McKenzie County, North Dakota Genealogy

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United States
North Dakota
McKenzie County

Guide to McKenzie County, North Dakota ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.


County Facts
County seat: Watford
Organized: May 24, 1901
Parent County(s): Billings [1]
Neighboring Counties
Billings  • Dunn  • Golden Valley  • Mountrail  • Williams  • Richland (MT)  • Roosevelt (MT)  • Wibaux (MT)
See County Maps
Location Map
North Dakota McKenzie Map.png

County Information


Founded April 20, 1905. The county is named after early North Dakota politician Alexander McKenzie. Its county seat is Watford City.[2] The County is located in west center area of the state.[3]

County Courthouse

McKenzie County Courthouse
201 5th St NW
PO Box 523
Watford, ND 58854
Phone: 701.444.3452
McKenzie County Website

Clerk District Court has birth and death records from 1943, marriage, divorce, probate and court records from 1905 and burial records;
Register of Deeds has land records[4]

McKenzie County, North Dakota Record Dates

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major Records[5]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1943 1905 1943 1905 1905 1905 1836
*State Dept. of Vital Records started births and deaths in 1923.
Full compliance by 1924.[6]

Record Loss

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

Boundary Changes

Populated Places

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:[8]

Unincorporated communities
Census-designated places
  • Alex
  • Antelope Creek
  • Arnegard
  • Blue Butte
  • Charbon
  • Elm Tree
  • Ellsworth
  • Grail
  • Hawkeye
  • Keene
  • Randolph
  • Riverview
  • Sioux
  • Tri
  • Twin Valley
  • Yellowstone

Indian Reservation

A portion of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation is located in McKenzie County. The remainder of the reservation is in Mountrail, Dunn, Mercer, and Ward Counties.


Bible Records


Business, Commerce, and Occupations


Cemeteries of Mckenzie County, North Dakota online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See North Dakota Cemeteries for more information

Census Records

Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1910 5,720
1920 9,544 66.9%
1930 9,709 1.7%
1940 8,426 −13.2%
1950 6,849 −18.7%
1960 7,296 6.5%
1970 6,127 −16.0%
1980 7,132 16.4%
1990 6,383 −10.5%
2000 5,737 −10.1%
2010 6,360 10.9%
Source: "".

Before North Dakota was a state in 1889, parts of North Dakota were included in the 1836 Iowa Territory census (also known as Wisconsin Territory), 1840 Iowa Territory census, 1850 Minnesota Territory census, and the 1860-1880 Dakota Territory censuses.[9] See links listed below.

Territory and State Census Records

Federal Census Records

Federal Censuses were taken for the state of North Dakota starting in 1890, although no records survived. The 1900 Census is the next Federal Census available. For links to Federal census indexes, see North Dakota Census.

Church Records

Church records can be found online, kept onsite at the church, or housed in a church archive or library. See North Dakota Church Records for more information on how to locate the records.

Online Church Records
Lutheran Church

Court Records


Emigration and Immigration

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups

Funeral Homes



Land and Property Records

When the United States acquired North Dakota, most of the land became available for homesteading or purchase from the federal government. After land was transferred from the government to private owners, the registrar of deeds in each county recorded the land transactions in the form of deeds and mortgages. For more information, see North Dakota Land and Property.

Online Land Records

For more information see North Dakota Land and Property

Local Histories

Local histories, including those of the county, are available for McKenzie County. These histories can include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information.

  • Early history of McKenzie County. n.d. By Geo. F. Shafer. n.p.: n.p. Online at:. WorldCat.

Maps and Gazetteers

Williams CountyMountrail CountyDunn CountyRoosevelt County, MontanaRichland County, MontanaWibaux County, MontanaGolden Valley CountyBillings CountyND MCKENZIE.JPG
About this image
Click a neighboring county
for more resources


Military Records

Online Collections

These collections are unique to North Dakota. You will find nationwide databases for military records on U.S. Military Online Genealogy Records and North Dakota Military Records.

Civil War

World War I

World War II

Korean War

Vietnam War

For further information see North Dakota Military Records.

Naturalization and Citizenship

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records


For more information, see North Dakota Newspapers.

North Dakota Newspapers Online

North Dakota Newspaper Catalogs


Other Records


Probate Records

Probate records, including wills and estates, are at the county clerk's office. See also North Dakota Probate Records.

Online Probate Records

School Records

Tax Records

County tax records are at the county treasurer's, auditor's or clerk's office in the county courthouse. Some tax records may have been moved to the North Dakota State Archives.

Vital Records

Birth, marriage, death, and divorce records may be recorded on registers, certificates, or other documents at the county clerk's office. Many records are also being digitized and put online. See North Dakota Vital Records for more information about availability and how to access them.




Online Death Indexes and Records


Research Facilities


North Dakota State University Archives
West Building 3551 7th Avenue
N Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing Address:
NDSU Archives
Libraries NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Phone: 701-231-8914
Fax: 701-231-5632

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.


Old Sod Post Office of Grassy Butte
609 Main St.
Grassy Butte, ND 58634
Phone: 701-863-6754


Lewis and Clark Trail Museum
P. O. Box 343, Alexander
ND 58831-0343
Phone: 701-828-3595

Pioneer Museum of McKenzie County
P. O. Box 126
Watford City, ND 58854-0126
Phone: 701-444-2990 or 701-444-5804


McKenzie County Museum and Historical Society, Inc.
11542 Highway 23
Watford City, ND 58854

McKenzie County Heritage Association
P. O. Box 512
Watford City, ND 58854


Research Guides


  1. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  2. McKenzie County Genealogy and History (Genealogy Trails)
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "McKenzie, North Dakota," in,_North_Dakota accessed 8/28/2018
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), McKenzie County, North Dakota. Page 524 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), McKenzie County, North Dakota. Page 524 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), 518.
  6. Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Rev. ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 1992), 562; Alice M. Hetzel, U.S. Vital Statistics System: Major Activities and Developments, 1950-95 (Hyattsville, Md.: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, [1997]), 58.
  7. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  8. Wikipedia contributors, "McKenzie County, North Dakota," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia.
  9. Alice Eichholz, ‘’Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources,’’ 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 2004), 511. Free online version; FHL Book 973 D27rb 2004; WorldCat entry.