Research Sherburne County History
Sherburne County is located in central Minnesota, between the Twin Cities and St Cloud. Originally the area was contested middle ground between the northern Minnesota Ojibwe people and the southern Minnesota Dakota. A treaty in 1837 opened the area to whites and created a buffer zone between the tribes. After the treaty, ox cart trains moved goods and people through the area. By the 1860s there were several small communities supporting the farmers who settled. They were drawn by the available prairie land and the proximity to the Mississippi River – Sherburne County’s southern border.
As the local population increased, the railroads came, bringing more settlers, communications, and commerce. An ice harvesting industry sprung up on Big Lake. Big Lake ice was renowned for its clarity and was shipped by rail from Big Lake to cities like Minneapolis and Chicago.
The railroad is still a big part of Sherburne County, but these days most people arrive on one of the major highways. Many Sherburne County residents today work in the Twin Cities or St Cloud area but live here for the affordable housing, good schools, and sense of community.
Area attractions include the Sherburne Wildlife Refuge, Sand Dunes State Forest, and the Oliver Kelley Farm.
Sherburne County Facts:
Namesake: Moses Sherburne, an early Minnesota politician
County Seat: Elk River
Incorporated: February, 1856
Population (2010): 88,499
County website: http://www.co.sherburne.mn.us
Yearbooks & Plat Maps
Find your old high school photos or a historic map of where you live in our collection of yearbooks and plat maps (not all years are available).
Biography & Subject Files
Our library collection includes family histories, plat books, county newspapers on microfilm, census records, naturalization records, church histories, business histories, subject and biography files, and numerous oral histories.
Archives & Photos
Our archival collection includes thousands of photographs, probate records, collections of county clubs and organizations, original church records, school records, and more.
Newspapers on Microfilm
We have a state-of-the-art microfilm reader on site, and Sherburne County newspapers on microfilm going back to 1855.
Visit the official website of Sherburne County.
MNHS’s Oliver Kelley Farm is located in Sherburne County, and it’s a great place to visit with the family and learn about farming – past and present – on an 1860s working farm.
Find birth, marriage, death, and other vital records through the Sherburne County Recorder’s Office.
Search birth, death, state census, veterans’ graves, and gold star roll records through the Minnesota Historical Society
Minnesota GenWeb Project has genealogy resources. Visit their page for Sherburne County.
Historical Sketches of Baldwin Township, compiled by Herb Murphy.
Visit the website of the Sherburne County Fair. The page includes some vintage photos and historical information.
A St. Cloud Times Obituary Index is available through Great River Regional Library.
St. Cloud Area Genealogists– lists publications available for purchase for data from the St. Cloud area. Of interest to Sherburne Co. researchers is its Index to Gravestones of Stearns, Benton & Sherburne Counties, which lists epitaphs gathered in the 1970’s of all the gravestones in the cemeteries of these counties.
The Minnesota Digital Library features more than 4,000 images of historic photographs and documents from various Minnesota libraries and museums. The 1903 plat book of Sherburne and Benton counties is available here.
Bureau of Land Management – General Land Office Records – Find land patents and see images of original documents that show the transfer of land ownership from the federal government to individuals.