Bear Lake County, Idaho Genealogy
County CourthouseBear Lake County Courthouse
7 E. Center
P.O. Box 190
Paris, ID 83261
County Clerk has birth records 1907-1911, death records 1907-1915, marriage and land records from 1884. 
6 March 1893: A part of the county was taken to create Bannock County.
Many of the older court, land, naturalization, probate, pension, and vital records for Bear Lake County have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and at the Idaho State Archives in Boise. Details of the county records in these respective institutions can be obtained from their online catalogs or listings. Original records which have been microfilmed and more recent records are in the county courthouse in Paris. 
There are many cemeteries in Bear Lake County. For a list of those that have been identified, and links to transcriptions and/or photographs of tombstones, go to Bear Lake County, Idaho Cemetery Records.
For the cemeteries in or immediately adjacent to the cities, please see the city pages for the cities listed above.
For a summary of census records for the state of Idaho, see Idaho Census Records.
The 1890 federal census for Idaho was destroyed. However, the Idaho State Archives is creating a list of 1890 Idaho residents by indexing a variety of records, 1885-1894. This reconstructed list will substitute for the destroyed 1890 federal census. Bear Lake County is included in this reconstructed census.
Church History and Records
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
The following are local congregations (wards) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints which existed in Bear Lake County, Idaho prior to 1950. Many of the original records of these church units are in the Historical Library in Salt Lake City. Many of the membership records covering these units from the date of their creation to about 1948 have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
County Commissioners' Records
The minute books of the County Commissioners contain interesting tidbits of history about the county as well as the names of individuals appealing to the County Commissioners for action on issues of concern to them. Minutes of those meetings were recorded from the formation of the county, for most counties. Some counties now post the minutes of current meetings online.
Most of these records have been preserved in the county courthouses of the State of Idaho. Few have been microfilmed. Contact the county clerk for information about years covered and availability.
Some of the early court records of Bear Lake County, Idaho have been microfilmed and are available at the Idaho State Archives in Boise, Idaho. The records filmed include civil suits, divorce papers, judgment dockets, etc. Copies of these microfilmed court records are also available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah or at any of the Library's Family History Centers. Additional court records and more recent records are housed at the Bear Lake County courthouse in Paris, Idaho, and can be accessed by making a visit there.
Some of the Bear Lake County court records that have been microfilmed are:
- Brands, 1875; index, 1875 Bear Lake County
- Court records, 1875-1899
- Minutes, 1875-1896; index, 1875-1948 (County Commission)
- Judgments, 1837-1940; dockets, 1875-1975
(Includes divorces, probate documents, civil and criminal actions and many other court actions.)
Miscellaneous records are outlined in the Miscellaneous Series below.
The Idaho State Archives has in its collection copies of city, county, state and regional directories.
A Brief History of the Bear Lake Valley is available on the official website for the county.
Another History of Bear Lake Valley is available on the website of the Bear Lake Valley Convention and Visitors' Bureau.
Another history of Bear Lake County is on the Bear Lake County GenWeb site.
Many other books have been published on the history of Bear Lake County and Bear Lake Valley. WorldCat provides further details and locations of holdings.
Land and Property
Land and Property records are generally recorded in the county courthouse of the county in which the transaction took place. For original records of Bear Lake County, Idaho, one may visit the courthouse in Paris, Idaho.
The Idaho State Archives (click on county records on microfilm) has microfilmed many county records of Bear Lake County and these can be accessed by visiting the Archives in Boise, Idaho.
The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah has microfilmed some Bear Lake Countyrecords pertaining to land and property. The following can be viewed in the Library in Salt Lake City or in any of its Family History Centers:
- Brands, 1875; index, 1875 Bear Lake County
- Deeds, 1876-1919; index, 1875-1925 Bear Lake County
- Possession claims, 1875-1923; index, 1875-1948 Bear Lake County
- Separate property for married women, 1885-1925
- An 1895 map of Bear Lake and surrounding counties is available online.
- Map of Bear Lake County, Idaho is available online.
Early migration routes to and from Bear Lake County, Idaho Genealogy for European and African American settlers included:
Military History and Records
World War I draft registration cards, 1917-1918, for Bear Lake County have been microfilmed. Copies of these records are available at the Family History Library (their microfilm number 1452108) and are also available online at Ancestry.com, for a subscription fee. The original cards are maintained in the Southeast Regional Archives of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in East Point, Georgia and have been microfilmed by the National Archives as their Microcopy M1509.
The Bear Lake GenWeb site has a number of military records available online.
Often overlooked by the genealogist, this group of volumes may contain affidavits for citizenship, final disposition of estates, divorce decrees, and many other types of valuable documents. The content varies from county to county, year to year and from clerk to clerk. When the estate case files, civil or criminal files are not available or have been destroyed, you may find key documents recorded here. Most counties will have an index to this series and it is a must search if the information you are seeking is not found elsewhere.
Both the Idaho State Archives in Boise, Idaho, and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah have copies of the miscellaneous records of Bear Lake County. The originals are held in the Bear Lake County courthouse in Paris, Idaho and can be accessed by visiting there. Copies in the Idaho State Archives are available for viewing in Boise. Those held by the Family History Library can be viewed either at the Library in Salt Lake City or at any of its Family History Centers.
Naturalization and Citizenship
Records of the naturalization of people born outside of the United States were often kept in the county courthouses of the respective counties of Idaho. Six volumes of Bear Lake County naturalization records are included in a Naturalization Index at the Idaho State Archives in Boise, available online.
The Idaho State Archives has in its collections copies of many Idaho newspapers which may be of interest to residents of Bear Lake County.
Mothers' Pensions were provided by the State of Idaho for widows and/or orphans, under certain conditions. Petitions for those pensions were filed with the probate court in each county. The original papers for several counties have been transferred to the Idaho State Archives in Boise and have been indexed. Bear Lake County Mothers' Pensions are included in that index.
The probate records of Bear Lake County are housed in the county courthouse in Paris, Idaho and can be viewed by visiting the courthouse. (Some of the original records have been transferred to the Idaho State Archives in Boise, Idaho.)
Early estate case files have been transferred to the Idaho State Archives in Boise, Idaho and the microfilmed copies can be viewed by visiting the Archives in Boise.
The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah has microfilmed the following probate records that are housed in the Bear Lake County courthouse in Paris, Idaho. These can be viewed at the Library in Salt Lake City or in any of its Family History Centers:
Any existing tax assessment rolls for Bear Lake County should be in the courthouse in Paris and would need to be accessed by visiting there.
The Birth Register for Bear Lake County, 1907-1911, has been microfilmed and is available at the Idaho State Archives in Boise and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Birth records, 1911 to present, for individuals born in Bear Lake County are included in and recorded at the state level. These records are restricted for a period of one hundred years from the time of the individual's birth but can be obtained by following the guidelines as issued by the State of Idaho. See the Vital Records section under the subject Idaho for more details.
The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah has made available online Idaho Births and Christenings 1856-1965, and 511 of the births are from Bear Lake County.
2,489 marriages of Bear Lake County, 6 Mar 1866 to 16 Apr 1935, are available on the Western States Marriage Index.
- Marriage Records Books, 1887-1935
- Index to Marriage Records, 1875-1966
- Register of Marriages, 1907-1923
The Family History Library also has made available online Idaho Marriages 1878-1898, 1903-1942, and there are 5543 Bear Lake marriages recorded here.
The Death Register for Bear Lake County, 1907-1911, has been microfilmed and is available at the Idaho State Archivesin Boise and at the Family History Libraryin Salt Lake City. After 1911, deaths occurring in Bear Lake County are included in the state-wide registration program. These records are restricted for a period of fifty years from the time of the individual's death but can be obtained by following the guidelines as mandated by the State of Idaho. See the Vital Records section under Idaho for details.
Copies of death certificates from 1911-1954 are on microfilm and can be used at the Idaho State Archives in Boise, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, BYU-Idaho University Library in Rexburg and several other locations.
A state-wide index to Idaho Deaths, 1911-1956 is available online. Efforts to expand this index to 1960 are underway. Another version is Idaho Death Index 1911-1956,
Deaths from other sources
A significant source of death and related information for eastern Idaho families can be found at the following website Eastern Idaho Death Index.
Societies, Libraries and Museums
Many public libraries provide internet access to sites of value to the family historian. Some have special collections of historical and cultural interest, as well. The following libraries may have some resources of value, but use of some or all of them may require a visit to the library.
The National Oregon/California Trail Center is located near the Idaho/Wyoming border on what was once a major stopping point for emigrant wagons on the original old Oregon Trail http://www.oregontrailcenter.org/
Family History Centers
- The Bear Lake County ID GenWeb Project, a member of IDGenWebThe IDGenWeb Project, an affiliate of The USGenWeb Project.
- Family History Library Catalog
- Bear Lake County, Idaho Genealogy and Family History (Linkpendium)
- Bear Lake County, Idaho Old Photos
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Bear Lake County, Idaho page 177, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
- The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
- Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series, Number 10, Counties and County Seats, Reissued July, 1991.
- census.gov - Idaho population by county, 1900-90 accessed 2009-05-03
- quickfacts.census.gov - Canyon County accessed 2009-05-03
- Jim Tompkins, "The Oregon Trail 1841-1848 Map IV" in Oregon Trail Landmarks at http://www.oregonpioneers.com/OTMap4.jpg (accessed 18 July 2011).
- "Oregon California Trails Association" at http://octatrails.micromaps.com/ (accessed 18 July 2011).