Ray Michigan/Indiana Border Dispute May FINALLY Get Settled After More Than 100 Years
The community of Ray has been living a double life for its entire existence. It's one-part Michigander, and one-part Hoosier. But a Generations-Long dispute has "raged" in this little slice of the upper midwest since it's creation with residents... WHICH state do they really live in?
Some residents have lived in a state of duality their entire lives. It's not uncommon for some Ray-ites to have a Michigan driver's license with an Indiana address on it. One resident, Bob Harrington told Bridgemi.com...
"You don't have to move around here, they'll move you." - Bob Harrington
Thankfully, Bob, and many of his fellow Ray-tians, may FINALLY get an answer after more than a hundred years of disputed borders.
LET'S TALK ABOUT RAY
Ray was established on the state line of Michigan and Indiana in the mid 1800s. Most notable, it straddles "State Line Road," and the Indiana northeastern Railroad travels directly through town. At one time, the town held a post office on the Indiana side of the community from 1872 to 1960. Now, residents are served (at least on the Indiana side) through Fremont, Indiana.
So, seemingly, the majority of the community's current "center" seems to lie on the Indiana side of the line.
The Michigan half of Ray is much quieter, and lies at the intersection of Delmar Road and State Line Road, tucked into the far southeastern corner of Branch County. They are also part of the California Township.
Before this week, the "defacto" state line ran directly down State Line Road through the middle of town, marked by a small green "state line" sign. But the lines aren't as cut and dry as the road map would seem.
To give Michigan it's shape as we know it today, the state has been through some NASTY disputes with neighboring states throughout the last couple of centuries. In fact, the Wisconsin border was disputed so heavily, it was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court to be settled. Michigan's border with Ohio was even MORE tense, and residents nearly went to WAR over where to draw the line! With these major conflicts, these state dividers have been scrutinized over and over throughout the years to be SURE everyone gets what they wanted.
Michigan's 110-mile border with Indiana, however, has been much quieter. Most of it lies over farmland, and hasn't officially been revisited by surveyors since the early 1800s, around the time of statehood. And since no major territorial dispute ever really came up, the state's dividing line was left neglected for more than a century.
The only defining marker in Ray, and across the rest of the border, were wooden markers left by a surveyor in the 19th century... which are all pretty well gone now. Now, the closest thing they have is that small green "state line" sign in the middle of town. Any "border dispute" has been left up to local surveyors and passionate state line residents. But even they will admit it's simply their "best guess."
Time for change
BUT, things are changing for Ray, and last week, the final draft of two bills were introduced to Governor Gretchen Whitmer with bi-partisan support from the state commission. The bills would FINALLY have the state line between Michigan and Indiana resurveyed. The bills are expected to pass, and the survey will be included in the next state budget. (Indiana officials were ahead of the game, and approved something similar in 2019.)
Now, while the resulting survey probably won't have many significant changes (a few feet here and there in 100+ acre fields and pastures), it will have significant meaning to people like Bob in Ray, who can FINALLY have a driver's license and address from the same state.
Licensed Surveyor, Jack Owens (a Michigander), says in his experience the border has been quiet, but that finally defining the lines is a good thing. Using a play on the words of Robert Frost from his "Mending Wall" poem...
"I think good boundaries make good neighbors." - Jack Owens
So after more than 100 years and multiple generations, Ray-onians will FINALLY get a definitive answer, as to whether they're a "Hoosier" or "Michigander.".... next year... maybe.