Montmorency Co, MI
Genealogy and History


Atlanta, MI (Canada Creek Ranch) - Contributed by Paul Petosky

Montmorency county was originally named Cheonoquet for a Chippewa chief who was a party to the Indian treaties of 1807, 1815, 1825 and 1837, his name meaning Big Cloud. It is uncertain whom the name Montmorency was intended to commemorate, and there does not seem to be any one of the that name of sufficient prominence in American or Michigan history to justify this action. It is possible some legislator of 1843 thought this a fine high sounding name, preferable to any Indian name, however melodious or full of meaning.

There was a Duke of Montmorency, High Admiral of France, who, in 1620, bought the Lieutenant-Generalship of Canada and a few years later sold it again without ever having set foot on this continent. There was also a de Laval-Montmorency, the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Canada, an energetic, faithful churchman, who made great efforts to prevent the giving of ardent spirits to the Indians and who for many years during his bishopric, from 1658 to 1684, exerted a very powerful influence in New France. If a French name were to be chosen, it is unfortunate the name of some one of the early, active, energetic explorers, rulers of military men who came in personal contact with this lake region was not selected.

This is one of the interior counties of Northern Michigan whose settlement is of comparatively recent date. Its county seat, Atlanta, is almost in its geographical center, almost equidistant from its two nearest railroad points - Hillman in the northeast, the terminus of a branch of the Detroit & Mackinac railroad, and Lewiston in the extreme southwest, on the Twin Lakes branch of the Michigan Central. The population of the county is loess than four thousand, it having increased only it few hundred within the past ten years.

Montmorency, however, is a beautiful county of lakes and streams, which are becoming favorite resorts of sportsman and tourists, who are seeking for fishing and hunting grounds which are of almost primitive wildness and productiveness. The lakes are nearly all small and the streams are the headwaters of the Cheboygan and Thunder Bay rivers, which almost meet in the vicinity of Valentine, north of the center of the county.


Montmorency county has the making of a productive agricultural, horticultural, livestock and dairy district. The soil is of a diversified day, mostly of a sandy clay loam, with a clay subsoil that retains the moisture to a remarkable degree and admits of cultivation from one to two weeks earlier than the clay soil of other localities. The loamy soil is warn and rich, producing rapid vegetation, and its is so easily handled that to a man accustomed to heavy soils it hardly seems like work. The clay subsoil holds the moisture and with this loamy soil the combination is a guarantee to raise good crops of anything you undertake. It is adapted to the cultivation of wheat and corn, rye, barley, oats, peas, grasses, potatoes, sugar beets, and the raising of live stock; admits of cultivation from April to November, and under no condition does it income hard as does strictly clay soil.

Any section that will grow large timber can be depended upon for agriculture and horticulture, provided the climate is favorable. People coming into this country accustomed to see timber short tracked with low brambles, are amazed when they notice the height maple and beech attain in this region. Ions bodied with solid timber, and as one rides along through thousands of acres of lands with heavy stumps showing the hardy growth of tree life, all past experience proves that such acres will produce abundantly the most valuable forms of vegetation. White clover and blue grass seem to spring up spontaneously in tracts, for instance, which have been swept clear of the rankest of the forest growths. The region around Lewiston seems especially favored as a grain and clover district, the country near Hillman being more thickly wooded. The pea crop is also becoming a factor in the agricultural wealth of the county. Sheep and angora goats are coming animals in the livestock industry. With time, Montmorency county will be a good producer along the lines of agriculture and horticulture.


In the matter of population progress is shown in the United States census figures, as follows:

Civil Divisions                                      1910        1900         1890
Albert township . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 882         827          142
Avery township  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182
Briley township . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 563         417          338
Hillman township (including Hillman village). . . . . 834         819          535
Hillman village . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 411         253
Montmorency township  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500         445          177
Rust township . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 470         371          203
Vienna township . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 324         355

Totals  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$3,755       3,234        1,487


Source: A History of Northern Michigan and it's People, by Perry F. Powers, assisted by H. G. Cutler

This was laid off as Cheonequet county by act of the Legislature, approved April 1st, 1840. The name was changed to Montmorency by an act approved March 8th, 1843. The county seat is at Hillman.

The eastern and southeastern portions of the county lie upon the head-waters of Thunder Bay river, while the northwestern portion gives rise to several of the affluents of the Cheboygan. Professor Winchells contour lines show elevation varying from three hunder to seven or eight hundred feet above the great great lakes.

W. C. Cain, of Hillman, treasurer of the county, communicates the following:
The first permanent settler is believed to be Francis Holmes, who, in 1874 or 1875, settled in what is now the township of Hillman, and who still resides in the county. There had previously been lumber camps in the county, where a few potatoes had been grown, but none of these were permanent settlements. As nearly as can be learned, the first fruit trees set in orchard were planted by Thomas B. Johnson. Such plantings have in many cases failed; generally, it is believed, from lack of proper care, from the browning of cattle, and other causes incident to a newly-settled region. Trees that have been well cared for are now bearing well, though not as yet enough for home consumption.

The variety of soils is sufficient to please a great variety of tastes, varying from huckleberry plains to heavy, rich clay, the latter particularly in the eastern part of the county. The western part is high, and in many parts rolling, and timbered with pines, hemlock and, in come quite large tracts, almost wholly with hard wood, with a loamy clay soil. The extreme western part of the county is said to contain some of the highest land in the lower peninsula.

There are quite extensive plains in the county, timbered with small pine and oak, which are being tested for agricultural purposes. 

There are many small lakes in the county, some of them very pretty. In most cases, they are surrounded by high land, generally plains.

The census of 1884 shows this county to have had, of apple orchards, 10 acres, 16 bearing trees, yielding in 1883 two bushels of fruit. Peach orchards, none.  Total value of orchard products of all kinds sold or consumed in 1883 was $4.00.

Vineyards, none
Market garden products, none.

Source: History of Michigan Horticulture: Being a Part of the Seventeenth Annual...  By Theodatus Timothy Lyon 1887









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