A little settlement on the lakePublished 8:57pm Thursday, July 12, 2012
If you think that Edwardsburg is only 100 years old, that is a mistake. Yes, last week this column stated that Edwardsburg is 100 years old.
Edwardsburg was incorporated as a village 100 years ago. Before 1912, Edwardsburg was just a little settlement on the side of the Old Sauk Trail on the shores of the lake and ruled by the township.
In 1827, Ezra Beardsley stopped to rest on the shore of a little lake on his way west looking for the fertile land of Illinois. As he continued his journey, he thought about the little pleasant lake he has just left and he returned to build a crude cabin on the shore. He planted a small patch of wheat and as winter was approaching he returned to Ohio. In the spring, he returned with his wife and daughters.
Also in the spring of 1827, four young men, the Meacham brothers — Sylvester and George with Chester Sage and George Crawford — brought wagons filled with goods for trading with the Indians. The Meacham brothers selected farmland nearby and the other two men built a gristmill on Christina Creek in the area of what was to become Adamsville.
In 1828, Thomas Edward’s came on the trail and opened a general store about where Lake and Hamilton streets are in uptown Edwardsburg.
The first wedding took place in 1828, when Thomas Edwards married one of Ezra Beardsley’s daughters and Sylvester Meacham married Mrs. Beardsley’s daughter. The choices of a mate were limited.
By 1848, the population was about 300 people. The town continued to grow but by the early 1900s, it was evident that the future growth of the village needed a more centralized control over public improvements. The township board built a town hall, which is still standing today. But the people of the town needed their own ruling body, thus the vote for incorporation was taken in 1912.
The incorporation provided the opportunity for a village charter, and a home rule government. Village governments are required to share some of the responsibilities to their residents with the township.
There are 259 villages in Michigan. The oldest incorporated village in the state is White Pigeon, which was incorporated in 1837.
There are 171 villages in Michigan that have fewer than 1,000 residents. Edwardsburg, as of the 2000 census, has 1,147 people with 507 households. It does not make the list of small villages. The only village in Cass County on the small village list is Vandalia.
So to set the record straight, Edwardsburg had its first resident 185 years ago but the village was incorporated 100 years ago.
Next week: What was happening in the village and the world 100 years ago?