While we may not have the historic walking tours of plantations that they do in the south, or John Quincy Adams house tours that Boston offers, Jackson has a rich and vibrant history of its own and one worth experiencing.
Jackson was founded in 1829 but the whole of Jackson County took a while to develop. The outlaying areas were mostly farm land. Farms evolved into towns, mostly due to having schools and churches to draw people into the area. Back in the day the only community gathering place was churches; town meetings were held there as well as weddings, funerals and church services. In order to know what was going on and have social activities the church was were people went. Our own Brooklyn-Irish Hills area is a perfect example of how farm land became a town through churches. These churches have stood the test of time and the Brooklyn Irish Hills Chamber of Commerce has a wonderful self guided driving tour of their historic local churches:
Pack up the family, a picnic lunch and take a driving tour through the beautiful rolling hills to see and learn about our historic churches.
Take a walk through a local cemetery. While this may not be for everyone it’s a great place to see about Jackson’s founding families. You will easily recognize names that you have heard but may not know their stories. My personal favorite is Mt. Evergreen Cemetery on Greenwood Ave. Peter Loomis who donated the land for Loomis Park, Captain Sparks who built Cascades Manor House and the Cascades, Governor Austin Blair, Silence Blackwell Jackson’s first teacher, and Christian Rath the person who hung those convicted for President Abraham Lincoln’s murder, are just a few of the names you will encounter. You will also find four Medal of Honor recipients buried in Soldier’s Field, a cemetery within Mt. Evergreen Cemetery. Jackson District Library has books and records of Jackson cemeteries if you want to learn more.
Mt Evergreen Cemetery
Visit our museums-for the size of Jackson County we are privileged to have the amount and caliber of our museums. Ella Sharp Museum is a must see-while they have an exhibit hall that features different traveling exhibits the rooms filled with Jackson history cannot be matched. From the beginning of Jackson to today this museum features displays and information to take you through the years.
Our Michigan's Military Heritage Museum shares the stories of our Michigan veterans so all will remember their sacrifice. This museum is packed full of artifacts, art and stories-they even have a replica bunker you can explore.
Michigan's Military Heritage Museum
Jackson’s newest museum is one you won’t want to miss: The Lost Railway Museum in Grass Lake. Long before I-94 connected Jackson the railroad put Jackson on the map. As the perfect stopping point between Detroit and Chicago the railroad turned the little town of Jackson into the city of Jackson.
Jackson’s history is rich, vibrant and diverse as is our future. In order to appreciate where we are one must learn where we came from. Take a step outside your front door and experience Jackson’s history. #JacksonMI
Author: Valerie Herr
Valerie Herr is a lifelong resident of Jackson County who has worked for nonprofits for the past 15 years. She is a mother of two boys and is involved with Rotary, Business and Professional Women, and contributing writer for J.A.C.K.S. and Experience Jackson.