Mendocino County, California Genealogy

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Mendocino County

Guide to Mendocino County, California ancestry, family history, and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.


Mendocino County, California
Map of California highlighting Mendocino County
Location in the state of California
Map of the U.S. highlighting California
Location of California in the U.S.
Founded February 18, 1850
County Seat Ukiah
Address Mendocino County Courthouse
501 Low Gap Rd Rm 1090
Ukiah, CA 95482
Phone 707.463.4221 Mendocino County Website

County Information

Mendocino County, California Record Dates

Beginning Dates for Major County Records[1]
Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1850 1850 1850 1850 1850 1872

County Courthouse

 Superior Court has divorce and court records and probate
records from 1872;County Recorder has birth, marriage,
death and land records. Some old records in Sonoma County[2]

 Historical Facts

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Mendocino County, California

Parent County

18 February 1850: Mendocino County was created as an original California county at statehood. County seat: Ukiah [3]

Boundary Changes

For animated maps illustrating California county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation California County Boundary Maps" (1850-1925) may be viewed for free at the website.

Records Loss

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.


Populated Places 

Fort Bragg city
Hopland (formerly Sanel) 
Point Arena city
Ukiah city
Willits city

Neighboring Counties


Bible Records



Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
Access Genealogy WorldCat Billion Graves
CAGenWeb Archives
Tombstone Project
Billion Graves
See California Cemeteries for more information.


For tips on accessing Mendocino County, California Genealogy census records online, see: California Census.

Church History and Records

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about California denominations, view the California Church Records wiki page.

LDS Ward and Branch Records

Court Records

Crime and Criminals


Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups





Local histories are available for Mendocino County, California Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the Wiki page section California Local Histories.

The two principal histories of Mendocino County are Lyman Palmer, History of Mendocino County, California... (San Francisco, Cal.: Alley, Bowen & Co., 1880) and Aurelius O. Carpenter and Percy H. Millberry, History of Mendocino and Lake Counties, California... (Los Angeles, Cal.: Historic Record Co., 1914). Both cover the early history and settlement of the county and include several biographical sketches and some portraits.

There are two notable autobiographies of Ukiah residents. The first is by horticulturalist Carl Purdy, My Life and My Times (Naturegraph Press, 1976). Purdy (1861-1845) migrated to Ukiah in 1870 and lived there the remainder of his life. His story includes much local Ukiah valley history as he observed it. The other volume was written by Ukiah native and retired judge Lilburn Gibson, Some reminiscences of my seventy-four years in Mendocino County (1966). The judge was born in Ukiah in 1892 to a family that migrated to Mendocino County in the 1850s.

The "wild west" character of the county is demonstrated by the Frost-Coates feud, beginning in Willits in the 1860s. This story is recounted in John Boessenecker, Badge and Buckshot: Lawlessness in Old California (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988).

Land and Property

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See California Land and Property for additional information about early California land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse and where records are currently housed.




Military History and Records

Civil War

Regiments. Service men in Mendocino County, California Genealogy served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in Mendocino County, California Genealogy:

- 1st Battalion Mountaineers, California Infantry (Union), Company E

Naturalization and Citizenship


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

The first Mendocino County newspaper was the Mendocino Herald published by Edwin R. Budd (1818-1875) on 9 November 1860. Previous to that time the principal newspaper for the county was the Sonoma Democrat, also published by Budd in Santa Rosa. His biography can be found in Lyman Palmer, History of Mendocino County, California... (San Francisco, Cal.: Alley, Bowen & Co., 1880), 628-629. A summary of the early history of the press in Ukiah is found in Aurelius O. Carpenter and Percy H. Millberry, History of Mendocino and Lake Counties, California... (Los Angeles, Cal.: Historic Record Co., 1914), 72-73.

The largest collection of county newspapers is held by the Held-Poage Research Library of the Mendocino County Historical Society. The collection includes paper copies of older papers as well as the most complete microfilmed collection of county newspapers. Current newspapers are only archived for Ukiah. The library also maintains a Clipped Obituary File. Other current county newspapers are combed for vital records and then discarded. An index to obituaries and vital records from newspapers (though not complete) is available from the web site.

Microfilmed newspapers at Held-Poage:

Arena Register (1884-1886)
Constitutional Democrat (1863-1865)
Covelo Review (1904-1907)
Democratic Weekly Dispatch (1875-1881)
Fort Bragg Advocate (1890-1929)
Frontier Gazette (Covelo) (1960-1971)
Independent Weekly Dispatch (1874-1875)
Little Lake Herald (1901-1910)
Mendocino Beacon (1878-1979)
Mendocino County Democrat (1865)
Mendocino County Press (1871-1872)
Mendocino County Republican (1888-1889)
Mendocino Democrat (1865-1889)
Mendocino Dispatch Democrat (1881-1899)
Mendocino Herald (1861-1870)
Point Arena News (1878)
Point Arena Record (1877-1930)
Redwood Journal (1929-1954)
Round Valley News (1972-1993)
Sonoma Democrat (1857-1862)
Ukiah City Press (1877-1889)
Ukiah Daily Journal (1954-Present)
Ukiah Independent (1886-1888)
Ukiah News (1950-1956)
Ukiah Republican Press (1889-1949)
Ukiah Times (1912-1917)
West Coast Star (1874-1877)
Willits News (1892-1989).

The Mendocino County Library archives some county newspapers in its three main branches as follows:



Probate Records

The county clerk is usually the custodian of probate records. The records include wills, fee books, claim registers, legacy records, inheritance records, probate ticklers, and dockets.

Content: Probate Records may give the decedent's date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their place of residence.

You can obtain copies of the original probate records (such as wills and estate files) by writing to the county clerk at the county courthouse.

The FamilySearch Catalog lists films of probate records. To find the records for this county, use the Place Search for California - Mendocino - Probate records.

Online Probate Records


Archives, Libraries and Museums

The Mendocino County Library archives some county newspapers in its three main branches as follows:

The Mendocino County Museum in Willits has also published a number of historical works, e.g., John Keller, As I remember Ukiah: history, stories and memories (2002).

The Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House is, in addition to the Held-Poage Library, the major repository of local history collections. Named for local artist Grace Carpenter Hudson (1865-1937), the museum is located behind her 1911 craftsman home, the Sun House. The Museum collections include not only her artwork of local subjects, but also the writings of her mother Helen McGowen Carpenter and the photographs and writings of her father Aurelius O. Carpenter, both early Mendocino County immigrants (1850s). A recent publication of the museum is Marvin A. Schenck, et al., Aurelius O. Carpenter: Photographer of the Mendocino Frontier (2006).

County Courthouse

Family History Centers

Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See Family History Center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.


The Mendocino County Historical Society has published several items, one of the more ambitious projects being Bruce Levene, et al., Mendocino County remembered: an oral history, 2 vols. (1976). The Society also publishes a quarterly Newsletter. The Held-Poage Research Library in Ukiah is maintained by the Society and contains the most complete collection of historical and genealogical materials relating to the county.


California 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 California Taxation.

Vital Records

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. See the CDC Where to Write website for information on acquiring copies of these records. The State office has records since July 1905. For earlier records, contact the County Recorder. See also How to order California Vital Records





Voting Registers

Genealogy Societies, Archives and Libraries

Anderson Valley Historical Society
P.O. Box 676
Boonville, CA 95415
Phone: 707-895-3207

Mendocino Historical Research
Kelley House Museum
45007 Albion Street (P.O. Box 922)
Mendocino, CA 95460

Mendocino County Historical Society, Inc.
603 West Perkins Street
Ukiah, CA 95482-4726

Web Sites


U.S. Census Bureau. 2000 Census.

  1. Alice Eichholz, Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, Revised ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1992), 62-75. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27rb 1992
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Mendocino County, California. Page 85 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).

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