Community, Services & Programs: County History - Historical Firsts

County History Topics

* St. Joseph County by John Marvin:
* Introduction
* Costly Victory
* Changing Times
* St. Joseph County by John Marvin (Cont.):
* County Government Inaugurated
* Historical Firsts
* Early Background


St. Joseph County

by John Marvin


Historical Firsts

The first marriage in the county, of actual residents, was that of John W. Fletcher and Sarah Knox. performed by Justice of the Peace Samuel Stewart on September 18, 1831. The first divorce occurred in 1834.

The first two pioneer children were born to the Reichert and Cutler families during 1829. The first deaths were those of George Buck and Levi Waterman who were buried in a well they were digging in 1829. The first cemetery was established at White Pigeon in 1830.

The first stock of goods for sale in the county was transported by wagon to White Pigeon and transferred to Mottville Stewarts Store and consisted of codfish, one keg of tobacco and five barrels of whiskey. The business of the pioneer merchant was entirely conducted by exchange, as money was scarce and dealers took wheat, had it made into flour, and shipped to eastern creditors.

The first hotel Old Diggins and the first post office were established at White Pigeon during 1828; the first mail route was from Tecumseh to White Pigeon during 1829 (providing mail each way twice a week in summer and once in two weeks in winter); and John Winchell of White Pigeon was the first mailman in the county. The first stagecoach operated on Chicago Road (1831-32) between Tecumseh, White Pigeon and Niles. The Year 1851 saw the first railroads in the county.

St. Joseph County led the United States in production of mint oil and, in fact, any section of the world of equal area. Cultivation of mint started in 1835. After 1850, the county became noted for the raising of peaches, cherries and plums in abundance.

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St. Joseph County, MI Statistics

Founded: 1829
County Seat: Centreville

Total - 521 square miles
Water - 23 square miles

Population (2010 Census):
61,295 people
23,244 households
16,275 families