How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 12

In our ongoing series of how cities in Michigan got their names, we’ve been able to share with you the history of cities from around our state. In case you missed them, here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8 , Part 9, Part 10 and Part 11.

Today, we share the stories of how five more Michigan cities were named in part 12.

Hillsdale
The village of Hillsdale was incorporated in 1847 and became a city in 1869. The geographical make-up of the Hillsdale area, which consists of hills and dales, influenced the name “Hillsdale”. Though Hillsdale does not have any mountain to create dales, or valleys, it has heights that reach up to 1,250 feet above sea level, allowing dales to exist.

Fowlerville
Handy Township, the township in which Fowlerville is located, was surveyed by Sylvestor Sibley in 1825. Calvin Handy and his family were the first settlers to arrive in Handy Township on June 16, 1836.  Later that year, Ralph Fowler from Livingston County, New York, moved to the northeast portion of Handy Township. Considered to be the first permanent resident of this area of Handy Township, the area was named Fowlerville.  The village incorporated in 1871.

Reed City
Before its establishment, Reed City was first known as Tunshla and then Todd’s Slashing.  It was plotted in 1870 by Charles Higbe, Ozias Slosson, and Fredrick Todd who re-named the village Reed City, after J.M. Reed. While the land was named after Reed, the streets and avenues were named after the village’s other incorporators.   

Monroe
Monroe was first named Frenchtown in 1784.  It was the third European settlement in the state of Michigan.  In 1817, President James Monroe visited Frenchtown, causing the location to be renamed after the president in his honor.  The newly named Monroe was then re-incorporated as a city in 1837. 

St. Ignace
St. Ignace’s name is derived from the Roman Catholic missionaries who settled the area during the time of the French and British explorers and fur traders.  The Jesuit missionaries christened the community in honor of the founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius Loyola, and named the city in his honor. Among these Jesuits priests were Fathers Marquette, Charlevoix, and Allouez, whose names may sound of other familiar Michigan cities.

   

Which cities would you like to see featured next? Share with us below!

How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 11

In our ongoing series of how cities in Michigan got their names, we’ve been able to share with you the history of cities from around our state. In case you missed them, here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8 , Part 9 and Part 10.

Today, we bring you Part 11. Let us know in the comments section below which cities you’d like to see featured next!

Lake Odessa
Lake Odessa was developed by Humphrey R. Wager in 1887. Before it came to be “Lake Odessa”, the biggest settlement in the area was Bonanza. When the railway system was established farther south, the established Bonanza community moved to be closer to the railroad tracks. Abandoned Bonanza became cornfields and the new settlement near the railroad became Lake Odessa. Lake Odessa’s name was derived from two lakes, Tupper Lake and Jordan Lake, which are located in Odessa Township. In 1846, the Township was named by a committee in honor of one of Russia’s cities. 

Grand Haven
Grand Haven was first named Gabagouache by the Pottawattamie Indians. Once French settlers inhabited the area and made it a fur-outpost, they continued to call the location Gabagouache.  In 1835, Gabagouache was renamed Grand Haven due to its close proximity to the mouth of the Grand River and to honor the beautiful setting the river provided.  In 1837, the Grand Haven community grew to become a city.

Grand Haven's peaceful city boardwalk

St. Joseph
In 1669, René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle was the first European to settle in what is present day St. Joseph. La Salle and his crew named the river that was located in the area “River Miami” and built a fort, Fort Miami, on its shores. In 1679 the fort was destroyed, and it wasn’t until 1780 that the area became established again. In 1829, Calvin Britain created a plat map for the settlement, which was then called Newburyport, and the village thrived. In 1834, the village was renamed St. Joseph after the river, which had been renamed prior.

Mount Clemens
In 1795, the area that is present day Mount Clemens was surveyed by Christian Clemens. Four years later, Clemens settled the area.  During that time, Clements and a friend, John Brooks, built a distillery and platted the land, which started the expansion of the settlement.  The town was named after Clemens in 1818, and was incorporated into a town in 1851.  In 1879, the town was incorporated into a city.  Christian Clemens lived in Mount Clemens the rest of his life, and upon his death was buried in Clemens Park, located north of downtown.  

Imlay City
Eastern capitalist William H. Imlay moved to the area that is present day Imlay City in 1828. On April 1, 1850, the township came into existence and was named after Imlay.  During this time, Charles Palmer, the chief engineer of the railroad, selected Imlay as a potential produce market and purchased a tract of two hundred and forty acres of land, in which he surveyed and platted.  Because the area had already been named Imlay, Palmer decided to call his location Imlay City. It wasn’t until 1870 that the village began to take off due to the construction of the Port Huron and Lake Michigan Railway.

How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 10

In our ongoing series of how cities in Michigan got their names, we’ve been able to share with you the history of cities from around our state. In case you missed them, here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8 and Part 9.

Today, check out part ten, which shares the stories of how five more Michigan cities were named.

Charlotte

The area that would become Charlotte was owned by the U.S. Government until 1832, when George Barnes purchased the land. Barnes in turn sold the land to Edmond B. Bostwick, a land speculator from New York City three years later in 1835. Bostwick then sold a portion of the land to H.I. Lawrence, Townsend Harris and Francis Cochran. These four men can be credited for developing the village which they named after Bostwick’s wife, Charlotte. Charlotte was incorporated as a village on October 10, 1863 and as a city on March 29, 1871. It was designated as the county seat when Eaton County was organized in 1837; however, due to a lack of population and buildings, county functions were conducted at Bellevue until 1840.

Sparta

The Sparta area was first settled in 1844, with the township formally organized in 1846. The first settler in what is now the village was Jonathan Nash in 1846. Calling the place Nashville, he built a sawmill on Lick Creek. Subsequently, he changed the name of the creek to Nash Creek. Seeing as there was already a Nashville in Michigan, the state legislature suggested Sparta. The village was platted in 1867 and incorporated in 1883.

Alpena

Alpena County was first named “An-a-ma-kee,” or “Thunder,” in honor of an old Chippewa chief of the Thunder Bay band who had signed a treaty negotiated with Henry Schoolcraft in 1826.  After studying the Indian legends around the word “An-a-ma-kee” (or Animikee), Henry Schoolcraft concluded that the name was not completely appropriate.  Then he manufactured the name Alpena from “Al,” an Indian syllable meaning the, and either “pinai,” an Arabic word meaning “partridge,” or “peanaisse,” an old French word meaning “bird.”

Frankfort

In 1855 a fellow by the name of Frank Martin built a home on the northern shores of the swamp delta of the Betsie River.   But then big snowdrifts surrounded the house; so Frank built a wooden stockade around it to keep the snowdrifts away.    His neighbors thought it looked like a fort, so when the neighbors referred to Martin’s home they called it “Franks Fort”.  As time went on, you guessed it, it was shortened to Frankfort and the town had a name.

Clarkston

Linux Jacox from New York built the first house in Clarkston in 1830. He sold his claim to Butler Holcomb in 1831. In 1832, Holcomb built the second house and a sawmill on sections 20 and 21. The town was named for the Clark brothers, from New York. Jeremiah Clark, from Onondaga County, New York, came to Detroit in 1831, and in the autumn of 1832 located on section 7 in Independence Township where he built a log cabin. Among his three children were three boys, Edwin, Milton and Newton. Nelson W. Clark arrived in 1836 and became a prominent citizen in the township. In 1838, Holcomb sold his interests to the Clark brothers, who then built a grist mill. In 1842, the Clark brothers platted a tract of land on section 20 for a village and gave it the name Clarkston.