Michigan History Chronology


1618-20 Etienne Brule' and Grenoble, first white men in Michigan; Michigan Indian population about 15,000
1621 Brule returns, explores Lake Superior coast, and notes copper deposits
1634 Jean Nicolet passed through the Straits of Mackinac
1641 Isaac Jokues and Charles Raymbault reached rapids, which they called Sault de Sainte Marie
1660 Father Rene' Mesnard established first 'regular' mission, held throughout winter at Keweenaw Bay.
1668 Marquette and Dablon founded first permanent settlement in Michigan at Sault Ste. Marie
1669 Adrien Jolliet first white man in Lower Peninsula
1671 Francois Daumont claimed interior of continent for French
St. Ignace is founded when Father Marquette builds mission chapel
First of the military outposts, Fort de Buade [later known as Forty Michilimackinac], is established at St. Ignace.
1673 June 17. Jolliet and Marquette discover the Mississippi River
1675 May 18. Father Marquette dies at site of present-day Ludington
1679 LaSalle builds Fort Miami on site of present-day St. Joseph
1680 LaSalle marches across Lower Peninsula, reaching Detroit River in 10 days; first white man known to have penetrated this territory
1686-1697 Daniel Greysolon built Fort St. Joseph at present-day Port Huron
1701 July 24. Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Detroit
Cadillac moves garrison at Fort Michilimackinac to Fort Pontchartrain [Detroit]
1712 British-inspired Indian raids begin.
April 24. Fort Pontchartrain [Detroit] is besieged by more than 1,000 Fox and Sauk Indians; defenders number 30
May 13. Detroit is relieved by arrival of Vincennes with reinforcements; friendly Huron and Ottawa, aid townspeople. Sauk and Fox are forced upriver, where 5-day battle ends in surrender of invaders.
1715 Spring. Fort Michilimackinac is re-established on south shore of Straits of Mackinac.
1730 October 18. Cadillac dies in France.
1754 Outbreak of French and Indian War; Michigan is drawn into war, although removed from chief fighting zone
1756 France and England formally declare war
1760 September 8. French surrender to British at Montreal
November 29. France surrenders Detroit to British
1763 May 7. Pontiac, Ottawa chief, and his followers enter fort at Detroit in abortive effort to capture it from British by surprise attack
June 2. Massacre occurs at Fort Michilimackinac, part of Pontiac's uprising
1765 August 17. Pontiac signs treaty with British at Detroit
1771 Alexander Henry heads first minig expedition in region of Porcupine Mountains
1779 Nearly 3,000 living in Detroit area
1781 Spanish flag raised over Fort St. Joseph for short time.
1783 September 3. Treaty of Paris -- British forces are required to withdraw from all US lands. (British remain in territory to become Michigan, however, for 13 years.)
1787 Ordinance of 1787 established Northwest Territory
1796 July 11. British evacuated Detroit. Stars and Stripes is raised for first time on Michigan soil
1802 Detroit incorporated as a town
1803 Michigan under Territory of Indiana
1805 January 11. Michigan Territory created, with Detroit as capital
June 11. Detroit is completely destroyed by fire
July 1. General William Hull, first territorial governor of Michigan, reaches Detroit and assumes control
1805-6 Commercial timbering begins, when sawmills are built on St. Clair River to aid in rebuilding Detroit
1807 November 17. Treaty of Detroit: Chippewa, Ottawa, Wyandot, and Potawatomi tribes meet with General Hull
1809 August 31. Michigan Essay and Impartial Observer, first newspaper, is printed by James M. Miller; only few copies sold
1810 Population 4,762; slaves, mostly captive Indians, number 32.
Methodist Episcopal Society is founded, first Protestant organization in Detroit and first permanent Protestant society in Territory.
1812 June 18. U.S. declares war against England
July 17. Fort Mackinac falls to British
August 16. Hull surrenders Detroit to British without firing a shot
1813 October 29. Colonel [later General] Lewis Cass military governor at Detroit. Cass continues, under Presidential appointment as governor of Michigan Territory for 18 years.
1814 Treaty of Ghent ends War of 1812, British losing Mackinac Island [but occupying Drummond Island, to the north, for eight years]
1817 August 26. 'Catholepistemiad,' or University of Michigania, is incorporated - first university, as distinguished from college, in the United States
John Jacob Astor establishes trading post at Mackinac Island, centering his fur-trading activities there
1818 Public land sales begin at Detroit; immigration from East is under way
March 31. Michigan's first Protestant church [Methodist Episcopal] is erected about 7 miles from Detroit, near banks of River Rouge
August 27. First steamboat, Walk-in-the-Water, arrives at Detroit
1819 September 24. By Treaty of Saginaw, Governor Cass obtains for US about 6 million acres of Michigan land, a cession that marks beginning of Indian exodus from Territory
1820 Population of Territory, 8096. Detroit, Mackinac, Sault Ste. Marie are largest towns
1821 August 29. Cass negotiates Treaty at Chicago, gaining from 'big three' nations - Chippewa, Ottawa, Potawatomi - all Michigan territory south of Grand River that had not previously been ceded
1825 Opening of Erie Canal facilitates settlement of Michigan and shipping of farm products to East
Land values rise
1828 Michigan's first capitol building is completed [site Capitol Park, Detroit]
1830 Population 31,639
Severe depression strikes Michigan
1831 August 1. General Lewis Cass, appointed secretary of war by President Jackson in July, resigns governorship
Stevens T. Mason, at age of 19, becomes acting governor - a post he holds several times during following four years
1832 July 4. Seven-week cholera epidemic devastates Detroit; Belle Isle is used for quarantine
1834 March. Territorial legislature petitions Congress for permission to form State government. Southern States protest admission of another free State; Ohio protests the boundary Michigan claims on the South; Congress refuses permission
July 6. Second cholera epidemic at Detroit begins with death of Governor George B. Porter; wipes out one seventh of population
1835 February 23. Ohio legislature passes act asserting claims to the 'Toledo strip,' along her northern boundary
April. Acting Governor Stevens T. Mason calls out militia; Toledo War begins, with more anger than gunfire. Border incidents continue into September, jurisdictional wrangling through all of 1836
May 11. Convention at Detroit forms State constitution in preparation for statehood; approved by general electorate on October 5
1836 Daily stages begin carrying mail and passengers to Sandusky, Chicago, and Central Michigan; railroad to Jackson is under construction; ship building becomes important along nearby rivers and lake shores - during 7 months of navigation, 200,000 persons pass through Detroit's port
Quaker preacher employs underground railroad to bring slaves into Cass County, and movement of fugities and freed slaves into State begins
1837 January 26. Michigan admitted to the Union as a free State
Upper Peninsula [lost to Wisconsin Territory when that was created April 20, 1836] is restored to Michigan, substantially in exchange for accepting Ohio's boundary claims
1841 February 1. Dr. Douglass Houghton, first State geologist, reports on rich copper deposits of Superior region, and makes cautious mention of possibility of iron ore in Marquette district
Fall. University of Michigan opened at Ann Arbor
1842 Indians cede Keweenaw Peninsula and Isle Royale, rich in copper, also valuable iron districts - the last Indian holdings in State
1844 September 19. Iron ore discovered on site of present-day city of Negaunee by surveyor William A. Burt [inventor of solar compass]
November 18. Cliff Lode is discovered, first copper location to be opened in Keweenaw district
1846 September. Dr. A.C. Van Raalte, Dutch secessionist pastor, sails for Rotterdam with 53 Hollanders; they form nucleus of western Michigan's large Dutch settlements begun the following winter.
The Jackson Mining Company begins operations on site of Burt's 1844 discovery; first iron-ore mining in State
1847 March 17. Old capitol of Detroit used for last time by State legislature, which directs that the capital be permanently located at Lansing
1848 Legislature met for first time in Capitol in Lansing
1849 Cliff Mine [of Cliff Lode] pays a dividend of $60,000, first sum of this magnitude distributed in North America on copper investment
There are 558 sawmills operating in State
1850 Population 397,654
1854 July 6-8. Republican party first organized at Jackson
1855 May 21. Sault Ste. Marie ship canal opened; destined to be among world's most important waterways commercially
1857 Christian Reformed Church [in North America] is founded by Michigan's Dutch settlers, following secession from Reformed Church
Railroad is completed between Ishpeming and Marquette, speeding mineral output of Upper Peninsula
1860 Population 749,113
Successful well-drilling of salt begins in Saginaw County
1861 April. Thomas A. Edison erects his first electrical battery and begins experiments at Fort Gratiot [Port Huron]
May 13. First Michigan Regiment leaves Fort Wayne; first western regiment to reach Washington during Civil War, in which 90,000 Michigan soldiers see service
1864 February 17. First Michigan Colored Infantry [USCT] is mustered in. Black Michigan troops number 1,673
The copper lode at Calumet is discovered. Michigan's production of copper exceeds that of any other state until 1887
1866 Brothers Thomas and Bartley Breen discover an iron-ore outcropping near Waucedah, and are credited with being the first whites in that area.
1870 Population 1,054,670; chiefly rural
1871 Summer. Forest fires sweep across State, destroying towns, leveling thousands of acres of pine, causing losses in the millions of dollars
Calumet & Hecla Mining Company consolidates local [Calumet] mining interests, controlling one of the world's richest copper districts. Calumet becomes company town.
Negaunee's average annual iron-ore production reaches 135,000 tons
1873 John Lane Buell discovers the Menominee Iron Range, leading to development of the area and subsequent creation of Dickinson County.
1876 Ontonagon mine operator builds first telephone system [20 miles] in Michigan, after seeing Bell's invention at Philadelphia exposition
1877 Active operations begin in the mines of Menominee iron district
1879 New State Capitol dedicated at Lansing
1880 Population 1,636,937 with 75% living in rural areas
Discovery of Gogebic Range iron ore in large quantity at Bessemer
1881 October. Railroad ferry service connects Upper and Lower Peninsulas, making Upper Peninsula readily accessible for first time
1883 Compulsory school-attendance law is passed
Half of copper mined in US since 1847 has come from Michigan
Cherry orchards in the upper fruit belt first begin to bear
1884 Working of iron-ore deposits of Gogebic Range begins, when transportation facilities are acquired
John and Thomas Clegg build first self-propelled vehicle of Michigan manufacture, a four-wheeled steamer auto
1885 September 15. Michigan College of Mines opens [Houghton]
1887 Iron-ore shipments from Menominee Range begin; at end of year, total shipments amount to 6,000,000 tons
Ransome E. Olds' first auto steamer appears [steam generated by burning gasoline]
1890 Michigan's population is 2,093,889.
Peak period for manufacture of patented road carts at Flint, laying foundations for automotive industry in that city
1891 May 21.  Dickinson County created from Marquette and Menominee Counties.
October 1. Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario, are joined by Grand Trunk R.R. tunnel under St. Clair River; first underwater railroad tunnel linking foreign countries
1893 Olds brings out a practical four-wheeled auto. The first practical Ford car is made.
1896 First automobile at Detroit
1899 Olds Motor Works erects in Detroit first factory built in America for manufacture of automobiles
Detroit Automobile Company organizes to build Ford's car [this becomes Cadillac Company after Ford withdraws]
1900 Michigan's population has grown to 2,420,982.
1902 Packard Motor Car Company and Cadillac Motor Car Company are organized
1904 Organization of Buick Motor Company marks beginning of auto manufacture in Flint on large scale
1906 Timbering of second-growth forests begins in Upper Peninsula
1908 William C. Durant organizes General Motors Company [later Corporation]
Fisher Body Corporation is founded
First Model T Fords
1911 November. Durant organizes Chevrolet Motor Car Company
1913 July 23. Western Federation of Miners calls strike among 13,514 Upper Peninsula copper miners; violence and bloodshed result
There are 60,000 autos registered in Michigan
1914 January. Henry Ford announces adoption of $5 minimum wage for 8-hour day
Following the 1913, Finns initiate cooperative stores in the copper country
First permanent and independent symphony orchestra organizes in Detroit
1916 WWI. Many Michigan men join Canadian companies leaving for France.
Annual copper production reaches peak of 270 million pounds refined copper; iron ore from Marquette Range alone at peak of 5.5 million tons
1918 Michigan men in World War service reaches total of 135,485
1919 Influenza deaths in Detroit number 3,814
1920 The population of Michigan is 3,668,412.
1922 Airline service is established between Detroit and Cleveland
1926 November 3. Worst disaster in Michigan iron mining occurs at Barnes-Hecker mine, when quicksands break through walls entombing 52 men 1,000 feet below surface; mine is sealed and abandoned
1929 Some large copper mines of Keweenaw Peninsula close; 85% of Keweenaw County population goes on relief
Ambassador Bridge opened between Detroit and Windsor, Canada
1930 Michigan's population 4,842,325. Indians in State estimated at 7,000, about 1,214 full-bloods. Blacks number 169,453. Urban centers account for 68.2% of population, almost an exact reversal of 1880
Detroit-Windsor, Canada tunnel opened
1932 February 14. Governor William A. Comstock calls State-wide 'banking holiday' to avoid bank runs after disclosure of condition of Union Guardian Trust Company, Detroit
March 7. "Ford Hunger March' riot occurs at Ford plant in Dearborn
1935 United Automobile Workers organized
1936 December. General Motors strike begins, affecting 150,000 workers and closing more than 60 plants in 14 states
1937 Keweenaw Peninsula copper mining again turns upward, production reaching 75,000 pounds
1939 August 9. Tornadoes and freak storms injure scores of persons and cause damage estimated at over a million dollars in Lower Peninsula.
1940 Population 5,256,106
July 15. The world's tallest man, Robert P. Wadlow, 8'9-1⁄2" tall, dies at Manistee at the age of 22
November 11. Coast Guard officials estimate 65 persons lost their lives in the waters of Lake Michigan in 78 mph gale; sixteen bodies washed ashore at Ludington.
1957 Mackinac Bridge opened


Carpenter, Allan, Enchantment of America: Michigan. Chicago: Children's Press, 1964.
Work Projects Administration, Michigan: A Guide to the Wolverine State. New York: Oxford University Press, 1949.

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