One hundred and fifty years ago, the first gathering of the California Legislature divided the state into 27 counties. Over the next 57 years, the state’s territory was further subdivided and county boundaries were changed to create the names and places we recognize today.
Created 1853. The word Alameda is derived from alamo the Spanish name for cottonwood or poplar tree, and means a “grove of poplar trees.” The name was applied both to the southern portion of the county (La Alameda) and to the stream running through it (Rio de la Alameda) as early as 1795.
The list below shows how each California county was created and the trail of later additions which stayed in the county. They do not show the trail of territory which is no longer in the county. To obtain that information, look at the information of the individual counties listed under “Territory which at one time was in [this county] is now in [these counties].
Are you happy with the location of your county seat? If so, that’s good. If not, you have a problem. It is almost impossible to change the location of a county seat. It used to be easy. In its 150 year history, the California state legislature created 59 counties (only 58 are left) but designated 95 different places as county seats.
The Year 2000 marked the sesquicentennial of California’s Original 27 Counties. For 150 years, California counties have been providing innovative and effective programs and services to their citizens. Join CSAC in honoring all our counties. To learn more about the history of California counties, click below.
On January 4, 1850, a committee of California’s first constitutional convention, chaired by General Mariano Vallejo, recommended the creation of eighteen counties. They were Benicia, Butte, Fremont, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Monterey, Mt. Diablo, Oro, Redding, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and Sutter.