Otter Tail County, Minnesota Genealogy

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Otter Tail County

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


Otter Tail County, Minnesota
Map of Minnesota highlighting Otter Tail County
Location in the state of Minnesota
Map of the U.S. highlighting Minnesota
Location of Minnesota in the U.S.
Founded March 18, 1858
County Seat Fergus Falls
Address Otter Tail County Courthouse
121 W Junis Avenue
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Phone: 218.739.2271
Otter Tail County Website

County Information


The County was named for Otter Tail Lake and Otter Tail River. The County is located in the west central area of the state. [1]

Otter Tail County, Minnesota Record Dates

Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1871 1869 1871 1850 1867 1872

County Courthouse

Clerk Deeds Court has birth and death records from 1870,
marriage records from 1869, divorce records from 1897,
probate and court records from 1872. [3]


Parent County

  • 1858--Otter Tail County was created 18 March 1858 from Cass and Pembina (Old) Counties  County seat: Fergus Falls [4]
  • For a brief history of Otter Tail County's name, click here, then select Otter Tail County.

Boundary Changes

Record Loss

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


Populated Places

Neighboring Counties



Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
USGenWeb WorldCat Billion Graves
MNGenWeb Archives
Tombstone Project
Billion Graves
See Minnesota Cemeteries for more information.


State Census


Most church records are held by individual churches. For contact information, check a phone directory, such as SearchBug or Dex Knows. Some denominations are gathering their records into a central repository. For more information about these major repositories, see Minnesota Church Records.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

LDS Ward and Branch Records

  • Fergus Falls

Aurdal Lutheran Church, Underwood

  • Records of the Aurdal Lutheran Church, Underwood, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).[5]

Fergus Falls

  • Records of the American Lutheran Church, Fergus Falls, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).

Grace Lutheran Church, Erhard

  • Records of the Grace Lutheran Church, Erhard, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).[5]

North Immanuel Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids

  • Records of the North Immanuel Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).[5]

South Immanuel Lutheran Church, Rothsay

  • Records of the South Immanuel Lutheran Church, Rothsay, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).[5]

Trifoldinghed Lutheran Church

  • Records of the Trifoldinghed Lutheran Church, Otter Tail County, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).

Trinity Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids

  • Records of the Trinity Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).

United Norwegian Lutheran Church, Underwood

  • Records of the United Norwegian Lutheran Church, Underwood, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).


Emigration and Immigration


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.

Land records for Minnesota are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:


Local Histories

Local histories are available for Otter Tail County, Minnesota 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 Minnesota Local Histories.

  • John W. Mason, 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
  • Tweton, Jerome D. The New Deal: At the Grass Roots. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1988. Print.


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


Military History:

Listing of individuals from this county for these wars:

  • World War 1
  • World War II 
  • Korean War
  • Vietnam War


Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Otter Tail County, Minnesota Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:



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 Records


Minnesota tax records complement land records and can be used in place of censuses before 1820 or to supplement the years between censuses. Because only persons who owned taxable property were listed, many residents were not included in tax lists. There may also be gaps of several years in the tax records of some counties. For more information, see the wiki page Minnesota 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 from the Minnesota State Registrar of Vital Records, the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred], order electronically online ($) or download an application for Minnesota Birth Certificate and Death Certificates Applications to mail.

See also Minnesota Vital Records or How to order Minnesota Vital Records. For information about restrictions and costs for certificates, see the CDC Where to Write for Vital Records site.


Societies and Libraries

Otter Tail County Genealogical Society
1110 W. Lincoln Avenue
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Telephone: 218-736-6038

Northwest Minnesota Historical Center
Livingston Lord Library
Moorhead State University
Moorhead, MN 56560

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.



  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Otter Tail County, Minnesota" in,_Minnesota accessed 14 Nov 2018
  2. Alice Eichholz, Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, Revised ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1992), 385-403. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27rb 1992
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Otter County, Minnesota page 367, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: An Inventory of Selected Congregational Records of the American Lutheran Church in Minnesota at the Minnesota Historical Society," Collection Finding Aids, Minnesota Historical Society,, accessed 10 June 2013.