Genealogical Research

Office Hours and Policies

The Oconto County Register of Deeds Office is open to genealogists and other researchers during regular business hours, Monday through Friday 8 am to 4 pm. The office is closed on New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, day after Thanksgiving, day before Christmas, Christmas Day, and day before New Year's.

No appointment is necessary. However, space is limited and researchers are admitted on a first come-first served basis. You may be asked to leave after two hours if others are waiting. We have space in our research area for four persons at a time, with two microfiche viewers available for use.

You will be asked to complete an application form and present proof of identity. Smoking is not allowed, and we ask that you refrain from loud talking, laughter and noise making. Please do not bring children under twelve. Handle all materials with respect and care; do not place books on top of each other or write in books. Use only pencils.

Vital Records

Birth, death and marriage certificates are on file for events that occurred in Oconto County. Older records are incomplete; we have very few records from the 1850's-1870's. Before the vital statistics law went into effect in Wisconsin in 1907, fewer than fifty % of vital records were filed. You may find spelling errors in the older records. We cannot make corrections to these records; they must be preserved as they were originally filed.

You may find records for events that occurred in other counties. These are courtesy copies that are sometimes sent by the county of occurrence to the county of residence. However, your best chance of locating a record is to search the county of occurrence.

When searching for death records, remember that the death may not have occurred in the same county where burial took place. Many people locate graves in local cemeteries, but are disappointed to find no record of the death filed in our office.

All of the older vital records have been microfilmed. The microfiche are kept in the search area, and two microfiche viewers are provided for viewing. A staff person will show you how to use the microfiche viewers if you need help.

Copies are $20 each for birth, death or marriage certificates. Additional copies of the same record are $3 each if issued at the same time.

Land Records

Older land records can be difficult to search. We have only a general reception index arranged chronologically by grantor (seller) for records before 1876. If you are trying to find an ancestor's purchase, but don't know the name of the seller, you will have to search under every letter of the alphabet in the Grantor Index. It helps if you know the year, but even then it can be a tedious search. Starting in June of 1876, separate indexes were kept for grantors (sellers) and grantees (buyers), again arranged chronologically. Beginning in 1896, land records were also indexed by legal description in a tract index. If you know the section, township, range and quarter/quarter or plat name and lot and block number, you can try that method of searching.

If you are diligent (or lucky!) and locate a land record in one of the indexes, you can view the recorded document. The older books are large and cumbersome, and many of them are accessible by ladder. Wear sensible clothes and shoes. If you need help retrieving a book, the office staff will assist you as time permits.

Copies are $2 for the first page of a document, and $1 for each additional page of the same document.