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Brutus, Michigan is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in central Maple River Township, central-eastern Emmet County, in the North Michigan region of the Lower Peninsula.

The main route through the community is US Highway 31, which passes north-south through the center of Brutus. Another is Brutus Road, an east-west route that intersects US-31 near the center of the community. Maple River Road forms the northern border, and Cupp Road forms a portion of its southern border. The Maple River forms its northeastern boundary.

Alanson is 3.7 miles south of Brutus, while Littlefield is a little further away, at 5.0 miles, and Pellston is 4.1 miles to the north. Petoskey and Harbor Springs are 14.8 miles and 15.4 miles southwest of Brutus, respectively.

In 1873, before the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad reached Petoskey, there were only a hundred and fifty European-Americans in all of Emmet County, mostly in Cross Village, Harbor Springs, Mackinaw City, and Petoskey. As Native Americans generally settled near navigable waterways, there was not a large Indian population in Maple River Township either. Although about five thousand acres of land were owned by European American individuals and companies before 1873, they hadn't settled their land.

The area that was to become Brutus was settled as a stagecoach stop, as it was approximately at the mid-point of the Cheboygan and Little Traverse Bay State Road. Abner S. Lee opened an inn, which became known as the Brutus House, at the Maple River, northeast of the current townsite, and on the other side of the river. This area is now occupied by the Hidden River Golf Club. A post office was established at the Brutus House on November 10, 1874, with Abner Lee as the first postmaster, and named Brutus, for the inn. The Brutus post office was the first in Emmet County that was not near Lake Michigan.

In 1882, the railroad was completed from Petoskey to Mackinaw City, and a train depot was established a couple of miles west of the Brutus Inn. Although the inn remained in operation until 1911, the post office moved a couple of miles west to be nearer to the railroad on September 1, 1882, forming the current townsite. Although not much of a population had developed at the original site, the railroad brought some prosperity to Brutus.

The first families to settle in Brutus were Abner Lee and his wife, Eugenia, as well as the families of Chris Mindel, C. McKenzie, Daniel Sherman, George Green, and William Pokrandt.

Although it was the railroad that brought prosperity to Brutus, passenger trains stopped running in the early 1950s, and the depot was torn down. Freight trains stopped running around 1980, and the tracks were eventually removed. The railroad bed now serves as a snowmobile trail.

A Catholic parish existed in Brutus from 1896 to 1904, but a church wasn't built until 1902. It was destroyed by a high wind in 1904, and the parish ceased. A German Evangelical Church was formed by a group of German immigrants in 1883. After several mergers and name changes, the congregation eventually became the United Church of Christ, although the original building was moved to a museum in Mackinaw City. In 1899, the United Brethren Church was formed in Brutus. However, the building was sold in 1902 and the proceeds were used to build the United Brethren Church in Bliss.

The first business in Brutus was, of course, the Brutus House. Others were established after the railroad and depot came in 1882 and 1883. These included small stores operated by David Boyer, Theron Woodruff, Sam Cupp, and Herman Morford. A large store was built by the Snyders in 1886, remaining in operation until 1897. Loren Maxfield opened a general store in 1888 that was the largest store in the area for several years.

On April 28, 1915, two store buildings, a blacksmith shop, four homes, and two barns in Brutus were destroyed by fire. The fire began in an old store building adjoining the store operated by Loren Maxfield. It was believed that a tramp had set it on fire while cooking a meal in the vacant building. The fire soon spread to the Maxfield store, and to nearby dwellings. Several other buildings caught fire, but were saved.

Today, the railroad is gone. The post office in Brutus is no longer in operation. Although local mail carries a Brutus postmark, the community is served by the Alanson post office. The population of Brutus is just over two hundred.

The focus of this guide is on Brutus, Michigan. Local businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, and events are appropriate topics for this category.

 

 

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