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Free Soil, Michigan is surrounded by Free Soil Township in north Mason County, in the western Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

In the 2010 census, the village had a population of 144, and its peak population was 306 in 1890, the first year that it appeared on a census. From 1913 to 2007, Free Soil operated a K-12 school district in two buildings, but the high school closed in 2007, and the elementary school closed in 2011.

Free Soil Road (Michigan Street) passes east-west through the center of town, while North Custer Road forms most of the village's western boundary. North Stephens Road forms its eastern boundary. The distance from the center of Free Soil to the center of Fountain is 6.5 miles. Other nearby cities and villages include Custer, Manistee, Scottville, and East Lake.

The Big Sable River flows in a westerly direction just north of the village, emptying into Lake Michigan. The village is within the Manistee National Forest, and near the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness.

The current village is the second settlement in Mason County to be named Free Soil, the original community being in Grant Township, northwest of the current village, and just south of the Manistee County line. There are still some homes in the original site, known as Old Free Soil.

The village was named for the township, which was itself named for the Free Soil political party. Formed in 1848, the Free Soil Party was a single-issue political party created in opposition to the expansion of slavery into the western territories of the United States. Running as the Free Soil candidate in 1848, former President Martin Van Buren won just over ten percent of the vote. In 1854, the Free Soil Party merged into the newly formed Republican Party.

Free Soil Township was organized in 1848, the same year that the political party was formed. At that time, Free Soil Township extended from Lake Michigan to what is now the Lake County line and included the current townships of Grant, Free Soil, and Meade.

The village began in the early 1860s when Philip Riter and his family settled east of what became known as Riter Swamp. Most of the early settlers were loggers, and the settlement was originally known as Free Soil Mills, after the township and a sawmill that had been established there.

A post office was established on February 10, 1862, with Alva Freeman as postmaster. The office was closed on October 17, 1865, but was restored on January 29, 1873, and continues in operation today.

The Pere Marquette Railroad extended its tracks through Free Soil in the early 1880s, and established a depot in the village in 1882. The village was incorporated in 1912.

The village of Free Soil is the focus of this guide, although any resources with a Free Soil postal address are appropriate for this category. This may include links to websites representing the village or any businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, or events within the village.

 

 

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