Emmet County, Michigan

Coordinates: 45°35′N 84°59′W / 45.58°N 84.98°W / 45.58; -84.98
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Emmet County
Emmet County Building
Emmet County Building
Official logo of Emmet County
Map of Michigan highlighting Emmet County
Location within the U.S. state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 45°35′N 84°59′W / 45.58°N 84.98°W / 45.58; -84.98
Country United States
State Michigan
FoundedApril 1, 1840[1]
Named forRobert Emmet
Largest cityPetoskey
 • Total882 sq mi (2,280 km2)
 • Land467 sq mi (1,210 km2)
 • Water415 sq mi (1,070 km2)  47%
 • Total34,112
 • Density70/sq mi (30/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district1st

Emmet County is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the northernmost county in the Lower Peninsula. As of the 2020 census, the population was 34,112, making it the second-most populous county in Northern Michigan (behind Grand Traverse County).[2] The county seat is Petoskey, which is also the county's largest city.[3]

Emmet County is located at the top of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, bounded on the west by Lake Michigan and on the north by the Straits of Mackinac. Its rural areas are habitat for several endangered species. Long a center of occupation by the Odawa people, today the county is the base for the federally recognized Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.


Native Americans and New France[edit]

A detail from A New Map of Michigan with its Canals, Roads & Distances (1842) by Henry Schenck Tanner, showing Emmet County as Tonedagana, the county's name from 1840 to 1843.[4] Several nearby counties are also shown with names that would later be changed.

Odawa history records that Emmet County was thickly populated by indigenous peoples called the Mush-co-desh, which means "the prairie tribe". They 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.[5]

The Odawa were important prior to European colonization for their trading network throughout the Great Lakes area. The Odawa of nearby L'Arbre Croche fished, hunted, and grew and gathered produce, including corn, squash, onions, cucumbers, turnips, cabbages, melon, and wild strawberries.[6] The Odawa bartered with the French at Mackinac Island, a major fur-trading center where Lake Huron meets Lake Michigan. They traded food, bark, and canoes for goods – like clothing and glass and porcelain beads. The canoes and food, including dried fish and meat and produce, supplied the fur traders who worked in the wilderness of the Great Lakes and the Upper Mississippi regions.[7] They retained this influence into the 18th century, as French traders relied on them to take furs east from tribes they traded with to the north and west. When French explorers first came to this area, they claimed it as part of New France, based in today's Quebec province.

Homelands of Anishinaabe and Oji-Cree, ca. 1800

The Ottawa and Ojibwe tribes were the principal inhabitants of this area, extending across to Manitoulin Island and the Bruce Peninsula of Ontario, Canada. The French established Fort Michilimackinac in about 1715. It was a trading post and the basis of a multicultural settlement that developed around it. Seasonally numerous Native Americans of various tribes would come to trade there.

Pierre du Jaunay, a Jesuit priest from France, served as a missionary at Michilimackinac beginning in 1735. From the Sainte-Anne log church, he served the French and later British residents, neighboring Native Americans, and visiting traders and explorers for almost 30 years.[8] Du Jaunay split his time between the Sainte-Anne church and the Saint-Ignace at L’Arbre Croche mission in Cross Village, where he had a farm. He was assisted by several French priests and some Native American slaves.[8]

British control[edit]

During the Seven Years' War (1754–63), British and French forces, together with Indian allies on each side, fought on the North American front in what became known in the British colonies as the French and Indian War. The British took control of Fort Michilimackinac in 1761 and continued to use it as a trading post. In 1763, Ojibwe warriors 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.

US control and white settlement under the Mormons[edit]

An Indian community on the lakeshore in the western part of the county continued to thrive after the British abandoned the fort. After the War of 1812, Mackinac Island and this area became part of the United States.

In the 1840s, Odawa villages lined the Lake Michigan shore from present-day Harbor Springs to Cross Village. By Act 119 of the Michigan Legislature approved 1 April 1840, a number of northern counties were delineated. Tonedagana County, a name derived from a Cross Village Odawa war chief, was delineated from Michilimackinac County but unorganized, so remained attached for judicial purposes.[9][10][11] The area was mostly reserved for native tribes by treaty provisions with the US federal government until 1875.

The Michigan Legislature renamed Tonedagana County as Emmet County, after Robert Emmet, on 8 March 1843.[9][10] In 1847, a group of Mormons settled on nearby Beaver Island and established a "kingdom" led by "King" James Jesse Strang. There were bitter disputes between Strang's followers and other white settlers. Strang, seeking to strengthen his position, gained election to the Michigan State House of Representatives. In January 1853, he pushed through legislation titled, "An act to organize the County of Emmet", which enlarged Emmet County by attaching the nearby Lake Michigan islands to the county, as well as a portion of Cheboygan County. It also annexed the old Charlevoix County, which was originally named Keskkauko County and was as yet unorganized, as a township of Emmet County. Due to Strang's influence, Mormons came to dominate county government, causing an exodus of many non-Mormon settlers to neighboring areas. In 1855, the non-Mormon resistance succeeded in getting the Michigan Legislature to reorganize Emmet County. The islands, including Beaver Island and North and South Manitou Islands, were transferred into the separate Manitou County, which effectively eliminated Mormons from Emmet County government.

Further political divisions[edit]

On April 27, 1857, an election selected Little Traverse (now named Harbor Springs) as the county seat. However, at about this time, investors were trying to promote development at Mackinaw City. Due to their influence, in February 1858, the State Legislature passed an act establishing Mackinaw City as the county seat. The Emmet County Board of Supervisors protested that the county seat had already been established at Little Traverse, and in 1861 the act was repealed as unconstitutional. In a contested election in 1867, residents voted to move the county seat to Charlevoix, which was upheld by a Circuit Court decision in 1868. However, in 1869, Charlevoix County was split from Emmet County, resulting in the county seat being in another county. No provisions for official relocation were authorized, although Harbor Springs served as the unofficial county seat until April 1902. The present county seat of Petoskey was selected at that time in a county-wide election.

Most of present day Charlevoix County was originally part of Emmet County.
Most of present day Charlevoix County was originally part of Emmet County.

Charlevoix Township was organized in 1853 and included all of the nine townships in the southern half of the county. In the 1855 reorganization, four new townships were created by the State Legislature:

In 1855, county supervisors also established the townships of Arbour Croche and Utopia. (The former was a mangled spelling derived from the French L'Arbre Croche, the historic village later renamed as Harbor Springs.) The state had inadvertently drawn boundaries for Little Traverse and Bear Creek townships such that one area was included in both. The county supervisors' Arbour Croche was defined as having the same boundaries as the state-defined Little Traverse Township, excluding the area overlapping with Bear Creek. Eventually the name Arbour Croche disappeared in favor of Little Traverse. The township of Utopia was later absorbed into other townships.

In 1877, six additional townships were organized:

Center Township was added in 1878 and Carp Lake Township in 1879. Resort Township and Springvale Township were formed in 1880, but were at that time part of Charlevoix County. Those townships, along with Bear Creek, experienced numerous boundary changes. The now defunct townships of Bear Lake and Spring Lake were created out of portions of these townships. In 1897, the portions of these townships remaining in Emmet County were absorbed into Bear Creek and Springvale townships.

Also organized in 1897 were West Traverse Township (from portions of Friendship and Little Traverse Townships) and Egleston Township (name changed to McKinley Township in 1903). In 1923, Wawatam Township was the last township organized in the county, when it was detached from Carp Lake Township.


Emmet County is at the lower center-left, Cheboygan County is at the lower right, and Mackinac County is above both of them; taken April 10, 2022 from the International Space Station.

According to the US Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 882 square miles (2,280 km2), of which 467 square miles (1,210 km2) is land and 415 square miles (1,070 km2) (47%) is water.[12] The lower portion of the county forms Little Traverse Bay at the mouth of the bear River. Emmet County is considered to be part of Northern Michigan

Adjacent counties[edit]

By land

By water

The Tunnel of Trees, along M-119 north of Harbor Springs.


U.S. Census data map showing local municipal boundaries within Emmet County. Shaded areas represent incorporated cities.



Civil townships[edit]

Census-designated places[edit]

Other unincorporated places[edit]

Indian reservations[edit]


Historical population
US Decennial Census[14]
1790-1960[15] 1900-1990[16]
1990-2000[17] 2010-2018[2]

At the 2000 United States census,[18] there were 31,437 people, 12,577 households, and 8,527 families in the county. The population density was 67 people per square mile (26 people/km2). There were 18,554 housing units at an average density of 40 per square mile (15/km2). By the 2020 census, its population was 34,112.

In 2000, the racial makeup of the county was 94.33% White, 0.47% Black or African American, 3.11% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.16% from other races, and 1.47% from two or more races. 0.91% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 23.6% were of German, 11.4% English, 11.3% Irish, 9.0% Polish and 8.4% American ancestry. 96.9% spoke English and 1.1% Spanish as their first language.

There were 12,577 households, out of which 31.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.90% were married couples living together, 8.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.20% were non-families. 26.90% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.97.

The county population contained 25.30% under the age of 18, 7.10% from 18 to 24, 28.10% from 25 to 44, 25.20% from 45 to 64, and 14.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 96.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.70 males.

In 2000, the median income for a household in the county was $40,222, and the median income for a family was $48,140. Males had a median income of $33,385 versus $24,173 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,070. About 4.50% of families and 7.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.30% of those under age 18 and 7.80% of those age 65 or over.


Emmet County has largely voted Republican through the years. Since 1876 its voters have selected the Republican Party nominee in 78% (28 of 36) of the national elections, and in 19 of the last 20 national elections (through 2020) the Republican nominee carried the county.

United States presidential election results for Emmet County, Michigan[19]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 12,135 54.64% 9,662 43.50% 412 1.86%
2016 10,616 55.89% 6,972 36.71% 1,406 7.40%
2012 10,253 57.71% 7,225 40.67% 287 1.62%
2008 9,314 51.32% 8,515 46.92% 320 1.76%
2004 10,332 59.48% 6,846 39.41% 194 1.12%
2000 8,602 58.47% 5,451 37.05% 658 4.47%
1996 6,002 47.71% 4,892 38.89% 1,686 13.40%
1992 5,312 40.15% 4,245 32.08% 3,675 27.77%
1988 7,105 62.40% 4,170 36.62% 111 0.97%
1984 7,760 70.04% 3,254 29.37% 66 0.60%
1980 5,930 53.88% 3,724 33.84% 1,352 12.28%
1976 5,910 58.49% 4,013 39.72% 181 1.79%
1972 5,288 61.91% 3,081 36.07% 172 2.01%
1968 4,405 58.83% 2,624 35.04% 459 6.13%
1964 2,731 39.37% 4,197 60.50% 9 0.13%
1960 4,574 63.55% 2,602 36.15% 22 0.31%
1956 4,764 71.16% 1,903 28.42% 28 0.42%
1952 5,113 72.90% 1,871 26.68% 30 0.43%
1948 3,565 63.42% 1,922 34.19% 134 2.38%
1944 3,538 61.19% 2,206 38.15% 38 0.66%
1940 4,216 59.62% 2,831 40.04% 24 0.34%
1936 2,893 44.58% 3,075 47.39% 521 8.03%
1932 2,890 46.06% 3,110 49.56% 275 4.38%
1928 3,679 75.36% 1,166 23.88% 37 0.76%
1924 3,020 69.23% 773 17.72% 569 13.04%
1920 3,059 68.88% 1,070 24.09% 312 7.03%
1916 1,724 50.28% 1,363 39.75% 342 9.97%
1912 830 25.00% 920 27.71% 1,570 47.29%
1908 2,313 62.08% 1,012 27.16% 401 10.76%
1904 2,710 69.15% 941 24.01% 268 6.84%
1900 2,362 62.52% 1,281 33.91% 135 3.57%
1896 1,727 54.17% 1,337 41.94% 124 3.89%
1892 1,015 46.28% 1,059 48.29% 119 5.43%
1888 946 44.88% 1,056 50.09% 106 5.03%
1884 779 43.79% 895 50.31% 105 5.90%
1880 814 56.96% 495 34.64% 120 8.40%
1876 312 41.82% 426 57.10% 8 1.07%

Emmet County operates the County jail, maintains rural roads, operates the major local courts, records deeds, mortgages, and vital records, administers public health regulations, and participates with the state in the provision of social services. The county board of commissioners controls the budget and has limited authority to make laws or ordinances. In Michigan, most local government functions – police and fire, building and zoning, tax assessment, street maintenance etc. – are the responsibility of individual cities and townships.

Elected officials[edit]

(information as of December 2020)

Parks and recreation[edit]


The economy of Emmet County, along with that of the rest of Northern Michigan, is heavily boosted by local companies and manufacturing. Corporations in Emmet County, such as those in the fields of aerospace technology, gambling and candy making, among others, drive the county's economy.[21][22][23]

Manufacturing and industry[edit]

The Odawa Casino Resort in Resort Township is one of Emmet County's top attractions, as it is one of the many casinos in Northern Michigan.[24] Along with the Odawa, the LTBB Gaming Administration in Petoskey is one of the other casinos in the area, employing 250 people. The Kilwins chocolate-manufacturing company is based in Petoskey, although over 100 locations of the store exist in 21 states, mostly in popular tourist destinations. The company, founded in 1947 under a similar name by Don and Katey Kilwin, specializes in making ice cream, candy, chocolate, and fudge.[25][26][27] McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey is one of the top employers of Emmet County, with 950 employees. Overall, six companies in Emmet County employ 200 or more people.[28] Moeller Aerospace Technology in Harbor Springs manufactures various products.[29] The Petoskey News-Review is a daily newspaper, in circulation since 1878. Its current name dates from a 1953 merger with another newspaper company.[30]


State-maintained highways[edit]

Previously, an additional highway, M-108, ran along the Emmet–Cheboygan county line in Mackinaw City. However, the highway was handed back to the Emmet County Road Commission in 2010.[31]

County-designated highways[edit]

  • C-58 is an east–west road connecting Petoskey to I-75 at Wolverine in Cheboygan County.
  • C-64 is an east–west road connecting Pellston to M-27 in Cheboygan County.
  • C-66 is an east–west road connecting M-119 in Cross Village to US-31 in Levering and US-23 in Cheboygan.
  • C-71 is a north–south road connecting Horton Bay with US-31 near Bay Shore.
  • C-77 is a north–south road serving central Emmet County, connecting Harbor Springs and Cross Village via a more inland route than the one taken by M-119.
  • C-81 exists in two north–south segments. One segment, in the south of Emmet County, connects the Walloon Lake area with Petoskey, paralleling US-131. Another segment, in central Emmet County, connects Harbor Springs and Mackinaw City.


Indian Trails provides intercity bus service to Emmet County with stops in Petoskey and Pellston.

Air service[edit]

Emmet County is served by Pellston Regional Airport, with connections to Detroit and other locales in Northern Michigan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bibliography on Emmet County". Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Retrieved January 19, 2013.[dead link]
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". US Census Bureau. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ Newberry Library. "Michigan: Individual County Chronologies". Atlas of County Historical Boundaries. Archived from the original on November 6, 2016. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  5. ^ Blackbird, Andrew J.(1887): History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan, The Ypsilantian Job Printing House [1].
  6. ^ Karamanski, Theodore J. (2012). Blackbird's song : Andrew J. Blackbird and the Odawa people. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. pp. 6, 8–9. ISBN 978-1-61186-050-4.
  7. ^ Karamanski 2012, pp. 8–9.
  8. ^ a b "Biography – Du Jaunay, Pierre – Volume IV (1771-1800)". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Retrieved March 25, 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Tonedagana County." Michigan Historical Collections, Volume 1, page 322. Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan, Michigan Historical Commission, 1877. Accessed 7 June 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Blasts from the Past: How did Emmet County get named for an Irish Patriot?" Emmet County, Michigan, official website. Accessed 7 June 2020.
  11. ^ George Dawson (1840). Acts of the Legislature of the State of Michigan Passed at the Annual Session of 1840. Detroit. pp. 196–200.
  12. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". US Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  13. ^ "Michigan: 2010 Population and Housing Unit Counts 2010 Census of Population and Housing" (PDF). 2010 United States Census. United States Census Bureau. September 2012. p. E-19. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  14. ^ "US Decennial Census". US Census Bureau. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  15. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  16. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". US Census Bureau. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  17. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). US Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 27, 2010. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  18. ^ "U.S. Census website". US Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  19. ^ US Election Atlas
  20. ^ Emmet County - Officials & Depts
  21. ^ Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan
  22. ^ MyNorth, Northern Michigan
  23. ^ Smith, Jeff. "8 Companies Play Growing Role in Northern Michigan Economy". MyNorth. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  24. ^ "Odawa Casino". Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  25. ^ "Our History and Timeline". Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  26. ^ "Kilwins Store Locations". Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  27. ^ Petoskey CofC, Kilwins
  28. ^ Northern Lakes
  29. ^ Moeller Aerospace
  30. ^ Petroskey News
  31. ^ Michigan Department of Transportation (December 9, 2010). "Contract Numbers 2011-0033 and 2011-0033". Michigan Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on January 5, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2010.

External links[edit]

45°35′N 84°59′W / 45.58°N 84.98°W / 45.58; -84.98