Shavehead, Michigan and how it got its name


Have you ever been to Shavehead, Michigan?
It is very possible that you have been and you don’t even know it.

This small community with a curious and somewhat funny name is in Porter Township, Cass County. It’s not on the cards and it hasn’t been since the 1800s.

But why the name “Shavehead”?

This small community started life as a post office near the intersection of what is now Shavehead Lake Road and M-40. West of this intersection is Shavehead Lake, once there was a Shavehead School, Shavehead Trail, and somewhere is Shavehead Prairie. All of the above were named after Chief Shavehead of the Potawatomi tribe. He was nicknamed “Shaving Head” by settlers because of his traditional hairstyle: a shaved head with a band of hair from the back to the top of the head. His real tribal name is still unknown.

The chief lived in Cass County from approximately 1775 to 1830. What made it stand out? He was the only Indian chief in Cass County who refused to sign any treaty with the US government. Upset by the arrival of white settlers and the displacement of Indians, Shavehead began his own war path: robbing and attacking wagons, settler cabins and stagecoaches.

The death of Chief Shavehead is still subject to speculation. There are three conclusions:
1) Killed by one of his enemies alone in the woods
2) Died in a camp where the Indians made maple syrup.
3) Naturally died of old age and poverty

He is definitely buried somewhere in southern Michigan, either in Cass County or Van Buren County. No one knows for sure.

As for the “community” of Shavehead, the post office began in July 1858 and was opened and closed a total of six times until it closed definitively in February 1888. Looking at the photos below you will see that there is nothing to do there. , and an old building stands around the corner, looking like an old gas station at one point. The atlases below only show Shavehead listed twice: in 1872 and 1873.

Even if at first glance you might think it’s not worth the detour, you never know. Small places like this still hold secrets and buried artifacts that can tell more stories than any human.


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