Sierra County, California Genealogy

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Sierra County

Guide to Sierra County, California ancestry, family history, and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

Sierra Buttes 2011

Dates for major county records
1853-present 1873-present 1850-present 1852-present 1852-present
For earlier dates, try...

April 16, 1852: Sierra County was created from the County of Yuba. In 1866 additional land was added from Yuba County and in 1863 and 1866 land was gained from Plumas County. Look for  records in both Yuba County and Pumas County.

Remember these collections


Sierra County, California
Map of California highlighting Sierra County
Location in the state of California
Map of the U.S. highlighting California
Location of California in the U.S.
Founded April 16, 1852
County Seat Downieville
Address Sierra County Courthouse
100 Courthouse Sq Ste 11
PO Box D Suite 11
Downieville, CA 95936
Phone 530.289.6295

Sierra County Website

County Courthouse

County Recorder has birth records from 1857,
marriage and land records from 1852 and death
records from 1862,  Superior Court has divorce
probate and court records and naturalization
records from 1852[1] 

Historical Facts

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Sierra County, California

Parent County

16 April 1852: Sierra County was created 16 April 1852 from Yuba County. County seat: Downieville [2]


The county was named from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The county seat Downieville and the county was created 1852. The County is located in the northeast area of the state.[3]

Boundary Changes

For animated maps illustrating California county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation California County Boundary Maps" (1850-1925) may be viewed for free at the website.

Records Loss

1947: Courthouse burned and many records were damaged.


Populated Places

Neighboring Counties


Bible Records



Cemeteries of Sierra, California online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
TombstoneTranscriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See California Cemeteries for more information

The following web sites may have additional information on Sierra County cemeteries.


For tips on accessing Sierra County, California Genealogy census records online, see: California Census.

Church History and Records

Church records and the information they provide 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 California denominations, view the California Church Records wiki page.

Court Records

Crime and Criminals


Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups





Local histories are available for Sierra County, California Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the Wiki page section California Local Histories.

Land and Property

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 California Land and Property for additional information about early California land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse and where records are currently housed.


Plumas CountyLassen CountyYuba CountyNevada CountyWashoe CountyCA SIERRA.PNG
About this image
Click a neighboring county
for more resources


Early migration routes to and from Sierra County, California Genealogy for emigrant settlers included:[4][5]

Military History and Records

Civil War

Regiments. Service men in Sierra County, California Genealogy served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in Sierra County, California Genealogy:

- 8th Regiment, California Infantry (Union), Company I
World War I
World War II

Naturalization and Citizenship


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

  • ($) has a collection of digitized Reno, Nevada newspapers going back to 1870 that may include residents from Sierra County. This database is sometimes free at libraries.



Probate Records

The county clerk is usually the custodian of probate records. The records include wills, fee books, claim registers, legacy records, inheritance records, probate ticklers, and dockets.

Content: Probate Records may give the decedent's date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their place of residence.

You can obtain copies of the original probate records (such as wills and estate files) by writing to the county clerk at the county courthouse.

The FamilySearch Catalog lists films of probate records. To find the records for this county, use the Place Search for California - Sierra - Probate records.

Online Probate Records


Archives, Libraries and Museums

County Courthouse

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. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.



California 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 California Taxation.

Vital Records

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. See the CDC Where to Write website for information on acquiring copies of these records. The State office has records since July 1905. For earlier records, contact the County Recorder. See also How to order California Vital Records


Genealogy Societies, Archives and Libraries

Sierra County Historical Society
P.O. Box 260
100 Kentucky Mine Road
Sierra City 96125
Sierra County Historical Society

Sierra Madre Historical Society
P.O. Box 202
Sierra Madre 91024



  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Sierra County, California. Page 87At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  3. Genealogy Trails History Group, “Sierra County, California Genealogy and History”, 05/08/2017.
  4. National Park Service, "California Trail" (map) in California National Historic Trail at (accessed 5 August 2011).
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "California Trail" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at (accessed 5 August 2012).