Titus Bronson is considered the first pioneer of Kalamazoo, MI, although several traders lived on the land in the years before. Coming originally from Connecticut, Bronson arrived on June 21st, 1829. Bronson spent the summer and fall gearing up to create permanent residence before spending the winter in what is now Schoolcraft. That spring, Bronson returned to Ohio to gather his family and bring them back to Kalamazoo in June of 1830. Bronson bought land in present-day Downtown Kalamazoo. On March 12, 1831 Bronson submitted the original plans for the village of Bronson to the county register’s office. Eventually, a courthouse, an academy, a jail and several churches were constructed. The academy and the jail are now the location of Bronson Park.
In March of 1836 Bronson was at odds with many members of the village. He was an outspoken man and was once fined for stealing a cherry tree. The growing number of villagers opposed to Bronson eventually got the village name changed from Bronson to Kalamazoo, named after the river that runs through the city. Bronson left Kalamazoo in 1836 and headed to Iowa. He died in 1853. Bronson’s name can be found throughout the city, including Bronson Park and Bronson Hospital.
Fun Fact: Abraham Lincoln’s only visit to Michigan was at Bronson Park in 1856.