Wexford County was created on 1 Apr 1840 (Organized in 1869) and was formed from Mckinac County. Formed as Kautawaubet County, renamed Wexford County 8 March 1843. Some early records before 1869 may be located in Grand Traverse and Manistee Counties. The County was named for County Wexford in Ireland The County Seat is Cadillac.
Counties adjacent to Wexford County are Grand Traverse County (north), Missaukee County (east), Osceola County (southeast), Lake County (southwest), Manistee County (west). Townships found in Wexford County include Antioch, Boon, Cedar Creek, Cherry Grove, Clam Lake, Colfax, Greenwood, Hanover, Haring, Henderson, Liberty, Selma, Slagle, South Branch, Springville, Wexford Townships. Cities, Towns and Communities include Boon, Buckley, Cadillac, Harrietta, Manton, Mesick.
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 Wexford County Courthouse, 437 East Division Street, Cadillac, MI 49601 , 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.
Wexford County Clerk has the following Records for: Births & Deaths: 1867 to present, Marriages: 1864 to present, Divorces: Way back to present. The Office is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: 231-779-9450 .
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.
Wexford County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1869 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (231)779-9455 .
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.
Wexford County Clerk of the Probate Court has Probate Records from 1869 and is located at 503 S. Garfield, Cadillac, MI 49601; Phone: (231)779-9510 .
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.
Wexford 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: (231)779-9490 .
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 Wexford County Court Records. Email us with websites containing Wexford 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 Wexford County Vital Records. Email us with websites containing Wexford 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 Wexford 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 Wexford 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 Wexford County Census Records. Email us with websites containing Wexford 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 Wexford County Maps. Email us with websites containing Wexford 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 Wexford County Military Records. Email us with websites containing Wexford 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 Wexford County Genealogical Addresses. Email us with websites containing Wexford 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 Wexford County. Some transcriptions are online. A great site is the Wexford 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 Wexford County Cemetery & Church Records. Email us with websites containing Wexford 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 Wexford County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information. Email us with websites containing Wexford County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information by clicking the link below:
FOLLOWING the last ice age, the area of Wexford was occupied by Peleo Indians and later early woodland cultures which left burial mounds in the area. Early historic Indians, the Gaaching Ziibi Daawaa Anishnaabe (Little River Band of Ottawa Indians), have occupied the area since.
The territory of Wexford came under British control through the 1763 Treaty of Paris and then United States control under the 1784 Treaty of Paris. During and before this era, French missionaries, and fur traders might have been in Wexford – mainly along the Big Manistee River. In 1836, the United States government purchased the land of Wexford County through the treaty of Washington from the Chippewas and Ottawas. Wexford then became a part of the Northwest Territory of the United States, and later, part of the Michigan territory. Wexford was a part of Michilimackinac County, Ottawa County (1849), Grand Traverse County (1853), Manistee County (1855) before becoming Wexford County in 1869 (in 1871 Missaukee County was established and, thus, no longer a part of Wexford). In 1848-52, the United States Government Land Office surveyed the county – establishing the square mile grid land development pattern. The GLO land survey . . . has a major influence on the development of the county, placement of rural roads, and property development.
In 1857, the Newago and Northport State Road was built, resulting in early settlement of Wexford along the county’s west edge (mainly Sherman, which also was the first county seat) with the first European-descendent settler in 1862. The Homestead Act enticed settlers to this part of Michigan. Every other square mile section was given, as a grant, to the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad. This had a profound impact on the pattern of early settlement and development in Wexford County – but apparently not long term impact as little remnants of the pattern of land grants are seen today. In 1871, the railroad was under construction leading to the settlement that became today’s Cadillac. Cadillac was a town created and promoted through the efforts of the G. R. & I., and early industry was mainly timber-based. The original plan for Cadillac included a place for a county courthouse – which set off a multiple decade fight with Sherman for the county seat. That altercation resulted in politics at its worst, with several townships being created that would not have otherwise been. (The idea was to stack the deck with votes on the County Board of Supervisors at a time when each township supervisor was on the County Board of Supervisors). Some of the townships no longer exist. The county seat battle may have contributed to a larger number of townships, each with a smaller population, tax base, and thus resources for performing township government functions, compared to a number of surrounding counties. The resulting dispute included trying to build an alliance with Manton – which placed the county seat in that city for a short time before it ultimately moved to Cadillac.
In 1878, Ephraim Shay perfected his "Shay’s locomotive", which was particularly effective in operating on narrow gauge rail roads for purposes of lumbering. The lumbering industry was dominant in the county in the 1880s-1900 and saw an in-migration of Europeans of Swedish decent. In 1885, a second railroad, The Toledo & Cadillac Railroad Company, was organized and by 1894, was built to Frankfort. It later became the Toledo & Ann Arbor Railroad with car ferries across Lake Michigan. This railroad bypassed Sherman leading to that community’s decline and to the existence of several new towns: Yuma, Boon, Harrietta, and Mesick.
In 1899, the Cadillac Club formed, the forerunner of the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce. It was also during this era when various machine manufacturing firms were successful in Cadillac. By the early 1900s, lumber was depleted and the timber industry was on the decline.
In the 1911 – 29 years after the county seat was moved to Cadillac – the Wexford County courthouse was finally built.
The depression saw the creation of the Huron-Manistee National Forest and the Fife Lake State
Forest. Creation of public forests not only solved a major economic issue of the time, it created a lasting impact on the landscape of Wexford County. One can see photos of the area without any trees. The significance is these photos with few trees were taken a number of decades after the lumbermen left or stopped their timber harvest activity.
This area was in need of major reforestation efforts, and soil erosion reclamation. In 1936, the Cadillac Area Chamber’s new directions led to forming a partnership with the Forest Service and CCC for the creation of the Caberfae Ski Area and led to promotion of the area as a tourist center.
Also during the Great Depression, the B.F. Goodrich Company moved to Cadillac. B. F. Goodrich Company would have a lasting impact on future industries and labor force skills in the Cadillac area: Cadillac Rubber & Plastics, Inc., Cadillac Molded Rubber, Michigan Rubber Products, Brooks + Perkins.
In the 1950s, the Cadillac Industrial Fund was created through the efforts of the Chamber. The idea for creation of the Industrial Fund was a product of Cadillac merchants. Merchants realized that to be successful – have more shoppers – there needed to be a growing number of base, or export-producing jobs. The idea was to create more base job wage earners who in turn shop in Cadillac. The idea to create a Downtown Development Authority (DDA), in the early 1970s, was a product of Cadillac area industrialists. Here the realization was a community’s downtown is its "front door" and is important to attract people to an area. Attraction of people to an area is important, not just for tourism, but also to attract entrepreneurs to bring their industries to Cadillac. What attracts a tourist also attracts an industrialist. This same concept is what led to the creation of the Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau – to promote the area for tourism, conventions, and so on.
A symbiotic relationship between industry, commercial, and tourist segments of the economy also came to exist and to be recognized as important. A county can not afford to retain a quality environment without a strong economic base, and one can not retain a strong economic base without a quality environment. It appears both these concepts are historically a part of Cadillac’s heritage. Cadillac, as a community, is fortunate to understand these principles and strive for that balance.