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Provisional and Territorial Records Guide

Polk County History and Records

Polk County was created on December 22, 1845 from all of Yamhill County south of a line from George Gray's house (on the coast) to the Willamette River. In 1847, Benton County was created from the portion of Polk County south of a line from the junction of the Willamette and Santiam Rivers and the coast. The county's boundaries remained unchanged until Lincoln County was created in 1893.

Polk County was the sixth county formed in Oregon and was named for President James K. Polk. It occupies 745 square miles from the west bank of the Willamette River to the crest of the Coast Range.

Polk County was originally inhabited by Kalapuya and Luckiamute tribes. Major epidemics in 1782-1783 (smallpox) and 1830-1833 ("fever") killed between eighty and ninety percent of the Indians in the Willamette Valley. By the time of white settlement in Polk County, few Indians remained. In treaties signed in 1851, 1854, and 1855 all tribal claims to county lands were ceded to Polk County for $40,000.

The earliest recorded white settler in Polk County was John Turner, who lived in what is now West Salem with his Cayuse wife. The first settlement established in Polk County was La Creole, in 1843. Within a year, a Baptist church (the second in Oregon) was founded at La Creole.

Independence was founded in 1845 as a terminus for immigrant wagon trains from the Midwest. Over one hundred wagons arrived during the next year. Settlement had also expanded at La Creole. A new town, named Cynthian, had been formed west of La Creole by Cornelius Gilliam. This settlement, renamed Dallas, was made the county seat in 1851.

Monmouth was settled in 1850 by Methodist visionaries. By 1854, Monmouth University had been established on 640 acres donated by the Methodists. The legislative assembly chartered Monmouth University in 1856 and in 1859 it appropriated $5000 to expand the university curriculum and buildings. Another college, La Creole Academy, was built in 1856 between La Creole and Dallas. It began operations in 1857.

Polk County industries were predominantly agricultural and commercial, but timber, ranching, and water transportation were also significant.

Series Descriptions for Polk County

Administrator/Guardian Appointment Record
Assessment Rolls
Census Rolls
Confession Judgments
Estate Account Ledger
Probate Bond Record
Probate Case Fee Ledger
Probate Case Index
Probate Court Journal
Probate Court Journal Index
School District Record Book
Tax Rolls
Will Record

QUICK LINK to the records inventories!

176. Administrator/Guardian Appointment Record (POLCOUN006)

1853-1859
1 cubic feet

Series documents letters of administration issued by the probate court. Entries show estate or case name, administrator's or guardian's name, conditions of administration, date issued, date recorded, and probate judge's signature. Series is arranged chronologically by date entered.

 

177. Assessment Rolls (POLCOUN011)

1850-1859
.1 cubic feet
Calendar Microfilm

Series used to assess real and personal property in order to determine tax liabilities. Assessment rolls show tax year, taxpayer's name, real and personal property values, taxes assessed, and assessor's name. Items assessed include gold dust, scrip, land, livestock, boats, and wagons. Series is not arranged.

 

178. Census Rolls (POLCOUN012)

1849-1856
.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 males and females under age 10; totals; census date; and census taker's certification. Series is not arranged.

 

179. Confession Judgments (POLCOUN003)

1855-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series documents judgments entered in US District Court by confession of the defendant. Judgments show defendant's and plaintiffs names, reason for judgment, amount of judgment, signature of defendant, clerk's certification, and date recorded. Series is arranged chronologically by year.

 

180. Estate Account Ledger (POLCOUN007)

1851-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series documents probate case account charges and receipts. Ledger entries show case name, estate name (if applicable), transaction date, amount, description, and account balance. Series is arranged chronologically by date of first case entry.

 

181. Probate Bond Record (POLCOUN009)

1850-1859
.25 cubic feet

Series documents estate administrator and guardian bonds filed with the probate court. Record entries show estate or case name, bond maker's name(s), bond holder's name, terms of bond, date executed, date recorded, and parties' signatures. Series includes an alphabetical index by bond holder's name. Series is arranged chronologically by date recorded.

 

182. Probate Case Fee Ledger (POLCOUN005)

1851-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series documents court fees charged in probate cases. Register shows estate name, case name, date of transaction, fees charged, and total fees. includes an alphabetical index by name of case. Series is arranged chronologically by date of first case entry.

 

183. Probate Case Index (POLCOUN002)

1853-1859
.25 cubic feet

Series used to provide access to probate case records. Index entries showcase name, case number, and volume and page number of final settlement. Series is arranged alphabetically by case name.

 

184. Probate Court Journal (POLCOUN010)

1853-1859
.25 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 14

Series documents actions taken by the county probate court. Journal entries show court term, court location, session date, presiding judge's name, and a summary of the action taken by the court. Actions include the appointment of guardians and administrators, the allowance of estate costs, the appointment of appraisers, and final settlements. Series is arranged chronologically by entry date.

 

185. Probate Court Journal Index (POLCOUN004)

1850-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series used to provide access to the probate court journal. Index entries showcase name, case action, and journal page number. Series is arranged alphabetically by case name.

 

186. School District Record Book (POLCOUN001)

1854-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 14

Series documents the activities of school district number nine. Record shows teachers' account ledger, district board minutes, clerk's receipt ledger, clerks expenditure ledger, and student attendance report. Subjects include school curricula, election and appointment of district officials, school finances, teacher salaries, and textbook selection. Series is not arranged.

 

187. Tax Rolls (POLCOUN013)

1853
.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.

 

188. Will Record (POLCOUN008)

1853-1859
.25 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 14

Series documents wills admitted for probate and recorded by the county court. Record shows text of will, affidavits of witnesses, clerk's certification, and date recorded. Includes an alphabetical index by name of will maker. Series is arranged chronologically by date recorded.

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