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What happened in 1824

As you drive into Wayne on Michigan Avenue you are greeted by signs in the median that say “Welcome to the City of Wayne, Founded 1824″, but is Wayne really that old? Yes, and this year, 2024, is the 200th anniversary of the first settler in Wayne. On February 27, 1824, George Johnson purchased the first 80 acres in what would become Wayne for $100.00 (equivalent to $3,162.66 today). This land was along the north side of Michigan Avenue on either side of Wayne Road. Michigan Avenue was nothing more than a dirt track through the forest at the time and was called the “Chicago Road”.

A drawing of what the first log cabin would have looked like. Photo courtesy of the Wayne Historical Society

Hoping to set up a successful stagecoach stop, George built the first log cabin in Wayne just west of Wayne Road, a green state historical marker marks the site today. George had a wife and possibly children but their names are unfortunately lost to history. On October 11, 1824, his mortgage was paid off and he received full ownership of the property. The Johnsons ran the stagecoach stop and tavern out of their log cabin through the winter, but did not have much success. The state of the Chicago Road was so muddy and poor that many travellers preferred to use the northern trail, the Ann Arbor trail, to go west. In early 1825 one of the early local maps marks “Johnsons”, this is the first time Wayne ever appeared on a map.
The Johnsons struggled through 1825, and finally had had enough so on December 2, 1825 sold the cabin and land for $500. More research is needed into where the Johnsons came from, and where they went after leaving Wayne, but we have them to thank for starting settlement around here.
Within 10 years the area had a sawmill, general store, blacksmith shop, some of the first frame houses and about 10 families. In 1836 the name “Wayne” was applied for the first time.

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