Difference between revisions of "Adams County, Washington Genealogy"

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==== Societies  ====
==== Societies  ====
[http://www.adamscountyhistoricalsociety.com/ Adams County Historical Society]
*[http://www.adamscountyhistoricalsociety.com/ Adams County Historical Society] Box 526, Lind, WA 99341-0526
Box 526
Lind, WA 99341-0526
*[http://ahsgr.org/Chapters/big_bend_chapter.htm Big Bend Chapter] American Historical Society of Germans from Russia
=== Towns and Communities  ===
=== Towns and Communities  ===

Revision as of 04:50, 22 December 2013

United States Gotoarrow.png Washington Gotoarrow.png Adams County [[Image:Template:WAAdamsDrum]]

Guide to Adams County, Washington Genealogy genealogy. Birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records, since 1883, when the county was formed.

County QuickStart:

800px-Flag map of Washington.svg.png Washington
Online Records
Adams County, Washington
Map of Washington highlighting Adams County
Location in the state of Washington
Map of the U.S. highlighting Washington
Location of Washington in the U.S.
Founded November 28, 1883
County Seat Ritzville
Address Adams County, Washington Courthouse
210 W. Broadway
Ritzville, WA
Phone: (509) 659–3240

County Overview

Parent County(s)

Adams County was created 28 November 1883 from Whitman County

County Seat: Ritzville [1]. See also Towns and Communities in Adams County, Washington Genealogy.

Boundary Changes

Neighboring Counties

Adams County, Washington Genealogy is surrounded by:Franklin | Grant | Lincoln | Whitman

Adams CountyFranklin CountyLincoln CountySpokane CountyWhitman CountyAsotin CountyWalla CountyBenton CountyDouglas CountyColumbia CountyGrant CountyGarfield CountyAdams.JPG

Named for John Adams, 2nd President of the United States. Originally mostly cattle ranching, the big wheat crop shifted the agriculture from cattle to wheat farming in 1897.


Adams County Courthouse
210 W Broadway Avenue
Ritzville, WA 99169-1860
Phone: (509) 659–3257

County Auditor has birth and death records to 1907 and marriage records.
County Clerk has divorce and probate records.
County assessor has land records[3]

See also Archives, libraries, etc. in Adams County, Washington Genealogy.

Dates of Major County Records
Beginning dates for major county records[4]
* For earlier dates, try... Church | Obituaries | Cemeteries
Record Loss

Topics for Adams County, Washington Genealogy

The topics or headings on this page describe records that are used for genealogy and family history. They include links to web sites with indexes, images, or information about the county.

Bible Records



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.

Listings for Adams County Cemeteries can be found at the following websites:

Adams County, Washington Genealogy cemeteries from state and national resources
Online County-wide Name Searches
Published Grave
Lists of Cemeteries
(Several will also link to names)
FindAGrave (Add a name to the search) Template:United States, Click Cemeteries. Press space bar to select town FindAGrave
WA State Archives - Digital Collections Click any cemetery for search window, select county, enter name(s). WorldCat Interment.net
Billion Graves Switch to "Person Lookup" Washington Periodicals Washington State Digital Archives Put county name in Search box
Billion Graves
USGenWeb Tombstone Project
Genealogy Trails
See Washington Cemeteries for details about these and other sites.


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.

  • School Censuses and Registers 1909-1926 Part of: County Records, 1856-2009 FamilySearch Historical Collections (Free, browse images)
    • School Censuses include names, birth dates, parents or guardians. School Registers are arranged by grade and gives names, ages, attendance.

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.

  • Records of Emanuel Lutheran Church, Adams County, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at Archives.com ($).[5]

Court Records

Your ancestors may be found in court records as defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses, or jurors. Court records can clarify family relationships, places of residence, occupations, and family history. See Washington Court Records for courts used through the years.

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


Emigration and Immigration

Ethnic, Political or Religious Groups

American Indian
  • Japanese Internment World War II Files, 1942-1946. Public Welfare/Social Security Department at Washington State Digital Archives.
    • Assistance Cases, Evacuee Referrals for Resettlement and Assistance, 1945-1946



A FamilySearch Community Tree is available for this place.
  • Adams County History Book, 2 v. by Adams County Historical Society, online index to vol 1. "The book contains over 300 family histories"


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


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

  • Adams County History Book 2 v. Adams County Historical Society, online index to vol 1
See photo gallery at Adams County Historical Society

History Timeline

Historical County Boundaries from Newberry Library[6]

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. Adams County -- Thumbnail History, History Link.org  Essay 7835.

  • 1803 - Before this time, the land that would later make up Adams County was part of the territory of the Palouse tribe.
  • 1853 - March 2, U.S. President Millard Fillmore establishes Washington Territory.
  • 1863 - January 20, Washington Territorial Legislature creates Stevens County.
  • 1869 - George Lucas, an Irish emigrant, was Adams County's first permanent white settler. He established a way-station at Cow Creek along the road to Fort Colville
  • 1871 - November 29, Washington Territorial Legislature creates Whitman County (out of Stevens).
  • 1880 - James G. Bennett harvested a small wheat crop near Ritzville.
  • 1881 - May, The Northern Pacific Railway began laying track through Adams County.
  • 1883 - November 28, Washington Territorial Legislature creates Adams and Franklin counties (out of Whitman).
  • 1884 - Brothers Ben and Sam Hutchinson built a cabin on lower Crab Creek.
  • 1889 - November 11, Washington becomes a state.
  • 1897 - Adams County bumper wheat crop spurs shift from cattle ranching.
  • 1901 - The first homesteaders arrived.
  • 1928-1931, During a severe drought that resulted in dustbowl conditions, many people left the area.
  • 1942 - Grand Coulee Dam was completed in 1942.
  • 1950 - Construction on the Columbia Basin Project reached the Othello area, bringing the water of the Columbia River to irrigate Adams County's dry land.

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.

  • 1895-1920 Part of: County Records, 1856-2009 FamilySearch Historical Collections (free)
  • County Recorder's Office: check deeds, file mining claims, get assistance in finding ownership of a particular property, and obtain copies of county plat maps. This office has county plat records dating back to 1878, prior records having been destroyed in a fire.
  • Land Records 1988 - 2012 at Washington State Digital Archives Collection. (Free: Index - some images)
  • Plats and Surveys 1988-2012 at Washington State Digital Archives Collections. (Free: Index - some images)
  • Adams Contracts, 1988 - 2012. Part of Recorded Agreements and Contracts at Washington State Digital Archives. (Free: Index - some images)
    • Typically agreements and contracts recorded in the auditor’s office deal with real property.


  • 1909 Map at Adams County Historical Society site.

Waadams.jpg This map highlights the county within the state of Washington. The map soon will have inter-active links. See Neighboring Counties



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.

  • 1890-1945 Part of: County Records, 1856-2009 FamilySearch Historical Collections (free)


Small town newspapers provide historical content and contain obituaries, birth or death notices, legal notices, and community news, such as visits to or from out-of-town relatives. See Washington Newspapers for tips, resources, and details.

Finding More Washington Newspapers

Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Adams 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)


Obituaries may mention birth, marriage, spouse, parents, living family members, education, occupation, and more. See Washington Obituaries for state level collections and United States Obituaries for tips and insights.

See also: NewspapersLibrariesSocietiesFuneral Homes • Obituaries of neighboring counties or of the person's previous residence • Family records.


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.

  • 1885-1959 Part of: County Records, 1856-2009 FamilySearch Historical Collections (free)

Public Records

Public records are documents created by civil authorities that either don't fit comfortably in another topic, or that could fit in several topics.

  • Adams County Auditor, Miscellaneous Recordings at Washington State Digital Archives Collections. (Free: Index + Images)
    • Includes a variety of documents, such as affidavits for wills or property, judgements, even occasional death records.
  • Adams Postmaster Index. Part of Washington, Postmaster Indexes, Prior to 1965, FamilySearch Historical Collections. (Free, browse images)
  • Adams Ordinances passed. (Free: Index - some images)
    • Passed by various governing bodies in Adams County and recorded by the Adams County Auditor
  • Adams Powers of Attorney, 1988-2012 (Free, Indexes and some images)
    • One person (grantor) appoints another person (grantee) to act on his or her behalf in health, financial, and property issues.
  • Election Records, 1880-1940 Part of: Washington, County Records, 1856-2009 at FamilySearch Historical Collections (Free, browse images)

School Records

  • School Censuses and Registers 1909-1926 Part of: County Records, 1856-2009 FamilySearch Historical Collections (Free, browse images)
    • School Censuses include names, birth dates, parents or guardians. School Registers are arranged by grade and gives names, ages, attendance.


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 State Digital Archives has a database of Adams County Birth Records. This database contains the names of people who were born in Adams County from 1893-1907, 1910-1915, (several delayed birth returns: 1942). Their names were transcribed from the Adams County Birth Returns. For FHL entries, 1892-1907, click here
  • 1894-1942 Part of: County Records, 1856-2009 FamilySearch Historical Collections (free)
  • Births 1894 - 1907, 1910 - 1915 Washington State Digital Archives Collection. (Free)

Template:WA Birth Tips

Marriage Records reveal
Yes or Maybe
 Y  M
Date of Marriage or License Green check.png]]  
Names of Bride and Groom Green check.png]]  
Ages Green check.png]]  
Birth Places Green check.png]]  
Residences Green check.png]]  
Names of Parents   Green check.png]]
Husband's Occupation   Green check.png]]
Witnesses Green check.png]]  
Minister or Officiator Green check.png]]  

Marriage records include certificates, marriage returns, license applications or affidavits. Counties kept the records until 1968, when the state took over.

See Washington Online Genealogy Records for indexes.
Also see Washington Marriage Records.

  • 1915-1995 Part of: County Records, 1856-2009 FamilySearch Historical Collections (free)

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.


This database contains names of people who died in Adams County from 1893-1907; 1910, 1913.  For FHL entries, 1891-1907, 1929, click here[low quality link].

  • 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 and occupation.
  • Death Return 1893-1907; 1907; 1910, 1913 at Washington State Digital Archives Collection. (Free) The names were transcribed from the Adams County Death Returns.
  • In 1891, a law was passed requiring the county auditors to keep a register of all births and deaths in their counties (prior to 1891 births and deaths were not regularly recorded in Washington). By 1907, it was recognized that a state-wide register was needed, so in 1907 a law was passed which required the State Board of Health to centralize all records of births and deaths within the state. at Washington State Digital Archives Collection. (Free)


Sites with online indexes or images of records:

Sites that search the Internet for Adams County, Washington Genealogy records online:

Links to major catalogs for offline collections of Adams County, Washington Genealogy
Indexes, books, or microfilm of genealogical records
FamilySearch catalog Select topics. To select towns, add a comma to the search box.
WorldCat To find libraries near you that have items of interest, see WorldCat Online Catalog.
Allen County Public Library (Indiana)  
See also local libraries and Washington Archives and Libraries

Archives, Libraries, etc.

Resources for Adams 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.

See these headings for Adams County, Washington Genealogy details: Courthouse · FamilySearch Centers · Libraries · Museums · Other Repositories · Societies

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.


Local public libraries—even smaller ones—often have Unique Genealogical Collections that are not online for the area they serve. Many libraries in Washington have an area dedicated to local history and genealogy.

Othello Library, 101 E. Main Street, Othello 99344 Phone: (509) 488-9683
Online Resources: Ancestry.com, Heritage Quest, and others.
Unique Collections:
Ritzville Public Library, 302 W Main, Ritzville 99169 Phone: (509) 659-1222
Online Resources: (None seen Oct, 2013)
Unique Collections:



Towns and Communities

See a list of towns and communities in Adams County per Wikipedia


  1. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  2. John H. Long, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (Chicago: Newberry Library,2006)online.
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Adams County, Washington page 732, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. Alice Eichholz, Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Pub., 2004), 733-734. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27rb 2004.
  5. "Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: An Inventory of Selected Congregational Records of the American Lutheran Church in Minnesota at the Minnesota Historical Society," Collection Finding Aids, Minnesota Historical Society, http://www.mnhs.org/library/findaids/01009.xml, accessed 10 June 2013.
  6. John H. Long, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (Chicago: Newberry Library, 2006) online.