James Kirk, a Virginian, moved from the Niles area in 1837 to become the first settler in Pipestone Township. Having lived in a simple cloth tent and pole shanty with his family during the first summer months, neighbors came from distant communities to help build his log cabin before the winter hardships began. In that same year, another settler, Dr. Morgan Enos, a wealthy physician, joined Kirk. At that time the Pipestone area was rich in wildlife, manifested by hungry wolves and fearless bears. Pipestone Creek was known as the dividing line between rich farm lands to the west, and the so-called “big meadow” on the east, on of the largest swamps in Berrien County.
On February 16, 1842, Pipestone’s population had increased sufficiently for it to be incorporated as a separate township. A total of 27 offices were filled at the first township meeting, apparently allowing all the voters to hold an office. The population continued to increase. In 1846, when the township’s population had grown to about 300, William Boughton erected a post office and became its first postmaster.
The Village of Pipestone was never officially organized and was rechristened “Shanghai” around 1853 in honor of Dr. Eno’s Shanghai breed of chickens. The story goes that the Shanghai chickens crowed so lustily that the residents decided that the village should bear their name and character. in 1880, Shanghai consisted of two stores, a dozen or more homes, a grade school, and two blacksmith shops. The village’s growth was halted, however, when Niles to Benton Harbor railroad tracks avoided Shanghai.
Partly due to the presence of the “big meadow” swamp, Pipestone never became a densely populated area and today remains a farming community.