Welcome to the

Riverside County, California

CAGenWeb Project

Riverside Postcard


California Jen Web Logo  

A Branch of

The CAGenWeb Project

and of

The USGenWeb Project

  U S Jen Web Logo


My name is Steve Lech. I have been the coordinator for The Riverside County CAGenWeb Project since 1998. While I am a park planner by profession, I am a local historian by heart. Over the past 25 years, I have amassed a collection of nearly 500 books relating to Riverside, Riverside County, Southern California, and, to a lesser extent, San Bernardino County.  In addition, I have nearly 4,000 post cards of Riverside, the Mission Inn, and Riverside County.  That said, I would be more than happy to look up information in my collection that you may need in reference to your research into Riverside County. While I am more than happy to look things up in my own collection, I am unable to conduct individual research at the local library, LDS Family History Center, or county offices.

I'd like to thank the previous coordinator, Bonnie Hensel (1996-1998), for her efforts in getting this site up and running during the project's fledgling years.

If you would like to contribute your information to this page, or have me look something up in my collection, please contact me.
I AM SEEKING a local Assistant Coordinator and/or Webmaster. If you are interested, or would like to see about hosting a county of your own, please read the CAGenWeb Policy & Procedure page and then contact our State Coordinator.
State Coordinator: Elizabeth E. Bullard
Assistant State Coordinator: Marc Irish
Assistant State Coordinator: Bob Jenkins


California Map  

Neighboring Counties:

Orange (west)
San Bernardino (north)
La Paz, AZ (east)
Imperial (south)
San Diego (south)

  Neighbor Map


Follow this link to see if the city or area in which you are interested is in Riverside County:

 Riverside County Cities/Communities  

Follow this link to read or post a query about an ancestor in Riverside County:

Riverside County Query Page (at Ancestry.com)

Follow this link to see the list of volunteers willing to do lookups for Riverside County:

Riverside County Lookup Page

Follow this link to go to the Riverside County Family and Genealogies Page:

Riverside County Family and Genealogies Page

Here is a link to Riverside County cemetery records which have been transcribed and placed on the web:

Riverside County Cemetery Records (at Find a Grave)

Finally, follow this link to go to the listing of Genealogical and Historical Societies within both
Riverside and San Bernardino Counties:

Riverside/San Bernardino Genealogical and Historical Societies

Riverside County Assessor - Clerk - Recorder
for Vital statistics (Birth, Death, Marriage records, etc.)
2724 Gateway Drive
PO Box 751

Riverside, CA 92502
(951) 486-7000

Riverside County Links

Riverside County Historical and Genealogical Societies
Riverside County Government
Riverside County Libraries

Riverside County Landmarks
The Genealogical Society of Riverside
The Tombstone Project

Genealogy Resources

Birthdate Calculator
Census Online 1
Index to Passenger Lists


Other Project Links


CAGenWeb County Index
USGenWeb Special Projects
WorldGenWeb Project



Riverside County History

Riverside County was formed in 1893 by carving out a small portion of San Bernardino County and a larger part of San Diego County.

Long before the arrival of the white man in what is now Riverside County, the area was inhabited by a number of Native American people, including the Serranos, the Luisenos, the Cupenos, the Chemehuevi, and the Cahuillas.

When Spain claimed California for it's own, the Spaniards began putting a series of missions in what was then called Alta California.  While no missions were ever built in what would become Riverside County, the Riverside County area played a vital role during the mission period.  The San Gabriel mission claimed lands in what is now Jurupa, Riverside, San Jacinto, and the San Gorgonio Pass, while the San Luis Rey mission claimed land in what is now Lake Elsinore, Temecula, and Murrieta.  These lands were used for grazing of the large herds of cattle and sheep that belonged to the missions.  In 1776, and again in 1778, Juan Bautista de Anza, an army captain charged with discovering an overland route from the Mexican state of Sonora to San Gabriel and Los Angeles, passed through much of Riverside County and described fertile valleys, lakes and sub-desert areas.

The Mission Period lasted until 1832, when Mexico, having taken over California from Spain 10 years earlier, desecularized the missions, and began doling out the vast mission holdings to political favorites, wealthy people, and cronies of the governors of California.  The "grants" were called ranchos, and many of the ranchos in Riverside County have lent their names to modern-day locales - Jurupa, San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, Temecula, and La Laguna (Lake Elsinore).

With the advent of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, land speculators, developers, and colonists began to swarm to Southern California.  The first colony in what would become Riverside County was Riverside itself.  Judge John Wesley North, a staunch temperance-minded abolitionist from Tennessee who was ostracized back home after he talked a crowd out of lynching a black man, brought a group of associates and co-investors out to Southern California, and founded Riverside on part of the Jurupa Rancho.  A few years after, the navel orange was planted and found to be such a success that full-scale planting started.  By the time of Riverside County's formation, Riverside had grown to become the wealthiest city per capita in the country, due to the riches of the navel orange.

In the meantime, developments at Lake Elsinore, San Jacinto, and South Riverside (present-day Corona) were gaining in popularity and population.

However, by the late 1880's and early 1890's, there was growing discontent between Riverside and San Bernardino, its neighbor 10 miles to the north.  To begin with, there were many political, spiritual, and economic differences between the two towns.  San Bernardino was predominantly Democratic in nature, allowed saloons, and had been a hot-bed of secessionist sympathy during the Civil War.  Riverside was temperance minded (few saloons if any were allowed in Riverside proper), and Republican.  In addition, both towns were competing for settlers in an era in which many towns were languishing or dying because of a lack of inhabitants.  After a series of instances in which charges were claimed about unfair use of tax monies to the benefit of the City of San Bernardino only, several people from Riverside decided to investigate the possibility of a new county.  Joined by San Diego County residents in the Temecula and San Jacinto Valleys and the desert region who were tired of living so far from their county seat, they petitioned the State legislature, held an election, and on May 9, 1893 formed Riverside County.

Further developments in Riverside County included Banning and Beaumont in the San Gorgonio Pass; Hemet south of San Jacinto; Moreno Valley east of Riverside; Perris, Lake Elsinore, Murrieta and Temecula along the California Southern Railroad; Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio and Coachella along the Southern Pacific route to Yuma; and Blythe on the Colorado River.

Today, Riverside County encompasses an area of nearly 7,200 square miles, and boasts a population of 1.3 million people.  Over the last decade, it has consistently been one of the, if not the, fastest growing areas in the country.


Interested in the Mission Inn? Riverside's own National Historic Landmark?
Well, now you can become one of the specially-trained volunteer docents who take people throughout the inn, relating the history, art, architecture, etc. of Riverside's fine hotel!  Training classes begin every September - e-mail Steve for more information!

This page was updated last on 27 Jan 2019.

© 2019 Steve Lech on behalf of The CAGenWeb Project. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright Notice:

The content of this website is a collective work that may contain some private contributions. Said private contributions are so-noted and copyright of those private contributions belongs to the original author. Under no circumstances is any data from this site to be re-published in any fashion without the express written consent of its owner.


This site is not in any way affiliated with any governmental body or agency. Links to some external websites have been provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. The act of pointing, via hyperlink, to any website by this website does not in any way whatsoever constitute an endorsement or an approval by The CAGenWeb Project or The USGenWeb Project or any of their affiliates or any of their administrators of any product, service, or opinion that may be appear on that website. The CAGenWeb Project and The USGenWeb Project and their affiliates and their administrators make no guarantee whatsoever about the content and/or quality of any research material that may be provided by any genealogical or historical researcher that may be listed on this website. The CAGenWeb Project and The USGenWeb Project and their affiliates and their administrators make no guarantee whatsoever about the expertise of any genealogical or historical researcher that may be listed on this website. The listing on this website of any genealogical or historical researcher does not in any way whatsoever constitute endorsement of that genealogical or historical researcher by The CAGenWeb Project or The USGenWeb Project or any of their affiliates or any of their administrators.