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|Territory: Mar 3, 1849|
|Statehood: May 11, 1858|
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Today’s Minnesota counties did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years.
Minnesota Territorial Counties
The Minnesota Territory was created on March 3, 1849. On October 27, 1849, 9 Minnesota counties were established: Benton, Dahkotah, Itasca, Ramsey, Mahkahta, Pembina, Wabasha, Washington, and Wahnata.
Of these Benton, Dakota, Itasca, Ramsey, Wabasha, and Washington still exist as their original names. With the foundation of Kittson County on March 9, 1878, Pembina County no longer existed. When Minnesota was organized as a state, 57 of the present 87 counties were established.
When Minnesota was organized as a state, 57 of the present 87 counties were established. The names of many of the counties pay tribute to the long history of exploration.
The State of Minnesota entered the union as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858.
Minnesota Counties Today
Fun Facts about Minnesota Counties
Counties by Name
- 10 counties names pay tribute to the state’s various Native American groups that are resident in parts of what is now Minnesota.
- 15 counties are named after physical geographic features,
- the remainder being named after politicians.
Counties by Year
- Benton, Dakota, Itasca, Ramsey, Pembina, Wabasha, Washington and Wahnata Counties was the original 7 counties created on May 1, 1890.
- Lake of the Woods County was the last county created on August 27, 1912.
County Size Facts
- Saint Louis County (6,225 sq mi) is the largest county in Minnesota.
- Ramsey County (156 sq mi) is the smallest county in Minnesota.
County Population Facts
- Traverse County (3,558) is the least populated county in Minnesota.
- Hennepin County (1,152,425) is the most populated county in Minnesota.
Minnesota City Facts
Minnesota’s 10 largest cities (2019 est.) are:
- Minneapolis (424,256) is in Hennepin County
- St. Paul (311,008) is in Ramsey County
- Rochester (119,756) is in Olmsted County
- Duluth (87,082) is in St. Louis County
- Bloomington (85,934) is in Hennepin County
- Brooklyn Park (81,336) is in Hennepin County
- Plymouth (80,975) is in Hennepin County
- Maple Grove (73,248) is in Hennepin County
- Woodbury (72,204) is in Washington County
- St. Cloud (68,733) is in Stearns County
Boundary Changes of Minnesota Counties from 1801-1937
This Interactive Map of Minnesota Counties show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from 1801 to 1937.
List of Minnesota Counties
|County||Created||Created From||Named For||County Seat||Notes|
List of Old Former / Extinct Minnesota Counties
Minnesota contains some counties that no longer exist because they were discontinued, renamed or merged with another county. These are important for genealogy research purposes.
The below counties formerly within the area of the State of Minnesota no longer exist:
- Andy Johnson County: See Toombs County below.
Toombs County was renamed Andy Johnson County after President Andrew Johnson and to disassociate with Mr. Toombs. The county again changed its name to Wilkin County in March 6, 1868.
- Big Sioux County: Created in December, 1857 from Brown County. County was disbanded in 1859 and land became part of North Dakota
- Breckenridge County: Created on March 18, 1858. Iit was named for John C. Breckenridge, Vice President of the United States from 1857-1861. After the Civil War started, Breckenridge joined the army of the south. Pressure by Minnesota residents resulted in the State Legislature of Minnesota passing a bill on March 6, 1862, rescinding the name of Breckenridge. The county was then renamed Clay County for Henry Clay (1777-1852). Clay was known as a statesman and orator, and called “The Great Pacificator”.
- Buchanan County: Created on May 23, 1857. It comprised the 24 northern townships, now forming the northern half of Pine County, Minnesota. The Buchanan County seat was Sandstone. The county disbanded and merged into Pine County in 1861. Brown County was attached to Chisago and St. Louis Counties for county and or judicial purposes. Some early records may be found there.
- Davis County: Created in 1855 from Cass, Nicollet, Pierce and Sibley Counties. In 1862 the county was disbanded and what was left was merged into Chippewa and Lac qui Parle Counties. Davis County was attached to Stearns and Lac qui Parle Counties for county and or judicial purposes. Some early records may be found there.
- Doty County: Created on February 20, 1855 from Itasca County. The name changed to Newton County on March 3, 1855.
- Lac Qui Parle (old) County: Created in 1862 from Davis and Pierce Counties. In 1868 the county was disbanded and merged into Stevens and Chippewa Counties. Lac Qui Parle County was attached to Renville County for county and or judicial purposes. Some early records may be found there.
- Lincoln (old) County: Created in 1861 from Renville County. In 1868 the county was disbanded and merged back into Renville County. Lincoln County was attached to McLeod County for county and or judicial purposes. Some early records may be found there.
- Mahkahto County: Created on October 27, 1849 from Unorganized Territory. The county was disbanded in 1851 and the land became part of Pembina and Cass Counties. Mahkahto County was attached to Ramsey County for county and or judicial purposes. Some early records may be found there.
- Manomin County: Created on May 23, 1857 when it was split from Ramsey County. The name Manomin is a variant spelling of manoomin, the Ojibwe word for wild rice, a staple of their diet. The county seat was Manomin (present-day Fridley).The land shifted hands among three other counties for the next decade. When it was formed, it was the smallest county in the United States at roughly 18 square miles. It was deorganized in 1858 and administratively attached to St. Louis, Minnesota. Two years later in 1860 it was attached to Anoka County. At the time, the area’s population was 136. In 1863, it was attached to Hennepin County, but it was finally merged into Anoka County and eliminated in 1869.
- Monongalia County: Monongalia County is a former county in the U.S. state of Minnesota. It was identified in 1858, although the Dakota War of 1862 delayed its organization until 1861. The county seat was at New London.In 1870 the state legislature ordered it merged with Kandiyohi County, its southern neighbor. Neither county had been able up till then to raise enough money to build a courthouse. In February of 1871, they finally agreed to make Willmar the new county seat.
- Newton County: Doty County was renamed Newton County on March 3, 1855. On March 1, 1856, St. Louis County to the east became Lake County while Newton County was renamed St. Louis County.
- Pembina County: Created on October 27, 1849 from Unorganized Territory. County was organized in 1852 then deorganized in 1853. Name was changed to Kittson County in 1878. At some point Pembina County was attached to Morrison, Crow Wing, Douglas, Becker and Clay Counties for county and or judicial purposes. Some early records may be found there.
- Pierce County: ?
- St. Croix County: ?
- St. Louis (old) County: ?
- Superior County: ?
- Toombs County: Created on March 8, 1858, named after Robert Toombs (1810-85) of Georgia, who had been a member of Congress, 1845-53, and was U.S. senator, 1853-61. Mr. Toombs became a leading disunionist, then a Confederate secretary of state in 1861, and later was a Confederate general. In 1863, the county was renamed Andy Johnson County (see above). Toombs County was formed from Pembina County. It is the parental county for Traverse County, and now are parts of Clay, Otter Tail, Grant, Stevens, Douglas and Pope Counties.
- Wahnata County: ?
COUNTY County, Minnesota
Created on DATE from LAND. COUNTY County was renamed to COUNTY County on November 7, 1907.