A BRIEF HISTORY OF POKAGON TOWNSHIP
By Robert N. Shaffer
Prior to the influx of European and Anglican explorers, this portion of Michigan was inhabited by the Woodland and, later, the Potawatomi Indian Tribes.
Pokagon Township is the location of the first white settlement in Cass County, Michigan.
Abram Townsend, Israel Markham, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, and Uzziel Putnam left their homes in Ohio on May 7, 1825 and made their way to Michigan, where they settled, intending to build new homes and raise their families.
On November 22, 1825, Uzziel Putnam became the first white settler in Cass County, locating his new home on the Pokagon Prairie, which would become Pokagon Township. On August 12, 1826, Uzziel Putnam, Jr. was born. He was first white child born in Cass County.
Pokagon Township was the cherished dwelling place of the last, lingering remnant of a once powerful Potawatomi Indian tribe. Chief Leopold Pokagon was referred to as “the Good Chief”, and was highly regarded by all who dealt with him. Pokagon is loosely translated to mean “the rib”, but literally means “something used to shield”. Chief Leopold’s last name was used for the new settlement, now known as the Village of Pokagon, and later for the new township.
The fertile Pokagon Prairie was perfect ground for plowing, and the luxuriance of the lofty forest trees attested to the wealth of the soil.
Pokagon Township was officially established on November 1, 1829. The first Pokagon Township meeting was held at the house of Baldwin Jenkins.