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Provisional and Territorial Records Guide

Clatsop County History and Records

The provisional government created Clatsop County out of the northern and western portions of Tuality District on June 22, 1844. Five days later all of Clatsop County north of the Columbia River was used to create Vancouver County. The legislative assembly passed acts in 1845 and 1853 further defining Clatsop County's boundaries. The county occupies an area of 820 square miles.

Clatsop County was named for the Clatsop Indians, one of many Chinook tribes living in Oregon. The journals of Lewis and Clark mention the tribe, which gave its name to Fort Clatsop and the county. Astoria, Oregon's oldest city, was founded in 1811 and the first US post office west of the Rocky Mountains was established there in 1847. Prior to the building of a courthouse in 1855, county business took place in the homes of various prominent citizens.

There is no definite record of the organization of county government until June 3, 1845, when a justice of the peace and a constable were elected. The first county seat was Lexington. Two months later the legislative assembly passed a bill establishing district courts. Three district judges and a sheriff were appointed by the legislative assembly. These district or county courts should not be confused with US District Courts established after Oregon became a territory in 1848.

In 1846 laws were passed making justices of the peace constitute the county board of commissioners and requiring all county officers to be elected. In accordance with these acts an election was held in June, 1847 to select three justices of the peace, a clerk, a sheriff, an assessor, and a treasurer.

Several adjustments were made to county government after the creation of Oregon Territory in 1848. Circuit courts were abolished and replaced by U. S. District Courts. In 1852, Clatsop County was included in the 3rd Judicial District. In 1853, after Washington Territory was established, the districts were reorganized and Clatsop, Clackamas, Washington, and Yamhill Counties formed the 2nd Judicial District.

Before 1850 most of Clatsop County's government activity occurred in Lexington. As Astoria grew, activities gradually shifted to that city and petitions to the county court were granted establishing Astoria as the "place of holding elections." However, it was not until 1854 that the legislative assembly provided for a vote to decide the location of the county seat. The voters were offered a choice of the five town sites which then existed in the vicinity "McClure's Astoria," "John Adair's Claim", Fort Clatsop, Fort George, and "Lower Astoria." "McClure's Astoria" won, receiving 95 votes to a combined vote of 80 for the remaining sites. The choice may have been influenced by McClure's offer of two acres of land as a permanent site for public buildings an offer which was immediately made good.

The first law enforcement officer for Clatsop District was the constable, who was elected on June 3, 1845. Shortly afterward, the legislative assembly created the office of county sheriff and appointed a sheriff for Clatsop County to serve until the regular election. The function of public prosecutor was performed by a territorial officer, known as the prosecuting attorney, until 1853, when the office was provided for each judicial district. The office of county coroner was created by the legislative assembly in 1847. Clatsop County elected its first coroner in 1849.

There were no public schools in Clatsop County until 1851. For the next three years public education was conducted in a subscription school located at Clatsop Plains. The first public school in the county was established at Astoria in 1854. The office of county superintendent of schools was created by the legislative assembly in 1855.

The first assessor, an ex officio member of the board of equalization, was elected in 1847. Tax collection duties were performed by the sheriff. The first treasurer was appointed in 1844 and has been elective since 1847. Although a statute of 1854 provided for the election of surveyors in the then existing counties, the first surveyor of Clatsop County was appointed by the county court in 1857. Astoria had its first meeting of a governing body on June 6, 1856, shortly after it was incorporated.

Series Descriptions for Clatsop County

Assessment Rolls
Census Rolls
Coroner's Inquest Transcripts
Circuit Court Docket
Circuit Court Jury Summons
Circuit Court Minutes
Circuit Court Summons
Circuit Court Term Convening Notices
County Commissioners Court Journal
County Court Minutes
Deeds
Election Certificates
Election Records
Estate Administrator Appointment Record
Justice Court Process Records
Land Claims
Legislative Act Transmittals
Legislative Assembly Records
Legislative Correspondence
Livestock Brand Applications
Musket Receipts
Probate Court Case Index
Probate Court Case Records
Probate Court Journal
Receipts and Expenditures Report
Reimbursement Claims
Road Survey Records
Sheriff's Correspondence
Tax Rolls
Treasurer's Receipts
US District Court Dockets
US District Court Jury Summons
US District Court Process Records
Vote Abstract
Voting Precinct Petition
Writ of Attachment

QUICK LINK to the records inventories!


56. Assessment Rolls (CLPCOUN003)

1847-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 6 

Series used to assess real and personal property in order to determine tax liabilities. Assessment rolls show tax year, property owner's name, real and personal property values, property description, and taxes assessed, items assessed include real estate, livestock, clocks and watches, merchandise, gold dust, and wagons. The 1859 roll also includes a censUS Series is arranged chronologically by tax year.

 

57. Census Rolls (CLPCOUN035)

1849-1858
.1 cubic feet
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, and number of males and females under age 10; totals; census date; and census taker's certification. Series is not arranged.

 

58. Coroner's Inquest Transcripts (CLPCOUN009)

1852
.1 cubic feet

Series documents the findings of jurors concerning the cause of death of Mr. Cawley and an unidentified male body. Document provides a transcript of testimony given by the justice of peace acting ex officio as the coroner. Series is arranged alphabetically by deceased's name.

 

59. Circuit Court Docket (CLPCOUN012)

1848
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 6

Series documents cases entered in the circuit court calendar. Docket entries show names, litigants' names, cause of action. court session date, and case filing date. Series is not arranged.

 

60. Circuit Court Jury Summons (CLPCOUN020)

1847-1848
.1 cubic feet

Series documents orders of the county commissioners to the county sheriff to summon prospective jurors for circuit court jury duty. Summons show citizen's name, court location, and court session date. Series is not arranged.

 

61. Circuit Court Minutes (CLPCOUN010)

1847
.1 cubic feet

Series documents the proceedings of the circuit court. Minutes show court session date, location of court, officers present, and case actions. The only action recorded is an order for the sheriff to summon grand jurors. Series is not arranged.

62. Circuit Court Summons (CLPCOUN013)

1847
.1 cubic feet

Series documents summons issued by the court to request individuals' presence at case trials. Summons show date, case name, and summoned person's name. Series is not arranged.

 

63. Circuit Court Term Convening Notices (CLPCOUN011)

1847-1848
.1 cubic feet

Series is used to announce the convening of circuit court sessions. Notices show court location, date of convening, and certification. Series is not arranged.

 

64. County Commissioners Court Journal (CLPCOUN005)

1850-1859
.25 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 6

Series documents the proceedings of the county commissioners court. Entries show term, court location, judge's and officer's names, session date, and summary of court actions and orders. Actions include orders regarding license issuance, road surveys, and treasury withdrawals; appointments and resignations of election precinct judges and road district supervisors; bond approvals and continuances; attachments; and taxes received. Series is arranged chronologically by date of court action.

 

65. County Court Minutes (CLPCOUN014)

1845-1857
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 6

Series documents proceedings of county court sessions. Minutes show date of session, location of court, officer present, and case actions. Actions include replevin writs, contingent proposals for land and labor donations for a court house. jury verdict slips, meeting notices, replevin law suit bonds, promissory notes, and auditor's affidavit of posting of tax sales with attached newspaper clipping. Series is arranged chronologically by session date.

 

66. Deeds (CLPCOUN0015)

1852-1858
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 6 

Series documents deed transactions recorded with the county clerk. Records include conveyance deeds, lien bonds, quit claim deeds, land indentures, bills of sale, debt collection assignments, chattel mortgages, and affidavits. Information includes conditions and parties to agreement, dates, boundary lines, signatures, and book and page numbers of the deed record. Series is arranged chronologically by date recorded.

 

67. Election Certificates (CLPCOUN008)

1846-1858
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 6 

Series documents the county clerk's certification of election results for county officers. County officers included are road supervisor, justice of the peace, sheriff, auditor, and constable. Certificates show date of election, election outcome and tally, oath of office, bond principal and surety names, bond amount, conditions and obligations, and signatures. Series is arranged chronologically by election date.

 

68. Election Records (CLPCOUN019)

1845-1848
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 6

Series documents local elections held in Clatsop County. Records include notices of election, instructions to election judges, election judge appointments, voter lists, vote tally lists, and poll book sheets. Subjects and issues include election judge appointments, constitutional convention election notice, organic law amendment, and the election of local officials. Series is arranged chronologically by election year.

 

69. Estate Administrator Appointment Record (CLPCOUN006)

1852-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 6

Series documents the appointment of administrators of estates and a record of appointed administrator's bond agreements. Record entries show date, administrator's name, bond amount, conditions of bond, decedent's name, and probate judge's name. Series includes an alphabetical index by estate name. Series is arranged chronologically by date of court action.

 

70. Justice Court Process Records (CLPCOUN021)

1845-1856
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 7

Series documents justice court cases. Records include judgments, arrest warrants, subpoenas, certificates of conviction, affidavits, and appearance bonds. Charges include mutiny aboard the Eagle, assault, horse theft, opium smoking, and petty theft. Series is arranged chronologically by date of record.

 

71. Land Claims (CLPCOUN022)

1848-1858
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 7

Series documents claims for land submitted by citizens for recording by the county clerk. Information includes a description of the surveyed boundaries, number of acres claimed, certification that the claimed land has been occupied or improved by the claimant, page number of US Land Office record book, and signatures of claimant and recorder. Claims may include maps. Series is arranged chronologically by claims date.

 

72. Legislative Act Transmittals (CLPCOUN024)

1845
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 7 

Series consists of two transmittals from Governor George Abernethy to county judges concerning copies of the Organic Act (1845) sent to district judges, the establishment of a probate court for each district, and authorization for the president of the county court to act as ex officio probate judge. Series is not arranged.

 

73. Legislative Assembly Records (CLPCOUN023)

1851
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 7

Records include two legislative acts transmitted to the Clatsop County Court. One is an act ordering the location of a county seat with the names of persons appointed to decide on the location. The other act locates and authorizes a road between Astoria and the Willamette Valley. Series is not arranged.

 

74. Legislative Correspondence (CLPCOUN025)

1845
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 7

Series documents instructions from John E. Long secretary of the legislative assembly, to the county courts. Subjects include a listing of courts in which judicial power is vested, election of judicial officers, appointment procedures, military duty exemption, ex officio duties, sheriffs election and duties, land owner tax liability, grand and petit juror compensation, and government issued scrip. Series is not arranged.

 

75. Livestock Brand Applications (CLPCOUN027)

1850
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 7 

Series shows a description of the livestock brand applied for, date, signatures of the applicant and the county clerk, and the page and book numbers of the county recorder's record book. Series is arranged chronologically by application date.

 

76. Musket Receipts (CLPCOUN028)

1856-1858
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 7

Series documents the receipt of government issued muskets for militia use. Receipts show conditions of loan, date of receipt, and signatures of the county clerk and the recipient. Conditions state that muskets were to be kept in good condition, were not to leave the county, and were to be used only in "defense against the Indians or other hostilities." Series is arranged chronologically by date issued.

 

77. Probate Court Case Index (CLPCOUN002)

1848-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series provides access to probate court cases. This index shows the surname and given name of the person and the assigned case number. Series is arranged alphabetically by case name.

 

78. Probate Court Case Records(CLPCOUNOOI)

1848-1859
1.5 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, and bills of sale. Series is arranged alphabetically by case name.

 

79. Probate Court Journal (CLPCOUN004)

1850-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 6 

Record of probate actions shows term, location of court, judge's and officer's names, session date, and summary of court actions. Actions and orders include the appointment of estate administrators and guardians; estate apportionment approvals; filing of wills, accounts, appraisals, and bonds; the release of guardians and administrators from their duties; and the payment of estate expenditures. Series is arranged chronologically by date of court action.

 

80. Receipts and Expenditures Report (CLPCOUN029)

1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 7

Reports show debit and credit amounts for the year ending July 12, 1859; receipted amounts for delinquent taxes and fines collected for the previous three years; expenditures for the school district, elections, county judges, and roads; and amounts remaining unpaid for the years 1850 1858. Series is arranged chronologically by fiscal year.

 

81. Reimbursement Claims (CLPCOUN030)

1848-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series documents claims for reimbursement from the county court. Records include claims by surveyors for road surveying services; bills for beef, flour, and tobacco; and sample claims. Series is arranged chronologically by claim date.

 

82. Road Survey Records (CLPCOUN31)

1850-1858
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 7

Series documents the location and survey of county roads. Records include county commission orders, petitions, road and bridge survey reports, county court transcripts, surveyor appointment oaths, and road maps. Series is arranged chronologically by transaction date.

 

83. Sheriff's Correspondence (CLPCOUN026)

1856
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 7

Series consists of a letter to Sheriff Thomas Hart instructing him to receive two judgment executions and to confiscate all property, including a mill and the pilot boat California. The sheriff was also instructed not to advertise the sale of the property until further instructions were received. Series is not arranged.

 

84. Tax Rolls (CLPCOUN036)

1852-1859
.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.

 

85. Treasurer's Receipts (CLPCOUN032)

1847
.1 cubic feet

Series documents the receipt of property attested to be valued at $61.75 by the county treasurer and the issuance of scrip in exchange. Series is not arranged.

 

86. US District Court Dockets (CLPCOUN016)

1849-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 7

Series documents actions relating to US District Court cases. Docket entries show plaintiffs and defendant's names, cause of action, and subsequent order. Causes of action include indictments for selling liquor without a license, chancery, petition in debt, attachment, assumpsit, and appeals. Series is arranged chronologically by date of docket entry.

 

87. US District Court Jury Summons (CLPCOUN017)

1851-1858
.1 cubic feet

Series documents the summoning of prospective jurors as selected by the county commissioners and witnesses. Records include grand and petit jury summons, sheriffs fee bills, witness subpoenas, and jury lists. Summons show names of summoned jurors, time and location of court session, and clerks. sheriffs, and judge's names. Series is arranged chronologically by date of summons.

 

88. US District Court Process Records (CLPCOUN018)

1848-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series documents procedural records of cases brought before the US District Court. Records include appearance bonds, cost bills, writs of attachment, arrest warrants, subpoenas, replevin witness fee lists, notices to take depositions, court orders, sheriff's certificates of real estate sales, affidavits, indictments, jury summons orders, and recognizances. Subjects include selling liquor to an Indian, larceny, guardianship of a minor, discharging ballast into a navigable waterway, license violations, and contempt of court. Series is arranged chronologically by date of court session.

 

89. Vote Abstract (CLPCOUN007)

1847-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 7

Series documents the results of Clatsop Precinct and Astoria Precinct elections for local officers. Abstracts show election date, precinct location, offices contested, and the number of votes for each candidate. officers include assessor, justice of the peace, constable, coroner, county commissioner, representative, and sheriff. Series also includes an election summary. Series is not arranged.

 

90. Voting Precinct Petition (CLPCOUN033)

1850
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel  

Series consists of a petition to the Clatsop County Probate Court signed by twenty-eight petitioners for the establishment of a voting precinct in Astoria and the appointment of election judges. The petition also gives a description of the proposed precinct boundaries. Series is not arranged.

 

91. Writ of Attachment (CLPCOUN034)

1848
.1 cubic feet

Series documents the attachment of property pending the determination of suits heard in circuit court. The only record in this series consists of an unsigned writ of attachment issued by the circuit court in the case of John Shively and James Welsh concerning a land claim argument. Series is not arranged.

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