La Plata County, Colorado Genealogy
Guide to La Plata County, Colorado ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.
- 1 County Information
- 2 Resources
- 2.1 Bible Records
- 2.2 Biographies
- 2.3 Business, Commerce, and Occupations
- 2.4 Cemeteries
- 2.5 Census Records
- 2.6 Church Records
- 2.7 Court Records
- 2.8 Directories
- 2.9 Emigration and Immigration
- 2.10 Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups
- 2.11 Funeral Homes
- 2.12 Genealogies
- 2.13 Guardianship
- 2.14 Land and Property Records
- 2.15 Local Histories
- 2.16 Maps and Gazetteers
- 2.17 Migration
- 2.18 Military Records
- 2.19 Naturalization and Citizenship
- 2.20 Newspapers
- 2.21 Obituaries
- 2.22 Other Records
- 2.23 Periodicals
- 2.24 Probate Records
- 2.25 School Records
- 2.26 Tax Records
- 2.27 Vital Records
- 3 Research Facilities
- 4 Societies
- 5 Websites
- 6 Research Guides
- 7 References
The County was named for the La Plata River and the La Plata Mountains "La plata" is the Spanish language word for "silver". The County has Durango as it's seat and the County was created February 10, 1874. The County is located in the southwest area of the state.
La Plata County Courthouse
1060 E 2nd Ave
Durango, CO 81301-5157
La Plata County website
County Clerk has marriage records from 1878 and land records from 1876;
Clerk District Court has divorce and probate records;
County Court has court records;
San Juan Basin Health Department has birth, death and burial records
Early records are with Vital Statistics Registrar, City Hall, Durango: also clerk and recorder's office 1900-1912.
Some early marriages in San Juan County clerk and recorder's office.
La Plata County, Colorado Record Dates
Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.
There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.
The following are locations in La Plata County, Colorado:
Business, Commerce, and Occupations
In 1860, present-day Colorado was enumerated in the Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Utah Territories. Colorado Territory was created in 1861 and was enumerated as such in the 1870 Census. A state census was taken in 1885 for Colorado. See links listed below.
State and Territory Census Records
- 1860 - United States Census, 1860 at FamilySearch Historical Records — index and images; Colorado was included in the 1860 Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Utah Territories Censuses
- 1870 - United States Census, 1870 at FamilySearch Historical Records — index and images; Colorado Territory Census
- 1885 - Colorado State Census, 1885 at FamilySearch - Index and images
- 1885 - Colorado State Census, 1885 at Ancestry - ($), Index and images
Federal Census Records
- 1860-1940 Colorado Census Records from 1860 to 1940 at FamilySearch.org — index/images
Church records vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about Colorado denominations, view the Colorado Church Records wiki page.
Online Church Records
- 1743-1970 - U.S., Presbyterian Records, 1743-1970 at Ancestry — ($); Index and images; Dates vary for each county
LDS Ward and Branch Records
- Pine River
Numerous records are available at Colorado Archives. To use this link scroll down the page to where it asks for Record Type. Click there and scroll down the list to the records you want and select. The next field asks for county. Select the county you want and then click on Search. You can narrow the search by adding the additional information it asks for.
1935-1942 An Index of the WPA Employment Case Files between 1935 and 1942 was compiled from the official record of the Colorado Department of Public Welfare, La Plata County Office. The information contained in the record generally shows:
- Name of the applicant
- Date of the filing
- Case number
- Name(s) and location of next of kin
- Date applicant accepted for employment
- Military service dates
- General work experience record and qualifications
Emigration and Immigration
Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups
Land and Property Records
Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.
See Colorado Land and Property for additional information about early Colorado land grants.
After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse, where current records are also housed.
Online Land Records
- Colorado DPA Land Records - Index only; Choose Record Type, and search either "Land Patents" or "Land Records."
- Land Patent Search - index to federal patents and homesteads on the Bureau of Land Management website, some images available
- 1796-1907 - U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 at Ancestry - index, info taken from Bureau of Land Management website
- 1861-1936 - U.S. Homestead Records 1861-1936 at Ancestry.com - ($), index and images
- 1862-1908 - Denver Land Office Records, 1862-1908 at Ancestry.com - ($), index only
For more information see Colorado Land and Property
Maps and Gazetteers
- Interactive Formation Boundary Map of Colorado - shows boundary changes for Colorado Counties
- Colorado Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library
- Colorado State Archives Veterans Grave Registration Index at the Colorado State Archives website - Index only; In the Record Type field, select, Military - Grave
- Colorado Civil War Casualties Index at the Colorado State Archives website - Index only; In the Record Type field, select, Civil War Casualty
- 1861-1865 - Colorado State Archives Volunteers Transcript of Record Index (1861-1865) at the Colorado State Archives website - Index only; In the Record Type field, select, Transcript of Record
Spanish-American War (1898)
- 1898 - Colorado Volunteers in the Spanish American War, 1898 - at the Colorado State Archives website - Index only; In the Record Type field, select, Span-Am War Soldiers
World War I
- 1916-1919 - Colorado State Archives Denver War Risk Insurance Applicants, 1916-1919 - at the Colorado State Archives website - Index only; In the Record Type field, select, War Risk Insurance
- 1917-1922 - Colorado State Archives World War I Civilian Service Questionnaires, 1917-1922 - at the Colorado State Archives website - Index only; In the Record Type field, select, WWI Questionnaire
- 1917-1918 - Colorado Soldiers in WWI, 1917-1918 at  — ($), index
- 1966 & 1968 - Colorado State Archives Vietnam War Casualties - June-December 1966 & January-December 1968 - at the Colorado State Archives website - Index only; In the Record Type field, select, Vietnam Deaths
For further information see Colorado Military Records.
Naturalization and Citizenship
- 1868-1990 - Colorado, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1868-1990 at Ancestry ($); Index and images
- 1876-1990 - Colorado Naturalization Records, 1876-1990 at FamilySearch - Browseable images only; District Court records
For more information, see Colorado Newspapers.
Colorado Newspapers Online
- Colorado Online Historical Newspapers online - in the Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection by the Colorado State Library
- Colorado Newspapers at Ancestry.com - ($)
- GenealogyBank - ($), contains images of Colorado newspapers
- Newspaper Archive - ($), contains images of Colorado newspapers
- Chronicling America - contains images of some Colorado newspapers; searching tips
- Elephind - Free; search engine that retrieves newspaper images from other free newspaper websites
Colorado Newspaper Catalogs
- U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present on Chronicling America - contains a list of all known newspapers and the dates they cover; once you locate a newspaper name, contact the local library to see if they have copies of the newspaper
Probate records have been kept by the county courts. Colorado probate records include bonds, affidavits, letters, claims, appraisals, fee accounts, minutes, judgments, dockets, calendars, case files, and wills. The Family History Library does not have copies of probate records from Colorado.
You may obtain copies of documents from the clerk's office in the county courthouse.
Colorado tax records complement land records and can be used as supplements to censuses. There may be gaps of several years in the records. To find tax records in the FamilySearch Catalog, do a Place Search for the county.
Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Vital Records Section Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.
For some online statewide indexes, see the FamilySearch Historical Record Collections for Colorado.
Birth records may become public records when 100 years have elapsed after the date of birth. EXCEPTION: The birth record of any individual who is known to be currently alive will remain confidential even if they are 100 years of age or greater. 
- 1809-2011 - Western States Marriage Index, 1809-2011 - Index, incomplete, list of counties included
- 1853-2006 - Colorado Statewide Marriage Index, 1853-2006 at FamilySearch.org - Index and images
- 1862-2006 - Colorado, County Marriages and State Indexes, 1862-2006 at Ancestry ($), Index and images
- 1864-1995 - Colorado, County Marriages, 1864-1995 at FamilySearch - Index and images
- 1900-1939 - Colorado, Statewide Marriage Index, 1900-1939 at Ancestry.com - ($); Browseable images of original index
Death records may become public records when 75 years have elapsed after the date of death. 
- 1851-1985 Colorado, Divorce Index, 1851-1985 at Ancestry - ($); Index only
- 1900-1939 - Colorado Statewide Divorce Index, 1900-1939 at FamilySearch - Browseable images of original index
The Colorado State Archives has the following records available for La Plata County, Colorado Genealogy in this online database Archives Search. For a full list of online holdings, click here.
1880-1939 Divorce Index
1883-1900 Mine Accidents, Non - fatal
1936-1942 Civilian Conservation Corps Enrollments
1966-1968 Vietnam Deaths
1935-1942 La Plata County WPA Enrollments
Family History Centers
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.
Ignacio Library District
Four Corners Genealogy Society
PO Box 2636
Durango CO 81302
Genealogical Research Society Of Durango
Durango CO 81301
- FamilySearch Catalog - The FamilySearch catalog contains descriptions and access information for all genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications) in their collection. Use Historical Records to search for specific individuals in genealogical records
- La Plata County, Colorado Genealogy and Family History (Linkpendium)
- The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002).
- Genealogy Trails History Group, "La Plata, Colorado Genealogy and History", http://genealogytrails.com/colo/laplata/ 6/29/2017.
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), La Plata County, Colorado. Page 99 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
- The Red Book, American State, County, and Town Sources. Edited by Alice Eichholz. (Ancestry, Provo; 3d ed, 2004.) Colorado article by Birdie Monk Holzclaw and Marsha Hoffman Rising. page 93.
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), La Plata County, Colorado. Page 99 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), 93.
- The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002).
- Wikipedia contributors, "La Plata County, Colorado," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La Plata_County,_Colorado, accessed 28 May 2017.
- William Thorndale and William Dollarhide, Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses (Bountiful, UT: American Genealogical Lending Library, 1985), page 51-54; Alice Eichholz, ‘’Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources,’’ 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 2004), 86. Free online version; FHL Book 973 D27rb 2004; WorldCat entry.
- William Thorndale and William Dollarhide, Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses (Bountiful, UT: American Genealogical Lending Library, 1985), page 54.
- Letter from Colorado State Registrar, Dated September 1, 2011. Policy Number 2011- 08. http://www.colorado.gov