The plat for the village of Hillsdale was filed in July, 1839, though the first settlement probably occurred a few years previously. Before that time this area had been inhabited mainly by a band of Potawatomi Indians led by their chief, Baw Beese. Jonesville was the first county seat, but Hillsdale gained this distinction in 1843 due to its more central location and the completion of the Michigan Southern Railroad to the town. The first Hillsdale County Fair was held on this site in 1851. Hillsdale College
opened for class in November 1855, and the city received its charter in April, 1969.