Township History

Cotrellville Township, St. Clair County Michigan
Early History


When the partition of our section of Michigan was made in 1787, there was only one large township called Cottrellville which included the present townships of Cottrellville, China, Casco, East China and Ira. In the heart of this township was the city of Newport (later called Marine City). It had been founded by Samuel Ward whose shipbuilding and trade interests developed the area.

In 1864, in a dispute over the presentation of candidates for the township government, the northern part of this large township broke away. Captain John Clarke, an influential early resident, is credited with suggesting the name China for the new township. There is no official record of the reason why the eastern section of China Township broke off in 1859. 

Very likely, interests of those making a living from river access were different from inland farming interests. The act to establish East China Township was approved February 12, 1859. In April of 1869 and in February of 1905, certain other sections of land were transferred from China to East China Township. Much of the early history of what is now East China Township refers to the period when it was part of the large Cottrellville.