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Montcalm County History

Montcalm County Courthouse. Destroyed by fire in 1905. [Click here to view full size picture]
Montcalm County Courthouse. Destroyed by fire in 1905.
Early settlement of the Montcalm County area by Native American is documented as far back as 8000 B.C. along the Flat River near Greenville. By 1800 A.D. more Europeans were arriving in the Great Lakes area crowding out the existing native populations. When the settlers arrived in this area in the late 1830's, there were only remnants of the Ottawa, Chippewa and Potawatomi Indian tribes who had ceded their lands under the Treaty of Washington in 1836.

Montcalm County was named after the Marquis de Montcalm who was killed in the defense of Quebec in 1759. Montcalm County was officially established by the Michigan Legislature as an independent political unit on March 20, 1850. A temporary county seat was established in Greenville but in 1860 Stanton was named the official county seat.

The first settler in the county was said to have been Luther Lincoln who settled in Montcalm Township. He and others built log cabins and began clearing the land to farm. Villages were platted and businesses and churches were established. There was a large influx of Danish immigrants encouraged by August Rasmussen who was one of the earliest Danes to arrive in the county. After his arrival in Montcalm County in 1856 his letters home to Denmark encouraged family and friends to come to America. His accounts of his experiences were published in the Greenville Independent and later in a small booklet titled "Pioneer life in the Big Dane Settlement". Like many other settlers he farmed during the summer and worked for the lumber companies in the winter. It was a hard life but the lumbering provided needed income and hastened the clearing of trees from the land. With the trees gone agriculture became a major source of employment as grain, beans, corn and potatoes were raised, fruit trees were planted and dairy farming increased.
This page last updated on 7/15/2009.

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