JAMES H . MESSENGER
JAMES H. MESSENGER is one of the progressive and successful farmers of Kalamo township, and he has been a resident of Eaton county from his youth to the present, his high standing as a citizen showing the estimate placed upon him in the community. He was born in Windham township, Portage county, Ohio, July 21, 1846, and is a son of Wilson L. and Orilla (Streator) Messenger, both of whom were likewise born in Portage county -- the former in March, 1823, and the latter June 26, 1820. The father died on his homestead farm, in Walton township, Eaton county, Michigan, January 20, 1885. His venerable widow still resides on the old homestead. Wilson L. Messenger was a blacksmith by trade, following the same as a vocation for a number of years and then having passed about eleven years on a farm in Portage county, Ohio. In 1864 he sold this property and came to Eaton county, Michigan, securing two hundred acres of wild land in Walton township. He made a clearing sufficiently large to permit the erection of a comfortable frame house and had reclaimed about one hundred and sixty acres of the land to cultivation before his death. At the time of the civil war he became a member of the state militia of Ohio, and was finally mustered into the United States service. At Johnson's Island he was taken prisoner by the famous raider, John Morgan, later being paroled and returned to Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio, and being at Johnson's Island at the time of receiving his honorable discharge. He was slightly wounded in an engagement in which he took part, but he was taken ill while in camp, contracting chronic diarrhea and continuing in impaired health during the remainder of his life. He never applied for a pension, but after his death his widow put in an application and now receives twelve dollars a month from the government. Wilson L. Messenger was a man of excellent mentality and sterling integrity and always held the esteem and confidence of those with whom he was thrown in contact. He identified himself with the Republican Party at the time of its organization and ever afterward remained a stanch advocate of its principles. He served many years as justice of the peace and was highway commissioner of his township at the time of his demise. He was a valued member of the Grand Army of the Republic. His widow has long been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. They became the parents of six children, of whom the subject of this sketch was the firstborn; David H. owns and resides upon a portion of the old homestead, in Walton township; Mary died at the age of seven years; Frances is the wife of William Campbell, who is engaged in the jewelry business at Manton, Wexford county, and they have five children; Cordelia is the wife of Adam Raidel, of Walton township, and Sherwood died in childbirth. James H. Messenger secured his early educational training in the public schools of Ohio, having been eighteen years of age at the time of the family removal to Michigan. He was his father's right-hand man in carrying forward the clearing and cultivation of the farm, having been the eldest of the children and having thus assumed a large amount of responsibility which his father would have borne had his health rendered it possible. After his marriage he continued to reside at the parental home until the death of his honored father, when he came into possession of one hundred and twenty acres of the home place, which property he still owns and cultivates. He has been associated with his father in renting the A. P. Spaulding farm, in Kalamo township, and after his father passed away he removed with his family to this fine farm of three hundred acres, which he has continued to rent during the intervening period of nearly twenty years, also looking after his own farm, which is situated about three miles south of his place of residence. As an evidence of the mutual confidence and esteem existing between Messrs. Spaulding and Messenger, it may be said that during the eighteen years that Mr. Messenger has rented the farm the only contract with the owner has been a verbal one, while there has never been the slightest dissension or dispute between them. Mr. Messenger has always been a Republican in his political allegiance, having cast his first presidential vote for General Grant, and he served several years as justice of the peace. He is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and both he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church. July 4, 1869, stands as the date recording the marriage of Mr. Messenger to Miss Sarah Keen, who was born in Kalamo township, this county, June 29, 1849, being a daughter of Jonathan and Amelia (Powers) Keen, both native of the state of New York, where the former was born December 28, 1814, and the latter April 4, 1812. Mr. Keen came to Michigan in 1834, three years before the state was admitted to the Union, passing one year in Marshall, Calhoun county, and then, in 1835, coming to Kalamo township, Eaton county, where he purchased one hundred and twenty acres of government land in the midst of the forest wilds, becoming one of the first settlers in this part of the county. He built a log house on the place and then returned to New York and was married, his bride accompanying him to the new home and becoming mistress of the little forest lodge. They endured the varied vicissitudes of the pioneer days and Mr. Keen reclaimed a good farm from the wilderness, being one of the honored citizens of the county and continuing to reside on his homestead until his death, at the age of sixty-six years; his widow passed the last nine years of her life in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Messenger, of this sketch, having been eighty-eight years of age at the time of her death. They became the parents of four children: Charles is a resident of Cadillac, Wexford county; Nancy is the wife of John Bowen, of Walton township; Abram and Sarah were twins, the former dying in childhood and the latter being the wife of him to whom this sketch is dedicated. Mr. and Mrs. Messenger have eight children, death having never invaded the immediate family circle; Jennie is the wife of Willis McWithey, of Walton township, and they have three children; Georgia is the wife of Frederick Bradley of the same township; Adelle is the wife of Frederick Young of Carmel township, and they have two children; Emory, who resides in the city of Battle Creek, married Miss Vernie Flowers, and they have three children; Ella is the wife of Almon Erskine of Carmel township, and they have one child; Sherwood, Howard and Wilson remain at the parental home.