Otter Tail County, Minnesota Genealogy

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Guide to Otter Tail County, Minnesota ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

County Facts
County seat: Fergus Falls
Organized: February 28, 1870[1]
Parent County(s): Cass, Pembina (now Kittson)[2]
Neighboring Counties
Becker  • Clay  • Douglas  • Grant  • Todd  • Wadena  • Wilkin
See County Maps
Courthouse
Minnesota, Otter Tail.png
Location Map
Minnesota Otter Tail County Map.svg.png
Adoption

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for Otter Tail Lake and Otter Tail River. The County is located in the west-central area of the state.[3]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Otter Tail County Courthouse
121 W Junis Ave
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Phone: 218-560-7045
Otter Tail County Website

Clerk Deeds Court has birth and death records from 1870; marriage records from 1869; divorce records from 1897; probate and court records from 1872.[4]

Otter Tail County, Minnesota Record Dates[edit | edit source]

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 County Records[5]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1870 1869 1870 1872 1867 1872 1836
*Statewide registration started for births in 1900 and deaths in 1908. General compliance by 1915.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

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

Boundary Changes[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:[9]

Cities
Unincorporated communities
Townships


History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

  • Mason, John W., ed.; History of Otter Tail County, Minnesota: its people, industries and institutions, with biographical sketches of representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families (Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen, 1916) Volume 2 online at FamilySearch Digital Library, Google Books, Internet Archive.

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Otter Tail County, Minnesota online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Minnesota Cemeteries for more information.

 

Census Records[edit | edit source]

For links to Federal, State, and Territorial censuses, see Minnesota Census.

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 240
1870 1,968 720.0%
1880 18,675 848.9%
1890 34,232 83.3%
1900 45,375 32.6%
1910 46,036 1.5%
1920 50,818 10.4%
1930 51,006 0.4%
1940 53,192 4.3%
1950 51,320 −3.5%
1960 48,960 −4.6%
1970 46,097 −5.8%
1980 51,937 12.7%
1990 50,714 −2.4%
2000 57,159 12.7%
2010 57,303 0.3%
Source: "Wikipedia.org".

State Census

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Most church records are held by individual churches. Some denominations are gathering their records into a central repository. For more information, see Minnesota Church Records.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Church Ward and Branch Records

  • Fergus Falls

Lutheran

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

The county register of deeds keeps land records once the land was transferred to private ownership. Abstracts and indexes for these records are generally available at the county courthouse.

Online Land Indexes and Records

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories are available for Otter Tail County. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the wiki page section Minnesota Local Histories.

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Clay CountyBecker CountyWadena CountyTodd CountyDouglas CountyGrant CountyWilkin CountyMN OTTER TAIL.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Multiple Wars

Civil War

Spanish-American War

World War I

World War II

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate records may include wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. They may include the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, etc. See Minnesota Probate Records for additional information.

Online Probate Indexes and Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

Since Minnesota tax records include only persons who owned taxable property, many residents were not included. Still they complement land records and can be used in place of missing censuses or the years between censuses. There may also be gaps. For more information, see the wiki page Minnesota Taxation.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

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 from the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred. See also Minnesota Vital Records.

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Death[edit | edit source]

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Otter Tail County. For state-wide archival repositories, see Minnesota Archives and Libraries.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - link to 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

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Otter Tail County. For state-wide library facilities, see Minnesota Archives and Libraries.

Viking Library System
1915 Fir Ave W
Fergus Falls, MN 5653
218-739-5286
Website

Otter Tail County Historical Society Library
1110 Lincoln Ave W
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
218-736-6038
Email: otchs@prtel.com
Website

Fergus Falls Public Library
205 E Hampden Ave
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
218-739-9387
E-mail: library@ffpubliclibrary.org
Website

Museums[edit | edit source]

Otter Tail County Historical Society
1110 Lincoln Ave W
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
218-736-6038
E-mail: otchs@prtel.com
Website

History Museum of East Otter Tail County
230 1st Avenue N
Perham, MN 56573
218-346-7676
E-mail: museum@eot.com
Website

Perham Pioneer Village
44290 Highway 8
Perham, MN 56573
218-346-7678
E-mail: eothistorymuseum@gmail.com
Facebook

In Their Own Words Veterns Museum
805 W Main
Perham, MN 56573
218-346-7678
E-mail: info@itowmuseum.org
Website

Finn Creek Open Air Museum
55442 340th Street
New York Mills, MN 56567
218-385-2233
Website

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Otter Tail County. For state-wide genealogical societies, see Minnesota Societies.

Otter Tail County Genealogical Society
1110 W Lincoln Ave
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
218-736-6038
E-mail: otchs@prtel.com
Website

Websites[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Minnesota Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed 10 February 2021.
  2. Minnesota Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed 10 February 2021.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Otter Tail County, Minnesota" in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otter_Tail_County,_Minnesota accessed 10 February 2021
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Minnesota.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Minnesota.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  6. Minnesota Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed 10 February 2021.
  7. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Minnesota.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  8. Minnesota Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed 10 February 2021.
  9. Wikipedia contributors, "Otter Tail County, Minnesota," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otter_Tail_County,_Minnesota, accessed 10 February 2021.