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Situated in the south-central part of the Lower Peninsula, Battle Creek, Michigan is in western Calhoun County. Portions of the city extend into Bedford, Emmett, Newton, and Pennfield townships, although it is administered separately from any of the townships.

The City of Springfield is an enclave in northern Battle Creek, completely surrounded by the larger city. Nearby cities include Galesburg (16.6 miles west-southwest), Marshall (16.8 miles east), Kalamazoo (24.2 miles west), Portage (26.3 miles west-southwest), and Olivet (27.4 miles northeast). The village of Augusta is 9.7 miles west, and Climax is 13.1 miles southwest.

The chief routes through Battle Creek include I-94, BL I-94, I-194, M-37, M-66, M-89, and m-96.

Fort Custer National Cemetery and the Fort Custer Recreation area are just west of Battle Creek, and Binder Park Zoo southeast of the city.

Battle Creek includes several community parks (Bailey Park, Fell Park, Festival Park, Friendship Park, Irving Park, Leila Arboretum, McCamly Park, Mill Race Park, Monument Park, Wave Park, Williard Beach, and Woodland Park), mini-parks (Cliff Street Park, Hamblin Avenue Park, Horseshoe Bend Park, Julie V. Milner Park, and Prospect Park), neighborhood parks (Claude Evans Park, Greenwood Park, Hamilton Park, McCrea Park, Meachem Park, Piper Park, Post Park, Quaker Park, and Sam J. Stellrecht Park), school parks (Minges Brook Elementary Park, Prairieview Elementary Park, Riverside Elementary Park, and Westlake Elementary Park), specialty parks (Bailey Park, Binder Park, Leila Arboretum, and Willard Beach Park), and trails (Linear Park, Riverside Park, and Woodland Park & Nature Preserve).

In 1774, the Potawatomi and Ottawa tribes formed a joint village near the current site of Battle Creek. On March 14, 1824, a government land survey crew led by Colonel John Mullett was approached by two Potawatomi Indians, who were asking for food. Refused, after a long discussion, the Potawatomis attempted to steal food, and one of them was shot and seriously wounded by one of the surveyors. As the encounter took place near a stream, it became known as Battle Creek, and this was the origin of the city's name.

By 1831, the Native Americans had been forced off of their land and onto a reservation somewhere, and the first permanent European-American settlement of the region began. The construction of the Erie Canal in 1824 had brought more immigration to Michigan from New England and New York. The first government land purchase in the area that was to become Battle Creek was by J.J. Garnsey in 1831, who soon transferred his claim to Ezekiel B. Garnsey and Phineas P. Sackett. However, it was Samuel Convis who built the first house in the area in 1832.

A post office was established in May of 1832, with D.G. Garnsey as postmaster. The name of the post office was originally Garnsey, but it was changed to Battle Creek on May 8, 1834. General Ezra Convis surveyed the town 1835, and it was platted by Samuel D. Moore in 1836.

In 1837, Asa Langley built a sawmill, and a brick manufacturing plant was opened in 1840 by Simon Carr. By the 1840s, the village was thriving. Still part of Milton Township, it was growing steadily as an agricultural and commercial center, with grain, flour, and sawmills, as well as retail businesses supplying area farms and concerns. In 1850, Battle Creek was incorporated as a village, and it became a city in 1859.

Battle Creek was a significant stop on the Underground Railroad during the antebellum era, in which escaped slaves were transported to freedom in Michigan and Canada.

The city played a prominent role in the formation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the site of its founding convention in 1863. The first Adventist hospital, college, and publishing office were established in Battle Creek, and the first Adventist church is still in operation, although the building was rebuilt in the 1920s.

Battle Creek became known as a health center during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg founded the Battle Creek Sanitarium in 1866. Kellogg also funded eugenics programs, including The Better Race, which promoted a separate but equal philosophy.

W.K. Kellogg worked with his brother at the Sanitarium for several years. While working in the sanitarium's laboratory, he spilled liquified cornmeal onto a heating device, which cooked the produce and rendered it into flakes. He tasted them, added milk, and became convinced that it was a healthy and tasty product, particularly that it would clean the intestines.

Testing his corn flakes on patients at the sanitarium, he secured investors and built a factory to manufacture Corn Flakes. Thus began the Kellogg Company, still headquartered in Battle Creek.

Inspired by Kellogg's product, C.W. Post invented Grape-Nuts, and founded the Postum Cereal Company, now known as Post Consumer Brands.

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