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Modoc County, California Genealogy

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

Modoc County, California
Map of California highlighting Modoc County
Location in the state of California
Map of the U.S. highlighting California
Location of California in the U.S.
Founded February 17, 1874
County Seat Alturas
Address Modoc County Courthouse
 204 Court Street
PO Box 131
Alturas, CA 96101-0131
Phone 530.233.6205 
Modoc County Website

County Information

Modoc County, California Record Dates

Known Beginning Dates for Major Records[1]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1894 1874 1882 1874 1874 1874 1850
*Statewide registration for births and deaths started in 1905. General compliance by 1920.

County Courthouse

County Clerk has divorce, probate, court and voter regisitration records from 1874 
County Recorder has birth, marriage and death records [2]

Historical Facts

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Modoc County, California

Parent County

17 February 1874: Modoc County was created from Siskiyou County. County seat: Alturas [3]


The county was named from the Modoc people who lived in what is now northern California, near Lost River and Tule Lake. The county seat Alturas and the county was created February 17, 1874. The County is located in the northeastern area of the state.[4]

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

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.


Populated Places

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[5]

Unincorporated communities
  • Stronghold
Native American communities
Census-designated places

Neighboring Counties


Bible Records



Cemeteries of Modoc, 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 Modoc County cemeteries.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 4,399
1890 4,986 13.3%
1900 5,076 1.8%
1910 6,191 22.0%
1920 5,425 −12.4%
1930 8,038 48.2%
1940 8,713 8.4%
1950 9,678 11.1%
1960 8,308 −14.2%
1970 7,469 −10.1%
1980 8,610 15.3%
1990 9,678 12.4%
2000 9,449 −2.4%
2010 9,686 2.5%
Source: "".

For tips on accessing Modoc 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.

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court Records

Crime and Criminals


Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups





Local histories are available for Modoc 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.


Klamath CountyLake CountyWashoe CountySiskiyou CountyShasta CountyLassen CountyCA MODOC.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources


Early migration routes to and from Modoc County, California Genealogy for emigrant settlers included:[6][7]

Military History and Records

Civil War
World War I
World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War

Naturalization and Citizenship


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


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 - Modoc - Probate records.

Online Probate Indexes and Records


Archives, Libraries and Museums
County Courthouse
Family History Centers

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries



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


Voting Registers

California county clerks were to keep voting registers every other year from 1866 and well into the 20th century. These large books, called Great Registers, listed the men who registered to vote in that county. Besides name and age, the record may show place of birth, address, occupation, naturalization date and sometimes even a physical description.

These records are at the California State Library (1866-1944), and microfilmed copies are available through Family History Centers (1866-1910). Ancestry ($) has a searchable database of Modoc Great Registers from 1875-1898.

The Modoc records for 1874 are available on the RootsWeb site, by clicking here.

Genealogy Societies, Archives and Libraries

Modoc County Historical Society Museum
600 South Main Street
Alturas, California 96101
Phone: (530) 233-2944



  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Modoc County, California. Page 84-88 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 81-83.
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Modoc County, California. Page 85 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Modoc County," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_California 05/04/2017.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "Modoc County, California," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_California, accessed 17 September 2019.
  6. National Park Service, "California Trail" (map) in California National Historic Trail at (accessed 5 August 2011).
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "California Trail" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at (accessed 5 August 2012).