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Bounty of Counties


There are 83 counties in the U.S. state of Michigan. The boundaries of these counties have not changed substantially since 1897. However, throughout the 19th century, the state legislature frequently adjusted county boundaries. County creation was intended to fulfill the goal of establishing government over unorganized territory, but a more important goal was encouraging settlement by surveying the land and dividing it into salable sections.


Emmet County Emmet County
Founded April 1, 1840

Emmet County was originally named Tonedagana County (after a local Odawa chief) and in 1843 renamed Emmet County after Robert Emmet, an Irish nationalist. The name was changed as a way to honor a hero from Ireland due to the increasing population of Irish immigrants in the area. It is one of several counties across the United States named after Robert Emmet.


Barry County Barry County
Founded 1829

Named after postmaster general William T. Barry.


Keweenaw County Keweenaw County
Founded 1861

Pronounced KEY-wah-nah, an Ojibway word that means "the crossing place" or "land crossing between two bodies of water." Ancient Indians honored the land and celebrated its awesome beauty. But the wealth of Keweenaw County lay beneath the surface of its rugged hills, for this was the only place in the world where native copper was found in any considerable quantity.


Cheboygan CountyCheboygan County
Established 1840

Named after the Cheboygan River.


Ottawa County

Ottawa County
Founded 1837

Ottawa County took its name from the Ottawa Indians who occupied this area in the middle of the 17th century. The Indian word Ottawa means trader. The Ottawa Indians were hunters and fishermen. They grew and harvested wild rice in the swamps along the Grand River.


Iosco CountyIosco County
Organized 1857

When government surveys were made in 1840, the county was called Ka-no-tin, after an Indian Chief. In 1843, the name was changed to Iosco. This is a word (not pure Indian) manufactured by Henry Schoolcraft and is said to mean "water of light."


Isabella County

Isabella County
Established 1831

Isabella County was named for Queen Isabella I of Castile (Spain), under whose patronage Columbus set sail. The name was suggested by Henry Schoolcraft, who served as a United States Indian agent in Michigan beginning in 1822.

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