Lenawee County Michigan History

In 1822 Governor Lewis Cass decided it was expedient to lay out a new county to be named Lenawee. At thattime the county stretched clear to Lake Michigan and included present day counties of Hillsdale, Branch,St. Joseph, Cass and Berrien. However Lenawee County was attached to Monroe County for legal purposes suchas the court system and for paying taxes. On Dec 31, 1826 by Legislative Council Lenawee became fullyorganized.

It is clear that the name Lenawee came from the local Indians of the early 1800's.

The word Lenawee came from the Shawnee word Lenawai meaning 'Men' or 'The People'.Source "Lenawee County, A Harvest of Pride and Promise" by Charles N Lindquist. © 1997

Per the "History & Biographical Record of Lenawee County, Michigan" by Bonner: The name wasoriginally spelled Lenawe (note the spelling, and I have found it that way on really old deeds, says CarolStevens), and was derived from a Shawnee word meaning Indian. (That agrees pretty closely to Mr. Lindquist.

Found in "The Indians of Lenawee County" by Erich A. Von Fange, PhD, c 1988 & 1997: The nameLenawee is said to be a Delaware or Shawnee word for man or Indian.

There are other versions of the meaning of the name Lenawee. Before the settlers came there was no name, itwas just a territory.

The original area of Lenawee equaled twenty townships six miles square containing thirty-six sections plusa strip along the south side containing at least twenty sections more. Two of the twenty townships weredivided into two townships each so now Lenawee has a total of twenty-two townships

The first settlement in the new county was located on the present site of the Village of Tecumseh in thenorth eastern part of the county. The date was May 21, 1824. Fifteen men, four women and eleven childrencomprised the first group of settlers. All but one man and wife came from Jefferson County, New York.

Musgrove Evans is believed to be the pathfinder of the group as he visited the area in 1823. This is alist of those first white settlers.

Musgrove Evans,  wife   and  six children
General Joseph W Brown,  wife   and  five children
Ezra F Blood
Peter Benson  and  wife
Simon Stoate
Nathan Rathburn
Peter Lowe
James Young
George Spofford
Curtis Page
Levi Baxter
John Borland
Capt. Peter Ingals
John Fulsom
Turner Stetson  and  wife  (from Boston; joined the party at Detroit)

Michigan residents born in the United States were more apt to have been born in New York than any otherstate in the Nation.

In 1850   1/3 of Michigan's residents listed New York as their place of birth
In 1870   of those not born in Michigan but born in the U.S. nearly 2/3 were born in New York
By 1900   fewer New Yorkers were migrating to Michigan but they still out numbered those born in anyother state

Originally there were only three townships but they soon were broken down into smaller parcels as well asthe western area divided into other counties. The township lines changed from time to time. Here I willmerely give the times the townships were created. For more details about how the borders changed see thebooks listed at the bottom of this page.

Township Organized Still in Existance
Adrian March 17, 1835 Yes
Blissfield April 12, 1827 Yes
Cambridge likely the 1830's Yes
Clinton March 12, 1869 Yes
Deerfield March 13, 1867 Yes
Dover about 1830 Yes
Fairfield March 7, 1834 Yes
Franklin April 1833 Yes
Hudson March 23, 1836 Yes
Logan April 12, 1827 NO
Macon March 7, 1834 Yes
Madison March 7, 1834 Yes
Medina March 7, 1834 Yes
Ogden March 11, 1837 Yes
Palmyra March 7, 1834 Yes
Pottsdam created from Blissfield then changed to Riga    NO
Raisin March 7, 1834 Yes
Ridgeway March 15, 1841 Yes
Riga March 9, 1843 Yes
Rollin March 17, 1835 Yes
Rome March 17, 1835 Yes
Seneca March 7, 1834 Yes
Tecumseh April 12, 1827 Yes
Woodstock     March 23, 1836 Yes

NOTE: These dates are when the county was created or organized or approved by the legislators. I have found conflicting dates but all are in this general time frame. Please see a book on Lenawee County History for more details.

Tecumseh was settled by the men, women and children listed above) May 21, 1824

Blissfield was settled by Hervey Bliss & family on June 19, 1824

Adrian was settled by Addison J Comstock and father Darrieus Comstock from Lockport, NY in the fall of 1825

Hudson first settled by Hiram Kidder from Yates County, New York on Oct 29, 1833

Morenci's first land owners were Martin Hoag and Mr. Sherman in 1833

Clinton was incorporated in 1869

Dearfield Township was set off from Blissfield Township in 1867 and the village of Dearfield was incorporated in 1872

Clayton was first settled in 1836 and incorporated in 1870

Unincorporated Villages (around the turn of the twentieth century)
Woodstock Township
Holloway Village

Early Population in Lenawee County

Per the 1837 State Census Tecumseh had a population of 2,462
Per the 1837 State Census Logan Township (afterward Adrian) had a population of 1,962

Firsts in Lenawee County

The first school was held in the winter of 1824-45 and taught by Mrs. Mary Spofford

The first wedding was in May 1827, Miss Cynthia Spofford & Theodore Bissell
The couple moved to Texas in 1835 where Mr. Bissell died.

The first Physician was Dr. Caleb Normsby; he opened practice in Tecumseh then moved to Adrian.

First Stage Route established in the Spring of 1830; It traversed from Tecumseh to White Pigeon; the first coach driven by Sumner F Spofford.

First Frame House was built by General Brown in 1825 and was known as the Green Tavern.

First Regular Store was built in Tecumseh by Daniel Pitman in 1825.

Information derived from Memoirs of Lenawee County, Michigan Vol 1; 1909 Western HistoricalAssociation, Madison, Wisconsin; Richard Illenden Bonner Editor

Lenawee Illustrated 1903; Times Printing Company; by John I Knapp and R. I. Bonner

And Lenawee County A Harvest of Pride and Promise By Charles N Lindquist, 1990 Windsor Publishing Inc.

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