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HISTORY INDEX>Moscow Village & Township


On the 17th. of March, 1835, the Township of Vance, Which included the entire county of Hillsdale, was divided, That portion embraced in range 2 west of the principal meridian was given the name of Moscow.
The first inhabitants of the area were native indians, The Pottawattamies, who proudly called this spot "Mas-coot-ab-si-ac",(sandy creek prairie)Just five years later the friendly and helpful people were herded up and driven out by the government.

The name Moscow came from a village in New York State where Mr. Alonso Kies. was from. Three men put a name in a hat and the name Moscow was the name drawn, Most long time residents pronounce it simply as "mosco",less the enphasis on 'cow',its peculiar how those same people refer to the river that flows through Moscow as, "the crick" enlieu of creek.

Moscow lay on the old Sauk Trail over which there was the greatest amount of travel and its advantages were quickly recognized.
Between Tecumseh and White Pigeon the first settlement was made within Hillsdale County`s borders, Moscow was the third in the county to become the home of a white man. And record of entries shows that her developement and growth were exceedingly rapid.

Silas Benson has been mentioned as the first settler at the village or Township.
The log tavern he built in about 1830 and occupied, sheltered many persons who were looking up land and sites for future homes and families on their way to farms already located.
It was one of the first necessities of the time and served its purpose faithfully.

The frame hotel built two years after or in 1832 had clinging around it the echo of voices who have long ago passed away and whose history is unknown or forgotten.
The old hotel which was located on the northwest corner of Chicago and Moscow Roads was demolished in 1969.

During the early years of the automobile many of the "Mom and Pop`s" in the Moscow area saw the opportunity to take advantage of all the traffic moving through the small hamlet since the Chicago Pike was newly paved with concrete.

Moscow was already patronizing the three general stores,two restaurants, two tourist cabin stops and a tavern. During the 20`s there were nine, yes (9) places that pumped gas within a mile of the village, which included two repair garages.

Presently the nearest fuel is located in neighboring towns,Moscow is a "dry" Township,.... where only gas is concerned, of course.
The town does have its own Post Office, However most residents prefer rural delivery with a Jonesville address, a token few still cling to that much brighter Moscow image of nearly 100 years ago.
There is a convenience store located in one of the old store buildings and next to the Township Fire Station on the east side of the hollow sits the old landmark watering hole, "The Big Oak`s Bar," which still beckons thirsty regulars, despite a serious fire, the tavern has outlived the two huge oaks out front of which the place derived its name.

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The town that progress left behind

After The 1920`s as the automobile and roads became improved and people could drive to nearby cities and towns to purchase goods for daily needs they no longer had to rely on the smaller stores in Moscow,
Consequently the merchants saw less business and their income suffered.
The little town was not aware of it at the time but its growth was ending and never would regain its momentum it enjoyed the previous generation.
Some small towns were nurtured by their community with organized groups that strived for the advancement of their town or City, sadly Moscow never recieved any leadership in this manner mainly due to the fact most who live there now and in the past,scoff at anyone asking them of their help, Therefore the village has remained the same with no real "Community" present, just a cluster of about 45 old homes, most of which were built in the 1860`s, the majority of the the inhabitants would prefer to be at least a mile apart.

A mere crossroads to somewhere else!

George C. Munro, of Jonesville, who built the first brick house in Hillsdale County, stated that Lyman Blackmar built the second one upon his place in Moscow, in 1842. Charles Fowle who built a cobblestone house in 1840 said that Mr. Blackmar was then living in his brick residence, There is nothing documented to prove that.

Mr. Blackmar was appointed the first Judge of Probate for Hillsdale County, and held that office twelve years. He also kept the first Post Office in Moscow Township, previous to 1838, at his place west of the village, the cemetery at U.S. 12 and Litchfield Rd. is named after him, Another "Dead Man`s Curve" on the old trail.

A man by the name of Stewart who also lived west of the village was Postmaster after Judge Blackmar. After the office was removed to the village, Brooks Gale was appointed to take charge of it, and continued in the capacity of Postmaster for a long term of years.

Politically he was a Democrat. When Gen. Harrison was elected President in 1840, Mr. Gale submitted his resignation, giving as a reason for such a step, that he was "apposed to the administration elect". The department informed him that his excuse was not sufficient, and retained him in office.

He was succeeded by his brother, George Gale, and since then it has been held by numerous persons, among them being Dr. S.C. Merwin, John Arnold, A. Thompson, and others. Mr. Thompson had his office located in his store in Moscow Village.

By far the greater proportion of the early inhabitants of this town, as is the case with all others in Southern Michigan, emigrated from the "Empire State", and except for the purpose of ascertaining the counties in which they formerly resided, it was scarcely neccessary to ask from whence they came.
A person aquainted with the customs is nearly certain to distinguish a New Yorker without asking questions. A chief peculiararity among them is the presence of good cooks. The matrons of New York and New England are among the best cooks in the world, and to one accustomed to their fare a return to it is most gratifying after long experience among people from other regions of the East and South.
By Russell R. McGee with excerps from "The Moscow Story" 1878-9.

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The Moscow Methodist Church

The cornerstone of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in the village of Moscow, on U.S.12 was laid in 1852. Pioneers, Horatio N. Rowley, Isaac S. Wright and Henry N. McCowan were responsible for erection of the building, which housed religious services for many years. In 1854 pews were sold for $40.00 each to finance the project.
They were sold in the spring of that year for little more than enough to pay the debt owed the builders.
The church was used for worship until 1939, when it was purchased by The Moscow Homecoming Association. Mr.& Mrs. Joel R. Moore of Jackson and others interested in the village contributed to its upkeep until 1949, when it was purchased by the Township to be used as a community building, at that time extensive repairs were made and it was used for many community affairs for years. It was razed in 1970 due to the cost of upkeep by the Township, later a second fire station was built on the site.(for photo`s go to galleries)
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