American History and Genealogy Project

State of Michigan

Michigan, one of the western United States, consists of two peninsulas; the principal of which or Michigan proper, is bounded n. by the Straits of Michilimackinac, which connect Lake Michigan to Lake Huron; e. by Lake Huron, St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River, and Lake Erie, which separate it from Upper Canada; s. by Ohio and Indiana; and w. by Lake Michigan. This main portion of the state is 288 miles long, and, at a medium, 190 miles broad, containing 38,000 square miles, or 24,320,000 acres. But Michigan contains another and entirely distinct peninsula, lying n. w. of the former, bounded n. by Lake Superior; on the e. by St. Mary's River on the s. by Lake Michigan, Green Bay, and Menomonee River; and w. by Montreal River, which enters Lake Superior. This portion of the state is about 320 miles long, and from 30 to 160 broad containing about 28,000 square miles; making the whole territory of the state about 66,000 square miles. In 1810, the population was 4,528; in 1820, 9,048; in 1830, 31,639; in 1840, 212,276. Of these, 113,395 were white males; 98,165 do. females; 393 colored males; 314 do. females. Employed in agriculture, 56,521; in commerce, 728; in manufactures and trades, 6,890; navigate the ocean, 24; do. canals, lakes, and rivers, 166; mining, 40; learned professions, 904.

There were in 1840, 32 organized counties, which, with their population and capitals, were as follows:

County, Population, Capital

Allegan, 1,783, Allegan Lapeer, 4,265, Lapeer
Barry, 1,078, Hastings Lenawee, 17,889, Adrian
Berrien, 5,011, St. Joseph Livingston, 7,430, Howell
Branch 5,715, Branch Macomb, 923, Mt. Clemens
Calhoun, 10,599, Marshall Michilimackinac, 9,716, Mackinac
Cass, 5,710, Cassopolis Monroe, 9,922, Monroe
Chippewa, 534, Sault St. Mary Oakland, 23,646 Pontiac
Clinton, 1,614, De Witt Oceana, 208, Oceana C. H.
Eaton, 2,379, Charlotte Ottawa, 496, Grand Haven
Genesee, 4,268, Flint Saginaw, 892, Saginaw
Hillsdale 7,240, Jonesville St. Clair, 4,606, St. Clair
Ingham, 2,498, Vevay St. Joseph, 7,068, Centreville
Ionia, 1,923, Ionia Shiawassee, 2,103, Corunna
Jackson, 13,130, Jackson Van Buren, 1,910, Pawpaw
Kalamazoo, 7,380, Kalamazoo Washtenaw, 23,571, Ann Arbor
Kent, 2,587, Grand Rapids Wayne, 24,173, Detroit

Page 401

There are several new counties unorganized. Detroit, situated on the w. side of the Detroit river, is the seat of government. The surface of the lower or southern peninsula is generally level, having few elevations which may be denominated hills. The interior is gently undulating, rising gradually from the lakes to the center of the peninsula. This central region may be regarded as a table land, elevated about 300 feet above the level of the lakes, covered with fine forests of timber, oak plains, and beautiful prairies. Along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan are sand hills, thrown by the winds into innumerable fantastic forms, sometimes covered with stinted trees and scanty vegetation, but most generally bare. On the shore of Lake Huron are some high sand bluffs. The point formed by Lake Huron and Saginaw bay is generally low and swampy. A large part of the soil of this peninsula is fertile, and well adapted to the purposes of agriculture. The forest trees present a great variety; oak, hickory, walnut, ash, linden, sugar maple, elm, poplar, and pine. The soil is well adapted to wheat, rye, oats, barley, flax, hemp, garden vegetables, and grasses. No part of the United States is better supplied with fish, aquatic fowls, and wild game. The fish are chiefly the white fish and salmon trout, both of which are taken and put up in large quantities for exportation. The trout weigh from 10 to 70 pounds, and the white fish are equally large.

Of the northern peninsula, Mr. Schoolcraft says, "portions of it are the mere development of sublime scenery, which appertains to that comparatively elevated portion of the continent. Mountains and lakes, plains, rivers, and forests, spread over it, with a boldness of outline, which may be said to constitute almost a peculiar type of North American geography. This division embraces the mineral district of the region. Much of it falls under the influence of causes which render it of little or no value in an agricultural point of view; but it may be regarded as the seat of future mineral operations. Accuracy with respect to either kind of soil, either in acres or miles, must be the result of exploration and survey. The northern shores of Lake Michigan and Huron, as far as Point Detour, are exclusively limestone, where rock is at all visible, and this rock is characterized by the usual indications of gypsum and brine springs. The growth of trees in this newly acquired boundary is as various as the soils, and is, in general, an accurate index of its fertility. The sugar maple is interspersed throughout the tract, being separated by the sand plains, the mountain masses, and by tracts of spruce lands. This tree, however, forms so considerable a portion of the growth, that the natives can always, by a timely removal of their camps, rely on the manufacture of sugar. The beech tree is found as far north as Point Iroquois, at the outlet of Lake Superior. I regard the white oak, however, as a surer test of climate and soil together, than any there of our forest trees. I doubt whether this tree ever attains to its full size in a climate not decidedly congenial to agriculture. The rock maple and red oak are found, at intervals, throughout the northwest; I have seen both species at the sources of the Mississippi, but have not observed the beech north of the locality mentioned, nor the white oak north of the Straits of Mackinac. The interior abounds in minor lakes, and enjoys a singular advantage of intercommunication by streams and portages. The areas included between the three great lakes north of Mackinac, which will probably hereafter be denominated the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, embraces the present settlements at Mackinac and Sault St. Mary. Taking the whole extent of the annexed territory from Menomonee River, following the curves of the coast to the northwest limits of the state, the mouth of Moniaw or Montreal River of Lake Superior, it affords not less than 720 miles of additional coast navigation; and embraces, in the distance, several large bays and excellent harbors. About 40 large and 60 small streams discharge their waters into the three lakes constituting portions of the boundary."

The southern peninsula of Michigan is drained by several large rivers and numerous smaller reams, which rise near the middle between the lakes, and pass off in an easterly and westerly direction, with the exception of the Cheboigan, and three or four smaller streams, which flow in a northerly direction. The larger streams are navigable by boats and canoes nearly to their sources. Raisin and Huron rs. flow into Lake Erie; Rouge into the Detroit strait; Clinton and Black rivers to the Strait of St. Clair. Saginaw River, formed by the junction of Tittibawassee, Hare, Shiawassee, Flint, and Cass rivers, enters into Saginaw bay. Thunder Bay River and Cheboigan, with several smaller streams, flow into the northern part of Lake Huron. St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Grand, and Maskegon rivers, and several smaller streams, flow in a westerly direction into Lake 3Iichigan. The counties of Oakland, Livingston, Washtenaw, Barry, Jackson, and Kalamazoo abound with small clear lakes, well stocked with fish.

There were in the state in 1840,30,144 horses and mules; 185,190 neat cattle; 99,618 sheep; 5,890 swine; poultry to the value of $82,730. There were produced 2,157,108 bushels of wheat; 7,802 of barley; 2,114,051 of oats; 34,236 of rye; 113,592 of buckwheat; 2,277,039 of Indian corn; 153,375 pounds of wool; 11,331 of hops; 4,533 of wax; there were produced 2,109,205 bush of Potatoes; 130,805 tons of hay; 755 of hemp and flax; 1,602 pounds of tobacco; 266 of silk cocoons; 1,329,784 of sugar; the products of the dairy were estimated at $301,052; and of the orchard at $16,075; and of lumber at $392,325.

Page 402

Michigan Lake is the largest lake that lies wholly within the United States, being 360 miles long and 60 broad, containing 17,000 square miles, including Green bay, a large branch of it in the n. w. The Straits of Michilimackinac, 40 miles long, connect this lake with Lake Huron. Saginaw Bay is a large branch of Lake Huron, 60 miles long by 32 miles wide.

Detroit is much the largest and most commercial place in the state. A large number of steamboats and other vessels ply between this place and Buffalo, and other places on the lakes. The other principal places are Monroe, on the River Raisin; Pontiac, on the Clinton, 16 miles n. w. of Detroit; Adrian, Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Marshall, and Jackson, in the interior; and St, Joseph, on Lake Michigan.

The exports of Michigan in 1840, amounted to $162,229; and the imports to $138,610. There were 26 commission houses engaged in foreign trade, with a capital of $177,500; 612 retail dry goods and other stores, with a capital of $2,228,988; 312 persons employed in the lumber trade, with a capital of $45,600; 453 persons employed in the fisheries, (lake,) with a capital of $28,640.

The amount of homemade or family manufactures was $113,955; there were 16 fulling nulls, and 4 woolen manufactories, employing 37 persons, producing articles to the amount of $9,734, and employing a capital of $34,120; 15 furnaces, producing 601 tons of cast iron, employing 99 persons, and a capital of $60,800; 1 paper mill, employing 6 persons, produced $7,000, with a capital of $20,000; 12 persons manufactured tobacco to the amount of $5,000, with a capital of $1,750; hats and caps were produced to the amount of $30,463, and straw bonnets to the amount of $659, employing 42 persons, and a capital of $20,007; 38 tanneries employed 99 persons, and a capital of $70,240; 101 other manufactories of leather, as saddleries, &c, produced articles to the amount of $192,190, with a capital of $69,202; 1 glass house employed 34 persons, producing articles to the amount of $7,322, with a capital of $25,000; 3 potteries employed 4 persons, producing articles to the amount of $1,100, with a capital of $625; 3 persons produced confectionery to the amount of $3,000, with a capital of $1,200; 67 persons produced machinery to the value of $47,000; 7 persons produced hardware and cutlery to the amount of $1,250; 1 person manufactured the precious metals to the amount of $5,000; 6 persons manufactured granite and marble to the amount of $7,000; 298 persons produced brick and lime to the amount of $68,913; 6 persons produced 76,100 pounds of soap, and 57,975 pounds of tallow candles, with a capital of $6,000; 34 distilleries produced 337,761 gallons, and 10 breweries produced 308,696 gallons, the whole employing 116 persons, and a capital of $124,200; 59 persons produced carriages and wagons to the amount of $20,075, with a capital of $13,150; 93 flouring mills produced 202,880 barrels of flour, and, with other mills, employed 1,144 persons, producing articles to the amount of $1,832,363, with a capital of $2,460,200; vessels were built to the amount of $10,500; 65 persons manufactured furniture to the amount of $22,494, with a capital of $28,050; 39 brick or stone houses, and 1,280 wooden houses, were erected, and employed 1,978 persons, and cost $571,005; 28 printing offices, 2 binderies, 6 daily, and 26 weekly newspapers, and 1 periodical, employed 119 persons, and a capita of $62,900. The whole amount of capital employed in manufactures was $3,112,240.

The Michigan University, at Ann Arbor, has departments of literature, science, and the arts of law, and of medicine. It is designed to have academic branches spread over the state, ant they have been already established at Detroit, Pontiac, Monroe, Niles, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids Jackson, White Pigeon, and Tecumseh. This institution has been well endowed by large grant of lands. Marshall College, at Marshall, has been established; and St. Philip's College, near Detroit, is a Catholic institution. These institutions had, in 1840, 158 students. There were ii the state 12 academies, with 485 students; and 975 common and primary schools, with 29,701 scholars. There were in the state 2,173 white persons over 20 years of age who could neither read nor write.

In 1836, the Presbyterians had 42 churches and 19 ministers; the Baptists had 17 churches an 11 ministers; the Roman Catholics 1 bishop and 18 ministers; the Episcopalians 1 bishop and ministers; and the Methodists were considerably numerous.

At the commencement of 1840, there were in this state 9 banks, and 1 branch, with an aggregate capital of $1,229,200, and a circulation of $261,296. At the close of 1840, the state debt amounted to $6,011,000.

The governor and lieutenant-governor are chosen at the same time, for 2 years, by the people. The senators are chosen for 2 years, and one half of them annually, and they consist of one third the number of representatives. The representatives are chosen annually, and their number cannot be less than 48 nor more than 100, and are with the senators apportioned among the counties according to the number of white inhabitants. The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed 1 the governor, with the advice and consent of the senate, for the term of 7 years. Judges of inferior courts are elected by the people for 4 years. Every white male citizen, over 21 years of age, who has resided six months next preceding election in the town where his vole is offered, has the right of suffrage. Slavery, lotteries, and the sale of lottery tickets, are prohibited. The legislature meets annually at Detroit until 1847, when the seat of government will be permanently fixed.

Page 403

Michigan has projected and commenced an extensive system of internal improvements. The Central railroad extends from Detroit 44 miles to Ann Arbor, and when completed is designed to extend 194 miles to St. Joseph, on Lake Michigan. The Erie and Kalamazoo railroad extends from Toledo 33 miles to Adrian. This road is designed to be continued until it meets the Central railroad, which it will leave at Kalamazoo and terminate at Allegan. The whole distance from Toledo to Kalamazoo is 183 miles. The Ypsilanti and Tecumseh railroad leaves the Central railroad at Ypsilanti, and connects with the Erie and Kalamazoo railroad at Tecumseh, 25 miles. The Detroit and Pontiac railroad extends from Detroit 25 miles to Pontiac. Numerous other railroads have been laid out and commenced; and also the Clinton and Kalamazoo canal is designed to unite the waters of Lake Michigan and St. Clair. The whole length is 216 miles, and is estimated to cost $2,250,000. But this, with several other proposed canals, are for the present suspended.

The French built a fort and made a settlement at Detroit in 1647, and subsequently at Mackinaw. Many of the Huron, a native tribe in this region, were converted to the Catholic faith by the Jesuits. By the treaty of peace between Great Britain and France in 1763, this country came into the possession of the English. The post at Detroit was resigned to the United States by the English in 1796. In 1805 this state was erected into a distinct territory, and a correspondent government was appointed. The British gained a temporary possession of the country in 181213, but it was soon recovered by the Americans under Gen. W. H. Harrison. In 1836 Michigan was admitted to the Union.

Table of Contents

Source: A Complete Descriptive And Statistical Gazetteer Of The United States Of America, By Daniel Haskel, A. M and J. Calvin Smith, Published By Sherman & Smith, 1843

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