History & Searching Tips


1858: Creation

Polk County was created in 1858 from land previously in the territorial county of Pembina. (When the current counties north of Polk were established later, the name Pembina was erased from the Minnesota county map.)

In 1862, a strip of land along the southern boundary of Polk County became part of Clay County.

1866: Boundary Confusion

In 1866, an eastern section of Polk County was designated to Beltrami County (and later was set off to become Clearwater County). There was some boundary confusion when Marshall County was established in 1879 along the northern border of Polk County and was mixed between Sections 6 and 7 of Township 154N, where it remains to this day.

At the 1880 to 1881 session of the Minnesota Legislature, Norman County was created from the southern 3rd of Polk County.

1896: Red Lake County

In 1896, an irregular portion of the north central part of Polk County was set off to form Red Lake County (and later was split into Pennington and Red Lake Counties).

Search Tips

Since borders between Polk County and its neighbors have altered, it is sometimes hard to find out where a piece of property historically resided. The following are just some suggestions on where else to look:

  • If you are researching townships on Polk's far eastern edge (Johnson, Gully, Eden, Queen and Columbia), you might want to check Clearwater and Beltrami Counties. Clearwater split off from Beltrami in 1902.
  • If you are researching the north end of Polk County (Higdem, Sandsville, Farley, Brislet, Helgeland, Belgium, Brandt, Helgeland, Johnson), you need to check Pennington which split off from Red Lake in 1910 and Marshall County which split off from Kittson in 1910.
    • Also north are the townships of Parnell, Gentilly, Tilden, Grove Park, Badger, Lessor and Chester. You will want to check Red Lake which split off from Polk in 1896.
  • In the south are the townships of Hubbard, Scandia, Reis, Liberty, Garfield, and Garden, you will want to check Norman County which split off from Polk in 1881.
  • To the south east are the townships of Winger, Sletten, Rosebud and Columbia, you should check Mahnomen County which was created from Becker and Norman County in 1906.
  • To the west are Higdem, Esther, Grand Forks, Rhinehart, Huntsville, Bygland, Tynsid, Roome, Vineland and Hubbard. You will need to check Trail County in North Dakota (it was split off from Grand Forks, Burbank and Cass Counties in 1875) and Grand Forks County, you may also wish to contact the State Historical Society of North Dakota in Bismarck.