When this Southwest Michigan city first appears on a map in 1827, it was known as Cow Pasture. Actually it was written in French, Parc aux Vaches.

The city in question is Niles. Today, it's Southwest Michigan's City of Four Flags, but back in the early 1800s, in the days of the French fur traders, it was simply known as Cow Pasture.

The full map, which can be seen here, is known as the Kendrick Survey was mandated by Congress to determine the northern boundary of Indiana and the region around South Bend.

Parc aux Vaches is remembered now on a Michigan State Historical Marker inside Madeline Bertrand County Park:

Known as Parc aux Vaches, or "cow pasture," this area was named by the French for the wild buffalo that once grazed here. Two major Indian trails crossed here; the Sauk Trail, also called the old Chicago Trail, which linked Detroit and Chicago; and the Miami Trail, which linked the Grand and the Wabash rivers. About 1808 French fur trader Joseph Bertrand established a post in this area. Bertrand married Madeline, said to be the daughter of Potawatomi Chief Topenebee. Under the 1821 Treaty of Chicago, which ceded much of the lower southwest corner of Michigan to the United States, this site was deeded to Madeline Bertrand. Parc aux Vaches is now part of Niles Township.

It's interesting to note how important a crossroads the Niles area is - and why it's been under the control of 4 different nations during its history. Being at the crossing of a major north-south and east-west route as well as the St Joseph River which gives access to both the Great Lakes via the outflow to Lake Michigan and the Gulf of Mexico via a portage to the rise of the Kankakee River at South Bend which flows to the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.

The Cow Pasture legacy in the Niles region also lives on in neighboring South Bend, Indiana, with a Parkovash Avenue leading to Parkovash Park. Parkovash being, of course, an anglicization spelling of the French Parc aux Vaches.

parkovash avenue south bend
Google Maps Street View

The park today consists of a wooded playground area - not a cow in sight.

parkovash park
Google Maps Street View

$2.75 Million Mansion in Niles Can Only Be Described as "Dreamy"

Modeled after a castle, this home looks like a modern-day storybook home come to life.

Gallery Credit: Zillow

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