Founding Brighton

Downtown Brighton, MI "Main street looking West"
Downtown Brighton, MI
“Main street looking West” , McMacken p. 31

The city of Brighton, Michigan was established in 1832. Previously, the city of Brighton, England wrote to the Brighton Historical Society, wondering if the name had stemmed from the British town. According to the source of Virgil A Fitch, the city received its name from Brighton, New York. Fitch is the grandson of Elijah Fitch, who is thought to be one of Brighton’s earliest settlers (BAHS, History of..).  Elijah Fitch is said to be the founder of Brighton, naming the city after the area where his late father resided, Brighton in Monroe County of New York.  Elijah moved his family to Brighton and opened a general store for citizens traveling through, while also providing a stopping place. His storefront, which he called “Brighton House” enticed pioneers with its provisions and the ability to send mail (City of Brighton History).

Other notable  first settlers include the Maltby brothers, for which the first high school and now subsequent middle school of Brighton is named. Previous to the founding of the village, the brothers and their wives acquired land within Livingston County, on which they promptly built a log cabin structure (McMacken, p. 16). After finishing the house, the brothers returned to New York to fetch their wives and family to come back and settle the area. The Maltby brothers are most well known for their construction of a sawmill on Ore Creek, which later become name Old Maltby Mill (McMacken, p. 17). This construction, along with an influx in New England settlers flooding to Michigan, led to the creation of the village of Brighton.

Following the settlement of Fitch and the Maltby brothers and their respective contributions in building what would become Brighton, came the surge of hotels. Brighton’s vital spot along the trek between Lansing and Detroit offered the benefit of travelers (McMacken, p. 21). As the village grew, its economic success came largely from the founding of hotels and inns. The increase of logging for travelers allowed commerce to develop in the downtown area, creating a market for grocery stores, shops and businesses to emerge. The initial creation of infrastructure from important Brightonians at the beginning of the 1800’s led to the development and growth of the village that was soon to come.