Van Buren Township, Michigan

Nearly all of the first white settlers who came to Van Buren Township were Frenchmen looking to hunt and trap for the fur trade. Although it may seem obvious, Van Buren Township was named after America’s 8th president Martin Van Buren.

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By Bethany Newton, Staff Writer Discover Downriver

exp-wtr-vanburentwp-1-940x400Nearly all of the first white settlers who came to Van Buren Township were Frenchmen looking to hunt and trap for the fur trade. Although it may seem obvious, Van Buren Township was named after America’s 8th president Martin Van Buren. On April 6, 1835, two years before Michigan was made a state, Van Buren officially became a township after being created out of Huron Township. Before the year 1875, most Township business was done in private homes, until the matter of erecting a city hall was introduced. The first Van Buren Township city hall meeting took place in what is now the Belleville Area Museum.

Over the years, Van Buren Township grew thanks to things like the railroad coming to Denton, the creation of Belleville Lake in 1926 and the beginning of World War II. Because of the need for manufacturing during World War II, Van Buren Township built the Bomber Highway (or I-94), the Willow Run Bomber Plant and the Willow Run Airport.

The creation of the Belleville Lake changed the area into one of leisure. City people came from all over to go swimming and fishing, and many people began building summer lake cottages that overlooked the now beautiful shore.

Today, Van Buren Township has an extremely convenient location in between two major airports and highways. The Township is still a great place for recreational and leisure activities, and at the moment there are several industrial and commercial areas under construction that will help grow and better the community.

Fun Facts:

  • As of the census of 2010, there were 28,821 people.
  • The Township is sometimes currently referred to as Belleville.
  • USA Jet Airlines has its headquarters at Willow Run Airport.
  • For the first city hall to be constructed, Van Buren residents raised 1,500 dollars.
  • Auto parts maker Visteon is based in Van Buren Township.

Information gathered from Van Buren Township, American Local History Network Michigan and the US Census.

Written by Bethany Newton, staff writer for Discover Downriver.  See more about Bethany here.

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