LOCAL HISTORY - Early Settlements - Emigration of 1835-36 - A Colonization Scheme
While William G. Henry was a member of the committee that selected the location and was one of the original members of the colony, signing its constitution and by-laws at Castleton, Vermont, he did not settle in Vermontville, but in Grand Rapids, where he was for many years a prominent and highly esteemed citizen. He married Huldana Squier, sister of Wait J. Squier, who, as the record shows, was a leading colonist. Mr. and Mrs. Henry's oldest daughter, Annette Henry, married Gen. Russell A. Alger, a prominent citizen of Detroit and of Michigan. As Mr. Henry was instrumental in locating the Vermontville colony, gave his counsel and advice to its organization, and selected a village lot, although not one of its pioneer settlers, he is justly entitled to special and honorable mention.
|1. M. P. Squire||Cochran 1.|
|2. J. Scoville||Colver 2.|
|3. Warner-Bond||Martin 3.|
|4. Mears||Scoville 4.|
|5. Clark||Mead 5.|
|6. Robinson-Francher||McCotter 6.|
|7. Terrill||Moffitt 7.|
|8. Merrill||Squire 8.|
|11. Fairfield||Henry 11.|
|12. Hawkins||Church 12.|
|13. Barber||J. Fuller 13.|
|14. Parker||Norton-Warner 14.|
|15. Joy||Hoyt 15.|
|16. Bascom||Taft 16.|
|17. Towslee||Selden 17.|
|18. C. Imus||J. Hawkins 18.|
During that summer, 1836, Bazaleel Taft came with his family and settled on his village lot, but he moved to the town of Kalamo in a year or two and resided there the remainder of his life. Reuben Sanford, having purchased eighty acres of land adjoining the colony, also moved in that summer with his wife and only child, a daughter, living for a while in an unoccupied shanty on the Colver village lot until his own log house was built, and though not a member of the colony, became the first permanent settler in the town. Soon after their arrival, while living in the shanty, a son, Henry Sanford, was born, and was the first white child born in Vermontville. Twenty-five years later, when the civil war came, he was one of the first of the Vermontville boys to enlist as a soldier, and he died in the service. During the fall Jacob Fuller and wife, Elijah S. Mead and wife, jay Hawkins and wife with one child, Horace Hawkins, who still resides on a farm his father located, and W. S. Fairfield, arrived. March 24, 1837, Mrs. Elijah S. Mead died after a brief illness, at the age of 22 years, the first death in the colony. There was no physician to be had; womanly kindness and care did all that was possible for her, but in vain; and disheartened, Mr. Mead moved back to Vermont.
Roads were horrible; sometimes impassable; when not raised eighteen inches to two feet above the surface by hauling logs across the driveway and rolling them close together, called corduroy, they were two feet below the surface in the mire, and even then not very solid. Often as " In the days of Shamgar, the son of Anath in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through the bye-ways." From Bellevue, through the woods for fourteen miles to the nearest post office, the road was of such a character as to make the last installment of the journey from New England to the colony the hardest part of the trip. It was merely underbrush, trees on each side blazed with an axe to guide the traveler, and passing over many low and wet places, they soon became quagmires by being cut up by passing teams. A mile an hour was good time over them. Some families, when moving in, were compelled to camp out in the woods over night, and to accommodate them a shanty was built near a brook for shelter. From this fact the stream got the name of Shanty Brook, by which it is still known. In October, 1839, when my father, Edward H. Barber, moved in, with his wife, four boys, an ox team, wagon and cow, we left Bellevue a clear and frosty morning, before the sun was up, stopped long enough in the woods to eat a lunch, feed the oxen and extract some milk from the brindle cow, and about nine o'clock in the evening arrived at the top of the hill in Vermontville, a rain storm having set in after dark at the close of the day and of Indian summer. The first log house at the top of the hill was owned by Sidney B. Gates, and he came out with an old-fashioned tin lantern and tallow dip to light and guide us to our destination, the house of Oren Dickinson, three quarters of a mile distant. For a mile or two north of Bellevue the road had been chopped out four rods wide, and also for half a mile or so south of Vermontville. The rest of the way the track was through the woods, and sometimes hard to find on account of the fallen leaves. But we made a mile an hour that last one of eight days from Detroit, and three weeks from Benson, Vermont, and reached our stumpy Canaan at last.
In the spring the Thornapple river about a mile south of the village overflowed its broad bottomland, rendering it impassable for teams. In April 1837, W. J. Squier arrived at the south bank of the river with his family just at night. The water was so high they could not cross. Learning of their arrival and knowing the situation, R. W. Griswold and W. S. Fairfield waded across with provisions and took them to an Indian wigwam not far away, where they stayed over night. The next morning Mr. Griswold ferried Mrs. Squier and their youngest child across in a small dugout, or log canoe, a distance of about eighty rods. During the day the team and household goods were got over. To go to Bellevue to mill and return always required two days.
Although much isolated from the rest of the world, these colonists had the advantage of good society and they provided themselves with religious privileges and a school for their children from the start. In February, 1837, a Congregational church with sixteen members was organized by Rev. S. Cochrane, its first pastor, and his duties extended over a period of five years. It would have been slim picking for the minister, no doubt, but for his working the land as did all the rest and some aid from the Home Missionary Society. we have an original subscription paper, dated September 24, 1838, which says: "We, the subscribers, being desirous to sustain the preached gospel in this place, agree to pay the several sums annexed to our names respectively, to the support of the Rev'd S. Cochrane as our minister. Said sums to be paid in labor in chopping or clearing off the land, in cash or produce, as may best suit the subscribers, and as they may agree with the said Mr. Cochrane, two-thirds of said subscription to be paid by the fifteenth day of May next, and the other third by the first day of October, 1839."
The names, conditions of payment, and amounts on this paper are; S. S. church, paid, $10; Warren Gray, in labor and team work, $6; H. J. Mears, in labor, $6; Jay Hawkins, in labor with team, $6; Jacob Fuller, in labor or cooperage, $5; Wait J. Squier in labor and team work, $10; S. D. Scovell, $10; Reuben Sanford, in produce, $5; Alexander and William Clark, $5; Martin & Robinson, in goods, $15; William P. Wilkinson, $1; M. S. Norton, $5; Sidney B. Gates, $5; George S. Browning, $8; Oren Dickinson, $10; Levi Merrill, $5; Oliver J. Stiles, $10; Samuel S. Hoyt, $5; Roger W. Griswold, $5; W. S. Fairfield, $5; Charles Imus, in shoemaking, $5; F. Hawkins, $1; Peter Kinne, $1; E. O. Smith, $1.
Of these subscribers Samuel S. Hoyt and E. O. Smith resided in what afterwards became the town of Sunfield. Mr. Hoyt lived six miles north and his nearest neighbors in 1837 were in Vermontville. S. S. Church, in a sketch of the early settlements says: "During this season, Samuel S. Hoyt, who lived six miles from any white inhabitant, and whose wife had not seen a white woman for several months at a time, brought his wife on an ox-sled to the colony, and after two or three weeks returned home, rejoicing in the possession of a fine daughter to cheer the loneliness of his forest home. Nor was this an isolated case. One from Chester occurred the same season, and not long after one from a remote part of our town."
In the summer of 1838 the first school was taught in a private house. In the fall of that year a log school house was erected on the northwest quarter of the public square, in which schools were regularly taught and the scholars uniformly whipped from three to four months in summer by a female teacher, and for three months in the winter by a male teacher. A rate bill was prepared by the teacher, and the wood was furnished pro rata by the patrons of the school. the teacher boarded around at the homes of the pupils, the length of time at each place determined by the number of scholars in the family. when there were but two rooms in a log house, one down stairs and the other up stairs, with hardly a spare corner, sleeping a teacher was more difficult than feeding him or her. An aristocratic log house would have two rooms on the ground floor, and that made matters pleasanter. However, all got along very well, and the petty annoyances were soon forgotten.
In 1843 an academical association was formed, the money raised by subscription and the materials procured to build an academy, the building to answer the double purpose of a school and meeting house. finding it best to have a legal existence, the Vermontville Academical association with W. U. Benedict, Oren Dickinson, S. S. Church, Daniel Barber, W. J. Squier, M. S. Norton, D. H. Robinson and Levi Merrill for the first board of trustees, was incorporated by act of the State legislature April 28, 1846, and vested with "power to establish at or near the village of Vermontville, in the county of Eaton, an institution for the instruction and education of young persons." Nine trustees were provided for and the capital stock of ten thousand dollars was divided into one thousand shares of ten dollars each.
Prior to this act of incorporation, in the fall of 1844, the upper story of the academy building was completed, and Rev. w. U. Benedict, pastor of the church, taught for four months of the winter of 1844-5 the higher English branches and the languages. Mr. Benedict continued to teach in the academy for several successive winters and gave general satisfaction. the district school was also continued summer and winter until both were merged into a union school with two departments. In 1870 the present union school building was erected at a cost of about $12,000. The old academy was a well conducted and popular institution while under charge of Mr. Benedict, and scholars attended it from various parts of Eaton County and from battle Creek for several winters.
A handbill for the winter term of 1849 has been preserved and is worth reproducing entire: "VERMONTVILLE ACADEMY!!" --The Winter term of this Institution will commence October 9th, 1849, and continue 20 weeks under the superintendence of Rev. W. U. Benedict. Mr. B.'s success as Teacher hitherto, and the location of this Institution, removed from everything that tends to divert the student's mind and draw off his attention from his studies, renders this a desirable Institution for those who wish to make improvements.
The terms of tuition are:
"For common English branches........$2.50
For Higher English branches............ 3.00
For Languages................................ 3.00
With a small charge for incidental expenses. Board can be obtained at from $1.00 to $1.25 a week. by order of the Trustees.
S. S. CHURCH, Clerk.
Vermontville, Aug. 10, '49."
In the winter of 1846-7 George N. Potter of the town of Benton, sheriff of the county for four years and recently state senator, was one of the scholars, and he paid his board by slashing down the timber on several acres of land just north of the academy for W. S. Fairfield.
A full account of the colony that settled Olivet will be found elsewhere. these three colonies, Delta, Vermontville and Olivet are believed to be the only strictly colonizing efforts that were made in the county; yet it frequently happened that several families who were acquainted in the eastern states would settle near each other. this was true at Dimondale, and may have been of other places.
In 1836, six or eight young families, by the names of Nichols and Nixon, came into the state from near London, in Canada, and settled in the southeastern corner of the township of Oneida. They were soon followed by several other families from the same vicinity in Canada, so that the settlement was soon called "The Canada Settlement."
LOCAL HISTORY - "The Strenuous Life" - Personal Reminiscences
Unless a man had had some experience in clearing up a new country he cannot realize under what great disadvantage all work is done. when a man has paid for his land, moved his family onto his lot, had secured a yoke of oxen, a lumber wagon, a cow, a dog and a rifle, and had ten dollars in his picket it might be thought that he was pretty well fixed to begin the world; but he found that everything needed to be done, and done at once.
The cattle were turned loose to get their living in the woods, but they were in a strange place and he could not tell where they would wander, and when wanted he must spend half the forenoon wading through the wet grass and weeds before he could find them.
The first necessities for cooking are fire and water, but the wood must first be cut and the water brought from some spring or stream, possibly half a mile or a mile away, and this must be done day after day until his house or shanty was finished. for help in digging his well, he must change work with some neighbor. by the time the house was built, his well dug, his money has been used up for provisions, and he was obliged to go to the older settlements and work several weeks in order to get a further supply of food. If he secured grain, he must go twenty miles to mill, and the roads were so bad that it took him three or four days. roads needed to be cut out and worked at once; the heavy timber must be cut and burned before he could put in any crops, and after the ground was cleared the fields must be fenced in order to save the growing crops. When his first crop of wheat was raised it must be stacked outside, for he has no barn in which to store it, and had to be threshed by laying the sheaves on the ground and driving his cattle round-and-round upon it, and then cleaned by the wind, and this was a very wasteful way of securing the crop. Very likely by that time he had broken a chain or lost a bolt from his wagon, and the nearest blacksmith who could repair the loss was eight or ten miles away.
He might find the blacksmith ready to do his work but out of iron�which occasioned further vexatious delay�for he had to go six or eight miles in another direction to a country store that carried a small stock of iron, to get ten cents� worth of iron, and it took him a whole day to get twenty-five cents� worth or blacksmithing done.
Then there were hundreds of little things, that at the old home were thought to be of so little value as not to be worth taking to the new home, that were sorely missed.
In case of sickness the doctor was many miles away. In the clearing up of every new country there is more or less of ague to be encountered and few diseases are more vexatious and discouraging to the pioneer than the ague which hangs on and on, week after week and month after month. A man may be able to do a little work one day and will be flat on his back the next, while his work is of necessity neglected. In these circumstances many men determined that as soon as they could they would sell out and go back to the east; but after having �work out the ague� they changed their conclusions.
There was quite a variety of wild fruits, plums, crab-apples, huckleberries, raspberries, and elderberries. Thee was also a great variety of nuts, acorns, beechnuts, hazel-nuts, butter-nuts, black walnuts and hickory-nuts. Hogs would get quite fat on the nuts, and when fattened exclusively upon them, the lard was so soft that it would scarcely harden in the coldest weather, and was frequently used for lighting purposes, sometimes in lamps and at others placed in a saucer with a wick laid over the edge and set on fire.
Occasionally a tree was found that contained a swarm of bees, where they had worked for years and laid up quite a stock of honey. But the chief source of sweetening was the sugar maple. The Indians had obtained a great deal in this way, but were so untidy in their habits that few white people wished to patronize them. But the early settlers made very large troughs from the whitewood trees, capable of holding several barrels of sap, and used them to store it in until it could be boiled down. The sap as it flowed from the trees was caught in smaller troughs, made from basswood or whitewood trees about eighteen inches in diameter, cut into three-foot lengths, then split and each half hollowed out to make the trough. And when not in its legitimate use was frequently found to be a convenient cradle for the baby. This county abounded in sugar maples, and as long as cane sugar was sold at ten and twelve cents a pound the manufacture of maple sugar was a profitable industry; but since the best cane sugar is sold for five or six cents little maple sugar is made, and the farms were cutting down their sugar bushes. In 1874 a census was taken and it was found that 322 tons of maple sugar had been manufactured in the county. This was nearly twice as much as was manufactured in any other county in the state.
It was two or three years before the pioneer could raise sufficient food for his family, and in addition there were family supplies needed, such as clothing, boots and shoes. About 1836 prices of all these things were quite high, wheat being $1.25 a bushel and pork a shilling a pound. Some paid as high as two and three dollars a bushel for wheat and $40 per hundred for pork.
Simon Darling, of Eaton, says: �All fabrics for clothing were sold at high prices. Prints, poorest kind, were eighteen cents per yard, and thin cotton cloth eighteen or twenty cents. Six yards of prints would make my wife a dress of ample proportions, but I think she did not put on many flounces. We men would buy buck-skins at the Indians and make them up into breeches. They were very durable and would have given satisfaction, had it not been for some peculiarities of the buckskin. To illustrate: A good neighbor had a pair and was working in the woods in a soft snow, when he found that his pants had grown so long that they hindered him in his work. To obviate the trouble he cut them off. In the evening, as he was sitting before a blazing fire, they shrunk up beyond all account, and his worthy helpmeet, upon learning the facts in the case, made him go to the woods and find what he had cut off, and the pants were spliced and once more gained their original length�
While all family supplies were very high there was but little that the pioneer could sell for money. There was no market for the fine timber that they were burning, and they obtained only black salt that they made from the ashes; neither was there a market for the maple sugar, and the hides and furs of the animals they killed. In 1837-8, as they began to have some produce to sell, the hard times came on and prices dropped. Wheat would bring but forty to seventy-five cents a bushel, and a very peculiar scale regulated the price of pork; if a hog weighed only a hundred pounds, it was sold for a dollar a hundred; if it weighed 200 it brought $2.00 a hundred; if it weighed 300 it brought $3.00 a hundred. What rendered the situation more stringent was the fact that very many of the settlers had borrowed money from friends in the east in order to get a start, and as fast as any money was to be had it was sent east to pay these debts, so there was scarcely any money left in the state. Until nearly the breaking out of the civil war thee seemed to be very little money in circulation in these parts. In November and December men began to hoard up money to pay their taxes. After the first of January it would ease up a little and if a farmer had a fat cow to sell in midwinter he was thought to be very forehanded.
Those were indeed close times in money matters. It was with the utmost difficulty that people met their case engagements. They were ready to pay in work, or dicker in making terms, but money absolutely out of the question. The first years on a heavily timbered farm, with all the money paid on the land, with nothing but an ox-team and as axe to work with, with no money to pay taxes, and the greater portion of the family down with the ague, were years of close economy and strenuous toil. Had it not been for the black salts and maple sugar, it is difficult to tell how taxes could have been paid. Five or ten dollars in a man�s pocket in those days created a sensation. Everybody knew of it and respected the possessor; there were various schemes to borrow it for a few days; to sell him a watch or rifle, or get up a trade which would bring a little boot-money.
Those were slow times�slow in building frame houses; slower still in finishing them off and paying up; very slow in making money. But there was neighborly sympathy and kindness and promptness in going to the bedside of the sick. There were strong and willing arms to roll up the logs for a newcomer�s shanty, and the social life gathered about the welcome events of a wedding or a dance.
In order that coming generations may know something of the difficulties encountered by the pioneers in making a beginning in the woods, we insert the experience of a few of the earliest settlers as they were afterwards related by them and published in the papers of the day. After one or two families had settled in a town, it was much easier for those who came later, for the well-known hospitality of the pioneers led them to shelter the new-comers until they had time to erect houses or shanties for themselves.
Edward A. Foote, at the meeting of the Eaton county pioneer
society in 1877, presented the following sketch of the incoming of Jonathan and
Samuel Sarles, who found their way through from Bellevue in October, 1835.
They left Mrs. Samuel Sarles at Bellevue until they could cut a track
through for a team. They worked five days cutting this track, and then hired a
team to bring Mrs. Sarles and the household goods through. This track followed the Indian trail from Bellevue to the
Indian village in Walton, and then followed the ridge along the south side of
Battle Creek until it reached the section line running south from Charlotte.
This was for a long time the only passable route between here and
Bellevue. For one year after they
came Jonathan and Samuel had no team with which to work and by their own unaided
strength they had to cut and move the logs for Samuel Sarles� house, and then
raise those logs to their places on the building.
When those two men rolled up those logs alone there was not another house
or family within eight miles. In
this house twelve or fifteen persons live at one time, after people began to
come in. But these two men worked
alone, bare-handed, laying the foundation of the city, until the first day of
February, 1837, when Japhet Fisher came in by the way of Bellevue, leaving his
trunk there, and hired out to Samuel and Jonathan Sarles and went to work
chopping for them. He was there at �Uncle Samuel�s� in June, when Ruth
Sarles, wife of Samuel, died of quick consumption, leaving an infant eight or
nine months old. But by that time
another family had come�Stephen Kinne and his wife and Amos, his brother, who
had come through on the first day of January, 1837, from Gull Prairie, by way of
Bellevue, following the track cut out in 1835 by the two Sarles.
The nearest house to this place was Mr. Shumway�s, in Walton, two miles
southwest of the ground where Olivet now stands.
Stephen and Amos Kinne built a log house sixteen-by-sixteen, about a mile
south of this point.
Mrs. Sarles died about sundown. No one was in the house when she breathed her last.
Japhet Fisher, little Isaac Parish (an adopted child), Jonathan, and
Samuel, the husband, were all out at work.
They came in and found that her spirit had fled.
Stephen Kinne and wife, crossing Battle Creek on a fallen tree, and going
northeast across what is now the fair ground, reached the house of mourning
about dark and remained there all night. As
no coffin was to be had there, the body had to be taken to Bellevue, sixteen or
eighteen miles away, for a decent burial. Before
daylight Japhet Fisher started for Bellevue to prepare for the funeral.
They put bedding into the box of the lumber wagon (or as some say of the
sled), upon which they laid the lifeless form, and Samuel and Jonathan, with
their oxen drawing it along the rough roads, and fording creeks, went on to
Bellevue, while Stephen Kinne and wife remained to take care of the children.
Samuel was very badly dressed for such an occasion. He had worn out all his clothes, working hard to build a home for his wife. His corduroy pants were in tatters, his �wamus� was very ragged and a fragment of an old woolen cap was on his head. But Japhet Fisher sent his trunk of clothes by David Kinne, then on his route here, to meet Samuel on the way. They met at the Indian village in Walton, and Samuel dressed in a becoming manner for the funeral. The hearts of the Bellevue people responded quickly to the call of Japhet Fisher. They turned out to meet the ox-team. The women took charge and laid the body tenderly in a coffin, and the next day the last rites were performed.
Although Samuel had to take the young babe back to New
York, and although his home and hopes were blasted, he did not give up.
He brought back his sister Julia to keep house for him.
They had built a house for Jonathan farther west, on Sarles street (as
the Eaton Rapids road, on which the Sarles brothers lived, was then known).
Jonathan went east and brought back his wife, Sally Sarles, in November,
1837; on their way from Bellevue they staid over night at Captain Hickok�s, in
It was this log house of Jonathan�s that became for a
time the headquarters of the county. They
held caucuses and conventions and county canvasses there.
They usually staid over night, and �Aunt Sally� served and waited on
them. She did the county cooking
for years. �We had a great deal
of men�s company in those days,� she said, �but we seldom saw a woman.�
The oldest building now standing in Charlotte, and the
first frame house erected in the place, is one which was built, in 1840, by
Simeon Harding, then county treasurer. It
is at present the wind on the boarding house of Mrs. Barr on Lawrence avenue, on
the corner west of the Congregational church.
In 1837 or 1838 a log house was built on the south side of the same
avenue, east of the Methodist church. This
was the first building erected on the prairie, as the house of Jonathan Sarles,
was built in the edge of the timber, at the southeast corner of the prairie.
In July, 1833, Reuben Fitzgerald moved into Bellevue and
built a bark shanty, or wigwam, living in his wagon while it was being built.
The bark used was claimed by the Indians, who were then encamped where
the village of Bellevue now stands, and they strenuously objected to having
their old wigwams turned into a white man�s residence.
In the fall of that year (2833, with lumber and material bought in
Marshall, Mr. Fitzgerald built on the site of the present residence of Hiram M.
Allen, the first frame house erected in Eaton county.
At the same time he built one for Mr. Hunsiker, who had taken up land at
the same time with him, but who did not move in until the following year. Mr. Fitzgerald had reached the new home with but little
means, and he built the house and broke up land for his more fortunate neighbor,
Mr. Hunsiker, to obtain money to buy material for his own land.
Mr. Fitzgerald moved into his house before it was completed.
Mrs. Fitzgerald was sick at the time, but they could not choose the time
of moving. A severe storm came on
before the roof was on, and Mr. Fitzgerald and another man held a buffalo robe
over the sick-bed of Mrs. Fitzgerald during the storm.
In the little house thus built he lived many years, adding to it from
time to time, as the increasing wants of his family required.
In October, 1836, Sylvester Day sold his farm in Orleans
county, in the state of New York, and with his wife moved into Bellevue, coming
all the way with an ox-team. They
at once erected a shanty, in which they slept the second night after their
arrival, though it had no cover, their bed being a couple of planks split out of
a log. The roof was made out of
troughs dug out of basswood, their floor of plank split out of the same wood.
In this shanty they lived eighteen months.
All hands turned in and began at once to clear the land.
The feed for their cattle the first winter was corn and browse.
The following spring was a very wet one, so that they found it impossible
to burn the logs, and the brush was cleared away and corn planted among the
logs. The crop which bade fair to
be a good one was cut off by an early frost while it was yet green, thus adding
to the hard times already felt. The next fall they sowed seven acres of wheat, which was a
good crop, and from that time life began to look brighter, and prosperous times
Until the first wheat was
harvested times were very hard. Their
means were exhausted. Flour was
twenty-five dollars per barrel, and they often saw hunger and want staring them
in the face. His oldest son,
Sylvester, obtained the first flour for the family.
With a yoke of oxen he went to Marengo, in Calhoun county, a distance of
thirty miles, bought ten bushels of wheat, paying three dollars per bushel, and
took it to Marshall to be ground. He
asked the miller if he could have his wheat ground. The answer was: �Yes,
in about six weeks.� He said:
�What am I to do? I am twenty-five miles from home, and my family is entirely
out of bread.� The miller replied
that a great many said the same thing, and the best he could do was to let him
have a little flour he had on hand. In
six weeks Mr. Day returned for his flour, which was ready for him the next
morning, and he returned home rejoicing.
Linus Potter was the first settler on the land where
Potterville now stands. He lost his
property by financial reverses, in Saline, Washtenaw county, and instead of
giving up he with his family of seven children pushed boldly into the woods,
determined on making a new start. This,
by the way, is the history of some of our best pioneers and best blood.
From wealth and luxury they passed through poverty and affliction and
came here determined to work. Linus
Potter came in 1844; his son, George N. Potter, was then eighteen years of age.
They came in by way of the Pray settlement, in Windsor, from which they
cut a road through, four miles, to his location on section 23, the present site
of Potterville. They had but just
settled in their log house when all the seven children were taken severely sick
with the measles�all in one room, with no physician or near neighbors.
Eighteen months after moving in Linus Peter died, leaving his widow and
seven children (five boys and two girls) upon a wild one hundred and twenty
acres of heavily-timbered land. With
the well-known energy and courage of the Potter family, the boys went to work,
cleared up the land and brought success out of apparent disaster.
Jesse Hart, of Brookfield, thus relates his experience: �I was born in the township of Springfield, Portage (now Summit) county, Ohio, April 27, 1814, and lived there with my father until I was twenty-three years of age. I then married Rachel Richards, July 16, 1837, and about the tenth day of the next October we started for Michigan with two yokes of oxen and one wagon. We got along well until we got to what was called the �Black Swamp,� then all the roads I ever saw or traveled over, that road through that swamp was the worst. Suffice it to say I worked hard for eight days to get thirty-two miles. We arrived at Joseph Bosworth�s on the sixty day of November following; he lived then in what is now the town of Walton, in Eaton county, Michigan. He had moved two or three weeks before, and had built a shanty right in the woods. My land was four miles northeast of there in what is now the town of Brookfield. As Mr. Bosworth was the nearest one to my land, I made arrangements to stay with him until I could build a shanty and cut a road to it, and I got him to help me. We got the body of the shanty up, three-fourths of the roof on, and the door cut out, but had neither door nor floor; then we moved in. It was here in this partly built shanty that, on the 12th day of November, 1837, my wife and I first began keeping house. It was four miles to the nearest neighbor, with no road but a crooked track I had cut through the woods, and the whole county an almost unbroken wilderness. The screech of the owl and the howl of the wolf was our music by night, and the Indians our callers by day. The first night we made our bed on some split pieces of basswood in one corner of the shanty, built a fire in another, hung up a blanket for a door and some on the walls around the bed, and it seemed quite like home, and we had a good night�s rest. I soon made a pole bedstead, hewed out and put down a puncheon floor, built a stone back and stick chimney in one corner, made a clay hearth, and the shanty was finished, without a nail, except what were in the door. We lived in that shanty nearly two years�yes, the happiest two years of my life were spent in that shanty. There was something grand and romantic about it, which I very much enjoyed. The grand old forest yielded up for our support of its wild fruits, its honey, and its venison. It was in this shanty that our first child was born, cradled and rocked in a sap trough.�
But among all the hardships there were some amusing incidents. J. C. Sherman thus tells the story of one: A wedding occurred while Palmer Rose was justice of the peace, which occasioned no little fun at the time, and is well remembered by some of the first settlers. It seems that a man by the name of Wickware was cruelly wounded by one of Cupid�s darts sent from the witching eyes of one Margaret Boody. The bridegroom being destitute of hat, coat, or boots suitable for the emergency, applied to Cyrenus Kintner for the load of a wedding garment; but Kintner was, as we are informed, nearly as destitute as himself, and had nothing to offer him but an old pair of slipshod shoes, and a dilapidated chip hat. Wickware said he thought it was a poor town where a many could not borrow clothes to get married in. However, the matter was somehow arranged, and Esquire Rose was called upon to perform the ceremony. At first he declined on account of inexperience; but after some urging by his wife, who, like all good wives, was anxious that her husband should make his mark in the world, he very reluctantly consented, and at the appointed time was on the spot. But little preparation was necessary to prepare the happy couple for their nuptials, and they were very soon face to face with the bashful justice. This being his first attempt at tying the nuptial knot, he found himself in quite a dilemma; for however well he may have arranged the form in his own mind, all idea of a suitable marriage ceremony had left him with the eventful time had come, and he could only turn red, then pale, stammer a little, tremble a good deal, and finally entirely breaking down he told the groom he could not do it and he would have to get some one else. But the undaunted bridegroom had no notion of giving up so, nor of leaving his blushing bride to go in search of another justice; so he said he would tell him what to say, and if he would repeat the ceremony after him it would do just was well. This was finally done, and so overjoyed was the bride at the favorable turn of events that she threw her arms around the neck of the frightened justice and gave him a good smack to pay as she said �for doing it so nicely.�
The first marriage in the town of Delta occurred in the summer of 1838, when Addison Hayden and Miss Mary Chadwick were united in matrimonial bonds at Grand River City, by Samuel Preston, Esquire, at the house of the brides� father. An incident occurred in connection with this event that is worth preserving, and is related by the wife of Esquire Preston, as follows: �Mr. Hayden called and inquired for the �Squire.� I told him he was gone to Mr. Nichols�. By and by he came home and told me Mr. Hayden wanted him to marry him. �Well,� I said, �you can�t go, for your clothes are too ragged.� But the boys came to the rescue and brought out their clothes, and Mr. Preston tried them on. One could supply a coat, another pants, another vest, and the outfit was complete excepting a hat. Jason was a pretty spruce young man, and had a fur hat which he kindly loaned. This put on the finishing touch. On his way to the house Mr. Preston thought of another dilemma, worse than the first. He was not a praying man, and how could he perform the marriage ceremony without prayer? After a time he hit upon a plan; he would invite E. S. Ingersoll to assist in the services. All passed off pleasantly, no one suspecting the perplexities the justice had labored under.�
Erastus S. Ingersoll relates the following incidents in connection with the early settlement in Delta: �On the 27th day of February, 1837, I moved my own family to Delta, having contracted to work for my father, Erastus Ingersoll. We came in from Farmington by way of Shiawassee and De Witt with sleigh and horses. We occupied the log house, Mrs. Erastus S. Ingersoll being duly installed �mistress of the mansion� and maid of all work. Our supplies were transported by ox-teams from Detroit. The price of provisions necessarily ruled high, pork being worth forty and flour fourteen dollars a hundred. We were totally deprived of all vegetable supplies until the opening of the spring. Fortunately for us a Mr. Butterfield came down the river in the early spring with a boat load of potatoes. My father bought both the boat and its cargo, paying forty dollars for the boat and two dollars per bushel for the potatoes�seventy bushels in all.
�About the first of June, 1837, my father, his brother, the Rev. E. P. Ingersoll, Dr. Jennings, of Oberlin, Ohio, two Messrs. Bradley, their two sons, a Mr. Lyman and son from Massachusetts, and two hired men came though from Howell, bringing with them two yokes of oxen and four cows. In this journey of forty miles, through the dense forests, they cut their own roads, built bridges, dug down hillsides, and removed numerous obstructions, experiencing many embarrassments, and encountering many trying delays: At the approach of Saturday night the party encamped on the bank of Cedar river, spending the day as a day of rest and religious worship. On the arrival of this party, Mr. Ingersoll�s family was increased to eighteen in number.
�Two weeks after the arrival of the above named party, myself and Edward Ingersoll, with two wagons, two yokes of oxen, and a span of houses, freighted with the household goods of Thomas Chadwick, followed the afore mentioned wining path from Howell to Delta. In our company were Samuel Chadwick, brother of Thomas and Daniel Chadwick, Thomas Chadwick and wife, Sally Chadwick, afterwards the wife of D. S. Ingersoll, and my brother Egbert. Towards night of the first day after entering this new and tortuous route we came to an open marsh, and, after having carefully examined the strength of its turf, it was decided that the horses should be the first to try it. But when a little more than half way over away went the treacherous covering, and down went the horses in the mire. By prompt and well applied efforts we at length released the sinking animals from the wagon, when they went ashore on the opposite side of this mischievous slough of despond. After selecting a new route we put our good oxen on their trial for a crossing. But before reaching even the middle of this soft meadow our second wagon was resting on its axles squarely upon its unstable surface. So, losing our oxen, they went also to the opposite shore, leaving both wagons fully installed, far out in this untrodden sea of mire, with Mrs. Chadwick, an aged lady of unusual lustiness, occupying the last one of our entrenched vehicles. �Now,� exclaimed this lady, �how am I to get ashore?��a question we thought more easily asked than answered. This aged matron dared not trust her weight on the flimsy turf, and here we were, surrounded by a dreary, inhospitable wilderness, deeply involved in an implacable morass, and not a little puzzled with a dilemma which seemed likely to be too much either for our patience, our ingenuity or our endurance. Our sympathies for the good Mrs. Chadwick were at their highest pitch, and we were not a little perplexed by our novel and distressing condition. T length Edmund said: �Mother, let me carry you ashore on my back.� �All right,� said the old lady, �back up here, boy.� No sooner said than done, and thereupon we had the ludicrous scene of seeing what good service a strong and resolute young man could do for age and helplessness. Trying as our condition was we could not repress our mirth while watching our hero as he staggered through the deep more, bearing his precious, ponderous charge safely to the welcome shore. We soon had evidence that this trial had not wholly dissipated the ready stock of Mother Chadwick�s characteristic humor, exclaiming as she did on alighting from her bearer�s back, �There, that is the first time I ever road a jackass.� Having finished our laugh over Mother Chadwick�s comical ride, our attention was brought to the more serious business of getting our wagons out of the mire. Having carried everything we could handle to the nearest shore, we cut several long poles, and having fastened them together with ropes and chains and attached them to the end of each wagon tongue, and with our teams drew them on to hard ground. This long job lasted till dark and we were compelled to make our beds in the presence of this loathsome slough, amid the roar of rollicking frogs and marauding mosquitoes. The next day one of our horses gave out and we were compelled to leave a portion of our load in the wilderness and drag along with impaired teams as best we could, encamping for the second time on the banks of Cedar river. While at dinner on this day we were unexpectedly visited by John Stanley, of Canada settlement, looking for lost oxen. By him we sent advice of our necessity for more provisions, and were happy to find, through the faithfulness of this kind messenger, a goodly supply of pork and beans sent on the next day, brought through on the back of a man sent by Mrs. Ingersoll. We got through to Delta Mills at night of the third day after leaving Howell, and all found room to eat and to lie down in the spacious log house. The log cabins of those days had a wonderful capacity for sheltering and feeding hungry adventurers.
�Our family now numbered twenty-six persons, besides occasional land-lookers and other rambling adventurers, and such as had decided to make their homes in this new region. About the 20th of March in this year, as our large family were at supper, we were startled by the sound of several voices down at the river side, and soon heard the call of some person at our door. We hastened down to the shore in the twilight, and found here a company of men, women, and children, with teams standing on the ice some distance from the river bank, quite anxious about their perilous situation, as the ice had melted away from the north shore of the river, and left an open space of deep water about ten feet wide. So we all went to work to build a bridge from the ice to the shore, and soon led the teams across, and found by so doing we had rescued the persons and property of two worthy emigrants, who had traveled from Eaton Rapids on the ice, and told us of the many dangers they had encountered on the way down.
�One morning in April following we heard a loud call from the south side of the river. A boat was sent across and soon returned, bringing four young men who had remained all night in the woods, without food, fire or covering, through a violent storm and upon a heavy depth of snow. So thoroughly drenched wee they that when they reached our fireside the water was freely wrung from every part of their garments.�
Johnson Montgomery settled in Eaton Rapids in September, 1836, and says: �It is hardly necessary to go through a long detail of events connected with the hardships and discouragements of settling a new country, but briefly to say it is hard enough cutting roads, building bridges across mire-holes, prying cattle out of the mire, going sixty miles to mill, paying very high prices for provisions, sometimes going several miles to help a neighbor raise a building, and cleaning out our millpond, which we did with a very good will, expecting to reap benefit from it at some future time�and which I did, for I got my wheat floured and took it east to Troy, N.Y., several years, where I received a reasonable price; here we could get only 44 cents per bushel, and not cash at that. Corn was about 15 cents, buckwheat 12 1/2 cents, pork 1 � cents per pound. This was mostly on account of the falling off of emigration, and although the people had made improvements and were raising a surplus, there was no home market. It is well known that in plowing up a new country the decaying vegetable substances produce sickness, and but very few were fortunate enough to escape the fever and ague. We could generally tell how long a man had been in the state; the second year he was obliged to wear his best coat every day, and the third year he was obliged to cut off his coat-tail to mend the sleeves. It was often said the first settlers were themselves out to prepare the way for corporate bodies, speculators and loungers. At this time we found ourselves in a new country without any school district or school house, so a few of us joined and built a small shanty and supported a school without any public aid. It was four or five years before we had a district organized and a school house built. Our schools were then mostly supported by rate bills, with the aid of a little public money, and having a large family of children it cost me considerable. My children all received a good common school education.�
In February, 1837, Samuel Preston, with two other men, began cutting a road to his land in the township of Oneida, and Mr. Preston gives his experience as follows: �Night coming on we clustered ourselves in a cave dug in the snow, after giving our team a supper of tree-tops. Here in the depths of a snow bank, surrounded by almost interminable forests, we cooked, ate, and finally retired to our beds. It is easier to speak of the occupation of such a position as was ours than to endure it. Cut loose from any earthily home, dependent upon the capriciousness and uncertainty of circumstances, reflections must and did arise of no very pleasant nature. And now in these better years, it is difficult to realize how this, as many of the succeeding trials of life in a new country, were so well endured. About ten o�clock of the second day, from Mr. Fuller�s we reached the site of which we were in quest and after clearing away the deep snow, some logs and underbrush, began the work of building a log cabin. To myself this was an entirely new experience, but with the skilful aid of my kind new neighbor, I succeeded in putting up a fourteen-by-eighteen habitation, which proved to be the second white man�s abode in the wilderness of Oneida. After this feat, of course, we had the honor its first occupation over night. Some time during this eventful night it commenced snowing, and before two o�clock the next day we had an additional of another foot of snow. Judging it to be a matter of prudence to seek some safer asylum, and leaving our implements in the newly made cabin, we began our retreat. Mr. Fuller�s home was full seven miles distant and it was still snowing. When within about two miles of his place the snow rose so high above our floundering sled that we were compelled to abandon it altogether, and trust to our weary legs for the rest of the way, arriving at the house of my kind friend, Mr. Fuller, at night fall.� As soon as the snow had settled, which took several days, by the help of my good Chester neighbors, I completed my cabin, excepting those very essential parts, floors, doors, windows and chimney. In this unfinished condition we all went into it�self, wife, and a brace of little ones�on the fourth day of March, 1837. This event, though infinitely less notable, we deemed of far greater importance to us than that parallel event then transpiring beneath the dome of our national capitol. About one year after our first settlement Mrs. Preston attended a funeral at the Canada settlement, walking and carrying a young child in her arms, a distance of three or four miles. On her return home the next day she missed her way, taking a deer-trail, supposing it to be the right path. Being myself out the next day at about three o�clock P.M., for the purpose of driving in my cattle, they took a sudden fright at some unusual object when about two miles from home, and looking for the cause I saw my wandering wife, will bearing her babe in her arms. Which party was the most frightened�myself or the cattle�it would be difficult to say.�
The foregoing are only a few out of many of the trying experiences of the pioneers in this county.
PRIMITIVE ARCHITECTURE - Log Shanties and Houses - Log Schoolhouses
The most primitive dwellings of the pioneers were log shanties. They were eight by ten or twelve feet square, made by piling up small logs, cob-house fashion, notching them at the corners so the logs would come close together, and filing up the spaces between them with split pieces of wood two or three feet long, and plastering the outside with mud, unless the weather was so cold as to freeze the mud. The fire-place was made in one corner, by pounding in earth against the logs about a foot thick to make a chimney back and keep the logs from burning. The roof slanted in only one way, and was made of troughs from small basswood trees. They were cut the right length, split in the middle and hollowed out with the ax, and laid close together; then other similar troughs were made and turned bottom up over the edges of those already laid so as to make a fairly tight roof which protected from rain; but was not proof against snow. In this way a man could in a very few days, knock up a pretty comfortable shelter, and so at once begin to live on his land, while making a small clearing and putting up the more pretentious log house.
The day is not far distant when a description of
the log houses and school houses, where the children of the early settlers lived
and where they received their education, will seem like a story from a foreign
land. Those of a later generation
may find the following description of them of interest.
They were of different sizes, but a common size about twenty by thirty
feet. Logs sufficient for the walls
of the house were cut and drawn to the spot selected for the house; neighbors,
if there were any, were then invited to the raising.
Two logs were laid parallel to each other and the right distance apart,
saddles were made with the ax on the upper end of each log and shaped like the
ridge of a house, logs were then rolled up on these ends and notches cut in them
to fit the saddles on the logs below; when these logs were place, saddles were
made on top of their ends, and then other logs were rolled across.
One man was stationed with an ax at each corner to make the saddles and
notches, as the logs were rolled up. When
these walls were seven or eight feet high, hewn joints were put across to
support the chamber floor. Three or
four tier of logs were laid above these, then the side logs were drawn in so as
to make the right slant for the roof. This
was made of �shakes� or shingles, three feet long, and held in place by long
poles laid across them. The floor
was made of �puncheons,� or slabs split out of logs, five or six feet long
and hewed on one side to smooth them and take out the �twist.�
A fire-place was made at one end, by pounding in next to the logs a layer
of moist earth, or clay, ten or twelve inches thick to make a chimney back, and
protect the logs from the fire. The
chimney itself was built up of sticks split like laths and plastered with mud.
The spaces between the logs in the wall were filled as closely as
possible with split sticks of basswood, and then these spaces were plastered on
the outside with mud. Occasionally
a man had outside doors opposite each other, one on each side of the fire-place,
so he could hitch a horse to a log and let the horse come in at one door drawing
the log and pass out the opposite door. Thus
a good-sized back log could easily be put in place. The logs were, of course, cut down for the doors, the latch
was of wood, perhaps 18 inches long and so heavy it would fall of its own
weight. A leather string was
attached to it and passed through a hole in the door so the latch could be
raised from the outside, and when the door was to be fastened for the night all
that was necessary was to pull in the latch-string, and it was securely bolted.
So it came about when a man wished to assure a friend that he would be
welcome at his house at all times he would say, �Come when you will, you will
find the latch string out.�
As time went on, and more room was required,
another similar house was built, standing end-to-end with this and about 12 feet
distant, and the intervening space was roofed over and was used for the storage
of axes, hoes, scythes, rakes, forks, saddles and harnesses, and the smaller
agricultural implements. This cool
hall also furnished a comfortable lounging place while taking a nooning on a hot
summer�s day. In this way one
house became the kitchen and work-shop and the other the parlor and sitting
room, and place for social enjoyment.
The schoolhouses were built much like the common dwelling, but differed in some respects. The floor in the one where the writer studied was several inches higher in the back part of the room than it was near the fire-place, as it was thought that in this way it would be warmer there. The desks for the larger pupils were made by boring holes in the logs on the side of the room and driving in pins about a foot long, and on these a board was nailed. There was no seasoned lumber to be had, so the board was green and the plane of the carpenter left it rather rough. For a window a log was cut out nearly the whole length, and a row of panes of glass was inserted in its place. A long green slab served for a seat; holes were bored in it for the legs, which for our discomfort projected about a half or three-quarters of an inch above the upper surface of the slab. The schoolhouse had no chair, and to our further annoyance the builders misjudged the height of the chairs and made the benches so high that we could only touch the floor by sitting on the extreme edge of the slab. The smaller children had similar low slab seats in the middle of the room, but none of the seats had any backs to them. The school room was minus a water-pail, and when thirsty we went to the pond and cut a hole in the ice with our knives and drank our fill.
EDUCATION - Primitive Schools - Evolution Of The Present System - Genesis Of The Academy - Olivet College
It used to be thought that
a man was not qualified to teach a winter school unless he could whip any pupil
in school. Women taught the summer
schools when only small children came, and it was thought to be a very hazardous
business when one undertook to teach a winter school.
The wages were princely; the first school taught by the
writer paid $11 per month and board. The
second winter he taught in the same school and received $14 per month and board.
A man must have an extra good reputation to command $20 and board.
The price paid female teachers was $1.25 a week and board.
The system of �boarding around� was quite interesting.
It was expected that every family would board the teacher, in proportion
to the number of pupils it sent to school.
There was always a strong temptation to lengthen one�s time in some
families and to cut it short in others. A
little preparation was generally made before hand, when the teacher was
expected. The writer well remembers
his first experience in �boarding �round�� he thought he would begin
with the place farthest from the schoolhouse, while the roads were good, and
take those nearer in stormy weather, and the roads were bad.
The first place was about two miles distant and there were six children
in the family. The children reached
home a little before he did, so all were on the �quivive� to see the
schoolmaster. He was shown the
family wash basin, and then the family towel, which presumably, was once white,
but had apparently been used to wipe off the boots and shoes of the family.
The teacher made but slight use of it and finished off with his pocket
handkerchief. He was seventeen
years of age, but when he reached the supper-table he had lost his appetite.
Being some of a philosopher, he concluded he would not eat much until he
was hungry. But �hunger is a good
kind of sauce,� and in the course of a week the writer had reached a point
where he could relish anything unless it had been skimmed out of the swill-paid.
There were two young women in the family, about sixteen or
eighteen years of age, and the amount of news that those girls would pick up at
school every day was amazing. And
every evening, after the dishes were put away and the family seated, the mother
would question them, to learn who had made soap, who had not finished spinning,
who had been coloring yarn, who was weaving a web of cloth, and whose children
had the measles, etc. The teacher
often wished he was a stenographer and could take down some of these dialogues.
When sleeping accommodations were limited, sometimes one of the juveniles
would be slipped into the bed with the school-master.
Of course when the children were included to be friendly and had the itch
it was not so pleasant, but by frequent careful washing the teacher escaped that
Every patron of the school was expected to furnish his
share of wood and although it cost only the labor of getting it, it was usually
green and was only brought as fast as it was needed.
In later times a thrifty school director would induce the patrons to get
a year�s supply early enough to have it seasoned when required for use.
A teacher who studied while occupying the position of
school-master was held in light esteem and was considered incompetent to fill
Blackboards were unknown in the earlier schools and when
the writer introduced one into his school it was with great difficulty that he
could get the large boys to use it. The
rough soft-wood boards, of which the desks were made, were a strong temptation
for the boys to use their jack-knives, to cut their initials, or to excavate
small chambers over which a piece of glass could be fitted, and then used as a
prison for the captured flies. In
every country school house it was easy to tell by these engravings where the
boys sat, the girls were less skilful in the art of wood-carving.
When it was first proposed to put nicely polished and varnished desks in
the school room it was deemed absurd, for it was thought to be impossible to
keep the boys from cutting them. Different
kinds of torture were invented as a punishment for unruly boys.
One of the mildest punishments was to make a boy go and sit among the
girls, to shame him; this, however, proved to be a very agreeable form of
punishment for some of them. The
original orthodox form of punishment, that by the rod, came down from Solomon,
but he probably knew nothing about the ferule that was applied to the open palm
of the hand. Sometimes a boy was
made to toe a crack in the floor, and, stooping over, put his finger on a
nailhead in the board in front of him, and stand in this bent position until it
seemed as though his back would break. At
another time he was required to hold a heavy book at arm�s length, until he
could not possibly hold it any longer. The
teacher was expected to go to the school house early in the morning to sweep the
room, and to build the fire, so it would be warm when the children came.
He spent any leisure time that remained in ruling the copy books, for the
paper was not ruled as it is today. A
favorite way was to have a round rule about an inch in diameter, and this was
rolled down the page and the lines were marked with a �plummet� (a piece of
soft lead shaped like a small knife blade).
Then the copies must be set. �Fear
God and keep his commandments,� �Command you may your mind from play,�
The pupils frequently brought ink of domestic manufacture,
made from the bark of the soft maple, but it was of such a sticky nature that it
would not dry during the whole winter.
The pens were made from the quills of the goose or turkey;
the teacher carried a very small and sharp knife with which to mend them.
Gold and steel pens were unknown.
The settlers had come from many different localities, and
brought with them the books in use where they formerly lived.
They were too poor to throw away these half-worn books and buy new ones,
so it was almost impossible to classify the pupils.
Webster�s spelling book was in use almost everywhere, and so was the
New Testament and the English reader. Thus
the large pupils could be classified in reading and spelling.
Once a day the pupils would read around two verses each from the new
testament, and once a day they read around in the English reader.
Few persons of the present day have ever seen a copy of the old
�English reader.� It contained
selections from the pens of the most classic writers of English literature; but
many of these selections were beyond the comprehension of the pupil, and few
were of any interest to him. Webster�s spelling book provided reading lessons for the
younger children, in the form of disconnected sentences after each spelling
lesson, and containing some of the words found in the preceding lesson and
defining them. These sentences were
destitute of interest for the child. On
one occasion the writer was mending pens for his pupils and to improve the time
he had an awkward boy on the floor reading one of these sentence lessons, and
this is what he heard: �Pull-and�dress�your�flax�on�the�strength�of
a�future-judgment.� He did not
remember ever to have seen that sentence, and went to see what the boy had
gotten hold of, and this is what he found:
�Paul addressed Felix on the subject of a future judgment.�
We had in school Daboll�s, Smith�s, and Adams�
arithmetics. Some teachers required
the pupils to learn the rules and others were not careful about this.
Some required the pupil to work out a few problems under each rule to see
how it was done. If he found one too hard for him, the pupil called on the
teacher for help, and the inquiry was, �Well, what does your rule say?� but
no attempt was made to show why such a rule was given.
In grammars we had Murray�s, Brown�s, and Kirkham�s.
In grammar and geography, as well as in arithmetic, the pupils would
recite separately, and when ready would call out, �Got a lesson,� and the
teacher would hear it.
In those days the spelling school was a great institution,
and was held in the evening of about every other week.
Pupils would come in from the surrounding districts.
Two captains would choose sides and the words were given to the sides
alternately, and if a word was missed on one and spelt by the other the speller
was allowed to choose one from the side that missed.
Eventually all the pupils would be ranged on one side and at the close
all would stand up and �spell down,� as when one missed a word he sat down. The one who spelled the last one down was quite renowned, and
would often stand quite a while alone before missing a word.
Frequently the exercises were enlivened by a dialogue.
Evening singing schools were quite in vogue.
It was a semi-social function to which the young man who had a nice
horse, cutter and harness, would take his best girl, and on their way home would
find that a couple of sons of Belial, mounted on horses, had each taken the end
of a rail, and one on each side of the road would carry that rail just before
the nose of that horse at a snail�s pace for miles, which, of course, did not
awaken any pious feelings in the breasts of the occupants of the cutter.
The branches usually taught in the district schools were,
reading and spelling, writing, arithmetic, geography, and grammar; but in most
schools there were some pupils who wished to pursue higher branches.
In New England this want was met by the establishment of academies, where
Latin and Greek, intellectual and moral philosophy, logic, rhetoric, and algebra
were taught, and students were fitted for college.
If a young woman had taken the studies in the district school, and could
have two or three terms in a good academy she was thought to be highly educated.
The first school ever opened in the county of Eaton was started in 1835
and the teacher was Willard Davis, later for many years a resident of
John B. Hayt says the first district school was taught in
1836 by Hepsebeth Hutchinson and the next year, 1837, it was taught by Willard
Davis. He may have taught the first
school in the county in �35 and Miss Hutchinson the first �district�
The process by which this
change came about is thus described by Prof. Charles McKinney:
�For a quarter of a century the schools of Eaton county increased more
in number than in efficiency. The
wages paid offered no inducement for young men and women to educate themselves
for the profession of teaching. School
apparatus was limited to an ill-assorted lot of books in the hands of pupils, a
square yard of blackboard, made of matched lumber, cubes of chalk an inch
square, purchased in many instances by the children that used them, and erasers
made by covering one side of a block of wood with a piece of sheepskin with the
wool on. Occasionally charts
illustrating penmanship adorned the walls, but were never used.
The branches taught were reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic and
geography, and commonly grammar; occasionally a class in algebra would be
formed. History, physiology and
civil government were practically unknown.
Grammar was largely a girl�s study, for they could attend school during
the summer, while the boys, who, after the age of twelve were kept at home to
work, devoted the three or four months of the winter term to the �three
R�s.� Until 1867 the licensing
of teachers was done by a township board, consisting of the township board and
two school inspectors. The board
elected one of its members �visitor,� whose duty it was to visit each school
in the township at least once a term, to examine the work of the teacher, and to
test results by examining the pupils. If
capable men could have been chosen, such a system would have yielded fair
results; but too frequently such was not the case. Loose supervisioned and unprogressive schools were the net
product. Nor does this statement
impeach the general intelligence and faithfulness of the officers of that day.
It simply implies that a man who only occasionally interests himself in
educational affairs, and whose main thought is given to other matters, cannot in
the very nature of the case, do efficient work in school supervision, which
requires technical knowledge.�
In 1867 the law creating the office of county
superintendent of schools went into force, and F. A. Hooker, a young lawyer, now
a member of the supreme court of Michigan, was elected superintendent.
In reply to a question concerning the condition of the schools at the
passage of the law and the work accomplished by him, Mr. Hooker writes:
�The law of 1867, providing for county superintendents of
schools was a radical departure from existing condition.
Three school inspectors had previously granted certificates, and
established and altered the boundaries of districts.
So far as I have discovered they seldom did more, though occasionally a
man would be found among them who visited schools.
The qualifications necessary to obtain a certificate differed in the
different localities. In the
villages and more advanced townships they were higher than in others.
In the townships, especially the newer ones, when log schoolhouses
abounded, the granting of certificates was largely a matter of expediency, and
depended on the character of the school to be taught.
They were usually secured after the school was engaged, and often the
wishes of the school board went farther than the attainments of the teacher.
�Methods of teaching were individual, of necessity, each
teacher having his own. As a rule
they were very primitive. One or
two schools had maps, none had globes or other apparatus.
My first attempt was to raise the standard of examinations.
Manifestly a uniform standard was the result of a single examiner, but
the result was consternation on the part of the patrons and teachers.
The first examination did not produce enough teachers to teach half of
the schools, but by holding private examinations, and granting discretionary and
short term certificates, all were provided for the first summer, and the
community settled down to peace and quiet.
It had been badly disturbed and the office was very unpopular.
�By fall the examination showed the result of work on the
part of the teachers, and each successive examination gave better results,
though two years was too short a time to accomplish very great improvement.
I worked persistently to introduce maps, globes, and a few other things,
but I was not able to accomplish much in this direction.
During the two years I held the office, I devoted my energies to raising
the standard of teachers, and felt that a marked improvement was discernible.
That seemed to me to be the firs step, and was a necessary foundation for
other improvements in methods of instruction which would invariably follow.�
The work so well inaugurated by Mr. Hooker, was carried on
by his successors, Superintendents Townsend, Evans, and Shoop; but the office
was unpopular throughout the state, and after eight years of trial it was
abolished. In place of a county
superintendent there was elected a superintendent for each township.
Unity of plan at once disappeared, and the work accomplished by county
supervision was gradually undone. The
utter failure of township supervision may be judged from the fact that in 1880
only fifteen schools in the county had prescribed courses of study, but nineteen
were classified, and there were only ten that did not change teachers during the
A demand for better schools led, in 1881 to the creation of
a county board of school examiners, to be composed of three members, whose duty
it was to examine and license candidates; the secretary of the board should
visit schools when occasion demanded. Prof.
J. Estabrook, J. L. Wagner, and K. Kittredge were members of the first board.
From that day to this the schools have gradually improved.
By the law of 1889, the secretary of the board was to give his whole time
to supervision with the title of �County Secretary of Schools.�
It was the good fortune of Eaton county to have for secretary Orr Schurtz,
whose efficiency and zeal made her schools second to none in the state.
In 1891 Mr. Schurtz resigned to accept an important position in the
schools of Grand Rapids, and was succeeded by J. L. Wagner, the present
commissioner, who had been a member of the examining board since its creation.
Under the supervision of Mr. Wagner the schools have been efficient and
progressive. In 1891 the name of
the officer was changed from county secretary to commissioner of schools.
Without counting college buildings, there are in the
county, at the present time, one hundred and fifty-three public school
buildings, forty of which are built of brick and the remainder are frame
buildings; of these, one hundred and thirty-seven have only one room, and
sixteen have two or more rooms each. Thee
are six high schools in the county. All
the schools are graded on the same plan, and the common district schools usually
carry the pupils to the close of the eighth grade.
Nearly all the schools are now furnished with the modern patent and
finely finished desks, and each pupil is expected to be the only occupant of a
desk. And the boys no more think of
using their knives on these desks than they would upon nice furniture at home.
The schools are now well equipped with maps, charts, and blackboard,
though the blackboards are now being replaced with large slates.
Of the one hundred and thirty-seven rural schools, ninety-nine have
libraries. A great deal of care is
taken to plant trees around the school houses in most districts, and to keep the
grounds in a neat and tidy condition. The
business of teaching has fallen largely into the hands of women.
Of two hundred and forth-three teachers in the public schools of the
county, only twenty-six are men. The
female teachers receive from $25 to $45 per month and board themselves.
Board, including fuel and lights, costs from $1.50 to $2.00 per week,
thus giving them from $4.75 to $8.75 per week for services that, sixty years
ago, young women were glad to render for from $1.25 to $2.00 per week.
Young men who are employed as principals of village schools receive about
$500 for the ten months school year. The
highest paid teacher in the public schools of the county is the superintendent
of the city schools in Charlotte, who receives $1,500 per annum, an the county
school commissioner, who is obliged to keep a horse to visit the schools of the
county, receives for his services only $1,200 per annum.
Teachers� examination papers are prepared in the office
of the state superintendent of public instruction, and, in 1891, only ten
candidates took the examination for eighth grade certificates; but in May, 1905,
200 took this examination.
The first teachers� institute ever held in the county was
conducted by the writer, Rev. W. B. Williams, in the brick school house now used
as a blacksmith�s shop in the rear of the hardware store just vacated by Mr.
Munger. It was convened and held in
accordance with the following:
�A TEACHERS� INSTITUTE will be held at the brick
schoolhouse in the village of Charlotte, commencing on Monday, Oct. 20th,
at 9 o�clock A.M., and will continue during the week.
for the time will be gratuitous, and board also, for at least thirty of those
who attend from abroad; ladies having the preference.
educational or scientific topics may be expected every evening in the week.
�An effort will be made
to secure the assistance of the present State Superintendent of Public
Instruction, and also that of his predecessor in office.
�We, therefore, invite
all to attend, and especially those who propose teaching in the County during
the coming year; and we would earnestly request the School Inspectors to use
their influence to induce the Teachers of their respective towns to attend the
�School Directors, desirous of employing teachers, will
doubtless find it to their advantage to be present during the session.
T. W. Loring,
E. F. M. Torrey, \ Committee
O. Hosford, / of
W. B. Hosford, Arrangements.�
W. B. Williams,
About forty teachers
responded to this invitation.
Instruction was given by Profs. E. N. Bartlet, T. W.
Loring, John Morris, W. B. Williams, John M. Gregory, and a Mr. Bottsford.
Evening lectures were given by Professors Hosford and
Bartlett and Dr. Thompson of Olivet, also by State Superintendent Ira Mayhew,
and ex-Supt. John M. Gregory. The
write is supposed to be the only survivor of the nine men who were connected
with that first teachers� institute.
During the year 1904, there were thirteen teachers�
institutes held in the county, but the session continued only one day.
During the present year (1905) it is intended to have fewer and to hold
them three days.
A discussion is now going on in the county with reference
to having a high school in every township that has not one already, to be
located at some central point, to which the children shall be carried from the
primary school buildings and be brought home at night.
There are two townships in the county where it seemed as if this plan
would be feasible, and it was submitted to the voters in those townships at the
spring election of 1905, but failed of adoption.
Soon after the settlement
of the county began, there was a movement for academies.
Of the one in Vermontville, Deacon Church writes as follows:
�In 1843 the population had so increased that an
academical association was organized, and materials procured for a building, to
answer the double purpose of academy and church.
This building was thirty by forty feet square and two stories high.
In the fall of 1844 the upper story was completed, and Rev. W. U.
Benedict, the pastor of the church, taught a school during four months, in which
the higher English branches and also the languages were taught.
He continued to teach for several successive winters, so that,
notwithstanding our isolation from thoroughfares and the bustle and business of
the world, our children and youth were better educated and better qualified for
business, both mentally and morally, than those of many of the villages of the
state, as their subsequent lives have abundantly proved.
With the exception of one or two seasons the academy school was kept up
for several months of the year, until about 1866, when the academy and district
school were united, with two departments, occupying both rooms in the building.
The academy, though organized in 1843, was not legally incorporated until
April 28th, 1846.� An
account more in detail has been given elsewhere.
The origin of the Charlotte academy, as given by E. A.
Foote, was in this wise: �William
Johnston, who started and published the famous
�Eaton Bugle,� besides being an editor was also a printer, a teacher, a
lawyer, a political stump-speaker by occupation, and an Irishman by descent.
He was called �Printer� Johnston to distinguish him from �Iron�
Johnson, and �Wooden� Johnson (N. A.), here on the prairie, �Rhode
Island� Johnson and �Quarter Post� Johnson, out in Carmel, and
�Tailor� Johnson who came here some years later.
�Printer� Johnston established a high school here in 1845 or 1846,
and was himself the teacher. The Eaton Bugle sounded its notes over the prairie and
through the forests, from the back end of a little wooden building, fronting the
public square, and standing just east of Dr. Rand�s office. In the front of this building was kept the Charlotte high
�The two sensations each week were the coming out of The
Bugle, well spiced with squibs, puffs, lampoons and local verse, and the
gathering in the school-room of the villagers to hear the declamations of the
boys, and particularly the composition of the girls. These compositions usually furnished food for mirth and wrath
during the whole week. The editor
seldom spared criticism in his paper, and wherever he discovered among his young
women pupils a talent for irony or sarcasm, he carefully developed and fostered
it, even at the expense of the young men, from whose ranks subjects for
dissection were generally chosen; yet everything malevolent or bitter was
carefully pruned away. These girls
loved to take a shining mark for their arrows, and the best looking, best
dressed, and the most pretentious of the young men was likely to find himself
shot full of them. This drew in
visitors, gave might to the pen, and kept the attention of the little community
nervously fixed upon education, and especially upon the importance of learning
how to write, which seemed to be an art of self-defense more necessary than
boxing. This naturally culminated
in a school exhibition, which drew in all there was of the surrounding country,
for ten miles away, and nearly filled the court house. Many came even from the Vermont colony. This compliment was in due time returned by Mr. Johnston
taking his entire school up to Vermontville one winter evening to attend an
�From this germ of a school finally sprouted and took
root the ambitious project of organizing a joint stock company and incorporating
the Charlotte academy. Stock was
not only liberally subscribed here but also in all the adjoining townships.
Mr. McComb, a land-owner, donated the academy ground and bell.
Nathan A. Johnson was the fortunate bidder who got the job of putting up
the building and of collecting the subscriptions for his pay.
The work was begun about 1846 and for years was patiently prosecuted by
Mr. Johnson alone. When
�Printer� Johnston suspended his Bugle and went back to Ohio to reside the
academy enterprise languished, the subscription got cold, and Nate found academy
building uphill work. Just then
people began to find fault because he was so slow in finishing off the
I have a recollection of going down to that building one
cold forenoon, during the winter of 1848 and �49, after it was roofed and
sided up. I remember of climbing
in, with no plank to walk upon, and of seeing windows boarded up with long
boards to save the lumber from spoiling. Joists,
sleepers, and studding were all bare. There
were just boards enough for the bench to stand upon in the middle of the lower
room. All was silent save a long
shaving hitched to a sliver by the side of a crevice, streaming and fluttering
in the wind. There, all alone, sat
the academy builder, Johnson, on the work bench, besides his empty nail-box, his
coat buttoned up to his chin, his purple hand clinching the handle of his
hammer. There was not much sunshine
in his countenance, and he found some fault because the subscribers were so slow
in paying. He had been dunning away
at them for weeks without raising a dollar.
�Not a board,� said he, �not a nail, not a sash, not a pane of
glass, nothing to work with, and those d---d fools all the while grumbling
because I do not finish off this academy.�
This was �wooden� Johnson. �Printer�
Johnston, the instigator of the scheme, had deserted us and gone back to Ohio.
Somewhere, about 1850, the academy was finished.
Several professors were inveigled there at different times to teach, and
found it up-hill work to collect their tuition.
Professor Wallace stood it as long as he could, and then went to
railroading out west and got killed. Miss
C. A. Dickson, a graduate of Oberlin, had charge of the school during the winter
of �52 and �53 and was followed by E. F. M. Torrey, who tried it for awhile
and then he too went west and died. T.
W. Loring and his wife taught a few pupils, and boarded themselves in a frugal
way in a small room up stairs in the academy, until they starved out and went to
farming over in Eaton, where he soon died.
Prof. O. S. Ingham, who seemed expressly constituted for such work,
browsed in this field of thorns and thistles, until the organization of the
Union school gave him a salary. Later
he became a newspaper editor in Nebraska.
The academy was finished, but in time the underpinning on
the south side tumbled out and let the hogs under to rest and squeal thee, and
let in gusts of southwest wind to whistle up through the cracks in the shrunken
floor, while pupils in shawls and overcoats were shivering over their studies.
The building learned toward the south like a doughface in the days of
slavery. It used to shake so, during high winds, that pupils in the
upper story would rush out and come tumbling pell-mell down the narrow steep
stairs at the risk of their necks. Boys,
during the long vacations, used to throw stones through the windows, more
particularly the front ones. And
when, for the sake of severe and secluded study, they took their books and
climbed into the belfry, they would pass the time in removing the long thin
slats from the belfry blinds, and sending them sailing down upon the wind into
neighboring fields and gardens.
No history of schools of
Eaton county would be complete that did not speak of the founding and building
up of the college in Olivet.
In 1833, Rev. John J. Shipherd and Philo P. Stewart founded
a college, which they named Oberlin, in the dense unbroken forests of Northern
Ohio. In ten years the institution
seemed to be thoroughly established, with an attendance of five hundred pupils.
Mr. Shipherd then felt that his services were no longer needed there, and
that it was his mission to establish other colleges in the new countries on the
same plan. His idea was to secure a tract of unoccupied land and gather
upon it a number of Christian families, who would be in full sympathy with the
school, and thus surround the students with a good moral influence.
The early success of the experiment at Oberlin may have led him to think
that a similar result could be attained as readily elsewhere.
The college at Oberlin had acquired an interest in the land where
Dimondale is located, and Mr. Shipherd came up to look after it.
On his way north from Marshall he passed through the town of Walton.
The hill on which the college now stands was covered with a dense growth
of young oak trees and he lost his way in them; but when on the hill, near the
residence of the late Professor Hosford, he saw, off to the southeast, the log
house of Mr. Burroughs, and he went there to inquire his way and spend the
night. In the morning they directed
him to go round the foot of the hill, and he would see where the track turned to
the right and went to the center of the county; but so few teams had been over
the track that he did not notice it, and he soon found himself back where he
started. This he did once or twice
before he discovered the road; having finally found it he went on his way, and
also found the land and examined it. It
would seem that he visited Vermontville also, for E. P. Church remembers that
Mr. Shipherd spent the night at his father�s house and talked about the
prospective college with him. The
land around Vermontville was at that time all taken up, so there was no opening
for a college there. Moreover, in
his wandering around the hill in Walton, he had been impressed with the beauty
of the spot and thought that the providential indications were that the Lord
would have him plant the college there.
On his return to Oberlin he at once set about securing
colonists for his work. He had
already interested William Hosford, familiarly known as �Father Hosford,�
and his wife. It was to them that
Mr. Shipherd first disclosed his plans. Mr.
Hosford had in the meantime enlisted Carlo Reed in the enterprise, and the
latter was a sturdy, resolute man, not easily discouraged in anything he
To these three families were added those of Willson C.
Edsell, Hiram Pease, George Andrus and Phineas Pease, together with four young
men�Albertus L. Green, Phineas Hagar, Joseph Bancroft, and Chauncey Cady�all
of whom came as students of the embryo college.
These, with Reuben Hatch and Oramel Hosford, who had just graduated from
Oberlin college, met frequently for consultation and prayer.
These meetings were always led by Mr. Shipherd.
At that time the college vacation, three months long, occurred in the
winter, and it was decided that the colony should proceed to Olivet in the early
spring and erect dwellings and a school-house, while the teachers, Messrs. Hatch
and Hosford, were to follow and open the school during the next winter vacation. Mr. Hatch was twenty-nine years of age and Mr. Hosford was
twenty-three and both were in excellent health and full of hope and courage.
Three young women�Julia Edsell, Alice Green, and Abby Carter�and two
hired laborers accompanied the colony. The
whole number of those who undertook the founding of the college, including
fourteen children and youth, was thirty-nine.
Wednesday morning, February 14, 1844, the main colony began their
journey, in their own conveyances, with farm wagons and ox-teams, driving their
flocks and herds before them. The
colony spent the Sabbath together at Woodville, in the Black Swamp, and Father
Shipherd preached in the school-house there.
Messrs. Cady and Bancroft, as well as the young women, were very fine
singers, so they had good music. The
company passed through Marshall on the way, and the people there laughed at the
old man who had gone off into the woods to start a college.
The main colony reached its destination Saturday afternoon, February 24.
There were two or three small clearings, and as many log houses that had
been abandoned by their former owners. Upon
the outskirts were four or five dwellings.
These earlier settlers gave the newcomers a most cordial and enthusiastic
welcome. Mr. Shipherd and others
were sheltered at the house of Mr. Shumway, who generously vacated his own
dwelling for their use, and gave them free access to the stores of his cellar
and barn. Log houses are supposed
to be capable of endless expansion, and a bed was improvised by brining in hay
and spreading the whole length of the floor.
The neighbors, much to the surprise of Mr. Shipherd, had during the
winter, nearly completed a long log house for his use.
A loose board partition was put up across the middle of it.
On Sunday these boards were taken down and made into seats, for on that
day the house served as a church. Some
of the families found shelter in the abandoned log houses of the former owners
of the land, and others were lodged with the few earlier settles until they
could build houses of their own. Work
went bravely on until autumn, when fever and ague, so prevalent in most new
countries, prostrated nearly every one of the colonists.
Mr. Shipherd came down with it, but was supposed to be getting better
when, one evening soon after retiring he was stricken with apoplexy, as Mrs.
Shipherd supposes, and died in a few hours without regaining consciousness. This was like the falling overboard of the captain of a ship
in the midst of a storm and led some of the more timid ones to abandon the
enterprise and return to their old homes in Oberlin. The question was seriously debated whether the whole scheme
should not be given up; but health came with the winter�s cold, and a school
building was erected about twenty-six by forty feet, and two stories high.
It was not yet completed when, some shavings having been put into the
stove, the fire followed one out and fell through a crack in the floor among
shavings below, and in a very few minutes the whole structure was in ashes.
February 17, just three days after the fire, the frame of another school
building was erected on the foundations of the former one, and this was so
nearly completed in June that the public exercises of the school were held in
it. The upper story was designed for a chapel and the lower story was finished
off into two recitation rooms. It
is easy to start a colony in the woods, but to start a college without
buildings, money or students, requires faith, courage, self-denial, and hard
work. This first completed building
served the college but a very few years, when it caught fire from a burning
dwelling and itself was consumed. The
success of the institution, so far as human agency was concerned, depended upon
the ability of its founders to enlist the assistance of enough other persons to
carry on the work, for it had not the endorsement of any religious or political
body. The New England principle is
that a college is a power in itself, and not an appendage to any other body,
political or ecclesiastical. While
its teaching and its influence also should be decidedly Christian, no student,
teacher or trustee should be required to assent to any creed. A majority of the patrons, teachers and trustees of this
institution have been Presbyterians, or Congregationalists, and it is usually
called a Congregational college, but it is only so in the same sense than an
agricultural society would be a Congregational society if the greater part of
its members chanced to be of that faith.
But the difficulties the founders encountered were not all
found in Olivet. Rev. John D.
Pierce, the first state superintendent of public instruction, and the organizer
of our most excellent system of education, including the university, feared that
if the legislature granted charters to other colleges the different
denominations would start colleges of their own, and thus the support of the
Christian people of the state would be withdrawn from the university, and it
would be ruined. To cut off all
occasion for the denominational college, the course of study in the university
was made to embrace as much Christian instruction as was found in the most
thoroughly Christian colleges in the land.
If anyone objected upon the ground that the state could not teach
religion, he was met with the fact that the state was doing it, and if they
could do it then, no reason could be given why they might not continue to teach
it in all time to come. Moreover,
the Presbyterians, more generally than any other denomination, committed
themselves to the university, indeed as one of them said:
�The Presbyterians seemed to be the whole thing.�
So there seemed to be no call for a Christian college and by that time
the university was thought to be so thoroughly established that it might safely
be done. For years these colleges
were dubbed �sectarian,� and were looked upon with contempt by many people.
It was for a long time difficult for a representative of the college to
get a hearing before the state association of Congregational ministers and
churches, and when he did, you might see a contemptuous smile play upon the
faces of many in the audience.
The first time that the college received a really cordial
hearing by the state association of Congregational churches was at its meeting
in Jackson, in 1866, after it had been in operation twenty-two years.
After a presentation of its work and needs, by Prof. Oramel Hosford, the
association unanimously passed the following preamble and resolutions:
�Whereas,�God in his providence has graciously
been pleased to enlarge the usefulness of the college at Olivet, rendering an
increase of accommodation for students an imperative necessity; therefore
�Resolved, That we most cordially commend to the
favorable regard of the benevolent in our churches, the effort now being made
for that purpose by its friends and guardians.�
In 1867 the Presbyterian synod of the state resolved
�That the synod has heard with pleasure the statements of President Morrison
concerning Olivet College, its facilities for furnishing an excellent education
and its religious character, and they rejoice in its success.�
For several successive years the synod appointed committees
to visit the college and make a report. In
1881 Witter J. Baxter, of Jonesville, was on the committee, and in closing his
report he says: �The college is
worthy the entire confidence and hearty patronage of Christian parents, and of
the cordial endorsement and approval of this synod.�
The association and synod, in thus cordially commending the
college to the churches, did not assume any responsibility for its support or
management. It was not until the
school had been in existence more than a score of years that these bodies were
willing to recommend it to their churches.
It was also many years before the public were assured of its permanent
existence, and men do not like to put large sums of money into an institution
that may ultimately fail. Its
continued existence is no longer doubtful.
It has of late greatly enlarged its borders and sphere of influence, and
is not a mere Olivet affair. The
college has now ten buildings, viz.: the library building of mottled Ionia
sandstone, one hundred and ten feet in length by fifty-two feet in breadth,
having a capacity for 100,000 volumes. Some
thirty thousand volumes are now on the shelves, with an equal number of
pamphlets, and its reading room is regularly supplied with one hundred and fifty
periodicals and leading journals of news, politics, religion, science,
literature, education and art.
Mather Hall is a brick building erected at a cost of about
$25,000, and devoted to the cabinet and the various laboratories.
The cabinet is one of the largest in the state and has the largest
collection of shells.
Parsons Hall, named after Philo Parsons, of Detroit, who
gave largely for its construction, is a brick building, one hundred and twelve
feet in length, four stories high, and has the art rooms, six recitation rooms,
and dormitories for sixty young men.
Shipherd Hall contains rooms for the dean, assistant
teachers and matron, together with accommodations for fifty young women.
This is of brick and has a spacious dining room, also kitchen and
laundry, and a commodious gymnasium for the young women.
The college chapel, conservatory of music and the young
men�s gymnasium, are well equipped frame buildings.
The musical department of Olivet college is equipped with
twenty pianos and two pipe organs. The
one placed in the chapel is a two-manual organ with sixteen registers.
The one built in the church is a three-manual organ of thirty full
registers, and twenty mechanical appliances, couplers, combination pedals, etc.
The musical library contains more than six thousand
numbers, including music for piano, organ, voice, orchestra, chorus, and various
combinations of instruments and voice.
The young men�s literary societies, �The Adelphic�
and the �Phi Alpha Pi,� have each an elegant stone building erected at a
cost of $15,000 or $20,000 each.
The young women have fitted up rooms for their literary
society, �The Soronian, in the upper story of Shipherd Hall, and are raising
money to erect a building of their own.
The meeting house is an elegant stone structure, containing
a very large and fine organ, and is the joint property of the church and
college, and cost about $30,000.
The entire college plant is valued at $400,000.
It has an enrollment of two hundred and eighty students, and a faculty
numbering twenty-five. It has sent out six hundred graduates, two principals of
normal schools, and a multitude of ministers, lawyers, physicians and teachers.
But the college is still in its infancy, and plans are under
consideration for greatly enlarging it.
Henry D. Wild was a graduate of Williams College and was
for a time professor of Latin in Olivet College and while there became
acquainted with Miss Ada Goodwin, who became his wife.
He was so successful a teacher that he was called to the same
professorship in his Alma Mater, at Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Herman C. Bumpus was a graduate of Brown University at
Providence, Rhode Island. He laid
the foundations of the department of Biology in Olivet college, and reduced
chaos to cosmos, having had a genius for classification. Besides his splendid work as a teacher, he arranged the
museum, which stands to-day a monument to his skill and labor.
He was recalled to Brown University as professor of biology and later to
New York City as curator of the Museum of Natural History.
George W. Chadwick began his work as a teacher of music in
Olivet, where he remained but two years. He
only showed talent as a musical composer, and has constantly grown in this, his
favorite line of work, until his fame is world-wide.
His reputation as a teacher has also increased until he is known
everywhere to-day as the director of the New England Conservatory of Music at
George W. Howard was professor of music much longer at
Olivet and has since resided in Boston, where for some years he maintained a
private school of music, where he is still teaching.
Hubert L. Clark has been for some years a most successful
teacher of biology in Olivet, and has just accepted a position for scientific
research in the Agassiz Museum at Harvard University.
Few people are aware of the wide influence exerted by many
of the young people who have been educated at the small college located in this
county. We present a brief sketch
of the work that has been done by a few of the six hundred graduates that have
gone out from its halls.
Willis E. Parsons was born in Keokuk, Iowa, October 26,
1857. When fourteen years of age he
went to Olivet and spent three years of study in the preparatory department and
was graduated from the classical course of the college with the class of 1881.
His theological studies were taken in the Princeton Seminary.
His first pastorate of nine years was at Albion in this state, his second
at Danville, Illinois, where he was pastor of the Presbyterian church for eleven
years. He was called to the
presidency of Parsons College, which was founded by his grandfather at
Fairfield, Iowa, his native state.
George N. Ellis was born of sterling New England ancestry,
near Alexandria Bay, New York, April 28, 1853.
His parents came to Michigan in1855 and located at Albion.
In 1866 they moved on to a new farm in the wilderness not far from
Olivet, where father and son proceeded to make a home.
Mr. Ellis entered Olivet College in 1871 and was graduated in 1878 with
the degree of Bachelor of Arts. More
of this class than of any other have become teachers in their Alma Mater.
Since graduation Mr. Ellis has given himself wholly to educational work.
At Talledega, Alabama, he organized the preparatory department of the
college, was at the head of the normal department, and was successful in raising
considerable money for the college. For
about twenty years he has been in Olivet acting variously as instructor,
principal of the preparatory department, advertising agent and field secretary. No other alumnus has been in the employ of the college so
long. He was the first regularly
appointed instructor in Latin and brought that department to a high degree of
efficiency. As field secretary he
went through the state, preaching, lecturing, addressing high schools, and
presenting the financial needs of the college, the result being a large increase
of a superior class of students and in part the addition of $100,000 to the
In July, 1903, Mr. Ellis was unanimously elected president
of Tabor College in Iowa, and at once assumed charge. Both attendance and endowment have been enlarged.
New departments have been created and courses strengthened and the
prospects of the college are bright.
In September, 1879, Mr. Ellis married Miss Lon M. Brown,
who has proved to be a most efficient helpmate in all his work.
Into their home have come four children:
Mabel Brown, Paul Victor, Edith Margarita, and Ralph Edward.
James L. Kellogg was born in Kewanee, Illinois, September
15, 1866, and was graduated from Olivet in the class of 1888, receiving the
degree of Bachelor of Arts. He then
studied at John Hopkins University, taking the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in
1892 and was at once appointed professor of biology and geology in Olivet
College, which position he held from 1892 to 1899, when he was offered the
professorship of biology in Williams College in Massachusetts, in which capacity
he is acting at the present time. He
was for three summers instructor in the marine biological laboratory at �Woods
Hole� in Massachusetts, and was for three summers in the employ of the United
States Fish Commission as an investigator of mollusks.
He conducted investigations on marine food animals for the states of
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Louisiana.
His publications have been mainly upon mollusks,--their development,
life, history, anatomy, relationships, growth, distribution, environment,
artificial culture, etc., etc. He
married his classmate, Ida Archamblault.
Irwin Shepard was born July 5, 1843, on a farm in
Skaneateles township, New York. In
1856 the family removed to a farm near Chelsea in this state, and in 1862 while
Mr. Shepard was attending the State Normal School at Ypsilanti, he enlisted in
the Seventeenth Regiment, Michigan Volunteers, and served nearly three years,
winning a congressional medal of honor for special service at Knoxville,
Tennessee, in 1863. He entered the
preparatory department of Olivet College in 1866 and was graduated from the
classical course of the college in the class of 1871. Soon after graduation he was united in marriage to Miss Mary
B. Elmer and in September of that year went to Charles City, Iowa, as
superintendent of schools. In 1875
he became principal of the high school in Winona, Minnesota, serving three years
in that position and one year as superintendent of schools.
In 1879 he was elected president of the State Normal School in Winona,
which position he held nineteen years, resigning in 1898 to accept the permanent
secretaryship of the National Educational Association, which office he still
retains. He has received from
Olivet College the degrees of A. B., A. M., and Ph.D.
Charles McKinne was born near Dimondale in this county,
September 5, 1860. In 1865 the
family moved to Lansing, where he attended school for the next six years, after
which for two years he lived with a sister in Ingham county.
He then spent four years in the family of Esek Pray in Windsor, working
on the farm during the summer and attending district schools in the winter.
In September, 1877, he entered the Agricultural College, from which he
was graduated in 1881 with the degree of Bachelor of Science.
As he wished a more complete education he entered Olivet College in 1887,
graduating two years later with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, in the year 1892
the college conferring upon him the degree of Master of Arts.
He taught in the district schools for three winters while
attending the Agricultural College, and taught the eighth grade in the Charlotte
public schools in 1882-5, was principal of Vermontville schools 1885-7, was
instructor in Olivet 1889-95, professor of history in Olivet 1895-6, was elected
principal of the Central State Normal School at Mt. Pleasant in July, 1896 and
held the office until April, 1900, when he was offered the presidency of the
State Normal School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which position he accepted and
He was a member of the board of school examiners in Eaton
county from 1885 to 1896. In 1893
he was chosen secretary of the Michigan State Teachers� Association and was
president of the same in 1894-5. He
is at this time president of the Council of Normal School Presidents of the
North Central States. He married
Minnie E. Alderman, of Vermontville.
J. F. Loba was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1846; in
1853, his father and mother having been converted to the Mormon faith, they,
with five children, left Switzerland for the United States, crossing the
Atlantic in a sailing vessel and landing in New Orleans, from whence they took a
steamer to St. Louis, where they spent the winter. In May they went up the river as far as Fort Leavenworth and
from that point started across the plains with ox-teams. Soon after they left cholera broke out among them and the
mother and several others of the company died when only about fifteen miles from
the Missouri River. After great
hardships the company reached Salt Lake City about the first of October, where
his father married again. After
three years he found the moral conditions so insupportable, that he and his wife
in April, 1857, escaped on foot, leaving the children behind. These, eight in number, were some time later conducted by a
brother of their stepmother northward from Salt Lake City over the mountains
covered with snow and thus, by a long detour, they joined their parents, who
were waiting for them at Fort Laramie. Two
of the younger children died and the family, after great hardship and losing
everything they had, reached Leavenworth City in the spring of 1858.
Here four of the children found work and became self-supporting.
From this time until the autumn of 1854 our subject struggled on with
various hardships. During the
summer of that year he was employed as a newsboy on the train between St. Louis
and Cincinnati. In the autumn he
enlisted at St. Louis in the Thirteenth Missouri Infantry and served in the
Southwest and the extreme West about Denver until the spring of 1866, when he
was mustered out. While in
Leavenworth he made the acquaintance of some Christian friends, through whose
influence he was led to come to Olivet in this county.
Here he spent seven years and was graduated with the class of 1873.
He then for two years taught Greek in Knox College, Illinois, after which
he visited his old home in Switzerland and studied one year in the University of
Bale. On returning to this country
he spent a year in the divinity school at Yale and a part of a year in the
Chicago Theological Seminary. He
was a pastor in Kankakee, Illinois, for a year and four months, and was in
Kewaunee four years, from whence he came to Olivet and taught in the college for
six years, serving also as associate pastor of the church.
From 1888 to 1891 he was pastor of the Presbyterian church in Kalamazoo,
and in the latter year was invited to go to Paris to become the successor of Dr.
McCall in his great mission in France, which he accepted.
During that year he delivered three hundred sermons and addresses in
Paris and in other cities of France. At
the close of the year he was invited to the pastorate of the First
Congregational Church of Evanston, Illinois, which he accepted and still
retains. In 19901 he was one of a
deputation sent by the American Board of Missions to visit and advise their
missionaries in India and Ceylon.
Hamilton King was born in St. Johns, Newfoundland, June 10,
1852, and was graduated from the classical course at Olivet with the class of
1878. He spent a year in study at
the Chicago Theological Seminary and was then recalled to Olivet to the
principalship of the preparatory department and served in this capacity from
1879 to 1898. He devoted his
energies unsparingly to the improvement of the preparatory course in its
organization and scholarship and was the author of a Greek Reader and Outlines
of United State History. He devised
an extensive scheme of advertising the college so that the attendance became the
largest that the college has ever had, was interested in athletics and it was
through his influence that the gymnasium was equipped.
In the years 1883 and 1884 he studied at the university in Leipsic,
Germany, and in 1884 spent some time at the American School at Athens, Greece.
He was an eloquent speaker and was a frequent lecturer at
teachers� institutes in this and other counties in the state.
In 1896 he became much interested in politics and made many speeches in
the interest of the Republican party, and was a delegate to the national
republican convention that nominated William McKinley for the presidency.
Soon after the election of Mr. McKinley he was appointed consul general
at Bangkok in Siam. He held this
office for seven years and performed his duties so satisfactorily that he has
not been made minister plenipotentiary. In
1883 he made the acquaintance of Cora Lee Seward, connected with the well-known
family of that name in the state of New York, whom he married.
Three daughters who are now studying in Europe have gladdened their home.
His familiarity with educational matters has enabled him to aid the king
of Siam in promoting the educational interests of the kingdom. He secured from the kind a good site for a mission school
building and a generous donation of money toward the erection of the same.
Alexander Tison was born in St. Louis county, Missouri,
December 23, 1857, and lived there until September, 1872, when he came to
Olivet, Michigan, to prepare for college. Olivet
was his home for eleven years. He
here completed the preparatory course in two years and entering the classical
course of the college in 1874 graduated with the class of 1878.
He taught Latin and was the college librarian from 1878 to 1883
inclusive. In October, 1883, he
entered the Harvard Law School at Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he spent three
years and received the degree of Master of Arts and also that of Bachelor of
Laws. In July of that year he went
to New York city and entered a law office.
In the autumn of 1885 he was admitted to the bar of this state by the
supreme court at Lansing, while he was admitted to the bar of New York in 1887,
after spending one year as a student in the office of the late James C. Carter,
Esq. He continued in general practice in the city until February,
1889, when the Japanese government, through President Elliott, of Harvard,
called him to become the professor of English and American law in the Imperial
University of Japan at Tokio. He
accepted and remained from March, 1889, until January, 1894, lecturing in
English to five successive classes of Japanese students in law and political
science. These were in large part
picked men and came from all parts of the empire. As graduates they have made their mark in all departments of
the national life of Japan. Some of
them he numbers among his warmest personal friends.
Because of the existence at that time of what was called
ex-territorial rights in favor of the various treaty powers having diplomatic
relations with Japan, he had, during his residence in Tokio, the opportunity to
practice his professional as well as teaching it. He practiced as a lawyer in the United States Consular courts
in Yokohama and Kobe and, through the kindness of Her Brittanic Majesty�s
Judge for Japan, was granted the status and privileges of a British barrister,
which enabled him to have a part as counsel in the practice of the British
courts throughout the county. This
practice in the foreign courts of Japan was varied, interesting, and profitable,
while at the same time it helped to keep him proficient while away from his
office in New York. In January,
1894, he left Japan for New York, by way of China, India, Egypt, Palestine,
Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and
England. He was nearly a year on
the way and reached America late in 1894. Soon
after his return he was married in New York to Annie H. Stevens, of Boston,
Massachusetts, and they have three children, two sons and a daughter.
Since his return he has lived in New York City and practiced his
profession there. His practice is
general in its nature and has led him to make four visits to Japan upon legal
business within the past eight years.
If he has any specialty in his practice it may be said to
grow out of his knowledge of Japanese persons and conditions by reason of which
he has been put into pleasant relations with the great merchants in Japan and
some of the most progressive capitalists of New York.
For his work at the Imperial University at Tokio and his
subsequent association with the investment of American capital in Japanese
business enterprises, it has pleased the Emperor of Japan to confer upon him two
decorations, the first being the �Order of the Sacred Treasure� and the
second the �Order of the Rising Sun.�
John Henry Barrows was born in a log cabin about five miles
from Medina in Lenawee county, Michigan, July 11, 1847.
In 1860 the family moved to Olivet, his father being made professor of
natural science and his mother the matron of the boarding hall.
The next seven years of his life were spent in study there, where he was
graduated from the classical course in 1867, in the first class of men graduated
from the college. He spent a year
in study at the divinity school at Yale, another year at the Union Theological
Seminary in New York and finally finished his theological course at Andover. In 1869 the family moved to Arvonia, Kansas, where he devoted
some time to farming, while he preached and lectured in the village and
adjoining towns. He started a
literary society, secured a course of lectures and wrote articles on educational
topics for the papers. In 1871 he
was elected superintendent of schools of Osage county.
The population was gathered from all parts of this and many foreign
countries, making his experience with all these classes very amusing.
In 1872 he supplied for a time the pulpit in Springfield, Illinois, but
his health failed and he made a voyage to Europe, sailing July 21, 1873,
remaining six months. This was the
first of several trips to Europe. On the voyage out he made the acquaintance of Miss Sarah
Eleanor Mole, of Williamstown, Massachusetts, who subsequently became his wife.
During his European trips he became acquainted with
many of the leading preachers and teachers in England, France and
Germany. On his return he was
ordained in Lawrence, Massachusetts, April 19, 1875.
His first pastorate was over the Elliott church in Lawrence and continued
five years. He then accepted a call to the Maverick church in East Boston
but had not been there a year before he was called to the First Presbyterian
church in Chicago. The Maverick
church was unwilling to let him go as they were in debt $33,000 but the Chicago
church offered $5,000 toward paying the debt and with this leverage the debt was
soon raised and he accepted the call to Chicago and began a pastorate of
seventeen busy years. During this
time he delivered seventy addresses before twenty different colleges.
Fourteen of his addresses were published in pamphlet form.
In 1890 he was made chairman of a committee on which representatives of
fifteen different denominations were found, to make arrangements for a
parliament of religions to be held in connection with the World�s Columbian
Exposition. The leading object of
this parliament was to bring together in conference, for the first time in
history, the leading representatives of the great historic religions of the
world, the Brahman, Buddhist, Confucian, Parsee Mohammedan, Jewish and other
faiths, and of the different denominations of Christians.
It was no small task to secure harmony among men of such a variety of
opinions. In speaking of it
afterwards, he says: �I had to
toil for an unprecedented achievement with the General Assembly of my own
church, forty infallible religious editors, the Sultan of Turkey, and the
Archbishop of Canterbury pulling hard on my clerical coat tails.� But the parliament was a success and moved off with hardly a
Dr. Barrows with the author of seven books.
The parliament of religions awakened so much interest that
a member of his congregation (Mrs. Caroline E. Haskell), was led to give to the
University of Chicago $20,000 to found a lectureship on comparative religion.
Her design was to have the income from this sum devoted from time to time
to sending talented lecturers to India to deliver six or more lectures on the
Christian religion in Calcutta and if deemed best in Bombay, Madras or other
prominent city of India. Dr.
Barrows was the first lecturer to go to India on this foundation.
He and Mrs. Barrows arrived in Bombay December 16, 1896 and received a
most cordial welcome from Hindus, Jains, Parsees, Brahmos, and Christians. He delivered several lectures in Benares, twenty-two
addresses in Calcutta, and had several long conversations with prominent men.
He also visited several mission stations and gave addresses there.
RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS - Early Churches - Congregational Churches - Methodist Episcopal Churches - Camp-Meetings Grounds - Baptist churches - United Brethren Church - Catholic Church - Episcopal Church - German Brethren or Dunkard Church
The larger log houses of the early settlers, with extemporaneous seats of boards and chairs, were the first places of worship in the county. A log shanty in Bellevue is said to have been the first meeting-house built in the county and this also served the purpose of school-house and town hall. when log schoolhouses were built, services were held in them. when the farms were cleared and the settlers had secured homes for themselves, good houses of worship were erected that cost no small amount of labor and self-denial. the ministers who, through the years between 1835 and 1850, threaded their way through the forests of this country on foot or on horseback, fording the streams to meet their appointments, many miles apart, have nearly all gone to their reward.
In 1833, at the house of Reuben Fitzgerald, in Bellevue, Rev. John D. Pierce, a Congregational minister from Marshall, delivered the first sermon ever heard in Eaton county. Mr. Pierce was the first superintendent of public instruction in the state, and we are more indebted to him than to anyone else in the state for shaping our excellent system of public schools; also for outlining the work of the university. a full-length portrait of him adorns the walls of the reading room of Olivet college. In 1834 the Methodists organized the first church in the county. the second was organized by the Congregationalists in Vermontville, February 28, 1838, and was followed, October 7, in the same year, by the Griffith Methodist Episcopal church, on the south line of Hamlin township. In 1840 the Methodists of Eaton Rapids organized the fourth church in the county. A brief review of the several denominations of the county follows, but inability to obtain the facts in regard to some of them prevents in those cases extended notice.
The Congregational church in Vermontville was organized February 28, 1838, by Rev. Sylvanus Cochrane, one of the leading colonists of Vermontville. He preached for a time in the large log house of Deacon Church. When a log school-house was built the congregation met there for worship. In 1844 a two story frame building was erected for an academy, the upper story being fitted up for a chapel, and the building is still used for the latter purpose. The present house of worship was built in 1864, during the pastorate of Rev. O. H. Spoor. During the pastorate of Rev. David Beaton, in 1886, a lot was purchased and a commodious parsonage was erected upon it at a cost of $2,000. It is the oldest Congregational church in the county.
The Eaton Rapids Congregational church was organized July
13, 1843, by Rev. Joseph Smith, who was pastor for only about two years, but
lived in Eaton Rapids until his death, in 1867. After the close of his pastorate, for about ten years, the
church had only occasional services. In
1855 Rev. John S. Kidder became pastor, and the church as ever since steadily
maintained its church life. It
occupied a small unfinished house of worship of its own for the first time,
October 30, 1846. It stood about
three blocks south of its present location.
In 1855 the building was completed, and in 1860 it was removed to its
present site and greatly enlarged and improved.
But on the night of January 6, 1877, it was burned down and the present
neat brick edifice was erected on the ground where it stood.
The Congregational church in Olivet was organized with
seventeen members by a council that convened at the house of George Andrus in
Olivet, March 20, 1845. At first
its services were held in private houses. When
the first college building was erected, the upper story was fitted up for a
chapel and the church worshiped there. The next place of worship was in a chapel across the east end
of Colonial Hall, the building now used for a gymnasium, and which stood about
the middle of the college campus and opposite Shipherd Hall.
In 1852 it united with the college in building a house of worship, which,
in 1865, was enlarged by adding several feet to the length and putting under the
whole a basement story. In 1894
college and church united in the erection of a beautiful house of worship of
field stone, containing some five hundred sittings.
The very superior organ within cost $5,000.
In 1851 a man, named Joseph Dunton, made his appearance in the county, lecturing upon mesmerism and preaching. Some religious interest was awakened in the western part of the town of Carmel, which resulted in the organization of a church with seven members, and it was called �The Congregational church of Christ in Carmel.� It met for worship in the Ellis school-house, situated a few rods north of the present Congregational church in Carmel. It had occasional preaching by Prof. E. N. Bartlett, of Olivet college, and Rev. W. U. Benedict, of Vermontville. In 1852 it changed its place of worship to the court house in Charlotte, and its name to the �First Congregational church of Charlotte.� On New Year�s day, 1854, Wolcott B. Williams, a recent graduate of Oberlin college, began his ministry here, and was ordained by a council that convened in the old court house February 3, 1854; he remained pastor for thirteen years. In 1856 the society erected, at the south end of Bostwick avenue on the lot now occupied by the resident of J. M. C. Smith, a frame house of worship at an expense of $1,275, for house and lot. It had two hundred and fifty sittings, and was innocent of vestibule, bell and steeple. By outsiders it was dubbed �The Basswood Church.� It was, however, the first house of worship in Charlotte, and at the time there was no other one within ten miles. In 1873 the society erected its present house of worship, which was not fully completed until 1881, and which cost about $35,000, exclusive or organ and bell.
The Congregational church of Grand Ledge was not organized until 1864. Rev. W. P. Esler was the organizer and the church had four original members. It now reports one hundred and seventy members, with one hundred and twenty-five in the Sunday-school. It built a meeting house in 1866, with two hundred sittings, at a cost of $2,000. In 1904 a new church was erected at a cost of $6,000.
The Griffith Methodist
Episcopal church, in Hamlin, although a country church, in a remote part of the
county and but little known, is really one of the oldest religious organizations
in the county. The first religious
meetings held in the neighborhood were conducted by local preachers at the house
of Stephen Reynolds. Those were
days of boundless hospitality, and Mr. Reynolds seems to have kept a veritable
�minister�s tavern.� At one
time he had three local preachers and their families living in his house, vis.:
Revs. William Crane, Truman Barr, and Turner.
It is said that thirty-two persons lodged at Mr. Reynolds� at one time.
It is not strange that such a household should have felt the need of
religious services at least once a week, nor that, with so many preachers on
hand, Mr. Reynolds should have been able to secure them.
In 1836 the Michigan conference was held in Mansfield, Ohio, and it sent
a missionary by the name of Kinnean into these parts.
In 1839, the conference met in Detroit and sent, as a missionary, Rev.
Washington Jackson, who moved into his field with his family and lived in the
house with the Blodgetts, where three families have been living before their
arrival. Mr. Jackson preached at different houses in the Griffith
neighborhood. The service was
fortnightly, alternating with Grand Rapids, some eighty miles distant.
He went to his appointments on foot and held meetings at intermediate
points on the way. His first
station west of Griffith�s seems to have been the house of Jonathan Sarles,
two miles southeast of Charlotte. In 1838 the conference sent David Thomas as preacher, who, on
October 7 of that year, organized a class of fourteen members, and about the
same time another class of seven members was organized at Truman Barr�s; these
two classes were soon after merged into one.
In 1840 meetings were held in a school-house. In February, 1855, the society had the pleasure of worshiping
in their own sanctuary.
In 1838, Rev. E. H. Pilcher was
presiding elder, and with the exception of Bellevue, the Methodist work in Eaton
county was known as �The Ingham Mission Belonging to the Marshall District.�
This mission embraced the west half of Ingham county.
Rev. Washington Jackson was preacher, and conducted services at the house
of Jonathan Sarles. In 1839 Rev.
Isaac Bennett was pastor and held services in the new court-room in the hewn log
tavern, known as �The Eagle Hotel,� that stood where the Phenix now stands.
It is supposed that he performed the first marriage ceremony in
Charlotte, the parties being Rollo Cushing and Susan Sarles.
In 1841 Rev. Levi Warner was preacher, and the meetings were transferred
to a hewn log building, sixteen by twenty feet, that stood just east of the
Pythian Temple, and which, according to the exigency of the times, did service
as a school-house, printing office, chapel, and dwelling. In that year a class was organized with David Darwin Hughes,
who later became a distinguished lawyer, as leader. The next place of meeting was in a block school-house on the
corner, just east of the boarding house of Mr. Bush. In 1846 the court house was built, and for some thirteen
years the people met there for worship. In
1859 the society erected a brick church, forty by sixty feet.
During the pastorate of Rev. C. S. Fox this building was enlarged by
putting a transept across the south end and carrying out a vestibule and a
steeple in front.
In 1904 the present beautiful
structure was erected at a cost of about $40,000. It is the most expensive and beautiful church in the county.
In 1840 Rev. Isaac Bennett was
pastor in charge and organized a class in Eaton Rapids with nine members.
During the pastorate of Rev. W. E. Bigelow, in 1845, the church erected a
small frame building there for a meeting house; it was not finished, however,
until 1855. In 1882 the society
erected its present and beautiful house of worship at the expense of about
Eaton Rapids has the only camp meeting ground in the county. It consists of thirty-three acres lying on the right bank of Grand river, a short distance above the city, and is owned by the Methodists. The ground was originally covered with oak and other timber and many of the trees are still left standing. Near the entrance is an office; there is also a hotel of two stories, twenty by forty feet, with two wings, each twenty by sixty feet, and a dormitory twenty by thirty feet, also two stories high. The auditorium will seat about one thousand persons and by opening the sides about as many more can hear from the outside. The Epworth League has a chapel, twenty by fifty fee square. The camp meeting lasts about ten days. Some of the cottagers occupy the grounds a few days before the meeting opens and about one-half of the cottages are occupied for several weeks afterward by families who find it a pleasant place to take their summer outing. Boats are furnished for those who wish to go boating and fishing.
February 22, 1845, Calvin Race, Ann Race, Henry R.
Jeffries, Mary L. Jeffries, Timothy Wheeler, Asenath Wheeler, Ann Arnold and
Samuel Ferris, met and organized themselves into the First Baptist church of
Eaton Rapids, by adopting articles of faith and entering into covenant with each
other. On the 17th of
the following April it was recognized by council. For three years the church was supplied by different
ministers, among them Rev. J. C. Post and Elder Hill.
The first building occupied by the church is the present upright part of
the old Dr. S. M. Wilkins house, next to the present edifice.
In 1859, under the pastorate of Rev. H. G. Mosher, a frame meeting-house
was erected on the present site. This
was extensively repaired in 1878, under the supervision of Rev. J. M.
Titterington. It was again enlarged
and remodeled in 1890, under the pastorate of Rev. J. P. Farmer.
In 1851, Mrs. Esther Sarles, Julia Pierce, and Mary
Rager, were, so far as known, the only Baptists living in the vicinity of
Charlotte, and in 1852 they secured a visit from Elder John Tampkins, who
preached in the old log building known as the Ells schoolhouse, in Carmel, and
then and there were recognized as the Baptist conference of Carmel.
In 1855 they changed their place of meeting to the court house in
Charlotte, seven new members being added to their number, and these ten were
recognized as the first Baptist church in Charlotte; and the services of Elder
Tampkins were secured for one-half of the time.
For several years, services were held in the old court house, the
Congregational church and in Carmel Hall. In
1869 a frame building was erected for a house of worship.
In 1882 it was enlarged, veneered with brick and a spire added, and more
recently it has been still further improved and decorated.
The first United Brethren church of Eaton county was
organized in Walton by Rev. Ross. It
had five members. In 1877 they
built a church at a cost of $800. It
has a seating capacity for 200 persons. They
have also a $400 parsonage.
In 1864 those of that faith organized a church in
Charlotte. Their present edifice, a
neat brick structure, was built in 1874, largely by the efforts of Elder Titus,
at a cost of $3,000.
In 1872 the United Brethren attempted to build a small
brick church in Potterville, and laid the foundations and gathered some
materials, but the leader became discouraged and called on Rev. W. B. Williams,
then superintendent of missions, and requested him to organize a Congregational
church and take the foundation and materials on the ground and go forward and
complete the edifice, and this was done.
Since then they have rallied and built a brick meeting
house in Potterville.
In 1851 there were, so far as known, not more than a
half-dozen Catholic families in Eaton county, and only two or three in
Charlotte, and for several years thereafter no services were held in Charlotte;
but during the time Patrick McDonald and wife went once a year to Marshall to
attend worship, and they finally persuaded Rev. P. C. Koopmans to visit
Charlotte occasionally and celebrate mass in Mr. McDonald�s house.
The building of the Chicago & Grand Truck railroad brought many more
Catholics to the town, and in, 1868, Rev. C. M. Frain, with the assistance of
Mr. McDonald, raised money to erect, upon a lot donated by the priest and
situated on the high ground in the northern outskirts of the city, a modest
edifice, with a seating capacity of two hundred.
In this effort they were generously aided by the Protestants.
In 1892 Rev. F. Broegger, of Hastings, was in charge of the parish, and
raised money to purchase the site upon which the present church was built, in
1893, through the agency of Rev. P. Langhorn.
In this effort also they gratefully acknowledge the liberal aid of the
In 1846 Rev. Luman Foote began holding the services of the Protestant Episcopal church in the old court house in Charlotte, and continued them for six years. Then, for twenty years, there were only occasional services. In 1872 a mission was organized under the name of St. John�s mission of Charlotte, subject to the visitation of Bishop Samuel McCoskry, of Detroit, and occasional services were held by Rev. G. P. Schetky and Rev. G. E. Peters. In 1873 a wing of the old court house was bought and fitted up for a chapel. The Rev. J. L. Taylor took charge of the mission as permanent rector, in the spring of 1874, and continued services in Charlotte and Eaton Rapids four years. In 1877 Bishop Gillespie changed the name of the mission to that of �Grace Mission, Charlotte.� On the retirement of Mr. Taylor services were suspended for several years, but in 1887, they were renewed by Rev. J. W. Bancroft and for two years were held by him and Orr Schurtz, a lay reader. In 1889 the present house of worship was built and Rev. Van Antwerp served as rector for one year. Rev. M. H. Martin served as rector from 1891 to 1894.
This church, located in Sunfield and sometimes known as
the Dunkard church, is the only one of this denomination in the county.
One of the peculiar tenets of this organization is its opposition to a
salaried pastor. They are also opposed to recording the statistics of
churches, as they think it savors of pride.
During the past year the church as made several contributions for
benevolent objects, of which no record has been kept.
The denomination supports missions in Canada, India, Denmark, Sweden, and
The foregoing are some of the pioneer efforts of the
different denominations in the county. Our
scope does not permit us to go into an account of every church organization.
There are seventy-four houses of worship in the county, and the following
list shows how they are distributed among the different denominations.
Methodist Episcopal ...������������..21
Free Methodist������������..��.. 5
Adventist ��������������..��.. 5
Baptist ���������������..��.. 4
Protestant Methodist ����������...�� 4
Universalist ��������������...�.. 3
Union Churches������������...�� 2
Protestant Episcopal ����������...�.. . 1
Dunkard ��������������......�.. 1
Presbyterian ������������......�� 2
Catholic ��������������......�.. 2
The town of Sunfield has eleven church edifices, which is more than there is in any other township in the county.
THE COUNTY PRESS - Eaton County Gazette - Eaton Bugle - Eaton Republican - Charlotte Leader - Grand Ledge Times - Potterville Press - Dimondale News - Sunfield Sentinel - Eaton Rapids Journal - Grand Ledge Independent - Mulliken News - Bellevue Gazette - Charlotte Tribune
The first paper published in the county was called the Eaton County Gazette, established by Warren Isham and the first number was issued January 1, 1843. It was five column folio, sixteen by twenty-four inches. The subscription price was $1.50 per annum. The office was in the old Eagle Hotel. It contained nothing whatever of local news, and the patronage, which was exceedingly limited, came mostly from Bellevue. After struggling for an existence for about six months it was discontinued.
The venture was not, however, discouraging to others for on March 26, 1845, a second paper known as The Eaton Bugle, neutral only in politics, made its appearance, published by William Johnston, Esq., a lawyer from Richland county, Ohio. Mr. Johnston was a fluent speaker, and lectured through Eaton county on temperance. His paper was ably conducted, but succumbed to circumstances a year after its first number was issued, and Mr. Johnston returned to Ohio, where he became distinguished as an eloquent campaigner. It is said that after the Bugle was discontinued, probably in 1846, William Martin, of Marshall, started a small sheet here know as The Eaton County Democrat, which was very short lived.
In 1847, a paper called The Eaton Democrat, was started
in Eaton Rapids by L. W. McKinney and was afterwards published by Judge Ezra D.
Burr. The election of 1854 was very
gratifying to the republicans, and they agreed to raise $200 to aid the parties
who should establish a party organ in the county. The office of The Eaton Democrat was purchased and the press
and material removed to Charlotte; a rude board shanty was erected in the midst
of winter, and the printing office was established in it.
The weather was so severe, and the wood so green that it was almost
impossible to work, but January 6, 1855, the first number was issued, to the
gratification of patrons and proprietors. It
was called The Eaton County Republican, and Mr. Edward A. Foote was the choice
of the republicans for editor and he was regarded as its founder.
His associate was Mr. Mark H. Marsh, a practical printer, afterwards
connected with the Evening News of Detroit.
Mr. Foote conducted the paper through four volumes and seven numbers and
sold it February 12, 1859, to Joseph Saunders, who relates his experience as
editor in the following language:
�During the first few years of my connection with the
paper it was hard work for me, but my wife greatly assisted me, going to
Jackson, Marshall, and Battle Creek to procure advertisements and secure pay for
them, which met the wants of a growing family. The white paper came from Detroit to Marshall by railroad,
and from thence to Charlotte by �Force�s express.�
Occasionally there was a failure to connect, and then a journey must be
made to Marshall with a horse and buggy to procure paper for the coming issue.
On one occasion I rode all night to procure five quires of paper rather
than to disappoint my subscribers. The
legal advertising was the main dependence for money, many of the subscribers
paying in produce. We always had a
plenty of wood and maple sugar. The
wood was reckoned at five shillings per cord and the sugar cost from six to
seven cents per pound. The first
payment made to me on The Republican, was by a blink-eyed man, who lived on or
beyond the �island.� It was a
cord of white beech, and when I split it up for the stove, it was found that the
liquids in it had frozen to ice. My
wife declared that the cooking could never be done with such icicles, but the
farms of Eaton county were generous with what they had, and very frequently
presented the editor with the best products of their farms.
At the closing of the agricultural fairs it took a good sized wagon to
carry home the fruits, vegetables, etc., presented.�
It is a little uncertain whether a Mr. Sanford or C. C. Chatfield was the first editor of The Charlotte Leader. It was a Democratic sheet published at Eaton Rapids under the name of The Eaton County Argus. It was moved to Charlotte in 1860, at which time F. W. Higby was its editor and Thornton Brothers the publishers. Ten months later William Saunders took possession of the office, and continued its publication until 1865, when D. F. Webber became the proprietor. He changed its name to The Charlotte Argus, and in the spring of 1868 sold to W. S. Thornton, who in June of that year admitted J. V. Johnson as a partner in the business. The latter, after four months, purchased Thornton�s interest, and remained as manager until January 1, 1875, when Frank A. Ells became its published and change its name to The Charlotte Leader. J. V. Johnson bought it back July 27, 1880. He had it about two years when it came back to Ells. In 1884 it was sold to W. G. Blymer of Defiance, Ohio, who on account of ill health sold it 1886 to Capt. G. C. Bragdon, who conducted it until October, 1895, when it was again sold to is present owner and publisher, Frank A. Ells.
In 1886 a stock company was formed to publish The Vidette, a Greenback organ of which James Winnie was the political editor. It ran under this management for two years, when it was sold to Charles P. Warner, who changes its name to The Graphic. Soon after acquiring control, Mr. Warner took in as partner M. L. Phares, who later bought out Warner�s interest and became sole owner. About seventeen years ago M. H. Gunsenhouser bought out Mr. Phares and the name was again changes to The Republican, when the sheet espoused the cause of the party its name indicated. During this period it enjoyed the distinction of being aggressive and original, but was carelessly made up and edited. July 1, 1902, the paper again changed name and owner. C. W. Waring being the purchaser, and the paper thereafter being known as The Grand Ledge Times. The paper is now a seven column quarto in size and enjoys a much greater degree of prosperity than in its earlier years. It is independent in politics.
The Potterville Press was established in October, 1897, by Len W. Feighner. The editor was W. O. Hullinger, until October 5, 1899, when George C. Higdon took charge. June 27, 1901, he was relived by Lloyd C. Feighner, brother of the owner, who edited the paper six weeks. July 26, 1901, the plant was purchased by W. E. Warner, the present owner and editor. It is now in its ninth year.
This paper was established October 1, 1897, by E. C. Sibley, and has enjoyed a steady growth ever since, under the same ownership.
The Sunfield Sentinel was established in 1888 by J. C. Rounds and at that time was called The Sun. The Sun was sold to W. J. Jenkins who was burned out in 1896. Soon after the fire, M. L. Phares and C. J. Strang bought The Sun�s subscription list and started the paper anew, changing the name to The Sunfield Sentinel, the first issue being March 12, 1896. The partnership of Phares and Strang continued but a short time, Phares selling out to Strang. C. J. Strang continued the publication of the paper until November, 1898, when he leased it to J. T. Mansil, who afterwards bought it, and in 1900 sold to James H. Cramer. The latter published The Sentinel until January 30, 1905, when he sold to Frank E. Merritt, who has continued publishing the paper up to the present time. It is a five column quarto published on Thursday of each week.
The Eaton Rapids Journal was founded by J. B. Teneyck in November, 1865, and sold to Frank C. Cully, in 1869, who, in 1874, changed the name to The Saturday Journal. From 1876 to January 1, 1879, E. O. Brien was the published and the paper resumed its old name. It then passed into the hands of Kendall Kittridge, who made many changes and improvements in the looks of the sheet and brought it to the front rank of county papers; he sold to Prof. Orr Schurtz. After that the paper changes owners quite frequently; C. W. Stevens, Hendee & Fairfield, Charles T. Fairfield, E. Goodnow, O. E. Hawkins, and J. B. Hendee, being owners in the order named. Later it came into the hands of the present owner, J. Sumner Hamlin, a former school teacher, who has kept it up to a very excellent standard.
The Grand Ledge Independent was established in 1869, by B. F. Saunders, son of Joseph Saunders, one of the earlier publishers of the Charlotte Republican. He induced W. C. Westland, in February, 1894, to take a half interest in the business, and for a period of three years the paper was published by the firm of Saunders & Westland. The firm was dissolved the following May, the junior member becoming the sole proprietor. For a time it was difficult to make the paper pay expenses, but the business men and other citizens rallied to its support and it has prospered.
The Mulliken News was established in July, 1897, with S. J. Jacob as editor and W. J. Fish, publisher. At the expiration of nine months, the paper and plant were purchased by W. J. Fish, who has managed it ever since. It is a seven column sheet with from four to six pages, well filled with advertising matter, and has a good circulation in the northern part of the county.
The Bellevue Gazette was established Jun 9, 1871, by Alfred Rindge, on May 29, 1873, it was bought by E. S. Hoskins, who conducted it until May 27, 1882, when G. W. Perry became owner and editor. April 26, 1892, Willard E. Holt, its present owner, became editor and publisher. The Gazette editors appear to be in the way of promotion; Hoskins was made secretary of the Michigan state senate, and later had a fine position at Washington, D. C. Perry was deputy revenue collector and secretary of the Michigan press association, and Holt is postmaster and president of the Michigan postmasters� association.
Upon the failure of The Potterville Enterprise, in 1887, Francis M. Potter, formerly of The Vermontville Hawk (now Echo), bought the plant, removed it to Charlotte, and, on August 17, 1887, issued the first copy of The Charlotte Tribune. On December 1, 1887, Mr. George A. Perry bought a half interest. The old Washington hand press was exchanged for a Prouty, this since giving way to a Cottrell. From January 1, 1888 to May 1, 1888, Warren F. Pattison held an interest, the firm name being Perry, Potter & Pattison. Mr. Potter retired July 1, 1889, and two months later Harry T. McGrath bought a half interest, the partnership continuing to April 1, 1904, at which time Mr. McGrath exchanged his interest in The Tribune for Mr. Perry�s interest in The Republican, which they had bought in May, 1903. After resuming full ownership of The Tribune, Mr. Perry changed the firm name to Perry & Perry, thus recognizing Mrs. Perry�s work on the paper, which has always been much more than her own �Good Cheer� or �Home� page, a prominent feature of the paper from the first. The Tribune has always held patriotism above partisanship and stood for the best for all as the editor saw it. It takes front rank in the country press of the state and is recognized as one of the leading newspapers in Michigan in this field.
The Olivet college paper, �The Echo,� was founded by the students in 1888. Its object was to give a record of current events in the college and town, of special interest, and to be a medium through which, graduate and former students, might gain information concerning the college and each other. It is first of all a college newspaper but it also endeavors to maintain a high literary standard and welcomes within the limits of its pages the best work of the students in prose or verse and special papers from graduates, faculty, and friends. In the fall of 1892, after four years as a monthly, �The Echo,� was published bi-weekly and has so continued under a system that so far as we know is unique in the management of college papers. The editor-in-chief is given credit for a course in English for his work on the �Echo,� and is held responsible to the head of the English department. This arrangement gives the editor time to devote to the paper and insures a high grade of work.
The Vermontville Echo was founded in 1874 by J. C. Worcester, under the name of �The Vermontville Enterprise.� He was followed by G. W. Hoskins for a short time,, who sold it to Kendall Kitridge. He sold to F. M. Potter who changed the name to �The Hawk.� The paper then passed into the hands of Holt and Knox who changed the name to �The Vermontville Echo� and ran it for a number of years when J. C. Sherman bought out Knox and the firm became Holt and Sherman. Then Mr. Holt sold to H. B. Sherman and the firm became J. C. Sherman & Son. H. B. Sherman sold out to this father and J. C. Sherman ran the paper a y ear alone when he sold to Henry Curtis the present owner who took possession January 1, 1903. It is an eight page paper of six columns and is independent in politics.
The Olivet Optic was founded April 13, 1889, by Mrs. Stella Marie Warner, on the nineteenth of the following October it was bought by the present owner, Frank N. Green, who also edits it. It is an eight page, five column paper and is all printed in Olivet. In connection with the paper is one of the finest job offices in the county. All the college printing is done there.
PUBLIC LANDS, BUILDINGS, INSTITUTIONS AND WORKS�Proposition of Bostwick�The County Jail�The First Court House�The New Court House�The County Farm�Cemeteries�Drains
On the 8th of June, 1840, Edmund B. Bostwick
conveyed to the county commissioners of this county by a warranty deed the
public square described by metes and bounds, and containing about an acre of
ground, and the deed contains this provision, �to be used for county buildings
and for no other purposes.� There
is no other clause in the deed to indicate that the square would revert to Mr.
Bostwick, or his heirs if the property was used for any other purpose than for
The early settlers were not all saints.
Some black sheet got in among the flock at an early day, or some unable
to withstand temptation, and it was occasionally found necessary to exercise
restraint. Bellevue at an early
date was practically the county seat of the county.
Some of the settlers, who were boys in those days, tell us that a man
from that place who was sent to buy goods skipped out with the money, but was
pursued, brought back and was confined to a room in a large building called
�The Arsenal.� The window was
grated, but was not regarded as very strong, so an iron band was fastened around
the waist of the prisoner, to which a strong chain was attached, and the other
end made secure. The boys used to
go to the barred window and look in to see the prisoner in chains.
He was on hand, however, when wanted for trial.
This was the initial movement in the community in the handling of the
The county commissioners at their session in 1841
passed the following: �Resolved
to allow William Stoddard twenty-five dollars per year, for five years, from the
15th day of May next, as rent for two rooms, each fifteen feet by
twelve square, with sufficient fireplaces or stoves to warm the same; said rooms
to be sufficiently secure for a jail; that when the county shall have no use for
said rooms as a prison or jail, said Stoddard shall have the use of said rooms
gratis; provided said rooms are ready for use by the first day of
the circuit court for the county of Eaton next.
And the commissioners further resolve, that twenty-five dollars of said
rent is to be paid to said Stoddard in advance, as soon as he shall have the
body of said building erected.�
But during the year 1842 it became evident that some
more secure place must be provided for prisoners, and in September the
supervisors appointed William Stoddard, Alonzo Baker, and A. D. Shaw a committee
to draft a plan for a jail, and receive proposals for building the same, and
submit them to the board for approval. In January, 1843, the subject was again taken up, and it was
finally resolved to submit the question to the people at their coming town
meetings. Before the session
closed, the sum of four dollars was allowed to W. S. Fairfield for building a
temporary jail, which must indeed have been an imposing affair. In July, 1843, William Stoddard was allowed five dollars for
furnishing jail. At this time
Austin Blair, afterwards governor of the state, was clerk of the board.
In the fall of 1846 the committee presented plans for a
�jail of hewn timber,� and it was resolved that the county proceed to build
one after the plans submitted, out of funds due the treasurer and not otherwise
appropriated, and the building was to be ready by September 1, 1847.
This jail was a long two story building, the jail proper being in the
eastern end, while the western end was the sheriff�s residence.
The jail part was made of hewn hardwood timber about ten inches square,
set on end and fastened together with dowell pins, the floors and ceiling were
made of the same materials and fastened in the same manner.
There were two cells about ten by fifteen feet square, with a hallway
between them and above them was a single cell designed for women, but which
appears not to have been very popular as it was little used.
The building was small and cost but a few hundred dollars; it stood very
nearly on the ground occupied by the present jail and was used until it was
entirely unfit for its purpose.
In 1867 at the January session of the supervisors, they
resolved to submit to the voters of the county, on the first Monday of the
following April, a proposition to raise eight thousand dollars for the purpose
of building a jail and a house for the jailer, one-half to be raised in the year
1867 and the other half in the year 1868. The
voters refused to sanction the tax.
A month later at the October session of the supervisors
in 1868 Mr. Lawrence presented to them a diagram of the public square and
proposed that they release to him the public square on which the court house
stands, and the lot on which the brick office of Dr. Rand and the commissioner
of the poor now stands, and in return he would deed to the county residuary
interest in the lots marked on the diagram �jail lot,� and �court house
lot,� and the buildings thereon and also that he would give the county the sum
of $8,000 towards the erection of a new court house with county offices attached
to be located on the aforesaid square, $4,000 to be paid without interest, when
such building or buildings are entirely completed, said building or buildings to
cost not less than $8,000. This
diagram has disappeared, and the offer was not accepted, for in 1871, Mr.
Lawrence offered to release to the county his interest in the west half of the
public square, and pay the county the sum of $12,000; provided the county
transferred to him its interest in the east half of the said square, and the lot
four in block 24 on which the offices of the county treasurer and register of
deeds are located. This offer was
accepted by the supervisors; provided the preliminaries could be satisfactorily
adjusted. A committee consisting of
Osmum Chappell, Earl T. Church, and John Dow, was appointed to negotiate and
make the sale, on certain conditions, which cover more than a page of the
records. From the fact that among
these conditions is one that provides that two alleys twenty feet in width shall
be reserved, one from the middle of the square on Harris avenue, and the other
from the middle of the square on Bostwick avenue to intersect each other in the
center of the square, we conclude that Mr. Lawrence�s first offer was to give
$8,000 for three quarters of the square and the lot on which Dr. Rand�s office
stands, and he would transfer to the county his residuary interest in the
northwest quarter of the square. As
we find no further record of his second proposition, we conclude that the
preliminaries could not be satisfactorily adjusted, and the whole fell through.
The first court house built in the county was a small building twenty by twenty-four feet erected and still standing in Bellevue. The courts were held in it for several years, but in 1840 the county business was removed from Bellevue to the house of William Stoddard in Charlotte (the old Eagle Hotel). The old building in Bellevue was enlarged by erecting in front of it another building of the same size and the whole was converted into a two-roomed school house.
In October, 1844, the supervisors appropriated $500
toward building a court house, which was to be located two rods east of the west
line of the public square, and in the center from north to south, and was to be
built according to a plan presented by Millett & Scout.
The dimensions were to be twenty-four by forty-two feet, with the feet
posts and the ceiling of the room was to be arched; there were to be also two
wings eighteen by fourteen feet to be used for jury rooms.
The whole must not exceed in cost $750.
The finishing of the building was delayed for a year or two.
In January, 1882, the supervisors voted to submit the
question of building a court house to the electors of the county if the city of
Charlotte will give a bonus of $5000 toward it. The next day $5,000 was stricken out and a �reasonable
amount� substituted. This action
was undoubtedly prompted by an informal offer of citizens of Eaton Rapids to put
up and give to the county the court house if that town was made the county seat.
Judge F. A. Hooker, Amos Munson, and Gary Fox were made a committee to
secure plans for a new court house. The
supervisors also submitted to the electors the question whether they would raise
$40,000 to put up the building. At
the election in April, 1882, there was a decided majority in favor of raising
that amount for the purpose, and the supervisors authorized the building of a
courthouse at a cost not exceeding $40,000.
A K. Warren, Frank A. Hooker, James Gallery, Charles Hull and George N.
Potter, were appointed a building committee.
It soon became evident that $40,000 would not be sufficient to complete
the building according to the plan adopted, and the supervisors voted not to
confine the committee to the $40,000 voted, and the treasurer was authorized to
draw on the general fund after the building fund was exhausted, and $6,000 was
appropriated for furnishing the building.
On the fourth of July, 1894, when the firemen were on
an excursion to another town, painters were at work on the cornice of the court
house, and using a lamp to burn off the old paint. At five o�clock in the afternoon the building was found to
be on fire; the flames made rapid progress, and the dome, tower clock and bell
came down with a crash. The
woodwork was burned, and the spectators saw fireworks on a scale that had not
been anticipated. The walls
sufferance but little injury, and the occupants of the several offices had
plenty of time to put their records and important papers into their vaults,
where they were uninjured, temporary roofs were erected over them and business
went on as usual.
Miss Josephine Johnson, one of our poets, describes the
From its place in the beautiful court house tower,
Where it patiently noted the minute and hour,
With its tic, tick, tock�
Through the summer and winter by night and by day,
Going steadily on in its roundabout way,
Its hands chasing each other like children at play,
Lighted up in the night, like a pumpkin-man gay,
Looked the fine old clock.
Ah! how little we dreamed that this stead old friend,
Was to have such a sad, such a tragical end,
By the terrible fire.
Like a sneaking assassin the tiny flames creep,
And ere long out of ambush they cautiously creep,
Then more rapidly growing, right onward they sweep,
And soon under full headway they hungrily leap,
Upward, higher and higher
In an instant the crowd, on a holiday gay,
With alarm cry aloud, or are dumb with dismay;
While the clock never tires,
But as steady as ever, its hands their course take,
And not wishing its record of honor to break,
Though the fierce flames around it a holocaust make,
Like a faithful old martyr who sung at the stake,
It strikes six and expires.
�Tis a lesson for us in these troublesome days,
Asking help of the Lord, let each vote as he prays,
And together unit�
�Mid the fires of class hatred that threaten our land,
With the strikers so bold, and the anarchist band,
Satan quick to give work to the unemployed hand,
With true courage and hope, like the clock let us stand,
And strike for the right.
In 1885, at the October session of the board of
supervisors, Judge Hooker in behalf of the building committee, made a final
report of the cost of building and furnishing the new court house, as follows:
Cost of court house��������$49,739.39
Electric bells����������� 156.00
Repairing same���������� 25.00
Clock and bell����������. 2,354.49
Electric clocks���������� 112.50
P. Ihling on boxes, $14.45���. 5,489.31
Plumbing ������������ 2,192.00
Heating court house and jail ����. 4,014.29
Finishing basement��������. 3,206.63
Bath tub, etc., at jail�������... 1,011.55
Cleaning (paid Fullerton)����.� 10.00
Treasurer�s receipt��������.. .35
Some eight pages of the records of the supervisors are
taken up with more full explanations of the several items.
The citizens of Charlotte, by private subscription,
raised the money to buy the clock and bell for the court house that was burned.
At the meeting of the supervisors January 8, 1884, they
voted �that the court house building committee be authorized to use so much of
the amount collected on subscriptions to court house fund from citizens of
Charlotte as may be necessary to purchase a bell and clock for the court house,
but the committee shall not be authorized to make such purchase until a
sufficient amount has been collected to defray the whole expense of the same.�
The project for establishing a library for the benefit of the citizens of Eaton Rapids was first suggested publicly in the Red Ribbon Club in the year 1880 but two years passed before any thing was done about it. At a meeting of the club held February 3, 1882, the subject was introduced by Rev. D. P. Breed, and after a long discussion of different plans a committee of five, consisting of Rev. D. P. Breed, C. S. Cobb, J. M. Corbin, Orr Schurtz and Rev. H. L. Field, was appointed to take the subject under consideration and to report some plan for the accomplishment of the object. This committee made a report February 17, 1882, recommending that a committee be appointed to lay the whole matter before the common council of the city, and request the council to take immediate steps for the establishment of a public library and free reading room in accordance with the provision of the act of the legislature, No. 164 of the public acts of Michigan for the year 1877, and that the Red Ribbon Club, as an inducement to such action, offer to give at once the sum of fifty dollars for the purchase of temperance literature for the said library to duplicate this donation at the end of six months and again at the end of one year. The report of the committee was adopted and the committee continued to carry out the plan. The overture above referred to was promptly made to the council and the desired action was taken by that body on February 28, 1882. Two weeks later Mayor H. H. Hamilton nominated the following persons as a board of directors for the Library, John M. Corbin, K. Kittredge, D. Payson Breed, H. F. Reynolds, H. A. Shaw, Joseph Carr, E. C. Osborn, H. L. Field and Orr Schurtz. The board was organized in due time and entered upon its duties. The library opened with a small number of books donated chiefly by citizens. At first it was kept in news rooms or stores and a few of five cents a week was charged for the use of books but later it was made free. In September 1899 a store building was bought and the books were removed to the new room, Miss Florence Harris was appointed librarian and the Dewey system of cataloguing was adopted. The library is supported by appropriates made from time to time by the common council, this year the amount being $700 and the rent of the opera house, and that of a part of the building in which the library is located. There are now about three thousand volumes on its shelves.
A history of the county farm for the poor was published
a few years ago and from it we gather many of the following facts:
The manner in which the poor of the county should be cared for was for a number of years a matter of considerable discussion, and preliminary steps toward purchasing a farm to be used as a county poor farm were taken on numerous occasions. The first legislation of this nature appears in the minutes of the session of the board of supervisors in October, 1847, at which time the county superintendents of the poor were directed to ascertain the expense of purchasing a farm, and of providing for the support of the county poor with or without a farm. Their report was made a year later, but it was thought impracticable to build a poor house at that time, and the sum of $125 was voted for the support of the poor as it existed February 28, 1846. Agreeable to an act passed March 1, 1849, the board in that year, by a two-thirds vote, reinstated the rule for the maintenance of the poor as it existed February 28, 1846. In January, 1852, it was resolved to appropriate $700, out of moneys due from the state, to purchase a county farm and erect buildings thereon; but it seems this also shared the fate of previous efforts, for in June, 1856, a committee was appointed to �examine the terms, price, and location of a wild eighty-acre lot for the purposes of a county farm for the benefit and uses of the county poor,� and report at the next session of the board. No purchase was yet made, but $800 was raised toward supporting the poor. In January, 1857, Harvey Williams was appointed a committee to purchase for the county a farm containing from eighty to one hundred and sixty acres, and pay ten dollars an acre for the same, but there is no record of such a purchase having been made. In January, 1858, a motion to postpone indefinitely all further action concerning a poor farm was lost, and another committee was appointed with a similar object, and the farm they should purchase must have no less than twenty acres improved. Again the project failed, but finally, in January, 1859, a committee was intrusted with the business, and the result was the purchase of one hundred and sixty acres in the township of Chester (southwest quarter of section thirty-six) from John Turner and wife, for four thousand dollars. In October following the sum of eight hundred dollars was appropriated to erect and furnish a suitable building on the poor-farm. The contract for erecting the building was let to Stephen Tuttle, of Charlotte, in December, 1859, for six hundred dollars, and the house was completed in June, 1860. In October, 1863, the board of supervisors appropriated six hundred dollars with which to construct a suitable addition to the poor-house to keep insane persons dependent upon the county. A tax of eight thousand dollars was voted in 1873 to erect a new poor-house, and it was accordingly built the next year. It is three stories high, including basement, and is built of brick. It is a fine building and a credit to the county. In October, 1878, a further sum of three hundred dollars was appropriated to building hog-pens, boiler room, ice-house, etc.
In 1888 and 1889 another building of brick three stories high and thirty by sixty feet on the ground, was erected for men. Steam heat was put in in 1890, and a frame barn forty by eighty feet built in 1901.
In olden time the burying grounds were the most neglected and God-forsaken pieces of ground to be found anywhere, frequently suffered to grow up with bushes and briers. But during the last seventy-five years a great change has come about. There are in this county forty-six cemeteries, and with few exceptions they are very well kept, some of them being places of great beauty. The first burying ground in Vermontville was on the south side of the road, about three-fourths of a mile west of the village. In 1874 another beautiful spot was selected about a mile and a half a little to the northwest of the village on the banks of the �Terpo� diversified by hill and dale was surveyed and neatly laid out by the late Frank Davis. The surviving friends of many who were buried in the old ground have removed the remains of their cherished dead to the new cemetery. Many, however, still remain in the old ground, and their friends having died or moved away, the grounds are neglected and many of the gravestones have fallen. There is but one tomb in the new cemetery and that bears the inscription:
�SQUIER 1899. VAUGHN.�
The cemetery at Bellevue is the oldest in the county,
and it is on a plan in the southwestern outskirts of the village.
The first white man buried in it was a Mr. Baker, who was killed by the
caving in of a lime-pit, in which he was digging.
This was in 1835.
The cemetery at Grand Ledge lies near the village, on
the northeast. It has no tomb, but
it has a soldiers� monument, elsewhere described.
The small cemetery at Dimondale lies a little west of
the village and is noted for having the most expensive monument in the county.
Dr. Tyler Hull, a well-known citizen and most highly esteemed, a
physician and lawyer, had spent nearly all his life in that town and had
accumulated a handsome property. He
had no children and made provision in his will for expending $10,000 for a
suitable monument. The material is the gray Barre granite. The statue of Dr. Hull is of heroic size.
The cemeteries of Eaton Rapids and Hamlin adjoin each
other, being separated by an interval of low land, about twenty rods in width.
The land is slightly rolling, and there is a very tasteful entrance to
the grounds, which are laid out with winding walks.
The original burying ground at Charlotte was what is
now the city park, lying on the corner of Clinton and Seminary streets.
While nearly every acre of ground in the county has a
fertile soil, that of the swamps being especially rich, the settlers found much
of it too wet for cultivation. There
is so much clay in the soil of the upland that water collected in depressions of
the surface, often preventing cultivation.
In order to redeem this useless land extensive drains have been planned
and excavated at great expense. There
have been from five hundred to six hundred miles of these public drains dug in
the county, and they vary in width from a few inches to forty feet.
Aside from these, a thousand or more miles of tile drains have been put
in by private parties. If the surveyors could get a fall of four feet to the mile
they were well satisfied, but in several instances they could get only a foot or
a foot and a half to the mile. About
sixty miles of the large drains have been excavated by dredges, run by steam.
The cost of dredge work depends upon the amount of earth to be moved but
has usually been between five and six cents per cubic yard.
It is a curious fact that the muck or peat in some places in the tamarack
swamp settles when the water is drain off so that in a few years the drains have
to be sunk still deeper. In one
place on the farm of Mr. Charles Chappell, the subsidence has been about four
The drains have been pretty evenly divided among the
several towns of the county. But
Bellevue and Vermontville have less than the other towns.
The entire cost of several of the large drains is given
Battle Creek drain�������.. $ 73,710
Big Thornapple drain�����.�. 42,000
Big Thornapple extension���.�.. 31,000
Little Thornapple�������.... 7,800
Huber drain��������...�. 2,200
Shanty Brook drain������..... 11,000
Sebewa drain��������...� 29,500
Collier drain����������. 11,600
LEGAL HISTORY�Elections�Circuit Court�Probate Courts�Legislation on the Liquor Question
The first election ever
held in this county was held at Bellevue in 1835.
Bellevue, at that time, embraced the whole county.
There were then only four men in the entire county whose residence
entitled them to the privileges of legal voters; they were Capt. Reuben
Fitzgerald, Sylvanus Hunsiker, Calvin Phelps and John T. Hayt.
The first three named were the election board, and they chose Mr. Hayt
clerk of this election, to perform the difficult task of keeping the poll list
as the voters from five hundred and seventy-six square miles of territory came
in to vote. The election was held
in a log shanty, which they called �the meeting-house.�
When the officers of election had taken their seats, Calvin Phelps was
ordered to proclaim the polls opened, which he promptly did. Stepping to the door, with his hat off, he proclaimed in a
loud voice: �The polls of this
election are now opened,� and warned all men, under the penalty of the law, to
keep the peace, which created a hearty laugh in the board. These four voters were then triumphantly elected to all the
best offices in the gift of the people, unanimously taking two or three of the
best offices apiece. There were too
many offices to go around. They
gave the minor ones to the outsiders who had not been residents long enough to
be legal voters. In strict
accordance with law they sat all day, until the legal hour for closing the
polls, and then counted up and ascertained the result.
Not one of the men who took part in this election is now living.
After the spring election, in 1838, the board of county
canvassers met at Mr. Sarles� house to canvass the votes and decide who were
elected. It was a question in their
minds whether his house was properly at the county seat, and, �to make
assurance doubly sure,� they adjourned to the prairie and met in the small log
building, afterwards used as a schoolhouse, which stood on the block north of
the Methodist Church, and there went through the formality of determining who
had been elected. The day was cold
and stormy and the cabin was �unchinked,� but they braved all difficulties
that their proceedings might be strictly legal.
They then returned to the house of Mr. Sarles and transacted other and
less important business.
We are indebted to Edward A. Foote for the greater part of
the history of the courts of this county. The
first terms of the circuit court in this county were held at Bellevue.
The circuit court journal opens with the following entry:
�The circuit court for the county of Eaton having been opened in
pursuance of law by the sheriff of said county on the 31st day of
May, 1838, at five o�clock p.m., there not appearing a quorum of judges, S. S.
Church, one of the associate judges being present, adjourned said court to the
next day at ten o�clock a.m., W. R. Carpenter, deputy clerk.�
Upon the next day, June 1, 1838, the entry is more formal,
showing that the court was opened at the court house in the village of Bellevue,
in said county, and that Epaphroditus Ransom, circuit judge, and S. S. Church,
associate judge, were present. The
entry then recites the return of the first venire issued for a grand jury and
the calling of the jurors. The
following persons appeared and answered to their names:
James W. Hickok, Eliel Bond, Ruloff Butler, Samuel Higgins, Reuben
Haskell, Reuben Fitzgerald, Andrew W. Rogers, George S. Browning, Wait J.
Squier, John T. Ellis, Ephraim Follett, David Judson, Isaac Dubois, Nathan G.
Hedges, James Kimberly, Aaron White, John B. Crary, Timothy Haskell, Norman S.
Booth, Charles Hunsiker, Christopher Parsons, Bezaleel Taft, Abner Carpenter,
Jr., all good and lawful men of the county of Eaton.
Reuben Fitzgerald was appointed by the court foreman of the grand jury,
and authorized to issue subpoenas for and administer oaths to witnesses. The
grand jury, being sworn and charged by the court �to inquire in and for the
body of the county of Eaton, retired to consider business appertaining to
The grand jury system, though not yet abolished, has nearly
fallen into disuse. The bill of
indictment found by a grand jury against an accused person formerly took the
place of the information which is now filed by the prosecuting attorney upon
preliminary examination before a magistrate.
The sessions of the grand jury were in private.
Each juror was sworn to secrecy, and �to present no person for envy,
hatred or malice, and not to leave any person unpresented for love, fear, favor,
affection, or hope of reward.�
They were usually instructed carefully and cautioned as to
their duties in a somewhat lengthy and impressive charge by the court before
retiring. It was the duty of the
prosecuting attorney to attend before them when requested by the foreman, to
assist in drawing indictments, or in the examination of witnesses.
Any person wishing to make complaint of any offense against the law was
admitted before this body, and permitted to tell his story under oath.
Any of the jurors could ask questions.
After hearing the complaint the complainant was requested to withdraw. The jury then discussed and decided whether they would
proceed further with the inquiry. If
a majority desired further investigation witnesses were brought in one by one
and separately examined as to their knowledge of the matter of which complaint
was made. After hearing the
testimony of which minutes were kept by one of their number who acted as clerk,
twelve of their number if they concurred, could find a bill of indictment, upon
which document the foreman certified that it was a �true bill.�
It was not permissible for even the prosecuting attorney to be present
while the jurors were expressing their opinions that it could not be known by
the outside world which of the jurors favored or opposed the indictment.
The drawing of the indictment required not a little legal skill and
readiness, for the presentation of this bill was usually followed, after
arraignment, by a motion to quash by the attorney for the defendant. When one or more indictments were ready for presentation to
the court the entire jury were escorted by an officer into the courtroom.
All other business in court was at once suspended, silence prevailed, and
every eye was fixed upon this formidable array of inquisitors.
The court deferentially asked the foreman if the jury had any business to
present to the court; when that personage, if he had business, arose and handed
some papers to the clerk, who took them, and without looking at them to see
whether he himself was indicted, at once handed them to the judge, who, upon
looking and finding that the clerk was not indicted, handed them back to that
officer, who took them and carefully locked them up, informing no one who was
indicted until the defendant, by virtue of a bench warrant, had been arrested
and safely lodged in jail to await his arraignment and trial, or placed under
the bonds for his appearance at the next term of court.
After the arrest of the defendant the indictment was placed on file, and
became a public record, open to the inspection of all persons interested.
As this grand jury system belongs to the past it is properly a matter of
history, says Mr. Foote. Still a
grand jury may be called whenever the judge thinks it best, and within the last
few years one was called by a circuit judge, Clement Smith, to take testimony in
regard to the illegal sale of ardent spirits in this county.
The November term, 1839, was the last held at Bellevue.
While the terms were held there, the name of Martin S. Bracket is signed
one time as clerk, and at another as deputy clerk.
He afterwards became one of the most prominent members of the Eaton
county bar. The old Eagle Hotel, which stood on the corner now occupied
by the Phoenix House in Charlotte, was originally designed for a steam grist
mill, but the promise of having the terms of court held at the county seat as
soon as there could be a court-room and jail ready for occupation induced the
mill proprietors to change their original plan, and convert the mill building
into one which would answer for a hotel, jail and court room.
The building was made of smoothly hewed timbers laid one upon the other,
and dove-tailed at the corners. The
court-room was upon the second floor, and for a time answered for courts,
dancing parties, and public worship. Esquire
Stoddard acted as landlord and jailer. The last session of the circuit court was held at Bellevue on
November 28 and 29, 1839. The
journal entries are very short and informal.
The following are samples:
�The People of the State of Michigan
�The defendant being arraigned pleads not guilty. Plea of not guilty withdrawn and pleads guilty.�
The next day we find an entry in the same case as follows:
�In this case the
court assesses a fine upon the respondent of five dollars, and that he stand
committed until said fine and costs are paid.�
The above is all that appears of the case.
I surmise from the size of the fine that the defendant had been indicted
by the grand jury for selling liquor to the Indians.
At the previous term there is a similar entry against Christopher
Darling, with a fine of five dollars and the addition of �indictment for
selling spirituous liquor to the Indians.�
The journal next shows the court in session for the first
time in Charlotte, on May 19, 1840. Epaphroditus
Ransom, circuit judge, Simeon S. Church and Amos Spicer, associate judges are
present. A grand jury appears and
answers to the call of their names, and are sworn and charged.
Among the names of these jurors we find those of Roger W. Griswold,
Alonzo Baker, Asa Fuller, Bezaleel Taft, Simeon Harding (the first county
treasurer and builder of the first frame house in Charlotte), Oramel D. Skinner,
Phineas S. Spaulding, Aaron Bonton, Zebulon Wheaton, George Y. Cowan, and other
well known pioneers. There being no
district attorney, the court appointed John Willard for that term.
The journal entries are as short and informal as in previous terms.
The name of Charles T. Moffitt appears as a litigant defendant in about
ten suits and also the case of Alonzo Baker, plaintiff, against Erastus
Phineas Ferrand, Abner Pratt, Gibbs & Sandford, and E.
Bradley appear from the journal entries to be the attorneys who conducted the
business. One Henry Hewitt applied
for admission to practice. Messrs.
A. Pratt, Bradley, and Van Arman were appointed an examining committee.
Nothing further appears in regard to this application.
Whether examined and admitted, or rejected, the journal does not state. November 16, 1842, Judge Ransom�s name appears for the last
time on the journal. According to
the opinion of all who knew him, he was a good man and an upright judge.
His charges to the jury were so clear and free from technical terms that
a boy twelve years old could understand them.
Judge Ransom was appointed one of the judges of the supreme
court of Michigan in 1836, and in 1843 became chief justice, in which position
he remained until 1848. He was
governor of the state for two years, beginning January 1, 1848.
He is described as a man of commanding presence, in height over six feet,
in weight, exceeding two hundred pounds, with massive head, and a powerful
voice. When off the bench it was
his pride to mingle with the people, and talk with them about their farms and
mechanical employments, carefully nothing their experiences and profiting
Judge Ransom was succeeded by Hon. Alpheus Felch, who opened his first term in our county
September 6, 1843. Presiding with
him as associate judges were S. S. Church of Vermontville, and James McQueen of
Eaton Rapids. Austin Blair, since
governor of the state, was clerk but acting by his deputy, F. F. White.
In those days the statute provided for the election of two
associate judges in each county for four years. The circuit judges were justices of the supreme court, and
presided together at Detroit, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, and Pontiac at times fixed
by law. They were nominated by the
governor, by and with the advice of the senate�one from each of the four
judicial circuits�and held office four years.
Besides presiding together to form a supreme court, each justice was
required to hold circuit courts in the several counties of his circuit, and he,
with one or two of the associate judges, elected in each county, constituted the
circuit court. The two associate
judges could together hold the court, but one alone could only adjourn from day
to day. The justice of the supreme
court could preside with one or two of his associates.
The legislature afterwards changed this system by providing for a county
court to be held on the first day of each month.
A county court judge was elected to preside for four years, and also a
second judge to preside in the absence or disability of the county judge.
When the county court was established, its two judges
presided without the presence of the circuit judge, and the circuit judge
presided alone in the circuit. Litigants
in the county courts could, by an entry upon the record, remove their cases from
the county court to the circuit, and there have them tried before the circuit
The first county court appears to have opened June 7, 1847,
with N. S. Booth of Bellevue as presiding judge, A. D. Shaw as clerk.
A. L. Jordan of Chester had been elected second judge.
The county court was a short-lived institution.
The attorneys did not at all times manifest the respect due to a court,
and managed to prolong trials beyond endurance.
The last county judge was Charles E. Beardsley, Esquire, of Bellevue, a
lawyer who had practiced in the courts of Canada, where an attorney was not
recognized by the court, unless he was properly arrayed in his black gown.
Judge Beardsley was hardly prepared for the rough ways of a
back-woods bar, and the attorneys, knowing his ideas of judicial decorum,
determined to give him a surprise. The
journal of November 11, 1851, shows bad feeling on the part of the bar toward
the judge, by the continuance by consent of nearly all the cases on the
calendar. This is followed by a
large number of elections to remove the cases to circuit court for trial.
Several pages of the journal are filled with these elections, until
hardly a case is left pending in the county court.
Finally on November 13 is an entry in the handwriting of T. D. Green,
clerk, as follows:
�It is hereby ordered and adjudged that Henry A. Shaw be
and is fined five dollars for contemptuous language used to the court, to wit:
�I will pay the court for sitting here if he thinks he is not paid
already,� in answer to a remark of court.
Charles Beardsley, County Judge.�
The grand jury came in with indictments and were
discharged. The next day, November
14, 1851, was the last of the county court.
It ended in open rebellion against the judge. When the judge ordered Mr. Shaw to pay a fine of five dollars
Mr. Shaw is said to have retorted, �Fine and be d---d.� For this the judge ordered him imprisoned for five days, and
the sheriff was ordered to arrest him. John
Van Arman, Henry A. Shaw, Martin S. Bracket, C. C. Chatfield, and quite a number
of other attorneys stood up in battle array, some with their coats off and shirt
sleeves rolled up (instead of having their black gowns on), and gave the judge
and sheriff to understand that not one of their number could be taken out of
that bar. The sheriff stood
hesitating at the entrance, when some of them in friendly tones assured him that
he had better not try to come in there. He
probably saw at a glance that the caution was given him for his good.
They were many of them men whom it would be difficult to handle.
M. S. Bracket bore the reputation of being physically the most powerful
man in the county. Spectators say
that as he bared his arms muscles and tendons rose up like whip-cords. Mr. Shaw was tall, quick and powerful--he had nearly broken
the next of an antagonist by kicking him under the chin while standing before
him. John Van Arman had been a
soldier in the Mexican war and looked as if he would rather fight than eat.
No arrest was made. A jury
of twelve men sat looking on. Some
of them afterwards censured the sheriff for not calling on them for help.
At the time calling for help was not thought of.
The judge, finding himself powerless, adjourned court and put on his hat
and cloak and started across the square for the Eagle Hotel.
Mr. Bracket accompanied him with a raw-hide in his hand, with which he
beat, not the judge, but time for the judge.
They reached the hotel together, and Mr. Bracket, still beating time,
escorted the judge upstairs to his room, but did not strike him a blow.
Thus ended the county court. Some
litigation followed between the judge and Mr. Shaw, but without serious results.
Judge Beardsley was a highly educated gentleman and in the Canada courts,
where he had practiced, he was known as a lawyer of good standing.
His great mistake here was probably in endeavoring to act the part of a
dignified judge in such a place as a county court.
Another mistake was in resenting some want of courtesy on the part of Mr.
Brackett by giving utterance to a severe tirade of invectives, during which he
must have lost his self-control. He
afterwards retired from practice, and entered the ministry of the Episcopal
The judges who have administered justice in this county
are: Epaphroditus Ransom, Alpheus
Felch, Warner Wing, George Miles, Edward Mundy, George Martin, Abner Pratt,
Edward H. C. Wilson, Benjamin F. Graves, Flavius J. Littlejohn, George Woodruff,
Philip T. Van Zile, Frank A. Hooker and the present incumbent, Clement Smith.
Many of them very able and all upright men.
Few of the present generation can remember the list farther back than
Judge Abner Pratt.
�Several of the attorneys who practiced in Eaton county
during early days have since either become distinguished as attorneys or have
obtained to high office. Among
these may be mentioned ex-Governor Austin Blair, who during the war of the
rebellion, when Michigan furnished 90,000 men, was considered one of the ablest
of that brilliant galaxy of loyal governors and pure statesmen who clustered
around the great Lincoln.�
One hundred and seven applicants have been admitted to the
bar in this county since March, 1845.
On April 1, 1906, the following attorneys numbering
twenty-seven were residing in Eaton county and practicing law in the courts.
J. M. C. Smith����������.. �
Garry C. Fox����������� �
Lyman H. McCall��������� �
Alvin G. Fleury���������� �
John C. Nichols���������� �
H. S. Maynard����������.. �
George L. Hauser���������. �
W. F. Stine������������ �
Lewis J. Dann����������... �
Frank A. Dean����������.. �
Ernest Davids����������� �
Russell R. McPeek��������� �
Emerson Boyles���������� �
G. D. Blasier�����������. �
Fred Slayton������..���.Eaton Rapids
Carl O. Markham�������� � �
A. M. Nelson���������.. � �
J. B. Hendee���������� � �
S. J. Humeston��������� � �
Elmer Peters���������� � �
George W. Irish��������..Grand Ledge
W. R. Clarke���������� � �
Cassius Alexander�������� � �
B. T. Jones����������� � �
R. A. Latting����������. � �
The first estate
administered in the county was that of Worcester B. Woodruff of the township of
Oneida. Sylvanus Hunsiker, the
first judge of probate for the county, appointed Addison Hayden as administrator
on December 13, 1838. The goods and
chattels of Mr. Woodruff inventoried $336.39, according to the estimate of the
appraisers who were Moses Ingersoll and Daniel Chadwick and later, Eliel
Ingersoll and Erastus Ingersoll. The
administrator made his final report February 5, 1847. During a number of years after the county was organized the
probate court was held in the township in which the deceased had lived, and thus
we find it held in Oneida, Eaton, Bellevue, etc. December 14, 1838, Judge Hunsiker appointed David Barr and
Rebecca Fowler administrators of the estate of Simeon Fowler, deceased.
This estate inventoried $1,078.64.
No other state was administered upon until 1840.
On the third day of October in that year Judge Hunsiker appointed Jeremiah
P. Woodbury administrator of the estate of Stephen Woodbury, Jr., deceased.
The latter was a shoemaker by trade.
His effects were a rifle valued at twelve dollars, a silver watch worth
forty dollars, a set of shoemaker�s tools, village and farm lots, and
inventoried $647.06. During the
time the second judge of probate, Osmyn Childs, was in office, the business
increased largely. Robert Le Conte,
of Charlotte, a promising young lawyer, who died in the winter of 1841-42, left
a considerable amount of personal property.
His administrator was William Stoddard, landlord of the old �Eagle
The entire number of cases administered upon since the
organization of the county and up to June, 1880 is about one thousand eight
hundred and twenty-five. These
include estates of minors, incompetent persons, etc.
From August, 1879, to June, 1880, the number of cases was about ninety.
In 1853, the legislature of
this state enacted a law prohibiting the manufacture and sale of intoxicating
liquors, with this provision: �The
township board of every organized township, or a majority of them, and the
village board or common council of any incorporated city or village, on the
first Monday in October annually, or as soon thereafter as may be convenient,
may appoint some suitable person as the agent of said township, city or village,
to sell at some central or convenient place, within said township, city or
village, spirits, wines, or other intoxicating liquors, to be used for
mechanical and medicinal purposes, and no other. And said agent shall receive such compensation for his
services, as the said board or legal authority appointing him shall
The act also provided for
submission of the electors of the state for their approval or disapproval, on
the third Monday in June, 1853, a law prohibiting the manufacturer and sale of
intoxicating liquors in the state. It
is worthy of note that the legislature that enacted this law was Democratic and
the governor, Robert McClelland, was also a Democrat. The law still further provided that if a majority of the
electors approved the law, it was to go into effect on the first day of
December, 1853, if a majority disapproved it, it should not go into effect until
the first of March, 1870.
In 1854, at the January
term of the supreme court, the judges were unanimous in the opinion, �that the
power of enacting general laws cannot be delegated by the legislative body even
to the people.�
When the law was submitted
to the electors of the state it was approved by a majority of 20,000 of the
The vote, however, revealed
the wishes of the people, and the next legislature, that of 1855, was
Republican, and so was the governor, Kinsley S. Bingham.
This legislature enacted a prohibitory law unconditionally, and repealed
the former law.
It was supposed by many
that the law of �55 would almost entirely put an end to the evils of
intemperance, but after a trial of twenty years it was found that the law would
not enforce itself. Jurors were
very apt to disagree, and a great amount of evidence was required in order to
secure a conviction.
Meantime, public sentiment
was tending strongly in favor of a license law, as a better way of dealing with
the liquor evil, but there were a great many people who were appalled at the
thought of �licensing� a crime or sin.
The legislature of 1875
repealed the prohibitory law of �55, and enacted instead one taxing �the
business of manufacturing, selling, or keeping for sale, distilled or malt
liquors.� This law was meant to
avoid the licensing of an evil, and to compel the traffic to pay the expenses
entailed by it upon the public in the punishment of criminals, and the support
of paupers made such by the sale of intoxicants.
In the year 1887 at the
spring election the question was submitted to the voters of the state, whether a
prohibitory amendment should be inserted in the constitution of the state.
The proposition was defeated by a majority of the voters in the state,
amounting to 5,835. The vote in
Eaton county showed that out of 7,406 votes cast there were 5,318 for it and
2,088 against it, showing a majority for it in the county of 3,230 in favor of
All state laws were
operative in this county as well as in the other counties of the state and thus
have place in a history of the county.
But the legislature of 1887
enacted a local option law, giving to the voters in every county the privilege
to decide whether the manufacture and sale of intoxicating drinks should be
prohibited in the county.
In accordance with this
law, a petition asking the board of supervisors to submit the question with the
requisite number of voters� names attached, was handed to the county clerk who
called a special meeting of the supervisors to take action on the petition, on
the 16th of January, 1892. In
accordance with the petition a special election was held on February 29, 1892.
But the voters took but little interest in the election as only 3,745
votes were polled, of these 52 were blank and rejected, 2,654 were in favor of
prohibition and 1,039 were against it, so there was a majority of 1,615 in favor
of prohibition. In 1895 the
question was again submitted. Greater
interest was felt in this election and 6,705 votes were polled, 58 were blank or
rejected, and 4,275 were for prohibition and 2,372 against it.
A majority of 1,903 in favor of it.
The question was submitted
in 1899 and there were 7,039 ballots case, 3,332 for it and 3,666 against it, 41
were blank, so that it was lost by a majority of 334.
The amount of taxes collected from the liquor dealers in that year was
It was again submitted in
1902, and the whole number of votes case was 7,633; of these 107 were blank and
rejected, 3,893 for prohibition and 3,633 against it, so it was carried by a
majority of 260 votes.
It was submitted again in
1904, when 7,961 were polled, of which 3,334 were for prohibition and 3,827 were
against it, showing a majority of 493 against prohibition, so that we are now
trying the �high license system.�
The liquor tax collected in
1886 showed there were 21 deals and $5,875 taxes.
The liquor tax collected in
1887 showed that there were 23 dealers and $6,650 taxes.
The liquor tax collected in
1888 showed that there were 14 dealers and $5,633.37 taxes.
The liquor tax collected in
1889 showed that there were 16 dealers and $7,225.22 taxes.
The liquor tax collected in
1890 showed that there were 16 dealers and $7,158.33 taxes.
The liquor tax collected in
1891 showed that there were 17 dealers and $7,791.60 taxes.
In the years from 1892 to
1898, inclusive, the county prohibited the sale of liquor and there were no
The liquor tax collected in
1899 showed 15 dealers and $5,666.68 taxes.
The liquor tax collected in
1900 showed 22 dealers and $9,858.68 taxes.
The liquor tax collected in
1901 showed 19 dealers and $9,065.00 taxes.
In the years 1902-3 the county prohibited the sale of liquor and there were no taxes.
The liquor taxes collected
in 1904 showed 21 dealers and $10,320.04 taxes.
SOCIETIES�The Pioneer Society�The Agricultural Society�Bench and Bar�Medical Society�The Mason Temple
Pursuant to a call signed by several citizens, a meeting was held on January 6, 1872, at the office of Henry A. Shaw, in Eaton Rapids, for the purpose of organizing a pioneer society. The following persons were present, viz: George W. Bentley, Henry A. Shaw, John Montgomery, Johnson Montgomery, John E. Clark, J. W. Toles, Calvin Hale, David B. Hale, Lorin Harwood, James H. Arnold, Samuel Ferris, Tillison Wood, Nelson Wood, G. W. Knight, H. P. Onderdonk, Joel Latson, Parker Taylor, N. J. Seelye, Aldro Atwood, Simon Darling, Benjamin L. Bentley, Russell D. Mead, Zadock Beebe, Nathaniel Taylor, Oliver L. Powers, and David Sterling, of whom, December 9, 1905, only David B. Hale is living. Hon. John Montgomery was elected chairman, and G. W. Knight secretary of the meeting. On motion of Henry A. Shaw it was
we, the old residents of Eaton county, will organize an old settlers� society
and meet once a year.�
H. A. Shaw, Joel Latson,
and J. W. Toles were appointed a committee to make arrangements for the first
meeting, to be held at Eaton Rapids, February 22, 1872.
Other necessary business was transacted, and the meeting adjourned.
On the day appointed the society met at the Vaughn House, in Eaton
Rapids, and after the appointment of a chairman, Rev. W. U. Benedict of
Vermontville, the first resident minister of the gospel in Eaton county, made
the opening prayer. The committee
on constitution made its report, which was accepted and adopted.
The opening clauses of the constitution are as follows:
�This association shall
be known as the Pioneer Society of Eaton and Ingham counties.
Its object shall be to renew old acquaintances, and continue the friendly
and social relations of its members,� etc.
Any person having resided
twenty-five years in the state, and being at the time of application a citizen
of either of the counties named, is eligible to membership.
A small admission fee is charged to male members.
The annual day of meeting was first set on February 22, or the Monday
following, should the day be Saturday or Sunday.
The second annual meeting was held at Charlotte, February 24, 1873.
A historical committee of Joseph Saunders, H. A. Shaw and W. U. Benedict,
was appointed to receive sketches of history and personal reminiscences.
Speeches were made by H. A. Shaw, M. S. Brackett, Jesse Hart and others,
and many recollections of pioneer days were revived.
The third annual meeting
was held at the Vaughn House in Eaton Rapids, February 25, 1874.
Hon. Austin Blair was present, and gave an interesting account of his
experiences in the early days of the county, which was followed by an address by
C. C. Darling. At this meeting the
constitution was amended so as to provide for holding meetings in June instead
of February. Two meetings were held
in 1874�the second in Vermontville, June 25.
The fourth annual meeting was held in Charlotte, on the fair grounds,
June 10, 1875, and that has been the place at which all subsequent meetings have
been held. At the fifth annual
meeting, held in 1876, a most enjoyable day was had, and short histories of
several townships were read by persons chosen by the executive committee to
prepare them. At the subsequent
meetings numerous interesting speeches were made, and historical papers read.
It has been the custom to have at each meeting, an address by some
pioneer who has been designated beforehand.
With few exceptions this custom has continued until the present time.
Occasionally the speaker has been unable on account of ill health to fill
his place on the program, and the time has been spent in brief incidents related
by those who were present. The
addresses delivered or a synopsis of them has been printed in some of the city
papers and a copy preserved in the records of the society.
The following is a list of the speakers who have given the principal
addresses at these meetings:
There have been two or three medical societies formed in the county but they have not lived many years. The present Eaton County Medical Society was organized September 25, 1902. Every physician residing and practicing in the county, and legally registering as such, and who is in good professional standing is eligible for membership. They are not required to adopt the same system of therapeutics. Dr. Gardner T. Rand is supposed to have been the first homeopathic physician in the county and he began practicing about 1848. In 1880 there were eleven physicians in the county who practiced in this school, and at the present time there are fifteen. There is one eclectic and one osteopathic physician in the county. About the year 1900 Dr. F. H. Williams, an osteopathic physician of Lansing, opened an office in Charlotte, and for several months came two or three times a week. He was followed by Dr. S. W. Vallier who remained only two or three months. In June 1904, Dr. Edward C. Skinner, a graduate of the S. S. Stille Medical College at Des Moines, Iowa, opened an office and is still engaged in practice. The Eaton County Medical society has at the present time about eighty members, and meetings are held quarterly.
Dr. A. B. Winslow, a dental
surgeon, opened an office in Charlotte about 1855, and after practicing a few
years left the town for a time and then returned, and for a short time was in
partnership with Dr. M. S. Phillips who came here from the state of New York in
the spring of 1866, and continued in practice until his death, July 23, 1895.
January 3, 1855, pursuant
to notice, a meeting of the citizens of the county was held in the court house
in the village of Charlotte, for the purpose of organizing a county agricultural
society. Willard Davis of
Vermontville was chosen chairman of the meeting, and L. H. Ion, secretary.
A resolution was adopted to organize the Eaton county agricultural
society, whereupon a committee of three, consisting of Harvey Williams, J. C.
Spencer, and L. H. Ion, were appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws for
the society, and the meeting then adjourned until the twelfth of February
following. A second meeting was
held on the day appointed, the committee reported and their report was accepted.
At a session of the board of supervisors, held in the following October,
they voted to appropriate $229.56 for the use of the society and the clerk was
directed to draw an order for that amount.
The first officers of the
society were W. U. Benedict, of Vermontville, president; L. H. Ion of Charlotte,
secretary, and Harvey Williams of Charlotte, treasurer.
The first fair was held in the village of Charlotte, October 11 and 12,
1855, the citizens of Charlotte furnishing the grounds, buildings and fences
free of cost to the society. The
total amount of premiums awarded that year was $194.
In the following May, the society bought eight acres of ground at a cost
of $700, which was enclosed and buildings were erected for the use of
exhibitors. The amount of premiums awarded for the year 1856 was $230.25.
Annual fairs have been held
ever since with increasing success, showing by the larger number and quality of
articles and animals exhibited the interest taken by farmers and mechanics in
the success of the society, and its influence in encouraging and developing the
resources of the county.
In the year 1868 it became
evident that the society needed more room, and arrangements were made to sell
the old grounds and buy others in a more suitable location.
The grounds that the society had used were sold June 19, 1868, for
$3,000. The present grounds,
comprising thirty-five acres, were bought at a cost of $3,875; and a half mile
track, buildings and fences have been constructed at an expense of about $5,500.
The new location is in the southern part of the city of Charlotte.
In the eastern part of the grounds is a natural grove of about ten acres,
free from all bushes and undergrowth. Winding
walks and drive-ways have been laid out and the Battle creek runs through a
corner of it, making a convenient watering-place for teams.
In the purchasing and fitting up these grounds the society became
involved in debt to the amount of $3,285 which bore interest at the rate of 10%
per annum, and for several years all available means were spent in improvements.
A stringency in the money market came on and it was difficult for the
society to meet its obligations. The
debt was however, gradually reduced, until on December 31, 1878, the net
indebtedness was $2,042.
In 1878 the total number of
entries was one thousand six hundred and seventy-four, and the total amount of
premiums awarded was $900.50, aside from those offered by private parties.
The above facts are taken
from a historical sketch prepared by the late Seth Ketcham.
Changes have been gradually introduced in the management of the society
and its fairs. For several years,
in its early history, it was the custom to have an address delivered in the
afternoon of the last day of the fair, just before the announcement of premiums.
For many years past this has been omitted.
A large typical log house has been erected on the grounds as a reminder
of the olden times and a monument to the pioneers.
Every town in the county was requested to contribute a log to the
building and nearly every one did so. It
is an object of interest to the children and strangers who never saw a log
The society has found it
impossible to secure a full attendance through the three days of the fair, if
the only attractions were an exhibition of animals, vegetable productions and
machinery. They have therefore
introduced many novel amusements and entertainments. Balloon ascensions, ropewalking, feats in bicycle riding,
acrobatic performances, games and other attractions, and by these means, and a
different program each day, a large attendance has been secured.
In this way the debt was gradually wiped out, and at the annual meeting
of the society, held February 19, 1891, the secretary announced the debts all
paid and $721 in the treasury.
The following is the annual
report of the Treasurer of the Eaton County Agricultural Society for 1905:
Cash on hand Jan. 19, 1905������$ 16.59
Membership Tickets��������.� 1,527.00
Single Admission�������.��� 2,485.25
Grand Stand������������ 679.65
Vehicle Tickets���������.�... 449.00
Horse Stalls����������....�.. 44.70
Cattle Stalls����������....�.. 9.45
Swine Pens����������.�..� 3.80
Sheep Pens����������.�..� 3.00
Hay and Straw���������......... 51.75
From all other Sources��������. 119.50
American Trotting Association����.. $ 30.00
Dredge Tax�����������.. 49.90
Water Tax �����������... 25.00
Telephone and Telegraph�����...� 10.14
Hay, Grain and Straw�������..... 94.05
Printing and Advertising�������. 590.10
Lumber and rent of Tent������� 112.36
Starting Judges and Clerk�����...� 42.50
Police and Gate���������..� 179.50
Labor with Team���������� 84.75
Repairs on Grounds��������� 311.13
Officers, Judges, Supts. And Assists�.�... 785.64
Cash on Hand����������.� 619.44
This association was
organized in December, 1870, under the general laws of the state, and in less
than two years, the library contained five hundred volumes.
Joseph Saunders, at that time editor and publisher of The Republican, was
the prime mover in this organization, as he thought it would have a most
beneficial influence upon the young people of the village.
His printing office was over what is now Bryan�s drug store, which
building he erected, and he neatly fitted up the two front rooms of that story
for library and reading rooms. His
plan was not as successful as he hoped. The
association was too poor to employ a librarian to have charge of the rooms, and
they became a �trysting place� for the young people.
The men who formed the association were too busy to give it proper
attention, and a meeting was called to see what should be done.
On inquiry it was found that very few men ever drew books, and that the
women were its chief patrons, and the association voted to turn its management
over to the women, which was done.
A subsidiary association of
women was formed who elected a board of managers. It was found best to give up the rooms that had been
occupied, and the books were kept for a few years in the studio of Mr. Whalen, a
photographer. When the new court
house was built, the supervisors allowed the library board to occupy the
northwest rooms of the basement if they would plaster and finish the rooms.
The public library and
reading rooms were established by an ordinance passed on November 19, 1894, at a
meeting of the common council. At
this meeting the major, Frank Merritt, appointed, with the approval of the
council, the following electors as a board of directors,--Frank S. Belcher,
Frank E. Ells, Horace Maynard, Philo D. Patterson, A. D. Baughman, George
Huggett, George H. Spencer, Herbert F. Reynolds, and Charles J. Hall.
This building was erected in 1904, at a cost of $35,000. It is fifty-one by one hundred and twenty-six feet on the ground, and five stories high. It is faced with paving brick, trimmed with stone, has a large auditorium with stage, is heated with steam, equipped with both electric and gas systems for lighting, and has one of the finest and best furnished lodge rooms in the state. The building is devoted entirely to the use of the Masonic order.
MILITARY HISTORY - The Sixth Michigan Infantry - The Thirteenth Infantry - The Twentieth Infantry - The Second Cavalry - The Seventh Cavalry - Provisions For Soldiers' Families' Monuments
Eaton County furnished one thousand seven hundred and
forty-one soldiers for the union armies in the Civil war. They were found in a
great number of organizations in numbers from one to one hundred and fifty. The
larger number was found in Company H, Sixth Michigan infantry, and in Company D
of the Seventh cavalry. Space will not allow us to mention the doings of each
soldier, but we may speak briefly of the history of the two regiments in which
the greater number of our men were found. The Sixth Michigan was raised at
Kalamazoo by col. Frederick W. Curtenius, and had about two hundred men from
Eaton and Ingham counties, the greater part from Eaton being in Company H. On
June 19, 1861, the officers and non-commissioned officers went to Fort Wayne in
this state for drill. August 3, the officers came home, and August 20, the
company, one hundred and eleven strong, left Charlotte to join the regiment at
Kalamazoo. It left that place on the thirtieth of the same month for Camp McKim,
in Baltimore, with nine hundred and forty-four men on its rolls. Here the
company found pleasant quarters. November 14, it went on board the steamer
Georgiana and formed a part of an expedition in command of Gen. Lockwood to the
eastern shore of Virginia, for the purpose of driving out a rebel force under
Gen. Henry A. Wise, who were fortifying a point on the Potomac. Upon the
approach of the Union soldiers they hurried dispersed, leaving considerable
ammunition and small arms. There was no fighting, and the march through Accomac
and Northampton counties, was greatly enjoyed by the men, who after destroying
the rebel works returned to Baltimore.
While the regiment lay in Baltimore, it was presented
by the Union ladies of that city, with a handsome silk flag. It was presented on
behalf of the ladies by a prominent lawyer of that city, and a suitable response
was made by Co., Curtenius. The Sixty, left Baltimore, February 22, 1862, by
steamer for Fortress Monroe, arriving there the next day and went into camp at
Newport News. The Congress and Cumberland were anchored there, just before their
contest with the Merrimac, which occurred March 8, 1862. March 4, the regiment
embarked with the fourth Wisconsin and the Twenty-first Indiana on the transport
steamer �Constitution,� and going to sea passed under fire of rebel
batteries on Sewall�s Point, and encountered a severe story off Cape Hatteras,
but the run down the coast of Florida was very pleasant. The command disembarked
on Ship Island, Mississippi, March 13, where it remained until April 14, when
the three regiments went on board of the transport ship �Great Republic,�
the largest sailing vessel at that time in our mercantile navy, and in tow of a
steamer proceeded to the mouth of the Mississippi, to form a part of the
attacking force, on the expedition against New Orleans. The troops began landing
in Black Bay, in rear of Fort St. Philip, with the intention of attacking that
point, but while in the act, news was received that both Forts Jackson and St.
Philip had surrendered and consequently the expedition ended. After the
destruction of a bridge in that vicinity, they went to the mouth of the
Mississippi, thence up that river by boats to New Orleans, where they arrived
May 2, just after the surrender of the city of Farragut and Butler, and took
possession of the United States mint, and being one of the first regiments to
occupy that city after its capture by the Union troops. On May 9 the regiment
embarked on the �Laurel Hill� and went about thirty-seven miles up the
river. They landed, started inland, marching all night through a cypress swamp,
in water so deep that the rations were all destroyed, and it required great
effort to save the ammunition. The object of this expedition was the capture of
a train of cars on the New Orleans and Jackson Railroad, and to cut the road and
destroy bridges, which being successfully accomplished, the force returned,
arriving at Kenner May 10, and embarking on steamers, went to Baton rouge, and
thence up the river on a reconnaissance, as far as Warrenton, five miles below
Vicksburg. On the return trip, they were fired into by a light battery at Grand
Gulf. The force landed and drove the enemy inland about two miles, and
returning, continued the trip down the river, and arrived at Baton Rouge May 29,
and went into pleasant quarters at the barracks. The long confinement on the
transports had been under unfavorable conditions; sickness broke out, and nine
of the Company H died there. Soon after the arrival of the regiment at Baton
Rouge, and while it was comfortably situated in barracks, an order was given by
the general commanding, to Col. T. S. Clark, then in command of the regiment, to
move out and bivouac in the adjoining woods, without tents or any other shelter
to make room for the Ninth Connecticut, a regiment having tents, while the use
of these tents which belonged to the United States, was denied the Michigan
Against this order the officers protested, and on
refusing to obey it, the field officers and several of the line officers were
placed under arrest, but finally reluctantly complied with the order. The
regiment, under the order of a captain, marched out into the woods where it
remained, without shelter, and suffering much from exposure until after the
battle, which soon occurred. This was a most unaccountable proceeding on the
part of the commander, as the regiment had not deserved so unreasonable a test
of discipline, nor such a discrimination against it in favor of another
regiment, and it is presumed that had he lived but a short time longer the
gallantry of the regiment in battle would have secured a more favorable
consideration at his hands. The officers arrested were sent to New Orleans for
trial, but were released on the order of General Butler.
We are indebted to Capt. Trask for the following
account of this battle: �While in Baton Rouge we suffered much from sickness
as a result of our long confinement on transports, and nine of our number were
buried there. We left our pleasant quarters very reluctantly, and went out July
28, to bivouac in the woods. Here it was that the morning of the fifth of August
found us, when we marched out for the first time to try the realities of the
�It was a day to be remembered, for, though
overshadowed by other battles where greater numbers were engaged, few excel it
in desperate fighting, or the importance of the results determined by the issue
of the fight. It was the first effort of the enemy to win back the mastery of
the river below Vicksburg, won from them by the heroism of Farragut. The capture
of Baton Rouge was not merely for the possession of the place, the few sickly
troops stationed there and their supplies and munitions of war; it was to
reestablish their communication with the west by three important lines. For this
purpose General Breckenridge advanced on the place with three brigades,
numbering nearly or quite twice our effective force. Our numbers and the sickly
condition of our troops were well known to the enemy, for their friends in the
city not only kept them well posted as to our condition and numbers, but had
actually prepared food for their breakfast after the brief morning exercise of
whipping the �Yanks.� Before making the assault, Breckenridge, in an address
to his troops, assured them that the place was garrisoned by a few sickly
regiments only, and promised that if they would only make one vigorous dash they
should breakfast at the State House. How well I remember in the early twilight the
scattering shots here and there, followed by the heavier voices of the cannons
that awoke many that morning to summon them to a deeper slumber ere nightfall. I
can hear as then, the shouts of "Fall in, fall in," and the tumultuous
rattle of the drums beating the long roll, I can see now, as I saw then, the
mist rising from the ground in the balmy morning air, and the blue smoke that
came stealing through the woods from the scene of conflict. The firing had
ceased, the Fourteenth Maine had been driven from their camp in an exposed
condition, the pickets were coming in and the enemy was advancing. I remember
the first and only time I saw a smile on the face of Gen. Williams as he
complimented us on the force we mustered for battle, for many of us weak from
sickness, were staggering under the weight of our arms, and were fitter for the
hospital than the fight. It was the first pleasant words that I had ever heard
from his lips, -- and in my mind atoned for much of his severity in the past. I
remember the hearty and cheerful salutations of the Indiana officers as we filed
into a line on their right in a fog of mingled vapor and smoke, so dense that
one could see but a short distance in advance. We were in a line along the edge
of a wood fronting the Magnolia cemetery. Our right rested on a rod where a
section of artillery was posted. We were hardly in line when we were ordered to
lie down, and again the firing commenced and a few cannon shots flew over us. It
was the prelude to the enemy's charge. A confused yelling was heard in our
front. It was the much talked-of rebel yell. They charged up to the cemetery
fence, only separated from us by a narrow road. We were expecting the retreat of
our skirmishers and reserved our fire, not being able to distinguish friend from
foe. The battery on our right opened and then came the entire storm of rebel
lead. We were then lying almost under the muzzles of their guns, and the tempest
that went over us was simply terrific. 'Fire' rang along our line, and we fired
as we lay. There was no chance to overshoot. It was like a blast from the
destroying angel, and the living went back faster then they came. Their spirit
was broken, and Gen., Williams, a few moments before his death said, 'Give the
Michigan regiment the praise of checking the enemy.' Other advances were made,
but the delusive hope of an easy victory was gone, and they were easily repelled
by the artillery. Such was the battle of Baton Rouge as I saw it."
During the battle the ranking officers were in
arrest, and the regiment was divided into detachments, commanded by Captain
Corden, Spitzer, and Soule. The loss of the regiment was twenty killed,
forty-three wounded and six missing. Gen. Williams was killed in the engagement
while mounted, and while saying to the Twenty-first Indiana, "Boys, your
field officers are all gone, I will lead you." If the rebel attack had been
successful they would have captured a large part of the Union artillery, and
gained the superior advantage of securing a complete flanking position. The
importance of the repulse of the principal attack of the Confederates on that
day by the Sixth Michigan was fully acknowledged by Gen. Butler in his
congratulatory order issued soon after.
August 20, the regiment under the command of Col. T.
S. Clark, was recalled from Baton Rouge and stationed at Mattarie Ridge,
guarding one of the approaches to New Orleans. Owing to the unhealthy locality
in which the regiment was stationed, the number fit for duty when it moved to
New Orleans, December 6, was only one hundred and ninety-one out of an aggregate
of seven hundred and fifty-five. January 14, 1863, the regiment participated in
the expedition under Gen. Weitzel, to Bayou Tesche, which destroyed the rebel
gunboat, Cotton. Returning to New Orleans, the regiment, February 6, was
stationed at Camp Parapet and at Kennersville, 18 miles from the city. From this
point they made a long march of twenty seven miles from Kennersville to Manchac
Pass, twelve of it over trestlework. This march was not only difficult but
dangerous, as many men had to fall out in consequence of being injured by
falling through the trestlework. March 24, the regiment, on the advance upon
Ponchatoula, had a brilliant skirmish with an equal force of Calvary in the
pinewoods, and defeated them without the loss of a man on the part of the Sixth.
From March 24 until May 19, they were encamped at Manchac Pass, in the gloomy
cypress swamp, with no camping ground except a narrow railway embankment, and no
drinking water but that of the swamp or the tepid waters of the lake. Under
these circumstances it was surprising that in general they were in nearly as
good health as usual.
The regiment was also engaged with the enemy at Amite
River, April 7, 1863, at Tickfaw River on April 12, and again at Amite River on
May 12. On the last date, the Sixth made a raid up the Jackson railroad,
destroying the enemy's camp at Pangipaho, capturing sixty prisoners, burning two
bridges, a large gun-carriage factory, a shoe factory, and a tannery, used by
the Confederate authorities. The value of this property was estimated at upwards
of $400,000. The loss of the regiment in this affair was only one wounded.
The Sixth then returned to New Orleans, and on May
21, went on board the "Creole" bound for Port Hudson, disembarking at
Springfield Landing the next day. The regiment was at once placed in the most
advanced position and held it until the surrender. The twenty-seventy of May was
a bloody day. In the assault of this day the regiment led the division of Gen.
T. W. Sherman. Captain P. D. Montgomery led a forlorn hope of two hundred
volunteers mostly from Company H, and the regiment lost more than one-third of
the men engaged. The storm of shot and shell against which it advanced was
something terrific. Gen. Sherman of Buena Vista fame said he had never seen
anything like it before. As it tore through our columns one could hear the crash
as it struck the bodies of the men, and the fresh earth thrown in the air by the
ricocheting shot was so dense that one could see but a short distance before
him. The assault was repulsed, Captain Montgomery fell with a ball through his
body and left for dead, but finally recovered and is still living. Another
assault was made on June 14, when the Sixth, then commanded by Lieutenant
Colonel Bacon, advanced by detachment. The leading detachment was commanded by
Captain John Cordon, one by Captain Stark following, with the balance of the
regiment bringing up the rear. This assault also failed. June 29, the regiment,
then commanded by Captain Cordon, again advanced to the assault, with
thirty-five of the regiment, composing a forlorn hope, assailed the enemy's
works at a point known as the citadel. The party succeeded in gaining the ditch,
but were overpowered and driven back, with a loss of eight killed and nine
Mr. Greeley in his "American Conflict" says
of these assaults, "Never was fighting more heroic than that of our army,
assailing nearly equal numbers, behind strong defenses, approached through
almost impassable abates, swept by rebel shell and grape. If valor could have
triumphed over such odds, they would have carried the works; but only abject
cowardice or pitiable imbecility could have lost such a position to so small an
army; and the rebels fought well." On the ninth of July, Port Hudson
surrendered to our forces. After its fall the regiment received the thanks of
General Banks for gallant and efficient service during the siege, and was by his
order, on July 10, converted into a regiment of heavy artillery, on account of
faithful and valuable services, "to retain, until otherwise designated, its
infantry number, and to have the organization, pay, clothing, and equipment
prescribed by law, and regulations for troops of the artillery arm;" and on
July 30 this order was approved by the secretary of war.
The regiment was stationed at Port Hudson until March
11, 1864, where two hundred and forty-seven re-enlisted, being a sufficient
number of veterans to preserve its organization. It started for Michigan, in
command of Colonel Edward Bacon. The regiment arrived at Kalamazoo, where it was
furloughed for thirty days. Having again assembled at Kalamazoo, it returned to
Port Hudson where it arrived May 11, with a very large number of recruits,
enlisted while in Michigan. On June 6, the regiment was ordered to Morganzia to
serve as infantry, where it remained until June 24. From Morganzia it went to
Vicksburg, Mississippi where it served with the engineer brigade. July 23 the
Company H left Vicksburg on the ill-fated steamer "Clara Bell" bound
for the White river, thence to St. Charles. The boat was destroyed by a rebel
battery, and Company H lost everything but their arms and the clothes they wore.
The stay at St. Charles was very short, and on returning they went to New
Orleans, and were went immediately to Mobile Bay, to take part in the reduction
of the forts. The regiment arrived at Fort Gaines in time to witness the
bombardment of Fort Morgan and its surrender. From this time until the following
July, 1865, Fort Gaines was their very comfortable home, with the exception of a
short expedition to Pascagoula, and at no time in their four years' service did
they enjoy better quarters or maintain a more efficient discipline than on
Dauphine Island at the mouth of Mobile Bay. On the ninth of July the regiment
took steamers for New Orleans, with orders to report to Major General Sheridan.
It arrived on the eleventh and encamped at Greenville, four miles from the city.
There it was furnished with new camp equipage and wagon train, and put in
condition for service in Texas, but on August 5, orders were received for its
muster out which was accomplished August 20, just four years to a day from their
muster in at Kalamazoo. On August 23, the regiment started for Michigan, going
by steamer to Cairo, where it arrived on the twenty-eighth, and thence by rail
to Jackson, Michigan, arriving there on the thirtieth, and on the fifth of
September it was paid off and discharged.
From an earlier history of Eaton and Ingham counties
we glean the following facts in regard to the part the men of Eaton County took
in the Civil war.
The Thirteenth Infantry was recruited at Kalamazoo by
Hon. Charles E. Stewart, who held the commission of colonel from October 3,
1861, to January 28, 1862, when he resigned and was succeeded by Col. Michael
Shoemaker. It was largely composed of men from Kalamazoo County, but it included
about one hundred men from Eaton and Ingham counties, the majority being from
the former. The regiment left Kalamazoo on the twelfth of February with nine
hundred and twenty-five names on its muster rolls, and proceeded to the army on
the Tennessee by way of Bowling Green and Nashville. By a forced march it
reached Pittsburg Landing late in the afternoon of April 7, in time to see the
last of the battle of Shiloh. From that date until the evacuation of Corinth,
Mississippi, by the rebel army under General Beauragard, it was engaged in
picket and fatigue duty. When the army under General Buell fell back towards
Louisville it was the last to leave northern Alabama, and in October it took
part in the pursuit of Bragg�s army. It was actively engaged in the great
battles around Murfreesboro, in the last days of 1862 and the first days of
1863. In the battle of Stone River its losses were twenty-five killed, sixty-two
wounded, and eight missing out of a total of two hundred and twenty-four men
engaged, equivalent to more than forty per cent. On December 31 it recaptured
with the bayonet, two guns that had been taken by the enemy. It was employed
upon the fortifications at Murfreesboro until the latter part of June 1863, when
it moved with Rosecrans� army Tullahoma, and advanced as far as Pelham, at the
foot of the mountains, from which point it returned and encamped at Hillsboro
until August 16. It joined in the movement upon Chattanooga, and the division
was in the advance when approaching that city which it entered September 8. In
the great battle of Chickamauga, September 19 and 20, 1863, it bore an active
part under Col. J. B. Culver, and sustained a loss of fourteen killed,
sixty-eight wounded, and twenty-five missing, making a total one hundred and
seven out of two hundred and seventeen officers and men who went into action,
--nearly fifty per cent. Its losses during the year were: fifty-one men died in
action or of wounds; sixty-six died of disease; one hundred and sixty-six
discharged, nearly all for disability; seventy-seven deserted or dropped from
the rolls; fifteen missing in action; thirty-two taken prisoners; ninety-three
wounded in action, making a total of five hundred.
On November 5, 1863, the Thirteenth was assigned to
duty at Chattanooga. From the twenty-second to the twenty-fifth of the same
month the thirteenth took part in the battles for the possession of Chattanooga.
were about an hundred men from Eaton County in Company G of the Twentieth
Infantry. The regiment left Jackson for Washington, September 1, 1862, under
command of Col. Adolphus W. Williams, with one thousand and twelve names on its
rolls. At the battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862, it crossed the river
and was slightly engaged, losing eleven men wounded. In the camp at Falmouth the
regiment suffered severely from sickness, and on the nineteenth of March it was
sent to Kentucky.
May 9 a detachment of one hundred men was sent out to
break up a guerrilla force, and on its return was attacked by the advance of
General Morgan�s Confederate army, and driven back with considerable loss. On
the following morning Morgan�s whole force attacked the position held by the
Twentieth at Horse-shoe Bend on the Cumberland River. The action continued
throughout the day and resulted in the complete defeat of the enemy, who
retreated from the ground with a loss of about four hundred men. The Twentieth
lost twenty-nine men killed, wounded and missing.
June 3, the regiment received orders to proceed with
the Ninth Army corps to Vicksburg, Mississippi. It was cantoned about Haynes
Bluff during the siege, and after the surrender of the place formed a portion of
the force under Sherman sent to operate against Johnston, at Jackson. July 24 it
returned to Haynes� Bluff. The heat was excessive during these operations, and
the army suffered greatly from sickness. During
its stay in Mississippi the regiment lost twenty men by disease, and there were
times when nearly half the command was disabled by sickness.
August 3, the Ninth Army corps returned to Kentucky,
and in September the Twentieth participated in the movement upon Knoxville,
Tennessee, going via Cumberland Gap. October 10, the regiment was engaged at
Blue Springs, loosing three men killed and wounded. During the year, eight died
of wounds; ninety of disease; one hundred and forty-eight discharged; ten
deserted; seven missing in action; four taken prisoners; twenty-one wounded;
nine officers resigned; one transferred, making a total of 298.
November 14, 1863, the regiment was ordered to
Hough�s Ferry to check the advance of Longstreet�s army, now rapidly
approaching Knoxville from the Chickamauga field. The regiment was compelled to
fall back to Lenoir, covering the retreat of the force sent out, and held the
Loudon road through the night. On the sixteenth Burnside�s army continued its
movement on Knoxville, the Twentieth, with the Second and Seventeenth Michigan
infantry, constituting the rear guard. The enemy followed vigorously, and
attacked the rear at Turkey Creek, near Campbell�s station, but they were held
at bay until the rear guard was re-inforced. The losses in the Twentieth
amounted to thirty-three men. Among the killed was Lieut. Col. W. Huntington
Smith, who commanded the regiment. The rear-guard arrived at Knoxville on the
morning of the seventeenth, after a heavy night�s march over bad roads, and
having been three nights without rest.
On the same day Longstreet�s army sat down to the
siege of Knoxville, which was continued with unabated vigor until December 5,
when, hearing that Sherman�s army was rapidly approaching by forced marches,
the revel commander raised the siege and retreated swiftly towards Virginia.
The sufferings of Burnside�s army during the siege
were severe, and the Twentieth bore its full share of privations. The stress was
so severe that many soldiers were without shoes, overcoats, or under-clothing,
and the weather was intensely cold.
March 21, 1864, the regiment marched from Knoxville
to Nicholasville, Kentucky, and went thence by rail to Annapolis, Maryland, and
on the fourth of May the Twentieth crossed the Rappahannock, and the Rapidan at
Germania Ford on the fifth. It was engaged in the battle of the Wilderness on
the sixth in which it lost eight killed, wounded and missing. On the ninth it
was under fire on the Ny River, and on the twelfth participated in the battle at
Spottsylvania Court-house, losing thirty killed, eighty-two wounded, and
July 30, it participated in the severe fighting, which followed the great explosion in front of Petersburg, on which occasion it charged and planted its colors on the Confederate works. The casualties in the command during the year were very heavy, as follows; eleven commissioned officers, died in action or of wounds, ten wounded, and two taken prisoners, and the total loss was five hundred and forty-eight. During the year seventy-six recruits joined the regiment.
the twenty-eighth it moved with the division to the extreme right, east of
Petersburg, and took position in the trenches, occupying Battery Nine near the
river where it relieved a portion of the Second corps. The enemy�s
sharpshooters annoyed the command exceedingly during the night and killed a
number of men.
this position the regiment continued through the winter, exposed more or less to
a heavy fire from the batteries of the enemy in front, and to a flanking fire
from heavy batteries across the river, composed of Whitworth and other rifled
guns. It was the enemy�s custom to open fire at intervals of from three to
four days, and the first gun was the signal for every man to take shelter in the
works. The picket lines in front of the Twentieth were only about two hundred
yards apart, and the fire from the rebel lines was at times severe. February 15,
Capt. H. F. Robinson was killed by a Confederate sharpshooter while riding along
the lines. The men also suffered from lack of fuel and the insufficiency of
shelter, but they bore up under every privation, never flinching for a moment
from the work set before them. As the spring advanced there were signs of
important movements, and about March 1 the rebels were observed strengthening
their lines as if expecting an assault. March 13, the regiment was in line of
battle prepared for any emergency, and on the fifteenth orders were received to
be in readiness to move at a moment�s notice. The sick were sent to City
Point, and the men were required to sleep on their arms at night.
the morning of the twenty-fifth before it was fairly light, the whole line at
this point was aroused by the sudden cry, from one of the sentinels, �A
charge,� and in a moment the troops were in line along the works, peering out
into the darkness towards the ominous looking works in front of them, anxiously
watching for the rushing gray lines of the enemy. Firing was heard to the left,
and it was shortly ascertained that the enemy had taken Fort Steadman by a
sudden rush in force, and were now deploying in the rear of the troops with a
determination to capture the whole right of the line. It was a critical moment
for a panic meant that all would be lost. But men who had trod the battle-field
for three long years are not easily demoralized, and the gallant rank and file
of the Twentieth Michigan infantry, who held the line immediately to the right
of Fort Steadman were equal to the emergency. All the guns which the enemy could
bring to bear, including those in the captured fort, were turned upon the
position held by the Twentieth and the Second Michigan. The rebels were pouring
masses of men through the broken line, and sweeping triumphantly toward the
right; and such was the tremendous force of the charge that the Second Michigan
was forced back into Battery Nine, with considerable loss in prisoners. The gray
lines of the confederate infantry were also massing for a charge in front, and
the situation was desperate. At this moment was Seventeenth Michigan came
forward rapidly from its division head-quarters and charged the swarming enemy,
but was compelled to fall back before vastly superior numbers. Reforming, the
gallant regiment again charged into the thickest of the advancing enemy, and
this time supported by the Twentieth and Second Michigan, who swept down upon
the right, covered by the guns of Fort McGilvery. The onset was terrific, and
seeing the utter hopelessness of persisting in their advance, the rebel columns
at once became demoralized and broke in great disorder for the rear. The
Twentieth was thrown forward along the picket line, where about three hundred
and fifty of the retreating enemy were taken prisoners and brought in by the
regiment. The loss of the Twentieth in this desperate affair was light compared
with the magnitude of the conflict, --only nine men wounded, three mortally.
From this time there was constant alarm, and the regiment was under arms almost
the whole time until the final collapse of the rebellion.
the third of April at three A.M. it was ordered to the right to support the
Michigan Sharpshooters, which charged the enemy�s lines and entered
Petersburg. It captured a number of prisoners and munitions, and at 4:10 A.M.
hoisted its colors on the courthouse, being the first regiment to enter the
April 20, the regiment was ordered to City Point, arriving there on the twenty-second, and immediately embarked for Alexandria, where it arrived on the twenty-fourth and went into camp at Fort Lyon. On the twenty-eighth it marched over the Long Bridge and through Washington and Georgetown to a camp about four miles from the latter place, where it remained until the 30th. May 23 it participated in the grand review of the Potomac army, and was mustered out of service on the thirtieth.
There were many men from Eaton County in the Second and the Seventh cavalry. The movement of the cavalry were far more rapid than those of the infantry, and space will not permit us to trace their movements in detail.
The second regiment was raised and organized at Grand Rapids by Hon. F. W. Kellogg, in the fall of 1861. The command left the Rapids on the 14th of November with one thousand one hundred and sixty-three names on its rolls, and went to St. Louis, Missouri, where it was assigned to duty at Benton Barracks, and remained there until March, 1862, when it formed a part of General Pope�s command, operating against Island No. 10 and New Madrid. During the latter part of the year and the first part of 1862 it was actively employed in Kentucky and Tennessee. On the thirty-first of October it had 794 men on its rolls. On the twenty-fifth of March 1863, it made a gallant fight with a large force under Stearns and Forrest, in which the enemy suffered severely, losing, besides killed and wounded, fifty-two prisoners and a great amount of munitions and baggage. The losses of the regiment were; one dead of wounds, six wounded, and two missing. On the fourth of June, while moving from Triune to Franklin, it had another sharp skirmish, in which it lost two killed, and three wounded. The casualties in the regiment from October, 1862, to October, 1863, were: eight died in action or of wounds; twenty-three of disease; one hundred and eighty-three discharged mostly for disability; seventy deserted; thirty-one missing in action; eight wounded in action; ten officers resigned; total three hundred and thirty-eight. Aggregate on the rolls, November 1863, six hundred and sixty-two.
Early in January 1864, the regiment went on a foraging expedition to Fayetteville, where it gathered in four hundred bushels of wheat, sixty-five head of cattle, from five hundred to six hundred head of sheep and a number of mules and horses. August 30, it moved from Nashville in pursuit of General wheeler, in command of a large cavalry force of Confederates. He was encountered about twelve miles from Nashville, and driven back several miles; and from this time until September 8 the command was in pursuit of the enemy, skirmishing near Campbellville on the fifth. On September 7, it was at Florence, Alabama, and on the twelfth it reached Franklin, Tennessee. During the remainder of the month the regiment was engaged in fighting, and in obstructing the advance of Hood�s army. Its losses for the year, during which it had marched nearly fourteen hundred miles were as follows: died in action or of wounds, twenty-five, died of disease fifty-seven, discharged for disability one hundred and eighty-five, transferred to other commands thirty-three, missing in action twenty-two, --total three hundred and twenty-two, re-enlisted as veterans, three hundred and twenty-eight. On the thirtieth of November it took part in Schofield�s great battle at Franklin and lost twenty-one men, --one killed, seventeen wounded, and three missing. On the first of December it fell back to within a few miles of Nashville, and remained in line of battle during the night. On the fifteenth the regiment advanced two miles, and skirmished during the continuance of operations around Nashville. Hood�s army was completely broken to pieces by the veterans under the indomitable Thomas, and its scattered fragments sent flying in utter rout towards the Tennessee. On the first of April the command crossed the Black Warrior river, at Johnston�s Ferry, swimming their horses, and had a skirmish with the enemy on the second at Triune, arriving at Tuscaloosa on the third, where they surprised the pickets and captured the city, together with three guns and a considerable number of prisoners. The public stores and buildings and the bridge over the river were destroyed, and the regiment proceeded to Bridgeville, where, on the sixth, the Confederates made a sudden attack, but after a sharp engagement were handsomely repulsed with a loss to the regiment of three wounded. The command reached Macon, Georgia, on the first of May. At this point it remained encamped until July 17, when the regiment was broken into detachments, and sent to garrison Perry, Thomaston, Barnesville, Forsyth, and Milledgeville, two companies and the headquarters remaining at Macon. It was mustered out August 17, reached Michigan on the twenty-sixth, and was immediately paid and disbanded at Jackson.
The Seventy cavalry was also recruited at Grand Rapids, and went into the service in detachments. The first two battalions left that place for the front February 20, 1863, and the remainder of the regiment in May. Although they took the field late in the war they saw a great deal of hard fighting. There were no very definite returns for the first year, but they participated in seventeen engagements during the year, one of which was that on the third of July at Gettysburg in which the regiment lost sixteen killed, forty-one wounded, and twenty-four missing and prisoners. During the year up to November 1, 1863, its losses in killed, wounded, prisoners, missing, deserted, and discharged for various causes were three hundred and twenty-eight men. On November 7, 1863, the regiment accompanied the advance of the Army of the Potomac into Virginia, crossing the Rappahannock near Morton�s ford, and capturing a number of prisoners from the enemy�s rear. From this time until the last of February it was on picket duty. On the twenty-eight of that month it started on the Kilpatrick raid, and on the following day reached Beaver Dam on the Virginia railroad, after a 20 hours� march. At this point the station and track were destroyed. On the afternoon of the 30th it reached the vicinity of Richmond, and while on picket the following night was attacked by a superior force of the enemy, and, after a desperate fight, compelled to fall back with the loss of forty-four men missing, among them Lieut. Col. A. C. Litchfield. The command moved rapidly from the vicinity of the Confederate capital of Yorktown, from whence it went to Alexandria by transports, and marched to its former camp near Stevensburg. On the 17th of March the brigade was transferred to the First cavalry division and removed its camp to Culpepper.
Upon the opening of the great campaign of 1864 it crossed the Rapidan on the fifth of May and on the sixth and seventh encountered the enemy at Todd�s Tavern, losing three men, w2ounded. On the ninth it formed a part of the force under General Sheridan, which made a raid on the enemy�s communications. The South Anna River was crossed on May 10, and on the eleventh was fought the battle of Yellow Tavern, where the Seventh charged the Confederate Calvary and assisted in driving them from the field. In this engagement the Seventh lost three killed, fifteen wounded, and thirteen missing; among the dead was Maj. Henry W. Granger, commanding the regiment. On the twelfth the regiment was engaged at Meadow Bridge and Mechanicsville, losing one man wounded. On the fourteenth it was at Malvern Hill, and soon after joined the army at Milford. On the twenty-seventh the Confederate cavalry in its front were driven several miles, and the Seventh captured forty-one prisoners and a large number of horses. In the cavalry action at Hawes� Shop, on the twenty-eighth, it took an active part, losing seventeen men killed, wounded and missing. On the 29th it had a skirmish at Baltimore Cross-Roads, where it lost two men wounded; and the next day participated in the attack upon the Confederate works at Cold Harbor. It was attacked by a strong force of infantry, but held its position until relieved. Its loss was four killed and wounded.
In the raid toward Gordonsville it was warmly engaged at Trevillian Station on June 11 and 12. On the eleventh a portion of the command recaptured from the enemy a piece of artillery, which they had taken from the Union forces. During these last engagements the regiment lost two men killed, twenty-seven wounded, and forty-eight missing. From the White House it moved forward to the James River and encamped until the latter part of July, when it was ordered to Washington and from thence to the Shenandoah Valley.
On August 11, the Sixth and Seventh Michigan Cavalry repelled an assault of the enemy near Winchester. On the sixteenth the Seventh took part in the battle of Crooked Run, where a battalion routed a brigade of rebel cavalry, and captured about an hundred prisoners, with horses and equipments. It lost in the affair one killed, eleven wounded, and seven missing.
On the 25th during a reconnaissance, it had a sharp action near Shepardstown, losing six men, wounded and missing. Being cut off from the main army the brigade crossed the Potomac near Sharpsburg, and from thence returned by way of Harper�s Ferry to the south side of the river.
On the 29th the cavalry division to which it belonged was attacked by a heavy force of infantry, and compelled to retreat, the Seventh covering the rear and losing two killed and fourteen wounded. The division fell back to Smithfield. September 3, during a reconnaissance to White Post, it was shelled by a rebel battery and lost four men, killed and wounded. It participated on the nineteenth in the battle at Opequan Creek, where it charged across the stream, drove the enemy and pushed on to Winchester, where it again charged, and drove them through the place. During these movements it lost four men killed, nineteen wounded, and two missing. Lieut. Col. Melvin Brewer, commanding the regiment, was mortally wounded. At Luray on the twenty-fourth, the command captured sixty prisoners and several horses, losing three men wounded. From the twenty-sixth to the twenty-eighth it was skirmishing near Port Republic; and on the eighth and ninth of October was engaged with the corps near Woodstock, where the new cavalry general, Rosser, was completely routed and driven up the valley. In these actions it lost three men wounded.
At Cedar Creek, October 19, it was attacked while on picket duty, but escaped without loss. Later in the day it was the decisive movement by which the enemy was routed. The Seventh captured one hundred prisoners. Its own loss was four wounded and twenty-nine missing. During the year its losses from all causes were four hundred and fifty-seven. In the same period its recruits were two hundred and forty-eight.
The regiment was in winter-quarters at Camp Russell near Winchester, Virginia, until the last of February, when it left camp and proceeded with the cavalry command towards Staunton, Virginia, which was the opening of General Sheridan�s raid to the James River. February 8, the Seventh was engaged with Rosser�s cavalry near Louisa Court House, routed them, captured the place, and destroyed a large amount of property. The regiment was employed during the movement in destroying property along the Lynchburg and Gordonsville railroad, and on the James River canal, where the locks, aqueducts, mills, etc., were destroyed or rendered useless.
March 30 the Seventh was engaged at Five Forks with the Confederate Cavalry, which was driven within its works. On the fourth there was fighting at Duck Pond mills, and two days later at Sailor�s Creek; and on the eighth and ninth the Seventh Cavalry saw the last of it at Appomattox Court House.
Following Gen. Lee�s surrender, the regiment marched with the cavalry corps to Petersburg where it remained a short time and then it was sent into North Carolina, from whence it was soon ordered to Washington, D. C. It participated in the review of the army of the Potomac, May 23, and soon after, in company with the Michigan Cavalry brigade, proceeded west, via the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, to St. Louis, Missouri where it took steamers and went to Leavenworth, Kansas.
At that point it was learned that its destination was Colorado, where it was to operate against the hostile Indians, who were making trouble along the various lines of travel. There was much dissatisfaction expressed when these facts were known to the command, but, remembering their former untarnished record, the men, like good soldiers, fell in and obeyed orders. The regiment marched across the plains and reached Camp Collins, seventy miles west of Denver, at the base of the mountains, July 26, having traveled seven hundred miles since leaving Leavenworth. It was immediately assigned to duty along the overland stage route, which was greatly infested with Indians. Here it continued guarding United States mails, and giving protection to immigrants until November 1, 1865, when an order was received to transfer all the men whose term of service extended beyond march 1, 1866, to the First Michigan cavalry, and then report at Denver to be mustered out of service. This order transferred about two hundred and fifty men who were recruited in the winter of 1864. From Denver the regiment was ordered to Fort Leavenworth. All its horses were ordered to be turned over to the quartermaster�s department at Denver, and the command was left to march on foot over the plains or make its way to Leavenworth as best it could. It was a harsh and unreasonable proceeding of the government, and the men justly complained of their treatment. A statement was made to General Upton commanding that department, but he declined to make any arrangements for transportation. The men, however, were finally granted permission to hire their passage in mule trains, returning to the east, and most of them availed themselves to this means, paying twenty-five dollars each, for the privilege of riding in a heavy wagon. The journey was made in twenty-six days, and on arriving at Leavenworth, the command was mustered out and ordered to Michigan. It arrived at Jackson on December 20, and was paid and disbanded six days later.
June 12, 1861, the board of
supervisors authorized the supervisors of the several townships to afford such
relief as might be required by the families of volunteers (agreeable to an act
of the legislature, passed May 10, 1861), and draw their orders for amounts thus
raised on the general fund of the county. Each
supervisor was subsequently ordered to open and keep an accurate account with
each family to who such relief should be afforded in his township, and the clerk
was directed to procure and furnish blank volunteer relief orders.
In 1861 the total number of families aided was eighty-five, and the
amount thus expended was $1,469.14. In
October, 1862, a report was made to the board by a special committee appointed
at a citizens� meeting, held in Charlotte July 29, 1862, to collect, take
charge of, and pay a bounty of twenty-five dollars to each soldier enlisted in
Company G. Twentieth Michigan infantry. This
report was accepted by the board. At
the same session the county treasurer was authorized to pay orders drawn on the
Volunteer Relief fund, and pay interest on the same at a rate not to exceed ten
percent per annum. The clerk was at
the same time authorized to draw orders in favor of subscribers to the bounty
fund of the above mentioned company for the amount subscribed;
and it was also voted that $8,000 of the total tax raised in the county
should belong to the Volunteer relief fund.
There are but two soldiers� monuments in the county. In the cemetery at Eaton Rapids is a small but very tasteful soldiers� monument of granite about eight feet in height. It is surrounded by an iron railing, and is defended by a large cannon facing the entrance. No soldiers� names appear upon it, but upon one side are the words
�OUR FALLEN HEROES�
Grand Ledge has a
soldiers� monument, six by ten feet square, built of granite blocks, and about
five feet high. It is surmounted by
a seven inch rifled cannon, and four cannon balls are stacked on each corner.
The lot is surrounded by a cement walk.
The Grand River Valley
Railroad Company was incorporated in 1846, and the incorporators were Amos Root,
Harvey Williams, Benjamin Porter, Benjamin Knight, Ephraim B. Danforth, Abram V.
Berry, Ira C. Backus, John Sumner, Amasa B. Gibson, Allen Bennett, Jr., William
P. Kassick, Amos Roberts, Philo M. Everett, John Garrow and Lewis Bascom, with a
capital of $1,000,000 and $20,000 shares of $50 each.
The act of incorporation seems to have remained in a state of
�innocuous desuetude� for the space of sixteen years, for in 1862 a new
board of directors was chosen and officers elected, with a view to commence the
work of building the road. In 1894 pursuant to a general act of the legislature, the
company reorganized under the general railroad law of Michigan, with a capital
stock of $1,000,000 and 10,000 shares of $100 each.
The policy of the state was to have all the railroads operate under the
general railroad law, and hence the legislation authorizing the change, the
legislature going so far as to repeal some if not all the special charters.
In 1864 the legislature
held a special session, and by an act approved February 5, 1864, and amended in
1865, it was made lawful for the county of Eaton to loan to the Grand River
Valley Railroad Company a sum not exceeding $75,000, to build a road between
Jackson and Grand Rapids, and passing through said county.
This was only one of a dozen similar laws enacted at the same session,
authorizing different cities and counties to aid in the construction of other
railroads. In accordance with the
provisions of this law, the supervisors submitted to the electors of this county
the question whether such loan should be made.
The election was held April 29, 1865, and resulted in favor of making
The township of Salem in
Washtenaw county, voted thus to aid the Detroit and Howell Railroad Company to
build a road from the vicinity of Detroit to Howell, but the township officers
refused to issue the bonds voted on the ground that the law was
unconstitutional, and the railroad company applied to the supreme court to issue
a �mandamus� requiring them to issue the bonds. The supreme court decided that the law was unconstitutional
and refused to issue the �mandamus.� The
decision affected all the other similar special laws, and then the question was
raised whether the bonds already issued under the laws were valid and must be
paid. The question was submitted to
the United States circuit court held in Grand Rapids, and the decision was that
the bonds were valid and must be paid. When
this decision was rendered the supervisors of this county ordered the county
treasurer to pay the principal and interest on these bonds as fast as they
matured, and they levied taxes to enable him to do so.
The county paid the last of these bonds in 1880.
The company commenced
building without any spare cash on hand, the officers paid their own expenses,
and it held its own all the time so far as money was concerned.
Subscriptions to the stock and municipal aid were the sole dependence.
It was apparent that the
bonds of the company would need to be endorsed and guaranteed by some
established railroad company. Representatives
of the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana railroad gave the company to
understand that that company would endorse their bonds and make the Grand River
Valley one of their permanent tributary lines, but when they put their
proposition in writing it was found to be so one sided that the Grand River
Valley Company could not accept it. The company at once made an arrangement with James F. Joy,
then president of the Michigan Central railroad, by which the latter road agreed
to guarantee the bonds and complete the road to Grand Rapids, and take
practically a permanent lease of the road.
The rental paid by the Michigan Central is five per cent annually on the
full paid capital stock of $491,200, and this has been paid to the Grand River
Valley stockholders ever since January 1, 1872, two and one-half per cent in
January and two and one-half per cent in July of each year. The lease to the Michigan Central brought matters out all
right. At this time more than half
of the distance had been graded, ties procured, and bridges and culverts built
by private subscriptions and the aid of municipal bodies.
In the fall of 1867 the line was opened to Onondaga; in July, 1868, to
Eaton Rapids; in October, 1868, to Charlotte; in April, 1869, to Hastings; and
it was finally completed into Grand Rapids by the Michigan Central in March,
1870. The lease for 999 years did
not go into effect until the reorganization in 1894, that being the lifetime of
the corporation under the general railroad law.
Before the reorganization the term of the lease was during the existence
of the corporation, the organization prolonged that existence 999 years.
The articles of association of the Peninsular
railroad were filed in the office of the secretary of state in Lansing, October
3, 1865. From these it appears that
the corporation was to continue 10,000 years, the road was to extend from Battle
Creek to Lansing, forty-four miles, that stock to the amount of $500,000 had
been subscribed. The names of
sixty-seven stockholders are given who had taken 10,000 shares at $50 each of
which five per cent had been paid in. The
first ten directors were Leonidas D. Dibble, Joseph M. Ward, Elijah W. Pendill,
William Wallace, Martin S. Brackett, Reuben Fitzgerald, Joseph Musgrave, Sumner
P. Webber, Cyrus Cummings and George N. Potter.
The following five, Alonzo Noble, Edwin C. Nichols, John Evans, Elisha
Shepherd, and Silas E. Millett were appointed commissioners to open books of
subscription to the stock. May 1,
1869, it was mortgaged to the Union Trust Company for $1,800,000 in order to
purchase iron and rolling stock. On
December 1, 1879, it was sold by Addison Randall, master commissioner, to Joseph
Hickson et al., who were the highest bidders for $300,000.
Hickson sold it March 13, 1880, to the Michigan Railroad Company for
This road extends from Chicago, Ill., to Fort
Gratiot, Mich., and was formed by the consolidation of five other companies.
Articles were filed April 6, 1880, and amended October 7, 1887.
(P. 18, Com. Report, 1880.) The
five other companies are:
(1) Grand Trunk Railway extending from Chicago to Valparaiso.
(2) Indiana Railway extending from Valparaiso to Michigan state line.
(3) Michigan Railway extending from state line to Lansing. This company filed articles January 7, 1880, and bought at mortgage sale that part of the Chicago & Lake Huron Railroad which was formerly owned by the Peninsular Railroad. The Chicago & Lake Huron railway was a consolidation of two roads, articles filed August 15, 1873.
(a) Port Huron & Lake Michigan Railroad.
(b) Peninsular Railroad, articles of consolidation filed April 30, 1870.
(1) Peninsular Railroad of Illinois.
(2) Peninsular Railroad of Indiana.
(3) Peninsular Railroad of Michigan, articles of consolidation filed February 17, 1868.
(a) Peninsular Railroad, articles filed October 3, 1865.
(b) Peninsular Railroad Extension Company, articles filed January 3, 1868.
(4) Chicago & Northeastern Railroad, extending from Lansing to Flint, articles filed August 12, 1874.Northeastern Grand Trunk Railroad, extending from Flint to Port Huron, articles filed January 7, 1880. This company bought that part of the Chicago & Lake Huron Railroad formerly owned by the Port Huron and Lake Michigan Railroad. (See Michigan Railway above.)
This company filed articles
Nov. 2, 1866, and amended the same Oct. 2, 1868. The Amboy, Lansing & Traverse Bay Railroad Company made
an assignment of all its rights and franchises to this company, the minutes of
which was filed with the secretary of state, January 14, 1867.
The Lake Shore &
Michigan Southern Railway advanced the entire sum for the construction of this
road and owns the entire capital stock.
The lake Shore &
Michigan Southern Railway Company built this road in 1872, advancing the entire
sum required ($1,347,495), and receiving therefore the entire issue of stock
($610,000), and bonds ($1,525,000).
This company filed articles
Dec. 7, 1876, and amended the same Dec. 8, 1879, and bought at mortgage sale the
Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan Railroad, and also consolidated later with
the Ionia, Stanton & Northern Railroad, which filed articles Dec. 11, 1870.
The Detroit, Lansing &
Lake Michigan Railroad was a consolidation of two other roads, articles of
consolidation filed April 11, 1871, the two roads are:
(1) Ionia & Lansing Railroad, file articles Feb. 26, 1866, and amended the same Feb. 5, 1869.
(2) Detroit, Howell & Lansing Railroad filed articles of consolidation April 11, 1870, and was composed of the following two roads:
(a) Detroit & Howell Railroad, articles filed Sept. 21, 1864.
Howell & Lansing Railroad, articles filed June 23, 1868.
This company filed articles May 17, 1887, and has been leased and operated by the Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railroad since its completion (p. 20, Com. Report, 1889). The road extends from Grand Ledge to Grand Rapids, passing through the northern tier of towns of the county, and now forms a part of the �Pere Marquette� system.
This road, although not yet
in operations, has quite a history. It
was incorporated September 22, 1870, and the first board of directors were A. L.
Green, F. V. Smith, J. G. Parkhurst, M. V. Wagoner, H. I. Perrin, George
Ingersoll, C. S. Crane, C. P. Dibble, P. A. Spicer, Joseph Fish, and Henry C.
Lewis. On Dec. 22, 1874, the name
of the road was changed to Coldwater & Mackinaw Company, and on Oct. 22,
1884, it was sold to the Toledo, Marshall & Northern Company.
The right of way with few
exceptions had been secured from Coldwater to Elm Hall in the northwestern part
of Gratiot county, and the road had been graded the greater part of the way, and
for some distance culverts had been put in, bridges built, and ties secured.
The president of the road,
Mr. Albertus L. Green, died October 21, 1875; work ceased soon after, and
nothing more was done on the road for thirty years.
On Jan. 16, 1905, it was
mortgaged to the Knickerbocker Trust Company for $4,000,000, and The Detroit
Free Press of November 21, has this announcement: �Marshall, Mich., Nov. 20.�A meeting of the stockholders
of the Marshall, Toledo & Northern Railroad Company was held at the
company�s offices here today. It
was decided to raise capital stock of the company from $800,000 to $2,000,000.
One of the stockholders stated that this was necessary in order to float
the company�s bonds in New York. The
failure to commence work as early as was expected is said to be due to the big
insurance upheaval in New York, which has made it very difficult for new
companies to float bonds. The
officers state that the road will surely be built.�
This is the present state
In January, 1862, Messrs.
Musgrave and Lacey established a banking house in Charlotte, to do a general
banking business. On the second of
January, 1871, the First National Bank of Charlotte was organized, with a
capital of $100,000, of which $50,000 was paid in.
The officers were: Joseph
Musgrave, President; E. S. Lacey, Cashier; A. J. Ives, Vice President; Joseph
Musgrave, E. s. Lacey, A. J. Ives, E. W. Barber, Ellzey Hayden, Directors.
Mr. Ives had been the bookkeeper in the private bank.
Mr. Musgrave continued its president until his death in April 1880.
He was followed in the presidency by Ellzey Hayden, whose
death occurred a few years later, and Mr. E. S. Lacey became President.
He was followed by Frank Belcher, who died in office, and John M. C.
Smith was chosen and continued in office at the present time.
F. H. Pollard is the Cashier.
The bank has now a savings department for the accommodation
of the public.
The bank of Homer G. Barber, of Vermontville, established
in 1862, was reorganized in 1887. William
Alsover is Cashier.
Banking in Olivet has been conducted since 1892 by George
W. Keyes & Son, succeeding George W. Keyes, who began an exchange business
in 1872. It is a private
institution with a capital of $6,000. Karl
D. Keyes, the junior member of the firm, manages its affairs.
The First National Bank of Eaton Rapids commenced business
September first, 1877, with a capital of $50,000 with the following
officers:--a. J. Bowne, President; F. H. De Golia, Cashier.
The following constituted the Board of Directors:--A. J. Bowne, George E.
Goodyear, F. H. De Golia, Daniel Stryker, A. C. Cutton, Philip Leonard, and
Allen Crawford. Allen Crawford and
F. H. De Golia are the only members of the original board that are now living.
The bank has now a surplus of $10,000.
The present Board of Directors are Marshal Wood, E. E. Horner, F. H. De
Golia, A. Osborn, J. H. Gallery, M. D. Crawford, and Allen Crawford. At the present time Marshal Wood is President; E. E. Horner,
Vice President; F. H. De Golia, Cashier; and A. Osborn, Assistant Cashier.
Its deposits are about $200,000.
The Bellevue Bank was opened in June, 1883, by Longyear
& Klockstein, of Lansing. About
the year 1884 the partnership was dissolved and H. Longyear became manager.
In December, 1890, the bank was sold to George Neasmith and C. Mason.
Mr. Neasmith died in August, 1892, and in the following October Hiram M.
Allen was called into the bank as President, with E. J. Frost as Cashier.
The present officers are H. M. Allen, President; E. W. Stevens, of the
firm of Brown, Stevens & Carger, and Charles Dyer, capitalist, are the Vice
Presidents; and C. D. Kimberly is Cashier.
The present capital is $15,000 with a surplus of $2,000.
Its deposits amount to $100,000. The
volume of business transacted has doubled under the present management.
The Merchants� National Bank of Charlotte was organized
in the summer of 1883, largely through the efforts of George M. Ely, and was
opened for business October 1 of that year with a paid up capital of $50,000.
The first officers were Phineas Spaulding, President; A. D. Baughman,
Vice President, and George M. Ely, Cashier.
These officers, with Frank A. Ells, Frank Merritt, John T. Wilson and
John M. Corbin constituted the first board of directors.
One of the primary causes leading up to the organization of the
Merchants� National Bank was to furnish the citizens of Charlotte and vicinity
with facilities in banking, and financial lines, which up to that time had never
been afforded them. The need of
this institution at that time and the appreciation of it by the community at
large is best shown by the steady growth the bank has always enjoyed, until at
this writing it has deposits of over $300,000, and in addition to its capital of
$50,000 has accumulated a surplus fund of over $60,000 besides having paid its
stockholders satisfactory dividends. The
late Earl T. Church was president of the bank from October 1, 1884, until his
death in February, 1906. During his
administration, the ban, in 1902, erected the most commodious and complete
banking house in central Michigan. In
1904 it was designated a United States depository and has since carried a
deposit of public funds. Early in
1906 the State Treasurer also selected the Merchants� National Bank as one of
the depositories for the funds of the state.
The Michigan State Bank of Eaton Rapids was organized in
July, 1884, with a capital of $50,000, which was the next year increased to
$75,000. The first President was H.
H. Cobb, who was succeeded in July, 1890, by John Corbin.
The first Cashier was Charles S. Cobb, who was succeeded by the present
Cashier, H. H. Hamilton. The first Vice President was C. W. Stevens, and the second,
H. P. Webster. The bank has a
surplus of $20,000 and deposits to the amount of $250,000. The directors are Joseph Carr, John Corbin, H. P. Webster, I.
N. Reynolds, E. F. Knapp, H. C. Minnie, F. S. Leighton, H. H. Hamilton and E. F.
Harris, who is also Assistant Cashier.
The Loan and Deposit Bank of Grand Ledge is a private bank,
George N. Berry, Proprietor and President; E. M. Briggs, Cashier; and Fred L.
Berry, Assistant Cashier. It began
business in 1891.
The Exchange Bank of Dimondale is a private bank with a
capital of $8,000. It opened its
doors in 1897. It is owned and
managed by B. S. Harris.
The Sunfield Banking Company began business in 1897.
It is a private bank owned by P. S. Shelly, of Toledo, who is the
President. H. S. Reames is the
Cashier. It has a responsibility of
$100,000, and its deposits average $50,000.
The Bank of Mulliken is a private bank owned by Reed &
Berry. It commenced business in
1898, with M. E. Reed acting as cashier and manager.
It has a very neat banking office.
In 1899 the directors of the Merchants National Bank,
believing that the best interests of the community could be better conserved by
increasing the banking capital in Charlotte, and that in the form of a savings
bank, accordingly organized, and in August of that year opened the Eaton County
Savings Bank, with a capital of $25,000. This
effort met with a ready response, and the need seemed so urgent that the capital
of the bank has been twice increased�in March, 1903, to $50,000, and in
September, 1905, to $100,000, which with its surplus of $25,000, today makes it
the strongest capitalized bank in the county.
It is the only savings bank in the county.
The officers of the Merchants� National Bank and the Eaton County
Savings Bank are A. D. Baughman, President; Homer G. Barber, Vice President; H.
K. Jennings, Cashier. These
officers with the following gentlemen constitute the board of directors of the
two banks: Edwin N. Ely, Judge W. F. Stine, W. B. Otto, Albert Murray
and George H. Spencer.
The Citizens Bank of Bellevue is a private institution,
opened in 1902, with a responsibility of $150,000. C. E. Scott is President, F. M. Mulvany and J. R. Hall Vice
Presidents, and B. D. Vaughan Cashier.
The Potterville Exchange is a private bank opened in May,
1903, by F. J. McConnell & Co. On
February 23, 1896, their interests were purchased by Dwight and C. J. Backus,
who expect soon to increase the capital to $50,000. Dwight Backus is the cashier and manager.
The Grand Ledge State Bank has a capital of $25,000 and
began business May 16, 1905. W. R.
Clarke is President; S. C. Schumaker, First Vice President; and B. R. Moore,
Cashier. The following gentlemen
are Directors:--A. R. Gillies, W. R. Howe, A. B. Schumaker, Danford Shadduck,
Dudley E. Water, W. R. Clarke, A. T. Slaght, Dr. J. E. Hinkson, and M. T.
Vanderbosch. It has on deposit
In the vicinity of Grand Ledge clay is found of a superior
quality for the manufacture of stone ware, sewer pipe and tiling, and the only
place in the county where sewer pipe is made on a large scale is located in the
western part of that village. The
clay is hauled in heavy wagons to the factory where it is placed in what is
called the �drying pan,� which has a capacity of 100 tons a day.
Here the clay is ground and conveyed to a revolving screen where it is
thoroughly sifted. It is then thrown into a large bin which is directly over two
wet pans, and from the bin is dropped into the pans and mixed with water to give
the proper temper for moulding. It
is then carried on an elevator to an endless belt, which delivers the tempered
clay into the presses where it is made into pipe and tile.
The largest press turns out all pipe from three to twenty-four inches;
the second press is smaller and is used for sizes two and one-half inches to
twelve inches. Flue chimneys,
chimney pipes, wall coping, and all styles, sizes and lengths of building blocks
are also made. The plant is
equipped with twelve kilns, each one thirty feet in diameter, and has a capacity
of several carloads; one of these is drawn and set each day.
The loading facilities are excellent, so that 15 or 20 cars can be loaded
The Crawford Chair Company has this year erected at Grand
Ledge a fine building of cream-white brick, 60 by 160 feet square, five stories
in height above the basement, and surmounted by a cupola.
It has but recently begun work; will bake a specialty of dining tables,
and when running at its full capacity, expects to employ two hundred hands.
The most famous summer resort in the county is at Grand
Ledge. The steep, rocky banks of
the river and the group of seven islands form a romantic scenery. A hotel and several other buildings have been erected on the
islands for the accommodation of visitors, and boats are supplied in abundance.
It is frequently patronized by families and parties from Lansing,
Charlotte and other neighboring towns, for a picnic or for an outing of a few
From The Independent the information is obtained that E. A.
Turnbull, the proprietor of this concern, assumed control about a dozen years
ago, and at the same time added several improvements and installed new machinery
which doubled the capacity of the business. The reputation of this institution extends all over the
United States, and is product has the reputation of being the finest grade of
chair furniture in the market. The
factory makes a specialty of high grade chairs, dining room, library, office,
parlor and also den furniture. This
concern is equipped with all the latest and improved wood working machinery; the
management is all that could be desired; only the best of skilled labor is
employed, and the highest wages are paid. The
plant is so located that a perfect water power system is in force and it is also
equipped with steam power, having installed two one hundred-horse power boilers
and a seventy-five-horse power engine. The
fire protection in this institution is of the best, having several feet of hose
on each floor, besides all the best class of fire extinguishers.
Each floor is furnished with two toilet rooms, and the whole is lighted
by electricity. Four dry kilns having a capacity of one car-load each are in
use. The firm employs two hundred
and twenty-five men the full year, and the books show a pay roll of $8,000 a
month. The employees of this
concern are well protected, having organized what is known as the employees�
insurance association. Each man is
assessed one per cent of his wages until the treasury contains $100.
The firm has built a stone foundation for a new brick building six
hundred feet by sixty and three stories high above the basement.
Its completion will enable the firm to employ an additional force of over
four hundred men. It is said to be
the largest manufactory of �box seat� chairs in the world.
The Vanator Edge Tool Works, in Grand Ledge was organized
in 1902, succeeding N. M. Vanator, who established the business in 1891.
The company has a paid up capital and surplus of $20,000.
Their specialty is knives of all kinds for house, shop, and farm use,
also pruning shears and cold chisels. When
running full capacity they employ fifteen men.
About eighteen years ago Ward & Dolson came to
Charlotte and erected a brick building fifty by two hundred and fifty feet and
three stories in height, and began the manufacture of carriages.
After a few years Mr. Ward died and the business was carried on by Dolson
& Sons, and grew rapidly so that the firm employed one hundred and twenty
men. In their most prosperous year,
the firm turned out 4,800 carriages.
The company has just been reorganized under the state law
as the Dolson Automobile Company, and will hereafter devote themselves to the
manufacture of this style of road carriage, and expect when in full operation to
employ one hundred and fifty men.
Charles and Aaron Bennett came to Charlotte in 1870, and
became members of the firm of Bennett Bros., Coder & Houck, and were engaged
in the manufacture of sash, blinds and doors. Later Houck dropped out, and J. J. Curtis bought out Coder
and the firm became Curtis & Bennett. They
secured a location on West Seminary street, just west of the Chicago & Grand
Trunk railway, and erected on the north side of the street a brick building
sixty by one hundred and fifty feet and three stories high, and directly
opposite a frame building fifty by one hundred and ten feet.
The two buildings are connected by a high bridge.
The larger building contains the engine and machinery, and is devoted to
the manufacture of their goods, and the smaller one contains the office and the
finishing rooms. The firm turns
their attention to furniture, making a specialty of chamber suits and bureaus. About fifty men are employed and their pay roll is about
$1,500 per month. Mr. Curtis
retired from the company twelve years ago, and the firm became the Charles
Bennett Furniture Company. Mr.
Bennett died Nov. 27, 1903, but the business is still carried on by the heirs
under the same firm name, his son George being business manager.
In 1892-3 J. J. Curtis & Son put up in the southeastern
part of the city a large brick building sixty by two hundred feet, and four
stories high, intending to go into the manufacture of furniture, but the
building was scarcely completed when the firm met with reverses, and the plant
was closed by creditors, and remained idle for six years when in 1901 the
property was purchased by the John Widdicomb Co., and has since been operated in
connection with their Grand Rapids factories, in the manufacture of furniture
and sewing machine cases. The plant
consists of sixteen acres of ground on the Michigan Central railroad, at the
corner of Henry & Merritt streets; the main factory building is of brick
sixty by two hundred, four stories with boiler and engine rooms adjoining, all
equipped with the latest improved machinery for woodworking, two modern dry
kilns, saw mill, etc. The average
number of employees is from seventy-five to one hundred, the pay roll $3,000 per
month, and the value of the goods turned out about $100,000 yearly.
Mr. George Fenn of Charlotte invented a plan for bending
scythe snaths by forcing them through a mold, and established a factory for
making them. It employs thirty-five
men and has a monthly pay roll of about $1,400.
Last year it turned out seven thousand dozen scythe snaths.
The Benton Manufacturing Company has a plant valued at
$15,000. They make snaths, hay and
garden rakes. They employ forty
hands and have a monthly pay roll of about $1,000 per month.
The Charlotte Manufacturing Company makes tables for
dwellings, offices, libraries, and hotels.
It uses chiefly quartered oak and mahogany. They employ about sixty-five men and have a monthly pay roll
of from $2,000 to $2,500.
The Beach Manufacturing Company moved their business from
Portland, in this state, to Charlotte, in 1904. It manufactures triple expansion cast iron road culverts, of
its own invention, and steel bridges, and job everything in the road supply
line. The moulding room is 90 by
155 feet, the engine room and machine sop each 20 by 30 feet.
It employs about fifteen men in winter and twenty-five in summer, the
monthly pay roll in summer being $450. The
business is steadily increasing and the company hopes, next year, to double its
William Smith in 1887 started a factory near Eaton Rapids,
using the water power of the Grand river about a mile and a half above the city.
He lost his life by an accident about eight years ago, and was succeeded
by his brothers, L. J. Smith & Co.
Their specialties are egg crates and fillers, and all kinds
of egg packers supplies. They have
about twenty buildings of various kinds on their grounds and employ regularly
twenty-five hands, and at times as many as forty; their pay roll averages about
$1,000 per month.
Eaton Rapids has a woolen mill, a brick building seventy by
one hundred and ten feet on the ground, and two stories high.
The mill has been running about six years, and employs about seventy-five
hands, and has a monthly pay roll of from $1,800 to $2,000.
It makes a specialty of colored yarns, and turns out about 15,000 pounds
a week, which is used chiefly for knitting purposes.
In 1898 the Michigan Alkali Company bought three hundred
acres of land in Bellevue, containing the stratum of limestone, intending to use
it in the manufacture of soda ash and bi-carbonate of soda.
As a part of their equipment, they had four hundred gondola cars capable
of carrying forty tons each, and a train load of crushed limestone went daily to
their works near Detroit. They
operated the quarry for two years, but on account of some properties the lime
possessed, it was not entirely satisfactory for their use, and in 1904 they sold
their whole plant to W. R. Burt, of Saginaw.
The properties of the limestone that hurt its value for the
manufacture of soda ash and the bi-carbonate of soda, were just the properties
that were needed for the manufacture of the �Portland Cement.�
Welling R. Burt, of Saginaw, learned its value for the production of this
article, and bought the whole plant of three hundred acres, with the buildings
thereon, paying for the same $100 per acre. He
has erected on it a large factory for the manufacture of cement at a cost of
more than a half million of dollars, and commenced work August 1, 1905.
From one hundred to an hundred and twenty-five men are employed, and it
is found necessary when once the machinery is started, to keep it running day
and night throughout the year. The
shift that work in the night one week, work in the day time the next week.
The pay roll is about $6,000 a month.
The amount of product turned out daily is one thousand six hundred
barrels. The layer of rock that can
be profitably worked is thirty feet in depth, and the quality of the rock varies
somewhat with the depth. Below thirty feet, occasional layers of shale and clay are
In the quarry the rock is, for the most part, in a broken
condition rendering it unfit for building purposes, although there are some
places where good building material could be found. What is said to be the heaviest steam shovel in the world,
weighing one hundred and seventeen tons, is here at work. (The largest at work on the Panama canal weighs only one
hundred tons.) This shovel has also
a lifting capacity at end of dipper of forty-five tons, and scoops up the
limestone from the quarry with as much apparent east as though it was mellow
earth. The rock is then taken to
the large crusher which can take in blocks eighteen by thirty-six inches in size
and reduce them to blocks three inches in diameter.
From a second crusher they emerge in blocks about a half inch square, and
are elevated about 60 feet to the dryer, and then carried to the kilns, 60 feet
long and six and a half feet in diameter, and lined with fire brick.
The kilns have a rotary motion and in the half hour in which the material
is passing through it is subjected to a heat of three thousand degrees F.
There are eight of these enormous kilns.
After the material has been sufficiently roasted it is carried to the
mills for grinding, which is done by the use of flint pebbles about the size of
goose eggs, which are imported from Denmark at a cost of $25 per ton.
The machinery is run wholly by electricity, and this is generated by the
use of five boilers of three hundred horse power each and one thousand eight
hundred horse power engines. The
fly wheel weighs thirty-five tons, and the chimney that furnishes the draught is
one hundred and eighty feet in height, is built of cement and steel and has
walls six feet in thickness and is eight feet in diameter on the inside.
One hundred and fifty tons of coal are required daily, and this is first
reduced to a fine flour and is fed into the furnaces and kilns by a hot air
When the success of this plant is assured to the
satisfaction of other capitalists, it is thought several more plants will be
erected, as there appears to be an abundance of material.
The fact that in a dry summer, fires frequently burned the
soil in the swamps to a considerable depth, has led many people to furnish an
almost inexhaustible supply of fuel for the county, but the abundance of wool
has not hitherto made it profitable to develop this source of supply.
The forests have now largely disappeared and people are turning their
attention to the swamps to see whether they can be made to furnish a valuable
and economical fuel. Thus far only one peat factory has been erected in the county
and this is not yet fully completed. It
is built near the track of the Lansing branch of the Lake Shore railroad and two
and one-half miles north of Eaton Rapids, and is known as Michigan Peat Co.
Two buildings have been erected with solid cement walls.
One is the engine room, eighty-four by forty feet, and contains two
Sterling boilers, in which the water passes through the tubes which are
surrounded by the fires. Slack coal
is burned and the smokestack is one hundred and five feet high.
The other building, which is devoted to the machinery, is two hundred by
fifty feet. The swamp from which
the peat is to be taken, lies about a half mile west of this building, and
embraces several hundred acres, and the peat-bed is found to be from five to
twenty-five feet in depth. In the
edge of the peat bed, a barge thirty by sixty feet has been constructed which
carries a swinging crane and �orange-peel dipper.�
If from a given point of an orange four slits are made in its rind half
way down, and these four sections of the rind are peeled, the sections will give
the exact shape of four blades, or shovels, that constitute the dipper that when
closed, form a hollow hemispherical dipper capable of holding several bushels of
peat. When these blades are open
the dipper sinks into the peat by its own weight, and as the dipper is hoisted
the blades are made to close by a system of chains and pulleys inside the dipper
which is then, by means of the crane, raised and swung around over an iron tank
twelve feet in diameter and five feet deep into which the contents are dropped.
After being thoroughly mixed with water, the peat in this liquid state is
forced up twenty-five feet into the end of an inclined trough of galvanized iron
erected on trestle work through which it flows to the factory.
The barge is lighted and its machinery is driven by electricity generated in the power house a half mile distant.
The power house is equipped with two electric generators
one of two hundred and twenty-five horse power to drive the machinery, and one
of one hundred and thirty horse power to furnish the lights.
The factory receives the flow of liquid peat into a large iron tank where
it is again thoroughly stirred, and forced into an elevated hopper from which it
descends into four centrifugal extractors that make eleven hundred revolutions a
minute; by this process a large part of the water is driven out and the opening
of a valve in the bottom of the extractors allows the contents to fall into a
trough through which it is conveyed to another drier.
After the peat leaves the extractors there are three other processes by
which it is further dried and pressed into briquettes, which are placed on a
carrier of netting nine and one-half feet wide and moving ten inches a minute
through a heated room or closet one hundred and sixty feet in length, and when
they emerge from the farther end are dry and ready for the market.
When the factory is in full operation, the company expects to employ
about twenty men and to turn out two hundred tons of prepared peat daily.
The county has several
times been visited by cyclones, since the natural phenomena of the county have
become a matter of record. About
1833 a cyclone passed through the town of Kalamo, its north line was about a
quarter of a mile south of the north line of sections 9 and 10 in that town, and
its south line was about the middle of the next tier of sections south.
Within these limits it blew down or tore out nearly all the standing
timber. Deacon S. S. Church, one of
the committee to locate the Vermontville colony, relates that while on his first
visit to the place, coming from the south, his party was met by an old Indian,
who by signs with his walking sticks told them of this large tract of fallen
timber, and told them how to go around it on the west.
J. Boutman says that June 2, 1853, a cyclone passed through
Charlesworth, destroying the house of Nathan Sayers, and scattering the timbers
and carrying some of them more than a half mile. Mr. And Mrs. Sayers were pinned to the ground by the falling
debris and could not extricate themselves without help.
A boy was blow out of the house and carried many rods, but was unharmed.
May 15, 1855, a cyclone struck the ground about a mile west
of Ira Bradley�s place, in Kalamo, cutting quite a swath through a piece of
timber, and sweeping through Mr. Bradley�s barn-yard carried away the log
barn, grainery, and hog house. Every
hen on the place was carried into the swamp east of the farm, and many of the
hogs were also carried there. His
log dwelling escaped the greatest fury of the funnel-shaped cloud but its roof
and upper story were carried away. An
ox and a couple of hogs were killed. Mr.
Joseph Bradley lived just across the road in a plank house, which was reduced to
kindling wood, and a large log barn was leveled and some of the logs were
carried into the swamp. A yoke of
oxen, a span of horses, and a cow were in the barn but none of them were killed,
but Mr. Charles Woodbury, who was working for Mr. Bradley, was hurt so badly
that he was unable to do any more work during the summer. A piece of roof-board from one of these buildings eight feet
long and six inches wide was carried some seven miles and driven into the ground
in the door-yard of Henry Arnold. H.
F. Pennington, who was at home on his father�s farm, four and one-half miles
southeast, saw the storm coming and clung to a tree, but the wind tore the front
of his vest off.
On the evening of May 29, 1860, a cyclone dropped down upon
the village of Olivet and utterly destroyed the dwelling of Dr. Munger.
The entire family, consisting of the Doctor, his wife and a young woman,
had just retired, but escaped unharmed. The
young woman found herself lying upon the ground with large timbers around her.
The cooking stove was dashed to pieces and a mirror was carried safely
out, but the tornado passed so quickly that the nearest neighbors knew nothing
of it until the family came rushing in, in their night clothes.
Across the street a lad named Merrill Frost was blown against the board
fence with such force as to flatten his chest on his left side enough to throw
the lower end of the sternum at least two inches toward the right side.
He received also a cut on the scalp and other injuries.
A large barn across the street was carried with little injury about
twelve feet from its foundation. A
littler further on a large rake factory lost its roof.
Some of the timbers were carried about thirty rods across the mill pond,
and planted almost perpendicularly in the ground.
Very little other damage was done in the path of the storm, either before
it reached Olivet or after it left it.
J. Wilbur had a fine new barn costing a thousand dollars,
carried quite a distance from its foundation, set on end and almost wholly
destroyed, and quite a number of cattle and horses were killed.
The house of Mr. Vanockens was entirely destroyed.
Samuel Young lost barn, windmill and orchard.
The Cook brothers� barn was totally destroyed, and an apple tree was
driven through the side of the house roots foremost.
John Wilbur�s house was unroofed and the fences on the whole farm
carried away. Henry Talmage, on his
return from Bellevue, found his house, two barns, fences and orchard in ruins.
October 2, 1880, a cyclone formed in Johnstown, Barry
county. It entered this county near
the southwest corner of Bellevue, and destroyed a barn about thirty by forty
feet belonging to a Mr. Patchen. It
turned his house about one-quarter round and destroyed a part of it, and tore up
by the roots the trees in the orchard. On
the next farm, owned by Lawrence Toole, a house ad a new barn were completely
swept away and the cellar filled with debris.
It also tore up by the roots every apple tree but one in the orchard.
A child four years old was dashed on the ground and killed, and a nursing
baby was carried about fifteen rods and thrown on a brush heap where it was
found after the storm had passed, unconscious and with a broken arm.
Mrs. Toole, a strong, healthy woman, was found about twenty rods from the
house, walking back and forth, utterly bewildered, covered with bruises from
head to foot and with nearly all her clothing gone.
The cyclone next struck the home of J. A. Burchard, who
heard it coming, and with his wife and three children, rushed into a small
bedroom. The entire house was swept
away with the exception of the floor of the bedroom on which the family stood;
but no one of them was seriously injured.
At the corner of the farm of H. M. Allen an oak tree was
split in two; one-half was carried to the east and the other part to the west
and they were found some fifty rods from each other. A tamarack tree about ten inches through was broken off and
carried nearly five miles and thrown down there. At this point the storm seemed to have spent its force having
swept a path fifty or sixty rods wide.
About five P.M. April 6, 1882, a cyclone passed through
this county, destroying much property and killing several people.
It appears to have started near Raymond, in Indiana, and passed through
Kalamazoo and Barry counties in this state, and pursued an easterly course, from
Eaton county. It destroyed the
house of Levi Kenyon, on the county line near the southwest corner of Kalamo.
Silas Reynolds, the father-in-law of Mr. Kenyon, was in the house with
his daughter, and tried to escape with her and his grandchildren, but the storm
overtook them. The mother three her
children on the ground and herself over them to protect them, while the old
father threw his arms over them all. None
were injured except the old gentleman, who was struck on the head by some flying
substance and instantly killed. It
next almost wholly destroyed the barn of Walter Mapes; Mr. Bowen lost a stable.
Mr. Tillotson lost a barn, and several hay-stacks were blown away.
The house of Thomas Garrety was unroofed, and the roof and doors were
taken from his barn; on the opposite side of the road the barn of H. L. Robinson
was wrecked. It then totally
destroyed the blacksmith�s shop and barn of Henry Wirtz; two horses, seven
head of cattle, and thirty head of sheep were in the barn, but all escaped
serious injury. Daniel Mead was the
next victim; he had a new frame house and one of the best barns in Kalamo, both
of which were utterly ruined. He
and his family succeeded in getting into the cellar just in time to save their
lives. Mr. Mead�s daughter, Mrs.
Graves, relates some curious facts in regard to this storm.
Nothing whatever fell into the cellar; the bricks in the chimney fell
west of the house, while the house itself was lifted up bodily and carried five
or six rods to the east and dashed to pieces.
The barn had been built only three years; of three horses which were tied
in it one was wedged in by timbers and comparatively uninjured, and the other
two were found running around the field, apparently greatly frightened, and it
is supposed that they were carried out into the field by the wind.
There were several cows in the barn, and one was carried about twenty
rods and killed. A lamp standing on
a bureau in the chamber was found out in the field entirely uninjured with not
even the chimney broken, and a glass can of fruit was found nearly bedded in the
ground but also unbroken. The
rafters of the barn were carried about a half mile and driven five or six feet
into the ground. Of all the
furniture in the house only one chair was saved.
A feather bed was found and the holes in the tick were tied up, the women
thinking that when they had leisure they would try to save the feathers. This they accomplished by taking out a small handful at a
time, but took out also seven pailfuls of mortar, pieces of broken glass and
Horace Sherman lived a little further on across the road
and about fifty or sixty feet away was another house occupied by his mother.
The family became alarmed and all went into the house of the old lady,
but both buildings were completely ruined, and the family were carried some
eight or ten rods and thrown among stumps and logs, instantly killing Mr.
Sherman�s sister, breaking the arm of his mother, and the lower jaw of his
Alden Swift, just west of Lacey�s lake, came next.
He had a good frame house, and a new barn, both were demolished.
In the barn were horses, cows, and sheep, but one horse only was killed.
Mr. Swift�s wife and hired man saved themselves by running out of the
way and lying flat on the ground.
Going east the cyclone seemed to leap over a piece of woods
and come down on Lacey�s lake, widely scattering the water fishes and frogs.
It next took off the upper story of Jesse Steven�s house.
It then tore its way through woods and orchards to the house of Peter
Horn where it took off the roof and the wind of his brick house.
About five minutes before the coming of this cyclone a
smaller one passed through Kalamo about a mile to the south.
It wrecked several barns, and when nearly south of Charlotte, it joined
the larger one and both come down in Ingham county.
The damage to property in Kalamo was fully six thousand
dollars; but Eaton county did not suffer any worse than some others further
east. In Ingham county the tornado
struck the township of White Oak about eight o�clock in the evening, and a
house belonging to a Mr. Wolcott was demolished, and some of the flying timber
struck a man named Myron Clark and killed him almost instantly.
Another house belonging to Mr. Gifford, was lifted from its foundation
and turned over, and struck nearly upside down on its original foundation.
Mrs. Gifford had her arm broken.
In Midland county the house of R. E. Walton was turned over
and badly broken up, after which it took fire from the stove and was burned.
In Oakland county the most damage was done, and the destruction of life
great. At a point about a mile south of Clyde the storm struck the
house of Lafayette Crandall. Mr.
Crandall, and his son of six years, and Mrs. Taylor, of Pontiac, were instantly
killed, and another of the Crandall family, a little girl, had her arm so badly
crushed that it had to be amputated.
On July 22, 1883, a cyclone swept through the town of
Hamlin, and through the kindness of V. M. Smith, who was very near its path, we
are able to give the following account of it.
He says: �I lived at the
time on section 12 in the township of Hamlin.
The cyclone started on section 11 about a mile and a half west, and a
half mile north of my place, and went a little south of east.
I was at the time reading about a windstorm that happened the week before
in the state of Iowa. Hearing a heavy roaring sound unlike anything I ever heard
before I went to the door, and looking west saw the air was full of rubbish, and
at once guessed the cause. I
immediately told my wife, who was getting dinner at the time, and we took our
two little girls and hurried into the cellar.
I then came up to take another look.
In the direction from which the storm was coming a large barn belonging
to Nathaniel Taylor, and filled with hay, was lifted from the earth and
scattered in every direction. As
the storm was at this time coming directly toward our house, I hurried back into
the cellar and stayed there until it passed.
I shall never forget the picture presented as the barn with its contents
was lifted some fifteen feet in the air, as suddenly as though blown up by
dynamite. The body of hay dropped
back to the ground but the building was scattered in all directions. The separator of a threshing machine was standing at the end
of the barn was turned bottom up, the trucks were torn from it, and carried
nearly a half of a mile and dropped receiving very little damage.
The carrier was carried entirely away.
One of the iron whirls was found some time after about two miles away.
After I returned to the cellar, through the cellar window, I watched the
trees in an orchard near by as they bent nearly to the ground, and expected
every minute that the house would go. Suddenly
above the din and roar I heard a grinding sound as of crushing timbers, then as
the storm passed on, the noise died away. We
hurried from the cellar expecting to find our barns swept away, but were
thankful that our house and lives were spared. Our buildings were unharmed, but our neighbor just across the
street, Mr. Nesbit, had suffered the loss of his new barn and wagon shed, and
the chimney was blown from his house. After
destroying the barn of Mr. Taylor the storm veered toward the south, leaving us
about twenty-rods north of its path. I
went at once to Mr. Nesbit�s and found them still in their cellar, and my
wife�s brother, Leroy Sherman, looking over the ruins of the barn.
When he saw the storm coming he ran into the barn and stood leaning
against the door, and in a moment he found himself under a load of hay, which
stood on the floor, and this probably saved his life.
The upper and lighter part of the frame was carried away with the roof,
but some of the heavier timbers fell across the load and broke a wheel. After going about eighty rods from this point, the cyclone
lifted above the timber for a half mile to the county line where it again dipped
and took the roof off Rue Perrine�s house, swept away his granary and hog pen
and dug through the heavy sod a hole as large as an ordinary cellar
Eugene Henry sustained the heaviest loss.
His house, in which were his wife and six children, were literally blown
to atoms; his wife was seriously injured; two of the children who were on the
bed were found forty-four rods from the house, dead, and three others were badly
injured, while the baby asleep in its crib, did not receive a scratch, although
no one knows what became of the crib. Large
apple trees were torn up by the roots and carried twenty rods or more, a round
Oak stove was carried across Grand river and smashed, while bundles of wheat
were carried to the tops of trees and hung there.
The tornado did much damage in the west part of Leslie.
The house of Mrs. Elizabeth Barlow was picked up by the furious wind and
torn to pieces. Mrs. Barlow was in the house and was instantly killed, she
was found about two rods from her house with her neck broken.
The Bellevue Gazette states tat on Thursday evening, May
23, 1901, that place was visited by a violent windstorm. It destroyed many fruit trees and ruined many of the
beautiful shade trees. It
overturned wind mills and small buildings were scattered broadcast over the face
of the earth. A large number of
barns were demolished, and among them one in which C. A. Newcomb, while taking
shelter therein, lost his life. The
tornado struck the building with tremendous fury and before Mr. Newcomb could
escape, he was pinned to the ground by falling timbers and crushed to death. He had just hitched a horse in the barn and the animal also
perished in the wreck. Among the
most severe losses were included the Follett school-house, which was scattered
to the four winds, although not a shingle was lifted from either of the small
outbuildings only a very few feet away. Passing
on to the northeast it destroyed many fruit and shade trees.
The buildings on the Benedict place were considerably shattered.
Frank Hire sustained a very heavy loss, his barn and outbuildings being
totally wrecked, and his home much injured.
It was his intention to have it insured on the following Saturday, but
the storm did not wait for him. Ira
K. Smead also lost his barn.
On June 12, 1902, a cyclone formed about six miles
southwest of Grand Ledge and moved in a northeasterly direction passing three or
four miles south of Grand Ledge, but plainly seen from that point.
Its path was about three hundred feet wide and six miles long, and it
swept everything before it. It
destroyed the orchards of Walter Woods, James Backus, Myron Hinman, John Motter
and Fred Fess; Mr. Hinman�s barn and the house of William Pelton were blown
off their foundations, and the house was turned around.
A binder that was standing near was dashed against a fence post and
completely wrecked, and the barn of George Watson was unroofed.
It then lifted from the ground for about three miles and sweeping down
again destroyed some timber, and spent its force a little east of Grand Ledge.
Some of the eye witnesses from Charlotte describe the funnel-shaped storm
as a terrible sigh and the desolation which it caused beyond the power of words
to express. The force was marvelous
and the destruction immediate. The
damage it wrought was estimated at twenty thousand dollars.
There are many men and
women who have been prominently before the public some of whose early years were
spent in this county. It may seem
invidious to attempt to mention any of these when there may be many more equally
worthy of mention, whose names do not appear.
They are found in all walks of life.
We find this record of Austin Blair.
He was born in Carolina, Tompkins county, New York, February 8, 1818, and
graduated at Union College in 1839, where he studied law and then removed to
Michigan. In 1843 he was a resident
of Eaton Rapids and county clerk; it is said that he walked through the woods
from Eaton Rapids to Charlotte. He
subsequently removed to Jackson and was noted as the war governor of the state
holding the office from 1861 to 1865. His
status adorns the capitol grounds at Lansing.
He was a member of Congress from 1867 to 1873.
Governor A. B. Cummins of Iowa, early in life was a civil
engineer and helped in the construction of the railroad from Albion to Lansing.
It was while engaged in this work that he became acquainted with Miss
Gallery who subsequently became his wife. After
a time he studied law and removed to the state of Iowa, and is now serving his
second term as governor of the state. He
has become a leader of national fame in the Republican party.
Amory H. Bradford is the son of Rev. B. F. Bradford, the
second pastor of the Congregational church in Charlotte, and was for a time a
member of the church here. He
finished his studies, was ordained in 1870 and went at once to a letter church
of eighty-seven members where he has since continued, the church now numbering
one thousand and fifty-three members. He
has crossed the Atlantic several times, and occupied prominent pulpits in
England where he is well known. He
occasionally occupied the pulpit of Mr. Beecher, is the author of several books,
and was once elected moderator of the National Council of Congregational
Philip S. Moxom began his ministry with the Baptists and
for a time supplied the little Baptist church in Bellevue.
He is now pastor of the South Congregational church in Springfield,
Massachusetts, a church of four hundred and eighty-five members.
Judge Clement Smith was born near Fort Wayne, Indiana,
December 4, 1844. In the following
spring the family removed to Castleton in Barry county, where the boyhood of
Smith was spent in farm labor, his education being acquired in the district
school, the academy at Vermontville, and the high school in Charlotte.
He also attended lectures for one year in the law department at Ann
Arbor. For several winters he
taught district schools, beginning when only seventeen years of age, and for one
year was employed as a teacher in the grammar department of the high school in
Charlotte. In the spring of 1868,
he was admitted to the practice of law before Judge Woodruff in this county,
after which he taught school in Nashville for a year, passed a year in Minnesota
and in 1870 engaged in the practice of law in Nashville, where for several years
he was secretary of the Barry and Eaton County Insurance Co.
He was elected judge of probate for Barry county in 1876 and held the
office for eight y ears. In 1889 he
was appointed to the bench of the fifth Judicial Circuit by Governor Rich.
In the spring election he was elected for the vacancy and full term and
still occupies this seat. Until
1901 Calhoun county was a part of this circuit.
In 1871 Mr. Smith married Frances Wheeler of Woodland.
Frank A. Hooker was born in Hartford, Connecticut, January
16, 1844. He received his education
in the public schools of that city and in the law department of the University
of Michigan. Was admitted to the
bar in Ann Arbor in 1865 and immediately after located in Bryan, Ohio, but in
August of the following year he removed to Charlotte and in 1867 was elected
county superintendent of schools, and in 1869 justice of the peace.
In 1872 and 1874 he was prosecuting attorney.
Governor Croswell appointed him Circuit Judge in April, 1878.
In the fall of that year he was elected to fill out the remainder of the
term and held the office by successive elections until January 1, 1893, when he
took a seat as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy caused by
the resignation of Judge Moore. In
1893 he was elected to this bench for ten years, and in the election in 1903 was
again re-elected for another ten years.
He was chiefly instrumental for the erection of the new
court house in this county. Gas was
introduced here by him and the gas works were largely built by him practically
at his own expense. The drinking
fountains were put in at his suggestion, and the subscription was circulated by
him to purchase the fountain at the east end of Lawrence avenue.
The original abstract of titles in the county was made by him and I. E.
C. Hickok, and was afterwards sold by them to Mr. Belcher and L. O. Smith.
Frank McAlpine was born in Orange, Steuben county, New
York, February 13, 1847. When he
was twelve years of age the family moved to Cass county, this state, where after
finishing the high school course he studied for a time under a private tutor.
He studied theology under the direction of Rev. W. J. Chaplin, a pioneer
Universalist minister, and afterward married his daughter, Miss Ida Chaplin.
At the age of seventeen Mr. McAlpine enlisted in Co. D, Sixty-sixth
Illinois Western Sharp-shooters and was with Sherman in his famous march to the
He was teacher, superintendent of schools and author,
before he entered the ministry. The
titles of his books were, �Treasures from the Prose World,� �Album of
Authors,� and �Milestones.� He
began preaching in Dowagiac, in 1886, afterwards going to Portland and in 1889
came to Charlotte where he remained for four years when he accepted a call to
Peoria, Illinois, and was pastor of the Universalist church there six years.
At its close he returned to the pastorate of the Universalist church in
Charlotte, but in 1902 he was offered the Chaplaincy of the state prison in
Jackson, which he accepted, and assumed his duties there, in November of that
year. He was a man much beloved by
those who knew him and was highly esteemed by the prison officials and the
prisoners. He suffered a slight
stroke of paralysis January 28, 1905, and gradually failed until April 28 when
the end came just three months from the time of the first attack.
Edward S. Lacey was born in Chili, Monroe county, New York,
November 26, 1835, came with the family to Michigan in 1842, and located at
Charlotte. He received a good
common school education which was supplemented by a course at Olivet college.
When eighteen years of age he began his business career as salesman in a
general store in Kalamazoo where he remained four years.
He then returned home and was elected Register of Deeds and held the
office two terms, then entering into a co-partnership in the banking business
with Hon. Joseph Musgrave. In 1861
Musgrave & Lacey, as private bankers, established the first banking office
in the county of Eaton. At that
time there was no railroad nor express office in the county and their shipments
of currency in and out were intrusted to the drivers of stages running between
Charlotte and Jackson.
The private bank thus established was in 1871 merged into
the First National Bank, of which mention is made elsewhere in this volume.
Mr. Lacey has been interested in many business operations,
and has been uniformly successful. He
took a prominent part in the building of the Grand River Valley Railway, of
which he was a director and for many years treasurer, was the first mayor of
Charlotte, and contributed largely to its systems of permanent improvements.
He entered political life as a Republican in 1860 and has occupied many
positions of trust in this county and state.
He was a delegate to the national republican convention in 1876 when
Rutherford B. Hayes was nominated for the presidency.
In 1880 he was elected representative in congress from the Third
Congressional District of Michigan, and in 1882 was re-elected to the same
office. During the campaign of 1882
he served acceptably as chairman of the Republican State Committee.
While in congress he was an active and efficient member of
the committee on coinage, weights and measures, and post office and roads, and
of the assay commission in 1884. During
his second term in congress he delivered a speech on the silver question which
gave him conspicuous recognition among students of monetary questions at home
In 1889 without any solicitation on his part, President
Harrison appointed him comptroller of the currency. His long experience as a banker eminently qualified him for
this position and the duties of the office were administered with great
efficiency and ability. The policy
he pursued toward the national banks was both vigorous and conservative tending
to the protection of shareholders and public alike.
He resigned in 1892 to accept the presidency of the Bankers National Bank
of Chicago, one of the most successful of the newer banks in that city.
He has led a very busy life, and whether in his own private business, in
the service of his state, or in the halls of congress, he has been a close
student of questions affecting the silver problem, the currency, and banking
institutions of the country, while the benefits that have resulted therefrom
have been national in character and of manifest service to the country.
Robert Clark Kedzie was born in Delhi, New York, January
28, 1823. In 1826 the family moved
to Lenawee county in this state. His
father died soon after and his mother was left with seven children on a
partially cleared farm in the woods. The
children early in life learned to work and help clear the farm.
Oberlin was just starting and offered excellent opportunities for young
people of limited means to get an education, so desiring a better education than
the district schools of that day afforded, thither went Robert, and by manual
labor and teaching school in the winter, worked his way through the college and
was graduated in the class of 1847. After
graduation he taught an academy in Rochester, Michigan, for two years, and then
entered the medical department of the University of Michigan and completed the
course in 1851. Harriet Eliza
Fairchild graduated from Oberlin college in the same class with the Doctor in
1847, and on the twentieth of May, 1850, they were married at Brownhelm, Ohio. He commenced practice in Kalamazoo where he remained but one
year and in 1852 removed to Vermontville where he added much to the life and
character of the little village. Nine
years later at the breaking out of the war between the states Dr. Kedzie
enlisted and enlisting about thirty other men for the Twelfth Michigan Infantry
they joined Company G. Captain Isaac M. Cravath of Lansing.
Dr. Kedzie was commissioned assistant surgeon of the regiment January 15,
1862, and was promoted to surgeon April 25, 1862, after the battle of Shiloh,
which occurred April 6 and 7 where he was taken a prisoner while attending the
wounded. He resigned October 8,
1862. In January, 1863, he was
appointed professor of chemistry in the Michigan Agricultural College, a
position which he held until his death which occurred November 7, 1902.
He was elected a representative in the state legislature in 1866, his
object in taking office was to promote the welfare of the Agricultural College.
His scientific investigations have been of very great value
to the state. He called attention
to the impure oils that were sold in the state and the danger to life and
property that resulted from their use and secured the enactment of laws
preventing the same of any except those that came up to a safe standard of
At one time a report was current that so much arsenic had
been used in destroying the potato bugs that the soil had become impregnated
with it thus poisoning the wheat and other vegetables raised upon this soil.
This report was hurting the sale of whet but by most careful experiments
he showed that, however, thoroughly the soil might be impregnated with arsenic
it was not taken up by any plant, thus stopping the harm resulting from the
He is said to have been the father of the beet sugar
industry in Michigan and to have shown how the sandy pine lands of the state
could be utilized after the pine had been taken off. These are but a few of the scientific services he rendered
the state in his capacity as a chemist.
Philip T. Van Zile was born in Osceola, Tioga county,
Pennsylvania, July 20, 1843. He
prepared for college at Union Academy near Knoxville, Pennsylvania, and entered
the classical course of the Alfred University and was graduate from it in 1863,
at once enlisting in the army, and serving in Battery E. First Ohio Light
Artillery, until its close. He
received his discharge in August, 1865, and with the opening of the fall term of
the University of Michigan entered the law department and was graduated in the
spring of 1867. He then went to
Charlotte and was admitted to the bar in Judge Woodruff�s court and began the
practice of law. In the fall of
1868 he was elected prosecuting attorney and re-elected in 1870.
In 1872 he was elected judge of probate, and in 1875 was chosen circuit
judge. In 1878 on the joint
recommendation of United States Senators Ferry and Christiancy and
Representative McGowan, he accepted at the hands of President Hayes the office
of United States District Attorney for the Territory of Utah.
On the first of April, 1878, he resigned the circuit judgeship and went
to Salt Lake City, where he served for nearly six years.
The Mormon Oligarchy had set up a rival government to that of the United
States. These men had treason in their hearts and their hands were
red with the blood of murdered men and women in their determination to carry out
their religious and fanatical views. It
was a time when a man risked his very life if he performed his duty.
Aside from his duties as District Attorney he succeeded in
getting congress to enact some laws that broke the back of the oligarchy, the
first being a law disfranchising every polygamist in the territory of Utah.
This law secured for the territory a legislature none
of whom were polygamists whereas hitherto ninety-five percent of that
body had been polygamists. It also
retired from the halls of congress George Q. Cannon who had been a delegate in
congress for ten years, and secured in his place a man who was not a polygamist.
It was one of the laws which has made it possible for the dawn of a new
civilization to shine in upon that benighted and priest ridden country.
He also succeeded in securing the passage of a law regulating marriages
thus taking it from those secret and unenterable halls of the Endowment House,
and making it a public ceremony, where records can be made of it. Another bill permitted the first and legal wife to testify
against her husband in polygamy cases. Judge
Van Zile also secured the passage of another law, punishing lewd and lascivious
co-habitation which struck at the very vitals of the old outlawed polygamist
marriage, thus making it possible to break up that relation among the members of
the Mormon church.
He also prosecuted and convicted John Miles, in the
celebrated case of the United States vs. Miles, which finally went to the
Supreme Court of the United States where his contention was sustained, namely,
that a Mormon who believed in the prophecies of Joseph Smith upon this question
was not qualified to sit as a juror.
In 1884 Mr. Van Zile returned from Utah to Michigan.
In the Blaine campaign he was chosen by the convention, in his absence,
to be chairman of the republican state central committee.
He removed to Detroit in 1899 and the following year became a lecturer in
the Detroit College of Law, and shortly after was elected dean of the college
and has held that position ever since. In
1894 Alfred University conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and
in 1904 that of Doctor of Laws. Aside
from some small books, he has written for the legal profession, as well as for
the college, �Van Ziile�s Bailments and Carriers,� and �Van Zile�s
Equity Pleading and Practice.�
The �Detroit College of Law� has a faculty consisting
of twenty-two of the leading lawyers in the city of Detroit.
Women have done their full share in the material,
intellectual, and moral development of the county. They have shared with their husbands all the hardships
incident to the settlement of a new country, keeping house in the unfinished
shanty or cabin, content to cook beside a stump outside the door, keeping the
lonely vigil at night when husbands were gone days together for family supplies.
They have cheered and encouraged their husbands in their work and have
nursed the sick back to health. The
education of the present generation has been chiefly their work, and they have
been the mainstay of the churches. Like
the sunshine their influence has pervaded all the life of the county.
Space will not allow us to mention the work of but a few of this great
army of laborers.
Miss Julia F. King came to Charlotte from the public
schools of Flint, was appointed superintendent of the city schools and for
several years discharged the duties of that office very satisfactorily.
She was then appointed to a professorship in the Normal School at
Ypsilanti which position she still files.
Miss M. Louise Jones was her successor as superintendent of
the public schools in Charlotte, and held the office for several years, when she
too was given a professorship in the State Normal School in Emporia, Kansas, and
remains there. She is one of the
permanent teachers in the summer school at Bay View.
These two ladies are the only ones that have been superintendents of the
city schools of Charlotte. The
writer regrets that he has not succeeded in getting a more detailed account of
their life work.
Abigail Harlow Allen-Hosford was born in Mansfield,
Massachusetts, April 10, 1824, and was graduated from the classical course in
Oberlin in the class of 1846 and on the twenty-seventh of August of that year
was married to Prof. Oramel Hosford and came at once with him to Olivet.
In September, 1848, she was chosen principal of the female department of
the institution and taught from three to five hours a day for a term of ten
years, sometimes when prostrated by sickness so that she heard her classes while
reclining on a lounge. It is said she received no pay for her ten years� services
as principal of the female department, but eked out the meager salary of her
husband by giving music lessons and taking boarders, dispensing the while a most
Mary E. Green was born in 1844 near Machias in New York.
Six years later the family moved to Battle Creek and from there to Barry
county. Her education was in district schools and the high schools of
Battle Creek and Hastings, and a short time was spent in the college at Olivet
and at Oberlin. In 1865 she entered
the New York Medical College for Women and a year later married her cousin
Alonzo Green. She graduated from
the medical college in 1868 and opened an office in New York City.
Much of her practice was charitable work, for poor and needy women.
In 1873 the family moved to Charlotte.
She was twice elected health officer of the city and was the first one to
call attention to the laying out street lawns in front of the dwellings of the
city. She was the only woman
appointed judge of food products at the World�s Columbian Exposition.
She was for five years president of the National Household Economic
Association and did much to introduce in the schools the study of domestic
science. She lectured in many of
the large cities before women�s clubs on hygiene, sanitation and home
economics and wrote a book entitled �The Food Products of the World,� which
has passed through three editions. When
the Spanish-American war broke out she received an order from the Surgeon
General�s office to establish a �diet kitchen� at Fort Thomas, Kentucky,
where typhoid patients were sent from Tampa and other points south.
After spending two months at Fort Thomas, the Red Cross society urged her
to go to Washington to establish at Fort Meyer a �diet kitchen� as at the
breaking up of Camp Alger five hundred patients were concentrated there.
It is thought that she was the first person to establish such in
connection with the army.
Emma F. Angell-Drake was born in Angellville, N.Y., Sept.
15, 1849. When she was fourteen
years of age the family moved to Lamont in this state. Her early education was in the select and district schools of
New York and Michigan. After
teaching ten terms in district schools near home she went, in September, 1869,
to Olivet College and was graduated there in the class of 1874. She worked her way through college by working for her board
in the boarding hall, canvassing in summer, teaching one term near Olivet,
meanwhile making up some studies and on Saturday reciting to one of the teachers
in Olivet. After graduation she
taught in a grammar school one year and then two years in the high school in
Muskegon, and was for one year principal of the high school at Big Rapids.
In the fall of 1878 she entered the Medical Department of
the Boston University and was graduated in 1882 and in the autumn of that year
accepted the position of principal and physician of the Moody School in
Northfield, Massachusetts. At the close of the year she was married to Rev.
Ellis R. Drake, for seven years resident pastor of the Congregational church
there. On account of poor health
they removed to Kansas, and eight years later to Colorado.
They have three children, a daughter and two sons.
In Denver she was for four years professor of obstetrics in the
She has written three books, and two booklets.
A prize of $1,000 was offered for the best book on �What a Young Wife
Ought to Know.� It was open to
competition by persons in Canada, the British Isles and America.
The book by Mrs. Drake won the prize.
Her second book was on �What a Woman of Forty-five Ought to Know,�
and the third was on �Maternity.� The
two booklets are entitled �Maternal Responsibilities,� and �Our
Daughters.� She has been in
practice twenty-three years, and has been actively engaged in missionary work
during the time, secretary of the Women�s Home Missionary Society in Kansas
and for four years president of a similar society in Colorado.
Lydia Tichenor was born in Kalamo in this county some sixty
years ago, her mother died before she was two years of age and her father went
to Chicago leaving her in the care of her aunt Mrs. James Walworth who lived
just over the Vermontville town line. When
she was fourteen years of age she began teaching in the district schools and
continued this for about five years, stopping to attend school whenever she had
money enough to pay her expenses. As she had friends near Adrian College she attended school
there for a time, and after that studied at Olivet.
It was while she was at school in Olivet that she first made a profession
of religion. This was
characteristic of her independence, for no one spoke to her upon the subject but
she was convinced that it was her duty and went alone to the pastor of the
church ad was the only one admitted at that time.
In 1870 she went to Chicago and entered what is now the
Chicago Normal School and was graduated the following year.
She then accepted the position of principal of the Lake View school which
was at that time the best position held by any woman in the county.
She held it for four years. In
1876 Mr. Moody held revival meetings in Chicago, and she became intensely
interested in them and resigned her position in the school and devoted her time
to visitation from house to house. She
had united with the Lincoln Park church which was small, poor, and in debt, but
they agreed to give her a support if she would devote herself to the building up
of the church and Sunday school. This
she did for four years. At that
time Christian schools were being started in Utah and she offered her services
to the New West Education Commission, and chose a rural district and was sent to
Hooper, about twelve miles west of Ogden and six miles from the railroad.
The people there had all been Mormons, a few had apostatized, but these
were all either infidels or spiritualists.
She was the first and only gentile to live among them and there was not a
single person who could sympathize with her.
Her day school grew from twelve to seventy-eight pupils, she had an
evening school of about forty, and a Sunday school of one hundred and
twenty-five, ranging in age from three years to eighty.
Mormons and apostates came into the movement but there were enough
outside to make it unpleasant for her. She
had never thought of preaching but the young people urged her to do so and she
did, her services being always well attended.
She did not think at the time that there was anything unusual in her work
but the secretary of the society visited her field in the spring and was so much
interested in her work that he proposed that she go east during the vacation to
interest ladies in the work. She
began in Chicago where men as well as women attended her first meeting.
She had inside facts that could not be learned from tourists and had
words of encouragement for Christian people, that something could be done, and
had been done. She proved to be an
intensely interesting speaker and went on to New England, where the invitations
came in so fast that it was absolutely impossible for her to accept them all.
The largest pulpits in the country were open to her including the
Plymouth church in Brooklyn (Mr. Beecher�s), and the church of the Pilgrims
(Dr. Storr�s), while all others were opened for her on Sunday mornings as well
as evenings. Money raising was not
the object but it came in freely. It
was not unusual for some one to come forward and offer to support a teacher
before she left the platform. The
Boston ministers were a very conservative body of men, and she was the first
woman who had the honor of addressing them.
She continued speaking with from twenty-five to thirty engagements a
month until her marriage in 1882 to Rev. Amos J. Bailey since when her work has
been merged as a co-laborer with his. Several
times she has been called on to do special work and has left home for a series
of meetings and addresses occupying weeks.
In 1886 they were in a pastorate in Chicago but were requested by the New
West Commission to go to Ogden, Utah, and try to build up the church there. They went spending five and a half years, and the church
increased in numbers from twelve to about one hundred.
They also organized two suburban churches.
During the time she taught in the Academy three years and had care of two
In 1892 Mr. Bailey was appointed superintendent of missions
for the state of Washington and they moved to Seattle, which was their
headquarters for the next nine years. That
was at the beginning of the financial stress that continued for four or five
years. This threatened the life of
many of the new weak churches that were heavily in debt.
Several of what are to-day the strong churches of the state would have
been disbanded and their buildings sold for debt but for the faith, courage, and
persistent efforts of the superintendent. During
those years Mrs. Bailey was the state president of the Woman�s Home Missionary
Union and spent a great deal of her time in supplying pastorless churches having
served more than thirty churches in that way, some of them only for a single
Sabbath, others for several weeks or months.
In 1900 they left Seattle for New England to help raise the debt of the
Home Missionary Society. They
traveled and made addresses for six months and then went up into New Hampshire
for needed rest. They found at
Meriden a small church without a pastor and Mr. Bailey agreed to supply them for
two months. They have been there
ever since. They find that there is
as much destitution in the little churches among the hills of New England as
there is in the west and that those churches are not attractive to young
ministers. Although the town is
small the Kimball Academy is located there and the students are gathered from
several different states so that there is a fine field for effort. The residents are a noble class of people as are the summer
visitors from the cities while there are several outlying neighborhoods that are
destitute, they being able to supply those.
Mrs. Bailey has no children of her own but Mr. Bailey was a
widower with three daughter and a son when she married him.
Alice Bunker was born of Quaker parentage at Cardington,
Ohio, in 1833. When she was about
three years of age her parents moved to Hastings in this state.
Their home for the first year was in a log cabin, Indians were their only
neighbors and for six months they never saw a white woman.
As a girl she was short, plump and endowed with great vitality and force
of character. After a time her
father who was a miller by profession bought a flouring mill in Bellevue and the
family removed there. She had an
intense desire for a more thorough education than could be had in the district
schools of the state and went to Olivet, the institution there then being in is
infancy. She attended it
irregularly for about four years taking nearly all the branches taught at that
time. She taught school during the
summer and worked for her board while attending school, some of the time in the
family of Prof. E. N. Bartlett. On
her twentieth birthday she entered the Eclectic Medical College, at Cincinnati,
the only medical school in the west at that time open to women.
In a class of over three hundred students there were eight women.
She with three others boarded themselves.
During her three years of medical study she spent her summers at various
hydropathic institutions both as assistant and as student, in this way earning
much of the money needed for her medical course.
During her studies she met Dr. G. H. Stockham who she married in 1856 and
they settled down in the practice of their profession in Lafayette, Indiana,
where they remained fifteen years and there their children were born.
In 1870 the family moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, and here she began her
parlor lectures to women but soon moved to Chicago.
In 1889 she visited England, Russia, Sweden and Finland.
While in Russia she was the guest of County Tolstoi, who together with
his wife became much interested in Tokology a book she had written for women and
under their supervision it was translated into Russian.
While in Sweden and Finland she visited the schools and became so much
interest in �Sloyd,� that though her influence it was introduced into the
Cook County Normal School.. In 1891 Mrs. Stockham made a tour of the world, visiting
China, India, and Japan, and attended the great Theosophical Convention at
Madras as the guest of Col. Olcott the renowned occultist.
The great demand for her lectures finally led her to embody the substance
of them in a book to which allusion has been made, entitled, �Tokology.�
Over a half million copies of this book have already been sold.
She has also written other books, entitled, �The Lovers� World,�
�Karezza,� �Koradine,� and �Tolstoi, a Man of Peace.� She has also published several booklets.
Belle McArthur was born in Brookfield in this county
October 21, 1856. She attended the
district school near home until about fourteen years of age and then for five
years she alternated teaching and attending the high school in Charlotte and at
the end of this time completed the course of study in the high school in a class
of six young women. September 19,
1876, she was married to George A. Perry. In
1889 she completed the four years� course of the Chautauqua Literary and
Scientific Circle taking her diploma with a large class at Bay View.
She was the first woman elected on the schoolboard in Charlotte and was a
member of it for three years. For
several years she was elected president of the Michigan Woman�s Press
Association, and for sometime Michigan State President of the International
Sunshine Society. For fifteen years she has edited the �Home Page� of the
Tribune, and for a little more than two years has been a member of the firm.
Isaac M. Dimond, a business man of New York City, early
acquired an interest in wild lands in the township of Windsor in this county and
in 1850 moved into the woods to develop his property.
With him or soon after came a Mr. Crafts and wife and a Mrs. Gray, the
widow of a physician of Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Mrs. Dimond, Gray, and Crafts were sisters.
Mrs. Dimond had a daughter Minnie and Mrs. Gray one named Clara, girls
about twelve years of age. In the
winter of 1854-5 Rev. John T. Avery, and evangelist, held a series of meetings
in the old court-house in Charlotte. Mrs.
Gray and the two girls came and stayed through the meeting.
The girls were hopefully converted.
Mrs. Gray soon after moved with her family to Olivet and the girls
attended school there. Some years
later Mrs. Gray married Charles Merriam of Springfield, Massachusetts, widely
known as the publisher of Webster�s Dictionary.
Minnie Dimond became the wife of Pres. Morrison, the veteran college
builder, and Clara Gray married Rev. H. A. Schaufler and was for many years a
successful missionary with him in Austria.
Her health failing the family returned to this country and she died in
Cleveland. Her husband understood
the Bohemian language and has founded and built up a most successful mission and
school among the Bohemians in Cleveland where he quite readily died.
Among the prominent educators of the county mention should
be made of Professor Oramel Hosford who was born in Thetford, Vermont, May 7,
1820. The family moved
to Oberlin at an early day, and he was graduated from the college there in the
class of 1843. He completed the
course of study in the theological department there in 1846.
At that time the long vacation in Oberlin occurred in the winter and
during his theological course he spent his winters in teaching in Olivet, and
was one of the first teachers on the ground there. On the twenty-seventh of August, 1846, he married Abigail H.
Allen of Mansfield, Massachusetts. He
came at once to Olivet where he was appointed professor of mathematics, natural
philosophy, and astronomy. He was
ordained to the gospel ministry by a council convened in Olivet February 24,
1858. From 1865 to 1872 he was
chosen state superintendent of public instruction and performed valuable service
in improving our public school system. With
the exception of these eight years he was connected with the Olivet Institute
and College as a professor from 1844 til 1890 when failing health led him to
resign. His death occurred December
9, 1893. In the beginning the
salary of the Olivet professors was placed at $400 but at the same time a vote
was passed that whatever deficiency there might be at the end of the year should
not remain as a debt against the college. For several years the business of the institution was
conducted on this principle. Among
the faithful teachers in the Olivet Institute and College none were more devoted
to it than Prof. Oramel Hosford. He
was present at the opening of the first term of the school and supposes he heard
the first lesson. Other teachers
might come or go he was always on hand. At
the end of the year the other teachers ere usually paid first, if there was a
shortage (and there usually was one) he was the one to suffer. In one year all the cash he received for his services was
$36. He always looked on the bright
side of things and in the darkest hours had full faith in the final success of
the enterprise. Many of the
pleasantest memories of the early visitors in Olivet are associated with the
generous hospitality dispensed at the Hosford home.
Rev. Enoch N. Bartlett was born in Bath, New Hampshire,
July 4, 1813. He was graduated from
Oberlin College in 1838, being a member of the second class graduated from that
institution. In 1841 he finished
his course in theology there. He
preached and taught in many places. He
began his work as a teacher in Olivet in the Autumn of 1846, the institution
then being but two years old and he shared in its privations and struggles for
twelve years. Pres. Morrison says
of him: �During all this time he
devoted himself with indefatigable zeal and persistent energy to promoting the
interests of the colony and school. Too
much cannot be said of his faithful, untiring labors.
Never was there a man more thoroughly consecrated to any work, or who
showed more unselfish devotion in its prosecution. He was a good teacher, a strict disciplinarian, and a very
prudent manager of the affairs of the institution. His ever busy hand is still visible in all the belongings of
school and village, from the church and �halls,� to the cabinet of minerals,
and to the shade trees that line the streets.
Besides acting as one of the principals of the school and teaching five
or six hours daily, he was also pastor of the church for a great part of the
time he was in Olivet.�
He held several pastorates after leaving Olivet, and taught
some, gradually moving westward to California, dying in Ventura, in that state
August 13, 1897.
Nathan Jackson Morrison was born in Franklin, New
Hampshire, November 25, 1828. He
was graduated from Dartmouth College in 1853, and in 1857 completed his
theological studies at Oberlin. In
the same year he was ordained to the gospel ministry at Rochester in this state
and remained there two years when he accepted the professorship of Latin and
Greek in Olivet College. In 1859 he
was chosen president of the college which office he held for eight years.
He insisted that the standard of scholarship should be the highest and
succeeded in brining the college to the notice of eastern churches and
capitalists and securing from them some $50,000 for its use.
He devoted himself with unsparing devotion to the interests of the
college and succeeded in placing it on a good foundation.
Immediately after his resignation he accepted a call to the
pastorate of the Congregational church at Mattoon, Illinois, but was not
permitted to remain there long, for a movement had been started to found a
college in Missouri, and some of those interested in it, knowing of Mr.
Morrison�s ability as a college builder invited him to take the lead in the
enterprise and he accepted the call. He
remained at the head of the college fourteen years, perfecting the organization,
and securing a good equipment for it. Dr. E. C. Evans did not speak too strongly when he said:
�Dr. Morrison was the man upon whose coming depended the destiny of the
enterprise. His ability as a
teacher, his large acquaintance with the friends of education in the east, his
experience in the shaping and management of a struggling young college, his
power to impart to others his own enthusiasm, his energy and versatility, his
steadiness of purpose, his patience and unfailing hopefulness under all sorts of
discouragements, together with his great personal worth, made him pre-eminently
the man of providence at the right time.�
�He had great sagacity as seen for instance in his persistence in
securing the noble college campus. He
had broad visions and high ideals;--it will be another twenty-five years before
the college fills out the outlines he drew for it.
The perennial hopefulness and optimism which was sometimes the despair of
his friends, was after all the source of his power and the reason of his
success.� Hen then resigned and accepted a call to the chair of
philosophy in Marietta College in Ohio, which he held for seven years.
In 1895 the Congregational Education Society requested him to go to
Wichita, Kansas, and take charge of an academy that was started there in 1892
and develop it into a college. As he was an experienced college building he accepted the
charge and has been at the head of the college since.
In 1903 the college reported twenty-one teachers, twenty-two thousand
volumes in the library and thirty thousand pamphlets; buildings and grounds are
worth $73,000 and its scientific apparatus and furniture $4,000 more.
Horatio Quincy Butterfield was a son of Asa and Hannah
(Jordan) Butterfield and was born in Phillips, Maine, August 5, 1822.
He prepared for college at the Farmington Academy and spent the first two
years of his college course at Waterville College, and the last two at Harvard
where he was graduated in 1848. He
then taught two years in Roxbury, and afterwards studied theology in the
seminary at Bangor, finishing his course in 1853.
He was ordained at St. Stephen, New Brunswick, and after a pastorate of
three years, held pastorates in Hallowell, Maine, Great Falls, New Hampshire,
and Rockville, Connecticut. In 1866
he was appointed professor of ancient languages in Washburn College in Kansas
and after three years became president of the college but was not permitted to
hold this position long for in 1870 he was chosen secretary of the Society for
the Promotion of Collegiate Education with an office in New York.
After six years service this society was merged in another and thus was
enabled to dispense with one secretary. The
trustees of Olivet College embraced the opportune moment to offer him the
presidency of that institution, and he accepted their offer.
He was a fine specimen of dignified, courteous gentleman of the old
school. Professor Daniels who was
intimately associated with him during his entire administration, says of him:
�This, though long delayed, was a wise choice, for it brought to the
college a man of mature mind, broad scholarship, rich experience in the
pastorate and college work, and what was more, a wide acquaintance with the
friends of Christian education in New York and New England.�
His professorship and presidency of Washburn College and his four
years� experience in the office of the Western College Society had broadened
his views of the work of the Christian college both in its development of true
manhood in the individual and its vital importance in the education and training
of a consecrated ministry for the church. Dr.
Butterfield was a preacher of intense force both in thought and style.
By a joint arrangement of the church and college his call to the
presidency included also a call to the pastorate of the church and the supply of
the pulpit for one half the time of the college year.
This arrangement, with modifications, continued for the greater part of
his presidency, giving him the best opportunity for the moral and religious
instruction of the students.
The sunshine of christian love won for him the friendship
of faculty, students and citizens. Pre-eminent
was this quality in his home where in the same spirit Mrs. Butterfield presided
and made it for every student the most attractive spot in student life.
Hospitality, courtesy, and refinement were there enthroned.
President Butterfield pushed the financial work begun in the east by
President Morrison and secured some $200,000 for the college from parties living
in New York and New England. A
small trace of his, entitled, �How to Build the Best Monument,� fell into
the hands of Mr. Cornelius B. Erwin of New Britain, Connecticut, and was
instrumental in turning his thoughts toward the valuable work done by the
Christian colleges, and he bequeathed to have a dozen of them more than a half
million dollars, of which Olivet received $115,000.
In June, 1892, President Butterfield tendered his resignation to take
effect when his successor was appointed and a year later on account of ill
health made his resignation final.
On one occasion a cabinet of minerals and shells valued at
$18,000 was offered to the college for $4,500.
Liberal as the offer was, the college dared not incur any liabilities on
that account and just here the characteristic nobility of President Butterfield
was seen in his giving his personal note for the amount thus securing the
collection for the college, and taking the risk of protecting himself by a
solicitation of the amount from personal friends. The book in which he kept a record of the donations for the
cabinet has only $3,250 on it of which he subscribed $200.
The remaining $1,250 he probably paid himself and said nothing about it.
At another time a subscription of $100,000 was started on condition that the whole should be raised by a given time, it was found that the time would expire in about two hours and that $2,400 were lacking to bind the whole amount. He and another gentleman subscribed the entire sum, and the President met his pledge by deducting the amount from his salary. At the time of his resignation he had only about $4,000 in invested funds on which to depend. He never had any children and continued to live in Olivet, but his health gradually failed. He suffered an attack of pneumonia, from which he died painlessly February 12, 1894.
Joseph Leonard Daniels was born in East Medway,
Massachusetts, August 1, 1833. His
ancestor Joseph Daniels from whom he received his name, was living on the same
site in 1676 and had his house burned by the Indians in King Phillip�s war.
The old homestead has been in the hands of the Daniels family ever since.
Mr. Daniels gives large credit for whatever success he has had to
faithful home training, outdoor life on the farm, and the excellent public
schools of that town. His
preparation for college was made at Philips Academy in Andover, under Dr. Samuel
H. Taylor, who more than any other man taught him self-reliance�how to use his
own powers and do his own thinking. The
teaching of two terms of district school during this preparatory period
furnished more of this kind of discipline.
From Andover Mr. Daniels went to Yale College, where he was graduated in
1860 in a class of one hundred and eight, many of whom have become eminent in
public life. After graduation he
spent three years of study in the Yale Divinity School and took a course of
medical lectures, and was assistant in the college library. He then taught at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts,
and from there accepted a call to the principalship of the Guilford Institute in
Connecticut. In 1865 he was called
to the professorship of Greek in Olivet College.
During his professorship he supplied the pulpit in Olivet and neighboring
churches much of the time. He was
ordained in Charlotte August 17, 1876. While carrying on this twofold work of teaching and preaching
he has been the college librarian for more than thirty years.
This phase of his work has shown more tangible results than the others
for it appeals more directly to the senses and finds expression in figures.
When he took charge of the library it had only two thousand volumes.
Now it numbers thirty thousand well selected books adapted to the needs
of a growing college. Then it had no income and no local habitation.
Now it has a fund of $15,000 and an elegant stone building costing
$30,000 secure mainly by the personal efforts of the librarian.
In recognition of his faithful work as an educator and preacher Yale
University conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1894,
and in the following year Olivet College after his forty years of service
bestowed upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
No sketch of his life would be complete without a tribute to Mrs.
Daniels. Her maiden name was Julia
Burrage Allen. Owing to the death
of her father in her infancy, she became the foster child of Leonard Burrage the
donor of �Burrage Hall,� the home of the college library. Her presence in Olivet brought this generous gift to the
college. But this was the least of
her benefactions. Her cheerful,
hopeful, courageous spirit was sunshine in the home, hospitality for every
guest, and inspiration to her husband and a benediction to a great multitude of
Probably no teacher in Michigan is so affectionately
remembered by so large a number of his pupils as is Joseph Estabrook, whom
Superintendent Orr Schurtz calls �one of the greatest teachers that Michigan
Professor Estabrook was graduated from Oberlin College in
the class of 1847 and has made teaching his life work though he was so zealous a
christian that he often preached and was very successful in revival work.
He was ordained to the gospel ministry at Franklin, Michigan, in
December, 1851. From the pen of others who knew him well we have this
testimony: �He taught first in
the district schools of the state, then in a select school; and for three years
he had charge of the Tecumseh Institute. In
1853 he was called to take charge of the Union School in Ypsilanti, and retained
this position for fourteen years, making the school one of the best in the
state. In 1866 he was made the
first superintendent of the schools in East Saginaw, and five years later he
became principal of the State Normal School in Ypsilanti, where for nine years
his noble character was a pattern for the growing teachers of our state, and his
tireless energy infused new life along educational lines.
During this time he was for eight years one of the regents of the State
He came to Olivet in 1880, and devoted the last fourteen
years of his life to the normal work there.
With his ripe experience he revised the course of study and inspired it
with new life. During this time he
served four years as State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
He had rare tact in winning the affections of his pupils, and inspiring
them with a desire to lead noble and upright lives.
He was a thorough believer in the Christian religion, and was very
successful in leading his pupils to become followers of Christ.
He conducted several protracted meetings with marked success even while
in his regular work as a teacher. His
death occurred in Olivet September 29, 1894.
Orr Schurtz was born in Constantine, Michigan, September
25, 1853. His preparation for
college was made in the high schools of Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor, graduating from
the University in 1878. In the fall
of 1879 he became principal of the school in Dansville, Ingham county, and the
following year of that at Eaton Rapids where a large share of his school work
was done. In 1886 he was elected
Secretary of the County Board of Examiners for this county.
For many years there had been but little county supervision of schools
and it was a great task to bring teachers, pupils and parents into harmony with
the new system. He visited the
schools, gathered the teachers into sections which he met in different places in
the county, giving informal lectures on methods, school management,
classification, organization, and methods of conducting recitations.
He worked out a system of monthly reports of the attendance, programs,
etc., and also put in every school a record for the classification of every
pupil, indicating how far he had pursued his studies, so that at the beginning
of every new year the teacher would know how far every scholar had gone and
where he should take up the different studies.
He sent out to each teacher every month a publication full of suggestions
helpful to them in their work. He
also established the present eight grade examinations.
In addition to his work in this county he did a great deal of institute
work in other counties under the direction of the State Superintendent of Public
Instruction. With the advice and
approval of the superintendent, he devised, arranged, and published a manual and
course of study for the country schools of the state.
In this he was assisted by four other secretaries, among them Mr. C. L.
Bemis, for the last fourteen years superintendent of the public schools in Ionia
who prepared a large part of the matter. The
work was favorably received by the educators of the state and has passed through
several editions, with additions and improvements under the administration of
succeeding superintendents. In 1890
Mr. Schurtz was nominated on the Republic ticket for State Superintendent of
Public Instruction. It was an
unfortunate year for the party in this state and he went down with the rest of
the ticket. The four years spent in
this county were probably more prolific of good than any other four of his work.
In 1891 he accepted the principalship of the West Side High
School in Grand Rapids at a greatly increased salary, and remained there six
years. He is now superintendent of
schools in Negaunee in the upper Peninsula.
Those who visit the county
today for the first time can have little idea of it as it appeared to those who
saw it for the first time eighty years ago.
With the exception of the small prairie where Charlotte now stands and a
few Indian corn fields in the south part of the county the whole was covered
with a dense forest of gigantic trees and impassable swamps of vast extent.
There was not a road and no bridges spanned the creeks and rivers; no
white man had built a house; there was not a school house or a church, no
railroads, mills, or factories. But
what changes four score years have wrought.
The forests have been cleared, the swamps drained, roads opened
everywhere, every stream is bridged, four railroads cross the county, and
everywhere the visitor beholds a beautiful landscape dotted with comfortable
houses, barns and orchards. An
hundred school houses afford education and seventy-four churches invite people
every Sunday to worship God; a college has been built that already has six
hundred graduates in the field; newspapers, banks, and factories abound on every
hand. In case of accident or sudden
illness it is unnecessary to send a messenger eight or ten miles for a physician
but the farmer steps to the telephone and calls up his doctor who at once dashes
off in his automobile. Instead of
being obliged to come to town once a week for his mail it is delivered at his
door every day.
If inventions go forward as rapidly during the coming years, as they have during the past, automobiles and trolley cars may be antiquated, and people traveling through the air will wonder how the men of this generation were contented to plod along amid the dust and noise of those clumsy old vehicles. But none of us will be here to read the history.