Adams County, Washington Genealogy

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Guide to Adams County, Washington ancestry, family history, and genealogy. Birth, marriage, and death records, census records, family history, and military records, since 1883, when the county was formed.

Drum Heller Channels in Columbia Valley, Adams County, Washington

County QuickStart:
Adams County, Washington
Map of Washington highlighting Adams County
Location in the state of Washington (disambiguation)
Map of the U.S. highlighting Washington
Location of Washington in the U.S.
Founded November 28, 1883
County Seat Ritzville
Washington,Adams County Courthouse.png
Address Adams County, Washington Courthouse
210 W. Broadway
Ritzville, WA
Phone: (509) 659–3240

County Overview[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for the second President of the United States, John Adams. The County is located in the southeast area of the state.[1]

Parent County(s)[edit | edit source]

Adams County was created 28 November 1883 from Whitman County

County Seat: Ritzville [2]. See also Towns and Communities in Adams County, Washington Genealogy.

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

For animated maps illustrating Washington County boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Washington County Boundary Maps" (1843-1915) may be viewed for free at the website.

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

Adams County, Washington Genealogy is surrounded by:Franklin | Grant | Lincoln | Whitman Named for John Adams, 2nd President of the United States. Originally mostly cattle ranching, the big wheat crop shifted the agriculture from cattle to wheat farming in 1897.

Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Adams County Courthouse
210 W Broadway Avenue
Ritzville, WA 99169-1860
Phone: (509) 659–3257

County Auditor has birth and death records to 1907 and marriage records.
County Clerk has divorce and probate records.
County assessor has land records[4]

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

Dates of Major County Records[edit | edit source]
Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[5]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1891 1891 1891 1890 1884 1885 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 Adams 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
Billion Graves Washington Periodicals WA State Digital Archives
WAGenWeb Archives Linkpendium
Billion Graves
Genealogy Trails
FamilySearch Places
See Washington Cemeteries for more information.

Census[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1890 2,098
1900 4,840 130.7%
1910 10,920 125.6%
1920 9,623 −11.9%
1930 7,719 −19.8%
1940 6,209 −19.6%
1950 6,584 6.0%
1960 9,929 50.8%
1970 12,014 21.0%
1980 13,267 10.4%
1990 13,603 2.5%
2000 16,428 20.8%
2010 18,728 14.0%
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.

Lutheran[edit | edit source]
  • Records of Emanuel Lutheran Church, Adams County, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).[6]

List of Churches and Church Parishes

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.


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

  • Adams Frontier Justice Part of "Frontier Justice": Guide to the Court Records of Washington Territory, 1853-1888 at Washington State Digital Archives. (Free Index, no images)
    • The court procedures of Frontier Justice touch nearly all pioneers of the 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]
  • Japanese Internment World War II Files, 1942-1946. Public Welfare/Social Security Department at Washington State Digital Archives.
    • Assistance Cases, Evacuee Referrals for Resettlement and Assistance, 1945-1946

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Gazetteers[edit | edit source]


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. 
  • Adams County History Book, 2 v. by Adams County Historical Society, online index to vol 1. "The book contains over 300 family histories"

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

  • Adams County History Book, 2 v. Adams County Historical Society
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. Adams County -- Thumbnail History, History Essay 7835.

  • 1803 - Before this time, the land that would later make up Adams County was part of the territory of the Palouse tribe.
  • 1853 - March 2, U.S. President Millard Fillmore establishes Washington Territory.
  • 1863 - January 20, Washington Territorial Legislature creates Stevens County.
  • 1869 - George Lucas, an Irish emigrant, was Adams County's first permanent white settler. He established a way-station at Cow Creek along the road to Fort Colville
  • 1871 - November 29, Washington Territorial Legislature creates Whitman County (out of Stevens).
  • 1880 - James G. Bennett harvested a small wheat crop near Ritzville.
  • 1881 - May, The Northern Pacific Railway began laying track through Adams County.
  • 1883 - November 28, Washington Territorial Legislature creates Adams and Franklin counties (out of Whitman).
  • 1884 - Brothers Ben and Sam Hutchinson built a cabin on lower Crab Creek.
  • 1889 - November 11, Washington becomes a state.
  • 1897 - Adams County bumper wheat crop spurs shift from cattle ranching.
  • 1901 - The first homesteaders arrived.
  • 1928-1931, During a severe drought that resulted in dustbowl conditions, many people left the area.
  • 1942 - Grand Coulee Dam was completed in 1942.
  • 1950 - Construction on the Columbia Basin Project reached the Othello area, bringing the water of the Columbia River to irrigate Adams County's dry land.

Land and Property[edit | edit source]

Land records (especially deeds) may give the name of a spouse, heirs, and witnesses, who are sometimes 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.

  • County Recorder's Office: check deeds, file mining claims, get assistance in finding ownership of a particular property, and obtain copies of county plat maps. This office has county plat records dating back to 1878, prior records having been destroyed in a fire.
  • Land Records 1988 - present at Washington State Digital Archives Collection. (Free: Index - some images)
  • Plats and Surveys 1988 - present at Washington State Digital Archives Collections. (Free: Index - some images)
    • Typically agreements and contracts recorded in the auditor’s office deal with real property.
  • Land Records, 1895-1920 Part of Washington County Records, 1856-2009 at FamilySearch Historical Collections (Free, browse images)
    • See what genealogical information may be in these records.
    • Includes Land Index 1895-1920; Petitions for sale of real estate 1903-1910.

Maps[edit | edit source]

LincolnWhitmanFranklinGrantWA ADAMS.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

This map highlights the county within the state of Washington. The map soon will have inter-active links. See Neighboring Counties

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 Records: (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, foreign and "Americanized" names, residence, and date of arrival. See Washington Naturalization and Citizenship for more information. Note: Until 1922 in the United States, women's citizenship was based on that of their husbands.

  • Naturalization and Citizenship, 1890-1945 Part of Washington County Records 1856-2009 at FamilySearch Historical collections (Free, browse images)
    • See what genealogical information may be in these records.
    • Includes Naturalization card index 1890-1945; Naturalization records-miscellaneous 1917-1927; Naturalization records 1898-1906.

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 Adams 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.

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.

Part of: Washington County Records 1803-2010 at FamilySearch Historical Collections(Free, browse images)

    • See what genealogical information may be in these records.
    • Includes Probate bonds 1903-1923; Probate claims 1903-1917; Probate letters 1904-1927; Probate records1885-1931; Will record index 1885-1920; Will records 1888-1959; Letters of Administration 1888-1964.

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.

  • Adams County Auditor, Miscellaneous Recordings at Washington State Digital Archives Collections. (Free: Index + Images)
    • Includes a variety of documents, such as affidavits for wills or property, judgements, even occasional death records.
  • Adams Postmaster Index. Part of Washington, Postmaster Indexes, Prior to 1965, FamilySearch Historical Collections. (Free, browse images)
  • Adams Ordinances passed. (Free: Index - some images)
    • Passed by various governing bodies in Adams County and recorded by the Adams County Auditor
  • Adams Powers of Attorney, 1988-2012 (Free, Indexes and some images)
    • One person (grantor) appoints another person (grantee) to act on his or her behalf in health, financial, and property issues.
  • Mothers pension records, 1910-1938 Part of Washington County Records, 1856-2009 at FamilySearch Historical Record Collections. (Free, browse images)

School Records[edit | edit source]


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.

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]

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] See also Washington Birth Records.

For earlier or unrecorded births, search:

  • Washington Delayed Birth Certificates often include statements of witnesses to the birth.
  • Death Records often give birth date, place, parents
  • Censuses to learn age, family members, location, etc.
  • School Censuses in Washington give date of birth and name of parent or guardian
  • Cemeteries usually give birth date or age, and sometimes birth place
  • Obituaries often include birth info, living and deceased family members, and more
Marriage[edit | edit source]

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

  • 1904-1995 Marriage Records 1904-1995 Part of Washington County Records, 1856-2009 FamilySearch Historical Collections (Free, browse images)
    • See what genealogical information may be in these records.
    • Includes Marriage certificates 1951-1991; licenses 1923-1928; and returns 1904-1942.
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]

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] See Washington Death Records.

Voting Registers[edit | edit source]

Websites[edit | edit source]

Check back often with websites. Local societies and libraries may know of other websites.

Sites with online indexes or images of records
Adams County WAGenWeb Project Free Data may be submitted by individuals or complete transcriptions
USGenWeb Archives Project 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
  • 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 Adams County, Washington Genealogy
Websites at RootsWeb - Adams WA Free Data may be submitted by individuals or complete transcriptions
Linkpendium Free Click links. Some sites they link to may have fees ($)
CyndisList Free Click links. Some sites they link to may have fees ($) Free "Adams County, Washington Facts" Free "Washington Genealogy Network Group on Facebook"
Major catalogs for hard copy collections of Adams 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]

Listed below are archives in {{{1}}} County. For state-wide facilities, see Washington Archives and Libraries.

Resources for Adams 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.

See these headings for Adams County, Washington Genealogy details: Courthouse · FamilySearch Centers · Libraries · Museums · Societies

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

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.

Othello Library, 101 E. Main Street, Othello 99344 Phone: (509) 488-9683
Online Resources:, Heritage Quest, and others.
Unique Collections:
Ritzville Public Library, 302 W Main, Ritzville 99169 Phone: (509) 659-1222
Online Resources: (None seen Oct, 2013)
Unique Collections:

Museums[edit | edit source]


Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in {{{1}}} County. For state-wide genealogical and historical societies, see Washington Societies.

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]

Unincorporated communities
Ghost towns

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Adams County, Washington," in,_Washington. accessed 15/07/2019
  2. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  3. John H. Long, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (Chicago: Newberry Library,2006)online.
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Adams County, Washington page 732, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Adams 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.
  6. "Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: An Inventory of Selected Congregational Records of the American Lutheran Church in Minnesota at the Minnesota Historical Society," Collection Finding Aids, Minnesota Historical Society,, accessed 10 June 2013.
  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, "Adams County, Washington," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Washington, accessed 4 March 2019.