Bay County was created on 17 Feb 1857 and was formed from Midland, Saginaw and Arenac Counties. The County was named for because the northern border of the county encircles the head of Saginaw Bay. The County Seat is Bay City .
Counties adjacent to Bay County are Arenac County (north), Gladwin County (northwest), Tuscola County (east), Midland County (west), Saginaw County (south). Townships found in Bay County include Bangor, Beaver, Frankenlust, Fraser, Garfield, Gibson, Hampton Charter, Kawkawlin, Merritt, Monitor, Mount Forest, Pinconning, Portsmouth, Williams Charter Townships. Cities, Towns and Communities include Auburn, Bay City, Bentley, Essexville, Kawkawlin, Linwood, Munger, Pinconning, University Center
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 Bay County Courthouse, 515 Center Avenue, Bay City, MI 48708 , 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 Bay County Courthouse History
Bay County Clerk has the following Records for: Births & Death's: 1867 to present, Marriages: 1867 to present, Divorces: 1869 to present. (After 1992 divorces are located at a new Court facility, 1230 Washington Avenue, Bay City, MI.), Comments: Naturalization records are housed at the Archives of Michigan. (Click Naturalization Indexes to view the online name index. . The Office is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: 989-895-4280, Fax: 989-895-4284 .
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.
Bay County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1835 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (989)895-4228 .
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.
Bay County Clerk of the Probate Court has Probate Records from 1857 and is located at 1230 Washington Avenue, Suite 715, Bay City, Michigan 48708-5737. Phone: 989-895-4205 .
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.
Bay County Clerk of the Circuit Court has Court Records from 1883 and is located at 1230 Washington Avenue, Suite 725, Bay City, Michigan 48708-5737. Phone: 989-895-4265 .
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 Bay County Court Records. Email us with websites containing Bay 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 Bay County Vital Records. Email us with websites containing Bay 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 Bay County, Michigan are 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890 (fragment, see below), 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930.
Other Federal Schedules to look at when researching your Family Tree in Bay County, Michigan are Industry and Agriculture Schedules availible for the years 1860, 1870 and 1880. The Mortality Schedules for the years 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 Bay County Census Records. Email us with websites containing Bay 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 Bay County Maps. Email us with websites containing Bay 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 Bay County Military Records. Email us with websites containing Bay 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 Bay County Genealogical Addresses. Email us with websites containing Bay 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 Bay County. Some transcriptions are online. A great site is the Bay 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 Bay County Cemetery & Church Records. Email us with websites containing Bay 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 Bay County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information. Email us with websites containing Bay County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information by clicking the link below:
Bay County lies along Saginaw Bay on the central eastern border of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, the center of a productive agricultural, fishing, and salt mine region. The hub of its manufacturing industries is Bay City, standing at the head of th Saginaw Bay.
The Michigan legislature created Bay County in 1857 from territory that today constitutes Arenac County, and parts of Midland and Saginaw counties. Bay County assumed its present proportions in 1883, including 443 square miles of land, and 30 miles of shore line. Many streams and two main rivers -- the Kawkawlin and Saginaw Rivers -- may be found in Bay County, the latter being the largest river in the state.
Until the late seventeenth century, the Saginaw River Valley was inhabited by the war-like tribes of the Sauk Indians. Their territory stretches across the Lower Peninsula in a broad trend between the uplands of the Shiawassee River and north to Thunder Bay. Their warfare against other Michigan tribes brought down the combined tribes of Chippewas, Pottowattomies, and the six nations from New York. Warring wiped out the Sauks in the area of what is today known in Bay City as the Middle Grounds, and farms in the Frankenlust Township Area, where many relics now may be found.
In 1855, Johnathon Smith Barclay, Representative of Saginaw in the State Legislature, with the aid of Albert Miller and Daniel Burns, introduced a bill to create Bay County. It was defeated by a narrow margin. A year later, the Honorable T. Jerome of Saginaw, and Henry Ashman of Midland were elected to the State Legislature from their counties and fought against the creation of Bay County. In spite of these efforts, the bill passed on February 17,1857.
The first registered land area in Bay County was to Stephan Riley. This was in 1819. However, the City of Bay City did not settle until 1832, when Leon Trombley migrated from Detroit, Michigan. He had a commission to instruct the Indians in "agricultural methods." Bay City was only a trading post until 1836.
In 1857, the original community name of "Lower Saginaw" was changed by legislative enactment to "Bay City". Two years later they incorporated Bay City as a village. The population at this time was 700 and enriched the village of Portsmouth. On May 2,1859, the first election was held. Curtis Munger was elected village president, he received 92 votes. Charles C. Atwood was elected recorder, and John P. Cottrell treasurer. The first meeting was held May 6,1859. John Woods was appointed marshall, Henry Bradley, street commissioner, Algerman Munger and William Daglish, assessors. Bay City was incorporated as a city in 1855, under a new charter. It elected a mayor and common council, Nathan B. Bradley, as manager.
The Bay County court house was a wooden building on Water Street, leased in 1858 from James Fraser for $200 per year. The county erected a county court house in 1867 at a cost of $30,000.00. Population at this time was 15,000. The rapid growth of the county found the court house inadequate. Many attempts to approve a new court house by the electors failed. However, in 1933, a new court house was constructed by a Bay City architect and contractor at the cost of $330,000.00. The corner-stone was laid April 13, 1933. The building was completed March 10th of the following year.