Lake Erie and the Hudson River were connected in 1825, creating the Erie Canal. This successful endeavor created an easier transportation route for both people and products from New England. However an economic slowdown kept people from having the needed resources for the move. In 1830, the economy improved, the Indians were being removed and Michigan was the most popular destination for westward moving pioneers. Oshtemo land was a part of the Territory of Michigan and was owned by the Potawatomi Tribes.
Michigan Territory was determined by the United States Congress in 1805. The name probably came from Fox Indian word “Mesikami”, meaning “great water.” In 1834, Michigan Territory included what is now the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and a large portion of the Dakotas. The Toledo war resolved boundary issues with Ohio in 1835 and the 1836 Wisconsin Territory was created in 1838 helping to make Michigan the area known today.
Here They Come
The settlers who arrived in Oshtemo before the government offered the land for sale were called squatters - as the land was owned by the Indians, who could not sell. Many Squatters had settled here. The first step in offering the land for legal ownership was to survey it; when this was completed, the land was opened to purchase for $1.25 an acre. Available land in Southwestern Michigan could only be purchased at land offices in Detroit or Monroe until 1831 when the land office in White Pigeon was opened. Between 1831 and 1834, 264,000 acres of land was sold from this Land Office.
The Original Land Office in White Pigeon has been restored by the St. Joseph County Historical Society. It is on the National Register of Historical Places and is located on the main street of White Pigeon.
How We Grew
In 1834 the land office in Kalamazoo opened. Michigan had the largest population
increase during that time than any other state or territory. The Railroad was completed a few years after the Erie Canal, giving travelers west another option. Michigan became a state on January 26, 1837; It was the twenty sixth state in the Union. The population at the time of statehood is estimated to have been about 200,000. Stevens T. Mason was Territorial Governor and the first Michigan State Governor. Andrew Jackson was President of the United States of America.
On March 22, 1839 , Oshtemo was designated a township, elections were held, offices were filled and rules were made.
Oshtemo township is one of sixteen townships in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. Mr. Hammond of the Bank of Michigan in Kalamazoo suggested the Indian name "Oshtemo" for the new township. The name means "Head waters". The township has 36 square miles of land. The latitude is 42.258N, longitude is 85.677W.