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The City of Chelsea, Michigan is situated between Sylvan and Lima townships, in Washtenaw County. Before 2004, Chelsea was a village, and residents paid taxes to one of the other townships, depending on which side of the village they lived.

The chief routes through the city is I-94, which serves as the city's southern boundary, and M-52, which runs roughly north-south and serves as Chelsea's Main Street. Other routes include Cavanaugh Lake Road, Dexter-Chelsea Road, Freer Road, McKinley Road, Old US Highway 12, Sibley Road, and Trinkle Road. The village of Dexter is 7.9 miles east-northeast of Chelsea, while Grass Lake is 11.5 miles southwest, Manchester is 11.9 miles south, Pinckney is 13.7 miles north, Stockbridge is 13.8 miles northwest, and the city of Ann Arbor is 14.9 miles east, and Saline is 22.0 miles southeast.

With a population around five thousand, Chelsea is not a large city but, other than slight decreases in the 1940s, the 1970s, and the 1980s, the city has been steadily growing since it was first part of the census in 1870.

Before the settlement of the area by European-Americans, the land that is now known as Chelsea was inhabited by the Potawatomi people. Cyrus Beckwith is acknowledged as the first white settler of the region when he came from New Hampshire in 1820, buying a 500-acre plot in Sylvan Township, near the current location of the county fairgrounds, from the government in 1829.

In 1831, two brothers, Nathan and Darius Pierce, came from New York, buying several hundred acres in both Sylvan and Lima townships. Nathan Pierce received a 400-acre land grant from President Andrew Jackson in 1833, founding a community that became known as Pierceville, near the intersection of what is now Old US Highway 12 and M-52. Pierceville soon had a blacksmith shop, a general store, and a doctor's office. A post office was established on May 2, 1835, with Alfred C. Holt as postmaster. However, Pierceville was bypassed by the railroad and became a ghost town. It was later absorbed by Chelsea, and is in the southern part of the city.

At around the same time, Darius Pierce founded Kedron, which was in the northeastern portion of what is now Chelsea, in the area of Letts Creek and Freer Road. It also did well for a time, having a blacksmith shop, general store, and a post office, which was established on January 4, 1849, with Elisha Congdon as postmaster.

The Congdon brothers, Elisha and James, had come to the area from Connecticut in 1834, buying the land between Pierceville and Kedron, with Elisha owning 120 acres on the east side of what is now Main Street, while James bought 320 acres on the west side and south. A third brother, David, bought land in the area, but he later deeded it to James.

The Congdon brothers helped to establish Kedron, with Elisha serving as its first postmaster. Elisha and James were instrumental in persuading the Michigan Central Railroad to establish a station in Kedron. On July 19, 1850, when the train depot was built, the Congdon brothers platted the town and renamed it for Elisha Congdon's former home in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The plat records burned in 1870, and the town was re-platted and incorporated as a village in 1889. With the advantage of the railroad, Chelsea grew rapidly, absorbing the former communities of Pierceville, Kedron, and Davidson Station.

Originally, downtown Chelsea included a large, steep, sandy hill that climbed from the railroad tracks to the McKune House, built by Elisha Congdon in 1860, and currently serving as the city's library. Wooden staircases scaled the steep hill, but drivers of freight wagons had to unload their freight at the bottom of the hill. Residents gradually leveled the hill so that it would be more easily traversed.

The first school in Chelsea opened in 1854, with twenty-one students, nearly half of which were from the Congdon families. Elisha Congdon contributed the land on which the school was built. Chelsea schools occupied that space for more than a hundred years. The first church was the First Congregational Church, which was also built on land donated by Elisha Congdon. Dedicated in 1852, it was destroyed by fire in 1894, but the construction of a new church, still in use, began only months later. Dedicated in 1859, the First United Methodist Church burned in 1899, and the building that replaced it is still in use.

To avoid paying taxes to Lima and Sylvan townships, Chelsea residents voted to incorporate the village as a city in 2004. Currently, the city is responsible for the service previously supplied by the village and township governments.

The focus of this category is on the City of Chelsea, Michigan. Online resources relating to the city itself, or to local residents, businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, or events are appropriate for this category.


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