Edwin Orin Wood.

History of Genesee county Michigan; her people, industries and institutions, with biographical sketches of representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families online

. (page 61 of 89)
Online LibraryEdwin Orin WoodHistory of Genesee county Michigan; her people, industries and institutions, with biographical sketches of representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families → online text (page 61 of 89)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

father of eleven children, among whom were Susanna, who was the mother
of Governor Palmer, of Vennont ; John, who lived to be nearly one hundred
and four years of age, and Edward, born in 1742, married Hannah Strong
and was the father of Col. Edward Sawyer, the Genesee county pioneer.
The latter spent his early life in Canandaigua, New York, where he owned
a wholesale saddlery and harness business and was a man of much influence
and of considerable wealth. He was an active member of the Masonic
fraternity and when the celebrated "Morgan case" came up he was accused
of having been a leader in the alleged conspiracy to do away with ^Morgan.
Colonel Sawyer spent twenty-five thousand dollars trying to clear up the
mystery, but was ne\'er able to trace Morgan. Largely because of the unjust
odium heaped upon him by reason of the incident. Colonel Sawyer disposed
of his interests in the East and came to Michigan. Many years afterward
Thurlow Weed, a New York political leader at the time of the Morgan
incident, admitted on his death-bed that Colonel Sawyer had Ijeen unjustly
accused in the matter.

It was in the fall of 1835 that Colonel Sawyer came to the then Terri-
tory of Michigan and bought a large tract of "Congress land" in the Grand
Blanc country along the south line of Genesee county, taking in part of
Slack's Lake and extending east along the Saginaw trail. He built a log
house not far from the lake, cleared a tract of about six acres and returned
to New York, whence, the next spring he brought his family to their new
home in the wilderness. .\11 unprepared for the rigors of pioneer life, two
of the daughters, Elizalieth and Mary, died within a year after coming here.
The Sawyer home early became the center of the social life of the pioneer
community and the influence that emanated therefrom went far toward bring-
ing about proper conditions in the formative period of that now well-estab-
lished and prosperous region. Mrs. Sawyer's name was second on the list
of the charter members of the Episcopal church at Flint, the first churcli
organized in that city, and Colonel Sawyer ever was a leader in public affairs
hereabout and foremost among the leaders in all good and worthy enter-
prises. He was a member of the building committee that built the Congre-
gational church at Grand Blanc and he and his team headed the procession
of teams that hauled the luml)er from Atlas to build the same. He was an


uncompromising Democrat, as have been his descendants, even to his great-
grandson. Colonel Sawyer died at his home in this county, February 2,
1885, and his widow survived but ten weeks, her death occurring on April
12 of that same year. She was born, Almira Kellogg, at Sheffield, Berk-
shire county, Massachusetts, February 2, 1800, and was married to Colonel
Sawyer on January i, 18 18. Of the children born to that union, besides
Edward A. Sawyer, father of the subject of this sketch, Caroline K., who
married E. F. Bush, died on March 21. 1914; Maria A., who married M.
S. Tyler, died in 1903, and J. Frank Sawyer, who was a soldier of the Union
army during the Civil War, continued in the service after the close of the
war and was killed, by Indians at the battle of Ft. Phil Kearney, in Dakota,
in November, 1867.

Edward Armand Sawyer was about fourteen years old when he came
to Michigan with his parents in 1836 and he grew to manhood on the pater-
nal farm. On January 14, 1863, he married Esther Mascall, who was born
at Aubuni, in Oakland county, this state, December 25, 1832, a daughter of
Gen. Charles C. and Nancy (Rounds) Hascall, prominent pioneers of that
settlement, whose last days were spent in Flint, this county. In 1838 Gen-
eral Hascall was appointed receiver of the land office at Flint and held that
office for years, later becoming a banker and large landowner, particularly
of lands to the south of Flint, reaching to the Grand Blanc line. He was a
man of much influence in political affairs and was at one time the nominee
of his party for Congress. Edward A. Sawyer remained a farmer at Grand
Blanc all his life. He was an ardent admirer of fine horses, as was his
father and as is his son today, and, like his father, also was deeply con-
cerned in the work of promoting better conditions hereabout, having ]>een
one of the most influential supporters of the movement that led to the sur-
\'eying of the railroad through Grand Blanc, instead of along a different line.
For many years he was a member of the school board and did much toward
establishing proper educational standards in his community. While an
active svtpporter of the Democratic party, he never sought office. In the
days before the coming of the professional undertaker he was widely called
on to act as "manager" of funerals through the Grand Blanc region and he
and his wife Avere ever helpful in the performance of all good neighborly
offices thereabout. Mrs. Sawyer died on August 17, 1896, and Mr. Sawyer
survived until January 27, 1905. They were the parents of seven children,
those besides the subject of this sketch being Charles E., Mary Elizabeth,
Angeline Wisner, John, Edward Strong and Harold C.

Frank T. Sawver has lived at Grand Blanc all his life. Until becom-


ing interested in the l>anking business a few years ago he had given his
chief attention to the management of his firm farm at the edge of the vil-
lage, to his extensive live-stock interests and to his ecjually extensive real-
estate transactions, long having been active in both of these latter lines.
As was his father, he is an ardent fancier of fine horses, and has raised a
number of prize-winners, including the noted "Red Fox," with a racing
record of 2 109^ and which was widely exhibited at horse shows under the
name of "Fascination," and which was declared in New York to have been
the finest horse that ever was raised in Michigan. Upon the death of Elmer
H. Stone, president of the Farmers Exchange Bank of Grand Blanc and
father-in-law of Mr. Sawyer, in 1912, the latter was made a director of that
bank and about two years later was elected president of the bank, which
position he now holds, giving his attention now almost exclusively to his
banking and real-estate interests, a very potent factor in the business life
of that entire community.

It was on November 2, 1904. that Frank J. Sawyer was united in mar-
riage to Mabel Stone, daughter and only child of Elmer H. and Helena
( \'an Tifflin) Stone, the former a native of the neighboring county of
Oakland and the latter of this county. Elmer H. Stone was born on a farm
in Groveland township, Oakland county, November 3, 1847, son of Darius
H. and Mary J. (Hadley) Stone, both natives of the state of New York,
of English descent, who became early settlers in this part of Michigan.
Elmer H. Stone was the eldest of the seven children born to this parentage
and when ten years old came with his parents to Genesee county, the family
locating at Flint, whence, a few years later, they moved to Gibsonville, in
Grand Blanc township, mo^ ing thence, about 1870, to Holly, and thence
to Flint, where they lived for two or three years. Elmer H. Stone married
in 1870 and for four years was engaged in the mercantile business at Holly,
later moving to Grand Blanc. In 1883 he moved to a farm of one hundred
and sixty acres in section 16 of Grand Blanc township, where he engaged
in the sheep business and where he remained for twenty-five years, at the
end of which time he moved to the village of Grand Blanc, where he spent
the rest of his life, and where his widow is still living, making her home
with her daughter, Mrs. Sawyer. It was on August i, 1907, that Elmer
H. Stone and others organized the Farmers Exchange Bank of Grand Blanc.
He was elected president of that concern and remained thus connected until
his death on Februan,' 29, 1912. Mr. Stone was active in local civic affairs,
had served for five years as supervisor of Grand Blanc township and for
several years as treasurer of the township.


It was on February 3, 1870, that Elmer H. Stone was united in mar-
riage to Helena F. Van Tifflin, who was born in Flint township, this county,
daughter of David and Louisa (Jacobus) Van Tifflin, the former of whom
was torn at Avon, New York, and the latter at Newark, New Jersey. David
Van Tifflin came to Michigan with his parents, Peter Cornelius and Hannah
(Allen) Van Tifflin, who settled in Grand Blanc township in 1832. Louisa
Jacobus also came to this country in childhood with her parents, Cornelius
and Sarah (Smith) Jacobus, who also located in Grand Blanc township. Mr.
Van Tifflin died in 1908, at the age of eighty-three years, and his widow
is still living on the home farm two and one-half miles east of the village
of Grand Blanc, now past eighty-three years of age. Mrs. Sawyer comes
of a long-lived family, numerous of her ancestors having lived to great ages.
When she was a child she had twelve living direct ancestors, three of whom
were past ninety years of age. Mr. Sawyer is a Democrat and, fraternally,
is affiliated with the Maccabees, the Order of the Loyal Guard and the
Order of Gleaners, in the al¥airs of all of which organizations he takes a
warm interest.


Few names are better known throughout the lower part of Genesee
county than that of Gale and few, if an)-, are held in better memory there-
about than that of the late Adrian P. Gale and of his father, Dr. Elbridge
G. Gale, pioneer physician and statesman, the latter of whom rendered a
notable service not only to the people of his home vicinity, but to the state
at large, as a member of the Michigan state constitutional convention and
as a member of the Legislature. Adrian P. Gale, who was commissioned
as an officer in the Union army during the Civil War, was for many years
justice of the peace in and for Atlas township and in other ways rendered
acceptable public service in that community.

Adrian P. Gale was born in Niagara county. New York, in 1836, son
of Dr. Elbridge G. and Mary (Rich) Gale, natives of Massachusetts, the
former of whom was born at Warwick, in Franklin county, that state,
February 2, 181 1. Doctor Gale's mother, Mary Gale, was descended from
the Sargents and Washburns, old Colonial families in Massachusetts. In
1818 the Gale family moved to Shoreham, in Addison county, Vermont, and
it was there that Doctor Gale laid the foundation for his future success
as a physician and statesman. At the age of sixteen he began teaching


school and later attended three or four terms at Newton Academy at Shore-
ham, in the meantime studying medicine in the office of Doctor Hall at
that place and presently entered the Vermont Medical College at Castleton.
from which he was graduated in 1834. In April of the next year, 1835,
Doctor Gale married Mary Rich, of Shoreham, and immediately afterward
moved to Niagara county. New York, where he was engaged in the practice
of his profession until November, 1844, when he came to Michigan and
settled in Atlas township, this county, continuing his practice there until
185 1, one of the foremost of the earnest pioneer physicians of this region.
In 1850 Doctor Gale served as a member of the Michigan state constitutional
convention from this district, was a member of the lower house of the
Legislature in 1853 and a member of the state Senate in 1861. In 1863
he was appointed surgeon of the provost board of the sixth Michigan mili-
tary district and occupied that position until the close of the war, after
which for two years he served as collector of internal revenue for this
district. He was a Knight Templar Mason and took an active interest in
Masonic affairs. On June 10, 1863, while on a visit to her old home at
Shoreham, Vermont, Doctor Gale's wife died and his later years also were
spent at that same place, his death occurring there on November 3, 1885,
he then being nearly seventy-five years of age. His mother spent her last
days in this county, her death having occurred at the home of her grandson,
Adrian P. Gale, in Atlas township, on November 26, 1880, she then being
ninety-two years of age. She had in her possession an ancient pitcher that
had come over in the "Mayflower" and had been handed down through
the generations of descendants of the original owner, always being given to
a Mary Gale, and since her time has continued to 1)e held in the possession
of a Mary Gale.

Adrian P. Gale was seven or eight years old when his parents came to
Michigan and he grew to manhood in the old Gale homestead in Atlas town-
ship, later becoming the owner of the farm that his father had bought in
pioneer days. In the latter fifties he married and when the the Civil War
broke out enlisted for service and was given a commission as an officer,
but before being ordered to the front he was seized with an attack of
rheumatism which compelled him to use crutches for about a year, his
military ambitions thus being effectually crushed. He was an active Repub-
lican and during the most of his mature life served as super\isor or as jus-
tice of the peace of his home township. For many years he was master
of the Masonic lodge at Davison and was ever warmly interested in Masonic
afifairs. Adrian P. Gale died on December 17, igio. His wife. Helen T.


Wilder, was born at or near the city of Albany, New York, a daughter of
Hamilton and Sylvia (Howe) Wilder, and became a school teacher, com-
ing to this state and teaching at Atlas two or three years before her mar-
riage to Mr. Gale. She had a brother, Hamilton S. Wilder, who died in
Andersonville prison while serving as a soldier of the Union during the
Civil War, and another brother, Wilber E. Wilder, who was graduated from
the United States Military Academy at West Point and is now a major
in the United States army. To Adrian P. and Helen T. (Wilder) Gale
six children were born, two of whom died in infancy, the survivors being
Perry Gale, of Atlas; Fred Gale, of Flint; Will A. Gale, of y\tlas. and
Mary R., wife of William A. Irving, of Springfield, Missouri.


Thomas Oliff was born in Aylesford, Kent county, England, May 21,
1849. He is a son of Thomas M. and Esther Bush Oliff. John Olifif, his
grandfather, was a sailor who deserted his ship and joined the American
navy and fought through the War of 1812 against his native country. Little
is known of his life, as he joined the American navy under an assumed
name. He was buried in the James river. Esther Bush Oliff was a daugh-
ter of John and Elizabeth Bryce Bu.sh, both of Scotch descent. The family
has been verj^ prominent in tlie British parliament both in early days and at

Thomas M. and Esther Bush Olifif had six children, Ella. Walter,
Thomas, Lewis, Amos and Albert. Ella married John Perrin and always
lived in England. Walter went to New Zealand and engaged in farming.
Thomas came to America. Lewis came to America and was engaged in
Ijusiness in Shrevesport, Louisiana. Amos came to America and stayed a
short time, leaving for South Africa, and is now engaged in the brick busi-
ness at Johannesburgh, Transvaal. Albert went to South Africa and super-
intended the construction of the Durban, Maritzburg & Ladysmith railroad.
He now owns large mining interests in South Africa and is prominent in
government affairs.

Thomas Olitt" came to America and to Michigan very young. He found
employment at railroading and later bought a farm and engaged in the
brick- and tile-manufacturihg business in Milford, Michigan, in 1873. He
moved to Clio, Genesee county, in 1890 and established the Clio brick plant.


which he continued to operate until the spring of 1916, when it was sold.
]\Ir. Oliflf is vice-president of the Qio State Bank and is a large property
owner in Clio and elsewhere. He has a fine home and has done much
toward the building up and the prosperity of the village of Clio.

Thomas Oliff was married to Emily Woodhams, a native of England,
and thev have had five children: Ezra, who died in infancy; Lillian,
deceased; Mabel, who married J. D. Lawrence, of Ypsilanti, Michigan;
Minnie, who married E. J- Macomber, of Flint, and Edith, who married
Charles G. Matzen, of Clio. Mr. Oliff is a member of the Presbyterian
church, is independent in politics, regardless of his party affiliations, and
was a meml>er of the village board of Clio for years.


John E. McCandlish, one of the best-known and most representative
citizens of the village of Goodrich, this county, a substantial retired farmer
of Atlas township, the present highway commissioner of that township and
in other ways actively identified with the common interests of his home
community and of the county at large, is a native son of this countv and has
lived here all his life, thus having been a witness to and a participant in the
wonderful development that has marked this region during the past half cen-
tury or more. He was born on a pioneer farm in Atlas township, January
6, 1855, ^o" of John McCandlish and wife, prominent residents of that com-
munity, a general biographical sketch of whom is presented elsewhere in this
volume, and grew to manhood on tlie home farm, from the days of his boy-
hood an able assistant in the work of developing the same.

In 1880 John E. McCandlish, in partnership with his three Ijrothers,
Allan, Colin and Stephen, began farming for themselves, the brothers buy-
ing a farm of eightv acres in section 19 of their home township, adjoining
that of their father. In addition to that place they farmed the home farm,
two other "eighties'" and a "forty" nearby and did well from the very begin-
ning of their operations, soon coming to be recognized as among the most
energetic and progressive farmers of the neighborhood. In 1881, the year
after beginning these operations, John E. McCandlish married. He con-
tinued his partnership arrangement with his brothers for about fourteen
vears, at the end of which time the brothers divided their holding- and he
bought eighty acres in tlie northeast quarter of section 20 and forty acres in


the southeast quarter of section 19, made his liome on the "eighty" and con-
tinued living there until January, 1908, a period of about twenty-seven )-ears,
at the end of which time he retired from the active labors of the farm and
moved to the village of Goodrich, where he has lived ever since and where
he and his wife are quite comfortably and very pleasantly situated. Mr.
McCandlish is a Democrat and in April, 1916, was elected to the office cf
iiighway commissioner for his home township, being the only Democrat
elected at tlial election in that township, which has a large Republican

It was in 1881 that John E. McCandlish was united in marriage to
•Sarah Buns, who was born in Hadley township, in the neighboring county
of I^apeer, a daughter of Peter M. and Sarah (Kifield) Burts, the fovmcr
a native of the state of New York and tlie latter of Michigan, for manv
}'ears well-known and influential residents of Goodrich, both now (lecc;ised.
Peter M. Burts was born at Clarence, in Erie county. New York, Octuber
28, 1834, and when eight years old came to Michigan with his parents, John
and Sarah ( Updegratf) Burts, the family settling in Atlas townshi]), tliis
county, where John Burts bought a farm north of the village of Goodrich.
-\fter some years there he moved to Saginaw, but in his old age came back
to Genesee county and spent his last years in the home of his son. Peter
M., at Goodrich. Peter Burts grew to manhood in this county and became
a \ery proficient l^lacksmith. He married Sarah Fifield, who was l)orn at
Troy, near Detroit, this state, a daughter of the Rev. Joseph and Poll)^
( Plato )^ Fifield, who later moved to Hadley township, Lapeer count\-. and
bought a farm there, later selling the same and moving to a num!-er of
places, following his calling as a minister of the Christian church. For
some time after his marriage Peter M. Burts lived in Hadley township, but
when his daughter, Sarah, was about six years old moved to Goodrich,
where he bought a home, established a black.smith shop and followed his
trade there until old age. After some time he sold the house he first built
and erected the house in which Mr. and Mrs. McCandlish now live and there
he and his wife spent their last days, her death occurring on October 20,
1905, and his, IMarch 21, 1910.

To Mr. and Mrs. McCandlish one child was born, a daughter, Margaret
S., born on September 16, 1882, who married Homer W. Day, a well-known
merchant of Goodrich, and who died on March 30, 1909. Mr. and Mrs.
McCandlish are both members of the Grange, in the affairs of which organ-
ization they take a warm interest, and Mrs. McCandlish is treasurer of the
Ladies Library Association of Goodrich, an organization of which she has


been an active member almost from the time of its organization in 1877.
She also is treasurer of the Womens' Christian Temperance Union anci of the
readies of the Maccabees.


Some people seem to forget that a fertile soil is a living, breathing
thing, fed by nature or by the hand of man, with the natural mineral ele-
ments and the organic matter necessary for the use of the soil bacteria in the
manufacture of plant food, and for a delightful environment in which they
can live and work. Charles Chambers, the energetic and able manager of
the widely known Crapo farm in Gaines township, Genesee county, has not
overlooked this and other vital facts necessar\' to success in modern agricul-
ture and has therefore advanced himself to a position in the front rank of
twentieth-century agriculturists.

Mr. Chambers was born in Burton township, Genesee county, Deceuilier
iS. 1856, and is a son of Robert and Emily (Wolverton) Chambers. The
father was born in Jefferson county. New York, and when a boy was
brought to Burton township, Genesee count)', Michigan, by his father, Joseph
Chambers, locating on forty acres where the grandparents of the subject of
this sketch spent the rest of their lives, this land being first secured by Jere-
miah Chambers, one of the earliest pioneers in this locality. When Robert
Chambers married he located on his farm of two hundred acres. His young
wife died on December 25, 1856, and he married Agnes Boughten. He con-
tinued to live on his farm until about 1884, when he sold out and mo\ed to
Virginia, locating near the city of Richmond, purchasing five hundred and
forty-five acres and there he spent the rest of his life. One child was born
of his first marriage, Charles, of this sketch. A daughter was born to his
second marriage, Mattie, who married a Mr. Annstrong, lives in Richmond,


Charles Chambers grew up on the home farm and received his education
in the public schools of Burton township and the city of Flint. He re-
mained at home until he was twenty-one years old, then entered the lumber
woods in Tuscola county, Michigan, for Thomas Foster, in whose employ
he remained for a period of twelve years, continuing at the lumber camps.
He then accepted a position as foreman of a gang of men, continuing in this
capacity until May 27, 1889, when he took the management of the \Y. W.
Crapo farm, located two miles southwest of Swartz Creek in Gaines town-

aj) l^jji/^hvi^^


ship, which position he has held for a period of twenty-six years continu-
ously, his long retention being evidence of his ability not only as an up-to-
date and progressive farmer, but also as a man of executive mind and one
who understands well the handling of men. He has kept this farm of one
thousand and forty-five acres well tilled and well improved, carrying on
general farming and stock raising on a vast scale.

Mr. Chambers was married, on May i, 1887, to Lydia A. Templeton, a
daughter of John and Eliza (Kennedy) Templeton, and to this union two
children have been born, namely: Essie E., now deceased, was the wife of
John Lawrence; Harold R.. who is assisting his father with the management
of the farm, has attended the Ferris Institute.

Politically, Mr. Chambers is a Republican. He is a member of the
Gleaners, the Modern Woodmen of America and Goodwill Lodge, Inde-
pendent Order of Odd Fellows, at Swartz Creek.


Fred E. Blackmore. a well-known farmer and saw-mill man, of Davison,
this county, is a native son of Genesee county, born on a farm in the south-

Online LibraryEdwin Orin WoodHistory of Genesee county Michigan; her people, industries and institutions, with biographical sketches of representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families → online text (page 61 of 89)