-2620. Search memorials at Find A Grave
- Woodlawn Cemetery, 909 S. Thierman Road, Spokane, WA 99212, 509–326-3800. Search memorials at Find A Grave
Other Spokane cemeteries 
|Names, ages, birthplaces||1850–1940|
|Birthplaces of parents||1880–1940|
|Family and Neighbors||All years|
Censuses 1) Give names, ages, and more about the family; 2) Pinpoint the area to find other records; and 3) Provide clues for further research.
Click for more census tips
- Washington online census links to FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, Heritage Quest and others.
- Statewide printed indexes of federal censuses
- See Washington Census for online indexes and images of US federal censuses. of: 1856, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940.
- See statewide printed indexes, including 1856.
- Check county indexes when online indexes fail. Created by people who knew the families of the area, they are often more accurate and they may have added insights. See periodicals and local libraries or other record holders.
- 1890 Veterans
The information church records provide depends upon the church practices and the record keepers. Records may include names, ages, and dates of events such as baptism, marriage, or burial. See Washington Church Records.
- Church records (microfilmed originals or published transcripts) for Spokane County, Washington are listed in the FamilySearch catalog. (Press space bar to select town.)
LDS Ward and Branch Records
- Spokane Central
- Spokane N.
Many of your ancestors may be found in court records as defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses, or jurors. Court records can establish family relationships and places of residence, occupations, and other family history information. See Washington Court Records for the various courts through the years.
Spokane County Courthouse has Superior Court Records from 1880 to present. Criminal cases, divorces, probates, and other civil cases. Adoption records sealed by court order.
Emigration and Immigration
Ethnic, Political or Religious Groups
World War II Files, 1942-1946
Public Welfare/Social Security Department, (Japanese Internment) Assistance Cases, Evacuee Referrals for Resettlement and Assistance, 1945-1946 from the Washington State Archives – Digital Archives
Washington State Digital Archives has many genealogical resources. Search by name, county, record type. Download marriage certificates.
Local histories for Spokane County, Washington may include biographies, history of churches, schools, local government with names of officials, military information, and more. See Washington Local Histories. History of Spokane County Washington by Jonathan Edwards 1900 Available on Google Books
Historical County Boundaries from Newberry Library
Emphasis for this timeline is on events that affected migration, records, or record-keeping. Unless otherwise mentioned, the events below were gleaned from Wilma, David. Spokane County -- Thumbnail History, History Link.org Essay 7868.
- Three bands of Spokane Indians -- Upper, Middle and Lower -- called the Spokane River watershed home at the time of first contact with European and American explorers.
- 1810 - British fur trader and explorer David Thompson of the North West Company sent two men, Jaco Finlay and Finan McDonald, to establish a trading house in the territory of the Spokanes.
- Through the 1840s and 1850s, the trickle of white settlers into the area became more persistent, ultimately leading to increased conflict with the indigenous population.
- A group of Spokanes and Coeur d’Alenes surprised U.S. troops under the command of Colonel Edward Steptoe.
- In retaliation, the Army dispatched Colonel George Wright, who came north from Fort Walla Walla.
- Wright met with tribal representatives under the pretense of seeking peace but instead captured the warrior Qualchan.
- Wright’s campaign effectively ended resistance among the Plateau tribes and opened the region to further American settlement and development.
- 1860 - The geopolitical entity known as Spokane County came into existence.
- After settlement in the 1870s, Spokane became the hub for the mining, timber, and railroad industries of the Inland Northwest.
- 1881 - Spokane County boomed during the 1880s with the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
Land and Property
|Yes or Maybe ⇒||Y||M|
|Land Description and Dates|
Land records (especially deeds) may give the name of a spouse, heirs, and witnesses, who may be relatives or in-laws.
- Family Maps of Spokane County, Washington (land patent maps) at HistoryGeo.com ($). Free surname search.
World Ward I soldiers' miscellaneous lists for this county have been digitized at the Washington State Digital Archives
Naturalization and Citizenship
Declarations of Intent before 1906 often include the nation of origin, his* foreign and "Americanized" names, residence, and date of arrival. See Washington Naturalization and Citizenship for more information. (*Women were not naturalized until 1922 in the United States.)
Washington State Digital Archives has digitized various types of naturalization-related records, including declarations of intentions, delayed birth files, naturalization affidavits, notifications of application for admission to US citizenship, orders fixing naturalization terms, petitions and records, petitions, receipts for certificates of citizenship, record of final decrees of citizenship and record of petitions dockets. Depending on the county, records range from 1854-1988.
Finding More Washington Newspapers
Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Spokane County, Washington newspapers in online catalogs like:
- Spokesman Review
- Spokane Daily Chronicle
- Spokane Valley Herald
- Spokesman Review – obituaries 2005 to present
- Obituaries from the Spokesman Review newspaper have been indexed by the Spokane Public Library. Search by name. Results include name/date/newspaper/page number needed to obtain the obituary. Contact the library at firstname.lastname@example.org for an image of the actual obituary. The obituaries are complete from January 1, 2008, with additional obituaries added from requests. To find date of death search the Washington State Digital Archives.
Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.
Probate records identify heirs of the decedents, give the (approximate) death dates, and provide specifics about property holdings. The records were kept by the county judge.
These include wills, inheritance records, dockets, and other documents regarding property and estates of individuals who have died. See also Court Records for civil actions involving estates. Also see Washington Probate Records.
Courthouse has probate files from 1880 to present.
- Original Spokane County Commissioner Journals, 1860-1863, available at Stevens County Commissioner's Office. Images will be available at Crossroads on the Columbia later this year.
Washington tax records complement land records and can supplement the years between censuses. There may be gaps of several years in the tax records of some counties. For more information, see the wiki page Washington Taxation.
See Washington Vital Records for details and history of the records.
- Washington State Digital Archives has a database of Spokane County Birth Records. This database contains the names of people who were born in Spokane County 1890-1907. The names were taken from the Spokane County Birth returns.
The Family History Library has the Washington State Birth Index 1907-1954 and also the birth certificates on microfilm.
- Marriages from 9 Jan 1880 to 10 Dec 1910 are available on the Western States Marriage Index website.
Spokane County Marriage Certificates 1880–present available at Washington State Digital Archives
- Washington State Digital Archives has a database of Spokane County Death Records. This database contains names of people who died in Spokane County 1891-1907
Divorce records give the names of the parties and may give the date and place of their marriage. See Washington Vital Records for excellent information.
- Washington Death Certificates 1907-1960 A free internet index to the 1907-1960 death certificates can be found at FamilySearch Record Search, no images are available. A transcribed death certificate may contain such information as name of the deceased, date and place of death, age, gender, birth date and birth place, mother’s maiden name and name of spouse, place of residence, occupation and certificate numbers.
- The Family History Library has Washington State Death Certificates on microfilm 1907-1961.
- Spokane County, Washington Genealogy and Family History (Linkpendium)
Archives, Libraries, etc.
- Check websites and catalogs, such as items in FamilySearch Library (Utah) or Allen County Public Library (Indiana) for Spokane County, Washington. When you find items you'd like to access, see Get a Copy
Spokane County Courthouse
1116 W. Broadway
Spokane, WA 99260
The Spokane County Courthouse was completed in 1895, see history of building.
- Introduction to LDS Family History Centers
- Spokane Washington Family History Center
- Spokane Washington North Family History Center
- Spokane Washington West Family History Center
- Spokane Washington East Family History Center
Resources of the Spokane Public Library:
- Obituaries from the Spokesman Review newspaper [see Spokane County Obituaries]
- Washington Death Index The library has records of the Washington Death Index on microfilm 1907-2004.
- Eastern Washington Genealogical Society celebrated its 75th birthday in 2010. The Society meets the first Saturday of the month in February, March, April, May, November and December. Meetings for January and June are usually luncheon meetings, held in different locations. There are no meetings held in July and August, and the September meeting can sometimes be the second Saturday, depending on how Labor Day falls. (We don't meet on Labor Day weekend.) The regular meetings officially begin at 1:00pm, but the "Coffee, Cookies & Conversation" part of the meeting begins at 12:30.
Towns and Communities
See a list of towns and communities in Spokane County per Wikipedia.
- ↑ The Evolution of Washington Counties by Newton Carl Abbott, Fred E. Carver, 1979. Published by the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society and Klickitat County Genealogical Society.
- ↑ The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
- ↑ John H. Long, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (Chicago: Newberry Library, 2006) online.
- ↑ John H. Long, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (Chicago: Newberry Library, 2006) online.
Share Your Opinion!
Give feedback on our new look! Tell us what you like, and what you would do differently.Give Feedback