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Surrounded by Richland Township, Richland, Michigan is in Kalamazoo County, in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula.

M-43 and M-89 run concurrently as they enter the village from the north, and separate in the center of the village, with M-43 running southwest, while M-89 turns east.

Cities and villages within twenty-five miles of Richland include Galesburg, Parchment, Augusta, Kalamazoo, Plainwell, Springfield, Otsego, Battle Creek, Portage, Climax, Martin, Vicksburg, Gobles, Mattawan, Hastings, Schoolcraft, and Allegan, while Yorkville, Gull Lake, Comstock Northwest, South Gull Lake, Midland Park, Iva, Lawndale, Hickory Corners, Comstock, East Comstock, and Delton are unincorporated communities or census-designated places within ten miles.

Perhaps because the Richland area lacked a flowing stream to provide water power, the village never developed a significant industrial base and remained a small residential community until the late 1900s. Although the village still has a population of under a thousand, it has grown in recent years, largely as a bedroom community for people working in Kalamazoo. In 2020, its population was 946.

Richland is southwest of Gull Lake, and several other lakes and bodies of water are in the area surrounding the village, which has led to the development of several lakefront homes nearby.

Settled by European-Americans in the early 1830s, the community that was to become Richland was known as Gull Prairie, Gull Corners, and Geloster, before being renamed Richland in 1842.

Colonel Isaac Barnes came through the region looking for habitable land in 1827, and returned to his home in Medina, Ohio to recommend Gull Prairie. Inspired by Barnes' report, Titus Bronson traveled to the area in 1829. Colonel Barnes and David Dillie came with their families in the spring of 1830 and built temporary homes. By the end of that year, there were more than fifty people in Gull Prairie, with more arriving in the spring of 1831.

On June 18, 1831, land in the eastern portion of Kalamazoo County was put up for sale, and all of the available land on Gull Prairie was sold by the end of the day, purchased by settlers, and land speculators.

In 1832, Colonel Barnes platted a village on the site, which he named Geloster, located between the area of the current post office and the Blackhawk Inn. His home, at the intersection of M-89 and M-43, served as an inn, a stagecoach stop, and a post office. William and Sylvester Mills laid out a village southeast of the current village center, along what is now DE Avenue, and a third village was platted along Spring Brook, in the western part of the township, by Benjamin Cummings in 1837.

Before the European-Americans came, Native Americans had established well-known trails across Gull Prairie, and commercial businesses were established along these trails, including a hotel in 1833, a store in 1835, a church in 1837, and several other businesses between these years. The intersections of these trails, which were developed into roads, were the beginnings of what would become Richland's business district. This intersection became known as Gull Corners and Richland Center.

In 1870, a local man, Eli Miller, was elected to the Michigan state legislature. In February of 1871, he introduced a bill to incorporate the village of Richland, and this bill was approved on March 18 of that year.

Early education in Richland was closely tied to early churches, with its first students taught by the Reverend William Jones, a Presbyterian minister, in 1832. The following year, a log schoolhouse was built and Isaac Briggs was hired as a school teacher.

Organized in 1831, the Presbyterian Church of Gull Prairie was the first organized church in the community. The Congregational Church was next, and they were followed by the Methodists, Baptists, and Catholics.

Richland's population was under four hundred at the time of the 1950 census, but the post-war years brought a change from an almost entirely agricultural population to a mixture of farmers, industrial workers, and service workers, many of whom were employed in larger neighboring cities. The village's first stoplight was installed in 1953, and a consolidated school district was formed in the late 1960s.

The focus of this category is on the village of Richland, Michigan. Appropriate resources for this portion of our guide include websites representing governmental entities located within the village, as well as local businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, and recreational opportunities.


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