Oregon, Columbia County Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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United States Gotoarrow.png Oregon Gotoarrow.pngColumbia County

FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Oregon, Columbia County Records,1854-1958 .
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What is in the Collection?

This collection of various county records was obtained from the Columbia County Courthouse in St. Helens, Oregon. The collection include indexes and images of of the following records:

  • Land and Property (1854-1920)
  • Civil Registration - Marriages (1854-1958)
  • Naturalization / Citizenship 1891-1945)
  • Tax (1898-1908)
You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Oregon, Columbia County Records,1854-1958.

Coverage Map

To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of Oregon marriages click here.

Collection Content

Information typically found in Land and Property Records includes:
  • Name of owner
  • Legal description of real and personal property
  • Names and ages of property owners and possible relationships
  • Number of acres of land
  • Town plot description
  • Name of city or town

Information found in these marriage records includes:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of the groom and bride and their residences
  • Names of witnesses
  • Name of officiator at marriage
  • Family History Library Microfilm and item numbers for the source materials

Information typically found in tax records includes:

  • Name of owner
  • Legal description of real and personal property
  • Names and ages of property owners and possible relationships
  • Original grantee
  • Number of acres of land
  • Value
  • Town plot description
  • Name of city or town
  • Kind, number, and value of livestock
  • Kind, quantity, and value of farm commodities
  • Amount of state taxes
  • Amount of county taxes

General Information About These Records

Land and Property Records

Individuals who settled in the Oregon Territory before December 1, 1855, were eligible to receive donation land claims. The earlier, provisional claims were voided. The size of the piece of land was dependent upon the date of the arrival and the marital status of the claimant. The applications for these free lands may provide birth, marriage, citizenship, migration, or other valuable information.

After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions are recorded by the county auditor in the form of deeds and mortgages. These may be obtained from the appropriate recorder or clerk in each courthouse. The Family History Library has not acquired land records from the counties, except for the deed indexes of Douglas County for 1857 to 1974.

Land and property records during the period, 1845 to 1849, were filed with the provisional recorder. These papers are now in the Oregon State Archives. The record contains a description of the land claimed, and may name adjoining land holders.

Marriage and Civil Registration

Marriages were usually recorded by the clerk of the district court for each county from the time the county was formed. Persons desiring to marry obtained a license that they presented to the minister or other person authorized to marry, such as a justice of the peace. Once the marriage was performed, the officiator sent a return to the clerk confirming that the marriage had occurred.

Naturalization and Citizenship

In the territorial era, immigrants could apply for citizenship at any U.S. district court. Naturalization records filed as part of the “donation land” laws are at the National Archives.

After statehood in 1859, the circuit court had primary jurisdiction over naturalization. The county clerk served as clerk of the circuit court and kept the records. You can obtain copies of declarations and petitions from the clerk's office in each county. Some naturalization records may also be found in county court journals or U.S. district court records. The Family History Library has copies of some naturalization records for Oregon.


How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • The name or names of the primary individuals
  • The county where the event occurred or where your ancestors lived
  • The approximate event date
  • The event place

Search the Collection

To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the appropriate "Record Type, Date Range and Volume" which takes you to the images.

Many of these volumes have indexes at the beginning or end. You should search these first.

  • Check the index for the family name (surname) and then the given name. Indexes enable you to access records quickly by searching for the names of the primary individuals. Realize that some entries in earlier years may have been missed. Indexes may also contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings or misinterpretations.
  • Make a list of the volumes and page numbers for each deed you wish to check.
  • For each deed, search the noted volume and page number.

If you do not find your ancestor in the index, look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

What do I do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details. Add this new information to your records of each family. The following examples show ways you can use the information and may also lead you to other records about your ancestors:

  • Use the date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth to find the ancestor or family in census records.
  • Use the residence to locate church and land records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as your ancestor; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.

What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Search for the marriage record of the marriage partner if known.
  • Check for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.


Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.  

Collection Citation:

"Oregon, Columbia County Records, 1854-1958" Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing County Courthouse, St. Helens.

Image citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Oregon, Columbia County Records,1854-1958.