History of Galien Township

Galien Township took its name from the Galien River which had, in turn, been named by the early French explorers for Father René Brehant de Galineé, a map maker by origin and a good friend of Father Marquette. The French name Galineé was “Americanized” in 1836 to become Galien. The entire Township was once part of the “Galien Woods” -- an extremely dense forest of maple, beech, white oak and black walnut trees. The only thoroughfares available were those made by animals which were, subsequently, adopted by the local Indian tribes. Interestingly enough, these roadways became the settling points for many of the pioneers.

The first settler in the Township was Samuel Garwood, who had been attracted by the dense woods and the gentle waters of the Galien River. Captivated by the beautiful area, John Johnson and James Wilson decided to join Garwood as the next permanent settlers. The latter built the Township’s first sawmill in 1836.

Galien Township, originally part of Bertrand then later Weesaw Township, was incorporated as a separate township on February 29, 1844. William Burns was elected the first supervisor and Samuel Garwood became the first treasurer. In 1861, the small village of Galien was laid out within the Township and became the center of all business activities. The appearance and character of the Township has changed little over the past century-and-a-half. (History provided courtesy of Mr. Bob Myers of the Berrien County Historical Association.)

Click here to view the 2021 Galien Township Master Plan

Top Photo: The first store building of the Town founder George Blakeslee. Tbe men on the porch are believed to be Mr. Blakeslee and his two sons, one of whom died in 1888 at the age of 27. The photo is believed to be taken in the mid-late 1880’s. The store, along with several other buildings, burned in October 1901. It was on the site of the second Blakeslee store, which still stands and is now the storefront church.

Lower Photo: The Blakeslee sawmill, which was located across Main Street from the Blakeslee store. This sawmill was built in 1861 after the original 1852 sawmill burned. (Photos courtesy of the Galien Woods Historical Society with digitizing assistance of Mr. Jim Trapp