The township was named after Revolutionary War General Thomas Sumter
incorporated April 6, 1840. The spelling of the name is different because of a clerk’s
error. At one time, the mostly rural township had two small settlements: Martinsville
and West Sumpter. The towns faded when the railroad came through and made Belleville
the regional center of commerce. Today Sumpter is the most rural and sparsely
municipality in Wayne County and has relatively few paved roads. Farms are still a part
of the landscape, with agriculture output that includes sod, soybeans, corn, and small
fruits. Although there are businesses in the township, most of the residents earn their
primary income from employment outside the community.
The city of Belleville, Michigan, has two theories about how the name
to be. One theory suggests it was named after a early landowner James Bell and the other
suggests a French influence: belle ville, or “beautiful city.” In 1826, Caleb Marsh put a
dam across the Huron River to provide power for a sawmill. Marsh sold his land to John
Graham, who sold it to Bell. Belleville began as a tiny community within Van Buren
Township and eventually became the township’s hub because of its water power ran mills
and it provided access to the railroad. Belleville was incorporated as a city in 1946.
Today, Belleville is a little more than one square mile in area, Belleville is located in
western Wayne County’s gently rolling hills along the southern shore of Belleville Lake.
Belleville Lake has a unique history too. In the 1920s, Belleville Lake was created when
Detroit Edison built a dam on the Huron River near Haggerty road. The lake became a
major tourist attraction. Belleville is the hometown of the “Belleville Three”—world
famous techno music pioneers Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson.
By Clicking on the Map Below, you can look at 1990 U.S. Census
Data for the