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History and Facts of Minnesota Counties

Minnesota Counties – The Minnesota Territory was created on March 3, 1849. The State of Minnesota was founded as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858. It has 87 Counties. The State of Minnesota is bordered by IowaMichigan (across Lake Superior), North DakotaSouth DakotaWisconsin and Canada.

On October 27, 1849 nine counties were established. Among them were 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. The last county to be created was Lake of the Woods County in 1923.

The names of many of the counties pay tribute to the long history of exploration. Over ten counties names pay tribute to the state’s various Native American groups that are resident in parts of what is now Minnesota. Another fifteen counties are named after physical geographic features, with the remainder being named after politicians.

List of Minnesota Counties

Minnesota is divided into 87 counties.

List of Old Former / Extinct Minnesota Counties

Minnesota has counties that no longer are in existence. A lot of these counties were established and disbanded within the 19th century; county borders have modified very little since 1900 in the vast most of states.

The below Minnesota counties no longer exist:

?? County, Minnesota

Created ? from ?. It was abolished ? and re-established as ? County on ?.

  • 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: ?
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Map of Minnesota County Boundary Changes from 1801 to 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 the creation of Minnesota from 1801-1937.

Fun Facts about Minnesota Counties

County Name Facts

The County names:

  • 0 of them named for Native American words or people,
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Counties by Year

In 1849 the first Minnesota counties were formed.

They were BentonDakotaItascaRamseyWabasha, and Washington Counties.

The last county to be formed was Lake of the Woods County in 1922.

  • ? County was the first county created on ?.
  •  The last county to be formed was ? County on ?.
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Facts for County Size

  • ? County (000 sq mi) is the largest county in Minnesota.
  • ? County (000 sq mi) is the smallest county in Minnesota.

Facts for County Population (2017 Est.)

  • ? County (000) is the most populated county in Minnesota.
  • ? County (000) is the least populated county in Minnesota.

Facts for Minnesota Counties and Cities

Minnesota’s 10 largest cities (2010) are:

  1. Birmingham (000) is in ? County and ? Counties
  2. Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Duluth, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Plymouth, St. Cloud, Eagan, Woodbury