HISTORY OF THE OFFICE
Lake of the Woods County separated from Beltrami County after a general election was held in 1922. The first county board meeting was held December 12, 1922. Offices were then filled by appointment. Hans Imsdahl was selected as the first Register of Deeds, what was later termed the County Recorder. Hans served until 1932 when his son John Imsdahl was elected. John served as County Recorder for 42 years, until his retirement in 1974. He was replaced by Frank Forrest Abbott, a former newspaper man, who served for 12 years. In 1987 Nancy Bucklin, who was a longtime Deputy Recorder, was sworn into office. Bucklin was Recorder for five years until her retirement in September, 1992. Deputy Recorder Sharon Bitter was then appointed to fill out Bucklin’s unexpired term of office. Bitter served until July, 1995 when she also retired prior to the conclusion of her term. Susan Ney was appointed by the county board in August of 1995 to serve out Bitter’s unexpired term. Ney continues to serve through the present.
The records and procedures in the Recorder’s office have evolved significantly since 1922. The pertinent Beltrami County records were transcribed into separate books to differentiate between post-1922 records. The early records were handwritten in both the record book, tract index, and a daily reception book. Later, a specialized typewriter was used and painstaking verification took place to ensure the accuracy of the records. The early record books separated the document types beyond deed, mortgage and miscellaneous. Various types of deeds and documents pertaining to liens were divided into their own books. This decision resulted in a record system that is not always chronological in appearance. The duplication of book numbers across three types of books can also cause some mild confusion. This is partially remedied by different color ink used in the tract indexes for each type of book.
A photocopy machine was purchased in the mid 1970’s to reproduce the documents. The indexes however were still written by hand. In July, 1991 an index database system was purchased through Minnesota Counties Information Systems (MCIS). The software system allowed for the computerized indexing of the records and eliminated the need for handwritten indexes. Also in 1991, the record books and indexes were microfilmed for archival back-up purposes and stored permanently offsite. The first personal computer, or pc, purchased by the county was for the Recorder’s office in 1994. Like the other county offices, “dummy” terminals were also utilized that ran off the mainframe tax computer. More pcs followed, and other index database systems have been acquired with the continued assistance of MCIS.
In 2001, scanned images of the documents replaced the photocopies and the need for the expensive recording books. The scanned images are backed up both internally and externally, eliminating the need for continued microfilming of the new recordings. In 2012, an online database was made available to interested subscribers for 24/7 access to our records. In 2013 the first e-recording was successfully submitted and recorded. In 2018 the decision was made to discontinue entering in the tract indexes and rely solely on the computerized index. Our historic documents are currently being scanned and indexed in the system with the goal of having all our recorded documents available online. All books, records, and indexes continue to be permanent records of this office.
In an effort to streamline the recording process, this office assumed the responsibility of collecting deed and mortgage registry tax, as well as the necessary certifications of the tax parcel. This new procedure took affect in July, 2020 and eliminated the need for the A/T’s office to review the documents.
The County Recorder was appointed the Local Registrar on behalf of the State of Minnesota July, 2000 by the Lake of the Woods County Board of Commissioners. Prior to that time, the Court Administrator’s office operated and served as a county department and maintained the vital statistic records. However those records were deemed to be not part of the judicial function of the Court Administrator’s office and as a result the records were moved to the Recorder’s Office in Lake of the Woods County. During this same timeframe, a statewide database was established by the Minnesota Department of Health for the issuance of birth and death records. These records are now printed from the database. An individual can now request birth and death records from any county in the state. The county copy of the records are no longer recognized as the “official” record. Vital records prior to the origination of the county remained in Beltrami County and were not transferred. This is the opposite of the land records. Our vital records are eligible to be transferred to the State Archives, but we have decided to keep all the records in the office.
Through the state-wide effort of the Minnesota County Recorder’s Association, historical marriage certificates are available from an online database. Also, applications for a marriage license can be completed online and picked up at any county. Veterans’ discharge information is also available in a searchable statewide database.
The Passport Acceptance Agent function was also transferred from the Court Administrator’s office in 2000. This office was designated a Dual Function Facility (DFF), effective May 1st, 2011 by the US Department of State. As such, the office must divide and separate the birth records issuance duties from the passport acceptance responsibility. Passport photos were added as a service in June 2017.
Filings for UCC liens at one time were quite prevalent in the Recorder’s office. These filings have evolved with changes to the Code and are now solely accepted and maintained by the Minnesota Secretary of State. Tax liens filed by the IRS and the Minnesota Department of Revenue are indexed and maintained as a permanent record. The County began filing liens against owners of personal property, mostly mobile homes, for non-payment of taxes in 1996.
The County Recorder’s office operates under numerous MN Statutes. The office does not answer to a department at the state level, nor does it take direction from the county board. Attention to detail, accuracy, and timeliness are fundamental components to the function of the office. Quality control is incorporated in all procedures related to document recording and preservation with the ultimate goal of creating and archiving the highest possible quality document image and data records.
LAKE OF THE WOODS
206 8th Ave SE,
Baudette, MN 56623
SUSAN J. NEY
Please call ahead to assure the availability of staff to process your in-person request.