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Pierce County, Washington Genealogy

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Guide to Pierce County Washington ancestry, family history, and genealogy. Birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records, since 1852, when the county was formed.

Mount Rainier over Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington
County QuickStart:



WA ORP.png

Pierce County, Washington
Map
Map of Washington highlighting Pierce County
Location in the state of Washington
Map of the U.S. highlighting Washington
Location of Washington in the U.S.
Facts
Founded December 22, 1852
County Seat Tacoma
Courthouse
Address Pierce County Courthouse
930 Tacoma Ave South
Tacoma, WA 98402
Phone: 253.798.7455
Pierce County Website


County Overview[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for the U.S. President Franklin Pierce. The County is located in the west-central area of the state.[1]

Parent County(s)[edit | edit source]

Pierce County, Washington was created 22 December 1852 from Thurston.[2]

County Seat: Tacoma [3]. See also Towns and Communities in Pierce County, Washington Genealogy. For Courthouse, see Archives, libraries, etc.

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Pierce County Courthouse
930 Tacoma Ave South
Tacoma, WA 98402
Phone: 253.798.7455
Pierce County Website

County Auditor has marriage and land records.
County Clerk has divorce, probate and court records from 1890 and adoption records. [5]

See also Archives, libraries, etc. in Pierce County, Washington Genealogy.

Dates of Major County Records[edit | edit source]

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[6]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1891 1853 1891 1855 1858 1855 1850
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1907.
General compliance by 1917.
Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Topics for Pierce County, Washington Genealogy[edit | edit source]

The topics or headings on this page describe records that are used for genealogy and family history. They include links to web sites with indexes, images, or information about the county.


Bible Records[edit | edit source]

 

Biography[edit | edit source]

Biographical information is often found in state and local histories or genealogies. See also Washington Biography.

Business and Commerce[edit | edit source]

 

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county
FindAGrave Family History Library FindAGrave
Tombstone Project WorldCat Interment.net
Billion Graves (name) Washington Periodicals WA State Digital Archives
WAGenWeb Archives Linkpendium
Billion Graves Genealogy Trails
WAGenWeb
See Washington Cemeteries for more information.

Cemetery records often reveal birth, death, relationship, military, and religious information. Tombstones, sextons (caretakers) records, and burial records each have slightly different information. See Washington Cemeteries.


Census[edit | edit source]

Federal Census Contents
Names, ages, birthplaces 1850–1940
Birthplaces of parents 1880–1940
Relationships 1880–1940
Family and Neighbors All years
Immigration year 1900–1930
Citizenship 1910–1940

Censuses 1) Give names, ages, and more about the family; 2) Pinpoint the area to find other records; and 3) Provide clues for further research.



Church Records[edit | edit source]

The information church records provide depends upon the church practices and the record keepers. Records may include names, ages, and dates of events such as baptism, marriage, or burial. See Washington Church Records.

  • Church records (microfilmed originals or published transcripts) for Pierce County, Washington Genealogy are listed in the FamilySearch catalog. (Press space bar to select town.)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit | edit source]

Ward and Branch Records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  • Lincoln (Tacoma)
  • Tacoma
  • Tacoma Central
Lutheran[edit | edit source]
  • Records of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Tacoma, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at Archives.com ($).

Correctional Institutions[edit | edit source]

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Your ancestors may be found in court records as defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses, or jurors. Court records can clarify family relationships, places of residence, occupations, and family history. See Washington Court Records for courts used through the years.

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For specialized court records, see Divorce  · Guardianship  · Land  · Naturalization · Probate

  • Pierce Frontier Justice. Part of "Frontier Justice’’: Guide to the Court Records of Washington Territory, 1853-1889 at Washington State Digital Archives. (Free Index, no images)
    • The court procedure of Frontier Justice touch nearly all pioneers of Washington Territory. The index has many abstracts that provide names and what is happening in disputes, settlements in civil and criminal cases as well as probate, equity and admiralty cases.

Directories[edit | edit source]

 

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

 

Ethnic, Political or Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

 

American Indian[edit | edit source]
Japanese[edit | edit source]

World War II Files, 1942-1946

Public Welfare/Social Security Department, (Japanese Internment) Assistance Cases, Evacuee Referrals for Resettlement and Assistance, 1945-1946 from the Washington State Archives – Digital Archives

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

 

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

 

Kitsap CountyMason CountyThurston CountyLewis CountyYakima CountyKittitas CountyKing CountyWA PIERCE.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources


Genealogy[edit | edit source]

A FamilySearch Community Tree is available for this place.
Many local libraries and societies have collections of family genealogies. County histories or biographies often include brief genealogies of the featured persons. 

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Guardianship of orphans or adults unable to manage their own affairs were handled by the probate and the District courts. See Washington Court Records.

History[edit | edit source]

Local histories for Pierce County, Washington Genealogy may include biographies, history of churches, schools, local government with names of officials, military information, and more. See Washington Local Histories.

  • History of the Puget Sound Country, Volume 1, Volume 2 by William Farrand Prosser [New York, Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1903]
History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Historical County Boundaries from Newberry Library[7]

Emphasis for this timeline is on events that affected migration, records, or record-keeping. Unless otherwise mentioned, the events below were gleaned from Paula Becker. Pierce County -- Thumbnail History, History Link.org Essay 8001.

  • The land that would become Pierce County was home to the present day Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin, Steilacoom, and Muckleshoot tribes.
  • 1833 April - Hudson's Bay Company employee Archibald McDonald established Fort Nisqually.
  • 1841 May 11 - The crews of the U.S. Navy ships Vincennes and Porpoise, dropped anchor near Fort Nisqually during the first American charting of Puget Sound.
  • 1849 - In response to increasing tensions between Indians and settlers, the United States Army established Fort Steilacoom.
  • 1852 December 22 - Pierce County was established.
  • 1853 - March 2, U.S. President Millard Fillmore establishes Washington Territory.
  • 1854 December 26 - Leaders of major Western Washington tribes, met with Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens and signed a treaty relinquishing their land.
  • 1855 April 30 - The United States Congress ratified the Treaty of Medicine Creek.
  • Family farming was essential to the survival of early Pierce County pioneers.
  • Commercial farming in Pierce County has over time included hops, flower bulbs, berries, dairy cattle, and Christmas trees.

Land and Property[edit | edit source]

Land Records reveal
Yes or Maybe  Y  M
Seller (Grantor) Green check.png  
Seller's Spouse Green check.png  
Buyer (Grantee) Green check.png  
Heirs   Green check.png
Witnesses Green check.png  
Land Description and Dates Green check.png  
Tips -or- Land Contents

Land records (especially deeds) may give the name of a spouse, heirs, and witnesses, who may be relatives or in-laws.

County deeds, mortgages, and leases show transfers from person to person. See also Court Records for actions involving real estate. See Washington Land for government-to-person records.

  • Land Records, 1883-1919 at Washington, County Land Records, 1850-1954 at FamilySearch Historical Collections. (Free, browse images)
    • See what genealogical information may be in these records.
    • Includes Deeds, 1883-1919 (vols 107-398); Patents, 1886-1901 (vol 192)
  • Land Records 1859-1935 Part of Washington, County Records, 1856-2009 at FamilySearch Historical Collections. (Free, browse images)
    • Includes Deeds 1883-1931 (vols 107-524); Direct index to mortgages 1859-1895; General index grantors 1859-1935; General index grantees 1888-1889; Patents 1886-1901; Reverse index to mortgages 1859-1895.

Maps[edit | edit source]

 

Wapierce.jpg
This map highlights the county within the state of Washington. The map soon will have inter-active links.

Migration[edit | edit source]

Most residents came to Washington from other states or crossed the border from Canada. (See Seattle Passenger Lists for those who came from other countries.) Although few other migration records exist, try:

Censuses (use birthdates and places of children as clues)
Land (1st deed may reveal previous residence)
Death-related records of children may give town or county of birth
• Records of relatives and neighbors

Military[edit | edit source]

 

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Declarations of Intent before 1906 often include the nation of origin, his* foreign and "Americanized" names, residence, and date of arrival. See Washington Naturalization and Citizenship for more information.     *Women were not naturalized until 1922 in the United States.

  • County Naturalization Records, 1850-1982. at Washington, County Naturalization Records, 1850-1982 at FamilySearch Historical Collections. (Free, browse images)
    • See what genealogical information may be in these records.
    • Included in the collection: Certificate of citizenship 1889-1906; Declaration of intention 1884-1924; Index to declarations and final decrees of citizenship 1854-1906; Index 1854-1911 vol 3; Petitions 1906-1912.

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Small town newspapers provide historical content and contain obituaries, birth or death notices, legal notices, and community news, such as visits to or from out-of-town relatives. See Washington Newspapers for tips, resources, and details.

Finding More Washington Newspapers

Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Pierce County, Washington Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:

  • WorldCat (For instructions see WorldCat Online Catalog).
  • Do a search for these and other records in the FamilySearch Catalog. To select a county in Washington, add a comma, slide way down to the county list, then click Search. (Almost every state seems to have a Washington County)

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Obituaries may mention birth, marriage, spouse, parents, living family members, education, occupation, and more. See Washington Obituaries for state level collections and United States Obituaries for tips and insights.

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See also: NewspapersLibrariesSocietiesFuneral Homes • Obituaries of neighboring counties or of the person's previous residence • Family records.

Also check:

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

 

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate records identify heirs of the decedents, give the (approximate) death dates, and provide specifics about property holdings. The records were kept by the county judge.

These include wills, inheritance records, dockets, and other documents regarding property and estates of individuals who have died. See also Court Records for civil actions involving estates. Also see Washington Probate Records.

Public Records[edit | edit source]

Public records are documents created by civil authorities that either don't fit comfortably in another topic, or that could fit in several topics.

School Records[edit | edit source]

 

  • Tacoma School Records Part of Washington, County Records, 1856-2009 at FamilySearch Historical Collections. (Free, browse images)
    • See what genealogical information may be in these records.
    • Includes: Tacoma District school registers 1895-1896; Tacoma school register 1888-1889.

Taxation[edit | edit source]

Washington tax records complement land records and can supplement the years between censuses. There may be gaps of several years in the tax records of some counties. For more information, see the wiki page Washington Taxation.

  • Assessment Rolls part of Washington, County Records, 1856-2009 at FamilySearch Historical Collections. (Free, browse images)
    • Includes Assessment Rolls, 1881-1885; Duplicate assessment rolls, 1877, 1884-1886; Original assessment rolls, 1886; Property assessment and tax rolls, 1859-1869

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

The county auditors in Washington kept records of birth, marriage, and death. The county clerk has the divorce records - the earliest dates to the present.

Visit the Washington State Department of Health website to order a Washington Birth, Death, Marriage or Divorce Certificate. See Washington Vital Records for details and history of the records. .

Birth[edit | edit source]
Birth Records reveal
Yes or Maybe
 Y  M
Name of Child Green check.png  
Birth Date and Place Green check.png  
Parent's Names Green check.png  
Mother's Maiden Name Green check.png  
Parent's Ages   Green check.png
Parents' State or Country of Birth Green check.png  
Name of Doctor or Midwife Green check.png  

In 1891, coroners, physicians, and midwives were to "return" births and deaths to the county auditor. Many went unrecorded. In 1907, the State Center for Health Statistics assumed this responsibility.[8]

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See Washington Online Genealogy Records for indexes.
Also see Washington Birth Records.

For earlier or unrecorded births, search:


Marriage[edit | edit source]
Marriage Records reveal
Yes or Maybe
 Y  M
Date of Marriage or License Green check.png  
Names of Bride and Groom Green check.png  
Ages Green check.png  
Birth Places Green check.png  
Residences Green check.png  
Names of Parents   Green check.png
Husband's Occupation   Green check.png
Witnesses Green check.png  
Minister or Officiator Green check.png  

Marriage records include certificates, marriage returns, license applications or affidavits. Counties kept the records until 1968, when the state took over.


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See Washington Online Genealogy Records for indexes.
Also see Washington Marriage Records.

  • 1885-1959 - Marriage Returns, 1885-1959. Part of: Washington, Pierce County Marriage Returns, 1891-1950 at FamilySearch Historical Collections. (Free, browse images)
  • See what genealogical content may be in these records.
  • Includes marriage certificate information, dates, names, and witlessness.
Divorce[edit | edit source]

Divorce records give the names of the parties and may give the date and place of their marriage. See Washington Vital Records for excellent information.

Online Records

Death[edit | edit source]
Death Records reveal
Yes or Maybe
 Y  M
Name of Deceased Green check.png  
Death Date and Place Green check.png  
Age or Birth Date and Place Green check.png  
Parent's Names Green check.png  
Mother's Maiden Name Green check.png  
Name of Spouse   Green check.png
Residence Green check.png  
Occupation Green check.png  

In 1891, coroners, physicians and midwives were to report (or return) all births and deaths under their supervision to County Auditors. On July 1, 1907, the State took over....[9]

ArrowGreen.svg.png

See Washington Online Genealogy Records for indexes.
Also see Washington Death Records.

Voting Registers[edit | edit source]

 

Websites[edit | edit source]



Sites with online indexes or images of records
WAGenWeb for Pierce County Free Data may be submitted by individuals or complete transcriptions
USGenWeb Free Data may be submitted by individuals or may be complete transcriptions
Washington State Digital Archives Free Includes indexes, some linked to images.
  • Type county name, click Search, then select a collection.
  • Collections were posted to the appropriate headings for this Wiki page in December, 2013.
FamilySearch Historical Collections Free Search indexes or browse images at FamilySearch.org.
  • Click "Last Updated." Collections through December 2013 have been posted to the appropriate topics for this Wiki page.
Sites that search for links pertaining to Pierce County, Washington Genealogy
Pierce/ Websites at RootsWeb - Pierce WA Free Data may be submitted by individuals or may be complete transcriptions
Linkpendium Free Click links. Some sites they link to may have fees ($)
CyndisList Free Click links. Some sites they link to may have fees ($)
StateofUS.com Free "Pierce County, Washington Facts" (mis-labeled "Pierce County, Alabama Facts")
Major catalogs for hard copy collections of Pierce County, Washington Genealogy
Books, microfilm, or manuscripts of genealogical records
FamilySearch catalog Select topics. To select towns, add a comma to the search box.
WorldCat To find nearby libraries that have specific items, see WorldCat Online Catalog.
Allen County Public Library (Indiana)
See also local libraries and Washington Archives and Libraries

Archives, Libraries, etc.[edit | edit source]

Resources for Pierce County, Washington Genealogy are available in libraries, archives, and other repositories at all levels: the town, the county, the state (including universities), and the nation.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes.

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Local public libraries—even smaller ones—often have Unique Genealogical Collections that are not online for the area they serve. Many libraries in Washington have an area dedicated to local history and genealogy.


  • Tacoma Public Library
    1102 Tacoma Ave S
    Tacoma, WA 98402
    Phone: 253-591-5606
    Website
Branch locations and hours
  • Pierce County Library System
    3005 112th Street E
    Tacoma, WA 98446-2215
    Phone: 253-548-3300
Branch locations and hours
  • Puyallup Public Library
    324 S Meridian
    Puyallup, WA 98371
    Phone: 253- 841-5454
    Website
Museums[edit | edit source]

 

Societies[edit | edit source]

 

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit Hometown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[10]

Cities
Towns
Unincorporated communities
  • Shore Acres
  • Shorewood Beach
  • Sunny Bay
  • Sunrise Beach
  • Sylvan
  • Tehaleh
  • Victor
  • Villa Beach
Native American communities
Census-designated places
Ghost towns

‡This populated place also has portions in an adjacent county or counties

Military Bases[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Pierce County, Washington," in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierce_County,_Washington. accessed 18/07/2019
  2. The Evolution of Washington Counties by Newton Carl Abbott, Fred E. Carver, 1979. Published by the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society and Klickitat County Genealogical Society.
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  4. John H. Long, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (Chicago: Newberry Library, 2006) online.
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Skamania County, Washington page 734, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  6. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pierce County, Washington . Page 732-735 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 733-734.
  7. John H. Long, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (Chicago: Newberry Library, 2006) online.
  8. Washington State Archives - Digital Archives, Birth Records, About this Collection
  9. About Death Records at Washington State Digital Archives.
  10. Wikipedia contributors, "Pierce County, Washington," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierce_County,_Washington, accessed 20 March 2019.

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