Otter Tail County, Minnesota Genealogy

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Guide to Otter Tail County, Minnesota ancestry, family history, and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

Otter Tail County, Minnesota
Map of Minnesota highlighting Otter Tail County
Location in the state of Minnesota, United States Genealogy
Map of the U.S. highlighting Minnesota
Location of Minnesota in the U.S.
Founded March 18, 1858
County Seat Fergus Falls
Minnesota, Otter Tail.png
Address Otter Tail County Courthouse
121 W Junis Avenue
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Phone: 218.739.2271
Otter Tail County Website

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for Otter Tail Lake and Otter Tail River. The County is located in the west-central area of the state.[1]

Otter Tail County, Minnesota Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1870 1869 1870 1872 1867 1872 1836
Statewide registration started for births in 1900 and deaths in 1908. General compliance by 1915.

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Clerk Deeds Court has:

  • Birth and death records from 1870
  • Marriage records from 1869
  • Divorce records from 1897
  • Probate and court records from 1872 [3]

History[edit | edit source]

Parent County[edit | edit source]

  • 1858--Otter Tail County was created 18 March 1858 from Cass and Pembina (Old) Counties  County seat: Fergus Falls [4]
  • For a brief history of Otter Tail County's name, click here, then select Otter Tail County.

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

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

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

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
MNGenWeb Archives FamilySearch Places
Tombstone Project
Billion Graves
See Minnesota Cemeteries for more information.

Census[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 240
1870 1,968 720.0%
1880 18,675 848.9%
1890 34,232 83.3%
1900 45,375 32.6%
1910 46,036 1.5%
1920 50,818 10.4%
1930 51,006 0.4%
1940 53,192 4.3%
1950 51,320 −3.5%
1960 48,960 −4.6%
1970 46,097 −5.8%
1980 51,937 12.7%
1990 50,714 −2.4%
2000 57,159 12.7%
2010 57,303 0.3%
Source: "".

State Census

Church[edit | edit source]

Most church records are held by individual churches. Some denominations are gathering their records into a central repository. For more information, see Minnesota Church Records.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit | edit source]

Church Ward and Branch Records

  • Fergus Falls
Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Aurdal Lutheran Church, Underwood

  • Records of the Aurdal Lutheran Church, Underwood, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).[6]

Fergus Falls

  • Records of the American Lutheran Church, Fergus Falls, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).

Grace Lutheran Church, Erhard

  • Records of the Grace Lutheran Church, Erhard, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).[6]

North Immanuel Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids

  • Records of the North Immanuel Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).[6]

South Immanuel Lutheran Church, Rothsay

  • Records of the South Immanuel Lutheran Church, Rothsay, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).[6]

Trifoldinghed Lutheran Church

  • Records of the Trifoldinghed Lutheran Church, Otter Tail County, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).

Trinity Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids

  • Records of the Trinity Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).

United Norwegian Lutheran Church, Underwood

  • Records of the United Norwegian Lutheran Church, Underwood, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Land[edit | edit source]

The county register of deeds keeps land records once the land was transferred to private ownership. Abstracts and indexes for these records are generally available at the county courthouse.

Land records for Minnesota are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:


Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories are available for Otter Tail County, Minnesota 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 Minnesota Local Histories.

  • John W. Mason, ed. History of Otter Tail County, Minnesota : its people, industries and institutions, with biographical sketches of representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families. Indianapolis : B. F. Bowen, 1916
  • Tweton, Jerome D. The New Deal: At the Grass Roots. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1988. Print.

Maps[edit | edit source]

Clay CountyBecker CountyWadena CountyTodd CountyDouglas CountyGrant CountyWilkin CountyMN OTTER TAIL.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Military[edit | edit source]

Military History:

Listing of individuals from this county for these wars:

  • World War 1
  • World War II 
  • Korean War
  • Vietnam War
World War II[edit | edit source]

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

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

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Probate[edit | edit source]

Probate records may include wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. They may include the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, etc. See Minnesota Probate Records for additional information. Online Probate Indexes and Records

Taxation[edit | edit source]

Since Minnesota tax records include only persons who owned taxable property, many residents were not included. Still they complement land records and can be used in place of missing censuses or the years between censuses. There may also be gaps. For more information, see the wiki page Minnesota Taxation.

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 from the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred. See also Minnesota Vital Records.

Birth[edit | edit source]
Marriage[edit | edit source]
Death[edit | edit source]

Societies and Libraries[edit | edit source]

Otter Tail County Genealogical Society
1110 W. Lincoln Avenue
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Telephone: 218-736-6038

Northwest Minnesota Historical Center
Livingston Lord Library
Moorhead State University
Moorhead, MN 56560

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries
To locate the closest family history center or affiliate library, use the link listed above.

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Otter Tail County, Minnesota" in,_Minnesota accessed 14 Nov 2018
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Otter Tail County, Minnesota. Page 362-370 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), 362-365.
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Otter County, Minnesota page 367, 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, "Otter Tail County, Minnesota," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Minnesota, accessed 14 February 2020.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: An Inventory of Selected Congregational Records of the American Lutheran Church in Minnesota at the Minnesota Historical Society," Collection Finding Aids, Minnesota Historical Society,, accessed 10 June 2013.