Mecosta County is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the population was 42,798. The county seat is Big Rapids. The county is named after Chief Mecosta, the leader of the Potawatomi Native American tribe who once traveled the local waterways in search of fish and game. Chief Mecosta was one of the signers the Treaty of Washington in 1836. The easily navigated waterways soon led to a boom in lumber industry growth. Workers settled the area in 1851, and the county was officially settled and the government officially organized in 1859. Mecosta County is home to over 100 lakes, rivers, and streams with the Muskegon River winding its way through the county seat and largest city Big Rapids (originally named Leonard). Mecosta County was set off on April 1, 1840, but remained attached for administrative purposes to Kent County until 1857, when it was attached to Newaygo County. The county government was organized on February 11, 1859. Mecosta County comprises the Big Rapids, MI, Micropolitan Statistical Area and is included in the Grand Rapids-Wyoming-Muskegon, MI, Combined Statistical Area.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 571 square miles (1,480 km²), of which 555 square miles (1,440 km²) is land and 16 square miles (41 km²) (2.8%) is covered by water.
As of the census of 2000, 40,553 people, 14,915 households, and 9,888 families resided in the county. The population density was 73 people per square mile (28/km²). The 19,593 housing units averaged 35 per square mile (14/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 92.68% White, 3.60% Black or African American, 0.64% Native American, 0.87% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.37% from other races, and 1.79% from two or more races. About 1.28% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race; 25.5% were of German, 20.6% English, 9.2% Irish, and 5.3% Polish ancestry according to the 2010 American Community Survey. 95.9% spoke English, 1.7% Spanish, and 1.1% German as their first language.
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