Smalltown Spotlight: Norvell, Jackson County
Norvell is a sleepy little Jackson County town, surrounded by Napoleon, Brooklyn, and Manchester, therefore avoiding most thru-traffic and keeping a degree of anonymity.
How did it start? William Hunt arrived in Jacksonburgh in 1831 and became the first settler in – what would become – Norvell, three miles east of Napoleon.
Jacksonburgh was a vast territory. Soon it was split up into three towns: Grass Lake, Jacksonburgh and Spring Arbor. Another split was made a few years later, this time including a fourth town, Napoleon. But that wasn't enough. Napoleon was given strict limits so another split was necessary, this time creating Brooklyn Township.
In 1873, Brooklyn Township was split, with parts given to Columbia, Napoleon, and a third which became Norvell Township.
John Norvell had been a postmaster in Detroit and later became one of the very first U.S. Senators. He donated some land and as a way to thank him, the locals named the town after him. Norvell acquired a post office in 1838; forty years later, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad came through, giving the town a depot and making it a station stop.
By 1881, Norvell had churches, a depot, hotel, schools, and a good handful of stores. Cucumbers were a big part of Norvell's economy, along with the grain mills operated by William Reynolds.
Today, Norvell is a peaceful town with a few historic buildings that still stand to appease your curiosity. Take a look at the photos below, then take a drive-thru!
PHOTOS OF NORVELL
Norvell Township History