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Michigan Counties
Michigan County map
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Michigan Counties

The boundaries of the eighty-three counties in Michigan have not changed substantially since 1897. Wayne County was the sixth county in the Northwest Territory, formed 15 August 1796 and organized in 1815. Wayne County was created 21 November 1815 as an original county of Michigan.

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Michigan Counties: History and Information

Find a brief history of Michigan CountiesBrief history of Michigan Counties: Flags of Our Nation

The earliest counties were organized by the territorial government as areas became settled. The first county was Wayne. Michigan had 38 counties by the end of the year in which it became a state (1837). Throughout the years some county names and many county borders have changed.

The names of Michigan's 83 counties reflect the state's Native American, French, British and early American heritage. Thirty-two counties have names drawn from Native American languages; 29 are named for people; 16 are named for natural features such as rivers that already had been given names; and 6 have names meant to describe the county's geography (e.g., Hillsdale).

Themes exist for the names of some counties.

In 1829 the legislature set off 12 new counties, naming eight of them for President Andrew Jackson and members of his cabinet: Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Eaton, Ingham, Van Buren.

Cass County was also created in 1829 and named for Lewis Cass, the Territorial Governor at the time. Cass later served in Jackson's Cabinet, making a case for it to be included as a cabinet county. Livingston County was created in 1833 and named for Edward Livingston, Jackson's Secretary of State at the time.

  1. Barry County, Michigan, named for US Postmaster General William T. Barry
  2. Berrien County, Michigan, named for US Attorney General John M. Berrien
  3. Branch County, Michigan, named for US Secretary of the Navy John Branch
  4. Calhoun County, Michigan, named for US Vice President John C. Calhoun
  5. Cass County, Michigan, named for Jackson's second Secretary of War, Lewis Cass
  6. Eaton County, Michigan, named for Secretary of War John Eaton
  7. Ingham County, Michigan, named for US Secretary of the Treasury Samuel D. Ingham
  8. Jackson County, Michigan, named for Andrew Jackson himself
  9. Livingston County, Michigan, named for Jackson's second Secretary of State, Edward Livingston
  10. Van Buren County, Michigan, named for US Secretary of State (later Vice President and then President) Martin Van Buren

In 1840 the legislature changed the names of 16 counties and gave 5 counties names from Ireland: Antrim, Clare, Emmet, Roscommon and Wexford.

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, author and Indian agent, mixed words and syllables from Native American, Arabian and Latin languages to make up Native American-sounding words for some of the 28 counties set off in 1840. They include Alcona, Allegan, Alpena, Arenac, Iosco, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Oscoda and Tuscola.

Coincidentally, it was Jackson who, as one of his last acts in office, signed the 1837 bill making Michigan the 26th state.

Find a brief history of Michigan Counties
County 2000
Population
Square
Miles
County Seat Created
Alcona County 11,719 674 Harrisville 1840
Alger County 9,862 918 Munising 1885
Allegan County 105,665 828 Allegan 1831
Alpena County 31,314 574 Alpena 1840
Antrim County 23,110 477 Bellaire 1840
Arenac County 17,269 367 Standish 1883
Baraga County 8,746 904 L'Anse 1875
Barry County 56,755 556 Hastings 1829
Bay County 110,157 444 Bay City 1857
Benzie County 15,998 321 Beulah 1863
Berrien County 162,453 571 Saint Joseph 1829
Branch County 45,787 507 Coldwater 1829
Calhoun County 137,985 709 Marshall 1829
Cass County 51,104 492 Cassopolis 1829
Charlevoix County 26,090 417 Charlevoix 1869
Cheboygan County 26,448 716 Cheboygan 1840
Chippewa County 38,543 1,561 Sault Sainte Marie 1826
Clare County 31,252 567 Harrison 1840
Clinton County 64,753 572 Saint Johns 1831
Crawford County 14,273 558 Grayling
Delta County 38,520 1,170 Escanaba 1843
Dickinson County 27,472 766 Iron Mountain 1891
Eaton County 103,655 576 Charlotte 1837
Emmet County 31,437 468 Petoskey 1853
Genesee County 436,141 640 Flint 1835
Gladwin County 26,023 507 Gladwin 1855
Gogebic County 17,370 1,102 Bessemer 1881
Grand Traverse County 77,654 465 Traverse City 1851
Gratiot County 42,285 570 Ithaca 1855
Hillsdale County 46,527 599 Hillsdale 1835
Houghton County 36,016 1,012 Houghton 1845
Huron County 36,079 837 Bad Axe 1840
Ingham County 279,320 559 Mason 1838
Ionia County 61,518 573 Ionia 1837
Iosco County 27,339 549 Tawas City 1840
Iron County 13,138 1,166 Crystal Falls 1885
Isabella County 63,351 574 Mount Pleasant 1831
Jackson County 158,422 707 Jackson 1832
Kalamazoo County 238,603 562 Kalamazoo 1829
Kalkaska County 16,571 561 Kalkaska 1870
Kent County 574,335 856 Grand Rapids 1836
Keweenaw County 2,301 541 Eagle River 1861
Lake County 11,333 568 Baldwin 1870
Lapeer County 87,904 654 Lapeer 1837
Leelanau County 21,119 348 Leland 1863
Lenawee County 98,890 751 Adrian 1822
Livingston County 156,951 568 Howell 1836
Luce County 7,024 903 Newberry 1887
Mackinac County 11,943 1,022 Saint Ignace
Macomb County 788,149 480 Mount Clemens
Manistee County 24,527 544 Manistee 1855
Marquette County 64,634 1,821 Marquette 1843
Mason County 28,274 495 Ludington 1855
Mecosta County 40,553 556 Big Rapids 1859
Menominee County 25,326 1,044 Menominee 1863
Midland County 82,874 521 Midland 1850
Missaukee County 14,478 567 Lake City 1840
Monroe County 145,945 551 Monroe 1817
Montcalm County 61,266 708 Stanton 1831
Montmorency County 10,315 548 Atlanta 1881
Muskegon County 170,200 509 Muskegon 1859
Newaygo County 47,874 842 White Cloud 1840
Oakland County 1,194,156 873 Pontiac 1819
Oceana County 26,873 540 Hart 1831
Ogemaw County 21,645 564 West Branch 1875
Ontonagon County 7,818 1,312 Ontonagon 1843
Osceola County 23,197 566 Reed City 1869
Oscoda County 9,418 565 Mio 1840
Otsego County 23,301 515 Gaylord 1875
Ottawa County 238,314 566 Grand Haven 1837
Presque Isle County 14,411 660 Rogers City 1840
Roscommon County 25,469 521 Roscommon 1875
Saginaw County 210,039 809 Saginaw 1835
Sanilac County 44,547 964 Sandusky 1848
Schoolcraft County 8,903 1,178 Manistique 1843
Shiawassee County 71,687 539 Corunna 1822
St. Clair County 164,235 724 Port Huron 1820
St. Joseph County 62,422 504 Centreville 1829
Tuscola County 58,266 813 Caro 1840
Van Buren County 76,263 611 Paw Paw 1829
Washtenaw County 322,895 710 Ann Arbor 1826
Wayne County 2,061,162 614 Detroit 1796
Wexford County 30,484 566 Cadillac 1840
County Resources
US Counties
Names given the counties, our most locally based jurisdictions, reflects the "characteristic features of this country!"
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