Fred. (Frederick) Carlisle.

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

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repeated failures of those who built and owned it : " It was not until
Mr. B. Wright took it and enlarged it that full development was given
to the business." The original owners were E. A. Brush, Josiah R.
Dorr and C. C. Trowbridge, who built it in the year 1832, Mr.
Wight becoming its owner in 1837.



— 166 —

Buckminster Wight was a native of the State of Massachusetts
and was born at Stourbridge February 5th, 1797. He is of English
descent on the paternal side. His father, Alpheus Wight, was born
at Med way, Mass., on September 16, 1770. His ancestors emigrated
from Isle of Wight, England, and settled in the town of Dedham,
Mass., on July 18,1637. On the maternal side his ancestors were
from England and came to America and settled in Haverhill, Mass., in
the year 1650. The maiden name of his mother was Miriam Belknap.
She was born in Stourbridge, Mass., Feb. 25th, 1772, where she was
married February 5th, 1792. His father died at Stourbridge June 30th,
1851, and his mother at the same place November 25th, 1822. Buck-
minster Wight married Miss Sarah Marsh in 1820. She was a daughter
of Silas Marsh who served through the Revolutionary War, and whose
ancestors, John and Sarah Marsh, were from England, and settled in
Boston in the year 1670. There were three children born to them,
Henry A., Stanley G., Edwin B., whose biography will be found else-
where in this book.

In 1830 Mr. Wight visited the Warm Springs, Va., on account of
his ill health. On regaining it he came to Detroit with his wife and
two sons in the year 1832. The trip from Warm Springs to Detroit
was quite an eventful one. It was made across the State, over the
mountains, to Guyandotte, Va., on the Ohio river, where, when he
arrived, early in February, the rains and melting snows had caused the
river to rise very rapidly, and before a crossing could be made, became
impassable. Mr. Wight was fortunate in procuring quarters for his
family in a brick house. The rising flood soon surrounded it half way
up the first story, obliging them and others to live for over two weeks
in the upper part of the house, the only communication with dry land
being by boat. This was a thrilling period for them, as daily, houses,
barns, etc., were carried by with the flood, and often human beings, to
whom no assistance could be rendered. When the waters receded a
ferriage over the river was made and the tedious wagon trip through
Ohio and the black swamp was made to Detroit, where they arrived
March 2 2d, 1832. On his arrival in Detroit he engaged in the stock
business, buying cattle in Ohio and preparing them for market on the
Cass farm. In 1837 he purchased from Messrs. Rice, Clark & Co. the
first steam saw mill erected in Detroit, Mr. Joseph Coffin being asso-
ciated with him therein. They enlarged, improved and carried on the
business until 1843, when Mr. Coffin retired, and in 1847 Mr. Wight
gave his two sons, Henry and Stanley, an interest, who conducted the
business, until 1853, under the firm name of B. Wight & Sons, when
he retired, leaving it' to his sons.

In politics Mr. Wight was an ardent Whig, during the existence of
that party. He was elected as alderman in 1848 and State Senator in



— 167 —

i855- His service as juryman in the celebrated railroad conspiracy
case, which continued over three months, so impaired his health as to
compel his sojourn at the seaside for some time. On his return he
took an active interest in Harper Hospital, and for a number of years
was president of the board of trustees. Mr. Wight, soon after his
arrival in Detroit, became connected with the Presbyterian church, in
which he held an official position at the time of the division of the
property and the organization of the two churches. He was one of
the efficient orecanizers and contributors to the church of that denomi-
nation on Jefferson avenue.

He died November 29th, 1S79, at his residence, 415 Jefferson
avenue. Mrs. Wight {nee Sarah Marsh) died June 30th, 1884.



ALEXANDER C. McGRA W.

Prudence is the rule of all virtues. It is the path which leads to
every degree of prosperity. In its exercise it is the channel whence
self-respect flows, and in its course secures the respect of others. The
man who possesses it is able to resist temptation and encounter dangers
with spirit and resolution, courageously bears up against disappoint-
ments, manfully and unflinchingly speaks the truth, even before kings
and princes.

The private, public and business life of Alexander C. McGraw,
the subject of this sketch, demonstrates to those who are familiar with
him that in a great degree prudence and precision have been the gov-
erning influences controlling his action. Alexander C. McGraw was
born at Little Britain, Orange county. New York, September 26th,
1809. The farm owned by his father was a portion of the old Clinton
estate, known as the "Highlands of the Hudson." It is reported "that
Orange county. New York, and Sussex county. New Jersey, produce
more applejack than any other two counties in the United States,
making, in 1888, 120,000 gallons, from which the government derived
a revenue of $100,000."

Mr. McGraw, after improving the educational facilities afforded by
the schools of his native town, removed with his father to Michigan,
landing at Detroit in the spring of 1830. Here the family remained a
short time, while he and his father traveled about the territory in search
of a permanent location, and finally fixed upon one in the vicinity of
Pontiac, Oakland county, to which they removed and commenced to
improve. Mr. McGraw, however, having some knowledge of the
shoe business, and not liking farming, opened a shop in the village of
Pontiac the first year of the cholera, and such was the fear of it and its
spread, that to prevent it reaching Pontiac the militia of the county



— 168 —

were called out to guard all approaches from Detroit and prevent the
panic-stricken residents of the latter from entering Pontiac. Mr.
McGraw, being one of the militia, soon grew tired of this guard duty
and decided to remove to Detroit. He accordingly packed his goods,
and after securing a store on Jefferson avenue, between Bates and
Randolph, moved his goods and began the business which he has been
continuously engaged in since 1832.

Mr. McGraw occupied this store about nine months and removed
to the Dequindre store, on the opposite side of Jefferson avenue. Here
he remained until January ist, 1842, when he was burned out, and
moved back to the store first occupied. March ist, 1842, he moved
from this to the store corner of Jefferson and Woodward avenues,
known as the "Smart block." Six years thereafter he moved to the
corner opposite, known as the " Campau Store," which he occupied
until January ist, 1864, when he moved to the Porter block, comer of
Larned street and Woodward avenue, which he occupied six years
and four months, until May ist, 1870, when he moved and occupied
what is known as the " Cooper block," from which he is at this date
(April 23d, 1890) moving to the new block built expressly for the firm,
on the corner of Griswold and Woodbridge streets, where he is now
putting in machinery and appliances making it the most perfect shoe
factory in the Western States.

During the long period of 58 years in which Mr. McGraw has
thus continuously done business in Detroit, he has had several partners,
but the style of the firm has always been either " A. C. McGraw " or
" A. C. McGraw & Company."" Stephen Smith was interested with
him at one time. In 1853 Mr. Samuel G. Caskey first became a
partner. His relation continues, and, to quote Mr. McGraw, " Mr.
Caskey is still the wheel horse of the concern." The firm of A. C.
McGraw & Company of to-day is composed of A. C. McGraw, Samuel
G. Caskey, Augustus C. and Wm. A. McGraw (his sons), and Theodore
S. McGraw, a nephew, the firm name continuing as heretofore, being
"A. C. McGraw & Co., Manufacturers and Wholesale Dealers in
Boots and Shoes." Mr. McGraw has continued longer, and is the
oldest man actively engaged in continuous business of one kind in
Detroit.

The character of Mr. McGraw is that of one possessing a desire
to recognize his obligation to God, himself, his family and his fellow
men without sacrificing one to the other designedly. He is inclined to
Presb3'terianism in religious matters. In politics he is an ardent
Republican, though never seeking or ever holding a public politica
position.

Mr. McGraw has been one of the trustees of Harper's Hospital
from the time of its establishment (March 20, 1863), up to the present



— 169 —

writing (April, 1890). He was one of the trustees named in the deed
of Walter Harper, February 3d, 1859, also in that of Nancy Martin
dated March loth, 1859, by which they conveyed certain real estate for
the founding of a hospital at Detroit. He has given generously for its
support since its establishment, and is a subscriber to the endowment
fund of $10,000. He is also one of the managers of the Ladies' Pro-
testant Orphan Association. Mr. McGraw has always been a pro-
moter of other benevolent and educational enterprises calculated to
elevate society and benefit humanity. Although not tied down to the
details, he still looks after the business of the firm, and can be found at
his office between the hours of ten and twelve, and two and four each
day.

July 3d, 1833, he married Miss Eliza French, who was born in
Otsego county, New York, in 1809. She died of cholera in August,
1834, leaving no children. In March, 1836, he married Miss
Susannah W. Walker, a sister of C. I. and E. C. Walker of this city.
Her death occurred in 1842. She left two sons. Dr. Theodore Mc-
Graw, who is justly distinguished as a medical practitioner and surgeon,
and Edward Walker McGraw, who is a prominent member of the San
Francisco bar. October, 1843, he married Miss Susan L. Metcalf.
She was a native of the State of New York, and born at Goshen,
Orange county, in 1814. They have had one daughter and two sons.
The daughter was the wife of Mr. A. H. Muir, agent Merchants'
Despatch. She died recently. The sons, Augustus C. and William
A., are associated and members of the firm of A. C. McGraw & Co.
A niece and adopted daughter of Mr. McGraw is the wife of Mr.
Wm. E. Quinby, publisher of the Detroit Free Press.

From Mr. McGraw we obtain the following relating to the late
well known pioneer and witty man. Judge Abraham C. Caniff : "He
was born at Pittstown,New York, August 26th, 1791. Came to Detroit
October 12, 1819. Died March 26th, 1876. Both of his wives, Nancy
and Matilda, were born in the same month and year with Judge Caniff.
Nancy died Jan. 27, 1837, and Matilda March 18, 1855." Mr. McGraw
has kept a diary of current events and incidents relating to Detroit and
its citizens from 1830 to the present, which furnishes an interesting
history. He has twenty-three grandchildren living. Mr. McGraw
was one of the few who, during the speculative period of 1836 and
1837 was not led astray by the excitement of those times, as would
appear from the following extract of a letter addressed to Mr. McGraw
by A. S. Porter, dated Washington, January I3th,![i842:

"I learned two days ago, with the deepest sorrow and grief, of the
terrible calamity which befel our devoted city on the evening of the
ist inst., and the case of no sufferer has shared more in my sincere
12



— 170 —

regret than yours. The few of our business men who were prudent
and sensible enough by abstaining from the temptation of speculation
to carry themselves through the pecuniary trials of the last four years,
preserving their solvency as well as their honor, constituted an im-
portant link between the past and the future, and were of a class who,
it would seem, merited success and exemption from such terrible cal-
amities as this. But Providence has in this instance decided other-
wise. The prosperous portion of our community was small enough at
best, and every part of it must share in the consequences of the mis-
fortune of a public one. I sincerely hope you have not suffered to
ruin, and that you may soon resume business under auspices which
shall promise and realize that success which attended you up to the
fatal night of the conflagration. Very respectfully your friend,

A. S. Porter."



STANLEY G. WIGHT.

There is a duty required by the fifth commandment under the name
of honor. .St. Peter extends its observance to all men; it not only im-
plies filial respect, but should also govern business transactions and
friendly relations with our fellows. It would appear that the father of
the subject of this sketch recognized and practiced these precepts dur-
ing life, and had transmitted the desire to imitate them to his son, as the
evidence of those who have known both, tends to show that the latter,
so far, has exhibited in his manner of life, the same qualities of mind
and heart, which so endeared the father to the love and confidence of
his fellow citizens.

Stanley G. Wight, is the son of Buckminster Wight, and Sarah
(Marsh) Wight, and was born at Stourbridge, in the State of Massa-
chusetts, on the nth day of September, 1825.

He came with his parents to Detroit in March, 1832. On reach-
ing his majority he was admitted as a partner with his father and
brother, who, under the firm name of B. Wight & Sons, engaged in
the lumber business from 1847 to 1853, after which the father retired.
He and his brother continued the business until 1878. After that he
spent a few years in Leadville, Colorado, and since has made several
trips to Europe.

For the past four or five years Mr. Wight has been so afflicted
with sciatic rheumatism as to induce his gradual withdrawal from active
business.

In September ist, 185 1, Mr. Wight married Miss Nancy M. Rice,
the daughter of Leavins and Betsey W. Rice, of Stourbridge, Mass.
She was born at Brookfield, Mass., on the 26th day of December, 1828.



— 171 —

Mr. Wight, notwithstanding his extreme physical suffering, bears in his
manners to others the index of a kind genial temperament, indisposed
to make his ills the cause of unhappiness to others. Mr. Wight has
long been an honored member of the Historical and Pioneer Society,
and has always been ready to aid and assist in the promotion of all
good objects and enterprises. Although often solicited to accept more
important political positions, he has declined, and only served in the
following, though never shrinking from the duties or responsibilities
imposed by his party or party friends. He was alderman from 1851-3;
house representative, 1862 3; water commissioner, 1863-8; board of
public works, 1876. Mr. Wight served in the volunteer fire depart-
ment from 1843 to 185 1, a portion of the time was president and fore-
man, also assistant engineer, and one year president of the association.
The maternal grandfather of Mr. Wight, Silas Marsh, was a soldier,
and served during the Revolutionary War, taking his pay in Contin-
ental money, which he had still in possession at his death.



HENRY A. WIGHT.



Mr. Henry A. Wight was the son of Buckminster Wight, and was
born at Stourbridge, Mass., October 28, 182 1. He came with his
father and mother to Detroit, March 22, 1832. On reaching manhood,
he became associated with his father and his brother Stanley in the
manufacture of lumber. He married November 21, 1854, Miss Sarah
Davenport, daughter of Louis and Sarah Davenport, of Detroit. She
was born in Detroit, September i8th, 1834. ^^ died at his residence
on Jefferson avenue, February 2nd, 1880, leaving a wife and three
children.

He left to his family and a large circle of friends, an excellent
reputation, as to business capacity and integrity, a kind husband, an
affectionate father, and a warm hearted and genial friend.

In 1842 he went to Boston, and was engaged with his uncle,
Lathrop Wight, in the wholesale grocery business. Returning to
Detroit in 1847, he engaged with his brother in the lumber business.



MAJOR EDWIN B. WIGHT.

Major Edwin B. Wight, was mustered into the service of the
United States as captain in the 24th infantry, July 26, 1862, was pro-
moted a major June ist, 1863. Wounded at the battle of Gettysburg,
Pa., July 1st, 1863, and honorably discharged November 17, 1863,
being disabled on account of his wounds from further service.



— 172 —

He is the son of Buckminster Wight, and Sarah (Marsh) Wight,
and was born in Detroit, September 2, 1837.

He made a good record as a soldier, and bears an enviable reputa-
tion as a citizen. He is a graduate of Michigan University and of
Hov^ard Law School. He married Miss Mary Otis, 26th January,
1876, daughter of W. H. C. Otis and Laura (Lyman) Otis, of Cleve-
land, O., who was born June 14, 1847. Since the death of his father
and mother Major Wight has permanently resided in Cleveland. They
have one son, Otis Buckminster, born May 28, 1877.



y. M. HOWARD.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime,
whereof the party shall be duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any
place subject to their jurisdiction. Congress shall] have power to enforce this Article
by appropriate legislation.— Thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United
States, declared ratified by proclamation of the Secretary of State, dated December
i8th, 1865.

Jacob M. Howard, who drafted, and is the acknowledged author
of, the foregoing amendment, was born in Shaftesbury, Vermont, July
loth, 1805. His father was the sixth in descent from William Howard,
who settled in Braintree, Mass., in 1635.

Mr. Howard in boyhood assisted his father, who was a substantial
farmer, during the summer in his farm labors, and in winter attended
the school in his native town. He early evinced a taste for study and
at the age of fourteen attended the academy at Bennington, and after-
ward that at Brattleboro, from which, after full preparation, he entered
Williams College, Massachusetts, in 1826, graduating therefrom in
1830, and at once began the study of law in Ware, Mass. In 1832 he
removed to Detroit, where he was admitted to the bar.

The first appearance of Mr. Howard prominently before the pub-
lic was in the controversy over the boundary line between the Terri-
tory of Michigan and Ohio. Mr. Howard took strong grounds against
the claims of the latter, and when Governor Mason thought a resort to
militar}^ force must decide Michigan's claims, Mr. Howard volunteered
and proceeded with arms to enforce the argument he had advanced.
Happily, through the intervention of Congress, a collision between the
armed troops of Ohio and Michigan was avoided. In 1838 Mr.
Howard was chosen a member of the legislature, and to him was the
young State of Michigan indebted for the wise and salutary code of laws
enacted, by which it was rescued from threatened bankruptcy, occasioned
by the reckless legislation of preceding Legislatures. In the presidential
contest of 1840, which resulted in the election of Gen. William Henry
Harrison, the grandfather of the present President (Benjamin Harri-



— 178 —

son), he took a prominent part, and was himself elected a member of
Congress. In the campaigns of 1844, 1848 and 1852, he was active in
promoting the election of Clay, Taylor and Scott, and was in full accord
with the Whig party, although he confidently predicted that the time
must come when it would be merged into a great political party, based
upon principles opposed to the aggressions of slavery. That he was
firmly grounded in this belief is evident, because we find that as early
as 1859, on the trial of a slave case under the Fugitive Slave Act in the
United States court before Judge McLean, "he denounced that act as a
defiance, a challenge to a conflict of arms by the South to the North,
and predicted that the day was not far distant when the challenge would
be accepted by the latter." On the defeat of General Scott he decided
to withdraw from politics, but the passage of the Missouri compromise
act in 1854 aroused all his antagonisms to slavery and its further
encroachments, impelling him to once more enter the political field, and
at the sacrifice of personal interests, advocate the organization of an
influence which should prevent the aggressive power of slavery from
further extension. At this period the anti-slavery element in the Whig
party was very large in Michigan. The Abolition party and the Free
Soil Democracy having united, it was determined to call a mass con-
vention of the representatives of all these elements. This call was
issued and the convention assembled at Jackson, July 6th, 1854, when
the union of the three elements resulted in the organization of the
Republican party, and as chairman of the Committee on Resolutions,
Mr. Howard presented the platform (prepared and written solely by
him) upon which the subsequent action of this great party was
based. At this convention Mr. Howard, against his personal protest,
was nominated for attorney general and elected. Mr. Howard was a
member of the committee on the address of the first National Repub-
lican Convention held at Pittsburg, February 22d, 1856. He held the
office of attorney general six years. Reference to the docket of the
Supreme Court of Michigan attests to his industry and the immense
amount of efficient legal labor bestowed, and the thorough legal
ability displayed by him in the discharge of his duties. Kingsley S.
Bingham was elected United States Senator in January, 1859, and died
in October, i86t. On the assembling of the Legislature the January
following, Mr. Howard was chosen to fill the vacancy. His fame as a
lawyer preceded him and he was immediately placed upon the Senate
Judiciary Committee and also on that of Military Affairs. He was one
of the first to favor the amendment of the constitution abolishing
slavery throughout the United States, and the draft of the first and
principal clause was made by him in the exact language as it appears in
the constitution. In January, 1865, Mr. Howard was re-elected to the
Senate for the full term. Mr. Howard made the greatest effort of his
life in his speech of February 25th, 1865, in opposition to the joint



— 174 —

resolution for the recognition of Louisiana as organized under the
military order of General Banks, his doctrine being that a State
seceding from the Union and making war upon the Union ceased to
be a State, and that neither the executive or military could restore it;
that the law-making power alone had the right to determine how and
when it could be restored. "i'his doctrine prevailed. During the
session of 1865-66 .Mr. Howard served on the Joint Committee on
Reconstruction. The principal result of the labors of this committee was
the submi.s.sion of a proposition to amend the constitution now known
HH the fr)urteenth amendment. It passed both houses of Congress and
was submitted to the States for ratification. President Johnson and a
majority of his cabinet str(;nuously opposed and were; able to defeat
its ratification by those States previously restored by the President's
proclamation. Congress, therefore, in order to vindicate its authority
and prevent anarchy in tho.se States, in Man h, 1S67, enacted a series
of statutes known as the Reconstruction Acts, which declares those
States without legal gov(;rnment and subjected them to military domi-
nation until proper State governments could be formed on the princi-
pal of impartial suffrage, and until Congress should readmit them. Mr.
Howard drew the committee's report on the removal of ICdwin M.
Stanton as Secretary of War, by Pre-sident Johnson, cmxlemning the
act and charging the latter with complicity in the New Orleans riots.

(Jn the organization of tfie Senate Committee on the Pacific Rail-
road, Mr. Howard was chosen chairman, which position he held until
the close of his last term. CJn the impeachment of Presid(;nt Johnson
by the House of Representatives, Mr. Ibnvard voted the a( cused
guilty and filed an elaborate opinion thereon. IVior to the expiration
of his senatorial term. President (/rant tendered Mr. Howard the;
Presidency of the Southern claims commission, which he declined, and
a short time prior to his death he was offered the position of Solicitor
General of the Northern Pacific Railway, the acceptance of which he
had under consideration the day before he was .stricken with the di.sease
which terminated his earthly life.

It was said f>f him by one who knew him intimately: "The name
of Jacob JM. Howard should be a hrjuschold word in Michigan. ^ *
During all the years of the State's existence he was one oi its pillars,



Online LibraryFred. (Frederick) CarlisleChronography of notable events in the history of the Northwest territory and Wayne County → online text (page 18 of 51)