MENDONwas once a portion of the Nottawa-seepe reservation of Nottawa prairie. A Frenchman, coming to run the Trading Post, was the first settler in 1831. The first farm came about in 1832 producing corn wheat, potatoes, hay, wool, pork, butter, dried fruit, apples, and barrels of cider. Public land was available after the Indians (Nottawa tribe and Potowatomi) sold their reservation to the government In 1833. The first frame house was built in 1835, and called "The Queen of the Prairie." Mint oil and peppermint oil were important items being produced in 1850.
The first livestock were "short-horn" or Durham cattle and pure blood American merinos sheep. The first manufacturers were blacksmithing, lime-burning, wagon-making and shoemaking, sawmill, iron-mill, planning-mill, stave-machinery, flouring-mill, and a foundry. The cemetery was established in 1859, and the first schoolhouse in the fall of 1837. The Roman Catholic missionaries held the first religious services in 1831. Mendon was incorporated as Wakeman Township in 1843, and due to dissatisfaction with the name became known as "Puddleburg." The name was soon changed to Mendon, named after Mendon, Massachusetts, and Mendon, New York.
The first road was the Territorial Road in 1832, and the first bridge over the St. Joseph River came in 1839 (and rebuilt in 1876). The Wakeman Bridge was built in 1843, and the Marantette Bridge was built in 1873. In 1850 Mendon had a population of 862, jumping to 1,909 in 1870. The village of Mendon was platted November 22, 1845, and incorporated in 1858. The Exchange Bank was established in 1866, and the Post Office was established in 1859. The first organized fire department was in 1875. In 1916 power was supplied by United Electric Company with power coming on at dark and turned off at midnight.
October 4, 1916 is a day that will never be forgotten as fire, spread from high winds, burned nearly all of downtown Mendon. Calls for help were sent to Kalamazoo, Sturgis, and Three Rivers. Sturgis firefighters arrived two hours after the fire started as did Kalamazoo firefighters. When the smoke cleared, there were 41 business places destroyed, three dwellings, and a number of barns and out buildings. Goods of every description were scattered everywhere, and quite a large amount of personal property was stolen. The grocery and baked goods stores were destroyed, so the town's people came together to feed and care for those that lost all. Three years later during the reconstruction celebration after the fire, the strength and perseverance of the residents of Mendon was recognized. Hope and ambition had established the township of Mendon, and given birth to a village; only faith brought that village of Mendon up out of the ashes. Faith and a will to work!!
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