Manchester, Michigan

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Manchester is a village in Washtenaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 2,160 at the 2000 census. The village is located within Manchester Township.



Chicago Road

In an effort to create and maintain military roads throughout the western territories, Congress passed the General Survey Act of 1824. One third of the allocated money went towards building a highway between Detroit and Fort Dearborn at Chicago. The highway, which later became known as the Chicago Road would primarily follow the old Sauk Trail. Its completion paved the way for development in what was once a remote wilderness.

Coincidentally, 1824 also happened to be the year that the land that would eventually become Manchester Township was surveyed. On an 1824 map, surveyor John Mack noted the exact location that would become the village of Manchester as being "a good mill seat." While doing survey work for the Chicago Road throughout 1824 and 1825, John Gilbert, who had recently completed work on sections of the Erie Canal, noted the point on John Mack's map and on May 10, 1826 purchased 80 acres of land along the Raisin River at that location. Six years would pass before Gilbert would return to the site.[3]

Early Village History

Though originally from upstate New York, John Gilbert resettled to Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1831. In 1832, he decided to turn his attention to the extensive land tracts he held in the area. He commissioned the construction of a grist mill along the Raisin River upon the land he had purchased in 1826. The original plat of the village of Manchester was prepared by surveyor Hiram Burnham and dated 1833, but was not formally filed until March 25, 1835. The location was chosen to take advantage of water power from the river and named after Manchester, New York.[4]


In 1833, James Soule purchased a large tract of land about 1 mile downstream from Manchester.[5] He built a small settlement he named Soulesville. Though the two settlements initially competed against each other, on March 16, 1867 both settlements were incorporated into the village of Manchester.[6] The Manchester Village Office and Manchester Public Library are located on the site of the former settlement.

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