Welcome To Kern County, California


The Kern River

Kern County




Kern County seat: Bakersfield. Created April 2, 1866.

Kern County is a county spanning across the southern end of the California Central Valley. Covering 8,161.42 square miles (21,138.0 km2), it ranges west to the southern slope of the Coast Ranges, and east beyond the southern slope of the eastern Sierra Nevada into the Mojave Desert. The population of Kern County was 839,631 in 2010, making it the eleventh most populous county in the state.[2] Its county seat is Bakersfield. The county's economy is heavily linked to agriculture and to petroleum extraction. There is also strong aviation, space, and military presence, such as Edwards Air Force Base and China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.


The area was claimed by the Spanish in 1769, and in 1772 Commander Don Pedro Fages became the first European to enter it, from the south by way of the Grapevine Canyon.

Kern County was the site of the Battle of San Emigdio, in March 1824, between the Chumash Indians of the Santa Barbara Mission who rebelled against the Mexican government's taking over mission property and ejecting the natives. This battle with Mexican forces from Monterey under the command of Cárlos Carrillo took place at the canyon where San Emigdio Creek flows down San Emigdio Mountain and the Blue Ridge south of Bakersfield near today's Highway 166. It was a low-casualty encounter, with only four Indians killed, and no Mexicans; the surviving Indians were pacified and brought back to Santa Barbara in June 1824 after a pursuit and negotiation in which many were allowed to keep their arms for the return march over the mountains.[3]

In the beginning, the area that became Kern County was dominated by mining in the mountains and in the desert. County government was created in 1866 with the county seat in the mining town of Havilah, in the mountains between Bakersfield and Tehachapi.

The flatlands were considered inhospitable and impassable at the time due to swamps, lakes, tule reeds and diseases such as malaria. This changed when settlers started draining lands for farming and constructing canals, most dug by hand by hired Chinese laborers. Within 10 years the valley surpassed the mining areas as the economic center of the county, and the county seat was moved as a result from Havilah to Bakersfield in 1874. The discovery well of the Kern River Oil Field was dug by hand in 1899.[4] Soon the towns of Oil City, Oil Center and Oildale came into existence.[4]

The county derives its name from the Kern River, which was named for Edward Kern, cartographer for General John C. Frémont's 1845 expedition, which crossed Walker Pass. The Kern River was originally named Rio Bravo de San Felipe by Father Francisco Garces when he explored the area in 1776. Kern County was nearly named Buena Vista County for the large, and now drained, Buena Vista Lake between Bakersfield and Taft.

Kern County Obituaries & Death Certificates

These obituaries and death certificates are the result of many years of helping others find their families that lived in Kern County. There are many more to be added.

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Kern County Coroner's Reports

1885 - 1900

Kern County Biographies

Kern County Cemeteries

Kern County Newspapers on Microfilm

Pre-1905 CA Death Index

RW's Online CA Death Index

Online Social Security Death Index

Find-a-Grave - Kern County

Interment.net - Kern County

Kern County Town & Community Names 

Rootsweb's Kern County Genealogy Mailing List [CAKERN]

2001-2011 Index of obits/deaths from the Bakersfield Californian (over 50,000 entries now included)

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Queries for Kern County are posted to the Kern County Message Board.

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Kern County GenWeb Links

Tombstone Transcription Project - Kern County, California
  (Cemeteries in Kern County)
  (A USGenWeb Archives Project)

Linkpendium Online Links for Kern County, California
  (A USGenWeb Archives Project)

Kern County Genealogical Societies


Links to Cities in Kern County

Bakersfield Home Page;

 California City Home Page;

 Kern Valley [Kernville/Lake Isabella area]

Ridgecrest Home Page; Shafter Home Page

Additional GenWeb Links


California County Biographies and Histories

USGenWeb Project - California Master County Index

Where to obtain California Vital Records

California Birth Index - 1905 - 1985 (Paid site)

California Marriage index from 1949 - 1985 (Paid site)