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Gratiot County, Michigan

Gratiot County, Michigan
Gratiot County Courthouse
Seal of Gratiot County, Michigan
Map of Michigan highlighting Gratiot County
Location in the state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
Founded 1855[1]
Named for Charles Gratiot
Seat Ithaca
Largest city Alma
 • Total 572 sq mi (1,481 km2)
 • Land 568 sq mi (1,471 km2)
 • Water 3.1 sq mi (8 km2), 0.6%
 • (2010) 42,476
 • Density 75/sq mi (29/km²)
Congressional district 4th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website .us.mi.gratiot.cowww

Gratiot County () is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the population was 42,476.[2] The county seat is Ithaca,[3] although its most populous city is Alma.

Gratiot County comprises the Alma, MI Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Mount Pleasant-Alma, MI Combined Statistical Area.

The Gratiot County Courthouse was built in the classical revival style by Claire Allen, a prominent southern Michigan architect. It is one of seven sites in the county listed on the National Register of Historic Places (No. 76002291 added 1976).[4] In June 2012, the 212.8 MW Gratiot County Wind Project opened, the largest wind power installation in the state.[5]


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Adjacent counties 2.1
    • Major highways 2.2
  • Demographics 3
    • Religion 3.1
  • Government 4
    • Elected officials 4.1
  • Communities 5
    • Cities 5.1
    • Villages 5.2
    • Unincorporated communities 5.3
    • Townships 5.4
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The county is named for Captain New England settlement. The original founders of Ithaca and of Alma consisted entirely of settlers from New England. These people were "Yankee's", that is to say they were descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s. They were part of a wave of New England farmers who headed west into what was then the wilds of the Northwest Territory during the early 1800s. Most of them arrived as a result of the completion of the Erie Canal as well as the close of the Black Hawk War. When they arrived in what is now Gratiot County there was nothing but a virgin forest and wild prairie, the New Englanders laid out farms, constructed roads, erected government buildings and established post routes. They brought with them many of their Yankee New England values, such as a passion for education, establishing many schools as well as staunch support for abolitionism. They were mostly members of the Congregationalist Church though some were Episcopalian. The Congregationalist Church has since gone through many internal divisions and many branches of it have since become known as the Church of God. Due to the Second Great Awakening many became members of the Baptist church and many also converted to Methodism. Culturally Gratiot County, like much of Michigan would be culturally very continuous with early New England culture, for most of its history.[6][7][8] In the 1890s, German immigrants began settling in Gratiot County.[1][9] See List of Michigan county name etymologies. Emil Lockwood, a noted Michigan legislator, represented Gratiot County in the Michigan Senate from 1963-1970, much of the time as Senate Majority Leader. There are six Michigan historical markers in Gratiot county, namely:

  • Alma College
  • Gratiot County
  • Jackson Weller House
  • Lumberjack Park
  • Michigan Masonic Home
  • Saginaw and Gratiot County State Road / Saginaw Valley and St. Louis Railroad[10]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 572 square miles (1,480 km2), of which 568 square miles (1,470 km2) is land and 3.1 square miles (8.0 km2) (0.6%) is water.[11] It is considered to be part of Central Michigan.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • US 127 runs north to I-75 and south to Lansing.

  • Bus. US 127 is a business loop through downtown Alma.

  • Bus. US 127 is a business loop through downtown Ithaca.

  • Bus. US 127 is a business loop through downtown St. Louis.
  • M-46 is an important cross-peninsular highway that routes east to Saginaw. It ends at Port Sanilac on Lake Huron. Westbound the highway courses to Muskegon on Lake Michigan.
  • M-57 heads east to the northern suburbs of Flint. Going west it ends at US 131 near the northern suburbs of Grand Rapids.


As of the census[17] of 2000, there were 42,285 people, 14,501 households, and 10,397 families residing in the county. The population density was 74 people per square mile (29/km²). There were 15,516 housing units at an average density of 27 per square mile (11/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 92.01% White, 3.72% Black or African American, 0.55% Native American, 0.34% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.76% from other races, and 1.60% from two or more races. 4.43% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 29.8% were of English ancestry, 24.4% were of German ancestry and 6.9% Irish ancestry according to the 2012 American Community Survey. 96.1% spoke English and 2.7% Spanish as their first language.

There were 14,501 households out of which 34.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.60% were married couples living together, 10.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.30% were non-families. 23.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the county the population was spread out with 23.80% under the age of 18, 11.60% from 18 to 24, 29.50% from 25 to 44, 21.60% from 45 to 64, and 13.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 108.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,262, and the median income for a family was $43,954. Males had a median income of $32,442 versus $22,333 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,118. About 7.30% of families and 10.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.70% of those under age 18 and 9.20% of those age 65 or over.


The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saginaw is the controlling regional body for the Catholic Church.[18]


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.

Elected officials

(information as of September 2005)




Unincorporated communities


See also


  1. ^ a b "Bibliography on Gratiot County".  
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ "National Register of Historical Places - MICHIGAN (MI), Gratiot County". 
  5. ^ Michigan's Largest Wind Farm Enters Commercial Operation, North American Winpower, 06 June 2012
  7. ^ Gratiot County, Michigan. 
  8. ^ An Index of Pioneers from Massachusetts to the West Especially the State of ... 
  9. ^ Netherlanders in America: a study of emigration and settlement in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the United States of America, Volumes 1-2 page 778
  10. ^ "Michigan Historical Markers". 
  11. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  13. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  17. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  18. ^ "Diocese of Saginaw". 

External links

  • Gratiot County Government
  • Gratiot County Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Gratiot Development
  • Gratiot County Community Connection
  • Gratiot County Community Foundation
  • "Bibliography on Gratiot County".  

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