Lapeer County, MI Genealogy & History

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Lapeer County, MI

Chippewa Indians were the earliest settlers of Lapeer's countryside. Few Indians were to be found though as the first white man settled in this rich forest area with it's rolling countryside. That first settler arrived in 1828. Real growth of the area did not happen until the 1830's and then there were 2 settlements  separated by a taramack swamp along the Flint River.

A. N. Hart called his village Lapeer, while Jonathan White called his Whitesville. In 1835 the county was organized and Hart's village was chosen as the county seat. Mr. White hoping to overturn that decision built a courthouse as did Mr. Hart. From 1846 to 1853 Lapeer County Supervisors moved back and forth from one court house to the other. They ended up buying Mr. Hart's impressive colonaded building, which today is Michigan's oldest courthouse. Mr. White's court house ended up being Whites Opera House, and is in part of what is now downtown Lapeer.

Surrounding communities of Imlay City, Almont, Dryden, were also founded about 1830's. The arrival of the Lumbering era from about 1840 to 1890 boosted growth throughout Lapeer County and saw the rise of other communities within Lapeer's boundrys. The lumber was floated down the Flint River to sawmills in Flint, Saginaw,and Bay City. There  were 10,000 people living in the Lapeer County area by the mid-1850's. There were deadly forest fires in 1871, and 1881 clearing the cutover lands, and making way for the farming settlers to move in to the area. Crops at the turn of the century were barley, oats, wheat, and potatoes. About 1940's the Dairy farming came into it's own, with Lapeer's 46 cows per square mile making it the highest concentration of dairy cattle in Michigan. Along comes the 1970's and also an increase in population by 34% from those people moving here from the bigger cities like Flint, Pontiac, and Detroit. While here in the 1990's farming still goes on it has been reduced to only half as many as there were in the early 1900's . There are 159 lakes in Lapeer County making fishing, boating , and watersports major attactions.

 

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Updated November 30, 2000

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