Provisional and Territorial Records Guide

Wasco County History and Records

Wasco County is named for the Wasco tribe of Indians which lived on the south side of the Columbia River, near The Dalles. When Wasco county was created from a precinct of Clackamas County on January 11, 1854, it consisted of all of Oregon Territory between the Cascades and the Rockies and from latitude 42' to latitude 46'. This was the largest county ever formed in the United States, originally consisting of 130,000 square miles.

The falls near The Dalles served as a gathering place and major trading center for hundreds of Indians, including the Wasco, Paiute, and Warm Springs. The falls had been named Le Grand Dalles de la Columbia (The Great Falls of the Columbia) by French Canadian fur traders. In the 1820s the Hudson's Bay Company established a post and temporary trading center near the falls. American settlement began in 1838 when Protestant missions were established at Lapwei and Waiflatpu. However, the Whitman massacre in 1847 and the subsequent Cayuse Indian War virtually closed eastern Oregon to white settlement for a time. The Indians of the region were moved to the Warm Springs Reservation in 1855 after a treaty was negotiated by Indian Superintendent, Joel Palmer.

The "falls" effectively served as a barrier to travel and acted in the 1840s as the terminus for the Oregon Trail. The construction of a pioneer road over the Cascades in 1845 and the Donation Land Act of 1850 brought families to the area to settle. In 1853 the county had thirty five families residing within its borders. The Dalles, which was designated the county seat had served initially as a way station on the emigrant road to the Willamette Valley. In the 1850s Fort Dalles was established and served as the military headquarters for central and eastern Oregon. The garrison was maintained throughout the 1850s and 1860s to serve as protection for settlers of the region and for travelers.

Gradually seventeen other counties in eastern Oregon were created from Wasco County, which now consists of 2,387 square miles. It is bordered by two rivers, the Columbia to the north and the Deschutes to the east, and by the Warm Springs Indian reservation on the south and Mt. Hood National Forest on the west.

Series Descriptions for Wasco County

Assessment Rolls
County Clerk's Recorded Documents Register
County Commissioner's Court Journal
Declarations of Intention
Justice Court Judgment Record
Probate Court Case Records
Probate Court Journal
Tax Rolls
US District Court Case Records
US District Court Journal
US District Court Process Records

QUICK LINK to the records inventories!

194. Assessment Rolls (WAZCOUNO10)

.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.


195. County Clerk's Recorded Documents Register (WAZCOUN007)

.5 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 14

Series documents the county clerk's recording of documents not normally entered in distinct registers. Entries show type of document, date recorded, and clerk's signature. Recorded documents include mechanics' liens, mortgages, stock brand registrations, land claims, deeds, and affidavits. Series is arranged chronologically by date recorded.


196. County Commissioners' Court Journal (WAZCOUN003)

.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 14

Series documents actions taken by the county commissioners regarding county management. Journal entries show meeting date, meeting location, commissioners' names, and a record of commission actions. Actions include appointing county officers, granting licenses, authorizing county expenditures, supervising road construction, accepting resignations, and defining election precincts. Series is arranged chronologically by meeting date.


197. Declarations of Intention (WAZCOUN001)

.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 14

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 clerk's certification. Series also includes supporting affidavits. Series is arranged chronologically by date recorded.


198. Justice Court Judgment Record (WAZCOUN004)

.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 14

Series documents judgments issued by county justice courts. Record entries show plaintiff's and defendant's names, cause of action, judgment, court costs, date paid, and justice's signature. Series is arranged chronologically by date of judgment.


199. Probate Court Case Records (WAZCOUN009)

.25 cubic feet

Series documents the probate of estates, the administration of insanity guardianships, and the administration of juveniles' guardianships. Records include administrator's bonds, vouchers, petitions, estate inventories, property appraisals, receipts, correspondence, estate account ledgers, letters of administration, and bills of sale. Case A 10 contains the records for the probate case of Indian Henry. Series is arranged numerically by case number.


200. Probate Court Journal (WAZCOUN002)

.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 14

Series documents cases heard in and actions taken by the county probate court. Journal entries show term date, court location, justice's and court officers' names, and summaries of court actions. Court actions include claims against estates, authorization of estate accounts, and the appointment of administrators, guardians and appraisers. Series is arranged chronologically by entry date.


201. Tax Rolls (WAZCOUN011)

.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.


202. US District Court Case Records (WAZCOUN005)

.5 cubic feet

Series documents cases heard in US District Court. Cases include both civil and criminal actions and contain affidavits, indictments, summons, subpoenas. bonds, fee bills, warrants, depositions, jury verdicts, appeals, complaints, confession judgments, attachments, fee bills, and case transcripts. Causes of action include replevin, murder, liquor violations, assault, fornication, gambling, liquor sales to Indians, debts, property ownership disputes, larceny, contested elections, adultery, and appeals from inferior courts.

Some interesting cases include Oregon Territory v. Thomas Throssell for assault on a Willa Indian, on a complaint issued by Indian Agent N.N. Thompson; John Harrison v. James Taylor, in which the black defendant was charged with assault; and Israel Stoley v. Mary Stoley, in which the plaintiff charged the defendant with "adultery and desertion with Indians." Series is arranged alphabetically by defendant's name.


203. US District Court Journal (WAZCOUN006)

.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 14

Series documents actions taken in cases heard in US District Court. Journal entries show court term, court location, presiding judge's name, officers' name, jurors' names, case name, and summary of actions taken. Actions include motions, pleas and rulings concerning felonies, misdemeanors, contested elections, and lower court appeals. Series is arranged chronologically by session date.


204. US District Court Process Records (WAZCOUN008)

.1 cubic feet

Series documents US District Court actions which are not a part of the individual case record. Records include jury rosters, receipts, warrants, verdicts, bonds, depositions, and correspondence. Series is arranged chronologically by term date.

Delta Back Back to individual county histories and records



State Archives • 800 Summer St. NE • Salem, OR 97310

Phone: 503-373-0701 • Fax: 503-378-4118 • reference.archives@state.or.us