Today in Michigan History

January 20, 1815

Josiah W. Begole was born in Groveland, New York.

At the age of 21, Begole left New York and arrived in Michigan, settling in Flint. Besides running a 500-acre farm, he founded one of Flint’s largest sawmills. After making his fortune, Begole entered politics, serving as Genesee County treasurer, a state senator and a U.S. congressman. In 1882, as an advocate of paper money, Begole headed a Fusionist party ticket supported by Democrats and Greenbackers, and was elected governor in a five-man race. As a former Republican who had ousted a Republican incumbent, Begole faced many obstacles in a Republican-dominated legislature. Begole was re-nominated by the Fusionists in 1884, but was defeated by Republican Russell Alger. He returned to his business interests in Flint.

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Today in Michigan History

January 19, 1841

The Western Farmer, the state’s first farm journal, was published.

Promising to focus on such agricultural issues as the “application of manure,” calf-raising, deep plowing and “the culture of wheat, corn and other grains,” the Western Farmer was issued in Detroit. The first issue of this 8-page, semimonthly publication had 100 subscribers; its second issue had 1,000 subscribers. Subscribers could delay their one-dollar annual payment until harvest time or they could give the publisher any equivalent article that “can be used in [his] family.” In February 1843, the paper moved from Detroit to Jackson, and under new ownership, became the Michigan Farmer and Western Agriculturalist.

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Today in Michigan History

January 18, 1802

Detroit was incorporated as a town.

The act provided for a slate of municipal officers that included a five-member board of trustees, a secretary, an assessor, a tax collector and a marshal. The trustees were authorized to take whatever action necessary for the health and welfare of the inhabitants. The board’s first act was to adopt a code of fire regulations for the town, whose population numbered about 500 people. At the time, Detroit had 300 buildings.

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Today in Michigan History

January 15, 1919

The first all-woman jury heard a trial.

When all-male juries twice were unable to determine the guilt or innocence of a Flint man charged with being intoxicated, the judge, defense attorney and prosecutor agreed to pick Michigan’s first all-woman jury. The six women quickly agreed on a guilty verdict and the man was ordered to pay a $50 fine and spend sixty days in jail.

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Today in Michigan History

January 14, 1857

Joseph R. Williams was appointed the first president of the newly created Agricultural College.

On February 12, 1855, at the urging of the Michigan State Agricultural Society, the Michigan Agricultural College was created. Williams, a merchant and miller from Constantine, had been active in the state promoting scientific agriculture and a leader in the agricultural college movement. The first students arrived at the future Michigan State University in the spring of 1857. Williams served as president until his resignation in March 1859.

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Today in Michigan History

January 13, 1862

Governor Austin Blair approved a joint resolution asking Michigan’s congressional delegation to use their influence to assist the exchange of prisoners of war.

The legislative request focused on obtaining the release of Colonel Orlando B. Willcox, who had languished in a southern prison since his capture on July 21, 1861, at the Battle of First Bull Run. Commander of the First Michigan Infantry Regiment, Willcox was finally exchanged on August 19, 1862. The following day, promoted to brigadier general. Years after the war, he received the Medal of Honor for heroism at First Bull Run.

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