McHenry County, Illinois Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Guide to McHenry County, Illinois ancestry, family history, and genealogy: birth, marriage, and death records, census records, family history, and military records.

McHenry County, Illinois
Map of Illinois highlighting McHenry County
Location in the state of Illinois, United States Genealogy
Map of the U.S. highlighting Illinois
Location of Illinois in the U.S.
Founded: January 16, 1836
County Seat Woodstock
McHenry County Courthouse.gif
Photo courtesy Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD), Illinois State Archives
Address McHenry County Government Center
2200 North Seminary Avenue
Woodstock, Illinois 60098
McHenry County Website

McHenry County Organization[edit | edit source]

Circuit Clerk: maintains the court records of the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court, including probate and divorce records.

County Clerk: Maintains county birth, death and marriage records, voter registration.
Walk-in location: 667 Ware Road, Suite 107.

County Recorder: maintains real estate records, documents and plats of subdivision.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[1]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1877 1837 1877 1836 1841 1840 1810
*Statewide registration for births and deaths started 1916. General compliance by 1922.

Historical Boundaries[edit | edit source]

For animated maps illustrating Illinois county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Illinois County Boundary Maps" (1790-1869) may be viewed for free at the website.

Exchange Hotel, Woodstock, Illinois, 1847
McHenry County was created 16 January 1836 from Cook County.

Historically, all or part of the present county were parts of the following counties[2]: If your ancestor lived in what is now McHenry County prior to the county formation in 1836, you may find records mentioning your ancestor in one of these counties.

1831–1836 Cook 1821–1823 Pike 1812–1815 Madison
1831–1836 LaSalle 1819–1821 Clark 1801–1812 St. Clair
1825–1831 Putnam 1816–1819 Crawford 1795–1801 Knox
1823–1825 Fulton 1815–1816 Edwards Northwest Territory

McHenry County borders the following counties:

Kenosha County, Wisconsin
Walworth County, Wisconsin

Description[edit | edit source]

The county was named for Major William McHenry, an Indian fighter who died in Vandalia in 1835. The county seat is Woodstock and the county was organized on January 16th, 1836.[3] The County is located in the West Northern area of the state.[4]

Records Loss[edit | edit source]

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

Records and Resources[edit | edit source]

Biography[edit | edit source]

Some McHenry County histories include biographies of the local citizens.  See McHenry County History. See also the  Illinois Biography wiki page for more biographical links. Other groups of compiled biographies include:

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of McHenry, Illinois online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
TombstoneTranscriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Illinois Cemeteries for more information

The following web sites have additional information on McHenry county cemeteries.

Census[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1840 2,578
1850 14,978 481.0%
1860 22,089 47.5%
1870 23,762 7.6%
1880 24,908 4.8%
1890 26,114 4.8%
1900 29,759 14.0%
1910 32,509 9.2%
1920 33,164 2.0%
1930 35,079 5.8%
1940 37,311 6.4%
1950 50,656 35.8%
1960 84,210 66.2%
1970 111,555 32.5%
1980 147,897 32.6%
1990 183,241 23.9%
2000 260,075 41.9%
2010 308,760 18.7%
Source: "".

Federal Census
Federal population schedules 1830-1930 for McHenry County are available online. For tips on accessing census records online, see Illinois Census. See McHenry County, IL census assignments, including links to transcribed files. The USGenWeb Census Project.
Locally abstracted census indexes are often more accurate than national indexes. Abstracted indexes for federal census records in McHenry County are as follows:

Non-Population Schedules

1850–1880 agricultural, industry and manufacturing schedules were kept for McHenry County in addtion to the population schedules.  See Illinois Census for more information. Selected copies are available at Ancestry ($). See McHenry Deaths for information about the mortality schedule.

State Census

A census for the state of Illinois was taken in McHenry County in 1855 and 1865. For information about Illinois state census records, see Illinois Census. Available on Ancestry ($).

Church Records[edit | edit source]

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Church records may give birth, death and marriage information.  The following copies or indexes are available:

  • Johnson, Martin William. Church Records from Four McHenry County, Illinois Churches and one Kane County, Illinois church: Abstracts of Surnames, Villages, Towns or Cities, Deaths and Confirmations. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1992. Microproduction of original manuscripts.  Includes the following churches: Trinity Lutheran Church, Hampshire, Kane Co.; St. John's United Church of Christ (formerly a Lutheran Church) Harmony, McHenry Co.; Trinity Lutheran Church, Huntley, McHenry County; Zion Lutheran Church, Marengo, McHenry Co.; St. John's Lutheran Church, Union, McHenry Co. FHL Fiche 6075868  Partial online transcription of Zion's Lutheran Church only courtesy of Illinois Trails.

Other libraries also hold copies of abstracted McHenry County church records. (How to explore WorldCat).

Court Records[edit | edit source]

See Illinois Court Records for information about how to use county court records.

Ethnic Research[edit | edit source]

African American[edit | edit source]

This database includes approximately 3,400 names found in governmental records involving the servitude and emancipation of Africans and, occasionally, Indians in the French and English eras of colonial Illinois (1722–1790) and African-Americans in the American period of Illinois (1790–1863). The Archives extracted the names of servants, slaves, or free persons and masters, witnesses, or related parties from selected governmental records to produce this database. Courtesy of the Illinois State Archives.

The following have information concerning African American research.

Genealogy[edit | edit source]

Use this list to:

  1. Locate publications about direct ancestors
  2. Find the most updated accounts of an ancestor's family
  3. Identify publications, to quote Elizabeth Shown Mills, about an ancestor's "FAN Club" [Friends, Associates, and Neighbors]

History[edit | edit source]

A short McHenry County history is found on the McHenry County Government site. Scroll to the heading "McHenry County's Early History."  An additional online McHenry County history and town and township histories at Illinois Genealogy Trails.

Land and Property[edit | edit source]

1830–present Original land and property records for McHenry County are available at the County Recorder's Office. This office is offsite from the McHenry County Government Building. See Illinois Land and Property for more information.

Land records are extraordinarily accessible in McHenry County.  The County Recorder's web site includes a free web search.  The index to deeds, mortgages, affidavits, liens, and more can be searched by name and/or document type and/or date.  The system can return a maximum of 200 hits, and begins with the most recent transactions first. Because the index contains thousands of entries, searchers may need to include a date range as well as surname, to ensure that the oldest records are included in the results.

Records from the original leather-bound first volume of the McHenry County Commissioners’ Court Minutes from 1837 - 1848 are available in PDF format online at the County Recorder's site, as well.  This Board established precincts (townships would come later), set the rate for taxable property, and began the process of laying out roads and determining the location for the county seat. Because Lake County wasn't divided off until March of 1839, early Lake County information is included.

Copies of the original records are available as follows:

  • Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales at Illinois State Archives. Each purchase entry includes the purchaser's name, purchase date, number of acres, price per acre, numeric code indicating the county in which the land is located, legal description (township, section, range), volume and page numbers of original entry, and variously, the sale type, and the purchaser's sex and residence.

Maps[edit | edit source]

Walworth CountyKenosha CountyBoone CountyLake CountyCook CountyKane CountyDeKalb CountyIL McHENRY.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Multiple Wars[edit | edit source]

Veterans Databases at Illinois State Archives. Includes War of 1812, Indian Wars, Mexican War and various other databases.

Civil War[edit | edit source]
3rd Regiment IL Infantry Co G.jpg

Civil War service men from McHenry County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies or regiments that were formed from men of McHenry County.

3rd Regiment, Illinois Cavalry, Company A (at right, 1863)
8th Regiment, Illinois Cavalry, Company G, H, I.
9th Regiment, Illinois Cavalry, Company G.
-15th Regiment, Illinois Infantry, Companies A, D, and F.
17th Regiment, Illinois Cavalry, Company G.
15th Regiment, Illinois Infantry, Companies A, D, and F.
36th Regiment, Illinois Infantry, Company H. Diary of Wallace P. Benson at Algonquin Historic Commission.
47th(Consolidated) Regiment, Illinois Infantry, Company E.
52nd Regiment, Illinois Infantry, Company I.
95th Regiment, Illinois Infantry, Companies A, C, D, F, H, and I.
141st Regiment, Illinois Infantry, Company F.
147th Regiment, Illinois Infantry, Company I.
153rd Regiment, Illinois Infantry, Companies B and K.
World War I[edit | edit source]
  • [1917–1918] World War I Draft Registration Cards Ancestry ($)
World War II[edit | edit source]

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Naturalization records may give immigrant information including hometown, arrival in the U.S., marriage and family data. See Illinois Naturalization and Citizenship for more about these records.

For each of these online records:

  1. Select View Browsable Images
  2. Select McHenry County
  3. Select the correct span of years and record title

Online Records

Newspapers and Obituaries[edit | edit source]

McHenry County obituary index spans 1884–2009.  This index is provided by the McHenry County Historical Society and Museum.  The organization's website states that not all people buried in McHenry County are included in the index.  Copies of obituaries may not name the newspaper where the obituary was originally printed.


  • [2003–2006] Northwest Herald incomplete Ancestry ($)


[2005–present] The Algonquin Area Newspapers Index includes obituaries appearing in the Northwest Herald and Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Countryside from January 1, 2005 - Present. Selected obituaries mentioning Algonquin or Lake in the Hills from the Daily Herald and Elgin Courier News are also included.

  • [1997–2006] Algonquin CountrysideGenealogy Bank ($).
  • [2006–present] Algonquin Countryside with News of Lake in the Hills Genealogy Bank ($).

Cary/Fox Grove

Crystal Lake/Nunda

Crystal Lake Herald

  • [1880–1979] Marriages, 1880-1979 These indexes represent a list of couples whose notice of marriage license issued, or marriage performed or wedding conducted, or news items for anniversaries celebrated, appeared in the weekly Crystal Lake Herald newspaper. Information was not necessarily limited to residents of Crystal Lake and/or Nunda Township. Researchers should look for variant spellings within each index.

The Index, broken down by 10 year intervals, gives: Bride’s name, Groom’s name, and Issue date and page.

  • [1880–1945] Index to Deaths Appearing in the Nunda (Crystal Lake) Herald. The McHenry County Genealogical Society has created an index to the names of deceased individuals whose notice of death appeared in the weekly Crystal Lake Herald newspaper. Information was gleaned from obituaries, death notices, police reports, and newspaper articles and is not necessarily limited to residents of Crystal Lake and/or Nunda Township. It was not unusual for a death notice to appear months and even years after the event, particularly in the case of war dead. Researchers should scan several indexes when searching for the name of a specific individual and look for variant spellings within each index.

1880-1890 1896-1900 1904-1905
1891-1895 1901-1903 1906-1910
  • Index to Deaths Appearing in the Crystal Lake Herald
1911-1915 1931-1935 1951-1955 1970-1973
1916-1920 1936-1940 1956-1960 1974-1976
1921-1925 1941-1945 1961-1965 1977-1979
1926-1930 1946-1950 1941-1945

Daily Herald,  Elgin Courier News



  • [1872–1989] Index to Deaths appearing in the Marengo Repubican.  Courtesy of the McHenry County Illinois Genealogical Society. Not all years are included in this index.
1872-1874 1901–1909 1930–1934 1950–1954
1881–1888 1914–1918 1934–1939 1970-1979
1890–1894 1919–1923 1940–1944 1980–1989
1895–1900 1924–1929 1940–1949


Woodstock Sentinel

  • [1865–1889] Death Notices Index

1856-1869 1880-1884 1890–1894
1870-1979 1885–1889

Woodstock Independent

  • [2003–2008] (Incomplete) Ancestry ($)

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Local periodicals can be rich with county information.  Read more about periodicals on the Illinois state and U.S. wiki pages.

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Online Probate Indexes and Records

  • See Illinois Probate Records for more information. Probate records may give death and family relationship information. Probate records include wills, inventories, settlements, and guardianship records.

Original McHenry County probate records are available at the McHenry County Courthouse by the circuit court clerk. See Illinois Probate Records wiki page for more information about using probate records. The following copies of probate records are available:

Repositories[edit | edit source]

See also - Illinois Archives and Libraries.

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

County records are most often kept at the County Courthouse or another local repository. For further information about where the records for McHenry County are kept, see the McHenry County Courthouse page.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD)[edit | edit source]

The Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD), managed by the Illinois State Archives, houses the archival records of local Illinois counties, townships, municipalities and school districts. The seven Regional Depositories are housed on state university campuses scattered throughout Illinois.

The Northern Illinois University (IRAD-NIU) holds the records for McHenry County. Learn more about finding and using their records.

Illinois Regional Archives Depository
c/o Regional History Center
Founders Memorial Library, Room 400
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
Telephone: (815) 753-1807

Public Libraries[edit | edit source]

Algonquin Area Public Library
2600 Harnish Dr.
Algonquin, IL 60102
(847) 458-6060

Crystal Lake Public Library
126 Paddock Street
Crystal Lake, IL 60014
815.459.9581 fax

The Cystal Lake library has a genealogy collection that is helpful in McHenry County research. On-line resources include indexes to the the Lake Avenue, Mt. Thabor, and Union cemeteries.

The McHenry County Genealogical Society houses a portion of its collection at this library.

Harvard Diggins Library
900 East McKinley Street
Harvard, IL 60033
Telephone: (815) 943-4671

Local history collection includes Harvard and Hebron newspapers on microfilm from 1860 through 1986 (some early issues are not included.)

McHenry Public Library
809 N. Front St. (Route 31)
McHenry IL 60050
(815) 385-0036

The McHenry County Genealogical Society houses a portion of its collection at this library.

Marengo-Union Library
200 S. State St.
Marengo, Illinois 60152
(815) 568-8236

Woodstock Public Library

Woodstock Public Library.jpg

414 W. Judd Street
Woodstock, IL 60098
(815) 338-0542

Reference librarians are very knowledgeable about Woodstock-area genealogical resources, and are accessible through the library's Contact Us on-line reference request form.

Social Groups Online[edit | edit source]

Illinois Research Community  Facebook group which discusses Illinois resources and search strategies.

Message Boards You may subscribe to an online message board which focuses on the following areas in or near McHenry County.

IL-BARRINGTON (town of Barrington and surrounding areas)Message Board. Scroll to information about the IL-BARRINGTON message board.

IL-NORTHERN (Northern Illinois) Scroll to information about the Il-Northern message board

GenForum McHenry County Message Board.

Rootsweb McHenry County Message Board.

McHenry County Illinois Genealogical Society Surname List

Societies[edit | edit source]

  • McHenry County Illinois Genealogical Society
    PO Box 184
    Crystal Lake, Illinois 60039-0184
    Phone 815-687-0436
  • McHenry County Illinois Historical Society and Museum
    PO Box 434
    6422 Main Street
    Union, Illinois 60180-0434
    Phone 815-923-2267
  • Cary–Grove Historical Society
    PO Box 483
    335 Wooded Knoll Dr
    Cary IL 60013
    Phone 847-639-3790
  • Crystal Lake Historical Society
    PO Box 1151
    660 Terra Cotta Avenue
    Crystal Lake, IL 60039-1151
    Phone 815-455-1151
The Crystal Lake Historical Society is located in the Colonel Palmer House at the intersection of Illinois Route 176 and Terra Cotta Road in Crystal Lake.
The Research/Archives Room resources include newspapers from 1875, published county and local histories, atlases, maps and family files.
On-line resources include the Index to Death Notices/Obituaries in the Nunda/Crystal Lake Herald, which provides
details of name, age, date of death and date of burial for more than 33,000 people, dating back to 1875.

Taxation[edit | edit source]

This book includes listings of men registered to vote or who paid taxes in 1877.  Some listings include brief biographies giving his occupation, the date and place of birth for both the man and his wife, their marriage date, and the number of children.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

See Illinois Vital Records for more information about Vital records in Illinois. See also How to order Illinois Vital Records or order electronically online.

Vital records consist of birth, death, marriage and divorce records. Original birth and death certificates recorded since 1877 are kept by the McHenry County Clerk while those recorded after 1916 are kept by the Illinois Department of Public Health. with a copy to the County Clerk. Original marriage records are kept by the County Clerk from 1837 to the present. Original divorce records are generally in the office of the Circuit Court Clerk.

Copies of original records may be accessed through the Family History Library and the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) located at Northern Illinois University (NIU). Search McHenry County records in the Local Governmental Records Holdings Database . For information on how to use IRAD see the IRAD–NIU Wiki page.

Explore McHenry County vital records found in the FamilySearch Catalog. Other libraries (WorldCat) also hold copies of abstracted McHenry County vital records. (How to explore WorldCat).

Births[edit | edit source]

  • 1877–present - McHenry County birth records 1877-present are housed at the County Clerk's office. Original records are to 1916; copies are after 1916. Additional copies are available as follows:
  • 1849-1900–Birth Certificates, Delayed IRAD–NIU. Search for McHenry records. Information about how to use IRAD.

Delayed birth records include submissions by individuals who were born before the state officially collected birth records, but who are in need of a birth record for identification.These may include affidavits by family members or Bible records.

Marriages[edit | edit source]

The original McHenry County marriage records are held by the McHenry County Clerk and the Illinois Department of Health.

The following indexes to McHenry marriages are available:

Copies of McHenry County marriage records are available as follows:

The following abstracts of marriage records are available:

  • 1878–1899–Stengele, Linda, et al. McHenry County, Illinois, Marriages . Crystal Lake, Illinois: McHenry County Illinois Geneal. Society, 2003–2006. Other libraries (WorldCat)FHL Book 977.322 V2m Vols. 2-4 FHL lacks volume 1 and it is no longer in print.
  • 1880-1979 Crystal Lake Herald Marriage Index  These indexes represent a list of couples whose notice of marriage license issued, or marriage performed or wedding conducted, or news items for anniversaries celebrated, appeared in the weekly Crystal Lake Herald newspaper. Information was not necessarily limited to residents of Crystal Lake and/or Nunda Township. Researchers should look for variant spellings within each index.

Deaths[edit | edit source]

  • 1877–present - The McHenry County death records 1877-present are housed at the County Clerk's office. Original records are to 1916; copies are after 1916. The following copies and indexes are available:
  • 1877–1909 IRAD-NIU Search for McHenry records. Information about how to use IRAD.
  • 1877–1924 Death index IRAD-NIU Search for McHenry records.

Online Records

Additional death information can be found in indexed newspaper obituaries found in the Nunda Township/Crystal Herald.

Voter Registration[edit | edit source]

This book includes listings of men registered to vote or who paid taxes in 1877.  Some listings include brief biographies giving his occupation, the date and place of birth for both the man and his wife, their marriage date, and the number of children.

Places / Localities[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[5]

Unincorporated communities
Census-designated places
Historic communities

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), McHenry County, Illinois. Page 192-199 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 194-197.
  2. "McHenry County Fact Sheet."
  3. Genealogy Trails History Group, “McHenry County, Illinois Genealogy and History”, accessed 04/18/2017.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "McHenry County," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Illinois 04/18/2017.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "McHenry County, Illinois," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 22 March 2020.