Berrien County, Michigan
|Berrien County, Michigan|
Location in the state of Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
|Founded||October 29, 1829|
1,581.38 sq mi (4,096 km²)
571.00 sq mi (1,479 km²)
1,010.39 sq mi (2,617 km²), 63.89%
285/sq mi (110/km²)
|Time zone||Eastern: UTC-5/-4|
Berrien County is a county located in the extreme southwest of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is included in the Niles-Benton Harbor, Michigan Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 156,813. The county seat is St. Joseph.
After creation of the Michigan Territory in 1805, the territory now comprising Berrien County was part of Wayne County, Michigan. About 1780, William Burnett came from New Jersey and established a trading post at the mouth of the St. Joseph River (present-day site of St. Joseph), and traded with indigenous peoples and French Canadians who lived in the area at that time. About the same time, Joseph Bertrand also established a trading post on the river, in a location now part of Niles Charter Township. In December 1822, missionary Isaac McCoy moved his family and 18 Indian students from Indiana to a site on the St. Joseph River near the present-day city of Niles to open a mission to the Potawatomi Indians. The Carey Mission, as he named it, was 100 miles from the nearest White settlement. In 1827 St. Joseph Township was organized as part of Wayne County. The township included all lands acquired from the Native Americans by the Treaty of Chicago of 1821.
Berrien County's boundaries were set off by an act of the legislature of the Michigan Territory on October 29, 1829, with its present limits, but it was initially attached as Niles Township to Cass County for administrative purposes. In 1831 Berrien County was detached from Cass County.
The county was initially divided into three townships: Berrien Township, consisting of present-day townships of Berrien, Oronoko, and Lake plus a two-mile strip north of that territory; St. Joseph Township, consisting of everything north of Berrien Township; and Niles Township, consisting of everything south of Berrien Township.
The county government operates the jail, maintains rural roads, operates the major local courts, keeps files of deeds and mortgages, maintains vital records, administers public health regulations, and participates with the state in the provision of welfare and other social services. The county board of commissioners controls the budget but has only limited authority to make laws or ordinances. In Michigan, most local government functions — police and fire, building and zoning, tax assessment, street maintenance, etc. — are the responsibility of individual cities and townships.
Berrien County elected officials 
- Prosecuting Attorney: Arthur Cotter
- Sheriff: L. Paul Bailey
- County Clerk: M. Louise Stine
- County Treasurer: Bret E. Witkowski
- Register of Deeds: Lori D. Jarvis
- Drain Commissioner: Roger Zilke
- County Surveyor: John G. Kamer
(information as of September 2005)
According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 1,581.38 square miles (4,095.8 km2), of which 571.00 square miles (1,478.9 km2) (or 36.11%) is land and 1,010.39 square miles (2,616.9 km2) (or 63.89%) is water.
The St. Joseph River is a major geographical feature, flowing mostly north and west through the county from Niles to its mouth on Lake Michigan at St. Joseph. The southwest of the county is drained by the Galien River and its tributaries. Paw Paw Lake is in the north of the county, along with the Paw Paw River, which flows into the St. Joseph River just before it enters Lake Michigan. A tiny portion along the Indiana state line is drained by small tributaries of the Kankakee River, which ultimately flows into the Mississippi River. This is one of the few areas of Michigan drained by the Mississippi River, the other being an area of Michigan's Upper Peninsula near the Wisconsin border.
Cities, villages and townships 
- I-94 runs north along the western edge of the county, staying near Lake Michigan, until bending inland to skirt the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor urban area. It then turns east as it continues toward Kalamazoo. There is a Business Loop 94 which passes through downtown Benton Harbor and St. Joseph.
- BL I-94 runs through the downtowns of both St. Joseph and Benton Harbor.
- I-196 branches off of I-94 just east of Benton Harbor and continues north to Holland and then east to Grand Rapids.
- US 12, is an east-west route crossing through the southern portion of the county from south of Niles through Three Oaks to New Buffalo and Michiana, Michigan, before leaving the state and continuing to Michigan City, Indiana.
- US 31, which connects the area with the South Bend, Indiana, metropolitan area, enters the southeast of the county as the St. Joseph Valley Parkway, near Niles, and continues north and west. A new segment of the freeway was completed in August 2003, running from Berrien Springs north to Napier Avenue east of Benton Harbor. US 31 follows Napier Avenue west to I-94 before branching off with I-196. A final segment is planned to continue the freeway from Napier Avenue north to the junction with I-94 and BL I-94 with a full cloverleaf interchange. The former route of US 31 between Berrien Springs and St. Joseph was redesignated as M-139.
- M-51 has its southern terminus at the state line as a continuation of State Road 933. It runs north through Niles, then turns northeast and exits the county as it continues toward Dowagiac.
- M-60 runs east from Niles to I-94 at Jackson.
BUS M-60 is a business route that runs through the city of Niles.
- M-62 has its western terminus at a junction with M-140 and runs only a short distance east before it exits the county as it continues toward Dowagiac.
- M-63 has its southern terminus at a junction with M-139 (formerly US 31) in Scottdale. It runs northwest into downtown St. Joseph, then runs northeast along Lake Michigan before its northern terminus at a junction with US 31 and I-196 just south of the county boundary.
- M-139 has its southern terminus at a junction with US 31 near Berrien Springs. It runs northwest until a junction with M-63 in Scottdale where it turns north and passes to the east of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor before reaching its northern terminus at a junction with Business Loop I-94.
- M-140 has its southern terminus in Niles, runs north along the eastern portion of the county, and exits the county as it continues north toward South Haven.
- M-239 is only 1.1 miles (1.8 km) long and links I-94 at exit 1 near New Buffalo to State Road 39 north of LaPorte, Indiana.
- A-2 is Berrien's only signed county highway. Its southern terminus is in Hagar Shores at M-63 and I-196. It follows the Lake Michigan shoreline and exits the county, continuing toward South Haven.
Adjacent counties 
- Van Buren County (north)
- Van Buren County (northeast)
- Cass County (east)
- St. Joseph County, Indiana (southeast)
- LaPorte County, Indiana (south)
- Porter County, Indiana (southwest)
- Cook County, Illinois (west) (water boundary across Lake Michigan)
- Lake County, Illinois (northwest) (water boundary across Lake Michigan)
||Lake County, Illinois||Van Buren County||Van Buren County|
|Cook County, Illinois||Cass County|
|Porter County, Indiana||LaPorte County, Indiana||St. Joseph County, Indiana|
The 2010 United States Census indicates Berrien County had a 2010 population of 156,813. This is a decrease of -5,640 people from the 2000 United States Census. Overall, the county had a -3.5% growth rate during this ten-year period. In 2010 there were 63,054 households and 41,585 families in the county. The population density was 276.2 per square mile (106.6 square kilometers). There were 76,922 housing units at an average density of 135.5 per square mile (52.3 square kilometers). The racial and ethnic makeup of the county was 76.1% White, 15.2% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 4.5% Hispanic or Latino, 0.2% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races.
There were 63,054 households out of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.8% were husband and wife families, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 34.0% were non-families, and 28.7% were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the county the population was spread out with 23.4% under age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 23.2% from 25 to 44, 28.6% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.6 males.
The 2010 American Community Survey 1-year estimate indicates the median income for a household in the county was $40,329 and the median income for a family was $51,305. Males had a median income of $26,745 versus $16,289 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,337. About 12.1% of families and 16.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.5% of those under the age 18 and 8.3% of those age 65 or over.
State parks 
Other parks, preserves and natural areas 
- Galien River County Park Preserve
- Kiwanis Park – St. Joseph
- Love Creek County Park
- Madeline Bertrand County Park
- Riverview Park – St. Joseph
- Rocky Gap County Park
- Silver Beach County Park
Resorts and beaches 
- Hagar Park – Hagar Township
- Jean Klock Park - Benton Harbor
- Lion’s Park Beach – St. Joseph
- New Buffalo Beach Park – New Buffalo
- Paw Paw Lake
- Rocky Gap Beach Park - Benton Harbor
- Silver Beach - St. Joseph
- Tiscornia Park
- Weko Beach - Bridgman
Golf courses 
- The Golf Club at Harbor Shores - Benton Harbor
- Berrien Hills Country Club – Benton Harbor
- Blossom Trails Golf Club – Benton Harbor
- Brookwood Golf Course - Buchanan
- Lake Michigan Hills Golf Club - Benton Harbor
- Lost Dunes Golf Club - Bridgman
- Milan Creek Golf Club - Baroda
- Orchard Hills Country Club - Buchanan
- Paw Paw Lake Golf Club - Coloma/Watervliet
- Pebble Wood Country Club - Bridgman
- Point O'Woods Golf & Country Club - Benton Harbor
- Lemon Creek Winery and Fruit Farm – Baroda
- Round Barn Winery - Baroda
- Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant - Buchanan
- Contessa Winery - Coloma
- Karma Vista Winery - Coloma
- Hickory Creek Winery - Buchanan
- Free Run Cellars - Berrien Springs
- Domaine Berrien Cellars - Baroda
- Wyncroft Winery - Buchanan
Plans are in the works for three more wineries in the Baroda area.
Annual events 
- Antiques on the Bluff (first Sunday every month May - October, St. Joseph)
- Berrien County Youth Fair (late August, Berrien Springs)
- Blossomtime Festival (early May, multi-community)
- Cherry Festival (4 July, Eau Claire)
- Coloma Glad-Peach Festival (first full weekend of August, Coloma)
- Four Flags Area Apple Festival (October, Niles)
- Hunter Ice Festival (January, Niles)
- Independence Day Celebration (early July, Watervliet)
- Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff (second weekend in July, St. Joseph)
- Venetian Festival (mid-July)
- Watervliet Ice Festival (last week of February, Watervliet)
See also 
- "Bibliography on Berrien County". Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
- United States Census Bureau. "2010 Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Coolidge, Orville W. (1906). A Twentieth Century History of Berrien County Michigan, pp. 19-20. The Lewis Publishing Company.
- ”Rev. Isaac McCoy” http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/mccoy.isaac.1st.indn.miss.html, accessed 19 Feb 2011
- Coolidge (1906), p. 24.
- "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
- "American Factfinder". United States Census Bureau accessdate=March 11, 2012.
- Berrien County government official web site
- Berrien County Health Department
- Berrien County Road Commission
- Berrien County Sheriff's Department
- Berrien County GenGuide for Berrien County Genealogy Information
- "Bibliography on Berrien County". Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
- History of Berrien and Van Buren counties, Michigan (Ensign, 1880)
-  (US census)
- History of Berrien County (Southwest Michigan Directory)