Township History

Howell Township was settled in 1834 by pioneers coming from the New York State area. At that time, the inhabitants were Native Americans, living in log huts and wigwams. The Native Americans were very helpful to the settlers. (History of Howell Michigan by Elisha H. Smith, 1868).

The township was officially formed in 1836 and was made up of the territories now known as Marion Township, Oceola Township, and the City of Howell. The Township and the Village were both named after Thomas Howell, a son of Judge Howell of Canadaigua, N.Y. Many of the roads and streets in the area are named after the first settlers.

In 1835, Mr. Rial Lake acquired 900 acres of land from the United States. This property is located in Howell and Marion Townships. Ferdinand Munson married Mr. Lake’s daughter, who inherited 240 acres of land from her father. This land was later sold to the Berry Family. The Berry family farmed for many years; Fred Berry and his son, Glen Berry, both served as Howell Township Supervisor for over fifty years.

Both the Shiawassee River and the Red Cedar River run through Howell Township. The Native Americans used the rivers to transport and barter their goods. For many years, local residents regularly found arrowheads and pieces of Indian utensils while working the fields.

In 1836, the first bridge was built over the Shiawassee River, allowing Grand River Avenue to become a plank road. A Pony Express stop was at Fleming and Grand River. A stagecoach stopped at Burkhart and Grand River at the location of the current Wrangler Lounge.

Seymour and Phoebe Howe settled in Howell Township in 1856 on land owned by David Blackman, and they lived in a log house for their first winter. Three years later, Blackman sold his 80 acres to Howe, reserving a lot at the corner for the schoolhouse. The property for the schoolhouse was donated by David Blackman in 1859 to School District #2 in Howell Township, as shown on the 1859 plat map. The Howe School, as the building was named, is now the Howell Township Hall. The Howe School was used for well over 100 years, until the Howell Public Schools consolidated and the Howe School was donated to Howell Township for use as a Township hall. The Township Board, in their need for more space, considered the historical value of the Howe School and incorporated it into the plan to preserve the past and provide for the future with an addition and renovation to the Township hall. Renovation was completed in 2001, and staff moved into the new offices, with the renovation of the old school house completed in 2002.

At one time, there were thirteen school districts in Howell Township. Each district contained one country school which went through the eighth grade. Howell Township children now attend either Howell Public Schools or Fowlerville Public Schools.

Howell Township has been largely an agricultural and residential area. Over the past 20 years, updated infrastructure has allowed for increased industry, commercial, and multiple family uses along with the single family and agricultural uses. The population grew due to the enjoyment of country atmosphere. With Grand River Avenue, M-59, and I-96, access to Lansing, Ann Arbor, Flint, and the Detroit metropolitan areas is easy. Population in the township has increased from 900 in 1950 to over 7,893 in 2020.