In 1679, after the region was visited by Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, Jacques Marquette Louis Joliet, and other French explorers, Daniel Greysolon, Sieur Duluth claimed the area for Louis XIV. When the Revolutionary War came to an end, the USA gained possession of what is now eastern Minnesota from Great Britain. Two decades later, in 1803, the USA received what is now western Minnesota from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Britain ceded the northern strip of Minnesota to the USA in 1818, but the area was thoroughly explored by Zebulon M. Pike, a U.S. Army lieutenant, prior to that.

Minnesota Counties

The Minnesota Territory was created on March 3, 1849. The State of Minnesota was founded as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858. It has 87 Counties. Select a Minnesota county to view information & records pertaining to each County

Aitkin CountyAnoka CountyBlue Earth CountyBecker CountyBeltrami CountyBenton CountyBrown CountyBig Stone CountyChippewa CountyChisago CountyClay CountyCook CountyCottonwood CountyCass CountyCarlton CountyClearwater CountyCarver CountyCrow Wing CountyDakota CountyDodge CountyDouglas CountyFaribault CountyFillmore CountyFreeborn CountyGoodhue CountyGrant CountyHennepin CountyHouston CountyHubbard CountyIsanti CountyItasca CountyJackson CountyKanabec CountyKandiyohi CountyKittson CountyKoochiching CountyLake CountyLIncoln CountyLake of the Woods CountyLac qui Parle CountyLe Sueur CountyLyon CountyMcLeod CountyMeeker CountyMahnomen CountyMille Lacs CountyMorrison CountyMower CountyMarshall CountyMartin CountyMurray CountyNicollet CountyNobles CountyNorman CountyOlmstead CountyOtter Tail CountyPennington CountyPine CountyPipestone CountyPolk CountyPope CountyRamsey CountyRedwood CountyRenville CountyRice CountyRed Lake CountyRock CountyRoseau CountyScott CountySherburne CountySibley CountySt. Louis CountyStearns CountySteele CountyStevens CountySwift CountyTodd CountyTraverse CountyWabasha CountyWadena CountyWilkin CountyWinona CountyWright CountyWaseca CountyWashington CountyWatonwan CountyYellow Medicine County

Getting Started with Minnesota Genealogy and Family Trees

First Steps in a Search for Minnesota Genealogy Data – What is the first step in the quest for Minnesota genealogy materials? It is the same thing you would do when seeking out any sort of data – you head to the computer. In the modern digital age it is not unusual to find archives with all kinds of online databases, and to locate an array of public records online. Your computer is a good tool to use as you begin gathering essential information for Minnesota genealogy work. You may even find that it is possible to get copies of documents in addition to some useful facts. The real trick is to spend a bit of time understanding which resources for Minnesota genealogy are going to be strictly available online, and which may ask you to make an actual visit in order for you to get materials for Minnesota genealogy projects.

New Tactics for Minnesota Genealogy Research – Minnesota is one of the largest states, and often one that is overlooked when we speak of the American Midwest. This is perhaps due to its northern location, but it is unfortunate because it is a state with a vibrant history. It has connections with Native Americans, immigrants, and people making the westward trek to the Pacific coast. This is the reason it is home to such a diversity of materials for Minnesota genealogy research. This article is going to briefly touch on the essential tools and tactics to use in your search for Minnesota genealogy data.

The Essential Records for Minnesota Genealogy Research – Most state research work begins with public records, and these tend to fall under three categories. You should learn the differences as you begin searching for Minnesota genealogy:

  • Vital Records – these are birth, marriage, divorce and death records from county, state, and national archives. They can include cemetery or obituary information, census records, newspaper items, military records, immigration and naturalization details, and passenger lists and records as well. These tend to be available as online or offline resources for Minnesota genealogy.
  • State Records – from probate information to surname lists, state census information, private manuscripts, newspapers, military or veterans information, marriage details, maps, land records, genealogical folders, estate information, deeds, death records, cemetery information, birth certificates and more, these are available as online and offline resources for Minnesota genealogy.
  • Local Records – state research will begin in the county clerk’s office or website, and then move on to historical societies, local genealogical societies, small local libraries, and school or college libraries for Minnesota genealogy materials. These are items that are usually offline and viewable by appointment or special arrangement.

Most research begins in public records, since these are the most readily available of the online resources for Minnesota genealogy.

Specific Tools for Minnesota genealogy Research – The records described above are normally the primary resources for those seeking for Minnesota genealogy, but the items below give very targeted answers and data:

  • Office of the State Registrar, Minnesota Department of Health, P.O. Box 64499, St Paul, MN 55164;
    Website: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w/minnesota.htm.
    This is where anyone can order birth, death, marriage and divorce records via a written request or even through an online form.

Additional state and local records can be found at the:

  • Archives of Minnesota Historical Society, Website: http://www.mnhs.org/preserve/records/index.htm.
    Minnesota State Archives has a handful of different sites that each provide online and offline records. These are a wonderful resource that should be explored individually to generate the best results.

Also, consider using the Minnesota Genealogical Society for Minnesota genealogy data at: http://mngs.org/.

Also, these three websites give researchers a tremendous amount of state-specific details for those in search for Minnesota genealogy data.


Minnesota Ethnic Group Research

Minnesota African American Records – Before the Civil War, there were not many black people living in Minnesota at all. Most of those that were present were generally in the fur trading industry or they were servants at Fort Snelling. St. Louis fur companies hired many of them and they were some of the earliest black people in the region. There were only 43 black people listed on the 1849 census for Minnesota Territory. Thirty of them were members of 7 families living in St. Paul. The post-1860 black population grew rapidly. By 1863 there were over 500 black people in the area, many of them coming via steamboat from St. Louis. There are many records for black people housed at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Minnesota Native American Records – The Native Americans in Minnesota were part of the Dakota Nation (Sioux) or the Ojibway Nation (Chippewa), generally. Both tribes traveled a bit and were foragers, as well as hunters. The United States bought two small land parcels in 1805, using one to build Fort Snelling. All of the other land in the area was under Native American ownership. There was fighting between the tribes until they agreed, in 1825, to divide the state almost right across its center.

In 1837, large amounts of Native American land began to be ceded to the French. That included a large area between the Mississippi River and the St. Croix River. The chiefs then moved to northern areas, where they thought they had only given the French the right to cut timber. Then, in 1849, they realized that the land actually no longer belonged to them at all.

The Winnebago and Menominee tribes were given land in central Minnesota in 1847, but they never actually resided on that land. In 1851, the United States acquired most of southern Minnesota from the Dakota Indians at Traverse des Sioux and Mendota. The Ojibway surrendered a lot of their land in northern Minnesota via treaties signed in 1854, 1855, 1863 and 1866.

The Dakota treaties of the 1850s and 1860s led to a very sad time in the history of Minnesota. Reservations were supposed to be properly established, but they weren’t. Several bands of Native Americans wouldn’t willingly move to the reservations that were established in the 1850s. Many Dakota families tried to flea to their original homes, but found European settlers had taken over. In Jackson County, Minnesota and in Spirit Lake, Iowa, several settlers were killed, in 1857. There was a treaty signed in 1858 that was meant to give the Dakota people self-government and land, but the treaty failed. The 1862 Sioux Conflict was the result. After that, many of them fled to Canada or to Dakota Territory. Others were moved to Crow Creek, in what is now modern-day South Dakota. However, there were many deaths due to the bad conditions at Crow Creek. Eventually, in 1866, the surviving tribe members were relocated to Nebraska.

Although the Ojibway tribe in Minnesota were peaceful and didn’t get into conflicts with settlers, they government tried to force them onto reservations. Some refused to move and the tribe tried to consolidate what was left of its lands via inter-tribal treaty parcel consolidation.

There were almost double the amount of Native Americans in Minnesota in 1980 than there were when the Europeans first settled the area. In fact, Minneapolis and St. Paul together have the third largest Native American urban concentration in the country. One of the only unceded and unallotted reservations left in the USA is located in northern Minnesota and the Ojibway live there.