Territorial Voter's Poll, 1863

Original Census Map
Created by Elaine Johnson © 1998

The Spring of 1863, precisely the 3rd of March, the Territory of Idaho delivered new life as the latest territorial locality to take shape in the Pacific Northwest. The State of Oregon and Washington Territory had been re-aligned to make ways for new territory to be established. To establish the new territorial boundaries, the region shown on the map, was a decisive measure as a voter’s poll determined to enter as the next territory before its formalize date. To better understand the historical perspective of how much of its territorial borders came about, see the timeline below since the establishment of the Washington Territory in 1858. The reason Dakota Territory was included in this historical work was because it established the eastern border under the unorganized subdivision as shown on the 1863 map.

Incorporated Territory Timeline:
Dakotas (2 Mar 1861)
Idaho (3 Mar 1863)
Montana (26 May 1864)
Wyoming (26 Jul 1868)

Map of Washington Territory, ca. 1863

The following counties and subdivision (below) were established by March 1863 that were originally enacted by the Washington Territorial Legislature; beginning with Missoula County and Shoshone County a month later, and the other counties at the later dates. After the establishment of the Territory of Idaho, four of these counties will be re-established after the territorial census later in the fall of 1863, and by May 1864 Missoula County will be incorporated into the newly organized Montana Territory. And then by July 1868, Wyoming will be incorporated as well. There were still some unclear establishment of the borderlines until the 1870 define them. Some of these counties will have some additional historical annotation about its territorial days.

(1) Missoula (14 Dec 1860)
(2) Shoshone (9 Jan 1861)    
(3) Nez Perce (20 Dec 1861)    
(4) Idaho (20 Dec 1861)    
(5) Boise (12 Jan 1863)  
(6) Unorganized Subdivision

When Idaho Territory became the next incorporated territory of the United States out of the original Pacific Northwest, it remained in that status for the next 27 years when it was admitted into the Union on July 3, 1890.

The Idaho State Historical Society presented a series of references or historical annotations on the 150th Anniversary of the territorial days of Idaho. In one of these documents it showed that the first territorial census was taken in the fall of 1863; yet, in another reference, it was September 1863; and it also stated that the State of Idaho never had any other territorial or state census conducted during its entire history. At the time of this territorial census, the map shows all its occupied counties and subdivision which was a part of the territorial enumeration.

The dates that were established (above) were from the original territorial legislature of Washington Territory because of the discovery of gold in 1860 and the government wanted to constitute law and order among the mining camps and towns. After the official separation from the other entities, a territorial legislature was organized, and then established eleven counties over the seven years.

By 1864, Montana Territory took Missoula County with them, and then by 1868, Wyoming Territory hashed out boundaries with the Dakota Territory, who named two counties---Carter and Laramie counties--during this period, and Wyoming disbanded them.

To read more about Census of 1863 by Idaho Historical Society (1937-1938). PDF: Link:

The footnote of Ronnie R. Hayes's ScholarWorks at the University of Montana had stated that "an 1863 territorial census reported about 16,00 in the Boise Basin," and based on his guesstimation the figure was close, and it gave some idea how populated that region was since the great trek to Oregon to “Go West!” had begun about 1846. The people of the country surely h had spread their wings, and trekked in every possible place that was safe to venture, even if it was generally men who sought after mining claims wherever possible.

This reference State Censuses (1948) by Library of Congress also conclusively stated that Idaho only had one actual State census.

Idaho. ---A copy of the first census report of Idaho Territory, September 1863, which gives the number of voters, nonvoters, females, and children in each county and its subdivision, has been reproduced from the original in the files of the Secretary of State of Idaho and published in the Sixteenth Biennial Report of the State Historical Society of Idaho, 1937-1938, p. 60-64(F741.I18) No record of a State census taken by authority of the State government has been found. (p. 11)

For more information, you can also read Idaho Territorial Voters Poll Lists, 1863 (1996). Transcribed, edited and indexed by Gene F. Williams, Boise Idaho. View Williams's Geographic Locations, 1863 Precincts (full page) (Close-up Map) & (Table of Content). (Used with Permission)

This map is the Idaho Territorial Map of 1864 for additional look of how the boundaries changed by this time.

Additional Reading:

FamilySearch.org: Books
Author: Williams, Gene F.
Title: Idaho Territorial Voters Poll Lists, 1863
(Self-Published, 1996)
Title Number: 653670
Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a FamilySearch; http://www.familysearch.org/

Original Works © Elaine Johnson 1996-1998 Historical Works © Matthew D. Friend 2017