Published Under the auspices of Muskegon Board of Trade 1892
Pre-Historic.- The lake region is full of interest for the student of American history, both present and remote. Long before the Indians, of whom we have record, roamed the forests of this section, and fished in its rivers and creeks, it is believed to have been inhabited by a superior people- of whom not even a tradition remains- whose only monuments are scattered earthworks, and tumuli here and there, containing bones from a race of giants, pottery, axes, ornaments, etc. Whether these were a distinct people from the aboriginal Indians or not, we may never know; but it is reasonable to suppose that they were predessors, or a division of the half-civilized race from whom the Mexican Aztecs descended. Mounds, relics, etc., from these "Mound Builders" were formerly abundant throughout the Ohio and Mississippi valleys as far north as Lake Superior, and as far east as New York State. If a separate race from the Indians, when and by what agency they were destroyed will perhaps remain for all time a mystery as deep as that of the fabled lost Island of "Atlantis."
Colonial Settlement.- Jesuit missionaries visited the Indian tribes at Detroit as early as 1620, and Jean Nicolet was at Mackinac in 1634. In 1641 Father Jacques and Raymbault preached to a large congregation of Indians at Sault St. Marie. This post was again revived in 1665 by Claude Alouez, and Father Marquette came in 1668, the next year discovering the upper Mississippi. He erected the fort at Mackinaw in 1671. It is worthy of note that Robt. de La Salle and Father Hennepin in 1678, five miles above Niagara Falls, built the first sailing carft which traversed the great lakes. This boat, named "The Griffin," was sailed to Green Bay, where it was loaded with furs and started for the head of Lake Michigan, manned by 15 seamen, under the direction of an Indian named Tonti. La Salle, Hennepin and their comrades proceeded by land; but the boat was evidently lost in a storm, as it was never heard from thereafter.
A French colony was planted at Detroit in 1701, and a considerable settlement made. This was surrendered to the British in 1760, the act having been ratified by the treaty of Paris, 1763. About this time the Pontiac conspiracy convulsed the peninsula. The garrison at Fort Mackinaw was taken and partly massacred and Detroit was for several months in a state of siege from the wily Indian chief. The silver and copper mines of the Upper Peninsula were worked by the French, 1773-5. At the time of the revolutionary war, Michigan was still a part of Canada, and hence had little to do in that memorable controversy. Although it was in the territory acquired by the United States, it was not formally surrendered until June, 1796.
Territorial Notes.- The area now comprising the populous states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin was, by an act of congress, in 1787, created the Northwest Territory. Gen. Geo. Rogers Clarke, who in July, 1778, captured the British posts at Kalkaskia and Vincennes, in recognition of his valor was granted 150,000 acres of land for himself and soldiers and Clarksburg was started at the Falls of the Ohio in 1786. This was the only American settlement in the northwest, prior to Marietta, Ohio, which was founded April 7, 1788, and was made the seat of government for the territory. Gov. St. Clair made a treaty with the Indians in 1789, but numerous bloody encounters were had with the savages until after Gen. Wayne's decisive victory at Maumee in 1794, and Gen. Harrison's later scourging of the Indians in Indiana and Michigan. Ohio was made a territory in 1800, and two years later admitted as a state. Indiana Territory, created in 1800, comprised the present Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, having a total population of 5,641 whites. These were grouped as folows: Mackinaw, 251; Green Bay, 50; other fur traders on the Great Lakes, 300; Upper Mississippi, 65; Cahokia, 719, adjoining township, 286; Kaskaskia, 467; other Illinois points, 886; Clark's grant, 929; Vincennes, 714; surrounding settlements 819, and 55 fur traders on the upper Wabash.
Michigan was cut from Indiana in 1805 and Illinois in 1809. The popular tide of emigration westward made Indiana a state in 1816 and Illinois was admitted two years later. Wisconsin was at that time annexed to Michigan as a part of this territory and was made a seperate territory in 1836. In 1818 the area comprising Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas had 12,000 population. When we look at the phenominal growth of the northern central district within the last half century, we are justified in making great predictions for the future.
Territorial Government was opened in Michigan, 1805, with Detroit as the capital. War with England was declared June 19, 1812, and Gen. Hull, who had been appointed to the command of the northwest, ingloriously surrendered Detroit on the 16th of August following.
The British had captured Mackinaw, July 17th, Frenchtown (now Monroe) fell into their hands, and the country was rapidly devastated by Indian allies- Gen. Hull was court martialed and sentenced to be shot for cowardice, but in consideration of his services in the revolution was pardoned by the president. Perry's victory at Put-in-Bay on the 10th of Sept. 1813, reversed the tide of war, a detachment of Gen. Harrison's forces re-captured Detroit on the 29th of the same month and Gen. Lewis Cass was appointed governor of Michigan in Oct. 1813. He continued in office until 1831, when Geo. B. Porter was appointed. Gov. Porter died with cholera in 1834, and S. T. Mason succeeded. The "Toledo war" was inaugurated in 1836 between Michigan on the north and Indiana and Ohio on the south, regarding the boundary line. Congress finally arbitrated the matter before the admission of the state, giving Michigan, the Upper Peninsula, in lieu of the ten mile strip in dispute. The state commission refused to accept these terms, but a popular convention ratified the terms in order to receive the benefits of statehood. In May, 1812, congress voted 6,000,000 acres of land to homesteads for revolutionary soldiers, one-third of which was to have been taken from Michigan. On account of the report from the surveyors, that this country was so swampy and malarious as to be unfit for habitation, the Michigan clause of the act was repealed in 1816. The hardy pioneers, however, were not to be deterred by this libelous report, and the two millions of inhabitants which the state has acquired in the last 55 years, with lands and room for ten times as great a number, is ample evidence that these old surveyors jumped at conclusions, or founded their reports on Indian traditions rather than from reliable evidence.
State Government.- Stevens T. Mason who was elected in 1835, as governor of the provisional state, continued after the admission of Michigan to statehood, Jan. 26, 1837, and was succeeded by Wm Woodbridge, 1840; J. W. Gordon, '41; J. S. Barry, '42; and again in '50; Alpheus Felch, '46; Wm. L. Greenly, '47; E. Ransom, '48; R. McClelland, '52; A. Parsons, '53; K. S. Bingham, '55; Moses Wisner, '59; Austin Blair, '61; H. H. Crapo, '65; H. P. Baldwin, '69; J. J. Bagley, '73; C. M. Croswell, '77; D. H. Jerome, '81; J. W. Begole,'83; Russell A. Alger, '85; Cyrus G. Luce, '87 and E. B. Winans, '91.
In 1826 congress set apart two townships for the founding of a university, and this was established at Ann Arbor, March 18, 1837. It was opened as an institution of learning Sept. 20, 1842, and 50 years of usefullness has achieved a world-wide reputation for the Michigan University. Graduates from its several departments are now to be found in nearly every country on the globe. An act to move the capital to Lansing was passed March 16, 1847, and the present constitution was adopted in 1850. This with its several amendments is now the organi law of the state
The rapid growth of Michigan is shown in the following census reports by decades: At the beginning of the present century less than 1,000. 1810, 4,762; '20, 8896; '30, 31,639; '40, 212,267; '50, 397,654; '60. 749,113; '70, 1,184,282; '80, 1,636,937; '90, 2,093,889.
Topography, Climate, Etc.- This state derives its name from Indian dialect, Mitchi Sawgyegan, meaning lake country. It is bounded on three sides by the Great Lakes and connecting straits, largely interspersed with small bodies of water and the name is very appropriate. The state extends from latitude 40 (degrees) 42' to 48 (degrees) 22'. The state contains 56,401 square miles, comprising 36,128,640 acres of which about one-third is water. The principal islands are Royal and Grand in Superior, Beaver, Fox and Manitou groups in the northern part of Lake Michigan, Marquette, Macinac and Bois Blanc in Huron.
The state is naturally and geographically divided into two distinct peninsulas by Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. These two great bodies of water bound the west and north of the Lower Peninsula, Huron coveriing two-thirds of the eastern border as well, while St. Clair Lake, the western end of Erie and Detroit and St. Clair rivers complete the eastern boundary. The entire coast line found in this state is 1,620 miles, a greater lake coast than is possessed by all other states of the Union. Ohio and Indiana form the southern boundary.
The Lower Peninsula has numerous small and beautiful lakes in the interior, hundreds of streams and rivers, is undulating, the ground in some sections rising 300 to 400 feet above the level of the Great Lakes and the soil being generally productive. The forests of pine, oak beech, maple, etc., which formerly covered the sandy loam and clay sub-soils, have largely given place to cultivate farms, and the lands are raising good crops of cereals, vegetables and grass. Apples, pears and plums do well over most of the Lower Peninsula, while peaches, grapes, berries and small fruits are particularly adapted to a strip about 35 miles in width, skirting the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and known as "The Fruit Belt." Many persons who have made no study of the deflection of isothermal lines, in consequence of great bodies of water, when told that Muskegon is on a parallel with the south line of Minnesota, where the mercury often remains for days at 25 degrees or more below zero, at once conclude that we are in a cold country; when the facts are that the great water bounding this section on the west modifies all this and gives us an uncommonly equable climate, scarcely colder in winter than St. Louis, Indianapolis or Columbus. The principal rivers of this section are the Muskegon, which rises in Rosecommon and Missaukee counties, together with its branches meandering a distance of 450 miles, Grand river of nearly equal distance, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Manistee and many smaller streams; completing in the aggregate an unsurpassed water system, The Lower Peninsula is about 200x300 miles.
The Upper Peninsula, covering more than one-third
of the state's area, lies principally north of latitude 46, rises in the
Porcupine mountains to the height of 2,000 feet, is unprotected on the
west, and may rightly be termed a cold, bleak country. It is 318 miles
from east to west, and 164 miles in breadth. The eastern counties have
some good farming lands; the western portion contains extensive forests
and a large timber trade is annually transacted. The principal feature,
however, for which Northern Michigan is celebrated is its great mineral
wealth. The largest copper and Bessemer ore districts in the Union are
found in this region. This, taken in connection with the fact that Michigan
stands first in lumber manufacture and lake transportation facilities,
with her nearness to great distributing centers, make it reasonable to
presume that Muskegon, located on the finest harbor on the lakes, already
the largest city on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, will continue to
keep up its record of the three past decades of doubling its population
every ten years.
Graphics for this page are from:
Copyright © 1999 by Patti Norton. All rights reserved