loading background

Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

loading media...
The Land Office

The Land Office

GRHC - February 10th, 2010

The land rush is on! Glance at the Past tells of West Michigan's first claim office.



Louis Campau, the first to receive a land patent in Kent County in October of 1833, registered his claim at the White Pigeon Prairie land office in St. Joseph County. However, Lucius Lyon and others were right behind him, in November of the same year, to receive their land patents. A year later, Daniel Coit and Joel Guild were among those who made the eight-five mile trip to the land office at White Pigeon.

Their trek, by horse or on foot, would have taken them along the route currently followed by Hwy 131, but then it would have been merely a trail worn by hundreds of men making their way south to register their claims.

The White Pigeon Prairie land office, established in June of 1831, was strategically placed on the Chicago Road which linked Chicago and Detroit. Known earlier as the Great Sauk Trail, it was part of a centuries-old Native American trail network. Between 1831 and 1834 the White Pigeon office sold 260,000 acres of government land.

To meet the tremendous press for land, in 1836 land offices were opened in Bronson, today’s Kalamazoo, and Ionia making it easier for those in Kent County to register their claims. There was such a rush to buy land at $1.25 per acre that during its first eleven days the Ionia office took in $190,000.

The White Pigeon Prairie land office, so important to our earliest settlers, still exists and is the oldest surviving U.S. Land office in the state of Michigan. Restored by the St. Joseph Co. Historical Society, it is now a museum and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Full Details

TitleThe Land Office
KeywordsGlance at the Past, land, deeds, history, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringFebruary 10th, 2010

Like Us on Facebook
site by GRCMC