THE FIRST SETTLERS OF UTICA

Utica was founded in 1817, land cost $1.25 an acre, and was composed of wetlands, and swamps much like all of South-Eastern Michigan. The population remained small until the Erie Canal opened, which allowed many settlers easy access to pour into the area. The land was easy to manipulate, and was used to cultivate many crops. Agriculture dominated the area, the jobs, and the population for over a century. Many early settlers interacted with Native Americans. The common tribes found were the Chippewas, Ottawas, and Potawatomies. Relations with these tribes were friendly and peaceful overall. Wild animals dominated the area, bears, deer, and even wild boars. On one particular night in the early 1800s, a few hunters and trappers killed a wild boar, ate it, and declared the area to be called Hog’s Hollow. For reasons unknown Hog’s Hollow stuck, and became a popular nickname in the town for many years. Macomb Country came into existence in 1818, five townships were cut out of the land, and were named Clinton, Harrison, Ray, Washington and Shelby. Shelby would later be split into three cities, Shelby, Jefferson and Utica. Jefferson would later be renamed to Sterling, or present day Sterling Heights. Utica’s history, and development cannot be separated from either townships because they are all interweaved closely at their origins. Andrew J. Whitney and George McDougall were the first to purchase land from the newly established townships. The nearby Clinton River is where industry started to build, and is the reasoning as to why Utica became the focal point of the community. Lumber mills, stores, shops, and even hotels popped up along the river during the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s. The first church was founded in 1823, and Methodism was the practiced religion.house2

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