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Michigan Map History Relevant to Bay County, MI
  • By Marvin Kusmierz (Aug. 2003 - updated Oct. 2005)
  • Being able to view historical maps on a single page helps to understand the evolutionary boundary changes of Michigan and Bay County. A series of miniture maps are presented below beginning with 1763 when this area was the north west frontier of the United States. As a reference, a Bay County map (yellow) details the present boundary of Bay and its townships including the the date each township was established. Next to it is a chronological listing of all townships including those that were once a part of the county.

    Historical Perspective

    In 1763, the frontier of Michigan was part of large Indian Reserve controlled by the English who gained dominion over it after seventy years of battling with the French. Thirteen years later, the United States won its own battle of independence from the Britain. In 1805, it was dsignated the "Michigan Territory by Congress to provide a system of governing for the growing population. Counties were being established even before Michigan became a state in 1837.

    1793 Indian Reserve map.

    1803 Michigan Territory map.

    1837 Michigan first state map.

  • Indian Reserve - 1763:
    The English controlled the area after nearly 70 years of battling with France for the frontier.
  • Michigan Territory - 1805
    U.S. Congress establishes Michigan Territory with growing population of settlements.
  • Northwest Territory:
    States developed out of the Michigan Territory.
  • Territorial Governors.
  • William Hull (1806-13)
  • Lewis Cass (1813-31)
  • George B. Porter (1831-34)
  • Stevens T. Mason (1834-35)
  • John S. Horner (1835-36)
  • Congressional Delagates (Congress, date):
  • William Woodbridge (16th, 1819-20)
  • Solomon Sibley (17th, 1820-23)
  • Fr. Gabriel Richard (18th, 1823-25)
  • Austin Eli Wing (19th & 20th, 1825-29; 22nd 1831-33)
  • John Biddle (21st, 1829-31)
  • Lucius Lyon (23rd, 1833-35)
  • George Wallace Jones (24th, 1835-37)
  • Internet Resources.
  • [Answers.com]
    Provides historical details regarding the Michigan Territory.

  • Early Michigan Counties

    The Saginaw Valley was initially a part of the very large Michilimackinac county until 1832 when it became a part of new formed Oakland County. Oakland stretched as far north as Alpena. In 1831, the territorial legislature created Arenac, Gladwin, Midland and Saginaw counties, but they were not organized. They had no elections or governing bodies of their own until 1835 when Saginaw county was organized, two years before Michigan became state. Saginaw provided judicial services for the others until Midland county was formed in 1851.

    1818 Michigan Territory map. 1832 Michigan Territory map. 1831 Saginaw Valley counties map.
  • Michigan Counties - 1818:
    Counties as they appeared in 1818 before statehood.
  • Michigan Counties - 1832:
    Counties changed rapidly as new settlements developed. Oakland Co. established in 1820 stretched all the way to Tawas.
  • Saginaw Valley - 1831:
    While the Saginaw Valley remained a part of Oakland Co., the territory legislature laid out boundaries for new counties. Saginaw was organized as a township, then became a county in 1835, and they handled judicial matters for both Midland became organized in and Arenac became a part of Bay County.

  • Bay County's Townships, Villages, and Cities

    Note: The information below is the result of about two months of research. It is a compilation of data from various sources and provided here on a "best efforts" basis. This information is still incomplete and may not be totally precise on boundariers. The data will be updated whenever the missing or more accurate information is found! If you are of data that will help improve the data, please contact us.

    In 1857, Bay County was organized from portions of Saginaw and Midland counties, and all of Arenac. The new county was comprised of two townships initially, Williams and Hampton. The first new townships were added in 1859, Arenac, Bangor and Portsmouth. During the 1860s, Beaver, Kawkawlin and Monitor were added. In the 1870s, AuGre, Clayton, Merritt, Pinconning, Fraser and Deep River became new townships. In the 1880s, Frankenlust, Garfield, and Gibson were added. Arenac County was organized 1883 from the northern townships reducing the size of Bay County to what it is today. Mount Forest was the last township to be organized in 1890.

    Present Bay County Township Map:

    Township Chronology
    1857: Williams & Hampton
    1859: Bangor
    1859: Portsmouth
    1859: Arenac*
    1867: Beaver
    1868: Kawkawlin
    1869: Monitor
    1870: AuGre*
    1870: Clayton*
    1871: Merritt
    1873: Pinconning
    1873: Standish*
    - (aka: Granton)
    1875: Fraser
    1879: Deep River*
    1881: Frankenlust
    1886: Garfield
    1888: Gibson
    1890: Mt. Forest
    * - Detached in 1883 when
    Arenac Co. was organized.
    Village Incorporations:
    1849: Lower Saginaw (V)
    1858: Auburn (V)
    1871: Banks (V)
    1947: Auburn (C)

    City Incorporations:
    1865: Bay City
    1877: West Bay City
    1947: Auburn
    First plats for villages:
    Banks: 1857, Jos. Tromble'
    Essex: 1850, Ransom Essex
    Kawkawlin: 1873, (unk.)
    Linwood: 1882, (unk.)
    Lower Saginaw: 1837, Saginaw Bay Co.
    Portmouth: 1836, Portmouths Co.
    Salzburg: 1867, F.H. Fitzhugh.

    Formation of Townships in Bay County:

    The following series of maps represent what we have been able to identify on township formations. What's missing are the actual geograhical area of many townships when they were organized. The following lists townshps for which this information still needs to be developed:

    1859: Bangor, Portsmouth and Arenac.
    Assumptions: Bangor included today's Monitor and ran north to the southern boundary of the new township of Arenac. Arenac was carved from both Williams & Hampton twsps and may have comprised most of today's Arenac county. Portmouth carved out of Hampton include present township boundaries plus that of Merrit.

    1867: Beaver.
    Assumptions: Carved out of Williams, may have ran from present Williams northern boundary to southern boundary of Arenac township created in 1859.

    1868: Kawkawlin.
    Assumptions: Carved out of Bangor, may have ran from present northern boundary of Bangor to southern boundary of Arenac township, and western boundary of Beaver.

    1871: Merritt.
    Assumptions: Carved out of Portmouth only.

    The following township creation maps are based on available information, and may not be total accurate.

    Before Bay County.
    Map showing the territory detached from the counties of Arenac, Midland and Saginaw when Bay County was organized in 1857.
    1857: Townships & villages.
    Williams and Hampton townships were previously organized under Midland and Saginaw counties respectively, however, their geographic area was altered under Bay Co. Bay County.
    1859: First new townships.
    The geographic area of Williams and Hampton townships were reduced to make room for these new townships. Portsmouth include a section detached from Saginaw Co. geographic area.
    1867: Beaver Twsp. added.
    Formed from portions of west portion of Arenac and northern portion of Williams.
    1868: Kawkawlin Twsp. added.
    Formed from northern portion of Bangor and southern portion of Beaver.
    1869: Monitor added.
    Formed from the southern half of Bangor.
    1870: Clayton & Augre Twsps. added.
    1890 Bay Co. Map.
  • Bay County - 1886:
    Garfield township is added from western portion of Fraser township. the same time.
  • Bay County - 1888:
    Gibson township is added from north west section of Pinconning township.
  • Bay County - 1890:
    Mount Forest township, the last organized, is added from the west half of Pinconning township.
  • -- HELP US IF YOU CAN! --
    If you can add information on what the geography of a township represented at a given point in time, please share it for this page.
    Or, if you are visiting the state archives and have the time, we'd appreciate it if you would check for this information while you are there.

    pop = populaton, PO = postoffice, RR = railway service
    Auburn: pop. 150, PO, RR
    Banks: pop. --, PO, RR
    Bay City: pop. 27,839, PO, RR
    Beardsley's: pop, --, RR
    Bedell: --, PO, --
    Bently: --, PO, --
    Brooks: --, --, RR
    Brown's: --, --, RR
    County Line: --, --, RR
    Essexville: --, PO, --
    Fisherville: --, --, RR
    Frankenlust: --, PO, --
    Freeman: --, --, RR
    Hamblen: --, PO, --
    Kawkawlin: --, PO, RR
    Linwood: --, PO, RR
    Michie: --, PO, --
    Monitor: --, --, RR
    Mt. Forest: --, PO, RR
    Munger: --, PO, RR
    Nine Mile:
    --, --, RR
    North William: --, PO, --
    Oa-at-ka Beach: --, --, RR
    Portsmouth: --, PO, --
    Salzburg: --, PO, RR
    South Bay City: --, --, RR
    State Road: --, --, RR
    Water Street Junction: --, --, RR
    Wenona Beach: --, --, RR
    West Bay City: 12,981, PO, RR
    White Feather: --, --, RR
    Willard: --, PO, --


  • Bay County Library System, research assistance from Mary McManman and Lesley Hammond.
  • "Bay County Past and Present", George E. Butterfield, 1957.
  • "History of Bay County, Michigan - Illustration and Biographical Sketches," 1883, by H.R. Page Co.
  • "History of Bay County, Michigan and Representative Citizens," 1905, Augustus H. Gansser.
  • "Bay County Story - Footpaths to Freeways," 1982, Leslie E. Arndt.
  • "Michigan Place Names", abt.1973, Walter Romig.
  • If you have an old map -- consider sharing it on Bay-Journal.