Like many pioneers of southern Michigan, Titus Bronson was a New Englander. Born in Middlebury, Connecticut, in November 1788, Bronson moved west in 1821 to Tallmadge, Ohio, where he learned to grow seed potatoes and earned his nickname "Potato Bronson." He moved on to Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1824, but returned to his hometown two years later to marry Sally Richardson. Bronson went back to Tallmadge with his family, but soon ventured out alone, returning briefly to Ann Arbor, then following an old Indian trail west to become the first white settler in Kalamazoo. He arrived here on 21 June 1829. Living in a crude hut constructed of tamarack poles, he spent the summer and fall of 1829 preparing to establish a permanent settlement. After spending the winter with friends in Prairie Ronde (present-day Schoolcraft), Bronson returned to Ohio to bring his family and friends back to Michigan.
The Village of Bronson
In June 1830, Bronson bought the land where downtown Kalamazoo is now located, using money he had earned from selling potatoes he had grown in Ann Arbor. According to legend, had it not been for the intervention of his wife Sally, he might have exchanged it all for $100 and a gun. Bronson and his brother-in-law, Stephen Richardson, officially entered the plat for the Village of Bronson at the county register's office on 12 March 1831. Two weeks later, Governor Lewis Cass selected Bronson as the site of the county seat, which encouraged the development of the little community. Bronson donated some of his own land for the construction of a courthouse, churches, an academy and a jail. Eventually the academy and jail became the location for a park which bears his name. He also built a log house to replace his original hut.