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.

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.

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 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!

  • Mel66

    @PureMichigan Oooo, love the new avi! Beautiful photo.

  • PureMichigan

    @Mel66 Thank you, Melissa! We updated profile photos on our other social channels as well (Google+, Facebook, etc.). Have a happy Friday! :)

  • Mel66

    @PureMichigan Thanks! New website looks great too. Nicely done. Tell Gary Platte and Ken Yarsevich I said hi. :)

  • kdampier

     @PureMichigan  I would love to see my hometown of Newaygo featured on the blog! It has a rich history as a logging town, because the Muskegon River flows right through it. Currently it is also a town that utilizes the beautiful river by having national kayaking competitions, and drawing salmon fishing lovers from all across the country. Newaygo is also situated right in the middle of the Manistee National Forest and boasts all that is the beauty of Pure Michigan.

  • PamSinclair

    Hi!  I would like to see Milan, Ubly, and Port Austin featured in “How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names?”.  I have family who live in the Thumb, and I am from Milan.

  • Jp_inapod

    How about the tiny town with the big heart, Good Hart. Thanks!

  • Jon Hulett

    Sunfield. Portland. Woodland.

  • kathy

    How about more Upper Peninsula names, like Calumet, Laurium, Ontonagon, Bruce Crossing, Naubinway, Epoufette, Blaney Park, Germfask, Sidnaw, Baraga, L’anse, Lac Vieux Desert, Watersmeet, Wakefield,Houghton, Hancock, Ahmeek, Chocolay, Seney, etc.

  • Chris Irons

    How about Irons?

  • Amanda F

    Would love to hear about Roscommon in your next post! This is a great series!!

  • Alisa Fisher

    How about Lake City, Manton, Kalkaska?

  • Dan Howe

    How about Hersey, Beulah, Benzonia, Rogers Hights, Grawn, or Mesick.

  • Mike

    Goodells, Ruby, Yale, St. Clair, Port Huron, Richmond, Croswell, lexington