Ever wonder how some Michigan towns & cities got their names? Below are brief explanations of ten Michigan town/city names and how they came to be!

Henry Schoolcraft named it Anamakee around 1826. Not happy with it, he made up a new name: “Al” (the) and “peanaisse” (bird).

When Rudolph Papst and George Willis Pack made camp in Huron County in 1861, they found a damaged axe. They called their campsite Bad Axe Camp; when a town began to grow in that spot, the name became Bad Axe.

Originally called Brunson Harbor after Sterne Brunson, a city founder. In 1865 the name was changed to Benton Harbor, honoring Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton, who pushed statehood for Michigan.

Originally named Barnes, Gaylord was named after Augustine Smith Gaylord, a lawyer that serviced the Jackson, Lansing, and Saginaw railroad.

First called Gabagouache, it was renamed Grand Haven in 1835 after the nearby Grand River and the pretty surroundings .

Omer was originally called Rifle River Mills, changed to “Homer” in the mid-1860s. After discovering another community by that name, the “H” was dropped.

The town of Pigeon was originally called Berne Junction. Soon it was re-named Pigeon after the Pigeon River, which was named for all the passenger pigeons that lived nearby.

Originally called Laphamville. In the mid-1860’s, the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad began pushing the residents to make the town name shorter. A new settler arrived in the community and suggested the name of his hometown, Rockford Illinois. It was re-platted as Rockford in 1865.

The first settler was Jonathan Nash in 1846, who named the area Nashville. He named the nearby creek Nash Creek. Noting another town already named Nashville, the state legislature came up with “Sparta”.

In 1829, Calvin Britain created the settlement, which was called Newburyport. In 1834, the community was renamed St. Joseph after the river.

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To read 14 more Michigan town name origins, CLICK HERE!


Screenshot courtesy of Kalamazoo College, youtube
Screenshot courtesy of Kalamazoo College, youtube

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