Michigan’s First Coeducational College: Olivet, 1844
Olivet College was founded on February 24, 1844.
Right from the start, Olivet College welcomed people of all races, creeds, religions, gender, or financial status. Everyone was encouraged. Of course, being so open-minded offended those with closed minds, so it took a little longer for the school to get a charter and was being labeled as ‘abolitionist’. It took fifteen years before a charter was granted, and in 1859 - they got it.
Named after the Mount of Olives, the very first classes were taught in a log cabin during winter. In 1847 there were 72 students and with continued growth, by the 2000s there were well over one thousand.
About the town of Olivet itself: The college was named by Rev. John J. Shipherd after leading a group of 39 followers to the area. He arrived here by accident as he was actually looking for the Delta valley. Once arriving here, he was so impressed with the surroundings, that he chose this site for his college. A town began to grow around the college, and eventually the community adopted the name as its own. It lies in Walton Township, Eaton County.
One of the college students, Albertus Green, began running a post office until the first government-appointed postmaster took over in 1849. That postmaster was one of the college professors, O. Hosford.
The 1873 map and some atlases list both ‘Olivet Station’ and ‘Olivet P.O.’, with the postal stop being the main community. Olivet Station no longer appears on maps.
Below is a gallery of vintage images of Olivet and the college!
MORE VINTAGE MICHIGAN TOWN PHOTOS: