The History of Brown City

An Act of Congress passed January 11, 1805 established the Territory of Michigan.

The War of 1812 included the surrender of Detroit to the British, but the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813, restored the American jurisdiction once again.

In 1825 the opening of the Erie Canal made the transportation of people and produce between the East and Michigan easy and rapid.

In January 1837 the conditions of Congress were accepted and Michigan was admitted to the Union as a Free State.

William and Margaret Murray Brown were born in the highlands and lowlands of Scotland and departed for the United States in 1850. They located first in Yates Township, Orleans County, New York for four years. Then, with four grown sons and two daughters they came to Michigan, in 1854 and bought 1200 acres in what is now Sections 12-13 Burnside Township, Lapeer County, and Sections 7 and 18 in what is now Maple Valley Township, Sanilac County. The village of Browns Settlement and was named for the William Brown family who also owned the first store in the area.

One of the girls, Martha Brown, was married to John Shearsmith in 1859. He was a prominent young farmer in Lynn Township. After serving in the Civil War and participating in General Sherman's famous march to the sea, he returned to be an active figure in the political area. In 1862 he built the Shearsmith block on Main Street that developed into a prosperous hardware, furniture and carriage business.

In 1878 the first railroad came through town a narrow gauge; but the first train didn't come through until December 23, 1880. On May 17, 1881, the village name was changed from Brown's Settlement to Brown City by the United States Post Office Department.

Gasoline streetlights were first lit in 1895 and Brown City officially became a Village in 1896, and as such was part of Maple Valley Township. In 1907, following a quarrel between the township and the village over five loads of gravel, Brown City separated from the township and became Fourth Class City. Dr. John Campbell was the first Mayor of Brown City.

The first electric street lights in Brown City were installed on February 1, 1898. The cost to light the streets from dusk to 11:00 PM six nights a week and to midnight on Saturday was $1.40 per month. Also in 1898, the Bell Company began providing long distance telephone service. The first local newspaper, the Brown City Bee began operations in 1891, and became the Brown City Banner later that same year. The first area school opened in 1884.

The Brown City Water Works System was installed in 1912 and updated in 1933, with the current wells drilled in 1968 and 1975. A lending library was established by the Brown City Women's Club in the back of the drug store in 1925. Installation of sewer lines and the paving of City streets were carried out in the early 1960s. The Brown City Community Park was acquired in 1967. The tradition of a quinquennial summer Homecoming has continued for decades. The City Hall and Library were built in 1982 and we became a Charter City in 1998.