Fred. (Frederick) Carlisle.

Chronography of notable events in the history of the Northwest territory and Wayne County online

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only twenty-one years of age. Soon after that time he was, at the first
New York State Teachers' Association, elected by a unanimous vote
its secretary. His topical geography, topical grammar, topical mathe-
matics, elocution, system of gesturing, featuring, and topical philosophy
and chemistry, are all contributions to school literature that have done
no little towards giving him the high standing as an educator he now
enjoys.

Mrs. Parsons is a woman of great energy and is as much of an
educator as her husband. She was recently elected one of the school
inspectors of Detroit, which constitutes her a member of the Board.



— 130 —

THEODORE ROMETN.

Theodore Romeyn was born at Hackensack, N. J., August 22,
1810. He died at Detroit, July 22, 1885. Both on his father's and
his mother's side he was of Dutch descent, and most of his ancestors
were very rehgious people. They were strong Calvinists, and many
of them were clergymen of the Dutch Reformed Church. His
father and grandfather were clergymen of that denomination, and his
grandfather, the Rev. Thomas Romeyn, was obliged, under the rules of
the church, to go to Holland for examination and ordination. Of his
grandfather's seven sons, five were ministers in that church. His only
brother was also a clergyman in that denomination, and his son, of the
same name as himself, preached in the old church at Hackensack,
N. J., of which his father was minister for fifty-three years, and where
his brother was his father's colleague at the time of his death.

In the language of Cowper, Mr. Romeyn might say :

' ' My boast is not that I deduce my birth,
" From loins enthroned and rulers of the earth ;
" But higher far my proud pretensions rise,
" The son of parents passed into the skies. "

When Mr. Romeyn's grandfather's brother had finished his theo-
logical studies in Holland, he was invited to fill the pulpit of one of the
principal churches of Amsterdam, where he had become betrothed to
Margaret Frelinghuysen, the daughter of Domine Frelinghuysen, a
descendent of whose family has been Secretary of State. His grand-
father's brother afterwards married a second wife, the daughter of Col.
Abraham Van Campen, who was the most noted Indian fighter of his
day.

His mother's name was Van Vranken, and belonged to an old
family in Schenectady, on the Mohawk.

Mr. Romeyn is one of nine children. He had one brother and
seven sisters : Susan Van Campen, born February 6, 1790; Hariette,
born June 19, 1792 ; Anna Maria, born October 23, 1794 ; James, born
September 30, 1797; Anna, born May nth, 1800; Ehzabeth, born
July 3, 1802 ; Caroline, born December 18, 1807 ; Theodore, born
August 22, 1810 ; Sarah, born February 22, 1814.

Mr. Romeyn commenced the study of law with Peter D. Vroom,
at Somerville, Somerset county, N.J. He remained with him until his
second year of study. He then entered the office of Samuel L. South-
ard, who was Secretary of the Navy under John Quincy Adams and
a Senator in Congress, and a brilliant and genial man. In 1830, he
concluded to finish his legal studies and be admitted to the bar in New

* Rev. Theodore B. Romeyn. He died at Hackensack, August 29, 1885.



-131-

York. He removed to that State, and on the invitation of Benjamin
F. Butler, the Attorney General of the United States under General
Jackson, he went to his office in Albany, and continued his studies
there.

Mr. Butler's office in Albany was the one formerly occupied and
used by Martin Van Buren, at that time Vice-President, and it was
much frequented by the various politicians who constituted the " Albany
Regency," all men distinguished for ability and high character.

Edwin Croswell, at that time editor of the "Argus," and William
L. Marcy, John A. Dix, Silas Wright, Azariah C. Flagg, Thomas W.
Olcott, and other prominent politicians were among those who fre-
quented the office, and he was brought in contact with them, and had
an opportunity of learning their views.

His fellow student in Mr. Butler's office was John Van Buren.

December 3rd, 1834, ^^^ married Miss Anna Mills Woodruff, of
Albany ; and in December, 1835, removed to the city of Detroit, and
commenced the practice of law in partnership with Alex. D. Frazer.
In 1848, he removed to New York City, and engaged in the practice
of his profession there, residing at Brooklyn, Kings county. His prac-
tice was large and varied. His health was affected somewhat injuri-
ously through gases coming from the hot-air furnaces in his residence,
and to a great extent he lost his voice, and in 1858 he returned to
Detroit, where he remained engaged in the practice of his profession
until his decease.

During his first residence in Detroit, he bought and completed a
large house at the corner of Wayne and Fort streets, where the club
house now is. It was at that time by far the finest residence in the
city, and is still a most desirable house.

In his practice in Detroit, he was in the habit of thorough prepara-
tion, shrinking from no labor in preparing and presenting a case, and
succeeding at times when he had the general sentiment of the bar
strongly against him. An instance of this was in our General Banking
Law, where he succeeded in establishing the doctrine that the organiza-
tion under which the banks sprang into existence was unconstitutional,
he assuming the ground that organizations framed under the General
Law allowing individuals to form themseves into a corporation, were
contrary to the true intent and meaning of that constitutional provision
which required each corporation to spring into existence under a
specific act, to which the judgment of the legislature should be applied
to the particular grant of corporate power ; in other words, that a
general law for the incorporation of corporations was unconstitutional
and void. This decision was of vast importance to the people of this
State, but he realized nothing for his services in the matter. The title
of the case is Green vs. Graves, ist Douglass, Mich., p. 351.



— 132 —

This habit of close study and careful preparation continued all
through the life of Mr. Romeyn. He however never limited his read-
ing to purely professional books, but was a general reader of the
ancient and modern masterpieces of literature, and kept up with the
science and literature of the time.

Although his profession absorbed most of his time, and although
he never was a politician, he had all his life been a Democrat, his first
vote being cast for General Jackson in 1832 ; and every four years
subsequent consistently voted the Democratic ticket, with one excep-
tion, when in 1864 he voted for Abraham Lincoln. He never had a
desire for political office, but uniformly declined it.

Mrs. Romeyn's decease preceded that of her husband several
years . She was esteemed as a lady of more than ordinary culture and
refinement, and had a large circle of friends in Detroit. At his death
Mr. Romeyn left three children. Col. James W. Romeyn, Consul at
Valparaiso, Chili; Mrs. S. R. Embury, and Mrs. Frank Butrick.



JUDGE ROSS WILKINS.

Judge Ross Wilkins, eminent as a lawyer and judge, was a native
of Pennsylvania. In 1832 he left Pittsburg and came to Michigan
Territory, locating for a short time at Tecumseh, Lenawee county.
Soon after, being appointed United States judge by President Jackson,
he removed to Detroit, which was his home till death.

Judge Wilkins was the grandson of John Wilkins, of Carlisle, Pa.,
the father of the Hon. Wm. Wilkins, who was a member of Congress,
United States Senator, Minister to Russia under Jackson, and Secretary
of War under President Tyler, and died while serving as judge of the
U. S. Court of the western district of Pennsylvania. At the breaking
out of the recent civil war, although at the age of eighty, he rode
throughout the day in the parade of the Home Guards when organiz-
ing for the war. The grandfather of Judge Ross Wilkins and the father
of Judge Wm. Wilkins, John Wilkins, at the beginning of the war of
Independence, sold all his possessions and with the proceeds raised a
company of soldiers with whom he served as captain during that war,
receiving no compensation except in Continental money, so called, which
is still in possession of the immediate descendants of Judge Ross Wil-
kins, and is preserved by them as mementoes of the services of their
ancestors in the struggle for American liberty. The father of Judge
Ross Wilkins also served as a soldier during the war of 181 2, in which
the subject of this sketch participated as well. It would thus appear that
by birth and lineage he sprang from a race of patriots, soldiers and states-
men, and therefore it is not strange, that at the call of President Abra-
ham Lincoln for volunteers to defend the naUonal honor April 14th,



— 133 —

i86i, Judge Ross Wilkins should call a meeting of citizens of Detroit to
respond to the President's proclamation. This he did, and presided at
the meeting. In 1837 Judge Wilkins was appointed a regent of the
Michigan University, which he held for a number of years. He died
respected by the bar and the citizens for his integrity as a judge and
his public spirit as a citizen, leaving an only son, the late Col. WiUiam
D. Wilkins, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this volume.



ELIAS S. WOODMAN.

Elias S. Woodman, of Northville, Wayne county, is a native of
the Empire state and was born in Rodman, Jefferson county, N. Y.,
on the 15th day of October, 1816. His ancestors on the paternal
side were were originally English, also on the maternal. His father,
Joseph Woodman, M. D., was born in Salsbury, N. H., on the 5th day
of March, 1785. His mother's maiden name was Sally Wright. She
was born at Deerfield, Mass., on the 6th day of September, 1796.
His parents were married at Rodman, Jefferson county, N. Y., on the
i6th day of January, 1816. His father, Joseph Woodman, died August
13, 1838, at Novi, Mich., and his mother at Keene, Ionia county,
Mich., March, 7, 1862. Mr. Woodman is one of five sons. He had
one sister.

In boyhood Mr. Woodman worked on the farm during the summer
and attended school during the winter, and acquired the best education
that a newly settled country and the pecuniary circumstances of his
father could afford. At least he must have made good use of the
opportunities offered at that early day, and must have had a lOve of
books, as we find him to-day the peer of many who had far superior
advantages.

In 1837 he left with his parents his native State for what were
then called the swamps of Michigan, settling in the township of Novi,
Oakland county. He encountered all the privations, dangers and
diseases incident to pioneer life, meeting them with intelligence, cour-
age and firmness.

Mr. Woodman has been prominently identified with all educa-
tional and moral enterprises, giving his time and energies to their
establishment.

He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of the State
of Michigan in 1850, and although the youngest member of the body
except two, we find him by the debates favorably recorded as being
with the Hon. J. D. Pierce and Isaac E. Crary, of Calhoun county,
advocates and authors of the present Homestead Exemption law and



— 134 —

our present free school system, which has done much to secure that
legislation which has made Michigan second to no other State for her
educational system.

Mr. Woodman possesses a good legal knowledge, obtained without
going through the law school or the routine of study under a precep-
tor, and was admitted to the bar of this State and the State of New
York on account of his actually being able to convince his examiners
that he had the knowledge of law requisite. He now is in the prac-
tice of his profession at North ville, Michigan.

In 1840 Mr. Woodman married Mary A. Hungerford, daughter of
Uriah Hungerford, an early pioneer, of Plymouth, Mich. She died
December 3, 1868, at Novi, Mich., leaving four sons and one daughter.
August nth, 1870, Mr. Woodman married Mrs. Lavina Stillwell, a
sister of the first wife. She has two daughters by her first marriage.
Mr. Woodman's eldest son, J. Hamilton, entered the service of the
United States during the late civil war August 9, 1862, as sergeant of
Company "I," 22nd Inft. Regt., Michigan Volunteers ; first lieutenant,
July 8, 1863 ; captain, December 6, 1863 ; honorably mustered out
June 26, 1865.

From Mr. Woodman's own lips we learn the following items of his
history: When his father died in 1838 the family were left penniless.
He in his twenty-second year, the eldest of the six children, a few days
after the funeral of his father, borrowed one dollar of a neighbor and
rode on horseback to Pontiac to consult a lawyer about settling his
father's estate. Calling upon the Hon. F. J, Drake he made known
his business, took out the dollar and told him he wanted the worth of
it in legal advice. Mr. Drake told him how to manage to settle the
estate and bid him put the dollar in his pocket, and if at any time he
wanted legal counsel to call and he could have it freely. Mr. Wood-
man rode home much encouraged, returned the borrowed money and
went to work on the farm. At the meeting of Oakland county bar,
to take action on the death of Hon. F. J. Drake a few years ago, Mr.
Woodman was present, being a member at that time, and with many
others spoke of the many virtues of Judge Drake. When Mr. Wood-
man was nomirfated in Pontiac in 1850 for a member of the Consti-
tutional Convention, he had on a pair of borrowed boots and coat and a
borrowed hat by his side. When the news of the attack on Ft.
Sumpter by the Southern Confederacy in i860 reached Novi, a meet-
ing of citizens being held at the school house, Mr. Woodman was
called out and made a short speech on the situation, pledging himself
to do all in his power to put down the rebellion. The late Senator Z.
Chandler, in a public address soon after the war commenced, gave Mr.
Woodman the credit of making the first war speech made in Michigan.
He kept his promise well, enhsted his own son and went twice to the



— 135 —

seat of war and spent his time in camp and hospital, nursing sick and
wounded soldiers.

His son's life was spared and he returned. Had he fallen, like
many others, in his country's defence, Mr. Woodman could have said,
with Cato, " Thanks be to the gods, my son has done his duty."



NOAH M. WELLS



The subject of this sketch was the first pastor of the First Presby-
terian Church in Michigan and of Detroit. He was born at Bemish
Heights, Saratoga county, New York, was baptised in the Episcopal
church at New Lebanon, New York, at the age of thirteen. Soon after
a preparatory course, he entered Union College, from which he gradu-
ated at the end of four years. He organized the first church at Browns-
ville, New York in 1825. He states that at the time he came to
Detroit there was no church organization, but there was what was
called the First Presbyterian Church, which was in fact neither Pres-
byterian or Congregational, so that after consultation they concluded
to begin anew and organized a Presbyterian church with thirty-six
members, which is now known as the First Presbyterian, of Detroit.
He became the pastor of this new church and at the end of eleven
years was succeeded by the Rev. John P. Cleaveland. His health
being somewhat impaired, he engaged in secular business for a time
and then taught a branch of the Michigan University. Subsequently
he was appointed chaplain in the army and was stationed at Prairie du
Chien. He labored for a time at Galena, from thence he supplied the
church at Maumee City for a short time, when he came to Detroit
in the employ of the Western Seaman's Friend Society and took
charge of the Bethel work, in which he continued for six years, when
the infirmities of age compelled his retirement from active work. He
then removed to the township of Erie, Monroe county, and took up
his residence with his son, where he died at the age of ninety-seven.

Father Wells, as he was called, was a remarkable, industrious and
enterprising man. It is said that he was not converted until he reached
the age of twenty-one, and only began his theological studies at the age
of twenty-two. He was not a brilliant man, but was full of intellect and
a laborious student. He was not a bigot, but his affection for his own
church was strong, and he devoted all his energies of mind and body
in promoting its success. He was married three times and leaves one
son and two daughters.



— 136 —

JOHN WINCHELL.

On a pleasant day there may be seen driving along the streets of
Detroit an elderly lady, accompanied by a still older looking man, but
one who seems in the comparative vigor of his mental powers, so much
so that if asked to note changes which have been made in buildings or
other improvements and compare the past with the present, his eyes
brighten and he will give you a ready and comprehensive picture of
the former, as compared with the present city.

John Winchell was born at Kingsbury, Washington county N. Y.,
March 22d, 1797, and came to Michigan in 1833. He served during
the war of 1812-14 and was wounded at the battle of Lundy's Lane
for which he now draws a pension of $24 per month.

In 1826 Mr. Winchell married Miss Sarah Brand, by whom he
had seven children, of whom but three are living.

The elderly lady referred to is his daughter, Mrs. Alice Barthol-
omew, with whom he lives, in the house built fifty-four years since by
himself, No. 123 Fort Street East.

Mr. Winchell was a school teacher for many 3^ears after coming
to Detroit, and taught the first district school established under the
laws of the territory providing for system and support of public
schools.

Mr. Winchell, during the term of President Cleveland, visited
Washington and had an interview of an hour with him and was much
gratified by his reception by the President.

In religious matters his inclination and belief is of the Baptist per-
suasion. He has never mixed in politics and never held an office.



THOMAS ARMSTRONG.

"When God created the first man, he placed him in the Garden of Eden to dress
and keep it. So that even in a state of innocence, we cannot conceive it possible that
man could have been happy if inactive. God gave him work to do and his employ-
ment contributed to his happiness. For the structure of his body, as well as his mind
plainly proves, that he was never intended for a merely contemplative life. "

This would seem to be the belief of the subject of this sketch, as
during his whole life, thus far he has been an active man, active in
business, in the cultivation of enterprises promoting good feeling and the
exercise of charity among his fellows. In his dealings with humanity,
he believes that when doubt hesitates, candor should prompt, and when
justice balances, n\ercy should prevail.

Thomas Armstrong was born in Buffalo, N. Y., October 13th,
1821, and is of New England ancestry, some of whom still reside in
those States, and are in possession of the lands settled and improved by
his forefathers in the days of the Pilgrims.



— 137 —

His father followed the sea prior to his removal to Buffalo, and
then for a series of years sailed the lakes, commanding the largest sail
vessel on the western waters. Thomas began his active life at the
early age of twelve, for we find that he left home in 1833, and spent
two years at Toronto, Canada. Returning to Buffalo in 1836, in
September, he took passage on the brig "Indiana," Captain Gus.
Mclnstry, for Detroit and the western lakes. After laying up several
days, the brig proceeded on her voyage, reaching Michigan City about
October 4th. By this time travelling by water had become monoton-
ous, and he determined to stop over. Remaining there over half
a year, he decided to return to Buffalo by land (there being no public
conveyance or railroad at that time), and commenced his journey
on foot through the State of Michigan. As the country was but
sparsely settled, he often found it difficult to procure lodgings and
meals, and several times on the way was compelled to go without
either. But with that determination, since characteristic of the man,
not to yield but to surmount any obstacles, and a readiness to accommo-
date himself to the opposing circumstances, after a tedious tramp of a
week or more, he reached Adrian, where he took the "strap iron railroad"
for Toledo. There he spent his last quarter for a night's lodging, and
the following morning was about starting on foot for Detroit, where he
had a brother, when he learned that a steamer was about to leave for
Buffalo. He determined to get passage on her, and accordingly went
on board, and hiding his baggage, began to assist the hands to load
wood, and when the vessel was ready to start, he again stepped
aboard as one of the hands, and in this manner worked his passage
to Buffalo. This steamer was the old " Charles Townsend," and as
she stopped for wood at every port between Toledo and Buffalo, he
says he earned his fare.

After remaining at Buffalo for about two years, he decided to
come to Detroit, where he has resided since June, 1838.

He commenced life in Detroit as an apprentice to Mr. Henry
Glover, who was then the principal m'erchant tailor in the city. In
1844 he started business on his own account, and established in a small
way a hat and cap store. His trade increased, and in 1848 he added a
department for manufacturing furs, regalia, banners and uniforms for
the Masons, Odd Fellows and other societies and military organiza-
tions. He continued in this line of business until 1872, closed up his
business, and soon after, with his son, E. A., established the business in
which they are now engaged: "Manufacturers of Banners, Military
and Society Equipments," and are now located at 261 and 263 Wood-
ward, and 114 and 116 Washington avenue. They now have a trade
which extends to almost every State in the Union, also in Canada, and
are constantly adding to their custom and their facilities. Edward A.,
10



— 138 —

and Frank S., his sons, have the active management of the business,
leaving him to take that rest which the arduous labors of his long and
active life demand.

When Mr. Armstrong came to Michigan, Detroit was a small
French town, containing a population of less than 5,000 inhabitants. He
has seen it grow to the number of 272,000. Then, there was not a single
paved street or sidewalk; now it has thirteen miles of paved streets,
and seventeen miles of sewers. Then it had no fire department and no
water supply, except from wells and a small hydraulic power which
brought water from the river — about 100,000 gallons yearly, and no
police force. Now its fire department, which controls fourteen steam
fire engines, three chemical engines, and seven hook and ladder
companies, employ a force of two hundred and fifty men and sixty
horses. Its water supply to-day equals 14,500,000,000 gallons per
year, and its police force numbers three hundred and fifty men and
twenty horses. Then there were no steam manufactories. Now they
are numbered by hundreds. Then there were no parks. Now they
abound. All these changes have been witnessed by him, and to promote
them he has done his part in a liberal but unostentatious manner. Mr.
A. is now full of life and spirit — he enjoys good health, with his mental
powers unimpaired, and his kind, genial manner unchanged.



GENERAL HUGH BRADY.

General Hugh Brady, who was well and favorably known to the
older citizens of Michigan as a soldier and as a man of public spirit
and enterprise, was a native of Pennsylvania and born at Standing
Stone, Huntington county, July 20th, 1768. He was a son of a Revo-
lutionary soldier who was a captain in the 12th Regiment of Pennsyl-
vania at the battle of Brandywine, after which he was detached from
the army and sent west to protect the frontier against Indian depre-
dations, when he became distinguished as an Indian fighter, and subse-
quently lost his life, and those of his two sons, at the hands of the
Indians, leaving his wife a widow with the subject of this sketch and
one other son dependent upon their own energies and hands for sup-
port. In 1792 he received from General Washington a commission as
ensign in the army of General Wayne, and accompanied him in his
campaign against the Indians of Ohio and Kentucky. He remained
with the army until 1795, when he returned to his home in Pennsyl-
vania. In 1798 he received a captain's commission from President
Adams and remained until the army was disbanded. He then, in
company with his brother, occupied a tract of wild land owned by the



Online LibraryFred. (Frederick) CarlisleChronography of notable events in the history of the Northwest territory and Wayne County → online text (page 14 of 51)