The Alaiedon Township Ghost Town of Jefferson City
How many times have you driven past a sign that mentions "Alaiedon Township"? Have you ever wondered about it? Or if there ever was a town called "Alaiedon"? Whatever happened to Alaiedon Township's Jefferson City? And just what does this odd word “alaiedon” mean, anyway?
Henry Schoolcraft was responsible for the name. In 1822, he was an Indian Agent from Sault Ste. Marie, who believed if communities were named with some kind of Native American word attached to it, it would remain for many years. Thus the word “alaiedon”.
“Al” means “the”.
“Ai” means “good”.
When an “ed” is added to “ai”, it means “living” or “to live”.
“On” is the word for “hill”. Put them all together, and “alaiedon” basically translates to “the hill land for good living”.
And it was good. The land was all forests filled with trees of beech, lynn, oak, sugar maples, and tamarack.
In late 1836, James Phillips became the first settler in the area soon known as Alaiedon Center. He was followed by seven other families including the Stricklands, who brought forth the first child in the township: Mary Strickland was born on July 19, 1837 just a few months after Michigan officially became a state.
That same year, the first settlement was founded: Jefferson City, named after Thomas Jefferson, at the corner of what is now Hagadorn and Lamb roads along Mud Creek. Soon, a sawmill was erected along with a schoolhouse and six log homes.
Silas Beebe who arrived from Stockbridge wrote, “Jefferson City will un-doubtedly be a place of great importance someday, being almost the center of the county”. His words about Mason, just 3½ miles north, were not very promising: “a frozen up sawmill, a few houses and surrounding forests are all Mason can boast of”.
Alaiedon's government was founded in Jefferson City's now-long-gone schoolhouse in 1838. In 1842, Alaiedon Township became its own entity when the three townships of Delhi, Lansing, and Meridian split off.
So what happened to Jefferson City? Are there any remains of this town?
The village was never officially platted or recorded, making it legally non-existent. Not legal means no property deeds were forthcoming. So the people who were living there abandoned the town, which to this day shows little signs of ever existing. Another possible reason? Mason kept growing and prospering, it became a major town, and soon all the smaller villages and communities were left by the wayside...including Jefferson City.
Jefferson Road, that leads north out of Mason, is the old trail/road to Jefferson City. Part of the road was later re-named 'Hagadorn' at the intersection of Howell Road. Following this road, when you get to Lamb Road, that is where Jefferson City once was. There may be old stone foundations and remnants of the old mill along the east side of Hagadorn, south of the creek, if you look hard enough.
So there you go. From the information I've read, it seems there was never an actual town named Alaiedon, just the township...but there WAS a town briefly (Jefferson City) and you can visit that lonely intersection and see for yourself. If you go to the intersection of Hagadorn and Lamb, sit and try to imagine a town that was trying to spring up there, with a good number of log homes and a couple of businesses that failed.
One of the old Alaiedon Township one-room schoolhouses still stands, refurbished and kept alive, at the corner of the roads of Hagadorn & Holt.