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Charlevoix County, Michigan facts for kids

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Charlevoix County
Charlevoix County Building
Charlevoix County Building
Official logo of Charlevoix County
Map of Michigan highlighting Charlevoix County
Location within the U.S. state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Michigan
Founded 1869
Named for Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix
Seat Charlevoix
Largest city Boyne City
 • Total 1,390 sq mi (3,600 km2)
 • Land 416 sq mi (1,080 km2)
 • Water 974 sq mi (2,520 km2)  70%%
 • Total 26,054
 • Density 62/sq mi (24/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 1st

Charlevoix County ( SHARL-ə-voy) is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 26,054. The county seat is Charlevoix.


1840s: Surveyed and Organized as Keskkauko County

Between 1840 and 1841, surveyors William Austin Burt, John Mullett and Charles W. Cathcart, surveyed much of Northern Michigan. Cathcart oversaw the internal lines survey for 34N 08W, the region which would later be known as Charlevoix. Mullett and Cathcart laid out many of the townships in the new county including Charlevoix Township.

The county was named in 1843 for Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix, a Jesuit missionary of the French colonial era. The county was originally organized in 1840 as Kesk-kauko in honor of a great chief of the Saginaw tribe, and name was changed from Resh-kanko to Charlevoix County in 1843.

1853: Strangites gain power and re-organize Keskkauko into Emmet County

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

In 1847, a group of "Strangite" Mormons settled on 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 Emmet county, as well as a portion of Cheboygan County and Keskkauko/Resh-kanko/ Charlevoix. Charlevoix was thus organized in 1853 as a township under Emmet County and consisted all of the nine townships in the southern half of Emmet County.

Popular Dissatisfaction with Mormon Power

Due to Strang's influence, Mormons came to dominate Emmet 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. After an assassination attempt on June 20, 1856, Strang died three weeks later.

Charlevoix Township splits off to become Charlevoix County in 1869

Emmet County continued to experience tensions as citizens clashed over over whether to put the county seat at Little Traverse (Harbor Springs) versus Mackinaw City. 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 Charlevoix being the official county seat for Emmet county as well as for the newly formed Charlevoix County.

County Seat Wars -- Charlevoix vs East Jordan vs Boyne City

By 1876, the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad had built a line north to Petoskey with stops in Boyne Falls and Melrose. This link to cities in lower Michigan brought increased population to Charlevoix County, and new political power to the eastern part of the county.
By 1876, the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad had built a line north to Petoskey with stops in Boyne Falls and Melrose. This link to cities in lower Michigan brought increased population to Charlevoix County, and new political power to the eastern part of the county.

In 1873, the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad was completed through the eastern side of Charlevoix county up to Petoskey, and the east side of Pine Lake became more and more populated. For example, Resort Township and Springvale Township, Michigan were formed in 1880 as a part of Charlevoix County. As new townships became established, Boyne City colluded with East Jordan to gain a requisite 2/3 majority of township supervisors to vote to move the county seat to East Jordan. In October 1884, 11 of the existing 16 township supervisors designated East Jordan to be the county seat. In October 1886, Boyne City convinced 2/3 of township supervisors to move the county seat to Boyne City.

Finally, in a January 1897 land deal with Emmet County and the state legislature, Charlevoix County took on three townships on Beaver Island while giving up Resort, Bear Lake, and Springvale townships to Emmet County. The resulting balance of township supervisor votes gave the City of Charlevoix enough votes to obtain the county seat after a 13-year hiatus.

Other History

The Ironton Ferry began operation in 1876, and Ironton soon became a location for iron manufacture.

The ten Michigan historical markers in the county generally mark events or places related to European-American history, although this has long been a hunting and fishing grounds for the Odawa people:


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,390 square miles (3,600 km2), of which 416 square miles (1,080 km2) is land and 974 square miles (2,520 km2) (70%) is water. It is the fourth-smallest county in Michigan by land area.

Lake Charlevoix, with 17,200 acres (7,000 ha) surface area and 56 miles (90 km) of shoreline, is a very prominent feature of the county. Gull, Hat, Pismire, and Shoe Islands, which are part of the Beaver Island archipelago, form the Lake Michigan division of the Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and two of them are part of the Michigan Islands Wilderness Area.

The county is considered to be part of Northern Michigan.

Adjacent counties

National protected area


State highways

  • US 31
  • US 131
  • M-32
  • M-66
  • M-75

County-designated highways

  • C-48
  • C-56
  • C-65
  • C-71
  • C-73
  • C-81


  • Beaver Island is served by two airlines:
    • Welke Airport
    • Beaver Island Airport

Ferry service

  • Beaver Island Boat Company maintains a regular auto ferry from Charlevoix:
  • The Ironton Ferry at Ironton, Michigan crosses the south arm of Lake Charlevoix. It is a designated Michigan Historical Site and has been in operation since 1876.

Bus service

  • Indian Trails provides intercity bus service with stops in the city of Charlevoix and Boyne Falls.
  • County-wide dial-a-ride bus service is provided by the Charlevoix County Transit System.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 1,724
1880 5,115 196.7%
1890 9,686 89.4%
1900 13,956 44.1%
1910 19,157 37.3%
1920 15,788 −17.6%
1930 11,981 −24.1%
1940 13,031 8.8%
1950 13,475 3.4%
1960 13,421 −0.4%
1970 16,541 23.2%
1980 19,907 20.3%
1990 21,468 7.8%
2000 26,090 21.5%
2010 25,949 −0.5%
2020 26,054 0.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2018

As of the census of 2000, there were 26,090 people, 10,400 households, and 7,311 families residing in the county. The population density was 63 people per square mile (24/km2). There were 15,370 housing units at an average density of 37 per square mile (14/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.31% White, 0.17% Black or African American, 1.54% Native American, 0.23% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 1.25% from two or more races. 1.04% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 21.8% were of German, 12.0% English, 11.0% American, 10.6% Irish and 8.4% Polish ancestry. 97.3% spoke English and 1.1% Spanish as their first language.

There were 10,400 households, out of which 31.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.40% were married couples living together, 8.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.80% were non-families. 25.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 25.90% under the age of 18, 6.50% from 18 to 24, 27.40% from 25 to 44, 25.20% from 45 to 64, and 14.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 97.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,788, and the median income for a family was $46,260. Males had a median income of $32,457 versus $22,447 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,130. About 5.40% of families and 8.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.00% of those under age 18 and 5.90% of those age 65 or over.




Census-designated places


Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Charlevoix para niños

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