Difference between revisions of "Benton County, Washington Genealogy"

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*[http://www.mygenealogist.com/washington-genealogy/benton-county.htm] "Genealogy Research in Benton County, Washington"
*[http://www.mygenealogist.com/washington-genealogy/benton-county.htm] "Genealogy Research in Benton County, Washington"
*[] "Online Document Searching and Marriage Application"
*[] "Online Document Searching and Marriage Application"
*[http://www.tricitygenealogicalsociety.org/wiki/doku.php/tcgs:search2] "TCGS (Tri-Cities Gen. Soc.) Digital Collections"
*[http://search.ancestry.com/Places/US/Washington/Benton/Default.aspx] "Benton County, Wash"
*[http://search.ancestry.com/Places/US/Washington/Benton/Default.aspx] "Benton County, Wash"

Revision as of 14:10, 20 November 2013

United States Gotoarrow.png Washington Gotoarrow.png Benton County [[Image:Template:WABentonBalloon]]

Guide to Benton County, Washington Genealogy genealogy. Birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records, since 1905, when the county was formed.

County QuickStart:

800px-Flag map of Washington.svg.png Washington
Online Records
Benton County, Washington
Map of Washington highlighting Benton County
Location in the state of Washington
Map of the U.S. highlighting Washington
Location of Washington in the U.S.
Founded March 8, 1905
County Seat Prosser
Address Benton County Courthouse
600 Market Street
Prosser, WA 99350-0190
Phone: 509.786.5624
Adams County Website

County Overview

Parent County(s)

Benton County, Washington was created 8 March 1905 from Klickitat and Yakima counties[1]

County Seat: Prosser [2]. For Courthouse, see Archives, libraries, etc.

Boundary Changes

Neighboring Counties

Benton County, Washington Genealogy isurrounded by:Franklin | Grant | Klickitat | Walla Walla | Yakima | Oregon counties: Morrow | Umatilla

Benton CountyBenton Countykittitas CountyChelan CountyGrant CountyAdams CountyFranklin CountyWalla Walla CountyColumbia CountyWhitman CountyUmatilla CountyMorrow CountyGillian CountySherman CountyBenton County.JPG

Dates of Major County Records

Beginning dates for major county records[4]
* For earlier dates, try... Church | Obituaries | Cemeteries


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

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.

Benton 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) FamilySearch Library 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.

  • 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 Benton 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 and Religious Groups

  • 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 Benton 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. Benton County -- Thumbnail History, HistoryLink.org,  Essay 5671.

  • The first inhabitants were the Yakima Indians, Umatillas, Klickitats, and Wallulas.
  • 1858 - A gold rush to British Columbia brought the first influx of white people, as rushers traveled through on their way north.
  • During the 1880s, steamboats and railroads connected what would become known as Kennewick to the other settlements along the Columbia River.
  • Benton County has very little rainfall, and some farmers had been successful at dryland farming.
  • Irrigation came to the county in the 1890s and brought many changes.
  • 1905 - March - 6 - Washington State Legislature creates Benton County (out of Klickitat).
  • In 1942, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Manhattan District, surveyed the northern part of the county for a secret government project. In 1943, the government ordered everyone living in the town sites of Hanford and White Bluffs to evacuate. Shortly thereafter, a huge government construction project began, known only as the Matthattan Project. Thousands of people moved to the Eastern Washington desert. No one knew what they were building, just that it would help the war effort. Only when they heard the news of the devastation caused by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6, 1945, did the workers know what they had built. "Our bomb clinched it!" read the Richland Villager.
Digital Histories
  • [1] "Benton County, Washington Online Historical Directories"
  • [2] "Benton County, Alabama (Washington) Facts"
  • [3] "Genealogy Research in Benton County, Washington"
  • [4] "Online Document Searching and Marriage Application"
  • [5] "TCGS (Tri-Cities Gen. Soc.) Digital Collections"
  • [6] "Benton County, Wash"

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.

  • 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.


This map highlights the county within the state of Washington. The map soon will have inter-active links.



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.)

Washington State Digital Archives has digitized various types of naturalization-related records, including declarations of intentions, delayed birth files, naturalization affidavits, notifications of application for admission to US citizenship, orders fixing naturalization terms, petitions and records, petitions, receipts for certificates of citizenship, record of final decrees of citizenship and record of petitions dockets. Depending on the county, records range from 1854-1988.


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.


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.

Also check:


Postmaster Indexes

  • Prior to 1965 Part of: County Records, Prior to 1965 FamilySearch Historical Collections (free)

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.

  • 1895-1930 Part of: County Records, 1856-2009 FamilySearch Historical Collections (free)

Public Records

School Records

  • 1910-1926 Part of: County Records, 1856-2009 FamilySearch Historical Collections (free)


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. .


Template:WA Birth Tips

  • Washington State Digital Archives has a database of Benton County Marriages from 1905 to 1920. This database is an index to marriage certificates filed with the Auditor in Benton County, Washington. For FHL entries, click here[low quality link].
  • Marriage Records, 1905-1980 at Washington State Digital Archives Collection. (Free)
  • 1901-1954 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.

  • 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.


Sites with online indexes or images of records:

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

Major catalogs to offline genealogical records:
Catalogs refer to books, microfilm, manuscripts, and/or Internet images and indexes for various topics.

Archives, Libraries, etc.

Resources for Benton 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.


Benton County Courthouse
600 Market Street
Prosser, WA 99350-0190
Phone: 509.786.5624

County Auditor has birth records 1905-1907
and marriage records from 1905.
County Clerk has divorce, probate and court records.
County Assessor has land records. [6]

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.

  • Kennewick Washington Family History Center 895 W Gage Blvd, Richland, WA United States

  • Prosser Washington Family History Center 1835 Highland Dr., Prosser, WA United States

  • Richland Family History Center located at 1314 Jadwin Ave., Richland WA 99352; phone (509) 946-6637 houses the collection of the Tri-City Genealogical Society. It also has helpful staff, free family history classes, some online databases, and access to the normal family history center resources.

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.

Benton City Library, 708 9th Street, Benton City 99320 Phone: (509) 588-6471
Online Resources: Ancestry.com, Heritage Quest and others.
Unique Collections:
Keewaydin Library, 405 S. Dayton, Kennewick 99336 Phone: (509) 586-3156
Online Resources:
Unique Collections:
Mid-Columbia Library System, 405 S. Dayton Street, Kennewick 99336 Phone: (509) 582-4745
Online Resources:
Unique Collections:
Kennewick Library, 1620 S. Union, Kennewick 99338 Phone: (509) 783-7878
Online Resources:
Unique Collections:
Prosser Library, 902 Seventh Street, Prosser 99350 Phone: (509) 786-2533
Online Resources:
Unique Collections:
Richland Public Library, 1270 Lee Blvd, Richland 99352 Phone: (509) 942-7450
Online Resources: Genealogy History
Unique Collections:
West Richland Library, 3803 W. Van Giesen, West Richland 99353 Phone: (509) 967-3191
Online Resources:
Unique Collections:
  • Mid-Columbia Library System has many books of genealogical value, maps, and many local newspapers on microfilm dating from the late 1800s to the present. In the library there is also access to online databases and volunteers from the TCGS.
  • Richland Public Library has access to online databases, some books of genealogical value, and the local Tri-City Herald newspaper on microfilm.
  • East Benton County Historical Society primarily runs a museum of local history and a research library. The museum features local history, from the ancient petrified forests to the Native Americans to the pioneers and settlers. Of special note is an extensive photograph collection depicting life in Kennewick, Richland, Finley, Hover, Hanford, White Bluffs and surrounding areas. "The museum library houses an extensive collection of materials including obituaries, local history files, family history information, high school annuals and books of local and regional interest. There are also 121 books from Dr. Glen Axford's Audubon Collection." (From the http://ebchs.org/ website under Museum Info: Research Library)

  • The Tri-City Genealogical Society has an extensive collection of local and regional resources as well as references for other areas. Check their resources page for an updated list of their holdings. They also provide genealogical help at the Mid-Columbia Library, have online resources, and conduct local research for a small fee.

Towns and Communities

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

Extinct Communities

  • Hanford
  • White Bluffs
  • Richland (Original Site)


  1. 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.
  2. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  3. John H. Long, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (Chicago: Newberry Library, 2006) online.
  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. 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), Benton County, Washington page 732, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.