History of Edwardsburg
Ezra Beardsley, searching for fertile prairie land, started westward from Ohio in search of a new home for his family. In 1826, he was the first white settler who built a cabin on the south shore of Pleasant Lake on the camping grounds of Indian tribes.
Beardsley’s Prairie was the juncture of the Fort Wayne and Old Sauk Indian Trails in the Michigan Territory. The Old Sauk Trail which was the only East-West route from Detroit to Chicago across southern Michigan has been known as the Chicago Road, US112, and US12, and was paved in 1939.
In 1827, four young men left Detroit with several wagons loaded with goods for trading with the Indians. Arriving at Pleasant Lake, they were permitted to build a cabin on the Beardsley land. In 1828, the Edwards family arrived. Thomas Edwards for whom the town of Edwardsburg is named was a merchant and soon became the son-in-law of Ezra Beardsley.
With the rapid increase in the population, many small businesses opened. The government established a post office on December 4, 1828, named St. Joseph but was renamed Edwardsburgh on February 1, 1830. The office was closed sometime later but restored on August 23, 1841.
The village containing 44 lots was laid out by Alexander Edwards, Thomas Edwards’ brother, and recorded in 1831. In 1837 it officially became the village of Edwardsburgh, the same year Michigan became a state. Edwardsburg dropped the “h” by order of a postmaster in 1845. (pic of the post office)
Abiel Silver, merchant, minister, land speculator, and a strong promoter of the Village of Edwardsburg, donated the lots for the Baptist Church established in 1830, the Methodist Church established in 1837, and the Presbyterian Church established in 1877. (old pic of churches)
School opened in 1829 in the home of Thomas Edwards. Two other schools were in operation prior to1861 when a two-story frame building was constructed on the north side of Church Street. Four teachers were employed. (pic of 1861) in 1923, a new brick school was built on Section Street with eleven teachers employed. Many one-room schools in the area merged with the Edwardsburg Consolidated School. (Pic)
The railroad had a major influence on the growth of Edwardsburg. Rail transportation began in 1832 with the Michigan Central Railroad. After its abandonment, many businesses moved away and the population of Edwardsburg declined. In 1871, the Peninsular Railroad later known as the Grand Trunk was completed and Edwardsburg began to rebuild again. In summer, to escape the heat, city folks detrained in the village and then were driven by horse and carriage to French’s Resort on Eagle Lake. (Pic of old train station with horses)
With a population of 500, business included 20 stores and shops including general stores, hardware stores, drug stores, a grocery store, sweet shops, millineries, furniture, boot and shoe stores, blacksmith and harness shops, wagon makers, a livery stable, a grist mill on Davis Street, a lumber mill, and no saloons. The first tavern license had been issued in 1830; but by this time, it and a later one had been outlawed by the Edwardsburg Reform Club. (pic of businesses on Cass Street)
A newspaper, “The Index.” began in 1874. The “Edwardsburg Argus” replaced it in 1875 and was published in Edwardsburg until 1969. It then was published by Leader Publications located in Niles, MI.
Following the incorporation of the Village in 1912, the law was enforced by a village marshal who was appointed. Prior to that law enforcement was the responsibility of the Ontwa Township constable or the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.
Edwardsburg’s first fire truck was a 1926 Model T Ford. (pic of Edwardsburg’s first fire truck, a 1926 Model T. Ford. In 1956, the Lions Club International purchased a used 1946 Packard hearse and refitted it as an ambulance which was donated to the village and was served by 20 volunteer firemen.
In the 1960s, the Chamber of Commerce pamphlet described Edwardsburg as the “hub of Michiana.”
Since then the population has grown to over 1,200 people with 265 families residing in the Village of Edwardsburg. Today, most businesses are now located on US 12 and M 62, with a few businesses beginning to develop along Main Street on US 12.
Churches in the Village and area are the Hope United church located on Elkhart Road, the Presbyterian Church on Lake Street, the Seventh Day Adventist Church just outside of the Village limits on US 12, and the Community Church just west of town.
The Edwardsburg Public School system has grown tremendously over the years and has become a Blue Ribbon School. The school campus footprint has grown larger since the building of the first school back in 1923.
With local lakes in the Edwardsburg area, it has become the spot for fishing, boating, swimming, and having a weekend home or summer cottage on the lake.
Welcome to Edwardsburg!