Missaukee County, Michigan
History, Records, Facts and Genealogy

Missaukee County was created on 1 Apr 1840 (Organized in 1871) and was formed from Mckinac County. The County was named for a Ottawa chief who signed the treat Some early records before 1871 may be located in Manistee, Wexford and Grand Traverse Countie. ies of 1831 and 1833. The County Seat is Lake City .

Counties adjacent to Missaukee County are Kalkaska County (north), Roscommon County (east), Clare County (southeast), Osceola County (southwest), Wexford County (west). Townships found in Missaukee County include Aetna, Bloomfield, Butterfield, Caldwell, Clam Union, Enterprise, Forest, Holland, Lake, Norwich, Pioneer, Reeder, Richland, Riverside, West Branch Townships. Cities, Towns and Communities include Falmouth, Lake City, Mc Bain, McBain, Merritt.

  • The Missaukee County Official Government Website
  • Search Historical Newspapers from Michigan (1837 - 1922) - Quickly find names and keywords in over 450 million articles, obituaries, marriage notices, birth announcements and other items published in over 2,800 historical U.S. newspapers. New content added monthly!
  • Family History Library - The largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records in the world.
  • Stories, Memories & Histories - Stories and histories compiled by others researching a person or area can be an amazing source of information about your ancestors. Not only do they generally contain dates and places of vital events like birth, marriage, and death, but they often relate stories and memories that help you really get to know the character of your ancestors.
  • Search Michigan Historical Records - Databases include Court, Land, Wills & Financial Records; Birth, Marriage & Death Records; Voter Lists & Census Records; Immigration & Emigration Records; Obituary Records; Military Records; Family Tree Records; Pictures; Stories, Memories & Histories; Directories & Member Lists and much more....

  • Missaukee County, Michigan History Books at Amazon.com

County Court, Probate and Tax Records

See Also Michigan Land Records, Marriage Records, Court, Tax & Probate Records

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.

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 Missaukee County Courthouse, 111 S. Canal St., Lake City, MI 49651 , 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.

Missaukee County Clerk has the following Records for: Births & Deaths: 1870 to present, Marriages: 1871 to present, Divorces: 1872 to present, Naturalization: 1874, Military Discharge Records: 1918 to present, Land Records: 1870 to present . The Office is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: 231-839-4967 .

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.

Missaukee County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1871 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (231)839-4967 .

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.

Missaukee County Clerk of the Probate Court has Probate Records from 1871 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (231)839-2266 .

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.

Missaukee 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: (231)839-4967 .

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 Missaukee County Court Records. Email us with websites containing Missaukee County Court Records by clicking the link below:

  • Order County Court, Civil or Criminal Records Online
  • 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
  • Missaukee County, Michigan Court Books at Amazon.com
  • Court, Land, Wills & Financial - Court records are an often overlooked, yet very valuable tool for finding information to assist you in your research. Land records, such as deeds, allow you to tie an ancestor to a specific place at a point in time. Other court records like those dealing with finances and estates often list related family members or give interesting details like the total value of property owned by your ancestors to add interest to your family history.
  • Immigration & Emigration - As our ancestors moved from one country to another, details about their lives were recorded on passenger lists and government documents. Immigration and emigration records can help you learn where your ancestors originally came from, where they went, when they left, who they traveled with, and more.

County Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death Records

See Also Vital Records in Michigan

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.

  • 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
  • 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.
  • Order Online: You can also order Order Electronically Online to obtain a certified copy of a birth, marriage, death or divorce record with a credit or debit card and get the certificates within 2-5 days by ordering from VitalChek Express Certificate Service.
  • 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 Missaukee County Vital Records. Email us with websites containing Missaukee County Vital Records by clicking the link below:

  • Vital Records from Archives.com: Birth Records, Marriage Records, Divorce Records and Death Records
  • VitalChek Express Certificate Service. - Some documents are just too important to wait six weeks for. With VitalChek Express Certificate Service you won’t have to. VitalChek is the fast and convenient way to order certified government-issued vital records online. They make it easy for you to purchase the documents to which you are legally entitled. Beware of other online services that do not have relationships directly with the agencies that store your vital records. VitalChek's order process usually takes less than 10 minutes --And you can select express courier service for even faster delivery when time is running out.
  • Click Here to 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 Arkansas 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.
  • Birth, Marriage & Death - Vital records (births, deaths, marriages, and divorces) mark the milestones of our lives and are the foundation of family history research. Vital records, usually kept by a civic authority, can give you a more complete picture of your ancestor, help you distinguish between two people with the same name, and help you find links to a new generation.
  • 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.
  • Missaukee County, Michigan Birth, Marriage & Death Books at Amazon.com

County Census Records

See Also Research In Census Records & Statewide Records that exist for Michigan

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 Missaukee 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 Missaukee 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 Missaukee County Census Records. Email us with websites containing Missaukee County Census Records by clicking the link below:

  • Census Records at Archives.com
  • 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.
  • Missaukee County, Michigan Census Books at Amazon.com
  • Census & Voter Lists - A census is an official list of the people in a particular area at a given time, while voter lists show those who were registered to vote in a certain area. The valuable information found on census records helps you to understand your family in their time and place. Voter Lists serve as a confirmation of residence in between the years that the census was taken.

County Maps & Atlases

See Also Statewide Maps that exist for Michigan

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 Missaukee County Maps. Email us with websites containing Missaukee 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.
  • Missaukee County, Michigan Map Books at Amazon.com
  • Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers - Maps are an invaluable part of family history research, especially if you live far from where your ancestor lived. Because political boundaries often changed, historic maps are critical in helping you discover the precise location of your ancestor's hometown, what land they owned, who their neighbors were, and more.

County Military Records

See Also Military Records in Michigan

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 Missaukee County Military Records. Email us with websites containing Missaukee 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.
  • Missaukee County, Michigan Military Books at Amazon.com
  • Military - The men and women called to serve their country in military duty are a source of pride to their families and to their nation. Now, with databases containing more than 16 million names and thousands of government records available to search, researching your veteran ancestors has become easier than ever before.

County Genealogical Addresses

See Also Other Michigan 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 Missaukee County Genealogical Addresses. Email us with websites containing Missaukee County Genealogical Addresses by clicking the link below:

  • Missaukee County Historical Society, 1619 W. White Birch, Lake City, Michigan 49651
  • Grand Traverse Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 2015, Traverse City, Michigan 49685-2015
  • 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:
  • Newspapers & Periodicals - The Newspapers & Periodicals Collection lets you discover a wealth of information about your ancestors from many historical newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals. These types of sources can often supplement public records and provide information that is not recorded anywhere else. Here, you can learn more about your ancestor's possible daily activities by placing them in the context of their time.
  • Directories & Member Lists - Directories and member lists are typically compilations of information about people who belonged to various associations and groups or lived within city boundaries. They can be thought of as the predecessors to the modern-day phone book and usually list names, addresses, and sometimes the occupations of your ancestors.
  • Michigan Genealogical Society Books at Amazon.com

County Church & Cemeteries

See Also Church & Cemetery Records in Michigan

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 Missaukee County. Some transcriptions are online. A great site is the Missaukee 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 Missaukee County Cemetery & Church Records. Email us with websites containing Missaukee County Cemetery & Church Records by clicking the link below:

  • Cemetery Records at Archives.com
  • 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.
  • Obituary Records at Archives.com
  • America's Obituaries (1977 to current) at Genealogybank.com - Obituaries contain helpful information such as names, dates, places of birth, death, marriage and family information. Over 28 million obituaries make this the most complete collection from the 20th and 21st centuries - includes over 1,100 U.S. newspapers. New content added daily!
  • Revolutionary Soldiers Buried in Michigan
  • Missaukee County, Michigan Cemetery Books at Amazon.com
  • Missaukee County, Michigan Church Books at Amazon.com

Family Trees & Genealogy Tidbits


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 Missaukee County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information. Email us with websites containing Missaukee County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information by clicking the link below:

  • Search for Local Michigan Researchers or Earn Money by becoming a Local Michigan Researcher!
  • 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: [ Missaukee 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
  • Missaukee 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.
  • Family Trees - Ancestry has thousands of family trees shared by other members. They can help you identify how ancestors are related and give you clues about birth, marriage, and death information. Family trees are an excellent resource for filling in gaps in your research or even to simply know where to begin.
  • Pictures - One of the more exciting discoveries in doing family history research is finding a photograph of your ancestors or their residence. Finding historic postcard photos and drawings of towns and important events throughout history can also give you a visual look into your ancestors lives.
  • Reference Materials & Finding Aids - Reference materials, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other how-to books, can be tremendously helpful in finding and interpreting historical documents. Many of these books can help you learn where to look for more information and how to use what you've already found to uncover more clues.
  • Missaukee County, Michigan Family Books at Amazon.com

Extended History


Some Facts Of Missaukee County In The Early Days

The urge to move forward beats in every human breast. Sometimes the path ahead may be clearly marked out, but at other times it may lead through dangerous forests, through rivers and dense fogs. Every gain that has been made, individually or as a group, has been made at tremendous sacrifice, sometimes of life, again of poverty, then of comforts, but nevertheless the urge to go forward beats in every human breast just the same today as at the time of the early settlement of this county.

Unfortunately for the student of history, the Indians who occupied this county before the coming of the white men kept no records and his history here is nearly all lost. In this particular section there was little contact between whites and the red owners, since the latter had ceded their rights and removed from this county before any early settlements were made in this vicinity.

Mention is made by Alexander Blackbird in his history of the Chippewa and Ottawa Indians that the Ottawas, Chippewas and the Iroquois had at some time or other settled in this county and that a continual warfare was waged to see who would retain possession of what was then known as the most wonderful hunting grounds known to them. It is related that the Ottawa and Chippewa nations came near going to war once over the slaying in a private feud of a Chippawa by an Ottawa and the Chippawas were finally appeased by a treaty permitting them to share this greatly coveted hunting ground, that thereafter they used it in common and found plenty of game for both; and used what is now known as Missaukee county as their winter home. In the summer time after the sugar was made from the maples of Missaukee, the Indians went down the river again, and coasted back to their summer home in the lower or upper peninsular wherever their permanent home might have been.

The name Missaukee taken from an article entitled “History and meaning of the county names of Michigan” by Wm. L. Jenks of Port Huron, Mich., for the Michigan Pioneer and Historical collections Vol. 38, pp 439-478, was named after an Ottawa chief who signed the treaties of 1831 and 1833. The name itself may be derived directly from a word meaning “at large mouth of river,” or Mississaugua an Indian tribe near the head of Georgian Bay “people of the wide mouth river.” Missaukee was named by the legislature of 1840 which laid out and named twenty-eight counties completing the division into counties of the lower peninsula.

The names of sixteen of these counties were changed in 1843, but this county retained it original name.

The honor of being the first white settler in this county is somewhat disputed. Some say that the Richardsons were first, while others claim that the Vogels established a permanent home here first. Never-the-less, according to the enrollment book of the old settlers the honor of being the first white settlers in this county goes to the Richardson family who settled in Pioneer township in 1867. Mr. Richardson and his family settled on section 26, township 24 north, range 7 west, near the village of Pioneer. M.D. Richardson was born April 10, 1846 and his wife, Sarah Richardson, was born July 29, 1848. The Richardsons had two children, A.A. Richardson, who was born May 29, 1873 and Miss Etta Richardson, who was born March 28, 1870. Both were born in Missaukee county.

The second family to settle in Missaukee county was the family of John Vogel who settled near what is now called Vogel Center. Mr. Vogel held several of the county offices and was considered a brave and upright citizen of the county.

The third family to settle in this county was Daniel Reeder, who was the first settler to settle in what is now Lake City.

The Reeders were of typical sturdy English Stock. The father was a bluff square-built Englishman and might have sat for the portrait of the typical Johnny Bull. The mother was an Englishwoman of a different type, a quaint sweet Quaker lady whose sober dress and quiet “thees and thous” sounded oddly in the ears of the early somewhat rough speaking crowd of pioneers and woodsmen that formed the population of this place in that day.

The Reeders had six children: Two daughters, Harriet (now Mrs. J. J. Pollard of Forest township, Missaukee county) and Selina (now Mrs. C. Reeder of Erie, Pa.) and four boys, William, Washington, Charles and Daniel.

Daniel Reeder, founder of Lake City, and one of the first three men to actually locate and take up a residence in Missaukee county was a resident of Missaukee county since he first set foot on it. The following is a biographical sketch of Daniel Reeder relating the circumstances pertaining to his first visit to the site of this city and was prepared from data furnished by Mr. Reeder himself (published in the Plain Dealer May 19, 1897) and facts given by his daughter Agnes (Mrs. Agnes Ransom of Lake City, Mich.)

Daniel Reeder was born in Newmarket, York county, Canada, June 24, 1833. In 1836 the family moved to Oakwood, Victoria, Canada. On Feb. 15, 1855, Mr. Reeder was married to Elizabeth Bateman and to this union five children were born: Agnes (now Mrs. Agnes Ransom), Orilla (now Mrs. Orilla Ostrander), George E. Reeder of Duluth, Minn., John C. Reeder of Foster, Calif., and Miss Lizzie Reeder who died June 20, 1878.

In the autumn of 1867, Mr. Reeder came to Big Rapids, Mich., and remained through the winter. On May 1, 1868, he and four others organized themselves into a company to come to Missaukee county to look for homes. They came with a team as far as McDonald’s camp on the Clam river, a mile and a half below Falmouth, Mich. That was the end of the road. From there they walked, the company arriving at Muskrat lake (now known as Missaukee Lake) May 12 and stayed all night on its bank. Next day, Mr. Reeder looked the adjoining country over and the party returned to the team. During that night he fully determined to locate beside Muskrat lake. In the morning he told his companions his decision, and they laughed at the idea and tried to dissuade him, but without avail. They divided their provisions, he taking his share and two blankets, and prepared to start when the owner of the team said that he couldn’t see Reeder go alone, so it was arranged with the rest that the latter were to go to Houghton Lake with the team and Reeder and his companions would come back and look Muskrat lake country over more thoroughly. This was done.

Next morning both decided to locate here on section six, and at sunrise they departed, Mr. Reeder going to Traverse City on the night of the May 17, 1868, Mr. Reeder, on the 18th located the north half of section six. From there he returned to Big Rapids on foot (this being the only mode of travel at the time) and met the other four men who had just returned from Houghton Lake with a half a cheese box full of fish.

June 16th, the five reinforced now by William Reeder, a brother of Daniel Reeder, arrived back at Muskrat lake with the team and wagon. Next afternoon they cut logs and put up a shanty of about 14x20 feet, one-story high which was the first building of any kind built by a white man on or near Muskrat lake (now know as Lake Missaukee). In the afternoon they looked up a location for each of the others, but that night two of them decided to go back from where they came, and the next morning three of them started for Traverse City. On reaching there, William Reeder located his land but the other two went back without locating any. The brothers, Daniel and William Reeder, remained here during the summer and in the fall returned to Canada, returning here again in October, accompanied by Daniel Reeder’s children and his brother Washington Reeder.

The following is a narrative of the trip from Canada to Lake City as given by Daniel Reeder’s daughter Agnes (now Mrs. Agnes Ransom):

Sometime in October of 1868 my father decided to go back to Muskrat lake, so we hurriedly made preparation and left for Traverse City which was the nearest place to purchase any provisions at that time. We landed in Traverse City on Monday and after getting a good meal and much preparation, buying of provisions, etc., we decided to leave for the remainder of the journey Tuesday morning . Early Tuesday morning we left Traverse City with a little one-horse cart carrying our provisions, and the children, Uncle Washington Reeder and afther [sic] walking. It was an interesting trip for some but not for me, as I was not used to walking, and during the day my poor tender feet began to swell and by night they were swollen quite badly so we stopped at Mayfield (about 10 miles southeast of Traverse City) at a Mr. Wilson’s home, staying there Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday. Thursday morning we again started out on our trip and after considerable walking we decided to camp in the wilderness Thursday night. Sitting around the fire that night everyone was happy thinking of their new adventure and of the new home we were going to. Father telling us children all about it and the wonderful lake nearby.

After traveling all day Friday, we finally arrived at Mr. Richardson’s home in Pioneer township late that evening where we decided to spend the evening. Saturday morning we left bright and early, the children being all excited thinking of our new home which we expected to reach that day, and about noon we arrived to it. We were very happy and I remember very vividly of the early settlers who came to our home to get their mail. Our home being the first postoffice in Lake City, the mail was brought to us by the early settlers who went to get their provisions about every two or three months.

The first Mrs. Reeder died on April 1, 1865, and Mr. Reeder was united in marriage with Mary Quick on Feb. 29, 1872. To them two children were born, Martin D. and Louisa. Daniel Reeder remained in Lake City until his death, April 26, 1912. He was connected with several of our business enterprises and was a successful agriculturist and business man with a tender heart and a kind word for his people.

One of the best sketches of pioneer times in Lake City and Missaukee county was prepared by Mrs. Reeder and read in a paper in 1902 before the old settler’s reunion of that year, and from the paper mentioned are collated the salient facts comprising the county’s history.

The first survey made of this end of the peninsula was made about the time that Michigan was admitted to statehood and was under federal direction largely for the purpose it is said of securing a more definite and accurate map of the outline of the lower peninsula and the location of the principal streams and lakes. At this time, 1837, the nearest trading points at which food and other supplies might be purchased were at Rix Robinson’s Post at Grand Rapids or at a fur traders post on Saginaw Bay. North of here there was no white man nearer than Mackinac, and no settlement had yet been made on Grand Traverse Bay, but there was an Indian mission at what is now known as Harbor Springs.

The first survey of the county was made by John Brink, D. S., in May 1837, and a resurvey was made by W.L. Coffinberry about 1853 to 1856. The first and second homesteads in the county were taken by Mr. A.B. Clark, and a gentleman by the name of Laird, both of whom abandoned their claims before final proofs. The third was taken by H.A. Ferris, who made final proof but never actually resided on it, and sold it soon afterward. Mr. W. Richardson was the first who made a permanent home in the county. The date of his claim being December 27th, 1867, and William J. Morey also homesteaded his land during the same month.

The first recorded election was held April 3, 1861. For Justice of the Supreme Court and other state offices, forty-one votes were cast, all Republican. Of the first county election, the records in the county clerk’s office tell nothing. All that can be ascertained is that sometime in the spring of 1871 a special election was held at which the following officers were chosen: John Vogel, judge of probate; Gillis McBain, sheriff; E.W. Watson, clerk and register; Ira VanMeter, treasurer; A. Stout, surveyor. The circuit judge, T.J. Ramsdell of Traverse City, appointed L.H. Gage of Traverse City, prosecuting attorney for this county, there being no attorney within its limits.

The county seat was located at Falmouth, a permanent site to be fixed by the voters later. It is related by the old settlers here that in June 1873 a vote was taken in the county as to where the county seat was to be and that both sides, the Falmouth and Reeder (now known as Lake City) organizations, brought in or imported a great many of their votes and the Reeder organization won only by about one vote, and a high old time was held in Reeder that night.

The first board of supervisors met at the Perley farm, about two miles northeast of Falmouth (Pinhook) on June 6th, 1871. Those present were William J. Morey of Pioneer, James White of Quilna (now known as Caldwell and Bloomfield townships), Daniel Reeder of Reeder, John Vogel of Clam Union and Henry VanMeter of Riverside. Mr. Reeder was elected chairman. The salaries of the county officers were fixed by this board as follows: Clerk, $500; treasurer, $250; prosecuting attorney, $200; judge of probate, $100, and the sheriff, $100 per year. At this session the Osceola Outline of Hersey was designated as the official paper of the county. The first general election on record was held in November of 1872 during the Grand and Greeley campaign. There were one hundred and nineteen national ballots polled, Grant receiving one hundred and eleven and Greeley eight. On the county ticket John Vogel was re-elected probate judge; Otto Schaap, sheriff; M.D. Richardson, clerk and register; B.C. Bonnell, surveyor, and Thomas T. Caldwell and Addison T. Smith, coroners.

The first birth that occurred in the county was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Vogel, born June 20, 1869. The second child to be born in this county was Etta, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M.D. Richarson, and was born March 28, 1870. The first male child to be born in this county was born Sept. 16, 1871, and was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas L. and Hattie C. Caldwell. The second male child to be born in the county was William Wallace, born Oct. 14, 1871, and was the son of George and Minnie Wallace. The first death that occurred was that of Albert Richardson, March 21, 1870. The first marriage was John Cavanaugh and Miss Caroline VanMeter on March 1, 1871, and was solemnized by the Rev. W. Richardson.

The first physician was Dr. Moorehouse of Falmouth and the resident attorney was A. C. Lewis, both later moving to California. The first road was built in the fall of 1867, from the Watson farm to Falmouth, by a Mr. McDonald, and Oscar Noble constructed the first state road through the county, which was called the Houghton Lake State Road.

The first logging camp in the county was built by W. Windson in 1865, on section 34, township 21 north, range 6 west, on the bank of the Clam river two miles below Vogel Center. The first pole logging road was built by Paul Lux, Sr., in 1877, running from section 35, township 23 north, range 7 west, to the head of the West Branch or what is now known as the Gerish dam. It was operated during the spring and summer of 1878 and brought in three million five hundred thousand feet of logs to the West Branch.

The first railroad for running logs was built by Watson Brothers. Tom Simpson also built one about the same time in 1876-7, the rails being part of iron and part of wood. One road ran from the No. 2 farm on the Butterfield to the main Muskegon river. The others ran to the Clam. The first passenger road was completed in December 1885, by Mr. Cummer of Cadillac. In the spring of 1890 the Missaukee branch of the Grand Rapids & Indiana was extended to Lake City.

The first saw and shingle mill in the county was built by Pearly, Palmer & Company in the winter of 1871-2. The first grist mill was erected at Falmouth. The first hotel was also built at Falmouth in 1871 and was managed by John Cavanaugh. The first deer, bear or wolf killed by a white man in this county was killed by a man by the name of Hicks in 1866.

A temporary court house was built at Falmouth in 1871. In 1873 a court house and jail were built at Lake City and in 1883, a new court house was erected at a cost of $10,000. The new jail was erected in 1886 at a cost of something over $7,000.

The agricultural society held their first fair in the year 1880 in Lake City, south of the house now owned by William J. Morey. Since then it has been held on grounds purchased by the society.

The first postoffice was at the home of Daniel Reeder at Reeder (now known as Lake City) in the spring of 1872. Mail used to be brought to the settlers in the county by those who made long trips for provisions, and the settlers came for their mail when the trains returned. The mail averaged perhaps one every two months. The postoffice was first called Reeder and later changed to Lake City, and the village was platted under that name and incorporated in 1887 as a village with Arlington C. Lewis as the first president.

The first store was built by John Koopman in October 1869, it being a log house residence and store combined. In 1879 Mr. Koopman built a store at Falmouth.

All of the lumber towns were filled with hotels and saloons those days to accommodate the jolly rough lumber jacks. The little town of Lake City once supported fifteen saloons at one time. Some of these places were filled with fun and good times but often the fun grew too boisterous and proved disastrous.

With the coming of the county seat, Lake City began to prosper. What is now known as Main street was at one time lined on both sides with hotels, tailor shops, restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, saloons and all other buildings that are necessary for a growing town.

The railroad was a narrow gauge and at first came only to the shore of Muskrat lake at Komoka and the freight was carried across by boat in the summer and by sleighs in the winter, but finally the railroad was built on around the lake and the depot was sited somewhere in the back of Buck’s store (Buck’s store was situated where the Model Bakery now stands).

At one time the shore of Lake Missaukee was lined with mills and the town supported a handle factory, a shingle factory and other mills. Some of the mill owners were the Sands’, Kellys’, Clark’s, Inverson, Arbuckle and the Reeder mill.

In history, as well as in fiction, everything does not run smooth, and Missaukee county had several small fires to destroy some of their historic buildings. The largest fire in the old times was the fire of July 4th, 1888, which passed off pleasantly in the village of Lake City, and the dance was still going on at Buckley’s hall when the cry of “fire” was raised. It originated in the pump room in M. Vanarsdale’s saloon building and was believed to be of incendiary origin. The outside door of this room was fastened open with a stake driven in the ground and the first arrivals report the stake pulled up and the door fastened shut. The first alarm was given by Mrs. A. Stout, who discovered it from her bedroom window. The nightwatch was at the dance taking it easy. The fire spread rapidly north, east and south and G.W. Wood’s hardware store was the only building left on the block in which most of the business of the town was done.

The following is a list of the buildings burned at that time: George W. Woods, hardware building, etc.; Mrs. S.A. Philip, small building; Missaukee County Bank, building; Fisher Drug Store, building; S.M. Ardis Dry Goods Store; M. Vanarsdale, saloon building; E. Des Voignes, store building; Will J. Roche’s Drug Store; Wm. A. Minthorn’s two-story building; Gaffney & Owens’ one-story building; J.K. Seafuse’s two-story building; Washington Reeder’s building; George Morrison’s two-story building; A. Stout’s residence and barn; M. Vanarsdal’s residence; Long & Whiteford’s two-story building and Mrs. Hattie Caldwell’s residence.

Besides the above enumerated losses there were many small losses and nearly all of the boarders at the General Hotel lost some clothing, etc.

Although some of our nearby counties have lost a good share of their logging days population, it is not so with Missaukee county. The total population of Missaukee county according to the 1920 census was 9,004. Approximately half of the population is of Holland Dutch descent, and settled in the neighborhood of the villages of Lucas, McBain, Falmouth, Moddersville and Arlene, while in and around the villages of Lake City, Pioneer, Morey and Merritt the population are mostly of English and Irish descendants with about one dozen families of Finlanders. Missaukee county has but two families of colored people and approximately five families of Indians, one of which is a direct descendant of Chief Pontiac of the Pottowattomie tribe. The Detroit Times a short time ago devoted a full page to feature the description and life of this great Indian. Most of our Indian tribe is living in the southeast section of the county and many of their noble characteristics are gone due to their mingling with the white race.

Moreover the love of trees, shrubs and flowers possessed by the pioneers has been passed on to the people of each succeeding period and the hundreds of beautiful homes in our county are surrounded by well kept lawns and trees, as well as beautiful shrubbery, shade and the street in front of most cases either gravelled or paved. Visitors often remark that our little villages are very clean. It has been the habit of our county for the past years to see that all objectionable sights were removed and that homes, lawns, farms, etc., were kept as clean as possible and the people here pride themselves in having some very fine homes and surroundings for a county of its size. In Missaukee county we not only have several motorized fire departments, but it has been a custom for years that in case of fire each and every individual goes to the scene of the fire and help put it out in the best manner possible, and Missaukee county has had but two major fires since its organization in 1869.

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