Otsego County was created on 1 Apr 1840 (Organized in 1875) and was formed from Mckinac County. Formed as Okkuddo County, renamed in 1843. Some early records before 1875 may be located in Cheboygan, Alpena and Antrim Counties. The County was named for A county and a lake in New York bear the name derived from the Mohawk Iroquoian word that meant either "clear water" or "meeting place." The County Seat is Gaylord .
Counties adjacent to Otsego County are Cheboygan County (north), Montmorency County (east), Crawford County (south), Antrim County (west), Charlevoix County (northwest). Townships found in Otsego County include Bagley, Charlton, Chester, Corwith, Dover, Elmira, Hayes, Livingston, Otsego Lake Townships. Cities, Towns and Communities include Elmira, Gaylord , Johannesburg, Vanderbilt, Waters
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 Otsego County Courthouse, 225 West Main Street, Gaylord, MI 49735 , 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.
Otsego County Clerk has the following Records for: Births & Deaths: 1875 to present, Marriages: 1895 to present, Divorces: 1895 to present. (Many cases prior to 1974 are on microfilm and may be viewed in the Register of Deeds office), Naturalization and Declaration of Intention: At State Archives of Michigan. The Office is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: 517-732-6484 .
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.
Otsego County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1864 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (989)732-6484 .
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.
Otsego County Clerk of the Probate Court has Probate Records from 1876 and is located at 800 Livingston Blvd., Gaylord, MI 49735; Phone: (989)731-1586 .
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.
Otsego County Clerk of the Circuit Court has Court Records from 1875 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (989)732-6484 .
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 Otsego County Court Records. Email us with websites containing Otsego 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 Otsego County Vital Records. Email us with websites containing Otsego 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 Otsego 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 Otsego 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 Otsego County Census Records. Email us with websites containing Otsego 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 Otsego County Maps. Email us with websites containing Otsego 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 Otsego County Military Records. Email us with websites containing Otsego 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 Otsego County Genealogical Addresses. Email us with websites containing Otsego 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 Otsego County. Some transcriptions are online. A great site is the Otsego 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 Otsego County Cemetery & Church Records. Email us with websites containing Otsego 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 Otsego County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information. Email us with websites containing Otsego County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information by clicking the link below:
Otsego County occupies the highest lands of the great central plateau of Northern Michigan, comprising the main watershed that sends the headwaters of the Cheboygan River toward the North, the Au Sable toward the East and the Manistee toward the West.
Our county was first laid out in 1840 and given the name Okkudo; a Native American word for "sickly" or "stomach pain" by Henry Schoolcraft. The name was changed to Otsego by an act of legislature in March 1843. There are several interpretations as to the origin of the name Otsego. Schoolcraft, thought Otsego was a derivation of the Iroquois words denoting "bodies of water" and "beautiful". In the first issue of the New York Otsego Herald published in 1795, the opinion is that the word conveys the idea of a spot where meetings are held. The historical marker in front of our courthouse and several short local histories define Otsego as meaning "clear water".
It is believed there was once an Indian village on the southern shore of Otsego Lake. However, Otsego County remained a vast, unpopulated wilderness, save for the occasional visiting trapper until A. A. Dwight brought a logging crew to the county in 1868 and constructed log cabins along Crooked Lake, now known as Manuka Lake.
By the spring of 1869 Charles Brink and a crew of 14 men cleared acreage for farming and Brink's wife, Jane, was the first white woman in the county.
Otsego County was one of the last counties opened for settlement due to problems of inaccessibility. The first attempts at permanent settlement did not occur until 1868 and the first state road in the county, from Mancelona to Otsego Lake, was cut through the southern section of the county in 1869 and 1870.
Otsego County lost a portion of land before its first settlers had arrived. Hudson Township, which made up the Northwest corner of the county was removed and added to the Charlevoix area to give them enough land to establish their own county government after a dispute with Petoskey over the location of the county seat in Emmet County.
In the fall of 1872, the Village of Otsego Lake was established and the railroad reached the Otsego Lake area about this same time. Shortly after, the first settlers located on the present site of Gaylord. The village was platted in 1873 by O.M. Barnes of Lansing, and was first named Barnes in his honor. The name soon changed to Gaylord in honor of Augustine Smith Gaylord, an attorney for the Jackson, Lansing, Saginaw railroad, although the reason for doing so is not clear.
Within three years the Otsego area had progressed to the point that it could organize itself as a county and on March 12, 1875 Otsego Lake Township detached itself from Antrim County and organized into the County of Otsego. The county at that time consisted of four townships: Otsego Lake, Charlton, Livingston, and Elmira. In 1876, the citizens of Gaylord began a campaign to move the county seat and emerged victorious in the spring a 1877 election, but it took a ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court to end the dispute. Five more townships were later established,, for a total of nine: Corwith (1877), Hayes (1877), Dover (1879), Bagley (1882), and Chester (1888).
Located on the 45th parallel, Otsego County has continued to grow and flourish and now boasts of its nine townships, the City of Gaylord, and the villages of Waters, Elmira, Vanderbilt, and Johannesburg. Latest population estimates put the county population at 23,000 with nearly 4,500 residing in the City of Gaylord.
Farming continues to be a major economic activity. However, the county is well known as a popular four-season vacation spot, attracting thousands to the area for golfing, swimming, boating, skiing, snowmobiling, fishing, hunting and in general the opportunity to experience Northern Michigan at its finest.
From the chilly waters of the rivers, which flow through the area to its many lakes, to the miles of untainted forest area, Otsego County represents not only clear waters but clean living and community pride.