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SEARCH FOR YOUR ANCESTORS IN THESE MICHIGAN GENEALOGICAL DATABASES:
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Alpena County History and Information
County History | Court Records | Vital Records | CENSUS Records | TAX Records | Military Records |
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Alpena County Facts

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. See also County History for more historical details.

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

  • The Alpena County Official Government Website
  • Alpena County, Michigan History Books at Amazon.com
  • Family History Library - The largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records in the world.

 

There are free downloadable and printable forms to help with your research. These include U.S. Census Extraction Forms, U.K. Census Extraction Forms, Research Calendar, Ancestral Chart, Research Extract, Correspondence Record , Family Group Sheet , Source Summary Form.

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Records at the Alpena County Courthouse
PLEASE READ!! 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.

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: countyclerk@alpenacounty.org. 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. 

Search Online Click Here to Search Michigan Court, Land, Wills & Financial Records! - Researchers often overlook the importance of court records, probate records, and land records as a source of family history information.

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:

  • 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
  • Alpena County, Michigan Court Books at Amazon.com
  • Michigan Immigration & Emigration Records - Immigration records help the family historian to understand the movements of their ancestry as they relocated to different parts of the world.

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Alpena County Vital Records
Search Online Click Here to Search Michigan Birth, Marriage & Death Records! - Birth, marriage, and death records are connected with central life events. They are prime sources for genealogical information. Look also for baptism, christening, and burial records in this collection.

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.
Some documents are just too important to wait 1-3 months for, With VitalChek Express Certificate Service you won’t have to. Birth, Marriage, Divorce & Death Certificates Signed. Sealed. Delivered. Often in as few as three business days!

  • 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. Click Here to Search the Social Security Death Index for FREE
    • 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 or 2-5 Days when you order ELECTRONICALLY
  • 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 or 2-5 Days when you order ELECTRONICALLY

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 Alpena County Vital Records. Email us with websites containing Alpena County Vital Records by clicking the link below:

  • Search the Social Security Death Index for FREE
  • Research Death records In The World's Largest Newspaper Archive at NewpaperArchive.com! - Find thousands of historical Michigan 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.
  • 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.
  • Alpena County, Michigan Birth, Marriage & Death Books at Amazon.com

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Alpena County Census Records
Search Online Click Here to Search Michigan Voter Lists & Census Records! - 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.

  See Also Statewide Records that exist for Michigan

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:

  • 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.
  • Alpena County, Michigan Census Books at Amazon.com

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Alpena County Maps & Atlases

   Genealogy Atlas has images of old American atlases during the years 1795, 1814, 1822, 1823, 1836, 1838, 1845, 1856, 1866, 1879 and 1897 for Ohio 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:

  • 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.
  • Alpena County, Michigan Map Books at Amazon.com

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Alpena County Military Records
Search Online Click Here to Search Michigan Military Records! - 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:

  • 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.
  • Alpena County, Michigan Military Books at Amazon.com

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Alpena County Tax Records

   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.

Numerous early tax assessment and general tax rolls are available at the State Archives of Michigan. Organized by county, the records include the name of the owner or occupant of the property, legal description and number of acres, value of land and personal estate, and amount of tax levied. There are tax rolls for some counties for the late 1830s, but most are for the last half of the nineteenth century.
National Archives/Great Lakes Region in Chicago holds numerous federal personal property and corporate tax assessment lists for the state of Michigan

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

  • Alpena County, Michigan Tax Books at Amazon.com

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

  • Northeast Michigan Genealogical Society, c/o Jesse Besser Museum, 491 Johnson Street, Alpena, Ml 49707-1496
  • Local Michigan Researchers, Find a local researcher or become a local researcher.
  • 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:
  • Michigan Newspapers & Periodicals Records - Newspapers and periodicals are the diaries of local communities. They are excellent sources of family history details - often recorded nowhere else. Look for obituaries, marriages, legal notices, and more found in our Historical Newspaper Archives.
  • Michigan Genealogical Society Books at Amazon.com

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Alpena County Church & Cemeteries
Search Online Click Here to Search Michigan Obituary Records! - This database is a compilation of obituaries published in U.S. newspapers, collected from various online sources. 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:

  • 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.
  • Revolutionary Soldiers Buried in Michigan
  • Alpena County, Michigan Cemetery Books at Amazon.com
  • Alpena County, Michigan Church Books at Amazon.com

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Family Trees & Genealogy Tidbits

Search Online Click Here to Search Michigan Family Tree Records! - 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:

  • 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: [ Alpena 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
  • Alpena 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.
  • Meet your ancestors. Learn their stories. Start your FREE family tree.
  • Michigan Family & Local History Records - The Family & Local Histories Collection lets you read journals, memoirs, and other first-hand historical narratives right on your computer. Gathered from some of the world's finest libraries, these materials may provide hard-to-find town, county, and state information; tax records and wills; military, church, and court records; as well as photographs, stories, and maps.
  • Genealogical Document Search and Retrieval Service
  • Alpena County, Michigan Family Books at Amazon.com

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County History

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

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