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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Early Elections

Early Elections

April 10th, 2013

The election of 1837 was an event not only in Michigan, but in the village that would become Grand Rapids. 


The election of 1837 was an event not only in Michigan but in the village that would become Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids precinct consisted of Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties.

A steamboat load of voters, including fifty Democrats and three Whigs, came up the river from Grand Haven; upon landing they formed a procession. Samuel Baker, known as “Big Baker” because of his 6’7” height headed the line carrying a flag. Rix Robinson, his five brothers, and L. G. Baxter, all tall men, marched behind Baker to the polls at the Kent Hotel. A newly built tavern, the Kent Hotel stood at the corner of E. Bridge (now Michigan) and Kent St., which ran north and south between Canal and Ottawa. An overwhelming Democratic victory re-elected Boy Governor Stevens T. Mason, who still remains the youngest state governor in American history.

The first village election, held one year later on May 1, 1838, saw one hundred and fifty-one votes cast. Six village trustees were chosen and one, Henry C. Smith, who had settled here in 1836, was elected president. The village had four presidents between 1838 and 1850 when the village officially became a city.

Henry R. Williams, who arrived from Rochester NY in 1841, was associated with Daniel Ball in running steamboats on the Grand River. Williams, a Whig, elected July 19th, 1850, served a one-year term as the city’s first mayor.

Full Details

TitleEarly Elections
KeywordsWYCE; radio; history; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; politics; election
Pubdate StringApril 10th, 2013

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