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Berrien County, MI
Squire Isaac Thompson built the first homestead in Berrien County in 1823. The county became official in 1831 and received its name from U.S. Senator and Attorney General John M. Berrien in 1831. At that time, more settlers began to flow into the county. The new colonists built positive relationships with the local Indians, but endured other hardships, including an outbreak of malaria.
Following the Civil War the county experienced an intense growth spurt and the area’s fruit farming industry began. Today, the county is considered the “the heart of the fruit belt.” In the city of Benton Harbor, the traditional “blessing of the blossoms” ceremony initiates a week-long event that draws people from across the nation. And, because of its abundant fruit production, Berrien County has produced many fine wineries. In addition to fruit production, however, the county is also the birthplace of Whirlpool Corporation, Dodge vehicles, and many other manufacturing businesses.
Today Berrien County is the most populated county in Michigan. Cities included within the region are Niles, Berrien Springs, Coloma, New Buffalo and St. Joseph. The St. Joseph River that flows through the county offers fishing, water sports, beaches and camping opportunities. Annual events include Rekindle your Christmas Spirit in Downtown Berrien Springs Celebration, the Harvest Festival, Berrien County Youth Fair and the Christmas Pickle Festival.