As of 2012 new applications for this collection were no longer being accepted. All previously accepted applications and supporting documentation
are made available to researchers through the VBRGS. Contact the society at

This project was sponsored by the Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society.  The objective was to encourage the preservation of family history of
Allegan, Cass, Berrien, Kalamazoo, and Van Buren County's early settlers by documenting their participation in county history and their lines of
categories by proving their ancestor's residence prior to the following dates:

Pioneer -
Allegan County - September 1, 1835 (organization of county)
Berrien County - February 25, 1837 (Berrien Springs named county seat)
Cass County - November 7, 1836 (first election of county officers)
Kalamazoo County - October 2, 1835 (first newspaper published in county)
Van Buren County - March 18, 1837 (organization of county)

Founder - April 30, 1861.  
Marks the first call for Civil War troops in Michigan. (Same for all five counties.)

Settler - January 1, 1891.  
Marks the beginning of the "other" great depression (second only to the Great Depression of the 1930's). (Same for all five counties.)

Builder - March 4, 1933.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's inaugural address beginning the country's resurrection from the depression.

  • Applicants must have completed a  PIONEER CERTIFICATE APPLICATION .
Provide proof of residence for pioneer in Allegan, Cass, Berrien, Kalamazoo, or Van Buren County for designated time period.
Accepted primary sources include: vital records, land/plat records, census records, probate records, tax assessments, church records, school records, court records,
directories, military records, naturalizations, and records that were recorded at the time of the event.  Family histories, county histories, newspaper clippings and other
second-hand information will not be accepted as proof of residence or lineage.  These items may have beeen submitted as supporting evidence.
  • Provide proof of direct blood descent from pioneer to applicant.

Accepted sources included, in addition to the primary sources listed above, the following secondary sources would have been considered: diaries/journals, bible records,
private papers, etc.  Documentation should provide proof of descent for each generation.
Applicants are encouraged to include proofs for all information submitted on application, but are required only to show blood descent.

Label each piece of documentation in upper right hand corner for what generation it applies (i.e., Generation #1, Generation #2, etc., with Generation #1 being applicant).  
Staple proofs in generation order to the back of the application.

All proofs included a complete source citation ( i.e. book title, page, volume, location of original documentation, etc).  

Applicants did not need to be members of Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society to apply.  

Applicants were encouraged to submit any additional family information, group sheets, biographies, photos, etc.