MI Road Trip: Marshall, Michigan


After we left Dark Horse Brewery, we spent a little while wandering along the main street of Marshall, with its quaint historic downtown, poking into antique stores and shops along the way.  On our way into town, we had driven by some of the large, historic homes that line the older streets.  It is evident that Marshall had some big money at the turn of the last century.  Marshall has over 850 historic buildings that are included in its National Historic Landmark District; it is one of the nation’s largest districts.  So here’s a bit of history…

In a twist of irony, the residents of Marshall were so convinced that it would win its bid for Michigan state capitol that they built a Governor’s Mansion! In the end, it lost by one vote to the current capitol of Lansing. Marshall was known for its patent medicines industry, and was also a hotbed for civil protest and participation in the Underground Railroad.

Do you think there might have been a dentist’s office here at some point?

Do you think there might have been a dentist’s office here at some point?

Escaped slave Adam Crosswhite settled in Marshall in 1843 with his wife and children; he was discovered to be living there in 1847 by his former master. When a posse of slave catchers arrived at the Crosswhite home to take the family back to Kentucky, residents of Marshall surrounded the house and prevented the posse from taking the Crosswhites.

After a tense standoff, deputies arrested the slave catchers; by the time they posted bail, the Crosswhites had fled to Canada. The former master sued the residents of Marshall, and eventually won a judgment that included payment for the value of the family and court costs. In a sad twist of events, the events in Marshall were a major catalyst for the passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, which made it extremely risky to help fugitive slaves.

Storefronts in Marshall, Michigan

Storefronts in Marshall, Michigan

The first railroad labor union was formed in Marshall; it eventually became known as the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers – it was founded in 1863. All that in the history of one small town!

The Stuart Building – The Stuarts have operated businesses in this building for over 160 years!

The Stuart Building – The Stuarts have operated businesses in this building for over 160 years!

Marshall is also active in community events, with an organized historic home tour of several homes (love those!), Bluesfest, classic car show, Christmas Parade, and an Annual Crawfish Boil (at the Dark Horse Brewery!). It would be nice to spend a bit more time there someday. However, our time there on this trip drew to a close.  It was freezing cold that day, even in early October, so we didn’t linger on the streets too long.  Not to mention, Jon and I had a date to get to at my Grandmother’s house!

Have you been to Marshall, Michigan?

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2 thoughts on “MI Road Trip: Marshall, Michigan

  1. Back to your E-burg cider post reference, did you know Ellensburg built a castle to be the Governor’s mansion in its bid to be the state capital? It isn’t too far from the fair grounds should you ever find the time to get there. Now it is apartments, mostly for college students at CWU. Small towns, fun histories.

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