Early Oregonians Database

Anyone researching in Oregon should familiarize themselves with the Early Oregonians Database at the Oregon state Archives. As part of the Oregon Public Records Database, the Early Oregonians search was a sesquicentennial project  for persons living in Oregon before statehood and through 1860. As of this writing the database lists approximately 105,500 people and they update the data quarterly. The data was compiled by volunteers and student interns and must have taken considerable time to put together for our benefit.

The Oregon State Archives used both primary and secondary sources when comprising the database. Primary sources included census records and marriage, death and probate records at the Archives.  Secondary sources were also used including family tree data from various websites.

The Early Oregonian Search allows you to search using last name, first name, gender, date range and county. The advanced search allows  you to include an alternate name, and name of mother, father or spouses. Be sure to read the FAQ for tips on how to search for tips. For example you can search using just a first or last name but you can’t include a middle name.

Oregon counties include the historic Champoeg, Tuality, and Umpqua counties in addition to the current 36 counties. You can also search by Clark, Island, King, Lewis, Pacific, Pierce, Thurston, and Vancouver counties as this area was in the Oregon Territory before 1853 when it became part of the Washington Territory.

Search results appear in alphabetical order and are limited to 200 entries with twenty appearing on each page.  I did a test and found they have 126 entries for John Smith. The results page has five columns with headings for name, date & place of birth, father, mother, and date & place of death.

Clicking on a name in the results takes you to a Person Profile page. I chose John Smith, born 1 May 1815 in Mercer Co., KY. The results page only listed his date and place of birth and death, but the Person Profile page gave additional information for occupation, place of burial, and two spouses. The source for the information was shown as “wc.”

There are tabs for Associated Records,  Associated Persons, and Census Events. This John Smith did not have any associated records, had his spouses listed as associated persons, and census events showed him living in Marion County in 1850 and 35 years of age.

Digging further into the results list I found a John Burris Smith, born 14 Feb 1816 in Madison Co., KY, who died 6 Feb 1901 in Myrtle Creek, Douglas Co., OR. His profile gives the names of his father, mother, and spouse, and date and place of marriage. Associated records show a donation land claim in Polk Co., OR. Associated persons are his parents and spouse, Emily Thorp, who has a link to her own profile page. Census events show him in Polk Co., OR in 1850 and 1860. The sources for this information are given as “pcp 141; wc; odlc; findagrave.”

I wasn’t able to find a list indicating what the reference codes stand for on the Oregon State Archives website so I emailed asking if there was something online that I could look up their sources but haven’t heard back just yet. When I do I’ll post an update for you. In the meantime, check it out and see what you can find on your Oregon ancestors.


About oregon genealogy

Oregon Genealogical Society was formed September 22, 1962 in Eugene, Oregon to promote genealogical research, education, and to create a genealogy library. In 2012 we will celebrate our 50th anniversary. Our research library has more than 10,000 genealogy books, periodicals, and microforms. Check us out at www.oregongenealogicalsociety.org.
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