The two primary areas of habitation prior to 1780 were in the areas of current day Detroit and near the straits of Mackinaw. After the Revolutionary War southeast Michigan continued to be occupied by former British and French citizens. As the war settled in the East folks along the Atlantic started looking to the west towards new land.
The population along the East coast caused the area to be very crowded with the current occupants and the many immigrants that were coming to the country. As a result people started looking to the west towards the vast lands that were unoccupied. The main area that people came from was the New England states.
The majority of people did not start coming to our area until after the War of 1812. The area of Michigan was still under British rule during this time. The people in New England would start moving towards Ohio and Michigan in the early half of the nineteenth century.
A early stopping area for people coming to Michigan was northern Ohio. The main routes for them to get there were over land and on Lake Erie. The trip would start in Albany, NY which was where the Hudson River met the newly created wonder of the world the Erie Canal. Prior to the opening of the canal there was nothing more than trails. What use to take dangerous weeks now could be traveled in a matter of days. This was a very big thing and helped tremendously in the expansion west. They would then travel down along the eastern edge of Lake Erie on the Seneca Trail to the northeastern portion of Ohio.
The second route would be traveling the same route from Albany, NY to Buffalo, NY over the province of Ontario towards Detroit. The travel from Buffalo to Detroit would again be over trails that were no wider than paths. This trip would take weeks.
As ship navigation improved on the Great Lakes another common form of travel became ship or boat. They again would start out in Buffalo and travel to points in northern Ohio and eastern Michigan. This would allow persons to get from Albany, NY to Michigan in a relatively short period of time.
I will cover more on these routes in the coming days.