Alpena County was created on April 1, 1840 (Organized on February 7, 1857) and was formed from Mackinac County. Formed as Anamickee Co, renamed in 1843. Some early records before 1857 may be located in Cheboygan County. The County was named by Henry Schoolcraft with "al" for "the" and "pinai" for partridge or "penaissee" for bird. The best interpretation is "the bird.". The County Seat is Alpena.
ANAMICKEE was the first name given Alpena County, after a Chippewa chief whose name meant "thunder". The county, as first laid out, surrounded the entire Thunder Bay. The name Alpena was coined by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and means "the partridge country". The first settler, W. F. Cullings, a fisherman, arrived around 1835. Alpena County was formed on April 1, 1840, but not organized until February 7, 1857. Prior to that time, it was attached to Mackinac County from 1835 to 1853. It was transferred to Cheboygan County where it remained until it was organized. At that time, the counties of Oscoda, Montmorency and a portion of Presque Isle were attached to it.
Counties adjacent to Alpena County are Presque Isle County (north), Alcona County (south), Montmorency County (west). Townships found in Alpena County include Alpena, Green, Long Rapids, Maple Ridge, Ossineke, Sanborn, Wellington, Wilson Townships. Cities, Towns and Communities include Alpena, Herron, Hubbard Lake, Lachine, Ossineke
Researchers often overlook the importance of court records, probate records, and land records as a source of family history information.
All departments below at located at the Alpena County Courthouse, 720 West Chisholm Street, Alpena, MI 49707 , unless a different address is listed below. NOTE: The date listed for each category of record is the earliest record known to exist in that county. It does not indicate that there are numerous records for that year and certainly does not indicate that all such events that year were actually registered. See also the Alpena County Courthouse History
Alpena County Clerk has the following Records for: Births: 1869 to present. Index available. Birth records are available only to the individual named on the birth record (registrant), the parents of the registrant, a legal guardian of the registrant, a legal representative of the registrant or an heir of the registrant. An heir is defined as any relative of a deceased individual. Heirs must supply the date and place of death of the registrant when requesting a copy. This policy is in accordance with MCL 333.2882. Deaths: 1871 to present. Index available. Records open to the public. Marriages: 1871 to present. Index available. Records open to the public. Divorces: 1871 to present. Index available. Records open to the public. Other: DD-214: Some Civil War, World War I to present. Naturalization: 1871. Comments: Time may be limited depending on the number of researchers. Space allows for two genealogists at one time. Children are allowed. The Offices are located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Ste #2, Phone (989) 354-9520, FAX (989) 354-9644; E-mail address: email@example.com. Office Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
The County Clerk is responsible for keeping records of births, deaths, assumed names, co-partnerships, issuing and filing marriage licenses, gun permits, notary bonds and processing passports.
Alpena County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1858 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Suite #4, Phone: (989) 354-9547, FAX (989) 354-9646. Office Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am - 4:30pm.
The Register is the County's official recording officer for all legal documents pertaining to the transfers and encumbrances of all real estate property within the County. The Register also provides permanent storage for approved original subdivision plats, condominiums, land surveys and section corners.
Alpena County Clerk of the Probate Court has Probate Records from 1858 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (989)354-8827 .
The Court Adjudicates and disposes of cases involving property of persons who have died or become incompetent, interprets wills and trusts, commits the mentally ill when necessary and appoints guardians and conservators for minors, incapacitated individuals and individuals with developmental disability.
Alpena County Clerk of the Circuit Court has Court Records from 1871 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (989)354-9573 .
The Clerk provides a variety of functions for the court such as, but not limited to: filing and maintaing the official record for all cases that come before the court; providing staff to assist in the operation of the court; working with the Jury Commission and notifying all potential jurors to appear for jury duty; and, processing felony criminal cases bound over from the District Court.
County Treasurer - Property tax records at the county level usually date back to the first land records. Either the county treasurer or the register of deeds will be the custodian of these records.
Below is a list of online resources for Alpena County Court Records. Email us with websites containing Alpena County Court Records by clicking the link below:
Birth, marriage, and death records are connected with central life events. They are prime sources for genealogical information.
The State of Michigan Vital Records Office is located at 201 Townsend Street, Capitol View Bldg, 3rd Floor, Lansing MI 48913 (across the street from the state capitol - south side). The office hours are 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Mon-Fri, except for State holidays. They are open thru the lunch hour. If applying in person, you must submit your request by 3:00 pm in order to obtain same-day service. It can take up to 1-3 months to get a vital record from Michigan.
Below is a list of online resources for Alpena County Vital Records. Email us with websites containing Alpena County Vital Records by clicking the link below:
Few, if any, records reveal as many details about individuals and families as do government census records. Substitute records can be used when the official census is unavailable
Countywide Records: Federal Population Schedules that exist for Alpena County, Michigan are 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890 (fragment, see below), 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930.
Other Federal Schedules to look at when researching your Family Tree in Alpena County, Michigan are Industry and Agriculture Schedules availible for the years 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. The Mortality Schedules for the years 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. There are free downloadable and printable Census forms to help with your research. These include U.S. Census Extraction Forms and U.K. Census Extraction Forms.
Below is a list of online resources for Alpena County Census Records. Email us with websites containing Alpena County Census Records by clicking the link below:
Genealogy Atlas has images of old American atlases during the years 1795, 1814, 1822, 1823, 1836, 1838, 1845, 1856, 1866, 1879 and 1897 for Michigan and other states.
You can view rotating animated maps for Michigan showing all the county boundaries for each census year overlayed with past and present maps so you can see the changes in county boundaries. You can view a list of maps for other states at Census Maps
You can view rotating animated maps for Michigan showing all the county boundary changes for each year overlayed with past and present maps so you can see the changes in county boundaries. You can view a list of maps for other states at County Maps
Below is a list of online resources for Alpena County Maps. Email us with websites containing Alpena County Maps by clicking the link below:
Military and civil service records provide unique facts and insights into the lives of men and women who have served their country at home and abroad.
The uses and value of military records in genealogical research for ancestors who were veterans are obvious, but military records can also be important to re-searchers whose direct ancestors were not soldiers in any war. The fathers, grandfathers, brothers, and other close relatives of an ancestor may have served in a war, and their service or pension records could contain information that will assist in further identifying the family of primary interest. Due to the amount of genealogical information contained in some military pension files, they should never be overlooked during the research process. Those records not containing specific genealogical information are of historic value and should be included in any overall research design.
Below is a list of online resources for Alpena County Military Records. Email us with websites containing Alpena County Military Records by clicking the link below:
The Repositories in this section are Archives, Libraries, Museums, Genealogical and Historical Societies. Many County Historical and Genealogical Societies publish magazines and/or news letters on a monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual basis. Contacting the local societies should not be over looked. State Archives and Societies are usually much larger and better organized with much larger archived materials than their smaller county cousins but they can be more generalized and over look the smaller details that local societies tend to have. Libraries can also be a good place to look for local information. Some libraries have a genealogy section and may have some resources that are not located at archives or societies. Also, take a special look at any museums in the area. They sometimes have photos and items from years gone by as well as information of a genealogical interest. All these places are vitally important to the family genealogist and must not be passed over.
Below is a list of online resources for Alpena County Genealogical Addresses. Email us with websites containing Alpena County Genealogical Addresses by clicking the link below:
Obituaries can vary in the amount of information they contain, but many of them are genealogical goldmines, including information such as names, dates, places of birth and death, marriage information, and family relationships.
There are many churches and cemeteries in Alpena County. Some transcriptions are online. A great site is the Alpena County Tombstone Transcription Project.
The earliest religious denomination in Michigan was the Roman Catholic church, established through a mission in 1668 at Sault Ste. Marie. Ste. Anne's, in Detroit, has parish records beginning in 1703.
Michigan Historical Collections in Ann Arbor holds large collections from the Presbyterian Church and the Protestant Episcopal Church, in addition to other denominations. Dutch Reformed church records are at Calvin College and Seminary Library in Grand Rapids; Finnish church records are deposited at the Finnish-American Historical Archives at Suomi College in Hancock. The Upjohn Library at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo has a large collection of Baptist archive material. Many early Detroit churches have their records deposited at the Burton Historical Collection-Detroit Public Library. The Michigan Historical Records Survey, WPA, completed an Inventory of the Church Archives of Michigan, and many of the church records from this inventory were published from 1936 through 1942.
The Library of Michigan in Lansing and the Burton Historical Collection have over 1,000 books of transcribed or published tombstone readings from Michigan cemeteries. To locate a cemetery in the state, consult the Michigan Cemetery Compendium. It lists most cemeteries in Michigan.
Below is a list of online resources for Alpena County Cemetery & Church Records. Email us with websites containing Alpena County Cemetery & Church Records by clicking the link below:
The use of published genealogies, electronic files containing genealogical lineage, and other compiled sources can be of tremendous value to a researcher.
When view family trees online or not, be sure to only take the info at face value and always follow up with your own sources or verify the ones they provide. Below is a list of online resources for Alpena County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information. Email us with websites containing Alpena County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information by clicking the link below:
Alpena county was first laid out in 1840, at which time it was attached to Mackinaw, and remained so until the year 1853. Alpena was then unsettled and almost uninhabited - the only inhabitants being a few transient fishermen. It derived its name from an Indian word meaning a "good partridge country."
Among the fishermen present at that time, was W.F. Cullings, who arrived at Thunder Bay island about the year 1835. Mr. Cullings has resided in the county more or less ever since, and is yet a citizen of Alpena, so that he is fully entitled to the credit of being the first settler. Cullings states that the first buildings erected on the site of the present city, were built some three or four years after his arrival by some hunters from Mackinaw, and consisted of three log shanties. The next building was erected by Walter Scott, and consisted of a fish-house (where Johnson's warehouse now stands) and a sort of trading post, which was built somewhere near Mr. David Plough's present residence. Mr. Scott's business was to trade with the Indians, his principal commodity being whiskey.
In 1836 Johnathan Birch visited Alpena for the purpose of making arrangements for building a sawmill. He examined the rapids and finding that there were good facilities for building a dam, commenced getting out timber for the enterprise he had in view. The Indians, however, objected to the improvement, and drove Mr. Birch away. Mr. Birch and party went off to Sulphur Island, and, while there, held consultation as to whether it would be the most profitable to put up the mill at Devil river, or go back to Alpena and commence over again, as an Indian chief had assured them of his protection. Alpena was certainly the best place for lumbering, but then a dam could be built at Devil river with considerably less money than it could at Alpena, and this was a very important consideration to the enterprising mill men. At last they determined to leave it to chance, so they stuck a stick in the ground, and resolved to commence operations at the point towards which the stick fell. The stick fell towards Devil river, and the first mill in the county was built there.
In 1840, Mr. J.W. Paxton landed on Thunder Bay island, and in 1842 Mr. O.S. Warner paid a visit to the Indians at the mouth of Thunder Bay river, for the purpose of trading with them. Mr. Paxton engaged extensively in gill-net fishing about the year 1856. Soon after he purchased Sugar island, and removed his fishing, rig and buildings thereto in 1858. Mr. Paxton has remained a settler ever since, and was the first to make gill-net fishing a regular business. Fishing prior to that time had been carried on by means of six or eight nets in a gang, and small, sprit-sail boats. There was a light-house on Thunder Bay island at the time of Mr. Paxton's arrival, but it was not the present magnificient structure, built in 1857.
In 1853 the county of Alpena was attached to the county of Cheboygan, and remained so until 1857, when Alpena was organized as a separate county.
Mr. Daniel Carter arrived in Alpena, November 26th, 1856. He was looking after Mr. Geo. N. Fletcher's interests, and when he had accomplished his mission, he started for Thunder Bay island, intending to take the first steamboat that passed that place and go below, as this was the only direct communication between Alpena and the lower ports at the time. When he arrived at the island, he found Mr. Geo. N. Fletcher, Mr. J.S. Minor, Mr. J.K. Lockwood, Mr. E.A. Breckenridge, and another gentlemen. These gentlemen were on their way to Alpena for the purpose of locating and surveying the place, and, also, to look after the valuable property they had acquired in that part of the country.
At this time the Fremont election fever was running very strong, and as Messrs. Fletcher, Lockwood, and Breckenridge were Republicans, they, of course, were strong Fremont men, and so they had brought up with them a Fremont election flag. Messrs. Minor and Oldfield were neutral, and Mr. Carter, a strong Democrat. As soon as the party had landed at the little clearing near the mouth of the river, they commenced making preparations for raising their Fremont flag. They cut a good-sized cedar pole, nailed the flag to the top end of it, and then endeavored to raise the flagstaff and plant it in the ground so that the emblem of their political faith might wave defiantly above the newly named village of Fremont. The flagstaff was not very heavy, and if it hadn't been election time, the party of Fremonters could easily have set it upright; but, somehow or other being affected by the water they had imbibed, they were unable to manage, so they requested Mr. Carter, who, during this time had been looking on, to help them. Mr. Carter being a strong Democrat refused, declaring, "that he wasn't going to help them raise a Fremont flag," and, going a little way from the party, sat down and watched the performance. Several times the Fremonter succeeded in nearly raising the pole, getting it almost up only to have it tumble down again, but they were determined to succeed, and after several futile attempts, the Fremont flag waved proudly above their heads. This was the first introduction of politics into Alpena.
After the party had rested a little, they proceeded to survey the village of Fremont, but so jubilant were they with their politicial success, that instead of commencing at the section corner, they started from the first place that suited them, and laid out the street now known as River street. When they had surveyed the street a short distance, they found it would interfere with the mill privileges on the south side of the river, so they made a short turn, near the present site of Golling's brick block, and then proceeded with the survey. This was the commencement of the first survey of Alpena, and the greater part of what they surveyed was covered with green woods.
Sometime after the events just narrated, the settlers began to be much annoyed by the noisy howlings of the Indians who were camped on the north side of the river. Walter Scott, the trader, had considerable whisky in his shanty, which he used to give the Indians in payment for their furs, etc., and as long as the Indians were able to purchase it, they kept up a constant pow-wow, howling, whooping, and raising "cain" generally. At last the settlers determined to put an end to the cause of the disagreeable annoyance, and so one night Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Trowbridge went over to Scott's store house and finding no one in it, proceeded to bore holes in the whisky barrels and let the liquor run out. There was considerable disturbance next morning when the Indians came over to get their morning bitters, and Scott found his whisky all gone; but the damage could not easily be repaired, for communication with the lower ports was very uncertain, and by the time another supply of fire-water could have been received, the Indians would have been on their way to Mackinaw to receive their annual gifts from the government. Scott, after threatening to set the Indians on the settlers, declared that the place (containing less than a dozen white persons) was too thickly settled to suit him, and so he left. Thus ended the first whisky struggle in Alpena - the second had a far worse ending.
Mr. A.F. Fletcher arrived in Alpena in August 1857, and Mr. J.K. Miller in September of the same year. During the summer of 1857, Mr. Carter built a small house on River street. This was the first regular residence erected, as the preceeding ones where only temporary structures.
In 1857 Alpena county was organized into a separate county by the following act of Legislature
"Alpena has blazed a new trail in construction." architect William H. Kuni of Detroit declared at the opening of the Alpena County Courthouse on October 21, 1935. Calling it "the first monolithic building erected in a cold climate.," Kuni designed the Art Deco structure to be built of local Portland cement. Cement construction during the winter was believed impossible in Alpena; however cold-weather building projects answered the need for winter employment during the Great Depression. The courthouse financed by local bonds and the Works Progress Administration demonstrated that winter construction with cement was possible. The courthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
See More at "COMPLETE HISTORY" Alpena County, MICHIGAN, Written by: William Boulton, 1876