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California Counties
The U.S. state of California is divided into fifty-eight counties. On January 4, 1850, the California constitutional committee recommended the formation of 18 counties. They were Benicia, Butte, Fremont, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Monterey, Mount Diablo, Oro, Redding, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and Sutter. On April 22, the Counties of Branciforte, Calaveras, Coloma, Colusi, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Trinity, and Yuba were added. Benicia was renamed Solano, Coloma to El Dorado, Fremont to Yola, Mt. Diablo to Contra Costa, San Jose to Santa Clara, Oro to Tuolumne, and Redding to Shasta. One of the first state legislative acts regarding Counties was to rename Branciforte County to Santa Cruz, Colusi to Colusa, and Yola to Yolo.

The last California county to have been established is Imperial County in 1907.

Merced County, California

Merced County History, Geography, and Demographics

County Seat: Merced
Year Organized: 1855
Square Miles: 1,929
Court House:

2222 M Street
County Administration Building
Merced, CA 95340-3729

Etymology - Origin of County Name

The county derived its name from the Merced River of El Rio de Nuestra Senora de la Merced (River of Our Lady of Mercy); named in 1806 by an expedition, headed by Gabriel Moraga, which came upon it at the end of a hot dusty ride.


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

County History

Merced County was formed in 1855 from parts of Mariposa County. Parts of its territory were given to Fresno County in 1856.

We know that Merced County was created by the Act of April 19, 1855, organized by an election held May 14 and the votes of which were canvassed May 19, and that the first board of supervisors held their first meeting at the Turner & Osborn Ranch on June 4. But anyone who is at all curious about the matter will want to know how it came about that there were here along the Merced River and the creek bottoms of the eastern part of the county in this spring of 1855 enough people to organize a new county. That is probably the most difficult question in all the county's history, at this distance in time, to attempt to answer with anything like completeness.

It is a matter of history that Stanislaus County was formed in 1854, and it is also a matter of history that an attempt was made— and failed—to include the settlements along the Merced in that county. These settlements apparently that early had a consciousness of being a separate entity. The census of 1850 gave Mariposa County 4379, and that was for the county which extended from the Coast Range to the State's eastern boundary, and from approximately the present northern line of Mariposa and Merced to the vicinity of San Bernardino. The 1860 census gave a greatly reduced Mariposa County 6243. Tulare, Merced, and Fresno had been carved off before 1860; and this figure is the highest which any federal census gives to Mariposa. It is probable that her greatest population, some time in between these two censuses, must have exceeded the 1860 figure, and exceeded it a good deal. Old timers will tell you that there were 5000 people in Agua Fria and its twin town of Carson City when these mushroom towns were in their brief prime

SOURCE: History of Merced County, California - Los Angeles, Calif.; Historic Record Co., 1925


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,972 square miles (5,107 kmē), of which, 1,929 square miles (4,995 kmē) of it is land and 43 square miles (112 kmē) of it (2.19%) is water.

Neighboring Counties:

  • Northeast: Tuolumne County; Mariposa County
  • East: Madera County
  • Southeast: Fresno County
  • Southwest: San Benito County
  • West: Santa Clara County
  • Northwest: Stanislaus County

Cities and Towns:

- Atwater city Incorporated Area
- Dos Palos city Incorporated Area
- Gustine city Incorporated Area
- Livingston city Incorporated Area
- Los Banos city Incorporated Area
- Merced (County Seat) city Incorporated Area

County Resources:

Enter County Resources and Information Here

County Resources
Counties: US Map
The history of our nation was a prolonged struggle to define the relative roles and powers of our governments: federal, state, and local. And the names given the counties, our most locally based jurisdictions, reflects the "characteristic features of this country!"