Kent County, Michigan Genealogy

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United States
Michigan Genealogy
Kent County
This article is about a county in the state of Michigan. For other uses, see Kent (disambiguation).

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


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Kent County, Michigan
Map
Map of the U.S. highlighting Michigan
Location of Michigan in the U.S.
Facts
Founded March 2, 1831
County Seat Grand Rapids
Courthouse
Address Kent County Courthouse
300 Monroe Ave. NW.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 632-7590
Kent County Website



County Information

Kent County, Michigan Record Dates

Beginning Dates for Major County Records[1]
Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1867 1845 1867 1820 1860 1898

County Courthouse


County Clerk has birth and death records from 1867,
marriage records from 1845 and burial records from 1959.
Clerk Circuit Court has divorce and court records from 1867.
Probate Court has probate records; Register of Deeds has land records. [2]

History

Parent County

1831--Kent County was created 2 March 1831 from Mackinac County and unorganized territory. It was organized  4 April 1836. County seat: Grand Rapids

[3]

The earliest permanent settler in Kent County was Rix Robinson. Born in Berkshire, Massachsetts in 1789, he came to Michigan to avoid the draft during the War of 1812. Working initially at Detroit, in 1820, the American Fur Company chose Robinson to be their central fur trader in west Michigan when Madeline La Framboise retired to Mackinac Island. He took over her trading post located where the Grand River meets the Thornapple River in what is now known as Ada, Kent, Michigan. In 1821 Robinson married an Ottawa woman, Pee-miss-a-quot-oquay. They had one son, John R. Robinson born March 5, 1826. She and Rix separated, and she died of consumption in 1848. By 1827, Robinson was successfully managing twenty trading posts along the shores of Lake Michigan. Robinson was elected township supervisor when Kent County was established in 1831.


By the time Michigan joined the union in 1837, Robinson, who was a wealthy man, had closed all his trading posts and was appointed to the State Board of Commissioners of Internal Improvements. He was a Michigan State Senator from 1847 to 1849, representing Kent Couny. During that time he presented a bill to give women the right to vote. It was defeated during the drafting of the state constitution of 1850, but in a step forward in the women's rights movement, a bill allowing married women the right to control property they owned prior to marriage did pass. He was a delegate to the Michigan Constitutional Convention of 1850 and a presidential elector. He was a strong contender for governor but declined the nomination because his second wife, Se-be-quay, a native American, would not have been accepted as a governor's wife. Rix Robinson died of consumption January 12, 1875. He is buried in Ada, Michigan.[4]


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

Allegan  • Barry  • Ionia  • Montcalm  • Muskegon  • Newaygo  • Ottawa

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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.

LDS Ward and Branch Records

  • Grand Rapids

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 Kent 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

Mikent.jpg

Military

Civil War

Civil War service men from Kent County served in various regiments. Men often joined a regiment or a company (within a regiment)that originated in their county. Listed below are the military units that were formed in or had many men from Kent County.

- 1st Regiment, Engineers and Mechanics, Michigan - Companies A, B, C, D, F, and Company unassigned
- 1st Regiment, New York Veteran Cavalry, Company K

Newspapers

Finding More Michigan Newspapers

Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Kent 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, Kent 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
  • 1868-1925 - Michigan Marriage Registrations, 1868-1925 -- Free name indexes at FamilySearch.  Records include such information as names of bride and groom, date of license, ages, race, residences, birthplaces, occupations and names of the fathers of the bride and groom.
Death
  • 1867-1897 - Michigan Death Registrations, 1867-1897 --  Free name indexes and images at FamilySearch.   Records include such information as name of deceased, date and place of death, gender, color, marital status, age in years, months and days, disease or apparent cause of death, birthplace, names and occupations of parents, and the date the record was made.

Societies and Libraries

Kent City Area Historical Society
16652 Fruit Ridge
Kent City 49330

Algoma Township Historical Society
11731 Pine Island Dr
Sparta 49345
Telephone Number:616-866-1583
Main Fax: 616-866-3832
Clerk's Office Fax: 616-866-4968
Website

Bowne Township Historical Society
11735 92nd St.
Se Alto 49302
Website

Byron Center Historical Society
2506 Prescott
PO Box 20
Byron Center MI 49315

Caledonia Township Historical Society
8573 84th St.
Se Alto 49341

Cascade Historical Society
2800 Orange Street
SE Grand Rapids MI 49506


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.

Websites

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), Kent County, Michigan page 347, 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).
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rix_Robinson