List of counties in Michigan

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There are 83 counties in the U.S. state of Michigan. The boundaries of these counties have not changed substantially since 1897. However, throughout the 19th century, the state legislature frequently adjusted county boundaries. County creation was intended to fulfill the goal of establishing government over unorganized territory, but a more important goal was encouraging settlement by surveying the land and dividing it into saleable sections.

The creation of counties generally occurred in two stages. First the boundaries of a county were declared and given a name. The county appeared on maps, even though this may have been the entire extent of a county's tangible existence for several years. During this period, the as yet unorganized county was attached to another already organized county for administrative purposes. The legislature frequently changed the administrative attachment of these unorganized counties. Residents of such an attached county could petition the legislature for organization, which was the granting of full legal recognition to the county.

There are many cities and villages that span county boundaries in Michigan, including its capital, Lansing. For a few years during the early 1970s, split cities briefly had authority to petition to change the county boundaries to accord with the city boundaries. The only city to take advantage of this brief opportunity was New Baltimore (previously split between Macomb County and St. Clair County; now completely in Macomb). This transfer of territory from St. Clair to Macomb was the only county boundary change in Michigan since the early 20th century.

The state Constitution of 1850 permitted an incorporated city with a population of at least 20,000 to be organized into a separate county of its own.[1] The Constitution of 1908 retained this provision, but raised the population threshold to 100,000.[2] No city was ever organized into an independent county in this fashion and when a new Constitution took effect in 1963, the provision was removed.



The origin of some names is unclear and credible scholarly sources disagree on the meaning (or intended meaning).

Particularly, Henry Schoolcraft's made up words have disputed sources. Likewise, some Native American words may have originated with tribes from other areas of the country, such as New York or the northeast, where many settlers to Michigan came from.

The wholesale renaming of Michigan counties in the early 19th Century made several cultural and political points.[citation needed] First, under Henry Schoolcraft's tutelage, real Native American words were eradicated,[citation needed] and he substituted made-up pseudo words, sometimes with a kernel of Indian language or sound in them. A second group of counties were renamed for Irish locales, apparently because it was close to the heart for certain Michigan legislators or their constituents. A third group involved naming counties for persons, either to honor their contributions to Michigan, or as a token of acknowledgment to persons in power such as members of President Jackson's cabinet.[3][4] Ten counties, the so-called cabinet counties, were named for persons who served in Andrew Jackson's presidential administration.

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