Alcona County, Michigan

Alcona County, Michigan

Map of Michigan highlighting Alcona County
Location in the U.S. state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
Founded established 1840
organized 1869[1]
Seat Harrisville
Largest city Harrisville
  Total 1,791 sq mi (4,639 km2)
  Land 675 sq mi (1,748 km2)
  Water 1,116 sq mi (2,890 km2), 62.%
  (2010) 10,942
  Density 16/sq mi (6/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Alcona County is a county of the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,942.[2] Its county seat is Harrisville.[3] Alphabetically it is the first county in Michigan, as its flag states "First of 83".


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

The county was created by the state legislature on April 1, 1840.[5] It was at first named Negwegon County,[4] after the name of a well-known Chippewa chief, also known as "Little Wing", who was an American ally against the British in the War of 1812. It was renamed to Alcona County on March 8, 1843, after a neologism manufactured by Henry Schoolcraft from parts of words from Native American languages, plus Arabic, Greek and Latin,[6][7] which were amalgamated to mean "fine or excellent plain".[1][8]

Initially, it was attached to Mackinac County for administrative purposes. The attachment shifted to Cheboygan County in 1853, to Alpena County in 1857, Iosco County in 1858, and Alpena County in 1859. Harrisville Township, then comprising the entire county, was organized in 1860. County government was organized in 1869.[9] The County's slogan on its seal (a single gold star on a green field in the shape of Alcona County) is "First of 83," which refers to its place alphabetically among Michigan counties.[10]

Alcona County has been forced to explore options to remedy a major budget shortfall resulting from an official's embezzlement. Former County Treasurer Thomas Katona pleaded guilty in June 2007 to charges that he embezzled over 1.2 million dollars from county funds to invest them into a Nigerian scam he fell for.[11][12]

Katona was sentenced to 9–14 years imprisonment on June 12, 2007 by the 23rd Circuit Court. Judge William Myles said Katona's crimes warranted more severe punishment than called for in state sentencing guidelines, due to the amount of money involved and the number of victims in the case.[13]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,791 square miles (4,640 km2), of which 675 square miles (1,750 km2) is land and 1,116 square miles (2,890 km2) (62%) is water.[14]

The area is part of the Au Sable State Forest, specifically the Grayling FMU (Alcona, Crawford, Oscoda, and northern Iosco counties). The county is considered to be part of Northern Michigan.


Lakes in the county include:[15]

  • Lake Huron
  • Alcona Lake
  • Badger Lake
  • Bear Lake
  • Brownlee Lake
  • Byron Lake
  • Cedar Lake
  • Clear Lake
  • Crooked Lake
  • Crystal Lake
  • Curtis Lake
  • Honawan Lake
  • Horseshoe Lake
  • Hubbard Lake, which is among the twenty largest inland lakes in the state.[16]
  • Hunter Lake
  • Indian Lake
  • Jenkins lake
  • Jewell Lake
  • Lost Lake
  • North Hoist Lake
  • North Lake
  • O'Brien Lake
  • Poplar Lake
  • Reid Lake
  • South Hoist Lake
  • Tompson Lake

Adjacent counties

National protected area


The county government operates the jail, maintains rural roads, operates the major local courts, keeps files of deeds and mortgages, maintains vital records, administers public health regulations, and participates with the state in the provision of welfare and other social services. The county board of commissioners controls the budget but has only 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.

Presently, the Alcona County Circuit Court is part of the 23rd Circuit of Michigan. This is a multicounty circuit, which also includes Arenac, Iosco and Oscoda Counties. Until relatively recently, this court was part of the 26th Circuit, which included Alpena and Montmorency Counties.

Elected officials


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201510,349[21]−5.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[22]
1790-1960[23] 1900-1990[24]
1990-2000[25] 2010-2013[2]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 10,942 people residing in the county. 97.9% were White, 0.6% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Black or African American, 0.2% of some other race and 0.9% of two or more races. 1.1% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

Largest ancestries (2000) Percent
English England 23.4%
German Germany 23.0%
Irish Republic of Ireland 9.2%
Polish Poland 7.7%
French France 7.5%
French Canadian France Canada 5.0%

As of the census 2000,[26] there were 11,719 people, 5,132 households, and 3,566 families residing in the county. The population density was 17 people per square mile (7/km²). There were 10,584 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.04% White, 0.16% Black or African American, 0.62% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.06% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. 0.69% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 23.4% were of English, 23.0% German, 9.2% Irish, 7.7% Polish, 7.5% French and 5.0% French Canadian ancestry according to 2012 American Community Survey. 98.2% spoke English as their first language. Those citing "American" ancestry in Alcona County are of overwhelmingly English extraction, however most English Americans identify simply as having American ancestry because their roots have been in North America for so long, in some cases since the 1600s.[27][28][29][30][31]

There were 5,132 households out of which 20.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.10% were married couples living together, 5.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.50% were non-families. 26.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.67.

In the county the population was spread out with 19.00% under the age of 18, 4.60% from 18 to 24, 20.90% from 25 to 44, 31.00% from 45 to 64, and 24.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 49 years. For every 100 females there were 102.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,362, and the median income for a family was $35,669. Males had a median income of $29,712 versus $20,566 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,653. About 9.10% of families and 12.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.80% of those under age 18 and 9.00% of those age 65 or over.


Alcona County is considered to be part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord.[32]


Presidential election results[33]
Year Republican Democrat
2012 58.05% 3,571 40.50% 2,472
2008 53.02% 3,404 45.11% 2,896
2004 55.00% 3,592 43.96% 2,871
2000 52.56% 3,152 44.96% 2,696




Alcona County has been a part of developing the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport, which became a public airport in 1993. It now occupies a portion of the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, which is in Oscoda Township, Michigan in neighboring Iosco County, Michigan. It is primarily used for cargo and light general aviation activities. The Airport offers 24-hour near all weather daily access.






Unincorporated communities


Historical markers

There are two recognized historical markers in the county:[39]

See also


  1. 1 2 "Bibliography on Alcona County". Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Retrieved 2016-11-04.
  2. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  3. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. 1 2 Newberry Library. "Michigan: Individual County Chronologies". Atlas of County Historical Boundaries. Retrieved 2016-11-04.
  5. Powers, p. 87
  6. Romig, Walter (October 1, 1986) [1973]. Michigan Place Names: The History of the Founding and the Naming of More Than Five Thousand Past and Present Michigan Communities. Great Lakes Books Series (Paperback). Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 081431838X. ISBN 978-0814318386.
  7. Names of Michigan Counties
  8. Powers, p. 94
  9. Powers, p. 88
  10. Neighbor Hub. "Alcona County official website.".
  11. "Officials begin talks on how to make painful budget cuts," The Bay City Times, May 31, 2007.
  12. Michigan Attorney General press release, June 12, 2007
  13. "Former Alcona treasurer sentenced to 9-14 years," The Bay City Times, June 13, 2007. Accessed June 24, 2007.
  14. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  15. Michigan Department of Natural Resources maps of lakes in Alcona County.
  16. Top 20 Michigan inland lakes.
  17. Michigan Bar Journal. April 2012. p. 639.
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "List of Area elected officials". Alcona County Review. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  19. 1 2 3 4 5 Michigan Bar Journal. April 2012. p. 113.
  20. Michigan County Road Commissions, Alcona County accessed May 1, 2012
  21. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  22. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  23. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  24. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  25. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  26. Statistical profile of Alcona County, Michigan, United States Census Bureau, Census 2000
  27. "Ancestry of the Population by State: 1980 - Table 3" (PDF). Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  28. Sharing the Dream: White Males in a Multicultural America By Dominic J. Pulera.
  29. Reynolds Farley, 'The New Census Question about Ancestry: What Did It Tell Us?', Demography, Vol. 28, No. 3 (August 1991), pp. 414, 421.
  30. Stanley Lieberson and Lawrence Santi, 'The Use of Nativity Data to Estimate Ethnic Characteristics and Patterns', Social Science Research, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1985), pp. 44-6.
  31. Stanley Lieberson and Mary C. Waters, 'Ethnic Groups in Flux: The Changing Ethnic Responses of American Whites', Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 487, No. 79 (September 1986), pp. 82-86.
  32. "Diocese of Gaylord.".
  33. "ELECTION PRECINCT RESULTS SEARCH Presidential Elections". Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  34. "Photos of ends of M-72.".
  35. History of Michigan highways.
  36. "Alcona County Review".
  37. Alpena News (serving N.E. Michigan)
  38. "Oscoda Press home page". Iosco County News Herald. East Tawas, MI. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  39. "Michigan Historical Markers".
  40. "Springport Inn.".
  41. "Platt, Connie Faussett, Northern Journal (November-December, 2004), Captain Joseph VanBuskirk of Springport (Harrisville, Michigan)." (PDF).

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 44°43′N 83°16′W / 44.71°N 83.27°W / 44.71; -83.27

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