Shavehead, Michigan and How It Got Its Name
Ever been to Shavehead, Michigan?
It's very possible that you have been and not even known it.
This little community with the curious, slightly funny-sounding name can be found in Cass County's Porter Township. It is not on maps and hasn't been since the 1800s.
But why the name “Shavehead”?
This little community started life as a post office near the intersection of what is now Shavehead Lake Road and M-40. West of this intersection is Shavehead Lake, once there was a Shavehead school, Shavehead Trail, and somewhere is Shavehead Prairie. All of the above were named after Chief Shavehead of the Potawatomi tribe. He was nicknamed 'Shavehead' by the settlers due to his traditional hair style: a shaved head with a strip of hair down the back to the top of his head. His real tribal name is still unknown.
The chief lived in Cass County from approximately 1775-1830. What made him stand out? He was the only Indian chief in Cass County who refused to sign any kind of treaty with the American government. Upset with the white settlers moving in and moving the Indians out, Shavehead began his own warpath: stealing, and attacking wagon trains, settlers cabins, and stagecoaches.
How Chief Shavehead died is still up for speculation. There are three conclusions:
1) Killed by one of his enemies alone in the woods
2) Died in a camp where the Indians made maple syrup.
3) Passed away naturally from old age and poverty
He's definitely buried somewhere in southern Michigan, either in Cass County or Van Buren County. Nobody knows for sure.
As for the 'community' of Shavehead, the post office began in July 1858 and was opened and closed a total of six times until its final closure in February 1888. Looking at the photos below, you'll see there is nothing to do there, and one old building stands on the corner, looking like it may have been an old service station at one time. The atlases seen below only show Shavehead listed twice: in 1872 and 1873.
Even though at first glance one might think it isn't worth the drive, you never know. Little places like this still hold secrets and buried artifacts that can tell more of a story than any human can.