Thurston County, Washington GenealogyEdit This Page

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United States Gotoarrow.png WashingtonGotoarrow.png Thurston County
Percival Landing Park in Olympia, Thurston County, Washington.

Guide to Thurston County, Washington Genealogy genealogy.Birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records, since 1861, when the county was formed.

County QuickStart:

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Online Records

Template:Infobox U.S. County fckLR


County Overview

In August 1848 Congress established Oregon Territory, which included the future state of Washington. By 1850 there were more than 300 non-Indian inhabitants north of the Columbia River, and as the new communities on and near the southern shores of Puget Sound began to grow, so grew the need for a local organized government and a new county. Simmons (in honor of Michael Simmons) was proposed as the name of the new county.

Instead, Thurston was chosen as the new county’s name and Olympia was chosen as the county seat. The Oregon Territorial Legislature carved the new county out of Lewis County on January 12, 1852. The early Thurston County was considerably larger than it is today, covering territory from west of the Cascades to the coast and north to the Canadian border. However, other counties were quickly formed from parts of Thurston County and by 1877 it had been reduced to its present size.

Thurston County’s name came from Samuel R. Thurston (1816-1851), the first delegate to Congress in 1849 from the new Oregon Territory, who had made a name for himself during his brief tenure in office defending the territorial rights of the northern part of Oregon Territory against the claims of the Hudson’s Bay Company.[1]

Parent County(s)

Thurston County, Washington was created 12 January 1852.[2]

County Seat: Olympia [3]. For Courthouse, see Archives, libraries, etc.

Neighboring Counties

Thurston County, Washington Genealogy is surrounded by: Grays Harbor | Lewis | Mason | Pierce

Boundary Changes

Dates of Major County Records

Note: The dates you see below have not yet been adapted to Thurston County, Washington Genealogy.

Beginning dates for major county records
* For earlier dates, try... Church | Obituaries | Cemeteries

Record Loss


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 Thurston County, Washington Genealogy entries with names, images, or information.

Bible Records


Early history of Thurston County, Washington : together with biographies and reminiscences of those identified with pioneer days


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.


Federal Census Contents
Names, ages, birthplaces 1850–1940
Birthplaces of parents 1880–1940
Relationships 1880–1940
Family and Neighbors All years
Immigration year 1900–1930
Citizenship 1910–1940

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.

  • 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
  • 1900
  • 1910
  • 1920
  • 1930
  • 1940

Church Records

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 Thurston County, Washington Genealogy are listed in the FamilySearch catalog. (Press space bar to select town.)

Court Records

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.

For specialized court records, see Divorce  · Guardianship  · Land  · Naturalization  · Probate


Emigration and Immigration

Ethnic, Political or Religious Groups

American Indians

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



A FamilySearch Community Tree is available for this place.


Guardianship of orphans or adults unable to manage their own affairs were handled by the probate and the Federal District courts. See Washington Court Records.


Local histories for Thurston County, Washington Genealogy may include biographies, history of churches, schools, local government with names of officials, military information, and more. See Washington Local Histories.

History Timeline

Historical County Boundaries from Newberry Library[5]

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. Thurston County -- Thumbnail History, History Essay 7979.

  • Native Americans had been residents of southern Puget Sound long before the first documented white settlers passed through in 1792
  • 1792 May - The first documented exploration of Puget Sound was headed by British captain George Vancouver.
  • 1820s - White explorers next visited the area when scouts of the British-owned Hudson’s Bay Company passed through.
  • 1833 April - The Hudson’s Bay Company subsequently established Fort Nisqually.
  • 1845 October - Michael Simmons settled near Tumwater Falls and established the first American settlement in what would become the state of Washington.
  • 1852 January 12 - The Oregon Territorial Legislature carved Thurston county out of Lewis County.
  • 1853 March 2 - President Millard Fillmor ecreated the Territory of Washington.
  • 1854 December - Governor Isaac Stevens and 62 leaders of major Indian tribes in western Washington met at Medicine Creek (now McAllister Creek) in Thurston County and signed what became known as the Medicine Creek Treaty.

Land and Property

Land Records reveal
Yes or Maybe  Y  M
Seller (Grantor) Green check.png  
Seller's Spouse Green check.png  
Buyer (Grantee) Green check.png  
Heirs   Green check.png
Witnesses Green check.png  
Land Description and Dates Green check.png  
Tips -or- Land Contents

Land records (especially deeds) may give the name of a spouse, heirs, and witnesses, who may be relatives or in-laws.

County deeds, mortgages, and leases show transfers from person to person. See also Court Records for actions involving real estate. See Washington Land for government-to-person records.


This map highlights the county within the state of Washington. The map soon will have inter-active links. Area map and other information from 1895:



Some military records 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


Finding More Washington Newspapers

Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Thurston County, Washington Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:

  • WorldCat (For instructions see WorldCat Online Catalog).
  • Do a search for these and other records in the FamilySearch Catalog. To select a county in Washington, add a comma, slide way down to the county list, then click Search. (Almost every state seems to have a Washington County)


Funeral Homes


Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

Probate Records

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.

Public Records


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.

Vital Records

The county auditors in Washington kept records of birth, marriage, and death. The county clerk has the divorce records - the earliest dates to the present.

See also How to order Washington Vital Records, order electronically online or download an application for Washington Birth or Death Certificate and Marriage or Divorce Certificate Applications to mail. See Washington Vital Records for details and history of the records. .

  • 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.

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.


Following is list of sites where you might find county-specific information that you could add to your county page, as well as general links you might wish to include as further research resources.

Archives, Libraries, etc.

Resources for Thurston County, Washington Genealogy are available in libraries, archives, and other repositories at all levels: the town, the county, the state (including universities), and the nation.


Thurston County Courthouse
2000 Lakeridge Dr SW;
Olympia, WA 98502
Phone: 360.786.5438

County Auditor has birth and death records 1891-1907
and marriage records from 1891.
County Clerk has divorce probate and court records. [6]

Many civil records have been digitized and are available through the Thurston County Clerk's Office:

FamilySearch Centers

Towns and Communities

See a list of towns and communities in Thurston County per Wikipedia.


  1. - The Free Onlline Encyclopedia of Washington State History
  2. 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.
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  4. John H. Long, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (Chicago: Newberry Library, 2006) online.
  5. John H. Long, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (Chicago: Newberry Library, 2006) online.
  6. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Thurston County, Washington page 734, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.


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