Muskegon County, Michigan Genealogy

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Michigan Genealogy


Muskegon County

Guide to Muskegon County, Michigan ancestry, family history, and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

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Muskegon County, Michigan
Map
Map of the U.S. highlighting Michigan
Location of Michigan in the U.S.
Facts
Founded February 4, 1859
County Seat Muskegon
Courthouse
Address Muskegon County Courthouse
990 Terrace St.
Muskegon, MI 49442
Phone: (616) 724-6221
Muskegon County Website


County Information

Muskegon County, Michigan Record Dates

Beginning Dates for Major County Records[1]
Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1867 1867 1867 1820 1839 1867

County Courthouse


County Clerk has birth, marriage, death, divorce and court records from 1859.
Probate Court has probate records.
Register of Deeds has land records. [2]

History

Muskegon County is located on the western side of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and borders Lake Michigan.Muskegon County was originally inhabited by the Ottawa Indians. The first visitors to the area now known as Muskegon County were the fur traders and missionaries in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The trading posts came and went during this period but regard is given to Jean Baptiste Recollett's trading post that was opened near the mouth of Bear Lake in 1812. Louis Baddeau bought a trading post in 1834 which is the present site of the Indian Cemetery on Morris Ave. Mr. Baddeau is generally given the distinction of being the first permanent white settler in the area. Muskegon's name comes from the Chippewa word - Muskego - meaning "river with marshes".
The fur trading era, 1810 thru the late 1830's, was followed by a booming lumbering era from the late 1830's until 1900. The first sawmill construction, built by Benjamin H. Wheelock, began in 1837 on Muskegon Lake with operations commencing in 1838 and by the 1870s 26 mills were in operation .

Fire was a major problem for the area with wooden buildings, white pine lumber and huge saw dust piles. A fire in 1874, destroying a quarter of the business district and 200 homes, triggered Muskegon to established a professional fire department which it had debated since 1871. Two more devastating fires occurred in Muskegon, the first being in March, 1887, destroying many buildings on Pine Street at Webster. The fire of May 16, 1891, known as the Pine Street fire, destroyed 17 city blocks and 250 buildings including the original court house.

Parent County

1859--Muskegon County was created 4 February 1859 from Ottawa County. County seat: Muskegon [3]

Boundary Changes

For animated maps illustrating Michigan county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Michigan County Boundary Maps" (1790-1897) may be viewed for free at the MapofUS.org website.

Record Loss

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Places/Localities

Populated Places

Neighboring Counties

Kent  • Newaygo  • Oceana  • Ottawa

Muskegon CountyOceana CountyIonia CountyOttawa CountyMissaukee CountyAllegan CountyBarry CountyKent CountyMontcalm CountyMecosta CountyNewaygo CountyManistee CountyLake CountyOsceola CountyWexford CountyMason CountyMIMuskegon.JPG


Resources

Cemeteries

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county
Findagrave.com Family History Library Findagrave.com
USGenWeb WorldCat Billion Graves
MIGenWeb Archives
Tombstone Project
MIInterment
EPodunk
Billion Graves
See Michigan Cemeteries for more information.

Census

State Census

Church

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about Michigan denominations, view the Michigan Church Records wiki page.

Lutheran

Court

Emigration and Immigration

Land

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See Michigan Land and Property for additional information about early Michigan land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse and where records are currently housed.

Local Histories

Local histories are available for Muskegon County, Michigan Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the wiki page section Michigan Local Histories.

Maps

Military

Newspapers

Finding More Michigan Newspapers

Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Muskegon County, Michigan Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:

Obituaries

Probate

In most counties in Michigan, probate records have been kept by the county judge. They include wills, fee books, claim registers, legacy records, inheritance records, probate packets, and dockets. The records are available at the county courthouse.

The FamilySearch Catalog lists films of probate records. To find the records for this county, use the Place Search for Michigan, Muskegon and search for Probate records in the list.

Note: Not every county in Michigan will have Probate Records in the FamilySearch Catalog.

Online Probate Records

Taxation

Vital Records

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased as shown below:

Birth Records and Death Records from the Michigan Department of Community Health (from 1867) or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.
Marriage Records (from 1867) and Divorce Records (from 1897) from the County Clerk.

Birth
Marriage
Death

Societies and Libraries

Muskegon County Genealogical Society
316 Webster Ave.
Muskegon 49440
Website

White Lake Area Historical Society
8679 Sheridan
Montague 49437

Muskegon County Historical Society
173 E. Apple Ave.
Muskegon, MI 49442
Telephone Number: 231-724-6271
Website


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. See Family History Center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.

Web Sites

References

  1. Alice Eichholz, Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, Revised ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1992), 369-384. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27rb 1992
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Muskegon County, Michigan page 349, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
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