Owyhee County, Idaho Genealogy
Owyhee County Courthouse
Murphy, ID 83650-0128
Phone: (208) 495-2421
Fax: (208) 495-1173
1863--Owyhee County, Idaho was an original county of Idaho Territory. It was formed 31 December 1863, with Ruby City as its county seat. The county seat was moved to Silver City in 1867 and then in 1934 to its current seat of government -- Murphy, located near the middle of the northern edge of the county. It is a very rural county, noted mostly for mining, ranching, and farming. It is the second largest county in land area in Idaho, but has only slightly more than 10,000 residents. Owyhee is a corruption of "Hawaii", a reference to Hawaiian fur trappers who explored the area in 1819 and 1820. Part was taken to create Canyon County 7 March 1891. County seat: Murphy 
20 February 1879 -- Cassia County created from part of Owyhee County
7 March 1891 -- Canyon County created from parts of Ada and Owyhee Counties
There has been no significant record loss for Owyhee County. The records are maintained in a modern courthouse and are well preserved.
This list of places includes incorporated cities and towns, unincorporated towns and communities, and place names that may have been used in family histories. Some have well-organized records and even have web sites. Some are simply social communities with no official records, but which may be referenced in small-town newspapers. The list is provided to help researchers identify localities within the county. As records or histories of these localities are identified, a page will be added for each of these place names.
Many of the older court, land, naturalization, probate, pension, and vital records for Owyhee County have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and through their family history centers. They are also available at the Idaho State Archives in Boise. Details of the county records in these respective institutions can be obtained from their online catalogs or listings. Original records which have been microfilmed and more recent records are in the county courthouse in Murphy.
Biographical sketches and portraits of many early settlers of Owyhee County are included in A Historical, Descriptive, and Commercial Directory of Owyhee County, Idaho, January, 1898. Silver City: Press of the Owyhee Avalanche, 1898. Copies of this directory are available at the Idaho State Archives, the Owyhee County Historical Museum's Library, and at public libraries in Owyhee County. It is also available online through Google Books.
Biographical sketches of prominent men of Idaho, including many with ties to Owyhee County, are included in Illustrated History of the State of Idaho, (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1899). The biographies included in this source are available online.
There are many cemeteries in Owyhee County. For a list of those that have been identified, and links to transcriptions and/or photographs of tombstones, go to Owyhee County, Idaho Cemetery Records.
For the cemeteries in or immediately adjacent to the cities, please see the city pages for the cities listed above.
For a summary of census records for the state of Idaho, see Idaho Census Records.
The 1890 federal census for Idaho was destroyed. However, the Idaho State Archives is creating a list of 1890 Idaho residents by indexing a variety of records, 1885-1894. This reconstructed list will substitute for the destroyed 1890 federal census. Owyhee County is included in this reconstructed census.
Early Records of the Episcopal Church in Southwestern Idaho, 1867-1916: Silver City and De Lamar, a paper by Patricia Dewey Jones, is available online and at the Albertsons Library at Boise State University.
The parishes of the Roman Catholic Church in Owyhee County are a part of the Diocese of Boise. The chapels in Bruneau and Grand View operate under the direction of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mountain Home and are part of the West Central Deanery of the Diocese.
The chapels in Homedale, Oreana, and Silver City are in the West Deanery of the Diocese.
Society of Friends
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons)
The following are local congregations (wards) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints which existed in Owyhee County, Idaho prior to 1950. Many of the original records of these church units are in the Historical Library in Salt Lake City. Many of the membership records covering these units from the date of their creation to about 1948 have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
- Rowland (Grasmere)
County Commissioners' Records
The minute books of the County Commissioners contain interesting tidbits of history about the county as well as the names of individuals appealing to the County Commissioners for action on issues of concern to them. Minutes of those meetings were recorded from the formation of the county.
The original minutes of the County Commissioners meetings, from the beginning of the county to the present, are in the county courthouse in Murphy. They have not been microfilmed nor digitally copied.
Some of the early court records of Owyhee County, Idaho have been microfilmed and are available at the Idaho State Archives in Boise. The records filmed are for about 1873 through 1935 and include civil suits, divorce papers, and judgment dockets. Copies of these microfilmed court records are also available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Additional court records and more recent records are housed at the courthouse in Murphy.
Some of the records of the courts of Owyhee County that have been microfilmed include:
- District Court:
- Declaration of Intent (to become a naturalized citizen), v. A-1, 1883-1912
- Naturalization records, v. 1, 1891-1902
- Petitions for naturalization, v. 2-3, 1907-1928
- County Court:
- Miscellaneous Records, v. 2 1873-1875 and v. 7-8, 1905-1933
- General Index, 1873-1933
- Power of Attorney, v. 5-7, 1884-1927
- General Index to Power of Attorney, 1884-1927
- Probate Court:
- General Index to Probate, 1864-1926
- Probate journal, 1864-1867
- Probate records, v. 1-6, 1875-1935
- Old Age pensions, 1931-1935
- Wills, 1882-1903
- Wills, v. 3, 1907-1919
Some of the naturalization records of Owyhee County have been included in the Idaho Naturalization Index, available on the Idaho State Archives website.
The Idaho State Archives has a collection of city, county, state and regional directories for the state of Idaho.
The 1898 ... Directory of Owyhee County is being abstracted and made available on the Idaho GenWeb page for Owyhee County. Residents are listed under each populated place, and are searchable county-wide. The 1898 Directory is also available online through Google Books.
The Gem State Rural's 1918-19 Farm Directory of Owyhee County Idaho and Malheur County, Oregon is available online. It lists landowners by town, including those owning land in these two counties, but residing elsewhere. The amount of acreage owned, the location of the land, and a list of crops raised on each farm is also included.
No comprehensive history of Owyhee County has been written. However, several histories of towns within the county have been published and are listed under the pages for those localities.
The Owyhee County Historical Society has a good collection of historical materials for the county and has an ongoing program of improving its holdings, including a biographical collection regarding those who have resided in the county. The Historical Society also maintains a modern museum for the county, located in the county seat of Murphy, Idaho. They also publish the annual Owyhee Outpost, a collection of historical articles about the county and its residents.
The Idaho State Archives in Boise has compiled a series of reference leaflets regarding the counties of Idaho. Their reference paper for Owyhee County is available online as a part of their Idaho Digital Publications.
During the early settlement of the west, between the 1840s and 1860s, the southern branch of the Oregon Trail passed through what is now Owyhee County. It was a shorter route, but it was also drier, with less feed for the animals on the trail.
As the mining settlements in the Silver City area were established, the Snake River provided a natural barrier between them and the Boise Valley, Nampa, and Mountain Home. There were nearly a dozen ferries across the Snake River leading to and from Owyhee County, prior to the building of bridges in the early 1900s. Some of those ferries and their locations included:
- Bernard’s Ferry near Givens Hot Springs
- Dorsey Ferry at Grand View
- Farmers’ Ferry, downstream from Mussell’s Ferry
- Froman Ferry, about two miles downriver from present site of Marsing
- Hall Ferry, several miles above the mouth of the Bruneau River
- Henderson Ferry (also called the Nampa Ferry), just upstream of present-day Marsing
- Lee’s Ferry, at the north end of Northside Road, northwest of Homedale. It was run by Lee and Lucy Stutheit from at least 1914 to the 1940s.
- McKeeth Ferry, six miles below Grand View
- Mussell’s Ferry at Homedale
- Roberts Ferry, at Indian Cove, downriver from Hammett
- Walter’s Ferry upriver from Givens
In the early 1900s, bridges were built across the Snake River at:
- Grand View
- Just below Hammett
- Walter's Ferry
The land records for Owyhee County are maintained at the Owyhee County Courthouse in Murphy, Idaho, including deeds, 1865 to present, homestead records, mortgages, etc. Some of these records have been microfilmed and copies are available at the Idaho State Archives in Boise and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City or at any of its Family History Centers. Records which have been microfilmed include:
- Homestead records, 1885-1968, including a general index and the actual records.
- A General Index to Deeds, 1864-1973
- Deeds, 1865-1902
- An 1895 map of Owyhee and surrounding counties is available online.
- A digital Owyhee County Idaho map is available online.
- Map of Owyhee County, Idaho is available online.
Early migration routes to and from Owyhee County, Idaho Genealogy for European and African American settlers included:
World War I draft registration cards, 1917-1918, for Owyhee County have been microfilmed. Copies of these records are available at the Family History Library (their microfilm number 1452220) and are also available online at Ancestry.com, for a subscription fee. The original cards are maintained in the Southeast Regional Archives of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in East Point, Georgia and have been microfilmed by the National Archives as their Microcopy M1509.
Often overlooked by the genealogist, this group of volumes may contain affidavits for citizenship, final disposition of estates, divorce decrees, and many other types of valuable documents. The content varies from county to county, year to year and from clerk to clerk. When the estate case files, civil or criminal files are not available or have been destroyed, you may find key documents recorded here. Most counties will have an index to this series and it is a must search if the information you are seeking is not found elsewhere.
Both the Idaho State Archives in Boise, Idaho, and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah have copies of the miscellaneous record of Owyhee County. The originals are held in the Owyhee County courthouse in Murphy, Idaho and can be accessed by visiting there. Copies in the Idaho State Archives are available for viewing in Boise. Those held by the Family History Library can be viewed either at the Library in Salt Lake City or at any of its Family History Centers.
Several newspapers have been or are being published in Owyhee County. Copies of many of them are available at the Idaho State Archives in Boise.
The original probate records are maintained at the Owyhee County courthouse in Murphy, Idaho. Some of the earlier records of probate cases have been microfilmed and copies are available at the Idaho State Archives and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. These include:
- Wills, 1882-1919
- General index to probate records, 1864-1926
- A probate journal, 1864-1867
- Probate records, vols. 1-6, 1875-1926
- Old-age pensions, 1931-1935
The later and current probate records should be available in the courthouse in Murphy and can be accessed by visiting there.
The tax assessment rolls for Owyhee County, 1883-1920, have been microfilmed. Copies are available at the Idaho State Archives in Boise.
Any later existing tax assessment rolls for Owyhee County should be in the courthouse in Murphy and would need to be accessed by visiting there.
Owyhee County has birth records, 1907-1911, in the county courthouse in Murphy, Idaho. Those records have been microfilmed and copies are available at the Idaho State Archives in Boise and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Birth records, 1911 to present, for individuals born in Owyhee County are included in and recorded at the state level. These records are restricted for a period of one hundred years from the time of the individual's birth but can be obtained by following the guidelines as issued by the State of Idaho. See the Vital Records section under the subject Idaho for more details.
840 marriages from 18 May 1864 to 1 Mar 1940 are listed on the Western States Marriage Index.
Marriage records for Owyhee County, 1876-1947, have also been microfilmed and copies of those records are also available at the Idaho State Archives in Boise and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
Owyhee County has death records, 1907-1911, in the county courthouse in Murphy, Idaho. Those records have been microfilmed and copies are available at the Idaho State Archives in Boise and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
Societies and Libraries
Many public libraries provide internet access to sites of value to the family historian. Some have special collections of historical and cultural interest, as well. The following libraries may have some resources of value, but use of some or all of them may require a visit to the library.
- Owyhee County Historical Society and Museum
17085 Basey St
PO Box 67
Murphy, ID 83650
- Bruneau Valley District Library
32073 Ruth St
Bruneau, ID 83604
- Eastern Owyhee County District Library
520 Boise Ave
Grand View, ID 83624
- Homedale Public Library
125 W Owyhee Ave
Homedale, ID 83628
- Lizard Butte District Library
111 3rd Ave W
Marsing, ID 83639
Family History Centers
- The Owyhee County ID GenWeb Project, a member of The IDGenWeb Project, an affiliate of The USGenWeb Project
- Family History Library Catalog
- Owyhee County, Idaho Genealogy and Family History (Linkpendium)
- The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
- Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series, Number 10, Counties and County Seats, Reissued July, 1991.
- census.gov - Idaho population by county, 1900-90 accessed 2009-05-03
- quickfacts.census.gov - Canyon County accessed 2009-05-03
- Idaho Digital Resources. Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series Number 336 - Owyhee County. 1975.
- Jim Tompkins, "The Oregon Trail 1841-1848 Map V" in Oregon Trail Landmarks at http://www.oregonpioneers.com/OTMap5.jpg (accessed 18 July 2011).