The History of
Presque Isle Township
Prior to European settlement, the northeast Michigan area was inhabited by Native American Tribes, including the Chippewa and Ojibwa. In the 1600’s, the earliest European visitors were French explorers, missionaries, and fur traders. In 1836, the land was officially ceded to the United States, and Michigan became a state in 1837. What later became the north half of Presque Isle Township was first surveyed in 1840. This area was first part of Mackinac County, then Cheboygan County, then Alpena County, and finally in 1871, part of the newly formed Presque Isle County. (link to original survey maps, 1841 survey, 1856 survey, 1858 survey)
Because of the isolated location and lack of roads, water transportation was the key to development and trade. Much of the area’s early settlement began along the Lake Huron shoreline. The name “Presque Isle” comes from the French term and means “almost an island”. This phrase describes the Presque Isle peninsula, which juts out into Lake Huron in the northern part of the Township. The natural Presque Isle Harbor offered boat traffic safe refuge from Lake Huron storms, and the surrounding woods supplied fuel for steamboats plying the shorelines. The development of Burnham’s Landing in the southern part of the harbor established Presque Isle Harbor as a thriving port by 1854.