One of the Michigan towns I've always been impressed with is Hillsdale, located within the county of the same name.

The area's first recorded residents were the Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Ottawa tribes. Nearby Baw Beese Lake was named after Chief Baw Beese, leader of the Potawatomi, whose tribe was based at the lake.

Hillsdale was first settled in 1834 by Jeremiah Arnold and platted the very next year. This new village was originally named “Hillsdale Center” for its location amidst all the hills and dales in the surrounding countryside. The first store opened in 1838, the first school house was constructed in 1838, and a post office began in 1839, establishing the village.

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Then, in 1840, Chief Baw Beese and his people – and other tribe members in neighboring states, were unfortunately (and wrongly) made to leave their home and re-locate in faraway Kansas.

The city's pride and joy is Hillsdale College, which became the first college in the United States to prohibit racial, sexual, and religious discrimination. The college and town itself became very involved in the abolition of slavery.

When the railroad came through, Hillsdale really boomed. Business, capital, more people moving in, more and more grand Victorian houses built...Hillsdale was attracting tourists and travelers from all over. Baw Beese Lake became a favorite summer resort/camping area for out-of-staters from Chicago, Ohio, and Indiana.

When World War II came to a halt, so did the growth of Hillsdale. Why? Because interstate highways were being laid across the state, urging and tempting more people to get their own automobiles to take them somewhere- and anywhere -  instead of relying on passenger services. Thanks in part to this, Hillsdale's passenger trains halted in 1956.

While many towns opt to tear down their historic old buildings & shops, Hillsdale has wisely retained many, many of their original old buildings and kept a somewhat 1800s feel to it, even among newer buildings. It's a cool little village to take a look at some old photos of Hillsdale, many from over 100 years ago...

Vintage Photos of Hillsdale, Michigan



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