Missaukee County Michigan
Genealogy and History


Missaukee is one of the central counties of Northern Michigan, east of Wexford. It is chiefly drained by the head streams of the Muskegon river and a branch of the Manistee, which rises a few miles northeast of Lake City, the county set, and runs northwest into the parent river. Although Missaukee county lies east of the trunk lines of the Grand Rapids & Indiana and the Ann Arbor railroads, its chief centers of population are well provided with transportation facilities, and raisers of produce, fruit and grain crops have no trouble in reaching good markets. Lake City, Jennings, Missaukee and other stations rely upon the eastern branch of the Grand Rapids & Indiana, which runs from Missaukee Junction. Wexford county, to Missaukee, this county; a spur from the Missaukee branch running south to Falmouth the old county seat, and east to Ardis, McBain and Lucas, the former the largest village outside of Lake City, and in the southwestern part of the county on the Ann Arbor line, while Stratford, near the northern county line, is a station on the Kalkaska branch of the Pere Marquette Railroad, which pushes down from the northwest.


Missaukee county has an area of three hundred and sixty-two thousand two hundred and forty acres of land, some one hundred and twelve thousand of which is in farms, and another two hundred thousand acres available for fruit raising and general farming.  Its northwestern and southwestern portions are generally rolling and the soil somewhat sandy and gravelly - especially well adapted to the raising the fruit, corn and potatoes. The central and eastern portions are generally level, with heavier clay loam soil, more adapted to raising wheat, hay and such crops. That, of course, is the rule, but one can find the various kinds of soil, from heavy clay and black muck, to light, sandy soil. Wheat, oats, peas, beans, rye, barley, buckwheat, clover and timothy, alfalfa, cucumbers, (there are two salting stations in the county); potatoes, sugar beets, celery and all kinds of root crops; apples, plums, cherries, pears, peaches and all kinds of small fruit; all are raised in Missaukee county, the profits realized from the crops depending almost entirely on personal effort and aptitude. The favorable conditions are there, and the good farmer, gardener or fruit-raiser will do well.


As judged from the standpoint of population, also, Missaukee county is well-to-do, and has been advancing more rapidly than many of the other interior counties of Northern Michigan. The national census figures show her population at the end of the last  three decades.

Civil Divisions 1910 1900 1890
AETNA TOWNSHIP 631 384 169
LAKE TOWNSHIP (including a part of Lake City) 1,405 1,099 636
Lake City (part of) 6 10  
Total for Lake City village in Lake and Reeder Township 740 816 663
McBain City 546 709  
Ward 1 251    
Ward 2 129    
Ward 3 166    
REEDER TOWNSHIP (including a part of Lake City) 1,335 1,439 832
Lake City (part of) 734 806 663
RICHLAND TOWNSHIP 1,187 1,052 534
TOTAL 10,606 9,308 5,048

The assessed valuation of property in the county, made in 1911, amounts to $2,120,310 in real estate and $436,177 in personal property.


Missaukee county was first attached to Manistee and then to Wexford, when the latter was organized in 1869; it did not form an independent body, civil and political, until 1871. Prior to the latter year settlement had been scarce and spasmodic.

The enabling act of the legislature provided that the county seat should, for three years, be located at Falmouth, or Pinhook as the settlement of a few houses was then called. When the vote for relocation was polled on June 3, 1873, it was found that the rival settlement on the  northeast shore of Round lake had won by 131 to 95. One vote was east for "center of county."


One of the best general sketches of pioneer times in Missaukee county was prepared by Mrs. Mary Reeder and read as a paper, in 19023, before the old settlers' reunion of that year. The Reeder family was the third to permanently settle in the county, in the fall of 1868, and the township which embraces most of Last City was named in its honor. Washington and William Reeder, Canadians and brothers, were leading merchants of the county seat from the early seventies to 1888, when they became successful agriculturists. From the paper mentioned, prepared by Mrs. Mary Reeder, are collated the salient facts comprising the county's early history:

"The first survey in the county was made by W. L. Coffinberry, about 1853 to 1856. The first and second homesteads in the county were taken by A. H. Clark and Laird, who abandoned their claims before final proof.  The third was taken by  H. A. Ferris, who made final proof but never actually resided on it, and sold it soon afterward. W. Richardson was the first who made a permanent home in the county, the date of his claim being December 27, 1867.  William J. Morey also homesteaded his land during the same month.

"The first recorded election was held April 3, 1861, for justice of the supreme court and other state offices; forty-one votes were cast, all republican. Of the first election of county officers, the records in the county clerk's office tells nothing. All that can be ascertained is that some time in the spring of 1871 a special election was held at which the following officers were chosen: John Vogel, judge of probate; Willis McBain, sheriff; E. W. Watson, clerk and register; Ira Van Meter, treasurer; A. Stout, surveyor. The circuit judge, T. J. Ramsdell of Traverse City, appointed L. H. Gage of Traverse City, prosecuting attorney for this county, there being no attorney within its limits.

"The first board of supervisors met at the Perley farm, about two miles northeast of Falmouth (Pinhook), on June 6, 1871. Those present were William J. Morley of Pioneer, James White of Quilna (now known as Caldwell and Bloomfield; the name was changed to Caldwell a year or two later), Daniel Reeder of Reeder, John Vogel of Clam Union, and Henry Van Meter of Riverside. Mr. Reeder was elected chairman. The salaries of county officers were fixed by this board as follows: Clerk, $500; treasurer, $250; prosecuting attorney, $200; judge of probate, $100; sheriff, $100. At this session, the Osceola Outline of Hersey was designated as the official paper of the county.

"The first general election on record was held in November, 1872, during the Grant and Greeley campaign. There were one hundred and nineteen national ballots polled. Grant receiving one hundred and eleven and Greeley eight. On the county ticket, John Vogel was reelected probate judge; Otto Schaap, sheriff; M. I. Richardson, clerk and register; Washington Reeder, treasurer; Arlington C. Lewis, prosecuting attorney; B. C. Bound, surveyor; and Thomas T. Caldwell and Addison T. Smith, coroners.

"The first birth that occurred in the county was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Vogel; the second, Etta, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M. I Richardson, was born March 28, 1870. The first marriage was John Cavanaugh and Miss Caroline Van Meter, on March 1, 1871, solemnized by the Rev. W. Richardson. The first death that occurred was that of Albert Richardson, March 21, 1870,

"The first physician was Dr. Moorehouse of Falmouth, and the first resident attorney, A. C. Leis; both moved to California.

"The first road was built in the fall of 1867. From the Watson farm to Falmouth, by a Mr. McDonald; Oscar Noble constructed the first state road through the county, the Houghton Lake state road.

"The first logging camp in the county was built by W. Windson in 1865, on section 34, town 31 north range,  6 west, on the bank of the Clam river two miles below Vogel Center. The first pole logging road was built by Paul Lux in 1877, running from section 35, town 23-7, to the bend of the West branch, or what is known as the Gerish dam. It was operated during the spring and summer of 1878 and brought three million five hundred thousand feet of logs to the West branch.

"The first railroad for running logs was built by Watson Brothers. Tom Simpson also built one about the same time in 1876-7, the rails being part iron and part wood. One road ran from the No. 2 farm on the Butterfield  to the main Muskegon river. The others ran to the Clam. The first passenger road was completed in December, 1885, by Mr. Cummer of Cadillac. In the spring of 1890 the Missaukee branch of the Grand Rapids & Indiana was extended to Lake City.

"The first saw and shingle mill in the county was built by Pearly, Palmer & Company in the winter of 1871-2. The first grist mill was erected at Falmouth. The first hotel was also built at Falmouth in 1871 and was managed by John Cavanaugh. Indian had occupied the land long before white people settled here, but John Green and John Wagon were the first who located in the county in late years. The first deer, bear or wolves were killed by a man named Hicks in 1866.

"A temporary courthouse was built in Falmouth in 1871. In 1873 a courthouse and jail were built in Lake City and in 1883 a new courthouse was erected at a cost of $10,000. The new jail was erected in 1886 at a cost of something over $7,000.

"The first sermon was preached at Lake City in January, 1874, by John R. Robinson, a half-breed Indian. The agricultural society held their first fair in the year 1880 in Lake City, south of the house now owned by William J. Morey. Since then it has been held on the grounds purchased by the society.

"The nearest markets long ago were Hersey (Osceola county), on the south and Traverse City on the north. The first postoffice was at the home of Daniel Reeder at Reeder (now Lake City), in the spring of 1872, but mail used to be brought to the settlers in the county by those who made long trips for provisions, the settlers coming for their mail when the trains returned. The mail averaged perhaps one every two months.

"The first store was built by John Koopman in October, 1869, it being a log house-residence and store combined.  In 187 he built a store in Falmouth."

Source: A History of Northern Michigan and Its People, Volume 1, By Perry F. Powers, Harry Gardner Cutler 1912



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