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Napoleon, Michigan is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in east Napoleon Township, southeast Jackson County.

The main routes to and from the community are M-50 (Brooklyn Road), Austin Road, Napoleon Road, and Wolf Lake Road.

Cities and villages within twenty miles of Napoleon include Brooklyn, Grass Lake, Cement City, Jackson, Manchester, Onsted, Addison, Hanover, and Clinton, while the unincorporated communities of Norvell, Ackerson, Vineyard Lake, Leoni, Clarklake, Lake Columbia, Vandercook Lake, and Michigan Center are within ten miles.

European-American settlers began coming into the area in the 1830s. Charles Blackman acquired government land in the area, although he settled in Lenawee County. Aaron B. Goodwin is believed to have been the first permanent settler in the area of the future village, bringing his wife and adopted daughter. He traded with the Native Americans who came through the area.

Another early settler was General Abram F. Bolton. He came to the region as an Indian agent, settling in Coldwater. While traveling through Napoleon Township, he found sandstone in the area and, recognizing its value in building, he moved to the area with his wife in the summer of 1832. Mrs. Bolton gave birth to a daughter, Caroline, in November of that year. Others who came between 1832 and 1833 were the brothers, Chauncy and Lyman Hawley, Samuel Quigley, Harvey Austin, Morgan Chase, Rockwell Rexford, Calvin and Louisa Swain, and other families named Squire, Ford, Hunt, and Dean.

In March of 1833, Napoleon Township was organized, and named for Napoleon Bonaparte. The first township meeting was held in Mr. Goodwin's home, and Harvey Austin was elected to be the first township supervisor. Calvin Swain, a Baptist minister, came from New York with several members of his congregation, and founded the Napoleon Baptist Church and, later, the village of Swainsville, which is known as Brooklyn today.

A post office was established in Napoleon on January 5, 1833, with Mr. Goodwin as postmaster. By the mid-1840s, Napoleon had a Baptist and a Methodist church, and there were six schools in the township. General stores, hardware stores, and mills were built, as well as several farms. When the Jackson Branch of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad came through in 1857, a depot was opened in Napoleon. Shortly afterward, a grain elevator, a beanery, and a couple of hotels were opened.

73 Napoleon Township residents served in the American Civil War, and 23 lost their lives in the conflict.

As Napoleon became a census-designated place in 2010, at which time it had a population of 1,258, there are no figures for the population of the community itself prior to that time, but there were 820 people in the township by 1870, growing to 1,177 by 1880.

A major forest fire devastated the area's lumber industry in the early 1880s, burning more than 3,000 buildings and killing around 300 people. By 1900, the township's population had decreased to 948. By that time, Napoleon has a public hall, several schools, two churches, two hotels, a coal dealership, a livery, feed and sawmills, a blacksmith shop, a woodworking shop, a drug store, a meat market, a grocery store, three general stores, a shoe shop, a millinery, and telephone and telegraph connections.

The population had declined to 867 by 1910, and to 849 by 1920. The Newhauser Brothers opened a 359-acre chicken hatchery, furnishing chicks for Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward.

In the 1920s, the State passed the School Consolidation Act, and a new school building was completed by 1921, consolidating the several township schools into one. Steam power from an engine at a cider mill supplied DC electric power to the village during the day, although it was shut down each night. Later, a gas-powered generator extended electric service. In 1926, AC power reached Napoleon.

In 1924, a homemade fire truck, built onto the chassis of a Model A Ford, was put into service. By 1947, a two-bay fire station was constructed. By 1928, Brooklyn Road (M-50) was paved from Brooklyn to Jackson, and the township's population climbed to 1,204 by 1930.

By 1950, the township's population was 2,549, and it is estimated that the village itself had a population of about a thousand people. A library was built onto the fire station in the early 1950s and was also used for township board meetings.

By 1970, the township's population had risen to 5,500. Federal funding allowed for two new tankers and a pumper to be purchased for the fire department, and federal funding paid up to 80% for sewer installations, which were extended to about 300 homes around Ackerson Lake. The township hired a full-time fire chief and a full-time police chief.

By 1980, the population had increased to 6,141. However, only 132 people were added to the township census figures for 1990.



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