24 January 2022

Pure Michigan Genealogy-Michigan History

Pure Michigan Genealogy

Some of you may have seen the Pure Michigan commercials enticing you to visit Michigan.  They even make me want to get out and explore my home state.  Pure Michigan is a tourism campaign to encourage people to come and enjoy all that Michigan has to offer.  If you haven't been to Michigan I invite you to come and enjoy our beautiful state.

I decided to borrow their slogan for my genealogy posts on my home state, Michigan.  I have been working, over the last few months, on a series of posts that will help those who have ancestors in Michigan with their research.  I have lived in Michigan for over 50 years and am fortunate that all eight of my great-grandparents settled here.  My roots run deep in Michigan.

Michigan has a deep heritage that starts before 1600. The state is rich in resources for genealogists. Please join me as we discover together my Pure Michigan Genealogy.

Michigan's early history starts with the Native American nations of Chippewa, Ottawa, Potawatami, Huron, Menominee, Miami, and a few others.  European settlers came to what is now Michigan and found about 15,000 Native Americans.  The timeline below shows the important events in Michigan History.

1622     Etienne Brule, a french explorer, is credited with being the first European explorer in Michigan.

1668     The first permanent settlement was established in Sault Sainte Marie by Father Pere Jacques Marquette.  Sault Ste Marie is the oldest community in Michigan.

1671     A Catholic mission was established at St. Ignace.

1691     Fort Saint Joseph (now Niles) was built.

1701     Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and Alphonse de Tonty established a French settlement at Fort Pontchartrain (now Detroit).  Their wives settled there and are thought to be the first European women in Michigan.

1715     Fort Michilimackinac is built in what is now Mackinaw City, Michigan.

1718 Map

1756     The French and Indian War begins.

1760     Fort Pontchartrain is surrendered by the French to the British and ends French rule in Detroit. 

1787     Michigan becomes part of the Northwest Territory, except for Detroit and Mackinac which are under British control.

1796     British withdraws from all posts in Michigan.

1800     The area becomes part of the Indiana Territory.

1805 Map of Michigan

1805     The Michigan Territory is created by Congress.

1812     The War of 1812 begins and Michigan is in British control until 1813.

1818     The first land office is opened.  Steamships on the Great Lakes travel from Buffalo to Detroit.

1819     The Treaty of Saginaw gives millions of acres of Native American lands to settlers.

1825     Erie Canal to Buffalo is completed.

1832     The Chicago Road between Detroit and Chicago is completed.

1835     The Toledo War.  The settlement of this war gave Ohio the area known as the Toledo Strip and Michigan is granted what is now known as the Upper Peninsula.

1837     Michigan becomes the 26th state.

1840     Copper deposits found on Keweenaw Peninsula.

1847     Law passed relocating the state capitol to Lansing from Detroit.

1879     New State Capitol building is dedicated.

Michigan and its'83 Counties

1900     All of Michigan's 83 counties are settled.

1908     First car, the Model T, rolls off the assembly line in Detroit.

1929     Ambassodor Bridge from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario opens.

1930     Windsor Tunnel from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario opens.

1957     Mackinac Bridge opens connecting the lower and upper peninsula's of Michigan.

Michigan History is the first of ten posts about researching in Michigan.  The others are:


  1. Wonderful, Brenda! I've grown to love and to consider it home in so many ways. Now that I have a Michigander in the family I am beginning to dig in to some of the records. You're becoming a great resource.

  2. Thank you, Susan. Have fun digging and if I can be of any help, please ask.

  3. Brenda, your entire series on Michigan is excellent. I'm sure it took quite a bit of time, but I know it was a labor of love. Thanks for sharing all your information with us.

  4. Barbara, Thank you. I have been wanting to do this for awhile and I had some down time the last couple of months so I went for it. The more I got into it the more I liked doing it. There will be nine posts total.