The 1846 Michigan Village of California, Near the Indiana Border
The town of California sits three miles away from the Indiana border in California Township, Branch County. The township was organized in 1846, obviously titled after the western California Territory - but I wonder if it was actually named a few years later. The California Gold Rush began in 1848, and it seems likely that someplace this far east of that “other” California would name something 'California' due to that rush...but that's only a guess.
According to the History of Branch County, one of the attractive things about this territory to the early settlers was the soil. It's “a sandy and gravelly loam, very productive, and for agricultural purposes compares favorably with other portions of the county. The people are chiefly engaged in agricultural pursuits”.
From the 1870s-1890s, California had a blacksmith, cemetery, two churches, grain mill, school, town hall, and an impressive number of shops.....and then it failed to grow further. Over the years many classic old storefronts were removed and California in the 2000s is mostly residences. It remains a cute, comfortable, and quiet place to stop for awhile.
California Township is also known for its Amish communities, and it's a good idea to stop and buy some Amish products.
I just wish there was more recorded history on the town somewhere. If anyone has more info on California, Michigan, let me know.
Meantime, take a look at the photo gallery below!
PHOTOS OF CALIFORNIA, MICHIGAN