Fraser Michigan: Early Settlement and Growth

First Settlers

Native Americans first settled Fraser Michigan thousands of years ago. There is even an old Indian trail called Mulvey, which is still being used today, and is the oldest street in Fraser.

mulvey road

Mulvey Road

First Settlement

It was not until 1858 till Fraser became a village. Alexander James Fraser started the village to take advantage of the train depot that ran through the intersections. He bought land near the depot to take advantage of the commercial going through the area. He built and operated a hotel, and he began selling land in the 1860’s and 70’s, but he was no longer living in the village at that time. German descents  were primarily the first ones to settle in the little village. They built up the town and by 1860 the town had a few small shops, a post office, and even erected the St. John Lutheran Church. The church still stands today, and is now Our Lady Queen of Martys Roman Catholic Church.

lutheran church

Fire Of 1905

Their then was a fire in 1905, which burned down most of the village businesses, “These included a slaughterhouse, agricultural machinery building, bowling alley, meat market, cigar shop, tavern, public hall, and storage building.” (Champion, pg. 25)

fraser fire 1905

The Fraser State bank was established in 1910 and served as the village bank for generations. The bank today is owned by PNC but the huge concrete building continues to be a staple to downtown Fraser till this day.


state bank

 Early Growth

The timber business is what helped spur Fraser to grow. Charles Steffens came to Fraser in 1875 and joined up with Charles Knorr to start the Knorr and Steffens Mill. The mill by 1888 became the largest employer in the city, employing about 55 people. Knorr and Steffens eventually had a falling out with Steffens taking over the mill.