Another Thing I Learned While Looking Up Something Else

Jonathan KearsleyWhile living on Kearsley Park Blvd, across the street from Kearsley Park, just a hop, skip and a jump from Kearsley Street, I’ve often wondered where the name came from.

Quite obviously it was someone’s name as nearly everything in Flint is named after someone, something, or some place.

But often this history is lost in the sands of time so I though I’d do a little research.

All things Kearsley in Genesee County are named after Jonathan Kearsley, born 1876 in Middleton, Pennsylvania.

He graduated from Washington College (now Washington and Jefferson College) in Washington, PA in 1811.

Very soon after graduation he joined the American Army as a 2nd Lt. in the 2nd Artillery Corps during the War of 1812. During the war he was promoted to Captain and joined the staff of Gen. Winfield Scott and served in battles around Lake Erie. In the battle of Fort Erie/Niagara he sustained a wound which cost him his leg. He was eventually promoted to Major.

He performed various jobs for the American Government which landed him in Detroit in 1820 as “Receiver of Public Moneys for State of Michigan.” Among his duties were the sales of government lands in Michigan including Genesee County. Virtually all land in Genesee County was “sold” by Kearsley. A position he held for 30 years.

Kearsley served 2 terms as Mayor of Detroit, was on the Board of Trustees of the University of Michigan for 10 years and again on UM’s reorganized Board of Regents for another 14 years.

Major Jonathan Kearsley died in 1859 and is buried in the historic Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit.

Kearsley Creek, Kearsley Community Schools, Kearsley Park, Kearsley Street, Kearsley Park Blvd., and the short-lived Kearsley Township (1839-1843)* are all named after him.

There is no particular record that Major Kearsley had ever visited Genesee County as his job would not have required him to do so, but his name and his legacy certainly have deep roots here.

*As a side note: The Township of Kearsley was organized April 19, 1839 from part of then Flint Township. It only lasted until 1843 when it remerged with Flint Township The approximate area is today encompassed by N. Saginaw St. to the east, W. Pasadena Ave. to the north, west of Dye Rd. to the west, and Corunna Rd. to the south.

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