Chelsea Michigan turns 175 … but where is all the history?


L1350165a, photo by jeff and leyla.

Chelsea, Michigan holds its 175th Anniversary Celebration June 25-28 with 4 days of events including a parade, youth activities, contests, music and folks in period costumes – family oriented fun.

This is the space where I would normally tell you something about the history of the town, but even the Wikipedia entry for Chelsea, Michigan has almost nothing. The city of Chelsea has little to say. The did have a link to the Washtenaw County guide entry for Chelsea where I learned:

Chelsea was first settled in 1820 by Cyrus Beckwith, along with Elisha and James Congdon.

Elisha Congdon named the community after his hometown of Chelsea, Massachusetts.

The town was literally “put on the map” when the Michigan Central Railroad built a station here in 1850. UPDATE: Searched for the railroad and found a great Chelsea history page.

Today Chelsea is best known as the home of the DaimlerChrysler Proving Ground and of Chelsea Milling Company’s “Jiffy Mix” brand.

Any other facts or links about Chelsea? Share them in the comments!

Jeff says that left to right you’re seeing the Chelsea Train depot (for rent), Jiffy, the Chelsea Clocktower and the Glazier Stove Co. It’s part of his Chelsea & Dexter set (slideshow). Speaking of slideshows, here’s the Chelsea slideshow from the Absolute Michigan pool.

You can check out some photos of the Glazier Stove Company from the Library of Congress.

7 thoughts on “Chelsea Michigan turns 175 … but where is all the history?

  1. Tracing the origin of the name of Chelsea, Michigan, to Chelsea, Massachusetts, is an old myth that refuses to die. However, Elisha Congdon’s hometown was not in Massachusetts. It was a place called Chelsea Landing, Connecticut.


  2. Anyone looking for the history of Chelsea, Michigan, or any other places in Michigan should first do a Google search for the “Michigan County Histories” website, which has digitized, word-searchable complete copies of all of the 19th and early 20th century local history books, as well as numerous Michigan county atlases.


  3. For the 175th Anniversary, Chelsea has created a 136-page commemorative book telling all about the history, downtown merchants, fashion, historical monument, etc. You can get a copy of the book at the event this week.

    You can also write to the address listed in the link provided above.


  4. It’s also the birthplace and residence of actor Jeff Daniels whose parents owned the Chelsea Lumber Co. (actually he lives two to three miles to the west on Cavanaugh Lake, but it’s still Chelsea mailing and school district).


  5. Two books were published about Chelsea’s history….well researched and documented. One was the 2001 “Our Hometown” by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds, and the latest is the commemorative book Chelsea – 175th Anniversary 1834-2009, Then and Now” 3,000 copies were printed, and several are still available. Over 140 photographs were used. In addition a 2012 “Downtown Plaque Project” will install 18 metal history plaques in downtown Chelsea. Our history is well-preserved and shared with the public. Kathy Clark, Chelsea Area Historical Society.


  6. Chelsea has the Purple Rose Theater, Common Grill and a great downtown. Jeff Daniels was instrumental in the development and continues to support the Purple Rose. The plays are well attended and the shops in town are great. Sights and Sounds during the summer attracts visitors from surrounding communities. The major event during the summer is the closing of the parking lot behind the Common Grill for a music event and dancing. So if you feel Chelsea has little to offer think twice and take the time to visit. You will find families creating chalk art on the pavement, bands playing music on Thursday, summer, many shops, restaurants, great plays and the rolls form the Common Grill, well just try them, it a place to be. By the way they whole town is walkable and safe, what more can you ask for.


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