Welcome to the Pierce County, Washington GenWeb, a part of the USGenWeb project designed to assist genealogy researchers in finding clues about ancestors both on and off the web.
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Pierce County is the second most populous county in Washington. Created from Thurston County on December 22, 1852 by the Oregon Territory legislature, it was named for U.S. President Franklin Pierce. King County to the north was created at the same time, and was named for then Vice-President Rufus King.
Pierce County encompasses an area bounded by King and Kitsap Counties to the north, Puget Sound to the west, Lewis and Thurston Counties to the south and the Cascade Mountain Range to the east. The county seat was first sited in Steilacoom, but was moved in 1880 to Tacoma.
Do you know why Steilacoom was the first county seat?
The pioneer economy focused on timber, fishing, hop, bulb and truck farming. Since the turn of the twentieth century, military bases, including Fort Lewis and the McChord Air Force Base (renamed to Joint Base Lewis-McChord) have had a major economic impact. Large scale industries such as lumber mills and the Tacoma Smelter have given way to light industry and shipping, principally through the Port of Tacoma.
Pierce County government has operated under a "home rule" charter approved by voters in the 1970s. The charter abolished the Board of County Commissioners, established elective offices for a County Executive and County Council and merged the Offices of the Assessor and Treasurer under one elected official. The Offices of the County Auditor, Medical Examiner, Prosecutor and Sheriff continue to be headed by separately elected officials.
As of 2010, the population was 795,225 according to the U.S. census. The county seat is Tacoma, which is also the county's largest city, located on Commencement Bay. The county has the highest elevation change in the state, from sea level to 14,410 feet.
Pierce County, home of Mount Tacoma (pronounced Ta-ho-ma)
(some call it Mount Rainier)
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