Emmet County, Michigan

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Emmet County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the population was 31,437. The county seat is Petoskey.[1]

The county was formed April 1, 1840, from Mackinac County. It was first named Tonedagana County and renamed Emmet County on March 8, 1843. Emmet County remained attached to Mackinac County for administrative purposes until county government was organized in 1853. The county was named for the Irish patriot Robert Emmet, who was hanged as a traitor to the British government at the age of 23. Sixteen counties were renamed in 1843 and five were given names of Irish origin, supposedly in deference to the increasing presence of settlers in Michigan with an Irish background. See List of Michigan county name etymologies.

Emmet County is located at the top of the mitten-shaped Lower Peninsula of Michigan, with Lake Michigan to the west, the Straits of Mackinac to the north, Cheboygan County to the east, and Charlevoix County to the south.



Ottawa history records that Emmet County was thickly populated by a race of Indians that they called the Mush-co-desh, which means, "the Prairie tribe." The Mush-co-desh had an agrarian society and were said to have "shaped the land by making the woodland into prairie as they abandoned their old worn out gardens which formed grassy plains". Ottawa tradition claims that they slaughtered from forty to fifty thousand Mush-co-desh and drove the rest from the land after the Mush-co-desh insulted an Ottawa war party.[2]

When European explorers and settlers first arrived in the area it became part of New France, Ottawa and Ojibwe Indians were the principal inhabitants. The French established Fort Michilimackinac in about 1715. The British took the fort in 1761 and continued to use it as a trading post. In 1763, Ojibwe Indians took the fort as a part of Pontiac's Rebellion and held it for a year before the British retook it. The British abandoned the wooden fort in 1781 after building the limestone Fort Mackinac on nearby Mackinac Island. An Indian community on the lakeshore in the western part of the county continued to thrive after the British abandoned the fort.

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