Minnesota County Resources

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This entry was originally written by Carol L. Maki and Michael John Neill for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the Minnesota Family History Research series.
History of Minnesota
Minnesota Vital Records
Census Records for Minnesota
Background Sources for Minnesota
Minnesota Maps
Minnesota Land Records
Minnesota Probate Records
Minnesota Court Records
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Minnesota Cemetery Records
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Minnesota Immigration
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Ethnic Groups of Minnesota
Minnesota County Resources
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Records at the county level are the responsibility of the following offices: office of the court administrator—birth, death, and marriage; county recorder—land records; office of the probate judge—probate files; and office of the court administrator—criminal and civil court records. Although years for birth, marriage, and death records indicated in the following chart are the earliest located in that county, not all records may start at that date and there may be different starting dates for different records within the county. The earliest year for probate records may be probate files or wills. Court records may be civil and/or criminal. In some counties, the earlier criminal files may be found in the civil court files.

For some counties there are two years for date of formation listed. The first is the year the county was created. The second is the year it was fully organized if it differs from the creation year. Under the heading “Parent County/ies,” the name/s listed may be the county or counties from which the respective county was formed, or it may be names by which the county was originally known. “Unorganized” denotes that it was formed from non-county areas. A county name in parentheses is the county to which the unorganized land may have been attached at that time. Counties listed with an asterisk (*) are not parent counties but other counties in which you may also find records for the respective county since it may have been “attached” to that county for some period of time.

The files of the Minnesota Historical Society Research Center and the following have been consulted for county information:

  • Dalquist, Alfred J. Minnesota Genealogical Journal. Brooklyn Park, Minn.: Park Genealogical Book Co., 1984–87.
  • Pope, Wiley R. Tracing Your Ancestors in Minnesota: A Guide to the Sources. Vols. 1–8. St. Paul: Minnesota Family Trees, 1980–88. This source draws heavily on the WPA guides that were developed fifty years ago. Record sources have changed in the interim.
  • The Minnesota Legislative Manual, 1989–90. St. Paul: Election Division, Secretary of State, 1989.

What follows is a guide to the various record sources and is not to be considered a definitive explanation for the peculiarities of each county’s holdings.

County addresses were obtained from the Minnesota Department of Health [online], Center for Health Statistics, “Addresses of County Registrars/Recorders” at www.health.state.mn.us/index.html.

Map County County Address Date Formed Parent County(ies) Birth Marriage Death Land Probate Court
D4 Aitkin 209 2nd St. NW, Aitkin 56431 1857 (1885) Pine/Ramsey 1887/*Crow Wing/*Morrison 1874 1885 1885 1872 1890 1862
Aitkin County was spelled Aiken until 1872
Andy Johnson 1862 (as Toombs; renamed 1862; disestablished, 1864; renamed Wilkin, 1868) Pembina *Stearns/*Crow Wing/*Douglas
F5 Anoka 325 E. Main St., Anoka 55303 1857 Ramsey 1870 1858 1870 1857 1858 1858
D2 Becker 915 Lake Ave., Detroit Lakes 56501 1858 (1871) Cass/Pembina/*Stearns/*Crow Wing/*Douglas 1871 1871 1871 1872 1872 1871
B3 Beltrami 619 Beltrami Ave. NW, Bemidji 56601 1866 (1897) Itasca/Pembina/Polk/unorganized *Becker 1896 1897 1896 1874 1896 1897
F4 Benton 531 Dewey St., Foley 56329 1849 St. Croix/unorganized 1865 1850 1867 1850 1852 1850
Big Sioux 1857–58 (abolished 1858) Brown
F1 Big Stone 20 SE 2nd St., Ortonville 56278 1862 (1881) Pierce *Renville/*Stevens 1881 1881 1881 1873 1881 1881
J3 Blue Earth 204 S. Fifth St., Mankato 56001 1853 Dahkota 1870 1865 1870 1853 1858 1854
Breckenridge 1858–62 (renamed Clay, 1862) Pembina
B3 Brown Box 248, New Ulm 56073 1855 (1856) Blue Earth 1870 1857 1870 1857 1856 1857
Buchanen 1857–61 (abolished 1861; became part of Pine) Pine *Chisago/*St. Louis
D5 Carlton 301 Walnut Ave., Carlton 55718 1857 (1870) Pine/St. Louis 1870 1871 1870 1870 1870 1871
G4 Carver 600 E. Fourth St., Chaska 55318 1855 (1855) Hennepin/Sibley 1870 1856 1870 1856 1857 1854
D3 Cass Walker 56484 1851 (1872) (1897) Dakota/Pembina/Mahkato/Wahnahta (abolished 1876)*Benton/*Stearns/*Crow Wing/*Morrison 1896 1897 1896 1864 1897 1888
Disestablished 1876; became part of Crow Wing; reorganized, 1897.
G2 Chippewa 629 N. 11th St., Montevideo 56265 1862 (1869) Davis/Pierce *Renville 1870 1870 1870 1870 1872 1870
F5 Chisago 313 N. Main, Center City 55012 1851 (1852) Ramsey/Washington 1870 1858 1870 1852 1857 1858
D1 Clay 807 11th St. North, Moorhead 56560 1858 (as Breckenridge; renamed 1862) (1872) *Stearns/*Crow Wing/*Douglas/*Becker 1872 1872 1872 1864 1872 1872
C2 Clearwater 213 Main Ave. North, Bagley 56621 1902 Beltrami 1898 1903 1903 1903 1903 1903
B8 Cook 411 W. 2nd St., Grand Marais 55604 1874 (1897) Lake/*St. Louis 1897 1897 1897 1892
H2 Cottonwood 900 Third Ave., Windom 56101 1857 (1873) Brown *Redwood/*Watonwan 1871 1871 1871 1871 1871 1871
D4 Crow Wing 326 Laurel St., Brainerd 56401 1857 (disestablished 1858)-1866 (disestablished 1867) (1871)Ramsey *Morrison 1873 1871 1874 1857 1874 1871
In 1858 Crow Wing was disorganized and attached to Morrison; in 1866 it was fully organized; again disestablished in 1867 and attached to Morrison; in 1871 it was fully organized.
H5 Dakota 1560 Hwy., 55 West, Hastings 55093 1849 (1853) unorganized *Ramsey 1870 1853 1870 1852 1863 1853
Davis 1855 (abolished 1862; became part of Chippewa and Lac Qui Parle) Cass/Nicolet/Pierce/Sibley *Stearns
J5 Dodge 22 E 6th St., Mantorville 55955 1855 (1855) Rice/unorganized 1870 1858 1870 1856 1857 1859
Doty 1855 (renamed Newton, 1855; abolished 1856; became part of St. Louis) Itasca
J4 Faribault P.O. Box 130, Blue Earth 56013 1855 (1857) Blue Earth 1870 1870 1870 1854 1858 1870
J6 Fillmore 101 Fillmore St., Preston 55965 1853 Wabasha 1870 1856 1870 1853 1857 1856
J5 Freeborn 411 S. Broadway, Albert Lea 56007 1855 (1857) Blue Earth/Rice 1870 1857 1870 1854 1866 1857
H5 Goodhue 509 W. 5th St., Red Wing 55066 1853 (1854)) Dakota/Wabasha 1870 1854 1870 1853 1854 1854