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Osceola County, Michigan

The Territory comprised in Osceola County was first"laid off" by an act of the legislature on April 1, 1840, and was called Unwattin after a Chief of the Ottawa Tribe. At that time there were no white settlers in this territory. On March 8, 1843, the legislature changed the name to Osceola. Delos A. Blodgett made the first settlement and raised the first crop (potatoes) in 1851.

From 1857 to 1859, Osceola County was attached to Newago County, together with Lake and Mecosta counties. From 1859 to 1869, it was joined to Mecosta County, with the County Seat at Leonard (now Big Rapids). Beginning in 1861, all of Osceola County was organized as a township. It was named Richmond, the maiden name of Mr.Blodgett's mother. In 1869, the county was formally organized and included the east half of the present Lake County, with the newly laid out village of Hersey becoming the County Seat. In 1871, the east half of Lake County was taken from this county, leaving 16 townships. In April 1927, by a majority vote of the people, the county seat was changed from Hersey to Reed City.

In 1860, the population was 27. Following the Civil War, veterans claimed land offered them by the government, and lumbering began in the county. The first road was opened, running nearly parallel to the Muskegon River, from Big Rapids to Houghton Lake. The Muskegon River provided transportation for the logs to Lake Michigan. In 1870, the population had grown to 2200. The Grand Rapids and Indiana R.R. arrived at Reed City in 1871. The Flint and Pere Marquette R.R. crossed the Muskegon River to Evart the same year. In 1874, the population was 6216; and in 1878, it was estimated at 10,000.

By 1900, lumbering was on the decline. Farming became the most common occupation in Osceola County. In more recent times, manufacturing and tourism have become the leading occupations in the county.

(From an atlas published in 1878.)

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Elna Wilder / Evart, Michigan