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Otsego County, Michigan facts for kids

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Otsego County
Otsego County Building in Gaylord
Otsego County Building in Gaylord
Official seal of Otsego County
Map of Michigan highlighting Otsego 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 1840 (created)
1875 (organized)
Seat Gaylord
Largest city Gaylord
 • Total 526 sq mi (1,360 km2)
 • Land 514 sq mi (1,330 km2)
 • Water 11 sq mi (30 km2)  2.1%%
 • Total 25,091
 • Density 47/sq mi (18/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 1st
Otsego County circuit court (Michigan)
Otsego County District Court in Gaylord

Otsego County ( 'aat-SEE-go'), formerly known as Okkuddo County, is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 25,091. The county seat is Gaylord. The county was founded in 1840 and organized in 1875.


Otsego may be a Native American name meaning "place of the rock". However, an alternative theory is that it derives from a lake and a county in New York state, which are said to bear the name derived from a Mohawk Iroquoian word meaning either "clear water" or "meeting place." It may be a neologism coined by Henry Schoolcraft, who was a borrower of words and pieces of words from many languages (including Arabic, Greek, Latin, and various American Indian dialects). See List of Michigan county name etymologies.


1842 Negissee Okkuddo Cheonoquet Wabbassee Shawwano Oscoda counties Michigan
A detail from A New Map of Michigan with its Canals, Roads & Distances (1842) by Henry Schenck Tanner, showing Otsego County as Okkuddo County, its name from 1840 to 1843. Several nearby counties are also shown with names that would later be changed.

The county was initially created in 1840 as Okkuddo County (meaning "sickly water," although the reason for using a name with such a negative meaning is lost). The name was changed to Otsego in 1843. It was organized in 1875.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 526 square miles (1,360 km2), of which 515 square miles (1,330 km2) is land and 11 square miles (28 km2) (2.1%) is water. It is the fifth-smallest county by total area in Michigan. The county is considered to be part of Northern Michigan.

Otsego County has more than 370 lakes. Most of the lakes are in the southern part of the county. Three miles south of Gaylord, Otsego Lake, is the county's largest, and has a surface area of 1,972 acres (7.98 km2). Other large lakes in the southern part of the county include Big Lake, Big Bear Lake, Buhl Lake, Crapo Lake, Dixon Lake, Douglas Lake, Guthrie Lake, Heart Lake, Lake Tecon, Manuka Lake, Opal Lake, Pencil Lake, and Turtle Lake. The larger lakes in the northern part of the county are Five Lakes, Hardwood Lake, Lake Twenty Seven, and Pickerel Lake. Many of these are so-called 'kettle lakes,' formed by the melting of blocks of glacial ice, left as the glacier retreated, which created a depression in the soil.

Glaciers shaped the area, creating a unique regional ecosystem. A large portion of the area is the so-called Grayling outwash plain, which consists of broad outwash plain including sandy ice-disintegration ridges; jack pine barrens, some white pine-red pine forest, and northern hardwood forest. Large lakes were created by glacial action.

Headwaters of the Au Sable, Black, Manistee, Pigeon, and Sturgeon Rivers are in Otsego County. The Au Sable River watershed is the largest watershed in the county. These watersheds drain large portions of the county, and are significant to the environment and a foundation of its habitat.

Adjacent counties


Major highways

  • I-75 runs generally north–south through the west-central part of the county, passing Vanderbilt, Gaylord and Oak Grove.
  • BL I-75 is a loop route running through Gaylord. It follows the former route of US 27.
  • M-32 runs east–west through the county, linking East Jordan to the west and Alpena to the east.


Gaylord Regional Airport – on SW edge of Gaylord, owned and operated by Otsego County, is a General Utility Airport. It is listed as a tier one airport in all categories of the Michigan Airport System Plan.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,974
1890 4,272 116.4%
1900 6,175 44.5%
1910 6,552 6.1%
1920 6,043 −7.8%
1930 5,554 −8.1%
1940 5,827 4.9%
1950 6,435 10.4%
1960 7,545 17.2%
1970 10,422 38.1%
1980 14,993 43.9%
1990 17,957 19.8%
2000 23,301 29.8%
2010 24,164 3.7%
2020 25,091 3.8%
US Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2018

As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 23,301 people, 8,995 households, and 6,539 families residing in the county. The population density was 45 people per square mile (17/km2). There were 13,375 housing units at an average density of 26 per square mile (10/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.51% White, 0.18% Black or African American, 0.62% Native American, 0.34% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.15% from other races, and 1.16% from two or more races. 0.75% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 22.1% were of German, 17.6% Polish, 10.5% Irish, 9.9% English and 9.4% American ancestry. 96.8% spoke English and 1.3% Polish as their first language.

There were 8,995 households, out of which 34.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.40% were married couples living together, 8.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.30% were non-families. 22.50% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.00.

The county population contained 26.80% under the age of 18, 7.00% from 18 to 24, 28.50% from 25 to 44, 24.00% from 45 to 64, and 13.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 98.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,876, and the median income for a family was $46,628. Males had a median income of $34,413 versus $21,204 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,810. About 5.30% of families and 6.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.50% of those under age 18 and 7.10% of those age 65 or over.




Unincorporated communities


Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Otsego (Míchigan) para niños

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