Fred. (Frederick) Carlisle.

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

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Nankin, March nth, 1842. He married the second time, Miss Huldah
C, Peck, of Milford, Oakland county, and survived her but a few
months. She died November loth, 1864.

Perhaps no man of his time in eastern Michigan left a stronger
imprint upon all that concerned its early civilization for good, than did
Rev. Marcus Swift, His intellectual and moral forces were not only
gigantic in strength, but were assiduously employed for the public
good, with but little reward, save that which virtuous action always
receives. The molding touch of his long life of active effort has
not been effaced from the material, civil and religious status of the
present time. He was one of the great moral heroes of that day and
his time was the formative period of the present era in church and


Dr. John M. Swift, of Northville, Wayne county, is a native of
Michigan, and was born in the township of Nankin, Wayne county,
February nth, 1832.

He is the son of the late Rev. Marcus Swift, whose memoir will

— 184 —

be found in this volume. His mother's maiden name was Anna
Osband, a record of whose birth, marriage and death is also made the
subject of memoir.

The Doctor's boyhood was spent at his father's home in Nankin,
under the teaching of his father's second wife, whose maiden name
was Huldah C. Peck. He then attended school at Plymouth, and three
terms at the Griffin Academy at Ypsilanti, and one year at college
before reaching the age of nineteen. Then severe illness overtook
him and he was compelled to give up his college course. In 1854 ^^
graduated, after attending full courses at the Eclectic Medical Institute
at Cincinnati, having, previous to entering, spent two years in study,
and also clinical courses in the hospital. Rush Medical College, Chi-
cago, conferred a degree upon him in 1864 on the recommendation of
Zina Pitcher, M. D., and Professor Moses Gunn and other noted
medical men, in consideration of a very able original treatise on
diseases, more particularly diphtheria, and his general professional

After graduation, he engaged with his brother, Orson Swift, in the
practice of his profession in Wayne county, settling at Northville,
where he still continues to practice, and is recognized as a leading

He is a member of the Wayne County Medical Societ3^ One of
the organizer of the Union Medical Society of Wayne, Washtenaw and
Oakland, of which he has served as president. He has been a mem-
ber of several other literary and medical societies, both in the United
States and Europe, and a delegate to the American Medical Associa-
tion in 1875.

He has always been an active Republican and was elected a mem-
ber of the State Legislature in 1864, from the fourth district, and was
strongly urged to accept the nomination for Congress in 1880, but
feeling that his professional duties would not permit, he declined.

He united with the Wesleyan church at the age of ten, and later
changed his church relation, joining the Presbyterian church at North-
ville, and has always retained and practiced his early religious con-
victions, and as a Christian physician, in cases of serious illness, deemed
it his duty to impress upon his patients the necessity of being at peace
with their Maker.

He received from the late Governor Bagley the appointment, and
acted as one of the commissioners in locating the State House of Cor-
rection at Ionia.

On February nth, 1852, the doctor married Miss Emily B. Baker,
daughter of Capt. (jeorge J. Baker, of Grand Rapids. They had only
one child, a daughter, the late Lizzie Swift Milne, who was born
October ist, 1854, married George A. Milne, February 13, 1877, and

— 185 —

died January 5, 1884. She was a lady of rare gifts and accomplish-
ments, widely known and beloved. Her death was an affliction to her
parents which threatened for a long time to completely cloud their
lives and paralyze their activity. She left two children, little boys,
who have a home with the Doctor.

Two children of the Doctor's deceased brother. Dr. Orson R.
Swift, who became orphans in childhood, shared with his own daugh-
ter a place in the hearts and home of the Doctor and his wife, being
cared for and educated as their own children. These are Marcus G.
B. Swift, L. L. B., of Fall River, Mass., and Mrs. Camilla A. Dubuar,
of Northville, Michigan.

Dr. Swift has always been an active and leading man in all bene-
ficent and public matters, occupying many places of trust and con-
fidence. He is a great student, well versed in literar}^, political,
scientific and religious affairs. As a speaker he is fluent and
forcible, and often appears before the public on special occasions. For
sixteen years he was engaged in mercantile business, but not as the
managing partner or proprietor, never having abandoned his profes-
sional work or studies. To him is due much of the material, educa-
tional, religious and social pre-eminence which the flourishing village,
where he has resided thirty-six years, enjoys. He is still in the
strength of manhood's years, and an apparent prosperous future awaits


Although the subject of this sketch did not reside in Wayne
county immediately prior to his decease, yet he came to Wayne county
and remained long enough to become closely identified with its pro-
gressive history; was commissioned a justice of the peace by the then
Governor Cass, did much to improve society and to advance the
material interests of the county, and to increase its population. He
had confidential relations with General Cass, which continued during
life. The following extract from his official docket, as justice of the
peace for Wayne county, while a resident of what is now Brownstown,
then known as " Moguago," may serve as a reminder to such as are
living, and were his contemporaries, also to preserve a record of their
marriages :


" Thursday, the 9th December, John Forbes to Leticia Cortright,
by license.

Wednesday, February 28, 1821, Isaac Tyler to Eleanor Knapp.

— 186 —

Tuesday, April 3rd, 1821, Robert Garrity to Mary Eliza Brownell.
Saturday, May 26, 182 1, Chas. Rulo to Mariah Starbuck.
Tuesday, January 15, 1822, William Hunter, of Fort Meigs, to
Lucy Gardner, of Huron River.

Wednesday, 31st July, 1822, Isaac A. Combes to Rachel Davis.
Wednesday, 6th February, 1822, Levi Collier to Sarah West, by
license from the County Court of Monroe.

Wednesday, February 6, 1822, Hiram Hicox to Betsey Hazzard.
March 20th, 1822, Francis Hix to EHza Long, by license.

Wednesday, November 26, 1822, Jessie Mills to Mary Hitchcock,
both of Brownstown.

Tuesday, 4th February, 1824, John G. Richardson to Charlotte
Long, by license.

Tuesday, the i6th of November, 1824, John Conrad to Huldah
Hazzard, by license.

Wednesday, 24th March, 1824, Richard Long to Sally Lyons, by

Monday, May 30, 1825, Seth Dunham to Olive Gamber, license.

Thursday, 7th February, 1828, Samuel Wing to Sophrona Wal-
lace. License.

Tuesday, November 20th, 1827, Rev. Elias Pattie to Elizabeth
Walker, authority of a license from the Wayne County Court.

Monda}', October 16, 1825, Henry B. Smith to Sophia Collins.
Tuesday, i8th April, 1826, John F. Smith to Leticia Hubbard.
Thursday, 25th May, 1826, Adam Hicox, Jr., to Julia Munger.
Wednesday, 21st March, 1827, Ashael L. Bird to Lorain Fenton."

Judge John Sturgis was born in Philadelphia, Chester county. Pa.,
October 24, 1787. His father, Amos Sturgis, was also a native of the
same place. His grandfather, Thomas, emigrated from England, and
settled in Philadelphia about 1700.

The father of Judge Sturgis was commissioned as captain by
General Washington, and served with him during the Revolutionary
War. At its close, or soon after, he removed with his family to Great
Bend, on the Susquehanna river, and from thence in 1800, to Canada,
where he took up a large tract of land on Grand River, near Mount
Pleasant. He was accompanied by the Ellis family, and his father.
The two families numbered sixteen, and thus made a society of their
own for the then Qew settlement.

In 1807 Judge Sturgis left his father's home, and made a journey
down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans, thence to
Boston and at the end of a year returned home, April 22nd. In 1816

— 187 —

he married Miss Ardellacy Miller, of Mt. Pleasant, Canada, born in
the State of New York, July 8th, 1797. The Judge remained in
Canada until the year 1818, when he removed with his family to
Michigan and located first in the township of Monguagon. Five child-
ren were born to him there. He was commissioned by Governor Cass
as justice of the peace, and administered the duties of the office to the
satisfaction of the people, and with honor to himself, and the gratifica-
tion of General Cass. The Judge carried on farming, and also kept a

In 1828 he sold out his interests in Wayne county, and removed
with his family to St. Joseph county, and established what is now the
village of Sturgis.

In 1829 General Cass appointed him one of the Associate Judges
of St. Joseph county, for the term of four years. He ever cherished a
sincere regard for General Cass, and the commissions executed by
him were guarded by the Judge with jealous care so long as he Hved,
and are still held by his son, with equal reverence and regard as valu-
able mementoes.

At his death Judge Sturgis owned a large amount of village pro-
perty, and 1400 acres of the most valuable farming lands in the county
of St. Joseph. So far as the laws permitted, he by will provided that
none of this land should be sold out of the family. He was a man of
great firmness of character and independence of opinion; not that he
deemed himself wiser than others, because he always conceded the
rights of others, and was open to conviction, but adhered to his own
views and maintained them in a firm and independent manner until
logical reason assured him of their incorrectness.

In politics he was a Democrat, and in 1836 was elected one of the
Associate Judges of his county, and in 1840 was appointed postmaster
of Sturgis.

In all his relations as a public officer or as a private citizen, he
maintained an integrity of purpose and action which gained for him the
confidence and respect of all who knew him.

Judge John Sturgis died at his home in Sturgis on the i6th
day of April, 1872. He left a family consisting of his widow, six
sons and four daughters, viz. : WilHam, born at Mt. Pleasant, Canada,
April 14, 1817; Jane, born at Brownstown, Wayne county, Michigan,
December 7, 1819; Catherine, born at Brownstown, July 24, 1821;
John, born at Brownstown, August 25, 1823; George, born at Browns-
town, December 29, 1825; Amos, born at Brownstown, January 17,
1828; David, born on Sturgis Prairie, St. Joseph Co., Michigan,
February 11, 1830; Thomas, born on Sturgis Prairie, July 30, 1832;
Hannah, born on Sturgis Prairie, May 12, 1838; Henrietta, born on
Sturgis Prairie, September 9, 1840. All living, and with the exception
of one, all reside at Sturgis.

— 188 —

When mo\nng from Brownstown, the Judge and familj'^ were
twenty-one days reaching Sturgis, with two wagons and two yoke of
oxen on each. It took him one week to go to mill, and he was often
obliged to swim the St. Joseph in reaching it.


" If you create something you must be something." Goethe spoke
the experience of all self-made men, and men of enterprise, and we are
of the opinion that this must have been the directing thought which led
our early pioneers to leave the pleasures and comforts of an old settled
country for one where hardship and privation must be encountered in
order to create what they before enjoyed. Therefore the desire to be
something must have been the dominant influence which induced
Jonathan Shearer to venture into the " Swamps of Michigan " as the
territory was then designated by the older States.

Mr. Shearer was born in Franklin county, Connecticut, August
23, 1796. He comes from Revolutionary ancestors. William Shearer,
his father, was born at Palmer, Massachusetts, in 1748. His father,
James Shearer, was bom in Antrim, Scotland, and the father of James
was born in Germanv, so that the great-great-grandfather of the sub-
ject of this sketch was a German. On the maternal side he was of
Enghsh descent. The father of Betsey Morton (the mother), came
from Liverpool, England, about 1750, and settled in Boston, and during
the war of the Revolution lived under the same roof with the elder
John x\dams.

Mr. Shearer's grandfather had eight sons, all of whom were in the
Continental army. The father of Mr. Shearer, was the second son,
and enlisted at Lexington in 1775, served under Ethan Allen, General
Stark and General Gates, respectively. At the close of the war he
settled on a farm in Franklin county, Massachusetts.

Mr. Shearer was the seventh son; as such, his father desired him
to become a physician, and accordingly, after attending the academy
of Professor Hitchcock, at Deerfield, and that of Dr. Chase, in Rensse-
laer county. New York, he entered a doctor's office in New Hampshire,
and began the study of medicine. At the end of two years, finding the
stud}' distasteful, he returned to the farm.

While engaged in the study of medicine, he taught school during
the winter.

He remained on the farm two years and then became the agent of
an uncle in looking after his farm, collecting his loans, and while so
engaged, business took him to New York and Albany frequently
where he heard much said of Western New York, and he was induced

— 189 —

to purchase a small farm in Ontario county. This was about the time
of the opening of the Erie canal, and he had an opportunity of attend-
ing the reception given Governor Clinton on the occasion of its celebra-
tion. He continued on this farm from 1822 to 1836, when in the spring
he made a trip to Michigan, and finding it not a swamp, he purchased
a farm in Plymouth, Wayne county, and located thirteen hundred acres
of land, six hundred in Ingham and the remainder in Genessee and
Lapeer counties, and in June, 1836, removed to his farm in Plymouth
with his family, where he lived until his decease. He named his hig-
ham county farm " Bunker Hill," in memory of the battle in which his
father took a part. Mr. Shearer was a very successful farmer, taking
annual premiums at the county and State fairs. He was one of the
organizers of the Michigan Agricultural Society, and for ten years its
vice-president. He was also a member and one of the founders of the
State Pioneer Society, of which he was president in 1876.

His military experience was one year's service with General
Macomb, when only fourteen years of age, and was at the battle of
Plattsburg, a heutenant in the Massachusetts militia seven years, and
as colonel, commissioned by Governor Stevens T. Mason after coming
to Michigan. As a public man, he was supervisor of the township of
Plymouth many terms: while in that capacity was one of the number
to select the site and establish the Wayne County Poor Farm, being
chairman of the committee. He purchased the farm from Colonel
Levi Cook, giving his individual note as part payment. He served
three years as Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. In
1841 was elected to the State Senate and served three sessions as sena-
tor. In 185 1 was elected Member of the House, serving two years.
He declined all subsequent office. As a member of the Legislature he
was active in all matters and measures providing for the school system,
and secured the establishment of the State normal school at Ypsilanti.
In 1867 was elected a member of the Constitutional Convention.

Mr. Shearer was a Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican. Was a
delegate to almost every State convention, and always took an active
interest in political matters, believing it to be his duty as an American
citizen. He was not, however, a bitter partisan.

Mr. Shearer in 1S22 married Miss Christiana Durvall, at Phelps,
Ontario county, N. Y. She was a native of Newport, Rhode Island,
and of French descent, her paternal ancestor coming over with
Lafayette during the war of the Revolution. She died in 1867, leaving
six children. George, of Jackson, and F. J., of Greenville, are still
living. He married the second time in 1871, Miss Lydia Gray, of Ash-
field, Massachusetts, whose mother, Betsey Lyon, was cousin to Mary
Lyon, who established Mt. Holyoke Seminary.

Mr. Shearer was a member of the Masonic fraternity, and was a

— 190 —

good and upright Mason, and always sought to practice and inculcate
the moral principles of the order. He died September 26, 188 1, and
leaves a record of having practically demonstrated Goethe's sentiment,
used as an introduction to this sketch.


There is an exact geometrical justice, that runs through the universe and is
interwoven in the contexture of all things. This is a result of that wise and almighty
goodness which presides over all things." — Granville.

" His faith in some nice tenets might be wrong. His life, I'm sure, was in the
right. " — Cowley.

The man who has risen above the adverse circumstances of early
life in struggling with poverty, in restraining evil passions, in avoiding
corrupt and vicious associations and surroundings, reaching a compe-
tency in worldly wealth, securing the confidence of good men and the
respect of a whole community, is entitled to the commendation of, and
to be considered a worthy exemplar to the young of all generations.

A review of the life of Mr. Alanson Sheley would seem to furnish
an illustration of such a man.

Mr. Sheley was born August 14th, 1809, at Albany, New York.
He must have been early deprived of his parents, as we find that at the
age of nine years he removed with his grandparents to Jefferson
county, New York, and after spending eight years with them working
on a farm, at the age of seventeen he commenced to learn the trade of
a stone mason with Henry Raught, a builder, at Watertown, N. Y.
After a three year's apprenticeship he was employed as foreman in the
construction of the Reddie canal, in Canada. In 1831 he took passage
on the steamer "Wm. Penn," bound from Buffalo to Detroit, and
reached the end of steamboat navigation at that day, August 31st, and
here he decided to take up his abode. Detroit then contained about
two thousand inhabitants, composed of English, French and Indians.
He located first in a log cabin, on the corner of what is now Bates and
Larned streets. In the summer of 1832 he was given the superin-
tendency of the construction of a light house on Thunder Bay, and in
July began work with fourteen men. The building was completed the
October following. At that period there were but few vessels on the
lakes, hence he and his men were brought to Detroit in the schooner
"Marshal Ney," then owned by the father of the late Captain E. B.
Ward, commanded by Captain John Stewart and which was specially
sent for them. On his return to Detroit he began the life of a con-
tractor and builder and in 1834 built the First Presbyterian church, on
the corner of Woodward avenue and Larned street, which, twenty
years after, was burned.

— 191 —

In 1835, the territorial government having granted a charter for
the Black River Steam Saw Mill and Lumber Company, Mr. Sheley
became its manager. He retained this position until 1855 and then
continued the business on his own account until 1858, when he retired.
Meanwhile, however, he constructed, in 185 1, a four story brick store
on Woodward avenue, between Lamed and Congress streets, which
was occupied by the Hon. Jacob S. Farrand as a drug store, until 1859,
when he formed a co-partnership with him under the firm name of
"Farrand & Sheley." The firm continued to occupy this store as
wholesale druggists until 1872, when they erected one of the largest
drug houses in the west, and which is now Farrand, Williams & Co.,
Mr. Sheley still retaining an interest.

In his religious views Mr. Sheley is Presbyterian, being a member
of the First Presbyterian church, in which he has been a ruling elder
for forty years. His political convictions were Whig during the exist-
ence of that party, and since 1854 ^^^ those of an ardent, zealous,
Republican. As a public man Mr. Sheley has been a member of the
Board of Sewer Commissioners and a member of the City Council,
and during the sessions of 1867-6S and 1871-2 a member of the
State Senate.

That he has lived a correct life, notwithstanding the many temp-
tations he must have encountered in pursuit of his peculiar avocation,
is apparent even at this day, as he continues to manage one of the
branches of the business house of Farrand, Williams & Co.

Mr. Sheley is strong in his friendships and generous to those in
distress. Although a strict temperance man himself, he is not without
sympathy for those who, not possessing his firmness to resist, have
j'ielded to temptation. To such he is ever ready to extend a helping
hand, and by kind words seek their reformation.

In business he has been eminently successful, having been influ-
enced in its conduct by a due regard for honesty, industry, frugality
and the rights of others.

We cannot refrain from relating an incident connected with our
first acquaintance, as illustrating Mr. Sheley's tenacity for his friends.
Time, 1854; place, Ann Arbor; occasion, congressional convention.
His friend, whom he desired to nominate, was found at the opening to
be in the minority. The friends of the opposing candidate were very
earnest, and in their zeal became somewhat personal in their attack
upon Mr. Sheley. He met them in such a good natured manner that
after a contest of three hours he had w^on the sympathy of the dele-
gates from one of the counties previously voting for his friend's oppon-
ent, thereby securing the nomination of his friend. It was simply a
victory for persistent firmness exhibited in a kindly way over local
jealousy and misdirected zeal. '

— 192 —

On September ist, 1835, ^^ married Miss Ann Elizabeth Drury,
of Detroit, Michigan, daughter of Luther and Annetta Drur3^ She
was born at Plattsburg, New York, October 15th, 181 2.

They have one son, George, and two daughters, wives of L. E.
Clark and D. W. Brooks, of Detroit.

Although Mr. Sheley has never been abroad, he has been quite an
extensive traveler in his own country, always taking his wife and child-
ren, and oftentimes children's children, with him. Twice he has
visited California and the Pacific coast, and insists he cannot enjoy Hfe
without having his family around him. Mr. Sheley has spent his sum-
mers, for many years, on Mackinac Island, Michigan, where he has a
lovely home, known as Cedar Point Cottage. It is situated at the east
end of the island and is surrounded with extensive grounds, having a
beautiful outlook on Lake Huron. Here, with the members of his
household, he and his good wife extend hospitalities and good cheer to
all. On the r4th of August, every year, on the anniversary of Mr.
Sheley's birth, an informal reception is held at the cottage, and throngs
of friends call to congratulate the old gentleman and wish him many
happy returns. This birthday celebration is quite the event of the
season, as the cottage and grounds are beautifully illuminated and fire-
works and music add to the attraction of the evening. Mr. Sheley
has four grandsons, and in their boyhood he promised them a $1,000
check on their twenty-tirst birthday, provided they never used tobacco
in any form, never drank a drop of liquor, or never used a profane
word. Three grandchildren have already reached their majority and
been able to conscientiously receive their reward. They are all young
men of good habits with every prospect of following in the steps of
their much loved and revered grandfather.


The subject of this sketch believed, and his manner of life
furnished the evidence, that slander and evil speaking are the pests
of civil society, and the disgrace of every degree of religious or moral
professions — the poisonous bane of the dearest friendships and the
warmest love of humanity, in short that defamation is never necessary —
for suppose a friend or neighbor has faults, are we obliged in speaking
of him or her to discover them? All humanity possess some good
qualities, and no matter though they be few, if one is to be the subject
of conversation, let^us refer to the good qualities possessed, or not speak
at all. Those who knew Orin S. Gulley, will attest that such was the

Online LibraryFred. (Frederick) CarlisleChronography of notable events in the history of the Northwest territory and Wayne County → online text (page 20 of 51)