History of Allegan
Built on the site of an Indian village, "Allegan" is an Indian word meaning "Lake of the Algonquins." The Ottawa were the dominant Indian tribe in the Allegan area when Anglo-American settlers arrived. In 1833, Elisha Ely from Rochester, New York became the first Anglo-American to live in what is now Allegan, building a brush and bark shanty near the banks of the Kalamazoo River. Ely quickly recognized the potential of the site and sent a message to Rochester urging "send settlers."
In 1835 Allegan became the county seat for Allegan County, helping to ensure the town's future growth. In 1838, the village of Allegan was officially incorporated. An 1884 fire destroyed most of the business district. Stores were quickly rebuilt, and despite the decline of the lumber industry, furniture and woodenware companies continued to prosper.
The telegraph came to Allegan in the 1870s followed by the telephone and electricity in the 1880s. In 1908 Allegan's population was approaching three thousand and the village was reincorporated as a city. Today, Allegan continues its tradition of progress while retaining its rich nineteenth century heritage.