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Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town


One of the United States, consisting of two distinct peninsulas, and is situated between 41°48' and 47°30' north latitude, and 82°20' and 90°10' longitude west from Greenwich.  Michigan proper, or lower peninsula, is bounded north by the straits of Mackinaw, which separate it from the upper peninsula, northeast by Lake Huron, which separates it from Canada West, east by Lake Huron, the river St Clair, Lake St Clair, the river Detroit and Lake Erie which separate it from Canada West, south by Ohio and Indiana, and west by Lake Michigan, and contains 39,856 square miles.  The upper peninsula, which is annexed to Michigan proper, merely for the temporary purpose of civil government, is bound north by Lake Superior; easterly by St Mary's river, which separates it from Canada West, southerly by Wisconsin, Lakes Michigan and Huron, and Mackinaw straits, and contains 20,664 square miles; making the total superficial area 60,520 square miles.

Physical Aspect-- The surface of Michigan proper is less varied than any other section of equal extent in the United States.  The dividing ridge, or table land, which separated the sources of the Great Miami and Maumee from those of the Wabash, is contained in a northerly direction across the lower peninsula, dividing it into two inclined plains, more or less rolling, one sloping toward Lake Michigan on the west, and the other toward Lakes Huron, St Clair, and Erie, on the east.  This table land is interspersed with marshes and small lakes, from which issue the head branches of the principal streams.  Small prairies occur from the bans of the St Joseph's to Lake St Clair, the soil of some of which is excellent, while that of others is sandy, sterile or wet; but a greater portion of the country is covered with dense forests, the soil of which is well adapted to the production of most kinds of northern farm crops.  The trans peninsula, or northern division, is diversified by mountains, hills, valleys and plains.  A range of high lands runs nearly throughout the length of the peninsula, rising gradually from the shores of Lakes Michigan and Superior toward the summit.  The surface in the region of Keweenaw point is broken and rolling, and some of the hills are elevated nearly 900 feet above the level of the lake.  From its high latitude and sterile character, this division of the state does not promise much to agriculture; though there are many fertile tracts, particularly in the prairies on the eastern part of this peninsula, as well as in the valleys, which are highly productive, when cultivated with appropriate crops.  Isle Royale presents a broken and rugged outline on its coast, and is deeply indented by long and narrow inlets and bays.  About one fourth of this island is sandstone and conglomerate rock.  The remainder consists of trap rock, which lies in ridges from 300 to 500 feet in height above the lake, and extending in a broken line throughout the isle.

Mountains-- Porcupine mountain, which form the dividing ridge between Lakes Superior and Michigan, toward the western boundary of the state, are represented to be elevated from 1,800 to 2,000 feet above the lake.

Rivers, Lakes and Bays-- The principal rivers of the lower peninsula are the Raisin, Rouge, Detroit, Clinton, Black or Delude, St Clair, Saginaw, Thunder Bay, Sheboygan, St Joseph's, Kalamazoo, Grand, Marame, Barbice, White, Rocky, Beauvais, St Nicholas, Marquerite, Manistee, Au Sable, or Sandy, Aux Betises, Belle, Tittibawasse, Grand Traverse, Aux Carpe, Maskegon, Flint and the Pentwater.  The chief rivers of the upper peninsula are the Ontonagon, Huron, Monomonee, Dead, Montreal, St Mary's, Eagle, Cedar, White Fish, Black, Sturgeon, Rapid and the Manistic.   The principal lakes are Superior, Michigan, Erie, Huron, St Clair, Long, Houghton and Michigamme.  The chief bays are, Green, Saginaw, Thunder, Great and Little Traverse, Tah-qua-me-naw and Keewaiwons.

Islands-- Grand, Isle Royale, Sugar, Drummond's, Cockburn, Mackinaw, Boisblanc, Great and Little Beaver, Garden and Hog.

Climate-- The climate of Michigan is generally regarded as healthy, though near the lakes, swamps and turbid streams,  intermittents prevail to some extent in summer and fall.  The seasons of the lower peninsula somewhat resemble those of western Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Canada West.  In the northern peninsula the climate if colder and more severe.  Lake St Clair is usually frozen from December till March.

Productive Resources-- The chief productions are, horses, mules, neat cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, eggs, butter, cheese, fish. sugar, wax, hops, hay, tobacco, wool, hemp, wheat, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, potatoes, Indian corn and lumber.  Among the mineral resources are rich veins of iron ore, in inexhaustible quantities, in the district of country extending from Dead river to the Menomonee.  But what is more valuable, and of great importance to this country, are the rich veins of copper, blended more or less with silver, which occur at Keweenaw Point, Eagle River, Isle Royale and other parts of the upper peninsula.  Many of these mines have been opened to a considerable extent, and have been sufficiently proved to show that they may be advantageously wrought for centuries to come.  From one of the veins of the Copper Falls mines a single mass of native copper has been taken, which weighed 30 tons.  It was perfectly pure, and as dense as the best hammered copper of commerce, showing its perfect fineness.  These ores frequently contain a sufficient quantity of silver to be of commercial value.  To show the extent to which these veins are susceptible to being wrought, it may be stated that a single mine annually sends to market nearly 1000 tons of ore, that will contain 60% of pure copper.  In another instance masses of pure copper, of large size, weighing some thousands of pounds, have been obtained from an ancient ravine, that has been gullied out by the floods.  In the same ravine large pieces of silver also were found.

Manufactures-- The manufactures of Michigan are confined mostly to supplying the immediate wants of the people.  Saw, planing and grist mills are numerous, as also tanneries, &c.  The number of manufacturing establishments in the state, in 1850, whose annual product amounted in value to $500 and upward, was 1,979.

Railroads-- Michigan has several important railroads, which traverse the state.  Among them are, the Central railroad, from Detroit to Chicago, 281 miles long, and the Southern, from Monroe to Chicago, 247 miles,  The aggregate length of railroads in operation in the state is about 500 miles.

Commerce-- Situated as Michigan is, on the four great lakes of Huron, Superior, Michigan and Erie (furnishing a continuous water communication of nearly 1000 miles, navigable for vessels, and the opening of a canal around the falls of St Mary, will add about 400 miles to this, through Lake Superior.), it possesses superior advantages for an extensive commerce.  Its foreign trade is confined to the British provinces.  But its coasting trade is large -- its exports from the single port of Detroit amounting to over $4,000,000 in value annually.  An immense traffic is carried on in lumber, consisting of pine, walnut, maple and white wood, with the eastern and southern states. 

Education-- The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, founded in 1837 and the St Philips college near Detroit, founded in 1839, are the principal colligate institutions in Michigan.  There are about 3,000 common schools throughout the state.

Government-- The legislative power is vested in a senate of 32 members, and a house of representatives of not less than 64, nor more than 100 members, elected by the people, for two years, by single districts.  The executive power is vested in a governor, and Lt governor, elected by the people, for a term of two years.  The general election is held on the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday in November, biennially.  AT each general election a secretary of state, superintendent of public institution, treasurer, commissioner of the land office, an auditor general, and an attorney general, are chosen by the people at large, for a term of two years.  The county officers are also chosen every two years.  The judicial power is vested in a supreme court, circuit courts, probate courts, and in justices of the peace.  The judges of the several circuit courts are to be judges of the supreme court for the term of six years, thereafter, and until the legislature otherwise provide.  The right of suffrage is held by every white male citizen above the age of 21 years, every white male inhabitant residing in the state on the first of January, 1850, who has declared his intension to become a citizen of the United States six months preceding an election or who has resided in the state two years and six months, and declared his intention as aforesaid, who has resided in the state two months, and in the township or ward in which he offers to vote ten days next preceding such election.  Slavery and imprisonment for debt are prohibited.  The personal property of debtors, under $500, and every homestead not exceeding forty acres of land; and occupied dwelling, not exceeding $1,500, are exempt from sale on execution, or any final process from a court, for any debt contracted after the adoption of this constitution.

Population-- In 1810 within the four districts of Detroit, Erie, Huron and Mackinaw, was 4,762; in 1820 was 8,896.  In 1830, the whole population of the territory was 31,639; in 1840 was 212,276 and in 1850 was 397,654.

History-- Among the earlier settlements of this state were Fort Ponchartrain at Detroit, in about the year 1600; the Jesuit mission on the island of Mackinaw, by Marquette, in 1665; and Fort Miami at the mouth of the St Joseph's river, by La Salle in 1678.  Michigan remained as a portion of the British possessions in North America until the treaty of Grenville in 1795.  The year following it was ceded to the United States; and in 1800 it was annexed to the "Territory Northwest of the River Ohio."  In 1802, Ohio was detached and formed as an independent state; but a territorial government was not established for Michigan before the year 1805.  In 1812, it was invaded by the British, but was retaken by the Americans the next year.  In 1835 a constitution was formed, and in 1837 it was admitted into the Union as an independent state.  The present constitution of the state was adopted by a convention at Lansing, 15 Aug 1850, and ratified by the people in November of that year.  Mottoes of the seal, E pluribus unum, "Many in one." Tuebor, "I will defend." Si queris peninsulam amanam circumspice, "If thou seekest a beautiful peninsula behold it here." 

1850 Counties of Michigan

County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Allegan south west side on Lake Michigan near Kalamazoo, Black & Rabbit rivers 700 Allegan 5,125
Barry in southwest part, drained by Thornapple river 576 Hastings 5,072
Berrien SW corner, Lake MI on west, water by St Joseph & Gallon rivers 576 Berrien Springs 11,471
Branch south boundary, drained by St Joseph river 528 Branch Court House 18,472
Calhoun southern part, drained by Kalamazoo & St Joseph's rivers 720 Marshall 13,162
Cass south boundary 528 Cassopolis 10,907
Cheboygan north part of peninsula, straits of Mackinaw on the north 300 Duncan not listed
Chippeway northern boundary 7200 Sault de St Marie 898
Clinton southern part, water by Grand Maple & Lookinglass rivers 576 De Witt 5,102
Eaton near central part 576 Eaton 7,058
Genesee eastern part, crossed by Flint river 504 Flint 11,632
Gladwin eastern part, crossed by Tittibawasee river blank blank blank
Gratiot central part 576 blank not listed
Hillsdale southern boundary 576 Hillsdale 16,159
Ingham southern part 560 Lansing 8,631
Ionia western part, crossed by Grand river 576 Ionia 7,597
Houghton north western part on Lake Superior not listed Eagle Harbor 708
Huron eastern boundary, Lake Michigan on east & Suganaw bay on north blank blank 210
Isabella central part, crossed by Chippewa river 579 blank not listed
Jackson southern part 720 Jackson 19,431
Kalamazoo southwest part 576 Kalamazoo 13,179
Kent western part, crossed by Grand river 576 Kent or Grand Rapids 12,016
Lapeer eastern part 828 Lapeer 7,029
Lenawee south boundary 735 Adrian 24,572
Livingston toward east part 576 Howell 13,485
Macomb east part on Lake St Clair 485 Mount Clemens 15,530
Manistee western boundary on Lake Michigan, crossed by Manistee river blank Manistee 65
Marquette northwest part of the northern peninsula on Lake Superior blank blank 136
Michilimacknac on the north peninsula, straits of Mackinaw on the south blank Mackinaw 3,598
Midland east part on Saginaw bay, crossed by Titibawassee river blank Midland 95
Monroe southeast corner on Lake Erie 540 Monroe 14,698
Montcalm toward western part blank Montcalm 891
Oakland eastern part 900 Pontiac 31,270
Oceana west boundary, w Lake Michigan on west blank blank 300
Ottawa western boundary, Lake Michigan on west, crossed by Gran river blank Grand Haven 5,587
Saginaw northeastern part, crossed by Shiawassee, Saginaw, Flint & Tittibawassee rivers blank Saginaw 2,609
St Clair on east boundary, Lake Huron & St Clair river on east, Lake St Clair on south 930 St Clair 10,420
St Joseph south boundary, crossed by St Joseph river 528 Centreville 12,705
Sanilac on east boundary, Lake Huron on east 730 Sanilac Mills 2,112
Shiawassee central part, crossed by Shiawassee river 544 Corunna 5,230
Van Buren on west boundary, Lake Michigan on west 633 Paw-Paw 5,800
Washtenaw in southern part 720 Ann Arbor 28,568
Wayne on southeasterly boundary, St Clair lake & St Clair river on east 600 Detroit 32,756

Detroit, MI

City and seat of justice of Wayne Co, MI, occupies a pleasant and commanding situation on the west bank of Detroit river, 18 miles from Lake Erie, and 7 miles from Lake St Clair,  Between the two great lakes, Huron and Erie, upon both of which, its vessels carry on an extensive trade, through Lakes Superior and Michigan, and with Canada, Pennsylvania, and New York.  It is an important metropolis of the western states, and is destined to a still higher rank than it now holds.  The city is agreeably laid out with broad streets, some of which converge at the "Circus", a spacious public ground.  Among the other parks is the "Campus Maritus" near the centre of the city.  Parallel with the river, at the foot of the eminence upon which the town is built, is a street lined with warehouses and stores.  Above this, another street runs in the same direction, and still further to the west is the principle business street, which is closely built with stores, dwellings and public buildings.  Here, until 1847, when the seat of government was removed to Lansing, stood the statehouse, from the high dome of which appears an enchanting, prospect of the river, Lake St Clair, and their picturesque and romantic shores.  Other buildings are the city-hall, bank of Michigan, churches, markets, schools, and various scientific and literary institutions.  Several hundred steamboats and other vessels, from various places on the lakes, visit Detroit during the season of navigation, which lasts about two thirds of the year.

The Michigan Central railroad extends 281 miles toward Chicago, on lake Michigan; and the Detroit and Pontiac railroad is 25 miles long.

Population: in 1810 was 770; in 1820 was 1,422; in 1830 was 2,222; in 1840 was 9,102; and in 1850 was 21,119

Lansing, MI

Lansing, a postal village in Ingham Co, MI, situated on the east side of Grand river, succeeded Detroit as the capital of the state, in December 1847.  It is 95 miles northwest of Detroit, and 80 miles east of Lake Michigan.  The state and public buildings are projected, and finishing on a scale creditable to this great state.  Population in 1850 was 1,229

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