County Name Changes and Abolished Counties Reflected in the 1790-1920 Federal Censuses

The following article was written by my good friend, Bill Dollarhide:

Dollarhide’s Rule No. 27: Research in one county that leads you to information in another county will only be revealed on the last day of your vacation.

In an earlier article, U.S. Counties Created or Abolished, 1920 – 1983, we listed new counties or abolished counties since the 1920 federal census was taken. That list included counties in ten states, and was a means of extending the usable time era for the book, Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920. The Map Guide has underlying maps (in white) showing all modern counties through 1983, and all contemporary overlay county maps (in black) through 1920.

Also taken from the 393 maps of the Map Guide book, this new list includes earlier counties appearing in U.S. Federal Census records from 1790 through 1920; those whose names were changed; or the county was abolished after one or more censuses were taken under that name. The thirty-seven states that had county name changes or abolished counties are shown below. A few jurisdiction anomalies are noted as well, such as census taker mistakes, erroneous counties, incorrect jurisdiction changes, etc.

Last Census – County Name – Change – Date

1820 Cahawba Co., AL renamed Bibb in December 1820.
1820 Cotaco Co., AL renamed Morgan in 1821.
1840-1850 Benton Co., AL renamed Calhoun in 1858.
1850 Hancock Co., AL renamed Winston in 1858.
1870 Baker Co., AL renamed Chilton in 1878.
1870 Sanford Co., AL renamed Lamar in 1877.

1860 Arizona Co., NM Territory (now AZ) abolished in 1862, its area returned to Doña Ana Co., NM Territory.
1870 Pah-Ute Co., AZ Territory populations were enumerated as part of Nevada.

1820 Miller Co., AR Territory was erroneously created entirely within Spanish Texas and Indian Territory, both above and below the Red River. The county’s 1820 census schedules were lost.
1830 Miller Co., AR Territory was entirely within Mexican Texas, below the Red River, its 1830 census schedules are extant.
1880 Dorsey Co., AR renamed Cleveland in 1885.

1870 Klamath Co., CA abolished in 1874, its area annexed to Siskiyou and Humboldt Counties.
1850 Colusi Co., CA (now Colusa) migrated south from its 1850 position to its current position. Old Colusi County is now the same exact area as Glenn County.

North Park is one of three mountain basins (South Park, Middle Park, and North Park) in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Currently within the bounds of Jackson County, North Park was the site of the some of the earliest mining camps in Colorado Territory. North Park was never a county, but in the 1870 through 1890 censuses, North Park was labeled on the census pages as if it were a county:
– 1870 “North Park” was enumerated separately (but belonged to Summit County).
– 1880 &1885 “North Park” was enumerated separately (but belonged to Grand County).
– 1890 “North Park” was enumerated separately (but belonged to Larimer County).

– 1800 Washington County, DC was enumerated with Maryland.
– 1800 Alexandria County, DC was enumerated with Virginia.
– 1810-1840 Alexandria County, DC, was retro ceded back to Virginia in 1846. (Alexandria County, in the 1850-1910 censuses for Virginia, was renamed Arlington in 1920).VA-1

– 1840 Mosquito Co., FL was renamed Orange in 1845. (Walt Disney favored the change).
– 1850 Benton Co., FL was renamed Hernando in December 1850. (Hernando DeSoto’s last name was already taken).
– 1850 St. Lucie1, FL was renamed Brevard in 1855. Modern St. Lucie2 was created in 1905.
– 1860 New River Co., FL was renamed Bradford in 1861.

– 1810 Randolph1, GA was renamed Jasper in 1812. Modern Randolph2 was created in 1828.
– 1810 Walton1, GA was erroneously located entirely in North Carolina. All of Georgia’s federal censuses, 1790-1810 were lost. Some of the Walton population may have been included in the old Buncombe Co NC census (but that census was also lost). Walton1 was abolished in 1812. Soon after, another Walton2 was created, which was first enumerated in Georgia’s 1820 census.
– 1860 Cass Co., GA was renamed Bartow in 1861.

– 1910-1920 Kalawao Co., HI comprised only the leper settlement on Molakai Island. The quarantine policy which exiled lepers to the Kalaupapa Leper Colony beginning in the 1860s was lifted in 1969, after the disease of leprosy could be rendered non-contagious. Although free to leave the colony, many of the residents were allowed to remain. The county stills exists, although the entire area is now the same as the Kalaupapa National Historical Park. In the 2010 census, the county had ninety permanent residents, as well as one political officer, a Sheriff, an employee of the U.S. National Park Service.
– 1910-1920 Midway Island lies 1,300 miles northeast of Oahu and is not part of Hawaii. But Midway was enumerated with Honolulu County because that county had administrative jurisdiction over the Hawaiian Archipelago, a series of tiny islands stretching between Niihau and Midway.

– 1860 Cache County, UT Territory census schedules included families living in Washington Territory, just above the present Utah-Idaho border.
– 1870 Oneida Co., Idaho Territory: a portion was enumerated as part of Cache Co., UT Territory. (The town of Franklin was established in 1860, believing it was in Utah Territory. But Franklin was actually the first incorporated town in Idaho Territory – since a new survey in 1872 revealed that Franklin was a mile north of the Utah Territory line).
– 1870-1880 Alturas Co., ID Terr. abolished in 1895 and the area annexed to Blaine County.
– 1870-1880 Logan Co., ID Territory abolished in 1895 and the area annexed to Lincoln County.
– 1910 Blackfoot, Idaho was not a county, but the census includes numerous households listed under that name.

– 1820 Delaware and Wabash Cos., IN were not official counties, but areas used for the census. The present counties of Delaware and Wabash were formed in 1827 and 1832, respectively. See the map of Indiana in 1820 below.
– 1870 Indianapolis in Marion County was enumerated twice in 1870, both versions available on microfilm.

Indiana in 1820. Indiana became a state in 1816. This map shows the counties of Indiana as of the June 1820 federal census, and includes the unorganized “counties” of Delaware and Wabash, used as census districts in 1820 only. The present counties of these names were formed in 1827 and 1832 respectively. All of the counties shown in black have extant census manuscripts except for Daviess, shown as “lost” on the map. Source: Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920, by William Thorndale and William Dollarhide, page 108.

– 1860 Buncombe Co., IA renamed Lyon in 1862.

– 1870 Howard Co., KS became Elk and Chautauqua Counties in 1875.
– 1870 Kiowa Co., KS was abolished in 1875; but resurrected in 1886.
– 1880 Davis Co., KS renamed Geary in 1889,
– 1890 Garfield Co., KS abolished in 1893 and the area annexed to Finney County.
– 1870 Josh Bell Co., KS became Bell in 1873.

– 1850 Lafourche Interior Parish renamed Lafourche in 1853.

– 1790-1910. The enumerated Federal Court District of Maine was part of Massachusetts. Maine became a state in early 1820.

– From 1851, the City of Baltimore and Baltimore County began keeping separate records. From the 1860 census forward, the two jurisdictions were enumerated separately.

– 1880 Montmorecy Co., MI was enumerated with Alpena County.
– 1890 Manitou Co., MI was abolished in 1895, its area annexed to Charlevoix.
– 1880-1890 Isle Royale Co., MI was abolished in 1897 and the area annexed to Keweenaw.

– 1850 Mahkahta Co., MN was abolished in 1851.
– 1850 Wahnahta Co., MN was abolished in 1851.
– 1857 (MN Terr./ federal census) includes seven paper counties for which the census schedules were fraudulently prepared. All the names, ages, births, etc. were manufactured by territorial census takers who were covering up an election fraud. The counties were legitimate counties, created by the territorial legislature, but they were in an area not yet ceded by the Indians and the population in the area consisted of Native Americans only.
– 1857 MN Terr./Federal census also included Medway and Big Sioux counties, areas with known white settlers, but in a region difficult to map due to an uncertainty of the exact location of the Big Sioux River. Medway and Big Sioux counties disappeared upon Minnesota’s statehood in 1858.
– 1857, 1860 Rock and Pipestone Counties exchanged names in 1862.
– 1860 Breckenridge Co., MN renamed Clay in 1862.
– 1860 Manomin Co., MN abolished and the area annexed to Anoka in 1869.
– 1860 Pierce Co., MN was abolished in 1862. From the same area came the counties of Big Stone, Stevens, Pope, Lac Qui Parle, Chippewa, Monongalia, and Kandiyohi.
– 1860 Toombs Co., MN renamed Andy Johnson in 1863, then Wilkin in 1868.
– 1860 Buchanan Co., MN was annexed to Pine in 1861.
– 1870 Monongalia Co., MN was annexed to Kandiyohi in November 1870.
– 1850-1870 Pembina Co., MN renamed Kittson in 1878.

– 1800 Pickering Co., MS renamed Jefferson in 1802.
– 1880 Sumner Co., MS renamed Webster in 1882.

– 1840 Rives Co., MO renamed Clay in 1841.
– 1840 Van Buren Co., MO renamed Cass in 1849.
– 1850 Dodge Co., MO was abolished and the area was annexed to Putnam in 1853.
– 1880 The City of St. Louis was enumerated twice in 1880. Both versions were microfilmed.

– 1870 Big Horn1, MT renamed Custer in 1877. Modern Big Horn2 was created in 1913.

– 1860 Unorganized Dakota census included several forts along the Missouri River, most were west of the river, and thus, in Nebraska Territory, not Dakota.
– 1860 Nuckolls Co., NE Terr. migrated west one county. The exact same area today is Thayer County.
– 1870 L’eau qui Court Co., NE renamed Knox in 1873.
– 1870, 1880 &1885 Blackbird Co., NE renamed Thurston in 1889.

– 1870 Lincoln Co., NV populations were enumerated with Washington Co., UT Territory.
– 1870 Pah-Ute Co., NV populations were enumerated as part of Arizona Territory.
– 1870 Rio Virgin Co., UT Terr. was erroneously created entirely within the state of Nevada.
– 1920 The indefinite eastern Washoe boundary was finally defined by range/township in 1924.

– 1860 Arizona Co., NM Terr. abolished in 1862, its area returned to Doña Ana Co., NM Territory.
– 1870 Santa Ana Co., NM Terr. abolished in 1876 and the area annexed to Bernalillo.

– 1790 Dobbs Co., NC was abolished upon the creation of Glasgow and Lenoir Counties in 1791. Glasgow was then renamed Greene in 1799.

– 1885 Stanton County, Dakota Territory, was abolished prior to the June 1885 census day, but appears anyway (one of only 17 extant counties for the North Dakota portion of Dakota Territory).

– 1900 Day Co., OK Territory was not included in the Oklahoma Constitution of 1907 and became defunct, its area now included in the southern part of modern Ellis County and the northern part of modern Roger Mills County.
– 1907 federal census taken for the new state of Oklahoma, but only the name list for Seminole County exists at the National Archives.

– 1860 Umpqua Co., OR was abolished in 1862, its area annexed to Douglas.

– 1789-1800. Although the federal government sold the Erie Triangle to Pennsylvania by patent in 1792, Pennsylvania had earlier purchased the land from the Indians in 1789. The triangle was added to Allegheny County in 1792; and became part of Erie County, PA in 1800, the same year the area was first enumerated in a federal census.
– 1870 Philadelphia County (including the city of Philadelphia) was enumerated twice, both versions available on microfilm.

– 1790 Orangeburg District, SC was divided into “North Orangeburg” and “South Orangeburg” arbitrarily by the census takers. The boundary was the road in the forks of the Edisto River then down the North Edisto and Edisto to the Charleston District line.
– 1800 “Waccamaw,” within Georgetown District, SC, was not a county, but an enumeration area invented by the census takers.
– 1800 Liberty County, SC belonging to Georgetown District was abolished before 1800 and became Marion County — but the 1800 census refers to the area as “Liberty” anyway. The name Marion was not used until the 1810 census.
– 1810-1820 Pendleton District became the districts of Anderson and Pickens in 1826 and the
name Pendleton was dropped.

– 1860 The “Unorganized Dakota” census included several forts along the Missouri River; most were west of the river and technically in Nebraska Territory. Also included in 1860 were the communities of Medway and Sioux Falls, areas which were part of the 1857 Minnesota Territory (federal) census.
– 1900 Armstrong Co., SD appears amid the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation (with a total of eight persons). Armstrong was enumerated with Dewey, 1920-1950, but not officially annexed to Dewey until 1952.
– 1920-1940 Washington Co., SD was abolished and the area annexed to Shannon County in 1943.

– 1790 Tennessee County, Southwest Territory, ended after its division into Montgomery and Robertson in 1796 at the time of Tennessee’s statehood.
– 1791 A tally of inhabitants of the Southwest Territory (no name list) was conducted by the various county sheriffs, under the direction of Governor Shelby, who supplied the numbers to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.
– 1820 Hardin and Shelby Counties, TN shared areas which could be legally in either county, based on obscure descriptions of their county boundaries by the state legislature.
– 1920 James Co., TN was annexed to Hamilton effective January 1920.

– 1850 Starr and Webb Counties, TX were enumerated with Cameron.
– 1860 Dawson1, TX, was abolished, due to depleted population resulting from several Comanche raids. Its area was annexed to Kinney and Uvalde counties in 1866. Another Dawson2 was created in 1876, some 200 miles north of the first one.
– 1850-1860 Cass County, TX was renamed Davis in 1861 (and changed back to Cass in 1871).
– 1860 22 counties returned by census takers with the note, “no population.” Texas was fond of creating paper counties and waiting for people to move into them. Any court actions relating to these early counties were administered at the Bexar County Courthouse in San Antonio.
– 1870 Davis County was renamed Cass in 1871, the same name it had from 1846 to 1861.
– 1870 15 counties returned with “no population,” with northern paper counties under the administration of Young County, the southern paper counties under Bexar County.
– 1850 Buchanan County, TX was renamed Stephens in 1861.
– 1890 Buchel and Foley Counties, TX were abolished and their areas annexed to Brewster in 1897.
– 1890 Encinal Co., TX was abolished and its area annexed to Webb in 1899.
– 1920 Willacy Co., TX migrated south one county in 1921. The area of 1920 Willacy is Identical today to Kenedy County, except for a 1.4 mile strip below the southern boundary of Kenedy.

– 1860 Cedar County, UT Territory was abolished in 1862, its area now mostly in Utah County.
– 1860 Shambip County, UT Territory was abolished in 1862, its area now in Tooele County.
– 1860 Great Salt Lake County, UT Territory renamed Salt Lake in 1868.
– 1860 Cache County, UT Territory census schedules included families living in Washington Territory, just above the present Utah-Idaho border.
– 1870 Cache and Rich Counties, UT Territory census schedules included families living in Idaho Territory.
– 1870 Washington Co., UT Territory census included the communities of Clover Valley and Panaca, actually in Lincoln County, Nevada.
– 1870 Rio Virgin Co., UT Territory was created erroneously entirely within the state of Nevada. Rio Virgin was abolished in 1872.

Independent cities have existed in Virginia since Williamsburg was chartered in 1722. Currently,
forty-one independent cities are outside county boundaries and jurisdictions. In addition, there have been several city mergers and city-county consolidations, such as:
– Manchester, first incorporated in 1874, was absorbed into Richmond in 1910.
– Alexandria County became extinct by virtue of being renamed Arlington in 1920.VA-1
– South Norfolk was incorporated in 1921 and merged with Norfolk County in 1962 to form the City of Chesapeake.
– Warwick County became the city of Warwick in 1952 and then absorbed into the city of Newport News in 1957. These changes abolished the counties of Norfolk and Warwick.
– Elizabeth City County merged with the city of Hampton in 1952.
– Princess Anne County consolidated with the city of Virginia Beach in 1962.
– Nansemond County became extinct by virtue of incorporating as a city in 1972 then merging
with the City of Suffolk in 1974.VA-2
NOTES: (VA-1 & V-2): my thanks to Michael Elwood Pollock for these two additions, part of
his comments to the “U.S. Counties Created or Abolished, 1920 – 1983” article.

– 1860 Cache County, UT Territory census schedules included families living in Washington Territory, just above the present Utah-Idaho border.
– 1860 Spokane1, WA Territory was annexed to Stevens in 1864. Essentially, Spokane was renamed Stevens, because Stevens was a paper county with no population and no courthouse, while Spokane had a growing population. The modern Spokane2 was created in 1879, in the same area of old Spokane’s first population center (Spokane Falls, now the city of Spokane).
– 1860 Sawamish County, WA Territory was renamed Mason in 1864.
– 1860-1910 Chehalis Co., WA was renamed Grays Harbor in 1915.

– 1860 Bad Ax Co., WI was renamed Vernon in 1862.
– 1860 LaPointe Co., WI was renamed Bayfield in 1866.
– 1860 Dallas Co., WI was renamed Barron in 1869.

For more information, See: Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.