Celebrating 150 Years of Corunna, Michigan


Here's what news looked like in Corunna then.

In fact, through the years, there were numerous Corunna-based newspapers:

The Shiawassee Democrat published by William B. Sherwood, 1841-1843

Shiawassee Democrat and Owosso Argus published by M.H. Clark, 1848-1851

The Corunna Weekly Courier published by William B. Pulis, 1859-?

The Shiawassee American (aka The Shiawassee County American) published by John M. Ingersoll, 1862-?

Shiawassee County Atlas published by Atlas Pub. Co., 1874-?

Shiawassee County Journal published by Ward Ingerson, 1880-1887

The Corunna Journal published by E.U. Gorsuch, 1887-1913

The Independent published by Moreau & Peacock, 1884-1935

The Corunna Mail published by Dreman & Logan, 1885-?

The Corunna News published by Louis N. Sheardy, 1935-1949

The Shiawassee News published by Kathryn Sheardy, 1950-?

And here's a particularly interesting nugget...

Much like The Corunna News rebranded as The Shiawassee News in 1950, in 2020, CorunnaNow.com and ShiawasseeNews.com rebranded as Corunna Now and The Shiawassee Exchange.


Corunna, Michigan History

It wasn't until 1869 that Corunna was formally incorporated as a village, but the beginnings of Corunna, named after Corunna, Spain, can be traced back to the late 1830s.

It was in 1837 that Corunna was platted and in 1840 that it became the Shiawassee County seat.

Andrew Mack, one in a group of businessmen that called themselves the Shiawassee County Seat Company, is credited with naming our fair city.

Mack is buried in Corunna, Canada, a town that he also had a hand in developing.

This map, published in 1859, a full ten years before Corunna became a village, features images of structures in Corunna, including the first Shiawassee County court house.

[Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.]


Here's what Corunna-Caledonia Fire Department looked like then.

In 2018, Corunna's downtown suffered a tragic fire that destroyed the historic Cavalier Bar building.  But it's not the first devastating fire the city has suffered.  In fact, 110 years prior, Corunna High School burned until nothing but a shell remained.  It was replaced with the new Union School in 1912, which later became known as Shiawassee Street School.  The 100-plus year old school was recently renovated to become the senior housing complex, Cavalier Greene.


The dam at Heritage Park in Corunna once supplied power to a grist mill.  The mill was built in the 1840s and burned in the 1950s.  It was probably some of these Corunna firefighters pictured below, photographed in the 1950s, who battled the blaze.


Left: Old 372

A big thank you to Tim Vermande (vermande.us) who shared these photos with us that he snapped of Corunna-Caledonia's fire apparatus in 1978.

An intiative was recently launched which hopes to build a memorial to Shiawassee County firefighters that have perished in the line of duty.  The memorial is to include a facility that will be home to Owosso's first gas fire engine, a 1921 American LaFrance Chain Driven.

No Corunna-Caledonia firefighters in the department's history have been lost while on the job, according to information listed at ShiawasseeFirefighterMemorial.com.  Visit the link to learn more and offer financial support to the project.

Here's a collection of our own recent pics of Corunna fire, rescue and police apparatus.

On May 1st 2005, the City of Corunna launched a website.  The same basic design was used until late 2015, when a new website was launched.  That new site design continues to be used today.

Back in 2005, visitors had to type in "corm.us" to visit the city's website.  Here's a fun little nugget: you can still do that today.  Or, you can type in the city's now-official domain, "corunna-mi.gov."

Front page of corm.us, October 13th 2006

Front page of Corunna-Mi.gov, February 18th 2019

Here's what Corunna looked like in 1969 during the city's Centennial Celebration Parade!

You've got to see a vintage video clip that Jerry Ciarlino asked us to share with you. It's an old family video from 1969 that starts with family at his grandparents' house before leading into a parade celebrating 100 years of Corunna, Michigan. That was 50 years ago!! 

Ciarlino said of the parade, "My grandfather, Robert Diffin, was in it. I want to say he was the one driving the little red car. He grew a beard, wore a vest and a bowler hat." 

Moments later he added "Not 100% sure. Now that I see it there were several guys dressed like that;" getting a good laugh in.

Here's what Corunna looked like in 2003 during the city's Storybook Parade!

Check out these photos from the 2003 Storybook Parade, courtesy of Community District Library, along with some of our own photos of the 2019 Sesquicentennial Storybook parade.

As Corunna celebrated its sesquicentennial, a cherished part of city history disappeared...

In late summer 2019, deconstruction of the dam, which was built even before Corunna was Corunna, began.

The dam was built in 1841 to power a saw mill. The original saw mill was located on the east side of the river, across from the space presently occupied by the offices of Friends of the Shiawassee River. Two years later construction began on a flouring mill, also known as a grist mill, on the west side of the river, just south of the Friends' office. In 1844, a second mill was built on the east side of the river; a woolen mill, making three total mills operating alongside or in conjunction with the dam.
But in 1897, a raging flood caused by a dam break in Byron washed away the two 50-plus year old mills on the east side of the river. In 1953, a fire consumed the then-110 year old grist mill.

The dam had a structural height of about 10 feet, a normal head of 7 feet, and created an impoundment with a surface area of about 17 acres.
The length of the dam was about 200 feet, with a 25-foot-wide stop-log bay section at the right (west) abutment.
The mill site was purchased by the Corunna City Council in the year 1979 for $17,000, but even then, the dam's ownership was in question, and not formally part of the mill site purchase.

As good stewards, in absence of an owner, city officials sought options that would see the dam repaired and preserved, but the cost was deemed to significant, and grant moneys made available to lessen the fiscal impact to the city could only be applied to removal of the dam. The Friends of the Shiawassee River organization supported deconstruction of the dam, citing improved recreation opportunities and improved natural environment for fish and other wildlife.

Who owns the dam?

An elaborate history of the ownership of the dam and mills

62 pages of documents, photos and stories; a "living document, subject to
additions, deletions & modifications," assembled by Corunna City Manager, Joe Sawyer, in 2012


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