Kent County, Michigan Genealogy

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

This article is about a county in the state of Michigan. For other uses, see Kent (disambiguation).
County Facts
County seat: Grand Rapids
Organized: 4 April 1836
Parent County(s): Mackinac[1]
Neighboring Counties
Allegan  • Barry  • Ionia  • Montcalm  • Muskegon  • Newaygo  • Ottawa
See County Maps
Courthouse
Michigan, Kent Couty Courthouse.png
Location Map
Michigan, Kent County Locator Map.png
Adoption

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for James Kent, who represented the Michigan Territory in its dispute with Ohio over the Toledo Strip. The County is located in the southwest area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Kent County Courthouse
300 Monroe Ave. NW.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: 616-632-7590
Kent County Website

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. [3]

Kent County, Michigan 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[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1867 1845 1867 1867 1860 1898 1820
Statewide registration started in 1867 for births and deaths. 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:[6]

Cities
Villages
Unincorporated communities
Census-designated places
Townships


History Timeline[edit | edit source]

  • The earliest permanent settler in Kent County was Rix Robinson. Born in Berkshire, Massachusetts 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 County. 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.[7]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

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

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

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

 

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1840 2,587
1850 12,016 364.5%
1860 30,716 155.6%
1870 50,403 64.1%
1880 73,253 45.3%
1890 109,922 50.1%
1900 129,714 18.0%
1910 159,145 22.7%
1920 183,041 15.0%
1930 240,511 31.4%
1940 246,338 2.4%
1950 288,292 17.0%
1960 363,187 26.0%
1970 411,044 13.2%
1980 444,506 8.1%
1990 500,631 12.6%
2000 574,335 14.7%
2010 602,622 4.9%
Source: "Wikipedia.org".


State Census

Church Records[edit | edit source]

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. AR

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

  • Grand Rapids


List of Churches and Church Parishes

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]

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 Kent County courthouse and where records are currently housed.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories are available for Kent 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 Michigan Local Histories.

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Newaygo CountyMontcalm CountyIonia CountyBarry CountyAllegan CountyOttawa CountyMuskegon CountyMI KENT.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

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

Online Indexes and Records

World War I

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

  • 1894-1916 - Grand Rapids Public Library Digital Collection, Grand Rapids Herald 1894-1916 Website

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

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.

Online Indexes and Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

Michigan tax records complement land records and can be used 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, Michigan Taxation.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

  • Birth Records and Death Records from 1867 can be obtained from the Michigan Department of Community Health or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.
  • Marriage Records from 1867 and Divorce Records from 1897 can be obtained from the County Clerk.

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 Kent County. For state-wide archival repositories, see Michigan Archives and Libraries.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

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 Libraries

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Kent County. For state-wide library facilities, see Michigan Archives and Libraries.

Grand Rapids Public Library
Main Library
111 Library St NE
Grand Rapids MI 49503
Phone: 616-988-5400
website

Grand Rapids Public Library Digital Collections Homepage - Website

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Kent County. For state-wide genealogical societies, see Michigan Societies.

Kent City Area Historical Society
16652 Fruit Ridge
Kent City, MI 49330

Kent City Area Society of History and Genealogy
P.O. Box 11
Kent, MI 49330
Phone: 616-678-7529

Byron Center Museum and Historical Society
2506 Prescott St. SW, P.O. Box 20
Byron Center, MI 49315
Phone: 616-878-0888
Website

Algoma Township Historical Society
11731 Pine Island Dr
Sparta MI 49345
Phone: 616-866-1583
Website

Bowne Township Historical Society
11735 92nd Street, P. O. Box 35
Alto MI 49302
Website

Caledonia Township Historical Society
8573 84th Street, P.O. Box 110
Caledonia, MI 49316
website Facebook

Cascade Historical Society
2865 Thornhills Dr. SE
Grand Rapids MI 49506
website

Websites[edit | edit source]

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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.


Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Michigan.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Kent County, Michigan" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, wikipedia
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Michigan.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Michigan.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Michigan.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "Kent County, Michigan," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, wikipedia accessed 21 October 2019.
  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rix_Robinson