Jonesville may be one of the newest cities in the state, but its rich history dates back to the early days of Michigan’s history. The City of Jonesville is located in southern Michigan, about 20 miles north of the point where the Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana borders meet. It was founded in 1828, where the trading route known to the Native Americans as the “Sauk Trail” met the St. Joseph River. Today, the Sauk Trail is known as US-12 and serves as a crossroads with M-99 in the heart of the Downtown. Jonesville was incorporated from a village to a home rule city on August 14, 2014.
Although much has changed in the nearly 200 years since Benaiah Jones settled with his family at the St. Joseph River, Jonesville remains a town proud of its roots and history. The streets of Jonesville are lined with historic homes including a Victorian mansion, once owned by Ebenezer Grosvenor, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Michigan. Grosvenor was also a member of the state building commission that oversaw the construction of the Capitol in Lansing. The beautiful home has been meticulously maintained and is now a museum highlighting not only the significance of Grosvenor but of the city of Jonesville as a whole. Inside the Victorian home guests will learn Jonesville is home to the first "Free School" in Michigan as was the first school district with a defined curriculum. Jonesville makes history every day when the doors open at Powers Clothing, the Andrew Mack Brush Company, or Jonesville Lumber. These family-owned business in downtown Jonesville have been a staples in the community dating back as far as 1890. In fact, Powers Clothing is the oldest Carhartt clothing retailer in the United States.
Today, Jonesville has grown to a diverse economy and approximately 2,300 residents. There is a significant manufacturing presence, including Martinrea, the largest manufacturer in Hillsdale County. Once primarily focused on the automobile industry, area manufacturers have diversified. Employers range from several locally owned businesses to national and international corporations.
As with any community, we think our restaurants are the best, and we have the national recognition to prove it. Jonesville has been recognized nationally as one of the great small towns for food. We have it all from fine dining for a date night out to casual fare and, of course, we have a great local ice cream shop! The restaurants in Jonesville are locally owned and operated and conveniently located near our two historic bed and breakfast facilities at either end of Downtown.
Culture abounds in Jonesville including local community theater and local artists in display. The Sauk Theatre is located in Downtown Jonesville and has long been the home of the Hillsdale County Community Theatre. From comedy to drama, musicals to children’s productions, The Sauk highlights the amazing talents of Hillsdale County and beyond and truly does have something for everyone. Gallery 49 is an artist cooperative located Downtown, featuring a variety of mediums. Along with exhibitions by juried artists, the gallery hosts opportunities to learn about different artist media and techniques, growing arts and culture in Hillsdale County.
The St. Joseph River flows north through town and serves as the centerpiece of the annual Riverfest celebration the third weekend in May every year. The river provides a fun and challenging canoe and kayak route for people of all abilities and skill levels. The scenic river parallels the Jerry Russell Trail, a 1.4 mile, paved non-motorized trail converted from an abandoned rail bed. The beautiful trail is enjoyed by walkers and cyclists alike and provides the first public access to the St. Joseph River in Jonesville. The project was supported be an MDNR Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant, Don and Donna Playford, Jonesville Rotary Club, and the Hillsdale County Community Foundation. The trail connects to other regional recreation trails and serves as the local leg of the North Country Trail, a 4,600 mile trail between Sakakawea State Park in North Dakota and Crown Point New York.
The next time you are in southern Michigan, be sure to stop in beautiful historic Jonesville, your new home away from home!
Jonesville Sesquicentennial Historical Record