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Ionia County History and Information
County History | Court Records | Vital Records | CENSUS Records | TAX Records | Military Records |
Maps & Atlases | Genealogy Addresses | Church & Cemeteries | Genealogy Related Sites |

Ionia County was created on 2 Mar 1831 (Organized in 1837) and was formed from Michilimackinac County. Some early records before 1837 may be located in Kent County. The County was named for the Ionia Province in ancient Greece noted for its flourishing cities, commerce and culture. The County Seat is Ionia . See also County History for more historical details.

Counties adjacent to Ionia County are Gratiot County (northeast), Montcalm County (north), Clinton County (east), Kent County (west), Eaton County (southeast), Barry County (southwest). Townships found in Ionia County include Berlin, Boston, Campbell, Danby, Easton, Ionia, Keene, Lyons, North Plains, Odessa, Orange, Orleans, Otisco, Portland, Ronald, Sebewa Townships. Cities, Towns and Communities include Belding, Clarksville, Hubbardston, Ionia, Lake Odessa , Lyons, Muir, Orleans, Palo, Pewamo, Portland, Saranac, Smyrna.

  • The Ionia County Official Government Website
  • Ionia 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.

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Records at the Ionia 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 Ionia County Courthouse, 100 Main Street, Ionia, MI 48846 , 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.

   Ionia County Clerk has the following Records for: Births & Deaths: 1867 to present, Marriages: 1837 to present, Divorces: 1858 to present. Clerk's office staff will conduct any requested searches. The Office is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: 616-527-5322 .
   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.

   Ionia County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1835 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (616)527-5320 .
   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.

   Ionia County Clerk of the Probate Court has Probate Records from 1835 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (616)527-5332 .
   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.

   Ionia County Clerk of the Circuit Court has Court Records from 1839 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (616)527-5315 .
   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 Ionia County Court Records. Email us with websites containing Ionia 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
  • Ionia 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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Ionia 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.

  • 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 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
  • Order Online: You can also order Order Electronically and get the certificates within 2-5 days by ordering below
    Birth Certificates
    Death Certificates
    Marriage Certificates
    Divorce Records

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

  • 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 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.
  • Ionia County, Michigan Birth, Marriage & Death Books at Amazon.com

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Ionia 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 Ionia 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 Ionia 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 Ionia County Census Records. Email us with websites containing Ionia 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.
  • Ionia County, Michigan Census Books at Amazon.com

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Ionia 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 Ionia County Maps. Email us with websites containing Ionia 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.
  • Ionia County, Michigan Map Books at Amazon.com

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Ionia 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 Ionia County Military Records. Email us with websites containing Ionia 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.
  • Ionia County, Michigan Military Books at Amazon.com

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Ionia 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 Ionia County Tax Records. Email us with websites containing Ionia County Tax Records by clicking the link below:

  • Ionia County, Michigan Tax Books at Amazon.com

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

  • Ionia County Genealogical Society , P.O. BOx 516 , Lake Odessa, MI 48849-0516
  • Western Michigan Genealogical Society, c/o Grand Rapids Public Library, 111 Library Street NE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49503-3268; Email - wmgs@wmgs.org. Includes Kent County and the counties immediately surrounding; namely Ottawa, Muskegon, Newaygo, Montcalm, Ionia, Barry and Allegan Counties. There is some extension beyond these counties into other areas of the Western Lower Peninsula.
  • 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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Ionia 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 Ionia County. Some transcriptions are online. A great site is the Ionia 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 Ionia County Cemetery & Church Records. Email us with websites containing Ionia 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
  • Ionia County, Michigan Cemetery Books at Amazon.com
  • Ionia 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 Ionia County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information. Email us with websites containing Ionia 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: [ Ionia 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
  • Ionia 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.
  • 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
  • Ionia County, Michigan Family Books at Amazon.com

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County History

In the summer of 1832, Samuel Dexter from Herkimer County, New York, visited the Grand River Valley area in Michigan. The area was occupied by Indians whose camp was at the foot of the river which is now near Mill Street in Ionia. He told the Indians that he would return with family and friends to settle the area in the Spring.

Mr. Dexter then traveled to the nearest U.S. Land Office at White Pidgeon, in southern Michigan Territory and filed a claim on the land. He then returned to New York State where he spent the winter gathering people and provisions for the new Michigan settlement.

Sixty-two people left New York for Michigan on April 22, 1833. There were six families, headed by Samuel Dexter, Erastus Yeomans, Oliver Arnold, Darius Winsor, Edward Guild and Joel Guild. They were also accompanied by five young, single men, Dr. William B. Lincoln, P. M. Fox, Abraham Decker, Warner Dexter and Winson Dexter.

The group traveled the Erie Canal by daylight, their horse teams used to pull the canal boat. They slept on the banks of the river at night. They reached Buffalo on May 7th and loaded themselves on the steamer Superior for the trip to Detroit. They reached Detroit on May 10, 1833. Most of the household goods were sent by a different ship to Mackinaw and then on to Grand Haven where they would be brought upriver after reaching the new settlement.

The group traveled a very primitive road from Detroit through Pontiac and on to Saline. From that point on, travel was through the unbroken wilderness. This path became known at the Dexter Trail. Parts of this trail can still be seen today. The trip was not without it's misfortunes. The group suffered it's first loss in a young boy, Riley, son of Samuel Dexter. Riley died of scarlet fever and was buried in a trunk at the foot of a tree in what is now known at Clinton County.

May 28, 1833, the travelers arrived at what is now known as the city of Ionia. The Indians were living close by in 5 bark huts. Four of these huts were about 10 feet square and contained bunk beds along the sides. The fifth hut was about 14 feet square. The Dexter colony bartered with the Indians and for these huts and for the harvest of the crops that had been planted in the Spring. A payment of $25 was agreed upon and it was in these huts that the women and children slept while cabins were being built. The Indians continued to be good neighbors to the settlers and provided them with venison, fish and maple syrup in exchange for things that the settlers could spare. The household goods sent from Grand Haven arrived midsummer.

That first summer, log houses were built for Samuel Dexter, Darius Winsor and Erastus Yeomans. The first child of these settlers was born in August of 1833, Eugene Winsor, son of Darius Winsor. This family also experienced the first death . Their six-year old daughter died that first summer.

The first frame house was built for Dr. W. B. Lincoln in 1834. Dr. Lincoln was Ionia County's first physician with a large practice extending from Grand Rapids of the west to about equal distances to the south and east of the settlement. Dr. Lincoln was also the first school teacher and the first Township Clerk.

The first marriage was that of Dr. Lincoln and Anthy Philene Arnold, daughter of Oliver Arnold. They were wed at the home of the bride's father on July 5, 1833.

Samuel Dexter built the first sawmill just west of the present Armory in 1833, using the water power of the creek that ran across Main Street at Dexter.

Following the settlement of the Dexter Colony, in May 1833, came Henry V. Libhart to the southwest corner of what is now Ionia township, the Cornells to Easton township, John E. Morrison to Berlin, and Philo Bogue and John Milne to Portland. All of these settlers arriving in the area before the end of 1833. Among those who arrived in 1834 were Franklin Chubb and Nathan Benjamin, who located in Lyons township, George W. Case, Horace Case and the Connor brothers in Easton township, John McKelvey and Gadd Bunnell on Ionia township.In the year 1835, the population of the county further increased with the addition of Alonzo Sessions and brother Job Sessions, in Berlin township; Chancellor Barringer in Danby township; and Selah Arms, the first settler in Orange township.

In 1836, the United States opened a land office in Ionia. Thus, there was a great influx of settlers to the area, particularly from New York.

During the winter of 1836-37, petitions were circulated, signed and forwarded to the state legislature asking that Ionia be organized as a county. The bill creating the county was signed by the Governor on March 18, 1837. The first elections for the selection of county officers was held in April of 1837 and resulted as follows: Associate Judge - Isaac Thompson, Judge of Probate - William D. Moore, Sheriff - Elhanan W. Curtis, County Clerk - Asa Bunnell, County Treasurer - John E. Morrison, Register of Deeds - Adam L. Roof, County Surveyor - Buel H. Mann, Coroners - Philo Bogue and Thaddeus O. Warner.

  • 1668 - The oldest Michigan community, Sault Ste. Marie was founded by the French. Detroit was founded in 1701.
  • 1763 - The British took possession of the area but strongly discouraged settlers.
  • 1787 - Michigan became part of the U.S. Northwest Territory. The British were still in control of both Mackinaw and Detroit
  • 1796 - The British withdrew from all remaining posts, including Detroit. White men were beginning to settle in the Ionia County area for the purpose of fur trading. There was money to be made from selling furs to the French. The first known trading post in the Ionia area was established near Lowell (just west of Ionia County) by a Madame Framboise.
  • 1800 - Michigan became part of the Indiana Territory
  • 1805 - Congress created the Michigan Territory
  • 1818 - 1832 Transportation methods were improving and settlement of new areas was encouraged. Steamship transportation on the Great Lakes, especially from Buffalo, New York to Detroit was in full operation by 1818. The Erie Canal was completed to Buffalo in 1825. The Chicago Road that linked Chicago to Detroit was completed in 1832. Those that had made their fortunes in the building of the Erie Canal often made their west to settle new frontier lands. Samuel Dexter was one of those individuals. He and Dr. Jewett arrived in what is now Ionia in 1830. They filed a land claim and then returned to their homes in Herkimer County, New York, to gather up a group of pioneers that were brave enough to head for the wilds of the Michigan Territory. The pioneers arrived on May 28, 1833 after a long trip down canals, rivers and across unbroken wilderness to stake their claim.
  • 1833 - 1837 Iona County Formed
  • 1835 - Michigan lost part of it’s southern border in the Toledo War with Ohio. At this time though, Michigan gained the property of the Upper Peninsula. The first post office in Ionia County was established in August of 1835.
  • 1837 - Michigan becomes a state. Until 1836, the Ionia area was still administered as a township of Kent County. In 1837, Michigan finally achieved statehood. The capital originally in Detroit was moved to Lansing. A U.S. Land Office was established in Ionia County Seat. Those wishing to purchase land in the north central area of Michigan, came to Ionia to have the papers drawn up. The town became a organized and elected their first County Commission.
  • 1840 - By 1840, the County was divided into six townships, with nine post offices, and a white population of approximately 2,500.
  • 1850 - In the late 1840’s and early 1850’s the fur trade was replaced with the lumbering trade. Lumber saw mills were found all along the Grand and Flat Rivers. There was actually more money made from Michigan White Pine than there was in the California Gold Rush!
  • 1854 - 1857 - Steam boats were traveling the Grand River from the Lake Michigan shore to Lyons. Hotels were being built, and hundreds of settlers interested in Michigan White Pine came to or through Ionia. The 1854 census reported that Ionia County's population had reached 10,727.
  • 1857 - The railroad reached the city of Ionia. The Detroit & Milwaukee RR came in from the east. Soon, the Detroit, Lansing & Northern came into the area.
  • 1860 - The County's population was nearly 17,000. Most were rural farm families, but the many towns in the County included Hubbardston, Kiddville, Patterson's Mills, Wheatland, Palo, Matherton, Ronald Center, Saranac, Montrose Station, Pewamo, Stoney Creek, Lyons, Muir, Maple, South Boston, Skipperville, South Cass, Campbell, Russel, Orange, Sebewa, Portland, Stebbinsville, Kossoth, and Danby.
  • 1861 - 1865 Over 90,000 men served the Union in the Civil War. Of these 90,000 men, 14,000 lost their lives. Many of Ionia's soldiers fought with the 16th Michigan, trained at Camp Segel in the fields east of Ionia. These volunteers are commemorated by a large monument in the Ionia Courthouse Square.
  • 1875 - The Michigan Legislature appropriated money to begin construction of the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia. This prison, still in service today is the State’s second oldest prison. Construction continued until 1880.
  • 1877 - The Ionia County economy recovered after the economic "Panic of 1877." Many State Senators, Representatives, Supreme Court Justices, Attorneys General, Lieutenant Governors and other high-placed government officials came from Ionia. In the 1870’s, the Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railroad established their first "car shops" in Ionia, including a roundhouse and manufacturing facility.
  • 1885 - The Ionia Asylum for the Criminally Insane was opened with 217 patients.
  • 1900 - All of Michigan’s 83 counties had been settled.

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