ISABELLA COUNTY::1859 - 2009
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Images & America: Isabella County 1859-2009 by Jack Westbrook: An ancient revered gathering and hunting place for Chippewa Indians becomes the modern home to one of the nation's largest Native American tribal-owned casino/resort complexes. A rough-and-tumble timbering center sees Michigan's first lumber millionaire plat a town, dedicating five acres for a county seat. Residents organize a private normal school for teacher training, to become Michigan's fourth-largest university, Central Michigan University. Hardworking immigrants carve farms, villages, and towns from the timbered-out wilderness near the center of the Michigan Lower Peninsula "mitten." From harvesting lumber above the ground to harvesting petroleum below the ground, the area ushers in an oil boom on time to be saved from the financial tribulations of the Great Depression. Incorporated in 1859, during the turbulent times just ahead of the Civil War and birth year of the United States oil industry, the area becomes a modern-day commerce center. This is the saga of Isabella County, told as the country celebrates 150 years of economic and cultural diversity.