The Sanilac County Sheriff's Office has a rich history dating back to 1850 when the first recorded Sheriff, Silas Bardwell took office after the county government was fully organized. In the 1850's until the automobile became popular it was not uncommon for Sheriff's to appoint Deputies who reside throughout the county to provide law enforcement services to those areas in the time of need. This was certainly the case in Sanilac County because of the vast amount of square miles the Sheriff was responsible for covering.
Sanilac County was probably named for a Wyandot (Huron) chief named Sanilac. Sanilac County was formed on September 10, 1822, by the Michigan Territorial Legislature from parts of St. Clair County and unorganized territory that was being administered by Oakland County. The original boundary of the county was reduced in 1840, when parts were partitioned off to create Huron and Tuscola Counties. The county government was fully organized on December 31, 1849.
Today Sanilac County remains geographically the largest county in the lower peninsula of Michigan and has a total area of 1,590 square miles, of which 963 square miles is land and 627 square miles (39%) is water.