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Harsens Island is in the southeastern portion of the Thumb Region of Michigan's Lower Peninsula and is part of Clay Township, St. Clair County.

Harsens Island is the main U.S. island of the region known as the St. Clair Flats, although the Canadian side of the Flats has larger islands. While much of the island is marshy, the large island also includes oak forests, prairie land, and a hundred and forty miles of waterfront. With a year-round population of about two thousand, the island is accessible only by ferry, although it does have a road system. In season, the island is rich in waterfowl, fish, and other wildlife species, and is popular with duck hunters, fishermen, and bird watchers.

There are several small communities on Harsens Island, the largest of which is Sans Souci, an unincorporated community on the island's eastern shore. However, the name of the San Souci post office was changed to Harsens Island on December 31, 1960, and Sans Souci no longer appears on the list of acceptable names for postal deliveries. Mail service to all of the island communities is address as Harsens Island.

Sans Souci was established in early 1900 as a shipping and trading center, and a post office was established on April 24, 1900. Sans Souci was named by William LaCroix, its first postmaster, who owned a great deal of land in the area. Its name was French, which translates as "carefree", "without worries", or "without concerns," and was probably a reference to the peaceful surroundings.

Harsens Island was named for Jacob Harsen, believed to be the first European-American settler, who came to the island around 1779, during the Revolutionary War, acquiring the island from the Native Americans in 1783. The island was known as Jacob Island or Jacobus Island as late as 1809.

The island has been occupied by the indigenous Native American people, the French, British, and Americans during different periods in its history, and jurisdiction over the island was in dispute between the United States and Great Britain for several years. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War, was imprecise in its description of the international boundaries in some respects, including the mouth of the St. Clair River. Complicating matters, the area had not yet been surveyed and did not appear on some commonly used maps of that era. Thus, all of the delta islands were claimed by the British for Canada, and several Tories, who did not wish to renounce their status as British subjects after the war, had moved to Harsens Island.

The 1814 Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812, acknowledged the ambiguity of the previous treaty, appointing commissioners from each nation to designated the international boundary, and they concluded that both Harsens Island and Dickinson Island were within the boundaries of the United States.

However, the dredging of a ship canal through the marshy areas around Lake St. Clair by Hiram Little, an Ontario shipping captain, led to further dispute and the movement of the international border further east.

Even today, the Walpole Island First Nation claims that Harsens Island is unceded territory belonging to them.

Harsens Island is the only US island in the Flats that can be reached by automobile, via an auto ferry, and the only one with roads. The island once had a school, but it was closed in 2006.

Besides San Souci, other named communities on the island include Bedore, Clays Landing, Forster, Grande Pointe, Maple Leaf, Miller, and Muirs. Bedore is located along M-154 (South Channel Drive), between Forster and Clays Landing. Clays Landing is south-southeast of Bedore, also along M-154, and Forster is north-northwest of Bedore. Miller is farther along the peninsula that includes Clays Landing, Bedore, and Forster. Grande Pointe is on the northeast end of the island, between North Channel Drive and South Channel Drive. Maple Leave is on the St. Clair River's east shore, between Volkes Road and Bar Harbor, adjacent to and just south of Sans Souci. Muirs is further south along M-154, northeast of Clays Landing.

Approximately seventy-five percent of the land area of Harsens Island is owned by the State of Michigan, which manages waterfowl and wildlife sanctuaries throughout the island.

Appropriate topics for this category include websites representing governmental sites, businesses, industries, churches, schools, organizations, attractions, and events anywhere on Harsens Island, Michigan.



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