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Provisional and Territorial Records Guide

Umpqua County History and Records

Umpqua County was formed on January 24, 1851, from the southern portion of Benton County and the western portion of Lane County. It was the twelfth county formed in Oregon. Over time, the county's area was annexed to other counties: Douglas County was formed in 1852 from the portion of Umpqua County located east of the Coast Range. Coos County was formed in 1853 and annexed all of Umpqua County south of the Umpqua River. In that same year, Lane County received the northern portion of what remained of Umpqua County. The county ceased to exist in December of 1862, when its remaining land was incorporated into Douglas County.

The name Umpqua County comes from both the Umpqua River, which flows through the area, and the Umpqua tribe. The county was the home to both the upper and lower Umpqua, the Calapooya, the Yoncalla, and the southern Molalla tribes.

Early explorations into the Umpqua watershed included the fur trader Alexander Ross in 1819-1821; the party of Fian McDonald and Thomas McKay in 1825; and Peter Skene Ogden of the Hudson's Bay Company in his travels south from the Columbia River in 1825-1826. Alexander Roderick McLeod (also of the Hudson's Bay Company) explored the mouth of the Umpqua River in 1826, and David Douglas conducted a botanical exploration of the Umpqua Valley and South Umpqua country in September and October of 1826.

In 1828, two groups of trappers, one from Fort Vancouver and the other, led by Jedediah Smith from the Sacramento Valley, explored the area. Smith's group was massacred at the mouth of the Smith River, but he escaped to Fort Vancouver. The Hudson's Bay Company erected Fort Umpqua in 1836 at the present day site of Elkton.

Ewing Young passed through the area in both 1832 and 1837 while driving cattle from California to the Willamette Valley. Missionaries Jason Lee and Gustavus Hines travelled to the mouth of the Umpqua River in 1840. In 1841, the U.S. Exploring Expedition dispatched a patrol that passed through the area that became Umpqua County. The Applegate Trail from southern Oregon to the Willamette Valley was established in 1846 and passed through the Umpqua River Valley.

By the end of 1851, settlements in Umpqua County included Scottsburg, Winchester, Umpqua City, and Elkton. The first meeting of the new county government was held in June of 1851 at Elkton. The county seat alternated between Elkton and Scottsburg until 1855 when the former became the seat until the county was dissolved.

Series Descriptions for Umpqua County

Assessment Rolls
Census Rolls

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192. Assessment Rolls (UMPCOUN001)

1852-1859
.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.

 

193. Census Rolls (UMPCOUN002)

1853-1859
.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.

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