Fred. (Frederick) Carlisle.

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

. (page 19 of 51)
Online LibraryFred. (Frederick) CarlisleChronography of notable events in the history of the Northwest territory and Wayne County → online text (page 19 of 51)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

and has left uj)on it the itnjiress of his great mind. I fc grew uj) to man-
hood with it arifl was closely identified with every interest t<!nding to
its develoj)me(it. He was a man of mark. The strang(;r stopped and
looked at him and instantly received thf irrj|)ressiori that he was in the
presence of a man of great physical and mental power. Mr. Hfjward
was a true man true to liis client, to his convlctimis, ar)d ti iic to all the
varied inter(-sts committed to his care. He was true to his country
when armed treason sought its life, :\ru\ \>c loved its iiisl it iitions with a

— 175 —

passionate zeal, to the exclusion of all personal interests. No man can
charge him with trickery or dishonesty. He was by common consent
the leader of the bar. A member of the Senate with large opportuni-
ties, at a time when others are said to have grown rich, he died com-
paratively poor. Jacob M. Howard always kept within the golden
rule. Indeed, like Webster, whom he strongly resembled, he cared
too little for the accumulation of wealth."

Chief Justice Campbell says of him : " Mr. Howard's style of legal
eloquence was remarkable. He never appeared in a court of justice ex-
cept with great gravity of demeanor, not put on for the occasion, but nat-
ural to a man impressed with the feeling that he was a minister of justice.
His diction was of that lofty kind, that, applied to lesser subjects, would
have been very inappropriate, and adopted by lesser men would have
had little effect. But when behind his ponderous language was a
ponderous intellect, and when every word that he said had its meaning,
and every idea came out with all the force that language could give,
then those rounded periods had something of magic in them, and there
was as much gained by his manner as could be secured by any aids of
rhetoric that have ever been devised. In private life he was a model
of manly simplicity, a perfect representative of what republican insti-
tutions should bring forth. He lived and dressed plainly. He had no
false dignity w^hich would lead him to regard any man except upon his
merits. While Mr. Howard possessed this plainness and despised all
things despicable, he had a most profound admiration of everything
that could really ennoble and embellish life. As a scholar, I know of no
one whose reading was more extensive and select. * * * j^g
possessed a keen sense of humor. When he spoke to a jury, or
addressed a court, if that court possessed ordinary qualifications and com-
mon sense, he knew how those ideas would affect the court, and when
he addressed the Senate, or the larger audience of the people of the
United States, in like manner he knew that, whether they agreed
with him or not, he was sure of their understanding and appreciation.
When his fame has become the property of future generations,
although he may be remembered for his learning, for his eloquence
and for the qualities that have most attracted admiration, he will be
still further venerated and remembered as a representative American
who valued, above all things, the great and essential principles of man-

While a member of the United States Senate, Mr. Howard had as
associates, Fessenden, Morton, Reverdy Johnson, Sumner, Wade,
Morrell (of Maine), and Edmunds, men whose names will pass into
history as representing the embodiment of legal acumen, scholarly
attainments, and a profound knowledge of constitutional requirements
and laws of nations, with whom he ranked as peer, and b}- whom he
was respected, loved and revered.

— 176 —

Among the most important criminal cases in which Mr. Howard
was engaged, and in the trial of which he gained special distinction
and a national reputation, were the great railroad conspiracy case in
which the late William H. Seward was opposing counsel, the " Tyler "
case, and the Adams Express robbery case, and of civil cases the
Chevaher Repeutigny case, decided in the United States Supreme
Court in 1865. Although in his religious views he was unorthordox,
he was a daily reader of the Bible, which he regarded "the greatest
book on earth."

In 1835 Mr. Howard married Miss Catherine A. Shaw, of Ware,
Mass. She died at Detroit.

On the 31st of March, 187 1, he was stricken with apoplexy, and
was unconscious from that hour. He died at 3 a. m., April 2d, 187 1,
leaving five surviving children, Mrs. Dr. Hildreth (since deceased),
Mrs. Samuel Brady, Col. J. M. Howard, of Minnesota; Hamilton G.
Howard, attorney, Detroit, and Charles M. Howard, attorney.


"AH we possess on earth, is the reward of labor protected by law. It is law
alone which keeps all things in order ; guards the sleep of infancy, the energy of man-
hood and weakness of age. It hovers over us by day, it keeps watch and ward over
the slumbers of the night ; it goes with us through the trackless paths of the mighty
waters. The high and the low, each are within its view, and beneath its ample folds.
It protects beauty and virtue, punishes crime and wickedness, and vindicates right.
Honor and life, liberty and property, the wide world over are its high objects. Stern,
yet kind ; pure, yet pitying ; steadfast, immutable, and just. It is the attribute of
God on earth. It proceeds from his bosom, and encircles with its care, power and
blessings. All honor to those who administer it in purity, and reverence its high

The foregoing, being the utterances of the subject of this sketch,

furnishes a far better diagnosis of the character of the man than any

biographer can write.

James A. VanDyke was born in Franklin county, Pa., December
10, 1833. He was the eldest son of William VanDyke, whose ances-
tors were among the first builders of New Amsterdam; who, after its
surrender to the English in 1664, first went to Mar3dand, and subse-
quently settled in Pennsylvania, where James A. VanDyke was born.
The mother of James was Nancy Duncan. On the paternal side, her
ancestors were from Scotland, and located in the mountainous county
of Cumberland, Pennsylvania.

William and Nancy Duncan VanDyke had six children : Lambert,
who settled and died in Red Run county, Texas; Ellen, who lived and
died in her native county and State; William R., who also Hved and
died in the county of his birth ; John H. (who became a lawyer), and

— 177 —

Samuel W., who removed to Wisconsin, where they both died, and
James A., the subject of this memorial, who, after being fitted by pri-
vate tutors, entered Mercer College, Pennsylvania, in 1828, from which
he graduated with high honors in 1832, and commenced the study of
law with the Hon. George Chambers, of Chambersburg. At the end
of a year he continued his studies under the direction of the Hon.
William Price, of Hagerstown, Md., who fought a duel with the
Hon. Frank Thomas, the father of Gov. Thomas, of Maryland. He
completed his studies of law with him and then went to Baltimore,
where he remained until 1834, when he started for the West, intending
to locate in Pittsburg, but either the atmosphere or some other influ-
ence, making it uncongenial, he decided to go further west. He had
a letter of introduction to the late Alexander D. Frazer, and on reach-
ing Detroit, was persuaded to enter his office, and at the end of six
months (the time the law required) was admitted to practice his pro-
fession at the bar, of which he was a member, until called to a higher
and more exalted one.

In 1835 he formed an association with the Hon. Charles W,
Whipple. This connection continued until Mr. Whipple was called to
the bench of the Supreme Court of Michigan, in 1838. He then
formed a co-partnership with Mr. E. B. Harrington, which was dis-
solved by the death of that gentleman in 1844, when the firm of Van
Dyke & Emmons was established, and remained such until both mem-
bers had practically retired from general practice.

As a public man, Mr. VanDyke in 1840, was appointed Prosecut-
ing Attorney of Wayne county, and while occupying that position
became the terror of all violators of law, clearing the city and county of
all the perpetrators of crime.

In 1843 he was elected alderman, and became chairman of the com-
mittee of ways and means. This, at that period was an important
position, as the city was almost hopelessly in debt. At great personal
sacrifice, Mr. VanDyke by his indefatigable labor, succeeded in saving
it from bankruptcy, and restored its credit. Subsequently, in 1847,
when elected mayor, he was able to formulate and establish a system
which has prevented a recurrence of financial embarrassment,

Mr. VanDyke was long a member of the board of water com-
missioners, and in that capacity, with his characteristic sagacity, he
matured the plans which have since made that branch of the city
government so efficient.

Mr. VanDyke was a working fireman, running with the Engine of
Protection, No. i, and for seven years manned its brakes, and served
the fire department as its president for four years. It was through him
it became possessed of the hall and realty, the proceeds from the recent
sale of which, and the revenue from its rents, have since furnished sub-
stantial aid to indigent firemen and their families.

— 178 —

It was a privilege as well as an honor to be considered a friend of
James A. VanDyke. They inhabited not only Detroit, in the State of
Michigan, but were found in every city of the Northwest, as well as
those of the Eastern States. His name was a synonym for honor,
integrity, sagacity, civic virtue, fidelity and " defender of law." He
exhibited a love and appreciation for art and literature, which in later
life he was able to gratify, as the walls of his house and shelves of his
library bore silent witness.

In social life, the gentleness of his manners won for him the affec-
tion of all he came in contact with, while his strength of will, energy,
industry and enterprise, secured the admiration and veneration of the
good, and the fear and respect of the bad.

While he revered and obeyed his father, who was somewhat aus-
tere, and imbued with the rigid notions of past generations ; for his
mother, whom he was said to have resembled in person, as well as in
tenderness of heart and depth of feeling, he loved and idolized.

In his domestic relations he exhibited all that love and affection
which he inherited from his mother, which spurred him to accumulate
the means to gratify all their desires and wishes, and this he accom-
plished without parsimony or encroachment upon the rights of others.

In December, 1835, he married Elizabeth, daughter of the late
Hon. Peter Desnoyers, a sketch of whom will befound else where in
this volume. This union proved a happy one, and was blessed with
eleven children, eight of whom survived him. He departed this life at
his home. May 7th, 1855.


Charles C. Trowbridge, a native of the Empire State, was born at
Albany, N. Y., December 29, 1800. His father, Luther Trowbridge,
was of Massachusetts ancestry, was an officer in one of the regi-
ments from that State, and served with distinction during the Revolu-
tionary War. At its close, he removed to the State of New York. His
mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Tillam. His parents were mar-
ried at Albany N. Y., in 1786. Mr. Trowbridge was one of six

To those not his contemporaries, it is difficult to express in words,
just what the life and acts of such a man as Mr. Trowbridge must have
been to so endear him to those who knew him, and we can only by a
review of the notable events incident thereto, in which he was the chief
actor and participator, demonstrate why he was so loved and res-
pected while living, and his memory so reverentially cherished since
his death.

— 179 —

At the early age of twelve years, Mr. Trowbridge sought and
obtained a situation as clerk in the store of Mr. Horatio Ross, a mer-
chant of Oswego, New York State.

In 1 819 he decided to come West, and removed to and settled in
Detroit, which was his home until called to a more beautiful city, to
dwell in a " house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

Soon after his arrival in the City of Detroit, he gained the friend-
ship and confidence of General Lewis Cass, then Governor of the
Territory of Michigan, and by him was entrusted with many important
duties connected with the treaty negotiations then pending between the
general government and the Indians of the Northwest Territory. So
well did he perform the work assigned him, and so highly was he
esteemed by General Cass, that on accepting the portfolio of War from
President Jackson, he tendered Mr. Trowbridge a prominent position
in his department, but his disinclination to a political life, and his love
for Detroit, led him to decline the honor.

In 1825 he accepted the position of "cashier" of the old Bank of
Michigan. A brief review of the history of this bank, and of its condi-
tion at this period, will show the grave responsibilities assumed by Mr.
Trowbridge, and its subsequent history, the manner in which he dis-
charged them.

The first bank established in the Northwest was the Bank of
Detroit, chartered September 15th, 1806. Its bills circulated until 1809,
and from that date to 1818 there was no local currency. Bills of New
York and Ohio banks (many of them worthless) were the only medium
of exchange. The necessities of business men demanded a bank, and the
Governor and Judges consenting, the old Bank of Michigan was incor-
porated in 1 818. The bank began with limited means, and the business
was small. Two-thirds of its capital stock of $100,000 was owned
east, and of the balance only $16,000 had been paid in. In the fall of
1824, $20,000 more was paid up, and the eastern capitalists fearing
some mismanagement, sent Mr. Eurotus P. Hastings as their agent to
investigate its affairs. His investigation developed a shortage of $10,-
300 in the cashier's account, $40,000 in discounted paper which had
matured without having been protested, and a general lack of confi-
dence as to the solvency of the bank, both at home and in the east.
Such was the situation of this institution in the autumn of 1825, when
Mr. Trowbridge consented to accept the conduct of its affairs. Under
his, and the management of Mr. Hastings, within three years, the
$40,000 of unsecured paper had been collected (except $300), the
capital stock of the bank had been paid up, and increased to the limit
of $500,000. It possessed unlimited confidence at home and abroad.
No enterprise undertaken at Detroit or elsewhere in the territory but
was dependent upon, and received aid from the old Bank of Michigan,

— 180 —

between 1830 and 1836. Its deposits at times reached over $3,000,000,
and its bills circulated as freely in New York, Texas, Louisiana or
Maine, as in Michigan.

In 1836, Mr. Trowbridge resigned as cashier, but in 1839, "luch
against his inclination, was induced to accept the presidency of the
bank. His relations continued until the final winding up of its affairs in
1854. Much space has been given to the circumstances attending the
history of Mr. Trowbridge during this period, because he himself
regarded it as being the most important era in his business life. Not
only as relating to himself but to the development of Detroit, and the
whole State, in point of substantial growth, in wealth and general pros-
perity. Positions of trust, honor and responsibility, held by him subse-
quently, will be detailed in chronological order : how he filled them,
and discharged the duties pertaining or imposed, the results achieved
and existing will show.

In 1834, ^^- Trowbridge was mayor of Detroit. History will relate
the onerous duties and cares devolving, and how they were performed.
He lost sight of his personality in his anxiety to relieve others from the
cholera pestilence which prevailed during that period.

From 1844 ^o ^^54 ^^^ ^^^ president of the Michigan State Bank.
The financial men of Detroit and the State can attest to the successful
management of the affairs of this institution.

In 1853 he was appointed Secretary-Treasurer and resident
director of the Detroit & Milwaukee Railway Company.

In 1863 he was elected the president of that company, and retained
the position until 1875, when its affairs, for the purpose of reorganiza-
tion, went into the hands of a receiver, to which office he was appointed
by the Circuit Court, and continued to hold it until the road was pur-
chased by the Great Western of Canada.

In all enterprises tending to improve his adopted city and State, Mr.
Trowbridge is found to have been the moving spirit, from building the
first saw mill at Detroit in 1832 to the organization of the Allegan Com-
pany in 1834, he with Messrs. Samuel Hubbard, Edward Monroe and
Pliny Cutter, as his associates, projected the Village of Allegan, pur-
chasing large tracts of land ; erected saw mills, improved the Kalamazoo
river, making it navigable to Allegan, and assisted in the construction of
steamboats, to ply upon it. All these operations required the employ-
ment of large sums of money. Mr. Trowbridge was entrusted by his
partners with its disbursement. On the closing up of the business, he
says : " It is a source of gratification to me, that during the long years
from 1834 down to the end, which is to a recent date, not one letter or
word of dissension ever took place between the early partners or their
successors. It was understood at the beginning that I should act for
the parties at this point, and I have bushels of letters and documents,
and many volumes of clerk-craft, full of the history of those times."

— 181 —

Mr, Trowbridge was one of the projectors and a director of the
Detroit & St. Joseph Railroad, which in 1836 was sold to the State.

Mr. Trow^bridge was earnest in the promotion and establishment
of all religious, benevolent and educational enterprises. We find his own
and the name of Mrs. Trowbridge prominently identified with the
Episcopal church in 1832, also as officers, uniting in the support and
service of the Ladies' Orphan Association of Detroit, instituted May,
1836. He was one of the organizers of the "Algic Society," instituted
March, 1832, for the purpose of encouraging missionary efforts in evan-
gelizing the Northwestern tribes, and promoting education, agriculture,
industry and peace among them. His associates were: William H. R.
Schoolcraft, E. P. Hastings, Robert Stewart, Shubal Conant, Rev.
Lyman Beecher, D. D., then of Cincinnati, and other well known phil-
anthropists of that day. In 1835 he was chosen a lay delegate to the
general convention of the Episcopal church, and has been a delegate to
all subsequent conventions since, being the oldest lay delegate in the

Mr. Trowbridge never aspired to pohtical preferment. He reluc-
tantly accepted the Whig nomination for Governor in 1837, but was
defeated by a few votes by Stevens T. Mason, formerly Territorial
Governor. He w-as one of the original members of the Historical
Society (now the Historical and Pioneer Society, with which it was
merged in 187 1.) His address before the Society, December 29th,
1862, just prior to the death of the president, Judge B. F. H. Witherell,
will appear vei-batim elsewhere in this volume. He was tendered a com-
pHmentary banquet at the Russell House, in his adopted city, and never
in the history of Detroit or of the State, has there been such a gather-
ing of representative men, famous as farmers, manufacturers, merchants,
educators, lawyers, doctors, soldiers and statesmen, to do honor to this
Christian business man. This manifestation of regard, and the utter-
ances and expressions of those present, either in person or by letter, is
a sufficient answer to the question: Why was Charles C. Trowbridge
so loved and respected, and his memory cherished and held in such
reverence after death ?

In 1826 Mr. Trowbridge married Miss Catherine Whipple Sibley,
eldest daughter of Judge Solomon Sibley, who settled in Michigan at
an early day, and was one of the Territorial Judges of Michigan
Supreme Court.

Mr. Trowbridge died at his residence, 494 Jefferson avenue, April
3, 1883, in the house built by himself in 1826. The members of his
family surviving are Mrs. Sidney D. Miller, Mrs. William D. Wilkins,
Mrs. George Hendrie, Miss Mary Trowbridge and Harry Trowbridge.

— 182


Rev. Marcus Swift was a native of the State of New York and
was born in the town of Pahiiyra, in that State, June 23d, i793- His
father, Gen. John Swift, was born in Connecticut on the 17th day of
June, 1 761. His mother, whose maiden name was Rhoda Sawyer,
was born in 1766. Their death occurred as follows: The father, Gen.
John Swift, was killed by a man whom he had taken prisoner at the cap-
ture of Fort George, July 13th, 18 14. His mother died at Palmyra, N.
Y., on the 19th day of May, 1806. They had five children, three sons
and two daughters.

The Rev. Marcus Swift worked on a farm in early life, using the
means for obtaining an education which the times then afforded, to the
best advantage, as his subsequent life has demonstrated. He married
when at the age of eighteen and, at that of twenty, became a member
of the Methodist Episcopal church. In 1S25 he decided to come west,
and in the fall of that year located a tract of land in the township of
Nankin, in Wayne county, to which he moved his family, carrying his
goods in a row boat up the River Rouge, to Dearborn. He, with his
family, consisting of his wife and four children, together with his
brother-in-law, William Osband, and family, found quarters for a short
time at the home of J^enjamin Williams. Without money, team or
human aid, except his two little boys, twelve and eight years of age, he
built a cabin, and before it had a door or window, dedicated it to
Almighty God by prayer and singing.

At this period the present townships of Redford, Livonia, Nankin
and Dearborn were embraced in one, called " Bucklin township." He
was elected nine successive times supervisor, and held the ofhce of
justice of the peace (by appointment of President Jackson) until the
Territory of Michigan was admitted as a State. In 1833, the Metho-
dist Episcopal church having organized a conference, he was given
charge of Oakland circuit. This compelled him to make a journey of
125 miles every four weeks, preaching thirty-one times, receiving for
the two years the sum of $125 in almost every known article, save
money, as a compensation. Mr. Swift was an ardent anti-slavery man,
and believing it to be his duty to maintain his views on that question,
which the church to which he belonged deemed unwise to agitate, in
May, 1841, he, together with others, severed their connection with the
M. E. church and organized a Wesleyan Methodist church in Mich-
igan. In May, 1843, a large convention of seceders assembled at
Utica, New York, in which nine States were well represented. This
convention established "The Wesleyan Methodist connection of
America," composed of 170 preachers and embracing a membership
of eight thousand. Thus, through the agitation of the slavery ques-

— 183 —

tion in the church, began the first movement towards eradicating that
system from both church and State. Mr, Swift took anti-slavery
grounds as early as 1834, and was refused ordination as an elder of the
M. E. church solely because of his refusing to desist agitating that
question. The feeling was so strong against him that for 3'ears he
endured persecution and repeated assaults at the hands of violent
mobs. Nevertheless, he continued his hostility against the institution
of slavery, and lived to see it overthrown. He died February 19th,
1865, at the house of his son, Dr. John M. Swift, of Northville.

Mr. Swift possessed a noble physique. Six feet three inches in
height, with a wiry muscular development, designed to undergo great
bodily hardship. These, combined with strong will power, tempered
with a kind heart and strong sense of right, were regulated by an intellec-
tual capacity far above the average. Nature seemed to have designed
him for the work he accomplished, and he left to his posterity the
legacy of a well spent life. Well could he say : " The principles for
which I labored and fought for amid reverses and persecutions, are
now the ruling sentiments of the nation, I have lived in a glorious age
and my eyes have seen the power of darkness give way before the
reign of liberty and equality."

Mr. Swift was twice married, his first wife being Miss Anna
Osband, who was the daughter of Weaver Osbutid, a soldier of the
Revolution, They were married April i6th, 181 2, She died at

Online LibraryFred. (Frederick) CarlisleChronography of notable events in the history of the Northwest territory and Wayne County → online text (page 19 of 51)