Ann Arbor, Michigan, was founded by John Allen and Elisha Rumsey. John Allen had once been a wealthy farmer in Augusta County, Virginia. Mr. Allen left Virginia in the fall of 1823, with a herd of cattle he intended to sell in Baltimore, Maryland. After selling the cattle, he then traveled to Buffalo, New York, where he sought an associate for his trip west. In January, 1824, he arrived in Detroit, Michigan, where he met Elisha Rumsey. Very little is known about the early life of Rumsey. Conflicting reports exist as to where he was born some claiming Sharon, Connecticut while others claim that he was born in New York. The reason he had originally traveled to Michigan is also not known. The two men met in Detroit, in early February, 1824, and they traveled to the Ann Arbor area together. They returned to Detroit on February 14, 1824, where they registered land at the federal land office. Rumsey registered 160 acres for $200, and Allen paid $600 for 480 acres.
Together, they paid $1,000 to have Ann Arbor named as the county seat. The town was named after both men's wives, since Rumsey was married to Mary Ann Rumsey and Allen was married to Ann Allen. Rumsey completed a hotel in 1825, and named it Washtenaw Coffee House where many of the early residents lived while they built their homes. Mr. Rumsey passed away in 1827, in Ann Arbor. Mr. Allen also started the first post office in Ann Arbor in 1825, and was very active in the new community serving as coroner, justice of the peace, and a state senator. Mr. Allen became quite wealthy, eventually owning several thousand acres in western Michigan. Mr. Allen eventually moved back to New York where he once again lost all his money. He then went west during the California Gold Rush where he died in 1851.Important to the development of Ann Arbor was the start of the University of Michigan. Early businesses included several mills, a tannery, and a general store, which also served as a tavern. Michigan Central Railroad arrived in the area in 1839, and the area soon became a large transportation hub. Soon the area was home to many German immigrants from, Wurttemberg Germany, and others arrived at Ann Arbor to escape the Great Irish Famine. The largest group to arrive in Ann Arbor was from Canada. For more information, check out the Ann Arbor, MI yellow pages or an Ann Arbor, MI business directory.
Written by Lyndsey Morgan
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