The West Town Historic District
Location of Owosso, Michigan
|• Mayor||Benjamin R. Frederick|
|• City Manager||Donald Crawford|
|• Total||5.37 sq mi (13.91 km2)|
|• Land||5.23 sq mi (13.55 km2)|
|• Water||0.14 sq mi (0.36 km2)|
|Elevation||728 ft (222 m)|
|• Estimate (2012)||14,852|
|• Density||2,905.2/sq mi (1,121.7/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0634254|
Owosso is a city in Shiawassee County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 15,194 at the 2010 census. The city is located on the eastern side of Owosso Township, but is politically independent. The city was named after Chief Wasso, an Ojibwa leader of the Shiawassee area.
Alfred L. and Benjamin O. Williams were early settlers to the town. They drew Elias Comstock, who built the first permanent home in the settlement. Owosso was incorporated as a city in 1859 at which time it had 1000 people. It had never had a period as a village. The town's first mayor was Amos Gould, a judge originally from New York. In 1876, it organized its fire department.
The city has a council-manager form of government. Owosso is served by the Shiawassee District Library branch. Education is provided by the Owosso Public Schools, which owns the historic Lincoln School on Michigan Avenue south of M-21.
Climate and weather
Owosso experiences frigid winters with the last snow usually falling in April, typically Northern Midwestern spring thaws, balmy to hot summers, and colorful falls with the first snows usually appearing in October. Each year Owosso averages eleven days with temperatures below 0 °F (−18 °C), and nine days with temperatures above 90 °F (32 °C). Owosso averages twenty-nine inches of rain per year, and forty-one inches of snow. The average growing season in Owosso is 144 days.
|U.S. Decennial Census
As of the census of 2010, there were 15,194 people, 6,161 households, and 3,779 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,905.2 inhabitants per square mile (1,121.7/km2). There were 6,823 housing units at an average density of 1,304.6 per square mile (503.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.7% White, 0.8% African American, 0.5% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.6% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.9% of the population.
There were 6,161 households of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.0% were married couples living together, 16.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.7% were non-families. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.00.
The median age in the city was 34.8 years. 25.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 11.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.9% were from 25 to 44; 24.7% were from 45 to 64; and 12.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 15,713 people, 6,340 households, and 4,076 families. The population density was 3,174.5 per square mile (1,225.6/km²). There were 6,724 housing units at an average density of 1,358.4 per square mile (524.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97% White, 0.20% African American, 0.60% Native American, 0.40% Asian, 0.80% from other races, and 1.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3% of the population.
There were 6,340 households out of which 33.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.0% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.7% were non-families. 29.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.3% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 29.4% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,576, and the median income for a family was $40,355. Males had a median income of $32,285 versus $22,534 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,764. About 10.0% of families and 13.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.8% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.
- M-21 runs east and west through the city
- M-52 runs north and south through the city
- M-71 runs diagonally, southeast and northwest, terminating at M-21
- Curwood Castle was the writing studio of the famous author James Oliver Curwood. In honor of the famous writer Owosso holds the annual Curwood Festival. The castle is now a museum that contains period antiques, and Curwood books, photos, and movie posters as well as memorabilia from the life of another one of Owosso’s native sons: Thomas E. Dewey.
- The Shiawasse Arts Center exhibits and sells prints of Frederick Carl Frieseke, original work of other artists, holds art classes, competitions, and has exhibitions scheduled throughout the year.
- The Steam Railroading Institute
- Owosso Speedway
- Curwood Festival includes a street fair, parades, contests including raft races, carnival rides, concerts, a medieval reenactment encampment and more.
- Herman H. Dignan was Michigan's Secretary of State from 1943-1946, after serving as a State Representative from 1937 and a State Senator from 1938 to 1942.
- Thomas E. Dewey, lawyer, author, mob-busting District Attorney of New York City, three term Governor of New York (1942, 1946, 1950), and the Republican presidential nominee in 1944 and 1948.
- Alvin M. Bentley, philanthropist, foreign service officer and U.S. Congresssman, was one of the five congressmen injured on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on March 1, 1954, when Puerto Rican nationalist terrorists opened fire from the gallery.
- Alfred D. Hershey, bacteriologist, director of genetics research at Carnegie Institution of Washington, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, and co-winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in medicine/physiology.
- Lloyd R. Welch, Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California; developer of the Welch Bound standard and the co-developer of the Baum-Welch algorithm. Dr. Welch was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1979, and he is the recipient of the 2003 Claude E. Shannon Award – the highest honor granted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Information Theory Society.
- James Oliver Curwood, conservationist and best-selling author of 33 novels; more than 20 movies were made of Curwood’s books and stories, including The Bear. The tourist attraction and museum now known as Curwood Castle in Owosso was built by Curwood to serve as his writing studio, and Mount Curwood (1978 ft) in Michigan’s upper peninsula was named in his honor.
- Diane Carey, author of 46 novels including several Star Trek books, and seven New York Times best-sellers.
- Betty Mahmoody, lecturer, advocate for the rights of women and children, and co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated, best-selling book, Not Without My Daughter: Escape from Iran. The book was the basis for the movie, Not Without My Daughter, which starred Sally Field and Alfred Molina. In 1990, Betty was voted Most Courageous Woman of the Year and Woman of the Year in Germany.
- Robert L. Gibson, actor who appeared in TV shows of the 1970s and 1980s, including Amazing Stories, Welcome to My Nightmare, Otherworld, Highway to Heaven, etc.
- Mel Schacher, bass guitarist and vocalist for the rock band Question Mark and the Mysterians and, later, a co-founding member, bassist and vocalist for Grand Funk Railroad – a rock band that sold twenty-five million records and had four gold albums.
- Bobbi McCaughey, Iowa mother, wife of Kenny McCaughey, who made international news when she gave birth to septuplets in Des Moines on November 19, 1997.
- Cora Taylor, co-founder of Owosso’s Indian Trails Bus Line. On April 19, 1914, Cora Taylor became the first women in the United States to obtain a commercial chauffeur's license.
- Vicki Witt, described as "the ultimate girl next door" and the “Holy Grail” of Playboy Playmates; was Miss August 1978
- C. Warren Thornthwaite, Professor of Climatology at Johns Hopkins University, adjunct professor at Drexel University, President of the Commission for Climatology of the World Meteorological Organization, co-author of the book Water Balance, recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Association of American Geographers, and the Cullum Medal – the highest award of the American Geographical Society. His published research on climatology is considered to be some of the most influential of the twentieth century. His life is the subject of the book, The Genius of C. Warren Thornthwaite, Climatologist-Geographer. Dr. Thornthwaite also served as a teacher at Owosso High School from 1922 to 1924.
- John Tomac, bicycle racer and builder, icon in mountain bike racing field; won more international mountain bike races than anyone else in the sport. He was voted the top all-around bike racer in the world in 1988, and was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1991.
- Chester Brewer, athlete, coach and athletic director; four-sport star at University of Wisconsin, and football coach at Michigan Agricultural College/Michigan State University for 1903 to 1910, 1917 and 1919, where his teams posted shutouts in 49 of 88 games and went undefeated in 43 straight home games. He also coached baseball, track-and-field, and cross country, and coached the school’s basketball teams to a .736 record from 1904 to 1910; athletic director and coach at University of Missouri from 1910 to 1917, Director of Army Athletics for the U. S. War Department during 1918, served as director of athletics and professor of physical education from 1919 to1922 at MAC/Michigan State University, and held the same positions at the University of California-Davis until returning to Missouri where he served as athletics director until 1935. Brewer also coached his home town, Owosso, Michigan’s, West Side Indoor Baseball Team to win the world championship in 1905-1906.
- Bradlee Van Pelt, football star, quarterback for the Colorado State University Rams, set several records there; later backup quarterback for the Houston Texans of the NFL. Son of football star Brad Van Pelt, he was born in Owosso, but spent less than one year at Owosso High School.
- Brad Van Pelt, football star, three-sport athlete at Michigan State University; in football was a two-time All American, became the first defensive back to win the Maxwell Award as nation’s top collegiate player; second round NFL draft pick, played 1973-1986 with New York Giants, L.A. Raiders and Cleveland Browns. Van Pelt was named the Giants’ Player of the Decade for the 1970s, selected for Pro Bowl five years in a row; inducted into College Football Hall of Fame in 2002, nominated for Pro Football Hall of Fame. He died of a heart attack in Harrison, Michigan on February 17, 2009.
- Emile Benoit (writer) (Jerry Urick), writer of critically acclaimed Essays and Aphorisms on the Higher Man as well as works of literary existentialism entitled The Artistic Perspective and Beasts in Eden. He also wrote the play A Midsummer Night's Hangover.
- Sanford M. Green, Michigan jurist and legislator
- McArthur Mining Company – Michigan's first coal mine.
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- Media related to Owosso, Michigan at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website
- Owosso History
- Owosso Homepage
- Independent Newsgroup