Founded in 1831 by Sidney Ketchum
and settlers from New York and New England, the town was named in honor of Chief Justice John Marshall. Townsmen Isaac Crary and the Rev. John Pierce
planned in 1834 the innovative Michigan public school system. Marshall's early hopes of becoming the state capital were not rewarded, but the coming of the Michigan Central Railroad in 1844 increased prosperity, and the town remained a rail center until the 1870s. In 1863 the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
was founded here. Many of the citizens held strong abolitionist views, and in 1847 they prevented the return of fugitive slave Adam Crosswhite to Kentucky. The architectural excellence of Marshall's homes is known throughout the Midwest.