Ypsilanti: Founding

Although not first named Ypsilanti, the first pieces of land that were settled by Americans in the Ypsilanti area was Woodruff’s Grove in 1823, settlemarker1photo2d by Benjamin Woodruff. Later, Augustus Woodward, John Stewart, and William Harwood bought land north of Woodruff’s Grove in a plan to make a new village, Ypsilanti, named after the Greek General Demetrius Ypsilanti who fought in the Greek War of Independence. In 1832 the Ypsilanti settlement was first recognized as a village.


The early years of Ypsilanti were slow growing, it did not help that the cholera outbreak in Detroit in 1832 meant that Ypsilanti set up strict rules on allowing immigrants into their village, also giving Ypsilanti the reputation of being dangerous. However there was still some growth in the coming years: stores, schools, churches, a bank, a post office, and railroad lines will all be built in the 1830s and 1840s. There were also a number of newspapers that were made in Ypsilanti starting in 1837 with The Ypsilanti Republican.

Ypsilanti also had its own problems at times. In 1857 Ypsilanti had arguments between the people who lived on the east side of town and those who lived on the west side of town. They both claimed that they were the core of Ypsilanti, eventually leading to some villagers seceding and creating “East Ypsilanti”. This soon blew over after both sides wanted to be chartered as a city and worked together to become the City of Ypsilanti, including all of former Woodruff’s Grove.

(Sesquicentennial Committee 1-9)

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