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Provisional and Territorial Records Guide

Clackamas County History and Records

Clackamas County was one of the four original districts created by the provisional government legislative assembly on July 5, 1843. In 1843, Clackamas County covered portions of four present day states and one Canadian province. Its boundaries were: on the north, latitude 54' 40"; on the east, the crest of the Rocky Mountains; on the west, a line from the mouth of the Pudding River to the county's northern border; and on the south, a line from the mouth of the Pudding River to the crest of the Rockies. A law passed in 1844 made the Columbia River the northern boundary of Clackamas County. The United States Great Britain Boundary Treaty (1846) relocated the northern border of both the United States and Clackamas County at latitude 49. The Act of Congress of March 1, 1853 which created Washington Territory enclosed Clackamas County within the present day boundaries of Oregon. Clackamas County acquired its boundaries in 1854 with the creation of Multnomah County to the north and Wasco County to the east.

The area in which Clackamas County is located was explored by Captain Robert Gray, U.S.N. in 1792 and by Lewis and Clark in 1805-1806. Clark named the local Indians "Clackamus," hence the county's name. In 1829, Dr. John McLoughlin laid claim to a two square mile area located on the east side of the Willamette River, circling Willamette Falls, for the Hudson's Bay Company. This area was the terminus for water transportation on the Willamette River and had been a meeting place for Indians, hunters, trappers, and Hudson's Bay Company voyagers for years.

American immigration to Oregon began in the mid 1830s with the arrival of missionary parties. Jason Lee arrived in 1834 and the Whitman and Spalding group arrived in 1836. While these groups did not settle the Clackamas area, they maintained ties with Oregon City and John McLoughlin for advice and supplies. The first major overland immigration to Oregon City occurred in 1842.

In July 1843, the settlers in the Willamette Valley met at Champoeg to form a provisional government. The first legislative assembly formed the original four counties and located the capital at Oregon City, which also served as the county seat for Clackamas County. Oregon City was incorporated in 1844 by the Provisional Legislature, making it the first incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains.

In 1845, Samuel Barlow established an immigrant route which ran from The Dalles, around the south side of Mt. Hood, and into Oregon City. The Barlow Road funnelled thousands of immigrants into Oregon City and Clackamas County during the 1840s. While Oregon City rapidly became the primary urban development in Clackamas County (and in Oregon), other settlements were established. Gladstone (1845), Canby (1845), Molalla (1846), Lake Oswego (1847), and Milwaukie (1848) were all established under the provisional government.

Oregon City dominated social life in Oregon during the provisional government period. The Oregon Spectator, the first newspaper west of the Missouri River, began publication in 1846. The same year the first Protestant church west of the Missouri, the first Masonic lodge west of the Missouri, and the Archdiocese of Oregon City were all established.

In December 1847, one of the main events leading to the creation of Oregon Territory occurred. The Cayuse, believing that they were being poisoned, murdered Dr. Marcus Whitman, his wife, and twelve other mission residents at Wailaatpu (in present day Washington State). The resultant Cayuse Indian War lasted until 1850 and helped persuade Congress to grant Oregon territorial status in 1849. In 1852 the Territorial Capital was moved from Oregon City to Salem.

The first Clackamas County Courthouse was built in 1850 at Oregon City and burned down a few days after completion. An iron box served as both the county jail and as the territorial jail until the penitentiary was completed in 1857. Eagle Creek School was built in 1850 as one of the earliest public schools in the territory and served about a dozen students. Mulino Mill, the first grist mill to operate west of the Rocky Mountains, was built by Richard Howard in 1851.

The rapid growth of Salem and Portland slowly shifted the center of political and economic power away from Oregon City. The move of the Territorial Capital in 1852 shifted most of the political activity to Salem. The creation of Multnomah County in 1854, at the request of Portland residents, removed Oregon's principal commercial city from Clackamas County as well as removing Clackamas County's access to the Columbia River.

Clackamas County covers 1879 square miles. Heavily timbered, its geographical features include numerous rivers the Willamette, Clackamas, Sandy, Pudding, Molalla, and Salmon and Mt. Hood. Since its creation, agriculture, timber, manufacturing, and commerce have been the county's principal activities.

Series Descriptions for Clackamas County

Agreements
Assessment Rolls
Census Rolls
Circuit Court Docket
Coroner's Inquest Records
County Commissioners' Billing Records
County Commissioners' Court Journal
Declarations of Intention
Deed Indexes
Deed Record
Donation Land Claim Record
Election Abstracts
Judgment Docket
Justice Court Case Records
Juror Lists
Marriage Record
McLoughlin Fire Engine Company No.1 Minute Book
Mortgage Record
Mortgage Record Index
Oregon City Council Records
Oregon City Lot Purchase Register
Oregon City Plat Maps
Plat Index
Probate Court Case Records
Probate Court Journal
Quit-Claim Deed Record
Road District Supervisor's Work Reports
Road Supervisor's Reports
San Francisco Plat
Sheriff's Sale Cerificates
Steamship Relief Freight Charges Ledger
Stock Mark and Brand Record
Tax Rolls
US District Court Case Docket
US District Court Case Records
US District Court Fee Ledger
US District Court Journal Index
US District Court Journal
US District Court Jury Fee Tax Certificates
US District Court Process Records

QUICK LINK to the records inventories!

16. Agreements (CLACOUN028)

1857-1858
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 5 

Series documents contractual agreements recorded by the county clerk. Agreements show date of agreement, consideration, parties' signatures, and date recorded. Subjects of agreements include lumber milling, digging drainage ditches, and Rogue River Indian War claims. Series is not arranged.

 

17. Assessment Rolls (CLACOUN026)

1850-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 5 and Calendar Microfilm

Series used to assess real and personal property in order to determine tax liabilities. 

Assessment rolls show tax year, taxpayer's name, personal property values, name of town in which real property is held, block and lot number of real property, taxes assessed, and assessor's name. The 1852 roll also shows poll tax, number and value of livestock, number and value of wagons, number and value of clocks and watches, and total valuation. Series is arranged chronologically by tax year.

 

18. Census Rolls (CLACOUN023)

1854-1857
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 5 and Calendar Microfilm 

Series used to document county population and to report statistics to the territorial government. Census rolls show resident's name number of legal voters, adult males and females, males aged 10 to 21, females aged 10 to 18, number of males and females under age 10; totals; census date; and census-taker's certification. The 1854 census shows totals only. Series is arranged chronologically by census year.

 

19. Circuit Court Docket (CLACOUN010)

1845-1848
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 4

Series documents actions heard in the circuit court. Docket entries show court term; attorneys', plaintiffs, and defendants names; cause of action; description of action; and date of action. Actions include trespass, assumpsit, liquor law violations, divorce, murder, gambling, and justice court appeals. Series is arranged chronologically by date of case entry.

 

20. Coroner's Inquest Records (CLACOUN015)

1859
.1 cubic feet 

Series documents the county coroner's investigation of suspicious deaths. Records include the coroner's jury summons and coroner's statement of facts. The only case in this series is one "John Doe" Inquest. Series is not arranged.

21. County Commissioners' Billing Records (CLACOUN014)

1859
.1 cubic feet

Series documents billings presented by the county court for audit. Records include warrants, vouchers, receipts, letters, case fee bills, jury and witness lists, and account statements. Series is arranged chronologically by court term.

 

22. County Commissioners' Court Journal (CLACOUN020)

1850-1859
.25 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 3 

Series documents actions taken by the county commissioners during regular court sessions. Entries show court term, court location, court officers' and judges' names, and a description of the court's actions. Actions include issuing licenses, locating the county seat, county building construction, paying county expenses, appointing justices of the peace, and reviewing road supervisor's reports. Series is arranged chronologically by date of journal entry.

 

23. Declarations of Intention (CLACOUN025)

1853-1855
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 5

Series documents the first step in US naturalization proceedings. Declarations show declarant's name, former nationality, renunciation of allegiance to foreign rulers or nations, declarant's signature, date of declaration, and court clerks certification. Series also includes supporting affidavits. Series is not arranged.

 

24. Deed Indexes (CLACOUN002)

1850-1859
.5 cubic feet 

Series used to provide access to deed records. Indexes show grantor's name; grantee's name; township, range, and section numbers; description of property; and deed book letter or number and page number. Series is arranged alphabetically by grantor's or grantee's name.

 

25. Deed Record (CLACOUN003)

1855-1859
.5 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 2 

Series documents deeds filed with and recorded by the county clerk. Entries show grantor's name, grantee's name, consideration, description of property, terms of deed, grantor's signature, witnesses' signatures, certification, date recorded, and recorder's signature. Series is arranged chronologically by date recorded.

 

26. Donation Land Claim Record (CLACOUN009)

1850
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 4

Series documents the recording of donation land claims by the county clerk. Record entries show claimant's name, claim acreage, boundary description, date recorded, and recorder's signature. Series is arranged chronologically by date recorded.

 

27. Election Abstracts (CLACOUN011)

1855-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 5

Series documents the results of county elections. Abstracts show election date, county and precinct name, office contested, candidates' names, votes received, totals, and election judges' signatures. Subjects include the Oregon Constitutional Convention (1857), county officers, legislative representatives, federal officers, and territorial officers. Series is arranged chronologically by election date.

 

28. Judgment Docket (CLALCOUN004)

1846-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series documents judgments entered in county, circuit, and US District Courts. Docket entries show date of judgment, debtor's name, creditor's name, court name, court journal volume and page number, amount of judgment, date entered, date satisfied, and remarks. Series is arranged alphabetically by debtor's name.

 

29. Justice Court Case Records (CIACOU044)

1843-1853
.25 cubic feet
Calendar Microfilm

Series documents cases heard in Clackamas County justice courts. Records include receipts, invoices, case transcripts, affidavits, complaints, summons, writs of execution, arrest warrants, subpoenas, writs of attachment, writs of habeas corpus, jury verdicts, and correspondence. Causes of action include assault, debt recovery, theft, larceny, and trespass. Series is not arranged.

 

30. Juror Lists (CLACOUN024)

1853-1858
.1 cubic feet

Series documents petit and grand jury service in the US District Court. Lists show district number, court term, type of jury, jurors' names, residence, days of jury service, mileage traveled to serve, compensation, and court clerk's certification. Series is arranged chronologically by court term.

 

31. Marriage Record (CLACOUN016)

1853-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 2

Series documents marriages recorded with the county clerk. Record entries show marriage date, groom's name, bride's maiden name, minister's or justice of the peace's name, date recorded, and recorder's signature. Includes an alphabetical index by name of groom. Series is arranged chronologically by date of record.

 

32. McLoughlin Fire Engine Company No. 1 Minute Book (CLACOUN008)

1855-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 4

Series documents the activities and actions of the McLoughlin Fire Engine Company No. 1, a volunteer company organized to fight fires in Oregon City. Entries show date and location of meeting, members present, and a description of the actions of the company. Actions include election of officers, assessment of fines, equipment repair, company financing, and fighting fires (see July 24, 1858 entry). Series is arranged chronologically by meeting date.

 

33. Mortgage Record (CLACOUN007)

1855-1859
.25 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 4

Series documents mortgages filed with and recorded by the county clerk. Record entries show mortgager's and mortgagee's names, description of property, consideration, terms of mortgage, witnesses' names, certification, date recorded, and recorder's signature. Includes an alphabetical index by name of mortgagee. Series is arranged chronologically by date recorded.

 

34. Mortgage Record Index (CLACOUN006)

1850-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series used to provide access to recorded mortgages. Entries show mortgagor's and mortgagee's names, date given, date satisfied, date recorded, and remarks. Most entries are after the territorial period. Series is arranged alphabetically by mortgagor's name.

 

35. Oregon City Council Records (CLACOUN043)

1846-1846
.1 cubic feet
Calendar Microfilm

Series documents the activities of the Oregon City Council. Records include construction proposals, council minutes, council motions, mayor's orders, oaths of office, account statements, and a city assessment roll. Subjects include street repair, city finances, and city officials. Series is not arranged.

 

36. Oregon City Lot Purchase Register (CLACOUN027)

1850
.1 cubic feet

Series documents the sale of lots in Oregon City. Register entries show block number or letter, lot number, date of sale, purchaser's name, price paid, remarks, and total paid. Series is arranged numerically by block number.

 

37. Oregon City Plat Maps (CLACOUN001)

1850-1851
.25 cubic feet 

Series documents the recording of original surveys of Oregon City. Maps show city blocks, lot borders and numbers, street names, streams, the Willamette River, island ownership, public lot locations, and the north south territorial road.

Both maps show the date recorded and have the county clerk's signature, but the 1850 map has a note (circa 1960) attached which states: "not accepted by the US. Gov't because submitted by a non citizen (Canadian) and used rope for survey." Series is not arranged.

 

38. Plat Index (CLACOUN036)

1849-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series used for access to plats filed with the county clerk. Index entries show filer's name, addition name, city name, and plat book volume and page number. Most of the index includes filings after the territorial period. Series is arranged alphabetically by filer's name.

 

39. Probate Court Case Records (CLACOUN035)

1844-1859
1.0 cubic feet

Series documents the probate of estates and the administration of insanity and juvenile guardianships. Records include administrator's bonds, vouchers, petitions, estate inventories, property appraisals, receipts, correspondence, estate account ledgers, letters of administration, bills of sale and guardianship petitions. Series is arranged by case number.

 

40. Probate Court Journal (CLACOUN032)

1844-1849
.25 cubic feet
Microfilm Reels 2 and 3 

Series documents probate court actions. Journal entries show court term, officers' and judges' names, location of court, and actions taken. Actions include appointing estate administrators; approving bonds, estate accountings, and appraisals; revoking appointments; issuing notices, bonds, and letters of administration; and the admittance of wills. Series also includes an internal alphabetical index by estate name. Series is arranged chronologically by date of entry.

 

41. Quit Claim Deed Record (CLACOUN017)

1850-1859
.5 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 3 

Series documents land conveyances recorded with the county clerk. Entries show grantor's and grantee's names, property description, consideration, terms of conveyance, date recorded. and recorder's signature. Series also includes an alphabetical index by grantors' name. The frontispiece to volume 1 is a plat of St. Johns. Series is arranged chronologically by date recorded.

 

42. Road District Supervisor's Work Reports (CLACOUN013)

1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 5 

Series documents labor assessments and road work completed for county commissioners. Reports show road district name, supervisor's name, laborers' names and assessments, work done and to be done, date audited, and supervisor's signature. Series is arranged chronologically by report date.

 

43. Road Supervisor's Reports (CLACOUN021)

1855-1858
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 5

Series documents the construction of roads in Clackamas County. Reports include surveys, field notes, road work completed, worker rosters, and road district boundaries. Information shown includes report date, supervisor's name, road district number, and road location. Series is arranged chronologically by report date.

 

44. San Francisco Plat (CLACOUN041)

1850
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 4

Series documents the recording of the official plat of San Francisco, California in the only US court on the West Coast at the time. Plat shows streets, blocks, surveyor's certification, and court clerk's certification. Series is not arranged.

 

45. Sheriff's Sale Certificates (CLACOUN022)

1855-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series documents the sale of property attached by the county sheriff to satisfy judgments. Certificates show sale date, buyer's name, judgment parties' names, sale property description, amount paid, sheriffs signature, and date recorded. Also includes a few writs of attachment. Series is arranged chronologically by date of sale.

 

46. Steamship Relief Freight Charges Ledger (CLACOUN033)

1858
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 4

Series documents freight shipments on the Reliefs daily Portland Oregon City Portland run. Ledger entries show date, shipping location, consignor's name(s), shipment destination, brands and trademarks, description of shipment, volume, rate, amount paid, and remarks. Series is arranged chronologically by date of entry.

 

47. Stock Mark and Brand Record (CLACOUN019)

1852-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 3

Series documents brands and stock marks recorded with the county clerk. Record entries show mark or brand owner's name, mark or brand description, date recorded, and recorder's signature. Series includes an alphabetical index by owner's name. Series is arranged chronologically by date recorded.

 

48. Tax Rolls (CLACOUN042)

1847-1854
.25 cubic feet.
Calendar Microfilm

Series documents the collection of assessed taxes. Tax roll entries show taxpayer's name, poll tax owed, county tax owed, school tax owed, territorial tax owed, and total tax owed. Some years also include "paid" notations. Series is not arranged.

 

49. US District Court Case Docket (CLACOUN030)

1849-1859
.25 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 5

Series documents actions relating to US District Court cases. Docket entries show court term. plaintiffs and defendant's names, cause of action, attorney's names, judgments, and case disposition. Series is arranged chronologically by date of first court entry.

 

50. US District Court Case Records (CLACOUN034)

1846-1859
4.5 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 4

Series documents cases heard in US District Court. Records include executions, attachments, summons, briefs, judgments, fee bills, pleas, motions, subpoenas, petitions, transcripts, complaints, answers, correspondence, jury lists, verdicts, depositions, account statements, affidavits, bills of exceptions, warrants, confessions, writs of habeas corpus, indictments, and exhibits.

Causes of action include replevin, lien enforcement, divorce, claims for debt, habeas corpus, and ceriatorari.

Series also includes the trials of United States v. Telakite, et al; United States v. Frank Escaloom; and Clackamas County v. Joseph Stanfield which related to the Whitman Massacre in 1847. Series is arranged alphabetically by plaintiffs name.

 

51. US District Court Fee Ledger (CLACOUN029)

1846-1859
.5 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 5

Series documents fees charged and received by the US District Court and the circuit court. Ledger entries show plaintiffs and defendant's names, court term, cause of action, and an itemized listing of case fees. Series is arranged chronologically by date of case entry.

 

52. US District Court Journal Index (CLACOUN031)

1849-1856
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 5

Series used to provide access to the US District Court Journal by case name. Index entries show case name and journal page number(s). Series is arranged alphabetically by plaintiffs name.

 

53. US District Court Journal (CLACOUN037)

1849-1859
.25 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 4

Series documents actions taken in cases heard in US District Court. Journal entries show court term, location of court, jurors' names, case name, cause of action, and description of action. Actions include lien enforcement, habeas corpus, ceriatorari, mutiny, liquor law violations, Indian land sales, claims for debt, theft, arson, divorce, murder, assault, and rape. Series is arranged chronologically by session date.

 

54. US District Court Jury Fee Tax Certificates (CLACOUN012)

1859
.1 cubic feet

Series documents fees due to Clackamas County in US District Court cases. Lists show court term, case name, fees, total fees for term, clerk's certification, and date certified. Series is arranged chronologically by date fee paid.

 

55. US District Court Process Records (CLACOUN040)

1849-1859
.5 cubic feet

Series documents actions taken by and filed with the US District Court clerk which are not included in case records. Records include expense claims, receipts, invoices, petitions, appeals, bonds, jury rosters, correspondence, fee bills, agreements, informal dockets, clerk's minutes, subpoenas, bonds, affidavits, jury verdicts, and correspondence. Subjects include courthouse construction, formation of school districts, poor relief, precinct creation, and jury selection. Some early material is from the Clackamas County Circuit Court. Series is arranged chronologically by court term.

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