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Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, at the southern limit of Sturgeon Bay, Cross Village may be the oldest continually operated settlement in Michigan.

Since the 1600s, or before, people have lived in what is now known as Cross Village. The first people known to call the place home were the Moscoutens. Probably due to attacks from the Ottawa, the Moscoutens moved south, around St. Joseph, and the next people to occupy the area were the Ottawa, whose village along the shore was said to be eighteen miles long.

When French traders and missionaries came, the Ottawa converted to Catholicism and enjoyed good relations with them. However, when the 1763 Treaty of Paris ceded the land to the British, they were greatly disliked by the Ottawa.

Over the years, Cross Village was known by several names. The Ottawa referred to the place as Waganakisi, which was a reference to a crooked tree that served as a landmark. The French used the same reference, calling it L'Arbre Croche. In 1830, a large white cross was put up in the village, and that was the origin of its current name, although Native Americans began to refer to it as Anamiewatigoing, which meant the tree of prayer. According to some records, the cross was erected by Father Jacques Marquette sometime before his death in 1675.

Not long after the United States government came into being, Native Americans throughout the country were forced to sell or otherwise cede their lands. In the 1836 Treaty of Washington, the Ottawa and Chippewa tribes agreed to give up large areas of land in Michigan, including most of the eastern Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula.

However, under Chief Joseph Nowimashkote, the local Ottawa began to buy back parcels of land and, within a decade, members of the tribe owned all of the lands in Cross Village. In 1855, Cross Village became a township, named La Croix, which was changed to Cross Village in 1875.

Father John Weikamp came to Cross Village in 1855, building a large convent during his first year there. Fields were cleared for farming and raising cattle, woodworking and blacksmithing shops were opened, and a sawmill was established by Wiekamp, who used the profits to build a school and a hospital. His time in the village began a dominance of European-Americans over the village, as he brought an influx of white Catholics. He remained until he died in 1889, and his convent was closed in 1896.

Before the 1880s, fishing, and agriculture were the primary movers of the economy in Cross Village, and much of that was subsistence. However, the 1870s saw the rapid growth of the lumber industry throughout Michigan, and the lumber boom hit Cross Village around 1880 when L.J. Bovee opened a sawmill there, which proved to be hugely successful in a short time. By 1900, there were three hotels, a hospital, and five stores in Cross Village. As was the case elsewhere in the state, the lumber boom declined as quickly as it began. By 1911, the lumber mill in Cross Village was closed.

A post office was established in Cross Village on October 31, 1870, although it was known as La Croix until 1875.

At the time of the 2010 census, there were fewer than a hundred permanent residents in Cross Village, and less than three hundred in Cross Village Township. Its population grows in the summer, due largely to cottages near Lake Michigan. Today, there are two churches, two restaurants, a general store, a museum, and a post office in the village. In 2012, a new boat launch was built to allow larger boats to enter Lake Michigan at the port.

Legs Inn, one of two restaurants in Cross Village, is listed on the Michigan historical registry and known for its architecture and Polish cuisine. The L'Arbre Croche Museum highlights the history of the village, from the time of the Ottawa to the present day, featuring exhibit rooms for the Native Americans, the lumber industry, and Father Weikamp, along with a research facility. Each summer, Cross Village hosts Blissfest, a folk music festival that takes place on the Festival Farm on Division Road.

The chief route through the village is M-119, which is also known as Lake Shore Drive. Other routes include Arbutus Road, North State Road, Oak Drive, and West Levering Road. Harbor Springs is 16.1 miles south of Cross Village, Pellston is 18.1 miles east-southeast, Mackinaw City is 24.0 miles northeast, and Littlefield is 27.2 miles southeast.

The focus of this category is on the unincorporated community and census-designated place known as Cross Village, Michigan. Local organizations, churches, businesses, attractions, and events are appropriate topics.

 

 

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