Page A Finding Aid for the City of Big Rapids (Michigan) Records 1877-1967

Collection Summary

Collection Title: City of Big Rapids (Michigan) Records

Creator: City of Big Rapids (Michigan).

Dates: 1877-1967

Abstract: The historical records of the City of Big Rapids are primarily those of the City Treasurer including cash books and tax rolls. There are also limited other records including minutes, ordinances and a water rent book.

Language: English

Quantity: 121 cubic feet

Identification: MSS-6

Repository: Ferris State University Archives and Records Management Program

Historical Note

Mecosta County was formed by legislative act in February 1859, and the village of Big Rapids at that time was named as the county seat. The first county election was held on the first Monday in April 1859. While there had been previous local settlements, this was the beginning of an official government. In 1858, Big Rapids Township was organized under the name Leonard. In 1865, the name was changed to Big Rapids Township.

In 1860, Zerah and Margaret French planned an area which later became the North Street business area. Other areas were soon platted out and grew rapidly. Never a legally incorporated village, Big Rapids (the town) was incorporated as a city in 1869. This was at the request of the general population to the state legislature. Prior to that time, governmental affairs had been handled by the township.

The City of Big Rapids held its charter election on 19 April 1869. The town elected a mayor, recorder, supervisor, treasurer and two school inspectors. The town was divided into four words, each with an alderman, justice of the peace and a constable.

Big Rapids' first mayor, George F. Sterns served from 1869-1872. Clarence C. Mitchell who served as both City Clerk and City Treasurer in the 1940s, was the last to do so before the positions were split.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists primarily of city financial records stored previously in the basement of the local community library. These records are in large oversized bound volumes that are in a fragile state and are not suitable for copying. Of particular interest to local historians might be the tax rolls, which list property owners, descriptions of property, assessed value and amounts and dates of payments. There is no indexing to these volumes, which makes looking up individuals a time consuming process. The run is fairly complete from 1908-1949, and there is an additional volume on Mecosta County owned property and their tax assessments between 1947-1959. A tax assessment history compiled circa 1915 gives an overview of taxes paid according to time by the piece of property.

There are also daily cash books belonging to the city treasurer, and the ledgers which split up payments into the appropriate fund categories, allowing for a good overview of an annual budget. Other miscellaneous financial records include a water rents book, organized by street, and a recorder's cash receipts and disbursements book.

From the City Clerk's office are three handwritten volumes of early Council activities. There is one book of minutes covering October 1909 - July 1913 and two early books listing ordinances and resolutions of the council (ca. 1877-1913).

In some cases, inserts of correspondence/reports have been placed into the bound volumes. These inserts have not been removed, and they may still have original metal fastenings on them.

These records do not contain the files of the various elected office-holders.

There were several bound volumes of the Big Rapids Pioneer (a local newspaper) circa 1940-1970, which have been separated from this collection.

Arrangement

The papers are divided into five series.

Access Information

Conditions of Access

The City of Big Rapids (Michigan) Records are open for research to all users in accordance with University Archives and Records Management access policies. It is available in the reading room of the Ferris State University Archives.

Conditions of Use

Requests for permission to publish material should be directed to the University Archivist. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Copyright interests for this collection have not been transferred to Ferris State University. For more information, contact the University Archivist.

Subject Headings

Below are a list of names, organizations and subjects relating to the collection. Names have been taken from Library of Congress Authority headings whenever possible.

Related Materials

None specified.

Administrative Information

Citations

Footnotes and bibliographic references should use the following format:
[Item], Folder, Box. City of Big Rapids (Michigan) Records. Ferris State University Archives. Big Rapids, Michigan.

Provenance (Acquisition Information)

The City of Big Rapids (Michigan) Records were loaned to the Ferris State University Archives by Roberta Klein, City Clerk of the City of Big Rapids in March 2004. Most of the records came from the basement of the Big Rapids Community Public Library. Records are on deposit with the University Archives as stated in the deposit agreement.

Processing Information

The City of Big Rapids (Mich.) Records were processed to the folder level by Melinda McMartin Isler and Nicole Vanderlaan in August 2004. A finding aid was prepared in a word processing format and converted to EAD 1.0. A revised finding aid was created in January 2008. A collection level MARC-format record was prepared and placed in the library online public access catalog. Description was based on Describing Archives: A Content Standard (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004).

Separated Materials

During processing, duplicate materials were returned to the City. There were no other materials placed in other collections..

Technical Requirements

This collection consists of paper based material. No specialized software or hardware is required for viewing.

Content Listing

Series 1. Office of the City Clerk. 1879-1913.

This series consists of 6 cubic feet (4 volumes) of bound materials. Records include some of the earliest ordinances and resolutions of the council of Big Rapids (1887-1914) and a handwritten volume of Council minutes (October 1909 - July 1913). There is also a miscellaneous cash book from 1940.

This series is arranged alphabetically by title of volume and chronologically within title.

Box Folder Contents
1 1 Cash book. 1940.
2 1 Minutes of the Council. Copy. October 1909-July 1913.
3 1 Ordinances/Resolutions book. ca. 1879-1887.
3 2 Ordinances/Resolutions book. 1905-1913.

Series 2. Office of the City Treasurer. 1885-1967.

This series consists of 106 cubic feet (84 volumes) of bound materials. Major records in this series include the basic budget ledgers for the city (1896-1938), daily cash books (1885-1941) and the tax rolls (1904-1967). There is also tax assessment history compiled circa 1915.

This series is arranged alphabetically by title of volume and chronologically within title.

Box Folder Contents
4 1 Cash book (entitled Journal) 1885-1900..
5 1 Cash book. 1904..
6 1 Cash book. 1908..
7 1 Cash book. 1910.
8 1 Cash book. 1912.
9 1 Cash book (Oversize). 1912.
10 1 Cash book. 1913..
11 1 Cash book (Oversize). 1914.
12 1 Cash book. 1915.
13 1 Cash book. 1917.
14 1 Cash book. 1917.
15 1 Cash book. (Oversize) 1917.
16 1 Cash book. 1918.
17 1 Cash book. 1920.
18 1 Cash book (Oversize). 1920.
19 1 Cash book. 1923.
20 1 Cash book (Oversize). 1924.
21 1 Cash book. 1926.
22 1 Cash book (Oversize). 1926.
23 1 Cash book. 1928.
24 1 Cash book (Oversize). 1929.
25 1 Cash book. 1931.
26 1 Cash book (Oversize). 1931.
27 1 Cash book. 1935.
28 1 Cash book. (Oversize). 1935.
29 1 Cash book. (Oversize). 1937.
30 1 Cash book. 1938.
31 1 Cash book. (Oversize). 1940.
32 1 Cash book. (Oversize). 1941.
33 1 Ledger. Volume 1. 1896.
34 1 Ledger. Volume 4. 1908-1911.
35 1 Ledger. Volume 5. 1911-1913.l
36 1 Ledger. Volume 6. 1913-1915.
37 1 Ledger. Volume 7. 1915-1917.
38 1 Ledger. Volume 8. 1917-1918.
39 1 Ledger. Volume 9. 1918-1921.
40 1 Ledger. Volume 10. 1921-1923.
41 1 Ledger. Volume 11. 1923-1924.
42 1 Ledger. Volume 12. 1925-1926.
43 1 Ledger. Volume 13. 1927-1928.
44 1 Ledger. Volume 16. 1934-1935.
45 1 Ledger. Volume 17. 1936-1938.
46 1 Ledger. Volume 18. 1938-1939.
47 1 Tax assessment history. ca. 1915.
48 1 Tax roll. 1904.
49 1 Tax roll. 1908.
50 1 Tax roll. 1909.
51 1 Tax roll. 1910.
52 1 Tax roll 1911.
53 1 Tax roll. 1912.
54 1 Tax roll. 1914.
55 1 Tax roll. 1915.
56 1 Tax roll. 1916.
57 1 Tax roll. 1917.
58 1 Tax roll. 1918.
59 1 Tax roll. 1919.
60 1 Tax roll. 1920.
61 1 Tax roll. 1921.
62 1 Tax roll. 1922.
63 1 Tax roll. 1923.
64 1 Tax roll . 1924.
65 1 Tax roll. 1925.
66 1 Tax roll. 1926.
67 1 Tax roll. 1927.
68 1 Tax roll. 1928.
69 1 Tax roll. 1929.
70 1 Tax roll. 1930.
71 1 Tax roll. 1932.
72 1 Tax roll. 1933.
73 1 Tax roll. 1934.
74 1 Tax roll. 1935.
75 1 Tax roll. 1936.
76 1 Tax roll. 1937.
77 1 Tax roll. 1938.
78 1 Tax roll. 1939.
79 1 Tax roll. 1940.
80 1 Tax roll. 1942.
81 1 Tax roll. 1943.
82 1 Tax roll. 1944.
83 1 Tax roll. 1947.
84 1 Tax roll. 1949.
85 1 Tax roll. 1963.
86 1 Tax roll. 1967.
87 1 Tax roll (Mecosta County). 1947-1959.
88 1 Tax roll. Receipts. 1941-1943.

Series 3. Office of the Recorder. 1920-1924.

This series consists of 1.5 linear feet (1 volume) of bound materials. It contains a receipts and disbursement journal (1920-1924).

This series is arranged alphabetically by title of volume and chronologically within title.

Box Folder Contents
89 1 Receipts and disbursements. 1920-1924..

Series 4. Office of Public Works. 1949-1950.

This series consists of 1.5 linear feet (1 volume) of bound materials. It contains a water rents books, organized by address (1949-1950).

This series is arranged alphabetically by title of volume and chronologically within title.

Box Folder Contents
90 1 Water rents book. 1949-1950.

Series 5. Court Records. 1877-1934.

This series consists of 6 linear feet (4 volumes) of bound materials. Records include miscellaneous court dockets, including a now-defunct Big Rapids only court (1877-1934) It typically includes case brief details, summons and some judgments.

This series is arranged alphabetically by title of volume and chronologically within title..

Box Folder Contents
91 1 Justice docket. 1877-1913.
92 1 Justice docket. 1922-1929.
92 1 Justice docket. 1924-1931.
92 1 Justice docket. 1930-1934.