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Southwest Michigan Area History

This Month In
Michigan History


 
Data compiled by: Michigan History Magazine

For many people, both residents and visitors alike, Southwest Michigan's historical facts are quite interesting as well as surprising.

Southwest Michigan's factoids include:

  • 11,000 years of settlement complete with mammoth and mastodon hunting.

  • Being a "stop" along the Underground Railroad.

  • Home to the Civil War hero who captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis fleeing the defeat of his nation.

  • The ghost town of Singapore (see our History of Allegan County, Michigan section).

  • The "Battle of Manila" cannon, dedicated by President McKinley.

  • Home to the Checker Cab Manufacturing Corporation & Upton Machine Company, later renamed Whirlpool Corporation, original home of the Gibson Guitar Company.

And many other interesting tidbits!

Southwest Michigan's firsts, some contested by other locales, include:

  • The first airplane flight.

  • The first automobile.

  • The first newspaper published between Detroit & Chicago.

  • The first state to have a border-to-border interstate freeway.

And many other nifty firsts!

Southwest Michigan and the cities therein have been referred-to in numerous ways, and for a variety of reasons, through the years:

  • United States' largest paper-producer.

  • Nation's smallest city.

  • World's largest celery-producer.

  • World's peppermint supplier.

  • World's largest outdoor fruit market.

  • World's Magic Capital.


America's First
Airplane Flight

Man-supporting, heavier-than-air, motorized, controllable,
"flying machine"
Allegan County,
Michigan

Including Allegan & Saugatuck communities
America's First
Car

The 1894 Baushke automobile
was built in Benton Harbor as an
experimental investment idea
Berrien County,
Michigan

Including Benton Harbor,
Berrien Springs, Buchanan, Harbert, Niles, St. Joseph, & Three Oaks
Berrien County,
Sweet Summer Memories

At the turn of the century, thousands of visitors traveled to Berrien County for their summer vacations
Bridgman,
Michigan

The post office, railroad station and
this new town were to be named
after George Bridgman
Cass County,
Michigan

Including Cassopolis, Dowagiac, Pokagon, & Sumnerville
communities
Coloma,
Michigan

First called Shingle Diggins, this
town became known as Dickerville,
then finally Coloma.
The Greeks of Berrien County, Michigan
Greek immigrants started coming to America in the 1880's due to horrible economic conditions in Greece.
The Israelite
House of David

A communal society that practiced celibacy, vegetarianism, conscientious objection, and equal rights for women
Kalamazoo County,
Michigan

Including Galesburg, Kalamazoo, Richland & Schoolcraft
communities
Lake Michigan,
The "Grand Lac"

Monstrous ice formations of up to
6,500 feet thick formed what we
know today as the Great Lakes
Paw Paw Lake:
THE Resort Destination

Certainly "the right place, at the right
time." This quiet country setting
attracted millions of visitors
St. Joseph County,
Michigan

Including Burr Oak, Centreville,
Constantine, Colon, Mottville, Sturgis,
Three Rivers, & White Pigeon
Silver Beach
Amusement Park

The grand park that once graced the
lake shore of St. Joseph is fondly remembered
Stevensville,
Michigan

In exchange for having a railroad depot
named after Mr. Stevens, he sold a
portion of his land for $1.00.
Van Buren County,
Michigan

Including Hartford, Lawrence,
Paw Paw, & South Haven
communities
Watervliet,
Michigan

The community of Watervliet and its history are forever tied to the flowing waters of the Paw Paw River.

If you have materials to add, please contact us.


 


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