Otero County Census Research Guide
Last Updated: August 17, 2007
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Otero County Census Research Guide

While the landscape did not change, state and territory lines changed around the residents of Otero County . These changes are important to know because based on where your ancestors may have made their home, they may be found in different census records.

Previous to 1861, portions of southeastern Colorado were considered part of the New Mexico Territory . The western border was the crest of the Rocky Mountains south of the 38 th parallel, which was the northern border. This includes the southern half of present Otero County , including the city of La Junta . The area to the north of La Junta would have been part of the Kansas Territory; the north border of the Kansas Territory was the 40 th parallel; the western border was the crest of the Rocky Mountains, while the southern border was the 38 th parallel until a longitude of 26 degrees where the border would make a right angle south to the 37 th parallel and continue to the Missouri River.

If your ancestors were in the area previous to 1861, review of both the Kansas Territory and New Mexico Territory census records are in order. As information becomes available, more details about what counties to search in these territory records will be provided.

  • 1860 United States Federal Census - Kansas Territory
  • 1860 United States Federal Census - New Mexico Territory

The Territory of Colorado existed between 1861 and 1876. The boundaries reflected what would become state lines in 1876. Due to the creation and dissolving of counties, different census records for the Colorado Territory should be reviewed.

  • 1870 United States Federal Census - Colorado Territory Greenwood County
  • 1870 United States Federal Census - Colorado Territory Bent County

By the 1880 Census, Colorado was a state and Greenwood County was dissolved and divided into Elbert and Bent County . Researchers looking for family in Crowley County should look in Bent County as well.

  • 1880 United States Federal Census - Colorado Territory Bent County

The 1890 Census was destroyed by fire at the Commerce Department in Washington , DC in early 1921. While some fragments survived, none were for the state of Colorado . For researchers every where, this is quite a loss. A special federal census of Colorado was conducted in 1885, but it covers only ¼ of the twenty year gap.

  • 1885 Colorado State Census - Bent County

Otero County was one of thirteen new counties created on March 25, 1889 . At the time of its establishment, the county was comprised of roughly 2,050 square miles that was taken from the preexisting Bent County . Because of the loss of the 1890 Census, the 1900 Census is the first where Otero appears. Researchers looking for family in Crowley County would need to look in Otero County. One should consider looking in Bent County as well.

  • 1900 United States Federal Census - Colorado Territory Otero County
  • 1910 United States Federal Census - Colorado Territory Otero County

On May 29, 1911 , Crowley County would be created from the northern portion of Otero County . The current Otero County is currently comprised of the remainder 1,270 square miles. The 1920 Census is the first where Crowley County appears.

  • 1920 United States Federal Census - Colorado Territory Otero County
  • 1930 United States Federal Census - Colorado Territory Otero County

Hopefully this information is helpful in researching Federal Census records for Otero County Residents. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Otero County Coordinator.

References:

Ancestry.com. 1890 United States Federal Census Fragment [database on-line]. Provo , UT , USA : The Generations Network, Inc., 2001. Original data: United States of America , Bureau of the Census. Eleventh Census of the United States , 1890.

Bent County , Colorado . (2007, July 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 16, 2007 , from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bent_County%2C_Colorado

Colorado Territory . (2007, July 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 16, 2007 , from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territory_of_Colorado

Kansas Territory . (2007, July 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 16, 2007 , from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_Territory

Keck, F. B. (1999). Conquistadors to the 21st Century: A History of Otero and Crowley Counties Colorado . La Junta, Colorado : Otero Press.

New Mexico Territory . (2007, August 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 16, 2007 , from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territory_of_New_Mexico

Otero County , Colorado . (2007, June 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 16, 2007 , from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otero_County%2C_Colorado

©2007 Otero County, COGenWeb Project