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Near this site along the Calvin and Porter Township division line is where the manumitted slaves of Sampson Sanders arrived and purchased land in 1849 and 1850. Fifteen deeds were entered into Cass County deed books between 12 Oct 1849 and 3 Feb 1850. The farms were purchased in family units and allows a researcher to determine how the families were arranged.

The Sanders families arrived in Michigan after enduring slavery in Virginia. Emancipated by their former owner and provided with resources to begin a new life in Michigan, the Sanders families owned more than 500 acres in Cass County, Michigan. The lands were on the line between Calvin and Porter Townships about 10 miles east of Cassopolis.

The single men bought several lots in Williamsville while families purchased land according to the number of adults and children (an average of about 6 acres each). Although the soils were boggy and the climate much colder than the one they had left on the Ohio River, the Sanders families were able to survive by working as family groups. Their life was difficult and they lived by subsistence farming until about World War I. Owing to greater opportunities for employment and the demand for labor, the next generation drifted into the local cities where they found work or joined the military.

Cass County, MI Deed Books

Federal Census - Cass County, MI 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

History of the Chain Lake Church

Personal papers of Stella Sanders Lawson