During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, European fur traders made their way to the area now known as Kalamazoo County and set up trading posts. At the time, members of the Pottawatomie inhabited the area, but by the 1820s pioneers began making permanent settlements in the vicinity.
Titus Bronson, the first non-indigenous settler in Kalamazoo, arrived in June 1829 and purchased a large tract of land. By March 1831 the first plat was recorded for the Village of Bronson, which included Jail and Academy Squares, parcels of land that would eventually become Bronson Park.
The Michigan and Huron Institute (renamed Kalamazoo College in 1855) was granted a charter in 1833, while The Michigan Statesman, a weekly newspaper, which would become The Kalamazoo Gazette, was founded in 1835.
Perhaps the biggest change for the Village of Bronson happened in 1836 when the name was changed to Kalamazoo, a word derived from the Algonquin language but its true meaning is still debated.
Although Kalamazoo's beginnings involved a peaceful relationship between the settlers and Pottawatomie, it drastically changed when the Pottawatomie were forcibly removed from the area in 1840. Kalamazoo was incorporated as a village in 1843 and trustees were elected to approve the charter. Hosea Huston, a local merchant, was elected as the first President of Trustees.
Following incorporation, Kalamazoo experienced a boom in industry thanks in part to being connected to the Michigan Central Railroad in 1846. Throughout the 1850s and 1860s, Kalamazoo was a leader in celery cultivation and marketing due to an influx of immigrants from Holland, while the paper industry took off as well. Kalamazoo was the site of the Michigan Asylum for the Insane, which opened in 1859 and was the first of its kind in the State of Michigan.
From 1861 to 1865, the nation was embroiled in the Civil War, and over 3,000 men represented Kalamazoo County during the conflict. During the late 1860s and 1870s Kalamazoo was connected to the Kalamazoo, Allegan, and Grand Rapids Railroad; The Grand Trunk Railroad; and The Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad. Kalamazoo also made public welfare improvements by creating a municipal well and waterworks. In 1874, the "Kalamazoo School Case" allowed school boards to levy taxes, which led to free high schools in Michigan.
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