The Origins of Columbus Township as a Government Unit in Michigan
Columbus Township was established by an act of the Michigan Legislature on March 11, 1837. It was split off from Clyde Township and named after Christopher Columbus. Theodore Bathey was the first Supervisor.
When first organized in 1849, the population of Columbus was recorded at 85 people.[ii]
Important Early Influences
The early settlers of Columbus Township and the surrounding area were influenced by many factors, but two were particularly influential: 1) government policy and laws and 2) geography and transportation.
Government Policy and Laws
The mile grid network in Michigan and in many other states was based on a land survey system established by Thomas Jefferson, who was a surveyor before becoming President of the United States. He understood the value of having land purchased in large chunks for more orderly development.
As part of the Ordinance of 1785, a system was established to divide land into congressional townships of six square miles each. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 established the Northwest Territory, which included Michigan, and included the framework by which the Federal government would be sovereign and expand westward across North America. It also established the framework for the creation of new states, where previously existing states had attempted to expand westward.
With the grid survey system, land was made available to purchase in one square mile portions (640 acres). This system solved the problem of choppy private land holdings, where land owners would only purchase the good farm land and leave the rest in public ownership. This system encouraged the orderly sale and division of property in the Northwest Territory, including Michigan.
The graphic below illustrates how 36-square-mile townships were created and subdivided into numbered sections. The section lines became the location of mile roads, also known as section line roads, throughout southeast Michigan.
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Updated: 20th April, 2019 2:28 PM.