Northeast Michigan Genealogical Society

Early History of Alcona County

      Following the completion of the first survey of Michigan in 1839 the Legislators began to set apart lands to become future counties, the current Alcona County was one such envisioned county and was given the name of a famous Chippewa warrior Neewago. Just three years later Henry Schoolcraft renamed the county Alcona and it remained attached to Mackinaw Co. for purposes of government. During this time a tribe of Native Americans resided inland and also fished the shoreline, some descendants remain in the Mio area.
     In 1853 Alcona was attached to Cheboygan County for judicial and municipal purposes. Other attachments Alcona County had to endure was the attachment to Iosco County. These attachments brought a tax to Alcona residents with very little compassion to the needs of the residents. Roads were not constructed or improved. In 1857 when Alpena was just organized as a new county, the lands of Alcona Co. were attached for judicial and municipal purposes. During this period of time Duncan Rd. was surveyed and built, it was a road from AuSable to Harrisville to Alpena. Later the state contributed to the road built to the West M-72.
     One can image, that the leaders of the area felt it would be of great benefit to obtain the taxes collected from residents of the Alcona Co. region, thus the money could be used exclusively for that area. At that time It was necessary to have twelve "freemen" who could assume leadership roles, who were residents as well as. . Well, some of the fishermen purchased and cleared lands for farming seeing the fishing catches were declining. They included William Cullingse from England, Robert McMillian of Scotland, Mr. Holling, Perley Silverthorn.  Other early settlers of Alcona included Wm. Higginson, Anial Fox, Chas. Briggs, Geo. Blush, Francis LaChapelle, Geo. Hamilton, Matt Neil, Peter Tait, Robert Foster and a few more.
    After fishing declined, the lumbering business began to take hold and soon the business and trade centered in the port village of Harrisville. Later on the source of supporting a family became agriculture, farms and large orchards began to became apparent in the county and an Agricultural Society was formed to help those in this business.
     In 1859 many of the men mentioned above and Hill, Gibbons, Hendrie, Harris, Roe, Noyes and Fisher petitioned Alpena County to become a Township and thus Harrisville Twp (which included most of Alcona Co.) was established, this was the first step in participating in self-government for Alcona. This township was effective for nearly ten years, during this time many business men moved in, schools, churches, and docks were built, and the population increased.
     In 1868 it became apparent that it would now be possible to become an independent county. A committee was set up to meet this goal. A meeting was set up with the State Legislature, Rob. White was to be Alcona's representative. The item passed the legislature without concern. The first election held in Alcona Co. was in April of 1869, those elected included: Geo. LaChapelle, sheriff; Ed LaChapelle, treasurer; Geo. Rutson, clerk; Geo. Hamilton, registrar of deeds; Reuben Roberts, judge of probate and prosecuting attorney.  The rest of the story can be found in texts; History of the Lake Huron Shores, 1883 or Glimpses of Huron Shores in the Early Days, 1925.
Asa Beard from Alcona County
was killed in action in WWI