MAC marks its 120th birthday serving Michigan’s counties

The Michigan State Capitol, circa 1900. (courtesy of Capitol Commission)

It’s Feb. 1, 1898. A year earlier, Michigan had achieved its modern arrangement of 83 counties with the return of Isle Royal to Keweenaw County.

Ransom Olds had formed Olds Motor Works. William McKinley is president. Hazen S. Pingree is governor of Michigan.

That February day, a group of men gathered in the Senate chamber of the State Capitol. They were members of county boards of supervisors, the precursors to today’s county commissioners. They moved to form a five-member committee to study the creation of a permanent organization, the State Association of Supervisors of Michigan — then adjourned for dinner.

And so began the history of what today is the Michigan Association of Counties.

Some things haven’t changed since then. Michigan still has 83 counties, from Monroe to Keweenaw, St. Joseph to Chippewa. We still have our scenic coastlines, our forests and our reputation for making things.

The challenges of county government, though, those are quite different in the 21st century, and remind us of the wisdom of our forefathers who created an organization, “which shall be perpetual,” they wrote, so citizens elected to lead their counties could gather to learn from and aid each other.

In the coming year, MAC will be celebrating this 120th anniversary with special reports and other events. Stay tuned to micounties.org for updates.