Meridian Charter Township, Michigan

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Meridian Charter Township is a charter township of Ingham County in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census the township had a population of 39,116. Meridian Township is the local government unit that includes the unincorporated communities and census-designated places of Okemos and Haslett. Meridian Township is the third largest municipality in the Lansing-East Lansing Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Meridian Township takes its name from the fact that the Michigan Meridian, the prime north-south survey line runs through the township. It is from this line that all townships were surveyed and measured.[3]

Contents

History

Meridian Township was first settled by white pioneers in 1837. The earliest settlers located at Pine Lake (now Lake Lansing) and made use of the numerous stands of pines to build their cabin. The lake was later the site of a Spiritualist Meeting Camp led by John Haslett. During the late 19th century, the lake became known as a local vacation area served by an "interurban trolley" which ran from the City of Lansing to the resort on the south side of the lake. An amusement park was introduced and enjoyed immense popularity into the mid-20th century. Currently, the Village of Haslett is located at the south side of Lake Lansing.[4]

The first white settlers near the current Village of Okemos (to the south of the former Pine Lake) were Sanford Marsh and his wife who built their cabin in 1839. They were soon followed by Joseph Kilbourne, who took out land for his brother-in-law, Freeman Bray.[4]

It was Bray who platted out the southeast corner of his land and sold the lots to newcomers traveling into the mid-state wilderness. The village was first known as Hamilton.[4]

A post-office called Sanford was established in the spring of 1840. Joseph H. Kilbourne was the first postmaster.

A local Native American, Chief John Okemos, was well-known throughout the area. The village area was one of his primary camping areas and he traveled frequently between the village and another campsite near present-day Portland, Michigan. In 1857, the Michigan Legislature changed the name of the village officially to Okemos to honor the old chief.[4]

The Township is rich with history and one resident, Joseph Kilbourne, had a major role in the decision in 1847 to relocate the state capitol from Detroit to Lansing (then Lansing Township). A local organization, the Friends of Historic Meridian, has an archive of local historic information and also maintains the historic buildings in the Meridian Historical Village.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 31.8 square miles (82.3 km²), of which, 31.0 square miles (80.3 km²) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.0 km²) of it (2.42%) is water.

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