Milan ( MAI-lan) is a city in Monroe and Washtenaw counties in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 5,836 at the 2010 census. The city was founded in 1831 by John Marvin, Bethuel Hack, and Harmon Allen. Hack was the first postmaster, and he named the community “Farmer” since everyone there was a farmer. Drug store owner Henry Tolan took over as postmaster and renamed the community “Tolanville” after himself. Next, David Woodard became the post master, with the post office in his flour mill. He renamed the community “Woodard’s Mills.” The postmaster in Washington D.C. noticed the confusion caused by this swift change in names and decreed that it would henceforth be called “Milan” after the neighboring Milan Township.
French settlers in the area named the township “Milan” because they once hoped to produce grapes and wine in the area, so the Italian city by that name seemed appropriate, given Italy’s reputation for wine-making. The river going through Milan and Milan township is the Saline River, part of the River Raisin watershed. “River Raisin” refers to Raisin, the French word for grape. Small wild grapes were growing on the banks of the river, so early French settlers in the Monroe area hoped that this area would be wine country. Just southeast of Milan, along Plank road, is an old community by the name of “Grape”, which is a reflection of this desire to create a wine-producing area. Milan became a village in 1885. It continued as a village until 1967, when it was incorporated as a city.
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