Marlette Township is comprised of approximately 52 square miles of land located in the southwest corner of Sanilac County. The City of Marlette, which was formerly part of Marlette Township, is completely surrounded by the Township. The Township is located 22 miles north of Imlay City via M-53. It is 19 miles southwest of the county seat of Sandusky via M-46 and M-53. Marlette Township is approximately 44 miles from the City of Saginaw, 52 miles from the City of Flint, and 70 miles from the City of Detroit.
About Marlette Township
The County of Sanilac was established by proclamation of Territorial Govenor Lewis Cass on March 28, 1820. It was named for a chief of the Wyandotte Indian Tribe. The County was initally governed as part of Oakland County (1820) and later as part of St. Clair County (1827). Marlette Township was founded in 1856. The first person to claim government land in the Township was Robert Stinson in 1854. In October, 1856, a committee headed by Hugh Dale petitioned the Sanilac County Board of Supervisors to allow Marlette Township to become a Township. The committee succeeded in having what is now Town 11 and the North 1/2 of Town 10 set apart and designated as Marlette Township. Unlike most townships, Marlette is nine miles long and six miles wide. This is 50% larger than the standard Michigan Township.
Marlette Township derived its name from a word found carved on the end log of a shanty built accross from the William Rudd farm. Two brothers had come from Ontario, Canada with the intention of building a mill and establishing a village in the area. Their plans failed and they returned to Canada. Their' mother's name was Marlatt and this name was carved on the log. When it came time to choose a name for the Township, William Rudd suggested a variation of the name carved on the log. The name he suggested was Marlette. In 1858, the Township's first school teach arrived. Her name was Mary Ball. Also, in 1858, the first church was built in the Township. It was used by both Methodist and Baptist congregations. The first church built in the Village portion of the Township was a Presbyterian Church.
In 1871 a major fire swept across Sanilac and Huron Counties and left a blackened waste behind. No lives were lost but the property damage was significant. In the fall of 1881, another major fire originated in the North Branch area and swept the entire Thumb. In four hours time, the fire turned the Thumb, including Marlette Township, into a waste land. Three hundred lives were lost in the region and fourteen thousand people were made homeless as a result of this fire. However, residents did not abandon the area. Instead, the citizens rebuilt the community and Marlette entered into an era of prosperity.
The dairy business in Marlette Township begain to expand early. Prior to 1900 the first creamery, the A.E. Piper Company, was built within the Township. In 1917, the Marlette Farmer's Co-op Elevator Co. was incorporated to serve the needs of the area farmers. In 1935, further growth in the farming industry occurred when the Marlette stockyards were established. The farm machinery business had become significant as new inventions were developed, to the great benefit of area farmers. In 1938, the John Deer dealership was purchased by Henry Diem. The dealership, under other ownership, has continued to serve the area. Marlette Township continues to have a strong agricultural economy and has received high yields from its fertile land. The Township continues to be one of the significant dairy townships in the State of Michigan. In recent years, milk production has dropped somewhat as cash cropping increased.