Benzie County, Michigan

Infobox U.S. County
county = Benzie County
state = Michigan

map size = 225
founded = 1863
seat = Beulah | area_total_sq_mi =860
area_land_sq_mi =321
area_water_sq_mi =538
area percentage = 62.62%
census yr = 2000
pop = 15998
density_km2 =19
web = |

Benzie County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is part of the Traverse City, Michigan, Micropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2000 census, the population was 15,998. The county seat is BeulahGR|6. The name "Benzie" is derived from the French "Riviere Aux-Bec Scies" or "river of sawbill ducks" ("bec-scie"). Americans altered the pronunciation of the river's name, which became known as the "Betsie River". A similar alteration in pronunciation produced "Benzie". The county was initially set off in 1863, and organized in 1869. [ [,1607,7-160-15481_20826_20829-54126--,00.html County place names] ] [ [ Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Bibliography for Benzie County] ]


Benzie County, Michigan's smallest in terms of land area, is located in the northwest of the Lower Peninsula, in the "little finger" position of the mitten-shaped peninsula and is considered to be part of the Northern Michigan region. Lake Michigan is to the west, Leelanau County and the Leelanau Peninsula are to the north. Grand Traverse County and Traverse City are to the east. Wexford County is to the southeast and Manistee County to the south. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore extends into the northwest portion of the county. Crystal Lake is a prominent physical feature of the area. The Platte River rises out of a lake district around Lake Ann in the northeast of the county and flows southwest and the northwest into Platte Lake before emptying into Lake Michigan at Platte River Point. The Betsie River rises in neighboring Grand Traverse County, flowing southwest across the southeast corner of the county into Manistee County, where it bends northwest until just south of Benzonia where it receives the outflow of Crystal Lake and then flows mostly west through Elberta and Frankfort and into Lake Michigan.

Portions of the Pere Marquette State Forest lie within the county and offers several trails including a 10 mile route along the Betsie River and a 5.8 mile trail near Lake Ann. There are state forest campgrounds at Platte River and Lake Ann. The Betsie River State Game Area is located just east of Elberta. 50 miles of the Betsie River is a state-designated Natural River from Grass Lake, just west of the Grand Traverse County line, to its inlet into Lake Betsie just east of Elberta.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 860 square miles (2,226 km²), of which, 321 square miles (832 km²) of it is land and 538 square miles (1,394 km²) of it (62.62%) is water.

Major highways

US Highways

* on the south end of Crystal Lake before turning to exit the county on the east side.

Michigan State Trunklines

* traverses the western edge of the county, providing a scenic drive along the shore of Lake Michigan.
* ferry docks. [ [ M-168 Endpoint Photos] ]

Adjacent counties

Geographic Location
Centre = Benzie County
North = Leelanau County
East = Grand Traverse County
Southeast = Wexford County
South = Manistee County
West = Lake Michigan


As of the 2000 census, [ [ Statistical profile of Benzie County, Michigan] , United States Census Bureau, Census 2000] there were 15,998 people, 6,500 households, and 4,595 families residing in the county. The population density was 50 people per square mile (19/km²). There were 10,312 housing units at an average density of 32 per square mile (12/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.39% White, 0.28% Black or African American, 1.59% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.39% from other races, and 1.19% from two or more races. 1.46% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 24.0% were of German, 13.5% Polish, 9.2% Irish, 7.6% American, 6.0% Polish and 5.0% French ancestry according to Census 2000. 96.8% spoke English and 1.9% Spanish as a first language.

There were 6,500 households out of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.2% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.30% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the county the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 25.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.4 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,350, and the median income for a family was $42,716. Males had a median income of $30,218 versus $21,730 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,524. About 4.7% of families and 7.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.2% of those under age 18 and 5.2% of those age 65 or over.

Population in 1990: 12,200

Historic locations

There are eight historical markers in the County: [ [ Michigan Historical Markers] ]
* Benzonia College
* Benzonia Congregational Church
* Bruce Catton
* Car Ferries on Lake Michigan
* Joyfield Cemetery
* Marquette's Death
* Mills Community House
* Pacific Salmon


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, andparticipates with the state in the provision of welfare and other social services. The countyboard of commissioners controls the budget but has only limited authority to make laws or ordinances. InMichigan, most local government functions — police and fire, building and zoning, tax assessment, streetmaintenance, etc. — are the responsibility of individual cities and townships.

Benzie County elected officials

* Prosecuting Attorney: Anthony Cicchelli
* Sheriff: Robert Blank
* County Clerk: Dawn Olney
* County Treasurer: Linda M. Wilson
* Register of Deeds: Michelle Gray
* Drain Commissioner: Terry Money
* County Surveyor: John Smendzuik

Other affiliations

*It is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord. [ [ Diocese of Gaylord.] ]

(information as of September 2005)

Cities, villages, and townships


*Lake Ann

*Almira Township
*Benzonia Township
*Blaine Township
*Colfax Township
*Crystal Lake Township
*Gilmore Township
*Homestead Township
*Inland Township
*Joyfield Township
*Lake Township
*Platte Township
*Weldon Township

Ghost townsBenzie County contains a number of ghost towns: [ [ Dodge, Roy L., "Michigan Ghost Towns of the Lower Peninsula" ISBN 9780934884020 ISBN 0934884021] ]
*Allyn Station (Pratts)
*Bendon (Kentville)
*Cedar Run
*Grant House (Homestead)
*Platte River (Melva)
*South Frankfort


ee also

* USS "Benzie County" (LST-266)
* List of Registered Historic Places in Benzie County, Michigan

External links

* [ Benzie Area Visitors Bureau]
* [ Benzie County Chamber of Commerce]
* [ Benzie County entry on MIGenWeb]
* [ Benzie County Sport Fishing Association]
* [ - Photos, art, and articles relating to Lake Michigan, Benzie County, Frankfort, and Arcadia]
* [ List of links, sources concerning Benzie County and its residents]
* [ Benzie County Area Web Site Directory]


Further reading

* [ Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Bibliography for Benzie County]

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