Lapeer County was created on 10 Sep 1822 (Organized in 1835) and was formed from Unorganized Land, Oakland and St. Clair Counties. The County was named for a derivation of the French "la pierre," meaning flint or flint stone. The County Seat is Lapeer . See also County History for more historical details.
Counties adjacent to Lapeer County are Sanilac County (northeast), Tuscola County (northwest), St. Clair County (east), Genesee County (west), Macomb County (southeast), Oakland County (southwest). Townships found in Lapeer County include Almont, Arcadia, Attica, Burlington, Burnside, Deerfield, Dryden, Elba, Goodland, Hadley, Imlay, Lapeer, Marathaon, Mayfield, Metamora, North Branch, Oregon, Rich Townships. Cities, Towns and Communities include Almont, Attica, Clifford, Columbiaville , Dryden, Hadley, Imlay City, Lapeer, Metamora, North Branch, Otter Lake.
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Researchers often overlook the importance of court records, probate records, and land records as a source of family history information.
PLEASE READ FIRST!!!! 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 Lapeer County Courthouse, 255 Clay Street, Lapeer, MI 48446 , 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.
Lapeer County Clerk has the following Records for: Births & Deaths: 1867 to present. (Available to qualified persons only), Marriages: 1831 to present, Divorces: 1837 to present. (All Circuit Court Records) . The Office is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: 810-667-0356 .
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.
Lapeer County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1835 and is located at 279 N. Court Str, Lapeer, MI 48446; Phone: (810)667-0211.
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.
Lapeer County Clerk of the Probate Court has Probate Records from 1838 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (810)667-0261 .
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.
Lapeer County Clerk of the Circuit Court has Court Records from 1835 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (810)667-0314 .
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.
Below is a list of online resources for Lapeer County Court Records. Email us with websites containing Lapeer 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 Lapeer County Vital Records. Email us with websites containing Lapeer 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 Lapeer County, Michigan are 1830, 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 Lapeer 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 Lapeer County Census Records. Email us with websites containing Lapeer 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 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 Lapeer County Maps. Email us with websites containing Lapeer 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 Lapeer County Military Records. Email us with websites containing Lapeer County Military Records by clicking the link below:
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.
The 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 Lapeer County Tax Records. Email us with websites containing Lapeer County Tax 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 Lapeer County Genealogical Addresses. Email us with websites containing Lapeer 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 Lapeer County. Some transcriptions are online. A great site is the Lapeer 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 Lapeer County Cemetery & Church Records. Email us with websites containing Lapeer 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 Lapeer County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information. Email us with websites containing Lapeer County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information by clicking the link below:
Lapeer County was once part of the Northwest Territory. By an ordinance of the Congress of the United States, passed July 13, 1787, the whole of the territory of the United States, lying northwest of the Ohio River, though still occupied by the British, was organized as the Northwest Territory.
The County of Wayne, named in the honor of General Anthony Wayne, was formed from a portion of the Northwest Territory, August 11, 1796. It included all of the lower peninsula, portions of Northern Ohio and Indiana and also part of Illinois and Wisconsin.
On May 7, 1800, the Territory of Indiana was formed and included all of the lower peninsula of Michigan. After Ohio and Indiana became states, the Territory of Michigan was formed. Wayne County was recognized by Governor Hull, of the Michigan Territory. Monroe County was established in 1817, Macomb, Mackinaw, Brown and Crawford counties in 1818. (The last two now being part of Wisconsin.) On October 9, 1819, Col. Lewis Cass was appointed Territorial Governor.
In January, 1820, the County of Oakland was formed. On September 18, 1822, Governor Cass set Lapeer County's boundaries, although it remained part of Oakland County until it was organized. Lapeer County officially became a county on February 2, 1835. The first recorded elections for county officers, with 520 people voting, was in 1837.
How come the name "Lapeer"? Early tradition gives, as the actual source of the naming of this city and county, the following: The south branch of the Flint River, which has its rise in Lapeer County, flows northwestward, and throughout quite a distance of its course, flows over rocky bed. It is supposed that this suggested to the French and Indian traders, who frequently passed over this section, the name of stone or flint. "The Stone" in French is "LePierre," but the English translation of the Canadian French accent of this word is "Lapeer". Hence, Governor Cass chose "Lapeer" as the name of the county.
The first settler in Lapeer was Alvin N. Hart, who was born in Cornwall, Connecticut on February 11, 1804. He came to Lapeer in 1831 and platted the Village of Lapeer on November 8, 1833. The plat was registered in Pontiac, December 14, 1833, in Associate Judge Bagley's Court, County of Oakland.
Alvin Hart became a state senator in 1843, representing Lapeer, Oakland, Genesse, Shiawassee, Tuscola, Saginaw counties and the entire Upper Peninsula. He was instrumental in having the state capitol moved from Detroit to Lansing. His death occurred on August 22, 1874. He is buried in Lapeer. Mrs. Kate Rhead is the great-great-granddaughter.
Jonathon R. White, the second settler in Lapeer, was born in South Hadley, Mass., in 1806. He also settled in Lapeer in 1831.
Being of pioneer stock, Hart and White each wanted to start their own town; Hart forming what was known as Lapeer, and White platting what was known as Whitesville. Whitesville was located on what is now South Main Street in Lapeer, from the railroad tracks to DeMill Road.
Lapeer County's first courthouse was built by White and his friends in 1839 on the site of the school administration building. White got the job after Hart ran into legal problems related to his original courthouse building. Court was first held in a Lapeer County courthouse on July 7, 1840. Hart built the present courthouse in 1846. He rented it to the county for on dollar, and court was first held there in April, 1847. In 1853, the county bought Hart's courthouse for $3,000. It became county property in 1858. White's courthouse building eventually became a school.
The White family built a large impressive building, which was called White's Opera House. It was located where Bishop Kelley School is at the present time. Business apparently was not good enough because in 1879, the building was moved piece by piece to its present location at the southeast corner of Court and Nepessing Streets. The building is now commonly known at the White Block.
Lumber was the principal industry from the 1830's until 1870, but with the removal of the forests, Lapeer became an agricultural county. Through the efforts of Governor John T. Rich, from Elba Township, the Lapeer State Home & Training School was established in 1894, with a capacity of 200 patients.
Besides Rich, prominent Lapeer County residents included Governor Moses Wisner, State Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph B. Moore, Congressman Louis C. Cramton, and author Marguerite deAngeli.
Today, Lapeer County is a well-balanced community of farms, small industry, and urban residents, serving the heavy industry of Genesse and Oakland counties.
The 1970 population of Lapeer County is listed at 52,361 by the Federal Bureau of Census. The 1980 official population is listed as 70,038 by the Federal Bureau of Census, with the 1990 census at 74,768.
Lapeer County consists of 18 townships, 7 villages, 2 cities and has approximately 666 square miles.
LAPEER COUNTY COURTHOUSE
Courthouse Square, Lapeer, Lapeer County
The Lapeer County Courthouse was built by Alvin N. Hart, one of Lapeer's first settlers. Born in Connecticut in 1804, Hart came to Michigan in 1831 and platted the village of Lapeer two years later. He also served as sheriff and as a member of both houses of the state legislature.
Although the date in the pediment, 1839, marks the construction of the county's first courthouse, this building was erected in 1845-46 and bought by the county in 1853. It is an impressive Greek Revival structure. The two-story exterior is of native white pine, supported by a brick foundation. The facade of the full-height portico has four fluted Doric columns supporting the pediment. A three-tiered tower rises at the rear of the building.
The Lapeer County Courthouse is now the oldest courthouse in Michigan which serves its original purpose. It remains a fine example of the dignified Doric style.
THE LAPEER COUNTY COURTHOUSE 150 YEARS AGO
His smile said it all.
State Senator Alvin N. Hart was more than satisfied after the signing of the 1845 bill which allowed local governments to raise taxes to pay for county buildings; something only a direct vote of the people could do before.
To most people, it was just another piece of legislation designed to strengthen the county governments. Yet to Hart, who quietly shepherded the bill through the smoke-filled back rooms of both houses, this was the last big step toward what he wanted most, the Lapeer County Courthouse.
His first try at getting the courthouse in Lapeer's "lower village," where he owned most of the land, was a disaster.
The Whigs, led by Jonathon R. White, blind-sided Democrat Hart with an offer to donate a courthouse to the county as long as it was built in "their" upper village. To get the bid, Hart was forced to tell the board of supervisors that he, too, would donate a court house.
When the building's frame was up, Hart asked to be paid for the work. He told the supervisors that he never intended to honor his promise.
The question of whether or not to pay Hart went to the voters. They answered that a free court house was offered and, thus, expected.
The supervisors accepted the Whigs' renewed offer and the county opened its first courthouse on the hill at Main and Genesee Streets on July 4, 1840.
For the next five years, Hart waited for his opportunity to change the place where court was held. The chance arose during the legislative session of 1845.
A bill originated in the state House which proposed moving Lapeer county's "seat of justice" from the upper village to the lower.
While the Lapeer Whigs were busy speaking out against that bill, the funding bill was moving swiftly through both houses. By the time the Whigs knew they had been hoodwinked, the bill had been signed.
As the ground thawed in the spring of 1846, Hart's courthouse was being built. Funding was not important, because Hart knew he would eventually get it.
In the final hours of 1846, the supervisors voted to rent Hart's building for one dollar per year. They then ordered the sheriff to move all of the furniture from the old court house into the county government's new home.
On April 5, 1847, newly-elected Judge Alvin Hart presided over a naturalization ceremony, the first business in his court house.
Court has been held in the same court room, surrounded by much of the same furniture, every year since.