Ingham County Genealogical Society

History of Ingham County, Michigan

Content courtesy of Ingham County
An 1829 act of the Territorial Legislature created Ingham County. Called a "cabinet county," it bears the name of Samuel D. Ingham, who was Secretary of the Treasury under President Jackson at the time.
The area was a forest wilderness filled with wide tamarack marshes and was sparsely populated. Because of its dense forest, early Michigan settlers tended to avoid Ingham County and to settle its perimeters. The first piece of land purchased and deed recorded was in the Okemos area in 1832. Settlers, moving into the county from the east and south, followed old Indian trails from Jackson, the Dexter-Stockbridge area and Pontiac. By 1842, all of the present townships of Ingham County were organized.
The State Legislature met in Detroit in 1846 to choose a site for a capitol for the new State of Michigan. Lawmakers presented bills proposing many localities, each, of course favoring his own district as a site. Lansing township was a surprising compromise made by the legislators, for the nearest railroad was 40 miles away and there was only a few trails to the site, which was still a wilderness. The deciding factors for Ingham County were its central location and the offer by James Seymour of a large tract of land at the bend of the Grand River.
The Capital City was soon carved out of the forest. Travel was facilitated by the construction of a plank road from Detroit to Lansing. This toll road, financed with federal funds, was completed in 1860 and gave force to the large number of new Michigan settlers that poured into the region. The seat of Ingham County government was established in Mason, which is centrally located, fulfilling the requirements of the time that the county seat be no more than a day's travel from any location in the county.
The Lansing area grew gradually over the years, with industry and the educational facilities of a land-grant college contributing to its expansion. The remainder of the county developed into an agricultural area, much of which remains at the present time. The spread of suburban living has recently cut somewhat into these rural areas.
For more historical information on Ingham County, Michigan visit the Pioneer History of Ingham County page to review The Pioneer History of Ingham County table of contents and index, compiled and arranged by Mrs. Franc L. Adams, Secretary of the Ingham County Pioneer and Historical Society, which was published in 1923.