Watonwan County, Minnesota Genealogy

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

County Facts
County seat: St. James[1]
Organized: Jun 16, 1871[2]
Parent County(s): Brown[3]
Neighboring Counties
Blue Earth  • Brown  • Cottonwood  • Jackson  • Martin
See County Maps
Courthouse
Minnesota, Watonwan County Courthouse.png
Location Map
Minnesota Watonwan County Map.svg.png
Adoption

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for Dakota word "watanwan," meaning "fish bait," or "plenty of fish.". The County is located in the south-central area of the state. [4]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Watonwan County Courthouse
710 2nd Ave S
PO Box 518
St. James, MN 56081-0518
Phone: 507-375-1236
Watonwan County Website

Clerk District Court has birth, marriage and divorce records from 1863, divorce and court records from 1865.
Probate Judge has probate records.
Register of Deeds has land records. [5]

Watonwan 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[6]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1863 1863 1863 1865 1859 1890 1836
*Statewide registration started for births in 1900 and deaths in 1908. General compliance by 1915.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

1895 The county courthouse, along with some county records, burned sometime prior to 1895.

For suggestions about research in places that suffered historic record losses, see:

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:[10]

Cities
Unincorporated communities
Townships


History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

  • Brown, John A. History of Cottonwood and Watonwan counties, Minnesota : their people, industries, and institutions, volume 1 and volume 2. B.F. Bowen & Co, Indianapolis, IN, 1916. Volume 2 (biographical) online at: FamilySearch Digital Library, Google Books, Internet Archive; searchable database available at Ancestry ($)

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

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Watonwan 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.
1870 2,426
1880 5,104 110.4%
1890 7,746 51.8%
1900 11,496 48.4%
1910 11,332 −1.4%
1920 12,457 9.9%
1930 12,802 2.8%
1940 13,902 8.6%
1950 13,881 −0.2%
1960 14,460 4.2%
1970 13,298 −8.0%
1980 12,361 −7.0%
1990 11,682 −5.5%
2000 11,876 1.7%
2010 11,211 −5.6%
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.

Lutheran
1781-1969 U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Church Records, 1781-1969 at Ancestry ($)

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 Watonwan 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]

Brown CountyBlue Earth CountyFaribault CountyMartin CountyJackson CountyCottonwood CountyMN WATONWAN.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 Watonwan 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 Watonwan County. For state-wide library facilities, see Minnesota Archives and Libraries.

Watonwan County Libraries
Headquarters Building
125 Fifth St S
St James, MN 56081
507-375-1278
E-mail mailto:libtwa@tds.lib.mn.us libtwa@tds.lib.mn.us]
Website

Museums[edit | edit source]

Watonwan County Historical Center
Box 126
423 Dill Ave SW
Madelia, MN 56062
507-642-3247
Email: wchs@madtelco.net
Website

St. James Museum
602 3rd Avenue S
St James, MN 56081
507-380-7024
E-mail: jpsandbo@mchsi.com
Facebook

Societies[edit | edit source]

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

Watonwan County Historical Society
PO Box 126
423 Dill Ave SW
Madelia, MN 56062
507-642-3247
E-mail: wchs@madtelco.net
Website

Butterfield Threshermen's Association
Box 271
Butterfield, MN 56120
E-mail: ctybfld@frontiernet.net
Website

St. James Historical Society
602 3rd Avenue S
St James, MN 56081
507-380-7024
Facebook

Websites[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Minnesota.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. Minnesota Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed 3/11/21.
  3. Minnesota Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed day month year.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Watonwan County, Minnesota" in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watonwan_County,_Minnesota accessed 15 Nov 2018
  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. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Minnesota.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  7. Minnesota Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed 3/11/21.
  8. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Minnesota.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  9. Minnesota Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed 3/11/21.
  10. Wikipedia contributors, "Watonwan County, Minnesota," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watonwan_County%2C_Minnesota, accessed 3 March 2020.