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Berrien County, Michigan Genealogy

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Guide to Berrien County, Michigan ancestry, family history, and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.


Berrien County, Michigan
Map of the U.S. highlighting Michigan
Location of Michigan in the U.S.
Founded October 29, 1829
County Seat St.Joseph
Address Berrien County Courthouse
811 Port Street
St. Joseph, MI 49085
Phone: 269-983-7111
Berrien County Website

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for John M. Berrien. The County has St.Joseph as its seat and the County was created October 29, 1829. The County is located in the southwest area of the state.[1]

Berrien County, Michigan Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1867 1831 1867 1835 1831 1832 1820
Statewide registration started in 1867 for births and deaths. General compliance by 1915.

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

County Clerk has birth and death records from 1867, marriage records from 1831, naturalization records 1835-1985 and military records from 1918.
Probate Court has probate records from 1832.
Register of Deeds has land records from 1831.
Clerk Circuit Court has divorce and court records from 1835. [3]

History[edit | edit source]

  • Berrien County is in the far southwest corner of the lower peninsula of Michigan, and includes the towns of Berrien Springs, Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, and Stephensville.

Parent County[edit | edit source]

1829--Berrien County was created 29 October 1829 from unorganized territory. It was attached to Cass County prior to organization 1 September 1831.  County seat: St.Joseph [4]

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

For animated maps illustrating Michigan county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Michigan County Boundary Maps" (1790-1897) may be viewed for free at the website.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Places/Localities[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[5]

Unincorporated communities
Native American communities
Census-designated places

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

Cass  • La Porte County, Indiana  • St. Joseph County, Indiana  • Van Buren

Resources[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
USGenWeb WorldCat Billion Graves
MIGenWeb Archives
Tombstone Project
Billion Graves
See Michigan Cemeteries for more information.

Silverbrook Cemetery in Niles, Michigan has a Name Searchable Database.

Census[edit | edit source]

State Census

Church[edit | edit source]

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about Michigan denominations, view the Michigan Church Records wiki page.

Lutheran[edit | edit source]
  • Records of the American Lutheran Church, Baroda, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).

Court[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Land[edit | edit source]

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See Michigan Land and Property for additional information about early Michigan land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse and where records are currently housed.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories are available for Berrien County, Michigan Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the wiki page section Michigan Local Histories.

Maps[edit | edit source]

Van Buren CountyCass CountySt. Joseph CountyLa Porte County250PX
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Military[edit | edit source]

Civil War[edit | edit source]

Civil War service men from Berrien County served in various regiments. Men often joined a regiment or a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are the military units that were formed in or had many men from Berrien County.

- 12th Regiment, Michigan Infantry, Companies B, C, E, I, and K
- 17th Regiment, Michigan Infantry, Company B

Online Records

World War I[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Finding More Michigan Newspapers[edit source]

Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Berrien County, Michigan Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Probate[edit | edit source]

In most counties in Michigan, probate records have been kept by the county judge. They include wills, fee books, claim registers, legacy records, inheritance records, probate packets, and dockets. The records are available at the county courthouse.

The FamilySearch Catalog lists films of probate records. To find the records for this county, use the Place Search for Michigan, Berrien and search for Probate records in the list.

Note: Not every county in Michigan will have Probate Records in the FamilySearch Catalog.

Online Probate Records

Taxation[edit | edit source]

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased as shown below:

Birth Records and Death Records from the Michigan Department of Community Health (from 1867) or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.
Marriage Records (from 1867) and Divorce Records (from 1897) from the County Clerk.

Births[edit | edit source]
Marriages[edit | edit source]
Deaths[edit | edit source]

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies and Libraries[edit | edit source]

  • Berrien County Genealogical Society
    PO Box 8808
    Benton Harbor, MI 49023-8808
  • Berrien County Historical Association
    313 N. Cass Street
    PO Box 261
    Berrien Springs, MI 49103
    Telephone: 269-471-1202
    Fax: 269-471-7412
  • Four Flags Area Genealogical Society
    PO Box 414
    Niles, MI 49120-0414
  • Ft. Miami Heritage Society Of Michigan
    708 State St.
    St. Joseph, MI 49085
  • Galien Woods Historical Society
    708 Galien-Buchanan Rd.
    Galien, MI 49113
  • North Berrien Historical Society
    300 Coloma Ave
    PO Box 207
    Coloma, MI 49038
    Telephone: 269-468-3330

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes.

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Berrien County, Michigan" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, ",_Michigan."
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Berrien County, Michigan . Page 343-351 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 346-349.
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Berrien County, Michigan page 344, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "Berrien County, Michigan," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Michigan#Communities, accessed 06 September 2019.