SMALLTOWN MICHIGAN: Eaton County’s Lonesome Village of Brookfield
The lonesome village of Brookfield is an unincorporated community in Brookfield Township, Eaton County. In 1836 the first settlers in Brookfield arrived - Peter Moe and his sons Ezra & Henry and gave the area the name of 'Moetown.' When the area finally became organized in 1841, it was re-named "Brookfield."
The first shingled-roof log house was built in 1841. The only public building in town was a schoolhouse, also built in 1841, and was used as a town meeting place.
In 1842 the first frame barn was built, by 1844 there were 33 taxpayers living in town, and a new frame house was erected in 1851.
A post office was in operation from 1858 to 1865, closed down for a year and a half, and re-opened from 1867 to 1904 when it shut down for good.
The closest stores were in Eaton Rapids but there was so much swampland, the only way folks in Brookfield could get there to shop was in winter when the swamps were frozen over. The swampy area was also overrun with bears and wolves which caused the settlers much fear, especially for their children.
In particular, the following story caused the townsfolk to fear the worst when four kids went missing. According to Pioneer History of Eaton County, Michigan, "Two boys and two girls, were hunting leeks and became lost in the woods in the spring of 1840. When night came they crept into a hollow log and remained there the entire next day as it was snowing fast. Neighbors searched in vain and finally built numerous fires at night thinking they might attract the children. Sure enough, on the morning of the third day, the children were found by one of the fires where they had spent the night."
No bears or wolves were involved, thank goodness!
Anyway, pay a visit to the li'l village of Brookfield; it's only 29 miles south of Lansing and 12 miles southwest of Eaton Rapids. A couple of old buildings still remain that are great photo ops but there are no restaurants, stores or gas stations around, so be aware.
Add this to your next Michigan roadtrip itinerary!