1. On Monday, July 6, I drove to Gaylord, the county seat of Otsego County, Michigan. My first stop was the probate court. Their website did not give any open hours, so I guessed that they would be open by 10 am.
So I spent the duration going to the public library, where I spent half an hour going through several local history books without finding any mention of the Townsends. I had lunch, and drove around the cemetery (no luck there). I also stopped by the Congregational Church the Townsends attended.
There were several restrictions to what I could look at. Births more recent than 100 years ago were restricted; I would need a death certificate in order to get a copy of recent births. The ledgers of birth records were not available to view, even older than 100 years ago, because the dates overlapped. In order to have them search for a 1908 birth, I paid $5 for the search, $13 for a typewritten transcribed record, and $1.50 for using my debit card to pay for it.
As far as I could tell, there were no restrictions on deaths or marriages; I searched successfully for 1926, 1939 and 1943 marriages. Although I should note that the 1943 marriage of Gayle (Thompson) Boucher and Robert McKinley was not indexed (I checked multiple times), but was listed in the marriage ledger.
3. On Wednesday, July 8, I drove to Charlevoix, the county seat of Charlevoix county. On the way I enjoyed fabulous views of Grand Traverse Bay:
4. Friday, July 10 found me back in southern Michigan, at the Hillsdale County Courthouse, which I also visited in 1976.
When we asked for a particular ledger, they brought it out and placed it on the counter for us to examine. When I asked hesitantly if it was all right to take photos, the answer was, "Of course!" I told them that of all the county clerks' offices I had visited that week, they were by far the friendliest and most helpful.
Summary: Do your homework before you visit!