Bad Axe Area District Library

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History of Bad Axe's Name

How Bad Axe got its name

History of Bad Axe, Michigan

    Located in the center of Huron County, Michigan at the "Tip of the Thumb", Bad Axe is the County Seat. We get asked about the name "Bad Axe" frequently, so here's a short version on the history of its name:

    Bad Axe, the county seat, had its beginnings in the wilderness around 1865.   A military surveyor, Captain Rudolph Papst, named a camp site at the meeting of two major trails "Bad Axe Camp" on his charts, supposedly after an old rusted axe left at the campsite by local hunters.  From "Bad Axe Camp" to "Bad Axe Corners", and then finally incorporated as the village "Bad Axe", on March 19, 1885, the name still stands today.  Several attempts to change the name occurred in the early years, but Captain Papst, a survivor of 22 major battles in the Civil War, came back from his home in Lexington twice to demand preservation of the name.   An old axe-head, embedded in a small section of a tree and believed possibly to be the original camp axe, is displayed at the Bad Axe Library yet today.

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