1893 - Artist's drawing looking west along the Clinton River in toward Mt. Clemens. The County Building is at the left background. In the left-center is the City Mill and Warehouse at the corner of Market Street and Front. The Original Bath House is in the center.

A bit of Macomb County Michigan History...

It was about 1796, that there was projected into this half-Indian, half-French settlement on the Huron River the energy of a man, Christian Clemens, whose name today is honored by the name of the county seat. A detroiter, he undertook a surveying trip for Governor Cass, and sizing up the slightly elevated townshite that is now a city, he later purchased large provate claims and called the settlement Mount Clemens. He built the first house on the westerly side of what is today North Broadway.

When Wayne County was established as a county in the Michigan Territory in 1815, it included all that part of Michigan to which the Indian Title had been extinguished, including our present Macomb County. Prior to that the territorial government had been organized in Detroit under General William Hull, the first governor, and it was he whose signature in 1807 voided Indian land titles.

By proclamation of Governor Lewis Cass, on January 15, 1818 all land ceded to the United States by the several Indian tribes from Maumee to White Rock was formed into the County of Macomb. William Brown, Henry J. Hunt and Conrad V. TenEyck were named commissioners to determine the most eligible site for the seat of justice. On Marcn 11, 1818, Mt. Clemens, located on the then Huron River, was designated the county seat. (The Huron River was in 1824 renamed the Clinton River, and that is the name that remains today).

On May 4, 1818 $400 was appropriated by the territorial legislature to aid in the erection of a courthouse and jail which, like other structures in the settlement, was a log building. During the next two decades, the county was subdivided into townships, cities and villages. Among the communities that were formed were Harrison Township, Macomb Township, Shelby Township, Ray Township, Lenox Township, Clinton Township, Armada Township Richmond Township and Washington Township.

In 1840 came the historic debate in the Legislature concerning the rivalry of the town of Romeo for Mount Clemens' county seat. The city of Utica also contended for the county seat. It was also in 1840 following the debates, that a new courthouse was voted for Mount Clemens to replace the log structure which formerly existed. The county seat dispute continued off and on up to 1879. An artist's rendering below, illustrates the new courthouse of 1840.

Mt. Clemens underwent a vigorous stimulus in the middle 1830's. The success of the Erie Canal; launching of the ill-fated Clinton-Kalamazoo Canal, and heavy Eastern settlement all contributed to put Mt. Clemens on its economic feet. In the 1850's attempts were being made by local promoters to find oil in the black, ill-smelling waters that were often found by well-diggers. But the oil promotions failed. Subsequently, the flow was densely impregnated with salt, so promoters changed their plans and by evaporating the waters met with fair success in producing a low grade salt.

The story has been told and re-told of an old rheumatic horse, unfit to work, that wandered under one of the dripping, elevated salt tanks used in the process. The animal allowed the mineral water to saturate its hide, even rolling in the muddy puddles on the ground. Within a short time, old settlers recall, the horse was galloping around with a new lease on life. Thus began an entire new industry for the town of Mt. Clemens.

The World Famous Bath Houses of Mount Clemens

The following interesting letter to the editor of the Detroit Gazette was written in 1822 concering the healthy climate of Macomb County. I thank Bonnie for providing the Macomb Page with this document. Enjoy!

of the
Pioneer Society
of the
State of Michigan

Vol. VII

Thorp & Godfrey
State Printers and Binders,
page 546

[From the Detroit Gazette, October 11, 1822]
MOUNT CLEMENS, Sept. 30, 1822

MESSERS. SHELDON & REED: Having recently learned that some evil disposed person or persons had put in circulation reports extremely unfavorable to the county of Macomb, by asserting that it was an uncommonly unhealthy portion of our country, where emigrants were almost sure to die shortly after their arrival, and finding that these false reports have gained currency and credence in some parts of the State of New York, I have taken pains to ascertain the number of deaths which have taken place in the county since the commencement of the year 1822, a period of nine months. The result of this investigation is, that for the period mentioned, there have been in the county of Macomb, containing a population of more than 1,000 inhabitants, but four deaths!

Let this fact speak for itself; and let any other portion of new country, containing an equal number of inhabitants, show, for the last nine months, a more favorable result.

That the refutation may stand some chance to circulate as widely as the falsehood, you will please give this a place in your useful paper, and oblige

Yours respectfully,

Sketches & Incidents Concerning the Settlement of Macomb County - 1881
Early Macomb County Settlers
Postcard/Photo of Mt. Clemens Firehouse, circa 1900
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