Lake County was created on 1 Apr 1840 (Organized in 18 Mar 1871) and was formed from Mckinac County. Formed as Aischum County, renamed in 1843. Some early records before 1871 may be located in Mason and Newaygo Counties. The County was named for several small lakes and lies near Lake Michigan The County Seat is Baldwin .
Counties adjacent to Lake County are Wexford County (northeast), Osceola County (east), Newaygo County (south), Mason County (west), Manistee County (northwest). Townships found in Lake County include Chase, Cherry Valley, Dover, Eden, Elk, Ellsworth, Lake, Newkirk, Peacock, Pinora, Pleasant Plains, Sauble, Sweetwater, Webber, Yates Townships. Cities, Towns and Communities include Baldwin, Chase, Idlewild, Irons, Luther.
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 Lake County Courthouse, 800 Tenth Street, Baldwin, MI 49304 , 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.
Lake County Clerk has the following Records for: Births & Deaths: 1870 to present, Marriages: 1870 to present, Divorces: 1874 to present, Deeds/Miscellaneous: 1870 to present . The Office is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: 231-745-4641 .
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.
Lake County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1872 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (231)745-4641 .
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.
Lake County Clerk of the Probate Court has Probate Records from 1872 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (231)745-4614 .
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.
Lake 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: (231)745-4641 .
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 Lake County Court Records. Email us with websites containing Lake 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 Lake County Vital Records. Email us with websites containing Lake 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 Lake 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 Lake 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 Lake County Census Records. Email us with websites containing Lake 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 Lake County Maps. Email us with websites containing Lake 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 Lake County Military Records. Email us with websites containing Lake 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 Lake County Genealogical Addresses. Email us with websites containing Lake 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 Lake County. Some transcriptions are online. A great site is the Lake 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 Lake County Cemetery & Church Records. Email us with websites containing Lake 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 Lake County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information. Email us with websites containing Lake County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information by clicking the link below:
1763 – The first white man to visit what is now Lake County was Alexander Henry, an English trader. He spent the winter of 1763-4 in this area living with a family of friendly Indians, to avoid contact with another group who were much less friendly.
1838 – The next known notable group of visitors to Lake County were a group of surveyors who passed through the region as part of a project to survey much of Northern Michigan.
1850 – The first plotting of what resembled a road was cleared and marked around this time. This was the Northport-Newaygo State Road, it also served as the conduit that opened Wexford County up for settlement.
1862 – The first permanent settlers began drifting into the County during this time. Mostly they settled in the southeast corner of the county in the Chase area. Soon other areas of settlement began to develop around Baldwin and Luther. Around 1865, after the Civil War there was an increase in homesteading.
1872 – Settlement in Lake County continued to be sparse until the coming of the railroad. The Flint and Pere Marquette, on their way to Lake Michigan from the Saginaw area, reached Baldwin with tracks in 1872 and the Chicago and West Michigan reached Baldwin in 1883, northbound for Traverse City.
1873 – The Lake County Star printed its first newspaper in May of 1873, and is still at it. Another pioneer business still in operation is Lake Osceola Stat Bank, which opened its doors to the public November 8, 1908.
1875 – The area was chartered as a county in its own right in 1871 and the first county seat was near Chase. In 1875, with several other villages competing for the honor (and for the increased business and development), voters chose Baldwin as the new county seat. Officially, that is. It was a few weeks later when a group of public minded citizens (some say “mob of ruffians”) wrested the county records from Chase by force and moved them to Baldwin.
Lumbering has always been important to Lake County. In fact it still is. Lumbering interests were responsible for founding the village of Luther …as well as several dozen other settlements.
1900 – At the turn of the century the Great Northern Portland Cement Company set up a complex to manufacture cement from the marl found in the local lakes. Soon the plant was surrounded with houses, a large hotel, stores and was becoming a thriving village. Then a cheaper process for making cement was found, and the boom was over. Today, south of Baldwin, the stark remains of the old factory are the center of one of the most famous ghost towns on Michigan, Marlborough.
1915 – A group of investors had bought a large tract of land around one of the most beautiful lakes in the county. They subdivided it, set up a massive publicity campaign and solicited customers for the lots from from among the black residents of Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and most of the other large cities in the neighboring states. Within thirty years, Idlewild had grown into one of the most popular black resort areas in the United States.
1933 – During the big depression, Lake County, like much of northern Michigan was still largely denuded from generations of lumbering. The Federal Government established several Civilian Conservation Corps. (CCC) camps in the county and young men from many large cities to the south were sent to live an almost military life while replanting forests and doing other conservation work. Most of the forests you see now were planted during this period.
1953 – For most of his adult years, Raymond W. “Bud” Overholzer had been roaming the forests, collecting pine stumps, branches and other things to use as raw material for hundreds of art objects, which he crafted by hand, without the use of power tools. In 1953 he opened his rustic lodge as a showplace for these unique creations. Today, visitors who tour the “shrine of the Pines” consider the building itself a work of art.
1985 – Lake County has come full circle. The first visitor, back in 1763, came here to escape the cares and concerns of his work-a-day world. (In Henry’s case, namely to avoid being scalped, killed and eaten.) Today the county’s main purpose is the same to provide a refuge for those who seek a relaxing, slow paced contrast from their regular way of life. Today, most people’s problems aren’t as pressing as Henry’s were.