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Welcome to the Village of Britton

Welcome to Michigan’s Great Britton! We are a small farming community with friendly faces. We are always willing to lend a helping hand when needed and meet a new friend. We are proud to say that many of the current residents in our village are direct descendents of its founders.

Well-known Names From the Village

BrittonHawkesWigginsZeluff

   -Thanks to Brent Bachman for the picture.

Cannonball Express

In 1879 the right of way for the construction of the Detroit, Butler and St. Louis Railroad from Butler, Indiana connecting with the Detroit,  Grand Rapids, and Milwaukee Railroad Company was obtained and grading began. The company contracted to construct the line, but didn't really operate it, because it was consolidated with the Wabash Railroad Company on September 10, 1881.

Gravel was brought from west of Holloway on flat cars. Many Italian and Irish immigrants were brought in to work on the railroad and found lodging in farm homes near where they were working.

William McCarbery, a railroad contractor, had a twenty mule team that he used for grading during the summer. In the winter he used a log house for repairing harness and machinery.

The first train went through on August 15, 1881. The depot opened the same day with Will Clark as station agent and telegraph operator. He retained that position all of his active years.

Train britton-1905

A water tank and tower to supply water for the engines was erected. John Britton was overseer of the pump station.

In 1883 the Michigan and Ohio Railroad Company (D.T. & I.) built a railroad east from Tecumseh to Dundee. It crossed the Wabash in Britton. The D.T. & I. changed hands several times. It was known as the Michigan Central, Allegan Branch, The Cincinnati, Jackson, and Milwaukee. Later it was sold to Henry and Ethel Ford.

In 1897 a depot and freight house was built in Britton by the New York Central.

In July 1897, the Britton Citizen tallied the trains through Britton and counted 51 trains in 24 hours. 

In 1889, Looser and Sleeper (livestock dealers) shipped 3 or 4 cars of livestock every week from Britton, usually on Saturday.

For several years Britton had railroad service on two lines. Passenger service on the D.T. & I. was discontinued November 2, 1931. The entire service was discontinued in 1934, rails were removed, and the signal tower at the crossing of the two railroads torn down.

Depot vanness 1927

The Wabash passenger trains ceased stopping in Britton but still make stops at Adrian. Freight service is still maintained. Many long freights pass through Britton daily.

     -taken from Bygone Days, Cannonball Express, page 16. An index and book are available in the Tecumseh District Library, and the Britton Village Office.

 

Logging, Big Business

When the first settlers arrived in this locality they found an abundance of excellent timber growing in the area. The trees supplied not only wood for fuel but lumber for building materials. Some trees were cut down and burned for the ashes which were necessary in the making of leach for hominy and home made soap. From the sugar bush the settlers obtained sap for syrup and maple sugar.

The Sam Kniffen saw mill completed in 1865 was one of the solid establishments of Britton. When running to capacity it kept 8 to 10 men in constant employment. The Sam Kniffen saw mill was purchased by Andrew Gogoline in 1893 and rigged with the latest equipment. It contained a planer and other machinery for finishing lumber. The Andy Gogoline saw mill located east of the Wabash tracks burned July 6, 1893.

Kniffen waring lumber

Colonel Lanard built a saw mill on the southwest corner of (now) M 50 and Downing Hwy. The saw mill was later sold to Isaac Kniffen who operated the steam saw mill for a number of years. In 1865 an indication of salt was found in the water used by the Isaac Kniffen Steam and Saw Mill. An agency of a Salt & Oil Company leased 50 acres to sink a well possibly 2000 feet deep.

The saw mill on the north side of Centennial Road west of the Wabash R.R. on Section 4 was owned and operated by Joseph Exelby. It was later referred to as a stave factory.

James and Wm Fowler had a saw mill on their land on the northeast corner of Section 29.

Britton was once a shipping center (by rail) for first class lumber. I. S. Osburn shipped 90,000 feet of lumber to New York in one week.

Herbert Temple established the first lumber yard in Britton. In 1916 W. C. Eldred had the Britton lumber and coal business. R. S. Moore & Son were the next owners. The next owner was Archie Spohr. Charles L. Bostedor and son, Fred L. Bostedor, present owners, purchased the business in 1964. 

Temple Shingles

 

   - taken from Bygone Days, Logging, Big Business, page 20.

 

100 Years Ago

The new electric lights in the village of Britton were turned on last night. There are 14 200-watt street lights and these were all turned on. Some of the stores that have been wired were also lighted for the first time with electric lights. The power is furnished by the Tecumseh Electric Light Co. and this company has been busy since late in the summer stringing the poles and wires.

  - from The Daily Telegram, December 20, 2013.

 

Town Names

         

Balch 1881                                     Britton 1888

 

The Brittons

In 1850 John Britton Sr. and his wife, Sarah (Coats) with their four children emigrated from England to the United States. Shortly after arriving with only $150, they came to Michigan and located on a tract of land in what is now Britton, and took possession of a small log cabin. Mr. Britton being an industrious man, started cultivation of the soil and by industry and perseverance succeeded in accumulating an amount of property before his death in 1876 at the age of sixty-eight years.

In 1855 John Jr. married Sarah A. Osterhout the daughter of Flower and Eleanor (Miller) Osterhout of Macon Twp.

In 1880 John Britton was largely instrumental in securing the right of way for the Detroit, Butler, and St. Louis (Wabash) Railroad. The road was laid across the Britton property and required the moving of some of the buildings. John Britton became an employee of the railroad and worked for them for seventeen years as ticket agent.

John Britton contributed much to the growth and development of the village. Due to John Britton’s influence only the best of wooden buildings were constructed. He erected five dwellings and two store buildings. He was a public minded citizen and served as Township Supervisor for three years, Justice of the Peace for four years, Road Commissioner, Treasurer, and Post Master. The name of the village was changed from “Balch” to “Britton” in his honor.

            -taken from Bygone Days, the Britton-Macon Area Campfire Girls and Leaders, page 9.

Britton homestead546

   - Courtesy of Brent Bachman

Balch to Britton

The first mail route on the LaPlaisance Bay Turnpike (M50) east of Tecumseh, was carried by stage coach. Michael Hendershot was the driver. Mail was delivered to Ridgeway. People from Britton rode their horses or walked to Ridgeway after their mail.

Britton, Ridgeway Township, Lenawee County was originally called Balch. A register of Michigan Post Offices gives this account: 2322 Balch, Lenawee County established April 13, 1881. The name was changed to Britton April 13, 1888.

            -taken from Bygone Days, the Britton-Macon Area Campfire Girls and Leaders, page 13.

 

Britton family Bachman546

 

Britton family bachman back546

 

    - Courtesy of Brent Bachman

East Ridgeway

The Village of Britton had many names before it became officially “Britton” on the map. As families settled in the area east of Ridgeway, the papers referred to it as “East Ridgeway”. Gault is the name used in the dearly Tecumseh Heralds. It has been said that Gault was north of M-50 about a half a mile. This area was also known as “Goat Town”. This name was given because of the goats raised by a man living north of town. Balch, was the name given by the railroad. The citizens wished the town to be call Britton, however there was another Britton stop and the Railroad named it Balch, in honor of a retired railroad official. The people were upset for several years and continued to call it “Britton Station”, although records say it was not officially Britton until 1888.

            -taken from Bygone Days, the Britton-Macon Area Campfire Girls and Leaders, page 27.

Contact Information

Clerk - Donna Cline
President - Richard Frazier
Village Office 517-451-2171
brittonoffice@tc3net.com

Britton Village Office

120 College Ave. PO Box 436

Britton, MI 49229

For more information, click on the Contact Us button on the menu.