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Washburn County, Wisconsin Genealogy

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

County Facts
County seat: Shell Lake
Organized: 1883
Parent County(s): Burnett County[1]
Neighboring Counties
Barron  • Bayfield  • Burnett  • Douglas  • Rusk  • Sawyer
See County Maps
Washburn county WI Shell Lake.JPG
Location Map
WI Washburn.png

County Information


The County was named for Governor Cadwallader C. Washburn. The County is located in the northwest area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse

Washburn County Courthouse
10 W 4th Avenue
Shell Lake, WI 54871
Phone: 715-468-4600
Washburn County Website

Register of Deeds has birth, marriage, death and land records from 1883.
Clerk of Court has divorce, probate and court records from 1883. [3]

Washburn County, Wisconsin Record Dates

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1883 1883 1883 1883 1883 1883 1820
*Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1907. General compliance year unknown.

Record Loss

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

Boundary Changes

  • 1883--Washburn County was created 27 March 1883 from Burnett County.
  • County seat: Shell Lake[5]

For animated maps illustrating Wisconsin County boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Wisconsin County Boundary Maps" (1790-1961) may be viewed for free at the website.

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:[6]

Unincorporated communities
Census-designated places
Ghost towns

History Timeline


Bible Records


Business, Commerce, and Occupations


Cemeteries of Washburn County, Wisconsin online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Wisconsin Cemeteries for more information


Census Records

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1890 2,926
1900 5,521 88.7%
1910 8,196 48.5%
1920 11,377 38.8%
1930 11,103 −2.4%
1940 12,496 12.5%
1950 11,665 −6.7%
1960 10,301 −11.7%
1970 10,601 2.9%
1980 13,174 24.3%
1990 13,772 4.5%
2000 16,036 16.4%
2010 15,911 −0.8%
Source: "".

For tips on accessing Washburn census records online, see: Wisconsin Census.

Church 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 Wisconsin denominations, view the Wisconsin Church Records wiki page.

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court Records


Emigration and Immigration

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups

Funeral Homes



Land and Property Records

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 Wisconsin Land and Property for additional information about early Wisconsin land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse and where records are currently housed.

Local Histories

Maps and Gazetteers

Douglas CountyBayfield CountySawyer CountyRusk CountyBarron CountyPolk CountyBurnett CountyWI WASHBURN.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources


Military Records

Civil War

Regiments. Service men in Washburn served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in Washburn:

Spanish-American War

World War I

World War II

Naturalization and Citizenship



Other Records


Probate Records

Probate records are held by the Washburn Clerk of Circuit Court and are housed at the Washburn Courthouse. See the wiki page Wisconsin Probate Records for information about how to use probate records.

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.

Record types: Wills, estates, guardianships, and adoptions.

Online Records

School Records

Social Security Records

Tax Records

Wisconsin tax records complement land records and can be used to supplement the years between censuses. Because only persons who owned property or other items that could be taxed were listed, some residents were not included in tax lists. There may also be gaps of several years in the tax records. For more information see the Wiki page, Wisconsin Taxation.

Vital Records

Vital records consist of birth, death, marriage and divorce records. Most counties started keeping records in the 1870s. In 1907, the counties began sending copies to the state.

For pre-1907 births, deaths, and marriages, search the Wisconsin Genealogy Index.

For additional information, see Wisconsin Vital Records.





Research Facilities


Listed below are archives in Washburn County. For state-wide archival repositories, see Wisconsin Archives and Libraries.

  • Area Research Center
    Jim Dan Hill Library, University of Wisconsin, Superior
    Belknap and Catlin
    P.O. Box 2000
    907 N. 19th St.
    Superior, WI 54880
    Telephone: 715-394-8359

Family History Centers

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


Listed below are libraries in Washburn County. For state-wide library facilities, see Wisconsin Archives and Libraries.

  • Jim Dan Hill Library, University of Wisconsin, Superior
    Area Research Center
    Belknap and Catlin
    P.O. Box 2000
    907 N. 19th St.
    Superior, WI 54880
    Telephone: 715-394-8359



Listed below are societies in Washburn County. For state-wide genealogical societies, see Wisconsin Societies.


Research Guides


  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Wisconsin.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Washburn County, Wisconsin " in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, ",_Wisconsin."
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Wisconsin.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Washburn County, Wisconsin. Page 755-760, 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), 757-759.
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Wisconsin.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "Washburn County, Wisconsin," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Wisconsin#Communities, accessed 12 Dec 2018.