Cass County, Michigan facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Location within the U.S. state of Michigan
Michigan's location within the U.S.
|Named for||Lewis Cass|
|• Total||508 sq mi (1,320 km2)|
|• Land||490 sq mi (1,300 km2)|
|• Water||18 sq mi (50 km2) 3.6%%|
|• Density||107/sq mi (41/km2)|
Cass County is included in the South Bend–Mishawaka, IN-MI, Metropolitan Statistical Area which has a total population of 316,663 and is sometimes considered part of Greater Michiana. Cass County has numerous lakes and is popular for fishing and boating.
The county is named for Lewis Cass, the Michigan Territorial Governor at the time the county was created in 1829. Cass later served as the United States Secretary of War under President Andrew Jackson, thus making a case for including Cass County as one of Michigan's "cabinet counties".
Cass County was not as heavily forested and had more fertile prairie land than other nearby areas of Michigan, and thus during early settlement it grew more rapidly in population. As early as 1830, a carding mill was started in the county on Dowagiac Creek, a branch of the St. Joseph River. Although the Sauk Trail (Chicago Road) passed through the southern part of the county, early settlement did not come primarily from eastern Michigan. Instead, settlers from Ohio and Indiana who had heard of the prairie lands came to occupy them, reaching the Michigan Territory over a branch of the Chicago Road leading from Fort Wayne, Indiana. The population of Cass County was over 3,000 by 1834.
Among the most prominent early settlers of Cass County were Baldwin Jenkins and Uzziel Putnam, who both came from Ohio by way of the Carey Mission in Berrien County. Jenkins had been born at Fort Jenkins in Green County, Pennsylvania, and had migrated to Tennessee, but then left that state to avoid the presence of slavery. Putnam, who had lived in Massachusetts and New York, came to Cass from Erie County, Ohio, by way of Fort Wayne. These settlers, and their families, established the nucleus of the village of Pokagon on Pokagon Prairie in 1825. The next year, a settlement was made on Beardsley’s Prairie, where the village of Edwardsburg was laid out in 1831.
The village of Cassopolis was platted in 1831 and intended as the county seat, although no settlers yet lived there, because it was the geographical center of the county.
After 1840, the black population of Cass County grew rapidly as families were attracted by white defiance of discriminatory laws, by numerous highly supportive Quakers, and by low-priced land. Free and runaway blacks found Cass County a haven. Their good fortune attracted the attention of southern slaveholders. In 1847 and 1849, planters from Bourbon and Boone Counties in northern Kentucky led raids into Cass County to recapture runaway slaves. They were "surrounded by crowds of angry farmers armed with clubs, scythes, and other farm implements", resisting their attempt.
The raids failed to accomplish their objective but strengthened Southern demands for passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which was a step on the way to the Civil War.
Cass County became known early on for the anti-slavery attitudes of its population. Pennsylvania Quakers made a settlement in Penn Township in 1829, which later became a prominent station on the Underground Railroad. One established Underground Railroad route ran from Niles through Cassopolis, Schoolcraft, Climax, and Battle Creek, and thence along the old Territorial Road.
There are 26 historical sites located in Cass County as of December, 2009.
|Name of Site||City Location||Date Listed||Marker erected|
|Cass County Courthouse||Cassopolis||12/14/1976||08/17/1977|
|Cass County Office Building / Masonic Temple||Cassopolis||07/23/1985||N/A|
|Centennial Hall Building||Marcellus, Michigan||03/19/1980||N/A|
|Chain Lake Baptist Church Cemetery||Calvin Township, Michigan||12/05/1986||04/07/1992|
|First Methodist Episcopal Church||Dowagiac||07/18/1996||10/12/1999|
|First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pokagon||Pokagon Township||04/01/2002||N/A|
|First Universalist Church of Dowagiac||Dowagiac||05/30/1984||09/08/1982|
|Jarius Hitchcox House||Union||12/10/1971||N/A|
|Indian Lake Cemetery||Silver Creek Township||03/15/1990||N/A|
|Carroll Sherman Jones House||Marcellus, Michigan||03/15/1990||N/A|
|George Washington Jones House||Marcellus, Michigan||12/09/1994||01/17/1986|
|Joseph Webster Lee House||Ontwa Township||03/19/1987||N/A|
|Mason District Number 5 Schoolhouse||Mason Township||06/10/1980||10/06/1981|
|Methodist Episcopal Church||Dowagiac||01/20/2000||02/02/2000|
|Michigan Central Railroad Dowagiac Depot||Dowagiac||N/A||N/A|
|George Newton House||Volinia Township||11/14/1974||10/07/1977|
|Poe's Corners||Newberg Township||03/21/1991||06/25/1991|
|Presbyterian Church of Edwardsburg||Edwardsburg||04/20/2000||06/09/2000|
|Sylvador T. Read House||Cassopolis||06/10/1980||N/A|
|Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church||Silver Creek Township||01/16/1976||07/19/1977|
|Smith's Chapel and Cemetery||Milton Township||04/24/1979||04/07/1981|
|Sumnerville Cemetery||Niles, Michigan||01/20/2000||N/A|
|Sumnerville Mounds||Dowagiac, Michigan||01/20/2000||2000|
|Thompson Road/Air Line Railroad Bridge||Howard Township||N/A||N/A|
|Underground Railroad Informational Designation||Vandalia, Michigan||01/19/1957||04/12/1957|
|Wayne Township School District No. 7 School||Wayne Township||04/19/1990||N/A|
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 508 square miles (1,320 km2), of which 490 square miles (1,300 km2) is land and 18 square miles (47 km2) (3.6%) is water. It is the smallest county in Michigan by total area.
- US 12
- Bus. M‑60
- Van Buren County (north)
- St. Joseph County (east)
- Berrien County (west)
- Elkhart County, Indiana (southeast)
- St. Joseph County, Indiana (southwest)
|U.S. Decennial Census
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 52,293 people residing in the county. 88.9% were White, 5.4% Black or African American, 1.0% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 1.1% of some other race and 3.0% of two or more races. 3.0% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 25.9% were of German, 10.0% English, 9.6% Irish, 8.1% American and 5.7% Polish ancestry.
As of the 2000 census, there were 51,104 people, 19,676 households, and 14,304 families residing in the county. The population density was 104 people per square mile (40/km²). There were 23,884 housing units at an average density of 48 per square mile (19/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 89.19% White, 6.12% Black or African American, 0.82% Native American, 0.54% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.17% from other races, and 2.15% from two or more races. 2.41% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 26.6% were of German, 11.1% American, 10.3% Irish, 10.1% English and 5.0% Polish ancestry according to Census 2000. 96.4% spoke English and 2.0% Spanish as their first language.
There were 19,676 households out of which 31.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.20% were married couples living together, 9.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.30% were not family units. 22.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the county, the population was spread out with 25.50% under the age of 18, 7.40% from 18 to 24, 27.60% from 25 to 44, 26.00% from 45 to 64, and 13.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 99.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.40 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $41,264, and the median income for a family was $46,901. Males had a median income of $35,546 versus $24,526 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,474. About 6.80% of families and 9.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.60% of those under age 18 and 8.80% of those age 65 or over.
Images for kids
Lake Driskel in Jones, an unincorporated community in Cass County
Cass County, Michigan Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.