Ann Arbor’s first Village President was John Allen (1834)
Ann Arbor was founded in 1824 by John Allen of Virginia and Elisha Rumsey of New York; that same year it became the seat of Washtenaw County. There are a number of variations on the story of how the original 640 acres of land, forested with burr oaks, came to be called Ann Arbor. Most stories involve the names of Allen and Rumsey’s wives . Allen’s wife was Ann Isabella Barry McCue Allen. Rumsey’s wife was Mary Ann Rumsey. Another variation involves a woman named Ann d’Arbeur who, long before Allen and Rumsey arrived, supposedly led people through the Huron River wilderness. University of Michigan professor emeritus, Russell Bidlack, has written a book about Ann Allen. He claims that she was the sole inspiration for the name. Apparently, John Allen couldn’t decide between Allensville and Annapolis, but his wife preferred “Annarbour.”
Although Ann Arbor lost the competition to become the State Capitol to the City of Lansing, it did win the University of Michigan. Since the opening of the U of M in 1841, Ann Arbor has emerged as the education capital of the Midwest. Ann Arbor is located approximately 40 miles southwest of Detroit and covers 27.8 square miles. The city has continued to experience major growth since it was founded. Ann Arbor began with a population of 50 and is now the largest city in Washtenaw County and the seventh largest in the State of Michigan.
For a more detailed look at the history of Ann Arbor, check out “The Making of Ann Arbor,” a collaborative venture between the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor District Library.