Statehood, War, and Prosperity
On January 26th, 1835 Michigan became the 26th State to enter the union. Celebrations erupted across the State, including the Brighton Area. Michigan’s journey into statehood had ended, however Brighton’s journey to prosperity had just begun. In 1840, the Brighton area (including Ore Creek Village) population had increased to over 700 people, not even a decade since Maynard Maltby first settled the land (McMaken, pp. 21). Population growth in Brighton was on the cusp of explosion.
Through the next decade (1850’s) Michigan’s population increased over 600%, and Brighton’s population followed suit. Travel from Detroit was still painstakingly slow by today’s standards, reducing the prospect of even more growth. Traveling from Detroit to Lansing, by stagecoach, took 4-6 days, as Brighton marked the halfway point of the journey (McMaken, pp. 21). Brighton’s leaders looked towards other answers for expedited travel to attract more settlers into the township.
In the 1860s the nation was in turmoil. Civil war broke out between the Union and the Confederates. Michigan, Brighton included, overwhelmingly supported Lincoln and the Union in turn. Brighton men answered the call to arms, and stepped up to defend the values that they believed in. Michigan sent over 90,000 men to the frontlines, with over 260 of them from the Brighton area (Pratt, pp. 114). 59 men from Brighton made the ultimate sacrifice during the civil war, losing their lives to defend the Union (Pratt, pp. 114).
As the end of the war drew to a close, Brighton again turned to the prospect of travel. In 1871, the prospect of faster travel had reached the doorsteps of Brighton, as the Railroad was introduced (McMacken, pp. 41). The advent of the railroad, “had a significant influence on the prosperity of the area.” Brighton was back on the tracks towards prosperity.