Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society

Early Settler & Ancestry Certificates

To qualify for an Early Settler Certificate or an Ancestry Family Certificate, your ancestor must have lived in one of the following counties: Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska or Leelanau, which is the GTAGS service area.
For an Early Settler Certificate, the applicant must directly descend from an ancestor who settled in the GTAGS area prior to 1860.
For an Ancestry Family Certificate, the applicant must directly descend from an ancestor who settled in the GTAGS area at least one hundred (100) years ago.
The applicant must be able to prove descent from an ancestor for each generation with acceptable sources of proof, as listed below. The applicant need not presently reside in the area. The proof furnished will be reviewed by the GTAGS Family Certificate Committee before a certificate will be issued.
Do not send original documents, as all materials submitted will become the property of GTAGS. Send photocopies only. GTAGS does not seek to make a profit, but meeds to meet their expenses; therefore, we ask that you enclose a nonrefundable check to GTAGS for $8.00 with this application form and documentation.
        1. Please complete a pedigree chart.
        2. The ancestor's residency in the area must be documented.
        3. Each generation must be documented.
Photocopies of all verifying materials accompanying the application will be required.
Primary Sources are defined as actual records and/or government records made at the time of the event by the parties involved. These records are deemed acceptable sources to prove relationships from one generation to another.
Birth, Marriage and Death Records: Michigan official records began in 1867. They are available from the county clerk of the county where the event occurred or the
Michigan Department of Health & Human Services
County Census microfilms are available at Traverse Area District Library, 610 Woodmere, Traverse City, MI or census records can be found online at (microfilm is no longer available at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).
Probate Records: Wills, estates, guardianships, lists of heirs, name changes and sometimes land transfers. Records may be found in the county where the event occurred.
Land Records: Available from the County Register of Deeds (sometimes shows residency and marital status).
Plat Maps: Possible places that may have plat maps: County Equalization Department, Register of Deeds, local library or historical societies.
Tax Records: Taxes paid on property are sometimes available in Register of Deeds or Treasurer's Office in the county where the land is located.
Supplemental or Secondary Sources are any sources in print that do not come from a contemporary or government record. These records may not be acceptable as proof. The inclusion of these records is recommended. Photocopies of these materials will provide valuable material for future generations using this permanent file.
Bible Records: Dated or undated. Include photocopies of the pages noting the publisher, date of publication, and the actual pages showing names, dates and events. Identify current owners of the Bible, when known.
Obituaries: Highlight ancestor's name and must include the name of the newspaper and page number. Check local and state libraries for microfilmed Michigan newspapers. Some are available through interlibrary loan.
Newspaper Clippings: Same guidelines as obituaries. Clippings that may show residency include anniversary, biographical sketches, awards, marriage notices and reminiscences,
City/County Directory: Local libraries and historical societies may have copies of county and city directories.
Tombstone Inscriptions: Submit photographs or transcriptions of the stone, cemetery name, which city or township, county and state.
The following three categories are only as reliable as those who wrote them. Human error is a reality. They will not be accepted as your only source of proof.
        1. Family Histories and Genealogies
        2. County/Portrait & Biological Histories
        3. Personal papers