Ingham County Genealogical Society

A Chronological Snapshot

This timeline shows the major highlights of Ingham County's history that are especially relevant to people studying Michigan and Ingham County families.  The chart's purpose is to provide the general historical framework that shapes any researcher's exploration of the people of Ingham County and they records they left behind.  An emphasis is placed on events that affect record keeping. 
1701 Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Detroit.
1754-63 French & Indian War
1787 Northwest Territory was organized and included what now constitutes OH, IN, MI, IL, and WI and probably that portion of MN lying east of the Mississippi and the Red River of the North.
Michigan became part of the Indiana territory.
1805 Territory of Michigan Act was passed by Congress.
Wayne County was re-established making it the first county within the borders of the present State of MI and included the Lower Peninsula and portions of what are now OH, IN, IL and WI.
Michigan’s public lands attracted NY and New England settlers.
Six million acres of Indian land were ceded to white settlers.
Washtenaw County was organized from Wayne County.
Ingham County was set off from Washtenaw County, but annexed to and formed part of Dexter Township, thus still attached to Washtenaw for judicial and other purposes.  It is called a "cabinet county," because it bears the name of Samuel D. Ingham, who was Secretary of the Treasury under President Jackson at the time.  Because of its dense forest, early Michigan settlers tended to avoid Ingham County and to settle its perimeters.
1832 The first piece of land purchased and deed recorded was in the Okemos area. The area was a forest wilderness filled with wide tamarack marshes and was sparsely populated. Settlers, moving into the county from the east and south, followed old Indian trails from Jackson, the Dexter-Stockbridge area and Pontiac.
The Village of Ingham was named Ingham County seat.
Stockbridge was the first township organized in Ingham County.
Aurelius Township (including the west half of the county) was organized.
Ingham Township (including Ingham, White Oak, Wheatfield and Leroy) was organized.
Leslie Township organized.
Onondaga Township organized.
Vevay Township organized.
Alaiedon Township organized.
Ingham County organized.
Bunkerhill Township organized.
White Oak Township organized.
1839 Phelpstown (later re-named Williamstown) Township organized.
Brutus (later renamed Wheatfield) Township organized.
City of Mason became the county seat for Ingham County.
Leroy Township organized.
Delhi Township organized.
Lansing Township organized.
1842 Meridian Township organized.
1842 Locke Township organized
1846 The State Legislature met in Detroit to choose a site for a capitol for the new State of Michigan. Lawmakers presented bills proposing many localities, each, of course favoring his own district as a site. Lansing township was a surprising compromise made by the legislators, for the nearest railroad was 40 miles away and there was only a few trails to the site, which was still a wilderness. The deciding factors for Ingham County were its central location and the offer by James Seymour of a large tract of land at the bend of the Grand River.
 Travel was facilitated by the construction of a plank road from Detroit to Lansing. This toll road, financed with federal funds, was completed in 1860 and gave force to the large number of new Michigan settlers that poured into the region. The seat of Ingham County government was established in Mason, which is centrally located, fulfilling the requirements of the time that the county seat be no more than a day's travel from any location in the county.
Sources: Adapted from: A Michigan Sesquicentennial History of Ingham County, prepared by the Ingham County Historical Commission, November 1987; History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Time Lines to Find and Understand Your Ancestors, by Judy Jacobson, Revised Edition with 2016 Addendum (Clearfield Co, Baltimore MD 2016) pg 177; and information from Ingham County's Website.
For more historical information on Ingham County, Michigan visit the Pioneer History of Ingham County page to review The Pioneer History of Ingham County table of contents and index, compiled and arranged by Mrs. Franc L. Adams, Secretary of the Ingham County Pioneer and Historical Society, which was published in 1923.
Another source of historical information on the county is the History of Ingham and Eaton County with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of their Prominent Men and Pioneers, by Samuel W. Durant, published by D.W. Ensign & Co. (1880).
A more recent source is The Bicentennial History of Ingham County Michigan, by Ford Stevens Ceasar, lithographed by Braun-Brumfield, Ann Arbor, MI  a subsidiary of Shaw-Barton (1976).
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Searching for ancestors in Michigan's Revolutionary era:  Most of the usual genealogical sources are not available to the genealogist searching for an ancestor who may have been in Michigan during the latter half of the eighteenth century.  Yet enough records do survive that it is not a hopeless task.  Below is a list of five printed primary sources which just might provide the answer to a perplexing genealogical problem.
Early Land Transfers, Detroit and Wayne County, Michigan, Detroit, Works Progress Administration 1936.  36 volumes.
Five volumes of this set include land records from the Revolutionary era.  These records were transcribed from the originals in the Wayne County Courthouse.
"Haldimand Papers", Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections 1876-1920, 40 volumes, volumes IX, X, XI, XIX, XX (Transcribed from copies of the originals in the Canadian Archives.)
Sir Frederick Haldimand was Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Canada 1778-1785.  His correspondence includes many letters and reports to and from the commanders at Detroit and Mackinac.  Included in the correspondence are details of life at the settlement, including many names of inhabitants.  One example is the"Census of the Settlement of Detroit" taken on March 31, 1779 which appears in Vol X, pp 312-327.
The John Askin Papers, edited by Milo Quaife, Detroit, Detroit Library Commission, 1928. 2 volumes.  Volume I.  1749-1795.
Askin was a trader at Mackinac and Detroit who carried on an extensive correspondence with business partners, governmnet officials, and military commanders.  Many names appear in his correspondence and the editor has added extensive biographical and genealogical notes.  The original Askin correspondence is in the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library.
Lajeunesse, Ernest J.  The Windsor Border Region of Canada's Southernmost Frontier, A Collection of Documents.  Toronto, The Champlain Society, 1960.
A collection of official reports, letters, census records, land transactions, parish records, etc. relating to the exploration, settlement, and development of the area around the Detroit River from 1640-1800.
"The Mackinac Register", Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Vol XVIII (1908) pp. 469-513 and Vol XIX (1910) pp 2-162.
Marriages 1725-1821, Baptisms 1695-1801, and Interments 1743-1806 recorded at the Parish of St. Anne on Mackinac Island.