Klamath County, California

Klamath County, CA

25 April 1851 -- 28 May 1874

The County that is No More

The state of California was created in 1850.  In the far northwestern corner with its rugged coastline
and acres of trees, mountains and streams, Trinity County covered the whole area from Mendocino County on the south, Shasta County on the east, the Pacific on the west and Oregon Territory on the north.  Trinity County lasted in this configuration for just over a year, from 1850, the year of California's admission to statehood, until 25 April 1851.  Land was split off of the northwestern area and the county of Klamath was created on the coast, extending from approximately the Mad River on the south to the Oregon Territory on the north, and east into the middle of what is now Siskiyou County.
This was Klamath County.

 (Guide to the County Archives of California, Owen C. Coy, 1919)

Larger map

The act that created Klamath County states: "Beginning at the point in the ocean, three miles due west of the mouth of the Mad River, and running thence due east along the north line of Trinity County to the summit of the Coast Range; thence in a northerly direction along the summit of said Coast Range to the parallel of forty-two degrees north latitide; thence due west to the ocean, and three miles therein thence in a south easterly direction parallel with the coast to the place of beginning."

Siskiyou County was created in 1852. The line dividing Klamath County and Siskiyou County to the east was stated as being: "...due north of the mouth of Indian Creek, (being the first large creek adjoining the Indian territory, at a place known as Happy Camp which empties into the Klamath River, on the opposite side below the mouth of Scott's River,) and from thence across Klamath River, running in a south easterly course along the summit of the mountains, dividing the waters of Scott's and Salmon rivers, to the place of beginning."

If you were to try and match these political lines to geographical lines of mountains, rivers and other natural barriers, you would have a nightmare. And so it proved to be.

The disunity of the physical makeup of Klamath County lead to further political disunity also. Del Norte County was carved out of the whole northwestern corner in 1857.

Take a quick look at changes in the political seats of power: Trinidad, just north of the Mad River, was the county seat in the beginning as the depot for the miners' supplies. By 1854, just three years later, Crescent City became the county seat because of its greater population. Yet it did not serve adequately the needs of the miners south and east of the Klamath River. Orleans Bar became the centrally located county seat in 1856.

Klamath County never flourished. It was cut apart by rivers and mountains; there was no real revenue base. Debt increased as rapidly as the residents' dissatisfaction grew.

On 28 May 1874, the state of California offically dissolved Klamath County, dividing the remaining area that had not already become a part of Del Norte County, between Humboldt and Siskiyou Counties.

But where, the genealogist asks, are the Klamath County records?

Hopefully, this site will help you by providing links to current county sites, archives, and even census and record listings.

Index and Links

In Memory of....

Linda L. Worley, the Creator and Publisher of these pages was born September 21, 1940 and passed away on the 7th of Jan 2oo2. She taught college for 10 years, recieved her bachelors degree in journalism in 1967 from Fresno State University, her master's degree in education from Humboldt State University in 1992, and was a graduate of the Church of Latter-Day Saints Institute of Religion. She received her Family History Research Certificate from Brigham Youn University in 1998.
She is remembered and sorely missed.............

Although believed to be correct as presented, if you note any corrections, changes, additions, or find that any links provided on this page are not functioning properly please contact:
Linda Nichols, Crescent City, CA