Michigan Counties
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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.

Washtenaw County, Michigan

Washtenaw County Education, Geography, and HistoryWashtenaw County, Michigan Courthouse

Washtenaw County is a county located in the state of Michigan. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 344,791. The county seat is Ann Arbor. The county was founded in 1822 and organized as a county in 1826.

Washtenaw County comprises the Ann Arbor, MI Metropolitan Statistical Area and is included in the Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, MI Combined Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Washtenaw County Name

Washtenaw County comes from the Native American term O-wash-ten-nong. The original word was "wash-ten-ong" meaning at or on the river


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Washtenaw County History

Washtenaw County comes from the Native American term O-wash-ten-nong.

Set Off: 1822, attached to Wayne County

Organized: 1826, reorganized in 1829

The earliest histories mention trade conducted in the area at the Potawatomi Trail and Pontiac Trail crossings of the Huron River by French traders, and later English then American settlers. The first successful settlement was established at the present site of Ypsilanti about 1809 by French traders.

In 1822, the Legislative Council of the Michigan Territory government defined the name and boundaries of the county; however, it was at first administered as a part of Wayne County. The word: Washtenaw is a variant of the Ojibwe word: "Wash-ten-ong," meaning what is now called the "Grand River". At the time of the official naming of the county in 1822, the headwaters of the Grand River fell within the original boundaries of Washtenaw County, which encompassed a much larger area than the current area of the county. In the Ojibwe language, the word "Wash-ten-ong" literally translates as "far away waters", and was then used by the Ojibwe as the name for the Grand River due to the great length of that river. Accordingly, most literally, the definition of the word "Washtenaw" could be said to mean, "far away waters".

Four years after the first platting out of the county, Washtenaw county was established as a separate self-administered county by an act of the Michigan Territorial Legislature, in 1826. It was attached for administrative purposes to Wayne County until {before 1829} when county government was seated. Ingham and other counties were formed from portions of territorial Washtenaw County.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 722 square miles (1,870 km2), of which 706 square miles (1,830 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (2.3%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Livingston County (north)
  • Oakland County (northeast)
  • Ingham County (northwest)
  • Wayne County (east)
  • Jackson County (west)
  • Monroe County (southeast)
  • Lenawee County (southwest)


The county is home to the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, Concordia University Ann Arbor, and the Ann Arbor campus of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

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