Mendocino County, California Genealogy

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United States > California > Mendocino County

County Courthouse

Quick Facts

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Mendocino County, California

Parent County

18 February 1850: Mendocino County was created as an original California county at statehood. County seat: Ukiah [1]

Boundary Changes

Record Loss


Populated Places 

Fort Bragg city
Point Arena city
Ukiah city
Willits city

Neighboring Counties


Archives and Libraries

The Mendocino County Library archives some county newspapers in its three main branches as follows:

  • Ukiah Branch repeats the Held-Poage microfilm holdings of Mendocino Herald, Dispatch Democrat, Ukiah Republican Press and Redwood Journal with some gaps, and the complete Ukiah Daily Journal (1954-present).
  • Fort Bragg Branch has microfilm of the Fort Bragg Advocate (1890-1929 and 1996-present), and the Mendocino Beacon (1878-1982 and 1998-present).
  • Willits Branch has holdings of the Willits News (1892-present), as well as the Little Lake Herald (1901-1910) and the Covelo Review (1904-1907).


Church History and Records

LDS Ward and Branch Records

  • Ukiah

Court Records


The two principal histories of Mendocino County are Lyman Palmer, History of Mendocino County, California... (San Francisco, Cal.: Alley, Bowen & Co., 1880) and Aurelius O. Carpenter and Percy H. Millberry, History of Mendocino and Lake Counties, California... (Los Angeles, Cal.: Historic Record Co., 1914). Both cover the early history and settlement of the county and include several biographical sketches and some portraits.

There are two notable autobiographies of Ukiah residents. The first is by horticulturalist Carl Purdy, My Life and My Times (Naturegraph Press, 1976). Purdy (1861-1845) migrated to Ukiah in 1870 and lived there the remainder of his life. His story includes much local Ukiah valley history as he observed it. The other volume was written by Ukiah native and retired judge Lilburn Gibson, Some reminiscences of my seventy-four years in Mendocino County (1966). The judge was born in Ukiah in 1892 to a family that migrated to Mendocino County in the 1850s.

The "wild west" character of the county is demonstrated by the Frost-Coates feud, beginning in Willits in the 1860s. This story is recounted in John Boessenecker, Badge and Buckshot: Lawlessness in Old California (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988).

Land and Property


Military History and Records


The first Mendocino County newspaper was the Mendocino Herald published by Edwin R. Budd (1818-1875) on 9 November 1860. Previous to that time the principal newspaper for the county was the Sonoma Democrat, also published by Budd in Santa Rosa. His biography can be found in Lyman Palmer, History of Mendocino County, California... (San Francisco, Cal.: Alley, Bowen & Co., 1880), 628-629. A summary of the early history of the press in Ukiah is found in Aurelius O. Carpenter and Percy H. Millberry, History of Mendocino and Lake Counties, California... (Los Angeles, Cal.: Historic Record Co., 1914), 72-73.

The largest collection of county newspapers is held by the Held-Poage Research Library of the Mendocino County Historical Society. The collection includes paper copies of older papers as well as the most complete microfilmed collection of county newspapers. Current newspapers are only archived for Ukiah. The library also maintains a Clipped Obituary File. Other current county newspapers are combed for vital records and then discarded. An index to obituaries and vital records from newspapers (though not complete) is available from the web site.

Microfilmed newspapers at Held-Poage:

Arena Register (1884-1886)
Constitutional Democrat (1863-1865)
Covelo Review (1904-1907)
Democratic Weekly Dispatch (1875-1881)
Fort Bragg Advocate (1890-1929)
Frontier Gazette (Covelo) (1960-1971)
Independent Weekly Dispatch (1874-1875)
Little Lake Herald (1901-1910)
Mendocino Beacon (1878-1979)
Mendocino County Democrat (1865)
Mendocino County Press (1871-1872)
Mendocino County Republican (1888-1889)
Mendocino Democrat (1865-1889)
Mendocino Dispatch Democrat (1881-1899)
Mendocino Herald (1861-1870)
Point Arena News (1878)
Point Arena Record (1877-1930)
Redwood Journal (1929-1954)
Round Valley News (1972-1993)
Sonoma Democrat (1857-1862)
Ukiah City Press (1877-1889)
Ukiah Daily Journal (1954-Present)
Ukiah Independent (1886-1888)
Ukiah News (1950-1956)
Ukiah Republican Press (1889-1949)
Ukiah Times (1912-1917)
West Coast Star (1874-1877)
Willits News (1892-1989).

Probate Records


Vital Records

Societies, Libraries and Museums

The Mendocino County Historical Society has published several items, one of the more ambitious projects being Bruce Levene, et al., Mendocino County remembered: an oral history, 2 vols. (1976). The Society also publishes a quarterly Newsletter. The Held-Poage Research Library in Ukiah is maintained by the Society and contains the most complete collection of historical and genealogical materials relating to the county.

The Mendocino County Museum in Willits has also published a number of historical works, e.g., John Keller, As I remember Ukiah: history, stories and memories (2002).

The Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House is, in addition to the Held-Poage Library, the major repository of local history collections. Named for local artist Grace Carpenter Hudson (1865-1937), the museum is located behind her 1911 craftsman home, the Sun House. The Museum collections include not only her artwork of local subjects, but also the writings of her mother Helen McGowen Carpenter and the photographs and writings of her father Aurelius O. Carpenter, both early Mendocino County immigrants (1850s). A recent publication of the museum is Marvin A. Schenck, et al., Aurelius O. Carpenter: Photographer of the Mendocino Frontier (2006).

Family History Centers



U.S. Census Bureau. 2000 Census.

  1. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).