Conejos County is one of the 64 counties of the State of Colorado in the United States. The county population was 8,400 at U.S. Census 2000. The county seat is the unincorporated community of Conejos.
Conejos County was one of the original 17 counties created by the General Assembly of the Territory of Colorado on 1861-11-01, although it was originally named Guadalupe County and renamed Conejos County a week later, on November 7. Its name coming from the Spanish word "conejo", meaning rabbit, for the large abundance of rabbits in the area. Also early in its existence, the county seat was moved from the town of Guadalupe to Conejos. The original boundaries of the county included a large portion of southwestern Colorado.
In 1874, most of the western and northern portions of the county were broken away to form parts of Hinsdale, La Plata and Rio Grande counties, and Conejos County achieved its modern borders in 1885 when its western half was taken to create Archuleta County.
The city of Conejos is the location of the oldest church in Colorado, called Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. This church was constructed in 1856. The first settlers into the area were from New Mexico, primarily from Abiquiu, San Juan de los Caballeros and Santa Cruz. As more people arrived, mission churches were set up and all had the records housed with Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.
When the neighboring town of Antonito was built, the Theatines, priests from Spain, came into the area and built St. Augustine church in 1880 within Antonito. The church records from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish are now housed at the church offices of Saint Augustine. Conejos is approximately a mile northwest of Antonito.
Presbyterians came into Conejos County in 1880 establishing churches in Antonito, Alamosa, Cenicero, Del Norte, Mogote, San Rafael, and Monte Vista. They also established schools in the area and had a large number of Hispanic converts. A jacal went up in 1854 in Guadalupe, now known as Conejos, which was the beginning of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.
There is also a large Mormon population within Conejos County. Settlers belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) began settling in the towns of La Jara, Manassa and Sanford; each town currently has an LDS meetinghouse. Fox Creek, a village approximately 11 miles west of Antonito, is the newest community to have an LDS meetinghouse erected, although there had previously been meetinghouse there. Fox Creek, however, is not a predominantly Mormon population.
Records available for this area are marriage records, which are held by the county clerk. Divorce records are maintained by the clerk of the district court. Agencies that hold records for marriages and divorces from 1900 to 1939 are the Colorado State Archives and Denver Public Library Genealogy Department. Other records available are marriage records from 1871 and death records from 1877-1907. This also include land records from 1871, probate records from 1875, and court records from 1877. However, some records were lost due to a fire, but birth records for 1877-1907 are still preserved. Websites that will be of use when doing genealogical research are The Colorado Genealogical Society and Conejos County WW II Enlistments.