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Situated in southern Novesta Township, Deford is the only named community within the township, which is in eastern Tuscola County, within the Thumb Region of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

As an unincorporated community, Deford has no defined boundaries, but it is concentrated along East Deckerville Road, just west of its intersection with North Kingston Road. The nearest incorporated municipalities are Kingston, Cass City, Caro, and Gagetown, while other unincorporated communities within ten miles of Deford include Wilmot, Shabbona, Hemans, and Ellington.

The community began as a railroad station when the Pontiac, Oxford and Northern Railroad extended its tracks through the western part of the township in 1883. The railroad gave its station the name Bruce, in honor of Elmer Bruce, who contributed land to the railroad. By the early 1900s, there weren't enough passengers to sustain the PP&N, which was nicknamed the Polly Ann, or the Poor, Old & Neglected. With under a hundred miles of track, the line was absorbed by the Grand Trunk Railroad in 1904.

An early settler by the name of Arthur Newton is credited with founding the village and naming it for a friend whose surname was Deford. In 1884, Mr. Newton had the village platted into blocks and lots south of Bruce Street, also known as Deckerville Road, but his plat did not include the area to the north, which was then marshy, particularly in the spring and during wet weather. Although platted, Deford was never incorporated. On January 21, 1884, a post office was established at Deford, with Theron Spencer as the first postmaster. Today, the Deford Post Office serves the southern part of Novesta Township, the northern part of Kingston Township, and portions of the northeast corner of Wells Township.

As might be expected, the railroad brought some growth to the village and township, its economy based largely on agriculture and related businesses. In the early 1880s, Amuel Frutchey, the owner of a local general store, began bartering oats, wheat, and beans for groceries. This evolved into another business opportunity and, in 1895, he became a partner in an elevator business owned by A.G. Berney, who operated an elevator in Cass City. Soon, they started an elevator and bank near the railroad line in Deford, forming what became known as the Market Center. By the early 1930s, this business had merged and changed names several times before being reorganized into the Frutchey Bean Company, which marketed navy beans worldwide.

As an unincorporated village, Deford has no municipal government and is governed by Novesta Township. Deford Elementary School closed in 2004, and public school students are now tuitioned to schools in Cass City, although the Deford Christian Academy was formed in 1981 out of a concern about waning Christian values in public schools, and offers a K-12th-grade curriculum.

The focus of this guide is on the unincorporated community of Deford, Michigan. Given the lack of defined borders, online resources representing individuals, schools, churches, organizations, businesses, industries, attractions, or events associated with a Deford post office address would be appropriate for this guide.

 

 

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