Oct 12, 2005

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The first inhabitants of Richmond - frontiersmen who came to trade with the Indians - were there probably about 1825. Their shacks on the river bank remained, but were gone when John Allen of Ann Arbor came down the Kalamazoo River valley in 1837 looking for town-building opportunities. Allen liked what he saw; raised some capital; recruited a partner named Ralph Mann; started a sawmill and platted a settlement on the north bank of the river. The plan included a scheme to reroute the Rabbit River to provide water power.

However, the demand for capital turned out to be larger than the supply. Allen moved on to Allegan to sell farm implements. Ralph Mann bought some of the milling equipment which he moved a few miles south to the area of Manlius. There he farmed and built a small sawmill. So Richmond disappeared from economic view for the next thirty years.

Twenty years later, the settlement got a new start when Hollister Marsh - a hotel owner from Allegan and a farmer, built a substantial sawmill there. In 1871, the Chicago and Michigan Lakeshore Railroad came through with their line and a bridge. The name was modernized to New Richmond (there now being another Richmond on the east side of the state). During the next thirty years New Richmond reached its zenith sporting a veneer mill, hotels, stores, post office and a saloon.

The historical photos above derive from this period and provide a glimpse of New Richmond in the "good old-old days".                  by Jack Sheridan

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