Delta County, Michigan
History, Records, Facts and Genealogy

Delta County was created on 9 Mar 1843 (Organized in 1861) and was formed from Mackinac County and Unorganized land. The County was named for the Greek "delta," it refers to the triangular shape of the original county which included segments of Menominee, Dickinson, Iron and Marquette counties.. The County Seat is Escanaba .

Counties adjacent to Delta County are Alger County (north), Marquette County (northwest), Menominee County (southwest), Schoolcraft County (east). Townships found in Delta County include Baldwin, Bark River, Bay de Noc, Brampton, Cornell, Ensign, Escanaba, Fairbanks, Ford River, Garden, Maple Ridge, Masonville, Nahma, Wells Townships. Cities, Towns and Communities include Escanaba, Gladston, Garden, Bark River, Fayette, Garden Corners, Isabella, Schaffer

  • The Delta County Official Government Website
  • Search Historical Newspapers from Michigan (1837 - 1922) - Quickly find names and keywords in over 450 million articles, obituaries, marriage notices, birth announcements and other items published in over 2,800 historical U.S. newspapers. New content added monthly!
  • Family History Library - The largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records in the world.
  • Stories, Memories & Histories - Stories and histories compiled by others researching a person or area can be an amazing source of information about your ancestors. Not only do they generally contain dates and places of vital events like birth, marriage, and death, but they often relate stories and memories that help you really get to know the character of your ancestors.
  • Search Michigan Historical Records - Databases include Court, Land, Wills & Financial Records; Birth, Marriage & Death Records; Voter Lists & Census Records; Immigration & Emigration Records; Obituary Records; Military Records; Family Tree Records; Pictures; Stories, Memories & Histories; Directories & Member Lists and much more....

  • Delta County, Michigan History Books at Amazon.com

County Court, Probate and Tax Records

See Also Michigan Land Records, Marriage Records, Court, Tax & Probate Records

PLEASE READ FIRST!!! Please call the clerk's department to confirm hours, mailing address, fees and other specifics before visiting or requesting information because of sometimes changing contact information.

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 Delta County Courthouse, 310 Ludington Street, Escanaba, MI 49829 , 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.

Delta County Clerk has the following Records for: Births & Deaths: 1867 to present, Marriages & Divorces: 1867 to present. The Office is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: 906-789-5105 .

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.

Delta County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1843 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (906)789-5116 .

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.

Delta County Clerk of the Probate Court has Probate Records from 1843 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (906)789-5114 .

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.

Delta County Clerk of the Circuit Court has Court Records from 1869 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (906)789-5103 .

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 Delta County Court Records. Email us with websites containing Delta County Court Records by clicking the link below:

  • Order County Court, Civil or Criminal Records Online
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Michigan Land Records: Michigan Pre-1908 Homestead & Cash Entry Patent and Cadastral Survey Plat Index.
  • Michigan Eastern District Naturalizations: Index to Naturalization papers of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Detroit, 1837-1903 and U.S. Circuit Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Detroit, 1837-1903
  • Delta County, Michigan Court Books at Amazon.com
  • Court, Land, Wills & Financial - Court records are an often overlooked, yet very valuable tool for finding information to assist you in your research. Land records, such as deeds, allow you to tie an ancestor to a specific place at a point in time. Other court records like those dealing with finances and estates often list related family members or give interesting details like the total value of property owned by your ancestors to add interest to your family history.
  • Immigration & Emigration - As our ancestors moved from one country to another, details about their lives were recorded on passenger lists and government documents. Immigration and emigration records can help you learn where your ancestors originally came from, where they went, when they left, who they traveled with, and more.

County Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death Records

See Also Vital Records in Michigan

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.


  • Birth Certificates: The Vital Records Office maintains birth records that occur in Michigan since 1867 to the present. Birth records are restricted in Michigan and only a person or parent named on the record or a legal guardian of the person named on the record may request a copy. A legal representative is eligible to request a copy if he/she represents the person named on the record. Photo identification is required to request a Michigan birth record (unless the birth record is at least 100 years old).
    • Cost: Initial search (fee includes a 3-year search, Each additional year is $12.00 per year) and one certified copy or certification of the record or No Record Statement is $26.00 and $12.00 for each additional copy. Make your check or money order payable to "STATE OF MICHIGAN". Enclose a business-size self-addressed envelope. If no record is found or no copy is made, state law requires that we keep check amount for a searching fee. Please do not send cash in the mail. Mail to: Vital Records Requests, PO Box 30721, Lansing MI 48909
    • Processing Time: If the birth year is 1906 to the present, your request will be processed within 4 weeks. If the birth year is prior to 1906, the processing time will be 1-3 months. when ordered by MAIL or 2-5 Days when you order ELECTRONICALLY
  • Death Certificates: The Vital Records Office maintains death records that occur in Michigan since 1867 to the present.
    • Cost: Initial search (fee includes a 3-year search, Each additional year is $12.00 per year) and one certified copy or certification of the record or No Record Statement is $26.00 and $12.00 for each additional copy. Make your check or money order payable to "STATE OF MICHIGAN". Enclose a business-size self-addressed envelope. If no record is found or no copy is made, state law requires that we keep check amount for a searching fee. Please do not send cash in the mail. Mail to: Vital Records Requests, PO Box 30721, Lansing MI 48909
    • Processing Time: If the death year is 1916 to the present, your request will be processed within 4 weeks of receipt in the vital records office. If the death year is prior to 1916, the processing time will be 1-3 months when ordered by MAIL or 2-5 Days when you order ELECTRONICALLY
  • Marriage Certificates: The Vital Records Office maintains marriage records that occur in Michigan since 1867 to the present.
    • Cost: Initial search (fee includes a 3-year search, Each additional year is $12.00 per year) and one certified copy or certification of the record or No Record Statement is $26.00 and $12.00 for each additional copy. Make your check or money order payable to "STATE OF MICHIGAN". Enclose a business-size self-addressed envelope. If no record is found or no copy is made, state law requires that we keep check amount for a searching fee. Please do not send cash in the mail. Mail to: Vital Records Requests, PO Box 30721, Lansing MI 48909
    • Processing Time: If the marriage year is 1926 to the present, your request will be processed within 4 weeks of receipt in the vital records office. If the marriage year is prior to 1926, the processing time will be 1-3 months when ordered by MAIL
  • Divorce Certificates: The Vital Records Office maintains divorce records that occur in Michigan since 1867 to the present.
    • Cost: Initial search (fee includes a 3-year search, Each additional year is $12.00 per year) and one certified copy or certification of the record or No Record Statement is $26.00 and $12.00 for each additional copy. Make your check or money order payable to "STATE OF MICHIGAN". Enclose a business-size self-addressed envelope. If no record is found or no copy is made, state law requires that we keep check amount for a searching fee. Please do not send cash in the mail. Mail to: Vital Records Requests, PO Box 30721, Lansing MI 48909
    • Processing Time: If the divorce year is 1925 to the present, your request will be processed within 4 weeks of receipt in the vital records office. If the divorce year is prior to 1925, the processing time will be 1-3 months when ordered by MAIL.
  • Order Online: You can also order Order Electronically Online to obtain a certified copy of a birth, marriage, death or divorce record with a credit or debit card and get the certificates within 2-5 days by ordering from VitalChek Express Certificate Service.
  • Apply In Person: If you wish to apply in person to order a Michigan vital record, you may do so at the office located at 201 Townsend St, Capitol View Building, 3rd Floor, Lansing MI 48913 (across from the State Capitol). Lobby hours are 8:00 am - 5:00 pm. Directions are available by logging onto our website at: www.michigan.gov/mdch or by calling 517-335-8666. A check or money order is preferred, and orders in our lobby must be placed by 3:00 pm in order to request same-day service. An additional fee of $10.00 is required for same-day service orders. Please allow a 2-3 hour waiting period for same-day service.

Below is a list of online resources for Delta County Vital Records. Email us with websites containing Delta County Vital Records by clicking the link below:

  • Vital Records from Archives.com: Birth Records, Marriage Records, Divorce Records and Death Records
  • VitalChek Express Certificate Service. - Some documents are just too important to wait six weeks for. With VitalChek Express Certificate Service you won’t have to. VitalChek is the fast and convenient way to order certified government-issued vital records online. They make it easy for you to purchase the documents to which you are legally entitled. Beware of other online services that do not have relationships directly with the agencies that store your vital records. VitalChek's order process usually takes less than 10 minutes --And you can select express courier service for even faster delivery when time is running out.
  • Click Here to Search the Social Security Death Index for FREE- Search over 82 million death records and get genealogical information crucial to your family research. New content added weekly! Most comprehensive SSDI site online!
  • Research Death records In The World's Largest Newspaper Archive at NewpaperArchive.com! - Find thousands of historical Arkansas newspaper articles about deaths. Search for local articles about an old family friend that died many years ago or a celebrity that committed suicide. Historical newspapers contain a wealth of information about the deceased.
  • Birth, Marriage & Death - Vital records (births, deaths, marriages, and divorces) mark the milestones of our lives and are the foundation of family history research. Vital records, usually kept by a civic authority, can give you a more complete picture of your ancestor, help you distinguish between two people with the same name, and help you find links to a new generation.
  • Michigan Marriages to 1850: This database of Michigan marriages to 1850 contains 13,000 names.
  • Michigan Marriages, 1851-75: This database contains records of marriages within the state for the years 1851 through 1875.
  • Michigan Deaths, 1971-1996: With over 2.75 million records, the Michigan Death Index covers the years from 1971 to 1996, making this database of particular interest to those with relatives from Michigan.
  • Delta County, Michigan Birth, Marriage & Death Books at Amazon.com

County Census Records

See Also Research In Census Records & Statewide Records that exist for Michigan

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 Delta County, Michigan are 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 Delta 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 Delta County Census Records. Email us with websites containing Delta County Census Records by clicking the link below:

  • Census Records at Archives.com
  • Michigan Census, 1827-70: This collection contains the following indexes: 1827 Territorial Census Index; 1837 Kalamazoo County Index; 1840 Federal Census Index; 1840 Pensioners List; 1845 State Census Index; 1850 Federal Census Index; 1860 Federal Census Index; 1870 Federal Census Index; Early Census Index.
  • Michigan State Census, 1894: This database contains information from the 1894 Michigan State Census for the counties of Barry, Bay, Benzie, Dickinson, Emmet, Gratiot, Iosco, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Keweenaw, Lapeer, Menominee, Montcalm, and Washtenaw.
  • Delta County, Michigan Census Books at Amazon.com
  • Census & Voter Lists - A census is an official list of the people in a particular area at a given time, while voter lists show those who were registered to vote in a certain area. The valuable information found on census records helps you to understand your family in their time and place. Voter Lists serve as a confirmation of residence in between the years that the census was taken.

County Maps & Atlases

See Also Statewide Maps that exist for Michigan

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 Delta County Maps. Email us with websites containing Delta County Maps by clicking the link below:

  • The USGenWeb Archives Digital Map Library
  • Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection: Michigan Maps
  • Historical Maps of Michigan - Geographical, Statistical, and Historical Map of Michigan Territory
  • American Memory Map Collection: 1500-2004 - extensive selection from the Library of Congress Map Collections, focusing on Americana and cartographic treasures.
  • Delta County, Michigan Map Books at Amazon.com
  • Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers - Maps are an invaluable part of family history research, especially if you live far from where your ancestor lived. Because political boundaries often changed, historic maps are critical in helping you discover the precise location of your ancestor's hometown, what land they owned, who their neighbors were, and more.

County Military Records

See Also Military Records in Michigan

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 Delta County Military Records. Email us with websites containing Delta County Military Records by clicking the link below:

  • Michigan Society of Daughters of the American Revolution
  • National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution,
  • Michigan Society of Sons of the American Revolution,
  • National Society of Sons of the American Revolution, 1000 South Fourth Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40203; (502) 589-1776
  • Southern Claims Commission (The National Archives): View, Print Copy & Save Original Documents In the 1870s, southerners claimed compensation from the U.S. government for items used by the Union Army, ranging from corn and horses, to trees and church buildings.
  • Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900 from the State of Michigan (The National Archives): View, Print Copy & Save Original Pension applications for service in the U.S. Army between 1861 and 1917, grouped according to the units in which the veterans served.
  • Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783 (The National Archives): View, Print Copy & Save Original Documents in NARA publication M246 include muster rolls, payrolls, strength returns, and other miscellaneous personnel, pay, and supply records of American Army units, 1775-83.
  • Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War (The National Archives): View, Print Copy & Save Original Documents in NARA publication M246 include muster rolls, payrolls, strength returns, and other miscellaneous personnel, pay, and supply records of American Army units, 1775-83.
  • Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files (The National Archives): View, Print Copy & Save Original Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, from NARA publication M804.
  • Civil War Principals and Substitutes Index
  • Civil War Soldier Images Database
  • Guest Register of World War I Michigan Clubroom (located in New York City)
  • World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing: State of Michigan
  • 1835 Michigan Territorial Pensioners
  • 1840 Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services State of Michigan
  • Michigan in the Civil War: This database contains a report compiled from reports of the Adjutant General and reports held by the War Department in Washington, of the services of Michigan regiments, batteries, and companies in the Civil War.
  • Michigan Military Records, 1775-1836: This database, originally compiled in 1920, is a collection of burial and pension records for residents of the state prior to 1836.
  • Delta County, Michigan Military Books at Amazon.com
  • Military - The men and women called to serve their country in military duty are a source of pride to their families and to their nation. Now, with databases containing more than 16 million names and thousands of government records available to search, researching your veteran ancestors has become easier than ever before.

County Genealogical Addresses

See Also Other Michigan Genealogical Addresses

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 Delta County Genealogical Addresses. Email us with websites containing Delta County Genealogical Addresses by clicking the link below:

  • Delta County Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 442, Escanaba MI 49829-0442
  • Delta County Historical Society, P.O. Box 484, Escanaba, MI 49829; Newsletter: "The Delta Historian"
  • National Archives - Great Lakes Region (Chicago), 7358 South Pulaski Road, Chicago, Illinois 60629-5898; 773-948-9001; E-mail: (Maintains retired records from Federal agencies and courts in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.) General Information Leaflet
  • State Archives of Michigan, 702 W Kalamazoo Str, P.O. Box 30738, Lansing, MI 48909-8238; (517) 373-1408; Original material generated by government offices at the state and/or local level, including census records, tax assessment rolls, military records and photographs are among the extensive holdings. They also have some naturalization files, correctional facility records, school records, and depression era agency files. The archives distribute information circulars on many topics. The circulars act as finding aids to their extensive collection.
  • The Historical Society of Michigan, 1305 Abbott Rd., East Lansing, MI 48823; (517) 324-1828; Fax: (517) 324-4370, e-mail:
  • Library of Michigan, : 702 W. Kalamazoo St, Lansing, MI 48909; Holdings here include an extensive genealogical and historical collection including books, microforms, manuscripts, newspapers, surname index, Centennial and Sesquicentennial Certificate applications, and diaries. Records are housed in a new building with card catalog. See: http://michigan.gov/hal/libraryofmichigan for more information/services. Limited reference service to mail request. They also offer online reference services at:
  • Newspapers & Periodicals - The Newspapers & Periodicals Collection lets you discover a wealth of information about your ancestors from many historical newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals. These types of sources can often supplement public records and provide information that is not recorded anywhere else. Here, you can learn more about your ancestor's possible daily activities by placing them in the context of their time.
  • Directories & Member Lists - Directories and member lists are typically compilations of information about people who belonged to various associations and groups or lived within city boundaries. They can be thought of as the predecessors to the modern-day phone book and usually list names, addresses, and sometimes the occupations of your ancestors.
  • Michigan Genealogical Society Books at Amazon.com

County Church & Cemeteries

See Also Church & Cemetery Records in Michigan

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 Delta County. Some transcriptions are online. A great site is the Delta 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 Delta County Cemetery & Church Records. Email us with websites containing Delta County Cemetery & Church Records by clicking the link below:

  • Cemetery Records at Archives.com
  • Find Obituaries in The World's Largest Newspaper Archive at NewpaperArchive.com! - Find thousands of Michigan obituaries to help you research your family history. Search for a Michigan newspaper obituary about your ancestor or a celebrity. Begin your search today and find death notices and funeral announcements printed in newspapers from Michigan.
  • Obituary Records at Archives.com
  • America's Obituaries (1977 to current) at Genealogybank.com - Obituaries contain helpful information such as names, dates, places of birth, death, marriage and family information. Over 28 million obituaries make this the most complete collection from the 20th and 21st centuries - includes over 1,100 U.S. newspapers. New content added daily!
  • Revolutionary Soldiers Buried in Michigan
  • Delta County, Michigan Cemetery Books at Amazon.com
  • Delta County, Michigan Church Books at Amazon.com

Family Trees & Genealogy Tidbits

 

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 Delta County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information. Email us with websites containing Delta County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information by clicking the link below:

  • Search for Local Michigan Researchers or Earn Money by becoming a Local Michigan Researcher!
  • Search 60 Years Of Everton Data: For the first time ever you can get access to more than 150,000 pedigree files and family group sheets from Evertons. Learn More
  • Sites on USGenweb: [ Delta County ] [ Michigan ] [ Main Page ]
  • Search the Family Tree DNA Project- Use DNA testing to break through your genealogical barriers!
  • The Michigan Family Group Sheet Project
  • Delta County MIGenWeb Archives
  • [GenForum Message Boards] [Rootsweb Message Boards]
  • Genealogy Encyclopedia: General Abbreviations, Early Illnesses, Nickname Meanings, Worldwide Epidemics, Early Occupations, Common Terms, Censuses Explained, Free Genealogical Forms
  • Nichols and Related Families of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virgina.
  • Family Trees - Ancestry has thousands of family trees shared by other members. They can help you identify how ancestors are related and give you clues about birth, marriage, and death information. Family trees are an excellent resource for filling in gaps in your research or even to simply know where to begin.
  • Pictures - One of the more exciting discoveries in doing family history research is finding a photograph of your ancestors or their residence. Finding historic postcard photos and drawings of towns and important events throughout history can also give you a visual look into your ancestors lives.
  • Reference Materials & Finding Aids - Reference materials, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other how-to books, can be tremendously helpful in finding and interpreting historical documents. Many of these books can help you learn where to look for more information and how to use what you've already found to uncover more clues.
  • Delta County, Michigan Family Books at Amazon.com

Extended History

 

Delta County was surveyed in April, 1843. At that time it included the present territory and all of what is now known as Menominee County, and parts of Dickinson, Iron and Marquette Counties. The name came from its triangular shape, like that of the Greek letter Delta.

Delta County was formally organized in 1861. The first meeting of the Delta County Board of Supervisors was held May 28,1862, at the Delta Mills in the Township of Nahma. Members of the Board were George LeGare, Chairman of Escanaba Township, A. G. Bailey, of Nahma Townhship, and the Clerk, Thomas Ashton. The county seat was located in Masonville from 1860 to 1864 when the county records and offices were moved to Escanaba.

Nahma Township was the first township created in Delta County in 1861. The other townships and their years of creation are Baldwin Township 1873, Bark River Township 1880, Bay de Noc Township 1881, Brampton Township 1903, Cornell Township 1905, Ensign Township 1921, Fairbanks Township 1872, Ford River Township 1875, Garden Township 1882, Maple Ridge Township 1873, Masonville Township 1869 and Wells Township 1889.

The first Judge who sat in Circuit Court was Daniel Goodwin, a Supreme Court Judge. This was prior to the establishment of the 25th Judicial Circuit and he was followed by John W. Stone, Richard C. Flannigan, Frank A. Bell, Glenn W. Jackson, Carroll C. Rushton and Bernard G. Davidson. On January 1, 1975, a new circuit was created for only Delta County. Clair J. Hoehn was the first Judge elected for the 47th Judicial Circuit. Portraits of the first seven Judges can be viewed in the County Building.

Escanaba was incorporated as a village in 1866, and in 1867 a lighthouse was established on Sand Point. Also in 1867, a charcoal iron furnace was built in Fayette by the Jackson Iron Company.

Gladstone was first settled in 1877. It was originally named Saunders Point and at that time it was the Eastern Terminal Port of the Soo Line Railroad.

In 1882 the first Courthouse was built in Delta County. A committee composed of Thomas J. Streeter, John D. Ross, Charles E. Brotherton and Robert Peacock was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to secure a building site. Block five of the original plat of Escanaba was purchased from David Oliver at a cost of $4,000. Contract for the building construction was awarded to H. G. Ashmun for $20,700. The completion cost was $26,474 and the Courthouse was turned over to the County on February 27, 1884.

Escanaba was incorporated as a City in 1883, with Gladstone being incorporated as a Village in 1887 and as a City in 1889.

The First Delta County Jail and Sheriff's residence was a two story brick building located on the northeast corner of the present intersection of First Avenue South and South 5th Street, Escanaba. On June 6, 1886, the Board of Supervisors provided for funds and accepted bids for construction of a new jail and Sheriff's residence in the amount of $5,000. The new building was erected at the rear of the then new Courthouse.

At a meeting of the Board of Supervisors on October 8, 1956, Supervisor Lawrence J. Jacobs made a report on remodeling the court room and stated that the cost was such that something should be done about a new County Building instead. A lay committee was appointed from each unit of the County to study the County Government's facility needs. Appointed were: Austin Stegath, chairman, Ralph Sogard, vice chairman, and John H. Fawcett, F.W. Schmitt, H.E. Flath, Jerrold Becvar, George Ventura, L. J. Jacobs, Phil Miron and Conan E. Fisher.

This lay committee reported back to the Board of Supervisors, on April 9, 1957, with the determination that the County Building was no longer adequate for the needs of the County and that steps should be taken immediately to plan construction of a new County Building. The study continued.

On October 14, 1957, a resolution was adopted that the Board of Supervisors take preliminary steps to create an authority to undertake the County Building project. At a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors on March 21, 1958, articles of incorporation of the Delta County Building Authority were adopted and at an adjourned session of the same meeting on April 2, 1958, the Board of Supervisors elected John H. Fawcett, James T. Jones, Clayton Ford, Ralph Sogard, and H. E. Flath, as members of the Delta County Building Authority.

Three city-owned lots at the County Building site were deeded to the Authority by the City of Escanaba and remaining lots in the city block were purchased by the Authority. G. Arntzen & Co., Architect, was retained to prepare final plans for the new Delta County Building, and the contract for construction was awarded to Erling Arntzen, Escanaba contractor. Ground breaking took place in October, 1959, and the new County Building was occupied on May 18, 1961. The cost was $680,000, of which $50,000 was donated by late Catherine Bonifas in her will.

The Department of Corrections condemned the Delta County Jail and the Board of Commissioners authorized the Building and Grounds Committee to study the means of obtaining a new jail. A new, modern jail was built on land north of the new Courthouse. This land was donated to the County by the City of Escanaba and the Delta County Building Authority. The cost of the Jail was $557,000 of which 50% was furnished by the Federal Government and the balance raised by a vote of the people for a special tax levy of two mills for one year. The new Jail was occupied in December, 1964.

On January 7, 1969, the new five member Delta County Board of Commissioners took control of county government operations from the twenty-seven member Delta County Board of Supervisors. This move reflected a change in governmental structure for counties in the State of Michigan.

The County took over operation of the Airport from the City of Escanaba in 1973. A $4 million, 5-year expansion program included acquisition of more land, enlarging and resurfacing of runways, a new building to house rescue and snow removal equipment, and installation of a new instrument landing system. Federal Aviation Agency grants paid 90% of the total cost. Rededication of the Delta County Airport took place in August, 1979.

The new Delta County Service Center Building was dedicated on December 7, 1975, on College Avenue. Among the first occupants were the Delta County Department of Social Services, the Delta-Menominee District Health Department, and the Mental Health Clinic. Built at a cost of $1,300,000, it was paid for with non-tax revenues, a Hill-Burton grant and federal revenue sharing monies.

As the State encouraged more mental health treatment away from institutions, the County Mental Health Department grew to meet those needs. The Service Center Building was expanded in 1988 to accommodate added staff and clientele. The 25,787 square-foot addition cost $2.3 million. In 1993, the former Mental Health area in the Service Center was remodeled to expand office space for the Department of Social Services. In January of 1998, the Pathways Authority was created from the community mental health programs servicing Alger, Delta, Luce and Marquette counties. The goal of the Authority is to better service the county's residents by enhancing the effectiveness of mental health services.

Growth and redistribution of population in the County was evidenced by the need for new administrative positions and ordinances. A statewide change in court systems during the late 1960's abolished Escanaba's Municipal court and the Justice of the Peace system. The 94th Judicial District was created on January 1, 1969, with Dean Shipman serving as the County's first elected District Judge. The office of Prosecuting Attorney became a full-time position in June, 1975 and the position of County Controller was created in 1978. A county-wide zoning ordinance went into effect in 1976, after three years of planning with the help of CUPPAD. The ordinance, which includes 15 land classifications, was necessary to make growth of the county more orderly. Tom Elegeert was appointed first Zoning Administrator.

In 1976, the County townships formed the Delta County Township Association, with Gregg Johnson of Bark River Township as first President. The Association was formed to seek solutions to common township problems, such as solid waste management, transportation, and property tax administration.

A new system of rural addresses was adopted by the Board of Commissioners, primarily for easier locating of houses in emergencies. The new system went into effect in spring, 1983.

In a cooperative venture among the cities, townships and the County Board, the Delta Solid Waste Management Authority was organized in 1985 to construct and manage a landfill for disposal of Delta County wastes. The Delta Landfill, a Type II (residential/household wastes) landfill, began operations financed by a $1.5 million bond issue. Construction of subsequent landfill cells are financed through the landfill tipping fees. The entire landfill is designed to serve the County for about 35 years.

In 1991, the Landfill Authority was awarded a Clean Michigan Community grant to implement a recycling/composting program. The County was one of six communities, statewide, selected as "model" program, a cooperative effort among the municipalities and the recyclable materials as well as a drop-site. The collected materials are processed at the material recovery facility and shipped to end markets.

In 1996-97, due to changes in state regulations, the landfill needed to be reconstructed. The Landfill Authority obtained a $4.25 million Revenue Bond to allow for reconstruction of a new double lined landfill for both Type II and Type III (Construction/Demolition Waste). Construction was completed in early 1999.

In March, 1986, the Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution combining the Airport Board with the Parks and Recreation Commission, which had previously been managed by the Road Commission. Since that time, the Parks have been managed by the Airport Manager and one full-time Parks Supervisor using part-time summer employees. The Park system includes Pioneer Trail Park modern campground and picnic area; and a modern campground, beach, and picnic area at Fuller Park, which was completed and opened to the public in June, 1993.

Delta Area Transit Authority (DATA) was established in September 1989, under Public Transportation Authority Act 196 (Act 196), sponsored by the Delta County Board of Commissioners. DATA is governed by a County appointed five-member board of directors and operates fourteen ADA accessible vehicles within Delta County. A multipurpose transit facility, funded by federal and state grants, was dedicated in September of 1997. As of this date, Delta Area Transit Authority has transported over 1,000,000 passengers over 3,000,000 miles.

Delta County voters supported three services with extra millage in recent years. Pinecrest Medical Care Facility in Powers, owned jointly by Delta, Menominee, and Dickinson counties, was funded by a tax bond in 1987 in order to undergo a major renovation to meet State codes. The Delta County Sheriff's Department Road Patrol and Delta County Senior Citizen programs were given tax boosts in 1998 and 1999, enabling the continuation of specific services whose other funding sources had dwindled.

On May 6, 1993, the Delta County Board of Commissioners approved a final plan for Enhanced 911 emergency dispatch service for the entire County. The system went on live in December of 1995 as the Central Dispatch Center for Delta County, City of Escanaba, City of Gladstone, Delta County Township Association, Rampart Ambulance, and the Hannahville Indian Community. The Central Dispatch is guided by a board composed of user representatives including Delta County sheriff, Escanaba Public Safety, Gladstone Public Safety, Michigan State Police, Rampart Ambulance, Delta County Fire Chiefs Association, Emergency Medical Services, and St Francis Medical Control. The Escanaba Public Safety Director is the 911 coordinator for Delta County and is responsible for day to day operations.

Ground was broken in May, 1994 for a second floor addition to the existing Courthouse to alleviate overcrowding. The first floor aso was updated during this construction project to bring the building up to code. The cost of the project was over $5 million and financed through a low-cost loan from the Farmers Home Administration. Open house for the newly renovated Courthouse was held in December, 1995.

Beginning in 1994, the Hannahville Indian Community has donated a percentage of slot machine revenues to local governmental units. Through 1998, Delta County has been the recipient of $542,005.43 with which various purchases and equipment upgrades have been made. A fire safety house, which educates children in correct fire procedures, was purchased with this funding and then donated to the Delta County Fire Chiefs Association. Additionally, equipment upgrades have been made to the county-wide 911 system and to the communication towers. The Sheriff Dept., the Community Action Agency, and the City of Escanaba, along with Delta County, have all benefited from the generosity of the Hannahville Indian Community.

In the spring of 1999, plans were completed for the addition of a 41-bed modular minimum security addition to the Delta County Jail. The estimated cost of this addition is $868,000 with $160,000 being funded by the State Department of Corrections. This addition, upon completion in September of 1999, will help alleviate the constant overcrowding of the present correctional facility.

The Delta County Board, in December of 1997, commissioned a bronze sculpture of Delta County to be constructed by T. D. Vinette and mounted on the south wall of the Courthouse. The sculpture is approximately 10 feet x 11 1/2 feet, constructed of bronze sheet and chased to effect a bas relief sculpture depicting river valleys, lakes, water front cliffs, and the townships and cities created by the joints at the boundaries of these areas.

Mr. Vinette became ill in 1999 and was aided in the completion of the sculpture by Ritch Branstrom of Stonington. The sculpture was completed and mounted on November 1, 2000. At the dedication ceremony, Board Chairman David O. Schultz, presented the sculpture to the citizens of Delta County as a tribute to the outstanding local talent we are fortunate to have and as a testimonial and inspiration to future generations.

DELTA COUNTY POPULATION

1860.................1,172 1930...............32,280
1870.................2,542 1940...............34,037
1880.................6,812 1950...............32,913
1890...............15,330 1960...............34,298
1900...............23,881 1970...............35,924
1910...............30,108 1980...............38,947
1920...............30,909 1990...............37,780
2000...................38,520

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