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TILLAMOOK COUNTY GENWEB PROJECT

HISTORY AND BORDER CHANGES OF TILLAMOOK COUNTY

Tillamook County was created December 15, 1853, by the Territorial Legislature.(Special Laws of 1853-4). It comprised parts of the western portions of Yamhill and Clatsop Counties and, possibly, of Polk County.

As an instance of how loosely the boundary lines of counties were described in Acts of the Legislature in early days, the following is the descriptIon of the boundaries of Tillamook County as given in the legistative Act creating that County:

All that portion of Yamhill and Clatsop Counties, embraced within the following boundaries, towit: Commencing at the range of hills near the Pacific Ocean, and north of of the Nehalem river, known as Saddle mountain, thence east following the summit said range of hills to the summit of the coast range of mountains, to the southern boundary of Polk County, thence due west to the Pacific ocean, thence along the sea shore to the place of beginning".

Possibly instead of the southern, the northern boundary of Polk County was intended, for the latter is the southern boundary of Yamhill County, and Polk County is not otherwise mentioned as having a portion of it included in Tillamook Coutny.

Its name is derived from a small tribe of Indians, whose habitat was near and south of Tillamook Head. In the "Original Journals" of Lewis and Clark the name is spelled Kilamox and Killamuck, Vol. 4, pages 12, 49, and 183; Vol. 6, pages 71 and 117. In Patrick Gass' "Journal," (London edition, 1808), page 260, he spells it Callemeux and, page 274, Cal-a-mex. In Coues' Henry Thompson's "Journals", Vol 2, page 858, it is spelled Callemex. In other early books on Oregon it is spelled in different ways: Killimux, in Ross' "Adventures," page 87; Kallamook, in Slacum's "Report," page 42, House Rep. 101, 25th Congress, 3d. Session; Killemook, in Lee and Frost's "Ten Years in Oregon," page 307; Killamuck, in Hastings' "Description",page 60; Killamook, in Warre and Vavesour's "Census" as printed in Martin's "Hudson's Bay Territories"; and Kilamook, as printed in Schafer's article in Oregon Historical Quarterly, March, 1909, page 61; Killimous, in Duflot do Mofras' "Exploration", Vol. 2, page 335; Kilamook, in Palmer's "Journal,"page 105; and Killamuke, in Wilkes' "Western America", page 88, quoting from Hale.

In Hall J. Kelley's book or pamphlet of eighty pages, "A Geographical Sketch of that part of North American called Oregon", publishec in 1930, on page 40, it is said: Killamuck river is one hundred yards wide, has no falls, and no difficult rapids. It opens into Killamuck bay, ten miles South of the creek of the same name and forms a communication, for a considerable Indian trade, with the Multnomah valley; there being a short portage from the head of the river to the Multnomah".

In House Report 101, ordered to be printed Februray 16, 1839, is bound a finely engraved map, showing what is called the "Territory of Oregon". It was "compiled in United States Bureau of Topographical Engineers from the latest authorities under the direction of Col. J. J. Abert by Washi. Hood, 1838". On this map the name of Tillamook River is spelled Killimoux. On the map the Rocky Mountains are called "Rocky or Oregon" Mountains.

Lieut. Neil M. Howison, U. S. N., came to Oregon in July, 1846, in command of the United States Naval schooner Shark. October 10, 1846, his vessel was wrecked, and became a total loss, on South Spit, near the Columbia River bar. A portion of the hull, with three carronades attached to it, was found by Midshipman Simes on the beach below Tillamook Head. He succeeded in getting one of these carronades ashore above high-water mark. From this circumstance that beach is still called "Cannon Beach". In his Report, dated February 1, 1847, House Miscellaneous Report No. 29, 30th Congress, 1st Session, ordered to be printed February 28, 1848, Lieut. Howison mentions Tillamook Head as "Killimuk's Head".

A. N. Armstron, for several years a government surveyor in Oregon, published a book entitled "Oregon", in 1857. In this book, page 74, he called the bay, Tillamook. On page 101 he calls the Indians "Tillamooks or (Killamooks)'. These are the earliest mentions I have found in early books on Oregon of the name Tillamook. I have been unable to ascertain when the name was changed to begin with "T" instead of a "K". Judging from the date of books, mentioning the name it was about or at the time the County was created.

Tillamook County is now bounded: on the north by Clatsop County: on the east by Washington and Yamhill Counties, and by a small portion of Columbia County; on the south by Lincoln Coutny; and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Its county seat is Tillamook.

Oregon Historical Quarterly "Tillamook Memories".

From the time of the formation of the Oregon Territory, thru its admission to the United States in 1859 until the counties assumed their present form in 1908, there were numerous boundary changes.  The original Oregon Territory included land that later became part of Montana & Wyoming as well as all of present day Washington and Idaho.  The original counties, Champoeg, Clackamas, Washington & Yamhill were formed in 1843.  From these four, came all the other 36 counties.  Because it is essential for the family history researcher to know when the various counties were formed, and from which counties, I have included maps showing county boundaries in:
The maps below show how the county borders changed between 1851 and 1893

 

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