Provisional and Territorial Records Guide
Pierce County History and Records
Pierce County was created on December 22, 1852 from the northern portion of Thurston County. The county was named after the newly elected president of the United States, Franklin Pierce. The earliest area of settlement was at Fort Steilacoom. Steilacoom was made the county seat in 1853, but it was moved to the rapidly growing city of Tacoma in 1880. Two election precincts were established at Steilacoom City and Nesqually Plains.
Although a probate court was established in 1852, it was not until January 6, 1853, that an act appointing officers for Pierce County was passed by the territorial legislative assembly. Three commissioners, a sheriff, and a probate clerk were appointed to serve until the next election.
Washington Territory was created on March 2, 1853 and Pierce County was no longer under the jurisdiction of Oregon Territory.