County Namesake

General Statement from Calhoun County Administration

We acknowledge where our name came from. We strongly believe that it has nothing to do with where we have been, where we are going, and what we stand for as a county. The County Board of Commissioners stands against racism, discrimination, and violence. Police brutality that leads to the death of black people is the antithesis to how we hope to lead as public servants.
Calhoun County leadership welcomes community conversations about how to turn anger and negative energy, fueled by the history associated with our county name, into positive energy that allows us to stand together for what’s right.

History of How We Got Our Name, Calhoun County
We are a cabinet county

The cabinet counties are ten counties in the southern part of the U.S. state of Michigan named after President Andrew Jackson and people who served in his Cabinet. The Michigan Territorial legislature created twelve counties in 1829, naming eight of them after members of the recently elected Jackson's cabinet. Cass County was also created in 1829 and named for Lewis Cass, the Territorial Governor at the time. Cass later served in Jackson's Cabinet, making a case for it to be included as a cabinet county. Livingston County was created in 1833 and named for Edward Livingston, Jackson's Secretary of State at the time.

The generally accepted reason for Michigan attempting to curry favor with the Jackson Administration (by naming counties for them) is that this was during the Toledo War period, and Michigan was trying to gain support of these officials in its border war with Ohio over the Toledo Strip.

In one of his last acts in office, Jackson signed the 1837 bill making Michigan the 26th state.

  • Barry County, Michigan, named for U.S. Postmaster General William T. Barry
  • Berrien County, Michigan, named for U.S. Attorney General John M. Berrien
  • Branch County, Michigan, named for U.S. Secretary of the Navy John Branch
  • Calhoun County, Michigan, named for U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun
  • Cass County, Michigan, named for Jackson's second Secretary of War, Lewis Cass
  • Eaton County, Michigan, named for Secretary of War John Eaton
  • Ingham County, Michigan, named for U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Samuel D. Ingham
  • Jackson County, Michigan, named for Andrew Jackson himself
  • Livingston County, Michigan, named for Jackson's second Secretary of State, Edward Livingston
  • Van Buren County, Michigan, named for U.S. Secretary of State (later Vice President and then President) Martin Van Buren

What We've Learned So Far
About changing our county name

We believe that changing the name of Calhoun County would require a legislative action and a possible amendment to the state constitution. Neither the County Board of Commissioners nor local voters have this legal power.

Administration contacted the Michigan Association of Counties, which later provided this legal opinion about the question.

Ready To Do What's Needed

We are committed to do our part to be a catalyst for change and to foster a more diverse and inclusive environment for our employees and our residents. 

We acknowledge that meaningful and lasting change is difficult and requires difficult and formalized cohesive efforts by all key leaders.

We are unaware of organized efforts to change Calhoun County's name, but County Government is involved in multiple initiatives to improve race equity and multicultural education in Calhoun County. 

  • The Native American Heritage Fund Board was established in 2018 to promote respect and cooperation between local communities and Michigan's federally recognized tribes. Money has been provided to local governments, like the Cities of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, to erradicate racist imagery.