Vital Records of Hubbard County, Minnesota
The Hubbard County Courthouse at 3rd and Court in Park Rapids is a good starting point for genealogical research in Hubbard County. Below is a description of the records that you will find and be able to use in your research, as well as some records that you will not be able to access.
The recording of births in Hubbard County dates back to the late 1800's. Early records are limited, for there was not an emphasis on recording every birth. It was up to the townships to record births, then turn that data into the county. Around 1900, birth records became much more complete, as it became a state requirement to record such data.
Birth records usually include the name of all parties involved (baby, father, and mother). In the early years, it may have just listed "male" or "female" for the baby, as names were not given in a timely manner. The birth location usually lists only the township, but this will give you a location when searching census data.
Some records provide the birth order of the child. This will help you determine the number of children in a family. It also gives birth location for father and mother. This data usually lists just a state or country, but it helps.
The birth records can be found in the Recorder's office of the Courthouse. You may look at the records before 1950. Viewing of recent records is prohibited due to privacy laws. You can get a certified copy of a birth record for $14 per copy (1998 price).
There are two index books for the birth records. The actual records are contained in 7 other books. First look in the index for the name you want, then ask the staff for the book to which it refers. For example: B-80-12 means book B, page 80, line 12. In the older books you read across two pages for the information. In the newer books the data is self-contained in paragraph form.
If the birth you are looking for is not in the regular birth index, you can try the delayed birth index. This is an index to births that were recorded years after the fact. They were usually provided by the person in question, because their birth was not recorded originally. This is a good place to find people born around the turn of the century if they are not in the regular birth index. To file a delayed birth, they would have needed documentation to prove that they were born when they said they were. There are not many delayed births records, but enough to make checking worthwhile. They will contain most of the same information as the regular births.
The death records are also found in the Recorder's office of the Hubbard County Courthouse. In the death records, you will be given the father and mother's names and ages as well as the birth location and date. This data is usually given by a family member, but sometimes by a friend, which means that though this becomes official documentation, it is sometimes flawed. The age of the deceased plays a big part in the accuracy. The older the person was at the time of death, it seems the less reliable the information is, especially the names of the father and mother. Maiden names of mothers are often missing. The death certificate is written up at the time of death, during the grieving process, and without a lot of research. So remember, as with any data you find, don't put blind trust in it.
The death records are open for viewing, and are probably the easiest to look up due to an alphabetical index at the courthouse. A member of the Hubbard County Genealogical Society created this extensive index. The old index is still available, but the handwriting is poor and it is organized alphabetically, but as the deaths occurred. This means, for example, that you must look at all the B's to find Bethel. The only thing to remember is that the new index is one person's interpretation of the handwritten index, and there may be mistakes despite careful proofreading. Names may also have been misspelled by the persons providing or recording the data. As an example, a Hellkamp was recorded as Wellkamp. So you must remember to check variant spellings of a name. Certified copies of death records are available for $11 each (1998 price).
If you like playing detective, this is the place for you. The land records are also in the Recorder's office of the courthouse. These records tell the history of a piece of land. They will tell you who owned the land, how much he paid for it, and the same information for subsequent owners. They do not provide a lot of genealogical information, but they will give you a history of a piece of property.
Note, however, that the land records are indexed by the land's description, not by the owner's name. So you cannot walk in and ask to see which property your great grandfather owned. You must know where he lived. The land records go back to the late 1800's. This is when most land was patented. A land patent was given when a piece of land was homesteaded for the first time. Then, when the land was sold, it was deeded to the next person, and so on. Land records can help to determine when your family moved to the area, but they tell only when they purchased land, not if they rented land. If you own land now in the county, most of the information about the land can be found in your abstract. The abstract is a condensed version of the records you will find at the courthouse, but it will get you started at researching the history of your land. Copies of land records run a dollar per page.
The marriage licenses are in the License department. This is because they are licenses rather than records. The information found includes the two parties involved, the village or township where the wedding took place, the minister or justice of the peace who performed the ceremony, and the witnesses to the marriage. If the parents' consent was needed, this will be found too. It does not give ages of the bride and groom.
The difficulty is that there are some 20 books of marriage records. They are labeled as to which years they cover, but there is an indexes in each book. The first book only indexes the male names. Some books have an index for males and another for females. Most are indexed only by last name, so you spend some time looking for the right person. There is an ongoing project to develop a computer index for the marriage records. These records are open for inspection through 1996. Photocopies of Marriage licenses are available for a minimal fee.
Military discharge records
There are a few other records that can be of some use. One is the serviceman discharges (nowadays referred to as Department of Defense form 214 or DD 214). When a serviceman is discharged from military service, it is recommended that he record his DD 214 in the Recorder office of the county he returns to. On this form it tells which branch of the service he was in, his unit, date of entry into the military, and date of discharge. They do not contain much genealogical information, but they help in understanding who this person was and what he did with his life.
Wills and Probates
In the Clerk of Court office you can look to see if there is a will on file for your relative. There may be probate records if a person died "intestate", meaning without a will. There are not a lot of these records, but they begin in the late 1890's. There are two will indexes and three probate indexes, in chronological order under each letter of the alphabet. If the staff finds a name you want in the index, then they will look up the file in the basement storage area. Copies are available for a minimal fee.