Exploring your family tree

Genealogy is fascinating, and the Museum at the Portage may be able to help you find information about your family. We have a collection of high school yearbooks, city directories, indexed scrapbooks, and more. We also have knowledgeable docents who know other local sources of genealogical information, including the public library that has many years of the local newspaper on microfilm. Another excellent source of information is the data collected from 77,000+ burial sites in Columbia County.

Newspaper Obituaries

Columbus obituary index, 1960-2000 Download File
Columbus obituary index, 1918-1970 Download File
Portage obituary index, 1850-1907 Download File
Portage obituary index, 1908-2018 Download File
Rio obituary index, 1916-1972 Download File

Cemetery Burials

Click here to download the Cemetery Index file, or browse specific townships below.
Arlington Prairie Lutheran Download File
Arlington United Presbyterian Download File
Arlington Evangelical United Brethren Download File
Crawford-McDonald Download File
Durwards Glen Download File
Caledonia German Methodist Download File
Indian Farm Large Download File
Shanks Cemetery Download File
St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Download File
Welsh Calvinistic Mothodist (Pioneer) Download File
Zastrow Cemetery Download File
Jerrison Cemetery Download File
McLeish Family Burial Download File
Rubin-Guenther Cemetery Download File
Hillside Cemetery Download File
St. Jerome's Catholic Cemetery Download File
Cambria Cemetery Download File
Courtland Methodist Cemetery Download File
Dekorra Cemetery Download File
Dekorra Lutheran Cemetery Download File
Hastie Cemetery Download File
Inch Cemetery Download File
Schofield Cemetery Download File
Klaila Family - St. Thomas Catholic Download File
Hillside Cemetery Download File
Bach Henderson Download File
Old Fort Burials Download File
Spicer Cemetery Download File
St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery Download File
Fall River Cemetery Download File
Fountain Prairie Cemetery Download File
St. Stephens Evangelical Lutheran Download File
Hall Road Download File
Hampden Download File
Greenwood Cemetery Download File
Leeds Center Cemetery Download File
Spring Prairie Hauge Cemetery Download File
Spring Prairie Lutheran Cemetery Download File
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery Download File
Bendixion Cemetery Download File
Cummings Cemetery Download File
Greenwood Cemetery Download File
Hillcrest Cemetery Download File
Martin Family Cemetery Download File
Oak Grove Cemetery Download File
Silver Lake Cemetery Download File
St. Michael's Lutheran Cemetery Download File
St. Paul's Lutheran Cemetery Download File
Railroad Ritual at Dead Man's Crossing Download File
Bartholomew Pioneer Cemetery Download File
County Line Cemetery Download File
Mount Pleasant Cemetery Download File
Okee Cemetery Download File
Okee Plat 1916 Download File
St. Patrick's Cemetery Download File
Ohio Cemetery Download File
Rocky Run Cemetery Download File
South Lowville Cemetery Download File
Fuller-Cole Cemetery Cemetery Download File
Comstock Cemetery Download File
Henion Cemetery Download File
Marcellon Cemetery Download File
North Marcellon Cemetery Download File
Calvary Cemetery Download File
Newport Norwegian Lutheran Cemetery Download File
Spring Grove Cemetery Download File
Bonnet Prairie Norwegian Lutheran Download File
Doylestown Village Cemetery Download File
Ostego Cemetery Download File
St. Patrick's Catholic Doylestown Download File
St. John's Lutheran Cemetery Download File
St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery Download File
Vangen Family Cemetery Download File
Pacific Cemetery Download File
St. John's Columbarium Cemetery Download File
Blaen Y Cae Cemetery Download File
Friesland Cemetery Download File
Lake Sarah Lutheran Cemetery Download File
Randolph Public Cemetery Download File
St. Gabriel's Annunciation Cemetery Download File
St. Mary's Visitation Catholic Cemetery Download File
Pleasant Hill Inglehart Cemetery Download File
Portage Prairie Cemetery Download File
Rosedale Presbyterian Cemetery Download File
Springvale Cemeteries Download File
Garden Bluff Cemetery Download File
Knight Cemetery Download File
Columbia County Home & Hospital Download File
Pardeeville Cemetery Download File
St. Augustine's Rocky Run Cemetery Download File
Wyocena Cemetery Download File

Columbia County Birth Registers


Three, hand-written, bound ledgers, listing all registered births occurring within Columbia County from 19 May 1876 to 13 Dec 1886 were donated to the Portage Historical Society from the Millie Stanley Estate.


1) Full name of child
2) Sex (M/F)
3) Color
4) Names of other issue living (Siblings)
5) Full name of father
6) Occupation of father
7) Name of mother previous to marriage
8) Hour, day, month, year of birth
9) Place of birth
10) Name of physician or other person signing certificate
11) Residence of such person
12) Date of certificate
13) Date of Registration
14) Any additional circumstances (Nativity of father & mother)[Found in early records only]


An examination of the dates of entry in the Birth Registers suggest that the data were processed by the Register of Deeds office in “batches”. Apparently, physicians or midwives and others responsible for attending to the birth of a child (sometimes the parents themselves) would periodically bring in their ‘records’ when it was convenient to them, and register the births that they were responsible for with the Register of Deeds Office. It appears that they completed and dated a birth ‘Certificate’ [on a pre-printed form, in duplicate perhaps?] that, in turn, was given to the Register of Deeds official who then registered the birth a day or more later. Consequently, there are gaps in dates between ‘date of certificate’ and ‘date of registration’ (usually only a day or two), and even larger gaps in dates between ‘date of birth’ and certificate/registration dates (often a month or more). In some cases, parents would register the births of all their children at once, often including children born many years before (and in some cases, out-of-state).


For genealogists, there are many potentially important clues hidden (or in plain sight?) in the data, assuming you can locate a relative of yours considering the difficulty in determining the correct spellings of the surnames. Early registrations often contained nativity of both parents, and some had included birthplaces of parents.
In order to make it easier to find an ancestor’s record, we compiled an Index to the ledgers in the form of a searchable Excel spreadsheet. Volunteers entered the child’s surname and given name, date of birth, and parent’s names from each of the three ledgers, and then merged the three files into a master spreadsheet, which allows us to ‘search’ on date-of-birth and/or combinations of surname and given name.
Although a large number of the records list the given name of the baby as “not given”, if you know one of the parent’s names or if you can provide the baby’s sibling’s names, we may be able to find a “match”. In the process of indexing, we often had to make an educated guess as to the correct spelling of the surname. If you have a known date (or suspected date) of birth, we can sort the data file by date and then scan the surnames (as we interpreted the spelling) for possible matches. For example, a Grotzke may have been entered into the database as a ‘Brotski” [True!]! We will try our best to find your ancestor in the database, but due to the transcription difficulties, we may not be able to locate the record you are searching for.
Occasionally the register includes a ‘footnote’ that details some feature of either the baby (stillborn, health of or deformity described, etc.) or relates some personal knowledge of the parents (occupation or, rarely, a personal description) . We do not know who offered these often tantalizing facts (i.e., the physician/midwife, or record-keeper), but it was most likely from someone with close personal knowledge of the family.

Further comments related to the Birth Registration ledgers.

Not all the facts surrounding the creation of these ledgers are known. Karen Manske, Columbia County Register of Deeds, after consulting with the State Vital records Office [in 2018], believes the ledgers in our possession “are probably some form of duplicate copy” (i.e., not the original Registers) . She states “that they are not the “official public record” and that “there may have been corrections/changes to the record that these copies do not address.” Mrs. Manske continues “You are allowed to give copies and charge a fee, if you so choose, but you would need to be clear to the person receiving the copy that they are not receiving the official record and that there may have been corrections/changes that are not reflected in the copy that they are receiving.”

This is an undocumented duplicate copy of hand-written records of Births registered in Columbia County, Wisconsin, 1876-1880. Corrections/changes may have been made to records that do not reflect the “official records”.
Repository: Ledgers are owned and preserved by the Portage Historical Society, Portage, WI and may be viewed at the Museum at The Portage, Box 727, Portage, WI 53901



Please click on the link below to download and print a Portage Genealogy and History Research Request Form HERE

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