McKenzie County, North Dakota Genealogy
Guide to McKenzie County, North Dakota ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.
Founded April 20, 1905 The county is named after early North Dakota politician Alexander McKenzie.
McKenzie County was first created by the March 8, 1883 Dakota Territory legislature but eliminated in 1891 due to a lack of settlement. The county was then recreated by the 1905 state legislature.
In terms of area, it is the largest county in the state.
Its county seat is Watford City. The county seat before Watford City was Alexander from 1905 to 1907 and Schafer from 1907 to 1941.
In the early days, McKenzie County was known as the "Island Empire" due to the fact that it is surrounded by water on three sides. The Missouri River forms the northern and part of the eastern border. The Little Missouri also runs along part of the eastern and southern borders. The Yellowstone River forms the western border.
McKenzie County Courthouse
McKenzie County, North Dakota Record Dates
There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.
Business, Commerce, and Occupations
State Census Records
- 1885 Dakota Territory 1885 Census Index at NDSU Archives – index only
- 1885, 1915, 1925 North Dakota, Territorial and State Censuses, 1885, 1915, 1925 at Ancestry.com – ($), index and images
- 1915 North Dakota Census, 1915 at FamilySearch Historical Records — index and images
- 1925 North Dakota Census, 1925 at FamilySearch Historical Records — index and images
Federal Census Records
Federal Censuses were taken for North Dakota starting in 1910. For links to Federal census indexes, see North Dakota Census.
Emigration and Immigration
Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups
Land and Property Records
When the United States acquired North Dakota, most of the land became available for homesteading or purchase from the federal government. After land was transferred from the government to private owners, the registrar of deeds in each county recorded the land transactions in the form of deeds and mortgages. For more information, see North Dakota Land and Property.
Online Land Records
- Land Patent Search - index to federal patents and homesteads on the Bureau of Land Management website, some images available
- 1796 - 1907 - U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 at Ancestry - index, info taken from Bureau of Land Management website
- 1861 - 1936 - U.S. Homestead Records 1861-1936 at Ancestry.com - ($), index and images
For more information see North Dakota Land and Property
Local histories, including those of the county, are available for McKenzie County. These histories can include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information.
- Early history of McKenzie County. n.d. By Geo. F. Shafer. n.p.: n.p. Online at:.
Maps and Gazetteers
- Interactive Formation Boundary Map of North Dakota - shows boundary changes for North Dakota Counties
- North Dakota Maps at NDGenWeb -historical maps
- 1861 -1865 Dakota Territory Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865 at [http://familysearch.org/search FamilySearch}.
- 1890 United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War, 1890 at FamilySearch.
World War I
- 1917 - 1918 North Dakota Military Men 1917-1918 at Ancestry ($)
- 1917 - 1918 Roster of the men and women who served in the army or naval service (including the Marine Corps) of the United States or its allies from the state of North Dakota in the World War, 1917-1918, Vols. 1-4 at Ancestry ($)
- For further information see North Dakota Military Records.
Naturalization and Citizenship
Online Naturalization Indexes and Records
- North Dakota Naturalization Records Index at NDSU Archives – index only, covers various dates and counties
North Dakota Newspapers Online
- GenealogyBank - ($), contains images of North Dakota newspapers
- Newspaper Archive - ($), contains images of North Dakota newspapers
- Chronicling America - contains images of some North Dakota newspapers; searching tips
- Elephind - Free; search engine that retrieves newspaper images from other free newspaper websites
North Dakota Newspaper Catalogs
- U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present on Chronicling America - contains a list of all known newspapers and the dates they cover; once you locate a newspaper name, contact the local library to see if they have copies of the newspaper
- State Historical Society of North Dakota - contains inventory and catalog of all known ND newspapers
Probate records of North Dakota are at the county clerk's office.
- For selected estate case rulings, see North Dakota Supreme Court.
- See also North Dakota Probate Records.
Online Probate Records
- 1800 – 1985 North Dakota and South Dakota Wills and Probate Records 1800-1985 at Ancestry.com — index and images $
Tax records are at the county treasurer's, auditor's or clerk's office, or the state archives.
Vital Records (birth, marriage, death, and divorce records) may be recorded on registers, certificates, or other documents at the county clerk's office.
- See also North Dakota Vital Records for more information.
Online Death Indexes and Records
Family History Centers
Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes.
Old Sod Post Office of Grassy Butte
609 Main St.
Grassy Butte, ND 58634
Lewis and Clark Trail Museum
P. O. Box 343, Alexander
Pioneer Museum of McKenzie County
P. O. Box 126
Watford City, ND 58854-0126
Phone: 701-444-2990 or 701-444-5804
McKenzie County Museum and Historical Society, Inc.
11542 Highway 23
Watford City, ND 58854
McKenzie County Heritage Association
P. O. Box 512
Watford City, ND 58854
- USGenWeb project. May have maps, name indexes, history or other information for this county. Select the state, then the county.
- FamilySearch Catalog The FamilySearch catalog contains descriptions and access information for all genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications) in their collection. Use Historical Records to search for specific individuals in genealogical records.
- McKenzie County, North Dakota Genealogy and Family History (Linkpendium)
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), McKenzie County, North Dakota. Page 524 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
- The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).