Fred. (Frederick) Carlisle.

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

. (page 25 of 51)
Online LibraryFred. (Frederick) CarlisleChronography of notable events in the history of the Northwest territory and Wayne County → online text (page 25 of 51)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


time owned the site of what is now the warehouse of the Detroit and
Cleveland Steam Navigation Company, which was turned over to him
by Messrs. Mack & Conant, when they closed up business. He also



— 230 —

owned many other valuable pieces of property which he improved,
including the house in which he died, opposite the market building on
Cadillac square.

In 1820 Mr. Cooper married Miss Lovicy Mack, a daughter of
Colonel Stephen Mack (whose history will be found in this volume, page
226). They had three children, Adaline L,avina, who married Dr.
Sprague; George A. (who died some years since), and the Rev.
David Mack Cooper. A sketch of the latter will be found elsewhere
in this volume.

The only official positions held by him were those of alderman,
trustee of Harper's Hospital and elder in the First Presbyterian church,
of which he was long a member.

As the end of his life approached he said to his surviving son,

* * * "I shall not bequeath anything in my will to benevolence.

I leave all that to you, who are more competent to judge in regard to

such purposes than myself. It has been mine to accumulate, it will be

yours to disburse."

Mr. Cooper departed July 27th, 1876, and she who was his wife
for over fifty years, Mrs. Lovicy Mack Cooper, died in January, 1874.

All that is claimed for David Cooper by those that revere his
memor}^ is " that his life was intelligently met, and honestly passed,"
and as to the manner in which his last wishes have been carried out, it
is demonstrated in the sketch of those who survive him.



ROBERT STEAD.



Robert Stead, the 2d, was the son of Robert Stead, who left
England in 1820, and landed at Detroit in August of that year. He is
still a healthy, hale man, and was born in London, England, in 1809, so
that there can be no question as to his ancestry. Robert, the elder,
was a large man, weighing two hundred pounds. Two brothers had
preceded him, and were living at Detroit. Benjamin, who aided in
building the old City Hall, and died several years after, and Joseph, who
bought some land near Utica, Macomb county, where he lived and
died. Benjamin was one of the associates of Colonel Stephen Mack
and others in the Pontiac Land Company, and was a man of some note
at that early day. Robert, senior, with his family of four boys and one
daughter, after reaching Buffalo, took passage in the schooner Red
Jacket, Brandon Gillett, commander. They expected to have taken
the steamer Walk-in-the-Water, but found on reaching Buffalo that
she had gone to Green Bay with U. S. troops. As Mr. Robert Stead,
the subject of this sketch, states : " They had a rough passage across



— 231 —

Lake Erie, and on arriving at Maiden, were wind-bound, when his
father, becoming impatient, proposed they should walk to Detroit, and
accordingly started. Coming to Sandwich, they found no one who could
understand English. After some delay they met a boy who directed
them to the ferryman, who had nothing but a " dug out." It being a
new kind of boat to them, it was with a good deal of hesitation they
trusted themselves in it. They did so, however, and were safely landed
above the present site of Fort Wayne, and spent their first night at
Woodworth's hotel.

The father and sons immediately settled on the shore of Lake St.
Clair, in what is now known as Grosse Point, remaining there until
after the death of the father, when the family finally separated. He
and his brother William came into the city and began business on
what was then the business thoroughfare, Atwater street. They
remained there in business, living on Jefferson avenue, on the present
site of Christ church, until 1844, when he removed to the property now
occupied by him, on what is now Woodward avenue, then called the
Pontiac turnpike. There was then no dwelling between that and the
old homestead of Colonel Winder, on the corner of Woodward avenue
and High street.

Robert Stead married Miss Mary A. Keal, of Detroit, in the year
1836. By this marriage he has four children, Sarah A. Stead, Mrs. C.
Williams, Mrs. George W. Fisher and Mrs. W. H. Henderson.

As heretofore stated, Mr. Stead is a well preserved man yet,
although 81 years of age. He is a great lover of flowers, which he
cultivates for his own and the pleasure of his family and neighbors.
He is of a genial, hearty temperament, and delights to review his early
experience in Michigan, and is full of interesting incidents relating to
many old residents of Detroit, who have passed away.



SOLOMON DAVIS.



' ' Age should fly, concourse cover in retreat
Defects of judgment, and the will subdue :

Walk thoughtful on, silent, solemn shore
Of the vast ocean — it must sail so soon." — Young.

To-day (April 17, 1890) we called in company with J. Wilkie
Moore, upon the subject of this sketch, Solomon Davis, who sixty years
ago, settled in Detroit, and became identified with its material and
moral growth, and to-day, reviewing the past, can recall the struggles
encountered by himself, as from time to time he sought by precept and
example to make it the earthly home in which he should delight to live
and die. That he has in part succeeded in the aim, object and purpose
of his early individual life, let those of the present generation who visit



— 232 —

him judge of the results of a well spent life, in that serenity and cheer-
fulness which marks his manner, and indicates satisfaction with self,
and peace with his fellow men and with God.

Solomon Davis was born in the State of Vermont, March 17, 1792.
His father, Joshua Davis, was born in 1750, and his grandfather, David
Davis, in 1715, all natives of the green mountain State.

The parents of Solomon Davis gave him the best opportunity to
acquire an education which their circumstances and the condition of
the country at that time afforded. In early life, evincing a taste for
mechanics rather than for agriculture, he learned the builder's trade, and
after serving his time, he, in 1825, married Rhoda Balcom, of Wethers-
field, Vt. Five years spent in the east did not realize their expecta-
tions or desires. Looking to the west as the proper field for the con-
summation of their hopes and wishes, they in March, 1830, left Ver-
mont, and arrived in Detroit about the first of April of that year.

The population of Detroit then was 2,222, to-day it is 260,000.
There was then neither paved streets, sewers, gas or telegraph. The
water supply was from a pump worked by horse power, and the reser-
voir was located on the present site of Fireman's Hall, its capacity being
9,580 gallons per day. There were ho railways in Michigan, in fact
there was but forty-one miles of railroad in the whole United States.

Immediately upon his arrival in Detroit, Mr. Davis, engaged in pro-
jecting buildings and other improvements; he also connected himself
with other enterprises tending to improve the city in morals, and the
cultivation of influences to elevate the social element in its population.
He was one of the projectors and the secretary of the mechanics'
library association, and of two other organizations of a benevolent
character; was also active in educational interests, and in providing for
the free school system for the benefit of the poor. From that period
until the infirmities of age prevented, he co-operated in every effort or
measure to advance the growth of his adopted city in morality, educa-
tional facilities, health, beauty, and in substantial material wealth.

Now, he is surrounded with material comforts, and enjoys the
society of his children, in the consciousness of having done some good
to others, and fulfilled his duty to God.

His children are Mrs Turrill, 693 Champlain street; Mrs. Charles
Ketchum, 708 Congress street East; Mrs. C. B. Ketchum, Lafayette
avenue ; Mr. George S. Davis and Mr. James E. Davis, manufacturers
and druggists.



^ L UTHER B. WILLARD.

Luther B. Willard was born at Cambridge, Mass., December 28,
1818. His father removed to Rochester, N. Y., in 1832. Mr. Willard
came to Detroit at the age of seventeen, in 1835, and was first employed



— 238 —

in the job room of the Free Press. In 1S37 he established the Toledo
Blade at Toledo, Ohio. Soon after, having some difficulty with his
partner, he returned to Detroit and resumed his position in the Free
Press. In 1850 he was elected Director of the City Poor, and was suc-
cessively elected every two years up to 1862. Was State Agent for
Michigan, looking after wounded soldiers. In 1865 he was elected
Director of the Poor and held the office till death,with the exception of
one term. Mr. Willard married Electa Losey, of Covert, Seneca
county. New York, October loth, 1848. He died July 28th, 1877.



DR. JOHN L. WHITING,

How much of the history of Michigan and Detroit is by incidents
connected with the life of Dr. John L. Whiting?

Nearly three generations are comprehended in the events trans-
piring with his experiences in the growth of Detroit from a hamlet
containing less than one thousand in population to 150,000, and an area
within the limits between Brush and Cass east and west, and the river
and Congress north and south, to one of eight by ten miles.

Dr. John L. Whiting was born at Canaan, Columbia county, N.
Y., November 28th, 1793. After educational preparation he studied
medicine with Dr. Samuel White, of Hudson, and on completing his
studies started on horseback for the west, arriving at Detroit February
26th, 18 1 7. For fifteen years he practiced his profession, and in 1832
formed a partnership with John J. Deming in the commission and for-
warding. In 1842 he engaged in the land and tax agency business,
which he continued until age and infirmities compelled him to with-
draw from active pursuits.

Doctor Whiting was married first at Hudson, N. Y., in 1821, his
wife dying in 1829, having borne four children, two of whom died in
infancy. He married the second time Miss Harriett Rees, of Detroit,
November, 1830. By her he had eight children, five of whom died
young, the mother following them in April, 1852. In 1854 ^^ married
the sister of his second wife, Rebecca Rees. There were no children
born of this marriage.

Dr. Whiting was a man of great physical vitality and mental vigor
to an advanced age. Having a very retentive memory, he was able to
recall hundreds of interesting events relating to Detroit and its early
inhabitants.

In early life Dr. Whiting was what was known in New York as a
"blue light federalist," politically, and voted for DeWitt Clinton in
1816.

15



— 234 —

Speaking of the cholera, he said : " I quit medicine to follow my
new venture in February, 1832, but was compelled to return to it the
following July. The cholera had broken out. This was brought to
us by a vessel carrying troops to the scene of the Black Hawk war.
Black Hawk was a powerful Sac chief, somewhat after the order of
Pontiac. The Sacs and Winnebagos, of Wisconsin, had long been
spoiling for a fight. They were angry over the advancing coloniza-
tion of Illinois, and delayed further encroachments. In the spring of
1832 they commenced warfare on the frontier settlements of Illinois,
killing, scalping, burning and outraging, and a national as well as a
militia force was sent out to teach them a lesson. x\fter a number of
fights with United States troops and Illinois militia. General Atkinson
defeated the tribes under Black Hawk at the junction of the Bad Axe
and Mississippi, capturing Black Hawk and his son, and took them to
Washington. On their return they stopped for a while at Detroit,
where I saw them both. Young Black Hawk fell desperately in love
with a society belle and wanted to honor her by making her his squaw.
She declined the proffered dignity, for reasons best known to herself,
but she has never married, and is still living in single blessedness at
Mackinac."

" Well, as I was saying, I had just got down to my work at the
dock, when along came these troops with the cholera. One of the
men died of a pronounced case of the Asiatic cholera on the 4th of
July. The military surgeon accompanying the detachment was so
badly frightened that immediately upon landing he shut himself up in
the hotel. The commanding officer then called upon Dr. Rice, an able
physician and an amiable man, to attend the sick, and Rice asked me
to accompany him. I didn't care to go, for I knew, though I had never
seen a case of cholera, that it was frightfully contagious and rapid in
its results, and told Rice so. He urged that he had been authorized
by the quartermaster to spare no expense in securing the most com-
petent help, and finally persuaded me to go with him. I told my wife
when I went home that Saturday evening, that I had been called upon
to attend the sick soldiers. She looked grave and sorrowful but said,
as it was a case of duty, she could not ask me to back out."

" That night sixteen cases were brought ashore and placed in the
quartermaster's store, which had been converted into a temporary
cholera hospital. These stores were on Woodbridge, between Wayne
and Shelby. Of the sixteen cases, eleven proved fatal before morn-
ing."

The Doctor, further speaking of cholera visitation, says : " That
of 1832 was confined mainly to the poorer class, and swept off the
intemperate and dissipated in large numbers. In 1834 it attacked an
entirely different class : the wealthy, sober, temperate, church-going
people."



— 235 —

The Doctor, referring to Dr. Zina Pitcher, says: "In 1828, when I
was making arrangements to give up my practice, I began writing to
Dr. Pitcher, endeavoring to induce him to settle in Detroit, and take
my place, but I did not succeed until 1835.

" Dr. Pitcher was styled, not long ago, by a president of the
County Medical Association, the 'father of medicine in Michigan.'
With all due respect to the president ( who knew better, as I told him
afterward) medical history compelled me to dispute the title awarded
my old friend. As long ago as 1819 I began the formation of a medi-
cal society among the five scattered physicians of the territory. We
had three at the capital (Detroit), and one respectively at Pontiac, St.
Clair, Mount Clemens and Monroe, and they all joined me."

Dr. Whiting had some experience with General Cass among the
Indians, and was a traveling companion with General Wintield Scott as
early as 1827, when he accompanied him on a tour of inspection of the
forts and posts of the upper lakes. Speaking of it he relates the fol-
lowing: "The General had persuaded the Captain of the steamer
Henry Clay, which had been chartered by another party, to take him
to Sault Ste Marie. On board were some dozen or more beautiful
young ladies, and every night we danced, in which the General parti-
cipated. The young ladies occupied the after cabin, so General Scott
used to sleep on the dining table every night, with a sperm candle
burning on each side of his pillow, so that he could be seen while sleep-
ing; for there was an awful deal of furs and feathers about the old
fellow, even at that early stage of his career."

Referring to the forwarding business: "There was not much of a
general trade. The fur trade was carried on by the houses of Abbott,
Mack & Conant, Dequindre, and the Buhl Brothers. For all our iron
work we depended upon Cleveland. I had at one time the agency of
five steamers, something enormous for that period. For their use I
purchased, and had to keep on hand, from one to two hundred cords
of wood, as coal was not at that time used as fuel."

Speaking of Chicago: "We had a contemptuous opinion of
Chicago, a little swampy hamlet, compared with which, Detroit was of
metropolitan grandeur."

Without elaborating further, we conclude the sketch of Dr. Whit-
ing with the following extract from the pen of E. N. Wilcox, in which
he prefaces from Shakespear: "'The evil that men do lives after them.
The good is often interred with their bones.' The converse of the im-
mortal bard should be engraved on Dr. Whiting's tombstone, as it is
on the heart of the writer: 'Shade of the love departed.' How my
soul bubbled into my eyes as, with sorrowing friends, I saw the casket
'Containing all that was once the mortal tenement of one, who, in
life, exhibited his right to claim the recompense long time ago prom-



— 236 —

ised: 'And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones
a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily, I say unto
you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.'"

Doctor John L. Whiting departed from this life at the residence
of his son, John Tallman Whiting, 568 Jefferson avenue, August 4th,
1880.



MAJOR THOMAS ROWLAND.

The Hon. Charles C. Trowbridge, referring to his early contem-
poraries in Detroit, says of the subject of this sketch: "Among the
men upon whom greatness was thrust, was Thomas Rowland, late a
chivalrous officer in the army. He was Marshal of the United States,
Pension Agent, Clerk of the County Court, Secretary to the Board of
County Commissioners, Justice of the Peace, Trustee of the City, he
was my patron and friend — a truer friend never man had. He lived a
useful life, and died universally respected."

Major Thomas Rowland was born in Ohio, or that portion of the
West, now Ohio. He held a commission of Major in General Hull's army,
and was made a prisoner at the surrender of Detroit. On returning
at the close of the war, he engaged in business, and held the offices
enumerated by Mr. Trowbridge during the Territorial existence of
Michigan, and was a contemporary with Judge Solomon Sibley,
General Charles Larned, Andrew G. Whitney, William Woodbridge,
John L. Leib, George McDougall, and latterly with Henry S. Cole,
Alexander Frazer, George O'Keefe and Benjamin J. H. W. Witherell.
The Judges of the Supreme Court were Augustus B. Woodward,
James Witherell and John Griffin.

In 1819 he read a paper on the surrender of Hull, which has gone
into history, and received much commendation. In addition to the
other positions mentioned by Mr. Trowbridge, he was appointed
Secretary of the Territory. In 1840, he was elected Secretary of
State, which office he resigned on his appointment as Postmaster of
Detroit by President Harrison in 1841. He was a man of great culture
and refinement, and was held in high esteem. He died in Detroit,
in August, 1848.



JONATHAN REARS LET.

The history of Detroit and Michigan would be incomplete without
mention of Major Jonathan Kearsley, who, born in the State of Vir-
ginia, in 1786, and graduating at Washington College in 181 1, on the
beginning of the War of 181 2, entered the army, receiving from Presi-



— 237 —

dent Madison a Lieutenant's commission in the Second Artillery Corps.
During the war he was commissioned Assistant-Adjutant General,
Captain and Major; was engaged in the battle of Stoney Creek and
Chrysler's Field in 1814, and in the sortie from Fort Erie. In the
latter engagement he was wounded severely, making the amputation
of a limb necessary. The military services and record of Colonel
Kearsley was duly appreciated and recognized, being that of a brave
and sagacious soldier. His disability compelling his retirement from
the army, in 181 7 he was appointed Collector of Internal Revenue of
Virginia, serving two years as such, when he became Receiver of
Public Moneys for the District of Michigan, which position he held
consecutively for thirty years. Major Kearsley thus became intimately
associated with the Territorial history and State infancy of Michigan.
He was Mayor of Detroit, and one of the Regents of the State Univer-
sity, and was always careful in the administration and the execution of
the public trusts imposed, and in private life was respected for his
uprightness and integrity of character.

The old Kearsley mansion still stands, on the corner of Jefferson
avenue and Randolph street. He died in 1859.



MAJOR JOHN BID OLE.

The subject of this sketch was the son of Charles Biddle, Vice-
President of the Continental Congress, and one of the most active
patriots during the infancy of the United States. He was a nephew of
Commodore Nicholas Biddle of the Continental navy.

Major John Biddle was born in the city of Philadelphia, in March,
1792. After due preparation he entered Princeton College, graduating
therefrom at the end of four years, and immediately entered the army,
serving during the War of 181 2 in the Artillery, taking the rank of
Lieutenant, Captain and Major. A portion of the time he was attached
to the staff of General Scott, their confidential relations continuing
during life.

Major Biddle's younger brother, Thomas, also served in the same
campaigns, and ranked as Major; while an elder brother. Commodore
James Biddle, served with distinction in the Navy, to which he
remained attached during life.

At the close of the war Major B. was stationed at Detroit. Soon
after he retired to civil life, and became practically interested in the
development of the State and city, of which he was a resident till death.

When the public lands were opened for entry, he was appointed
Register of the Land Office, and was one of the commissioners for
settling the ancient land claims at Detroit, Mackinaw, Sault Ste. Marie,



— 238 —

Green Bay and Prairie du Chien, which involved manv intricate and
delicate questions, calling for much labor and care in their adjustment.
He was during a portion of this period Territorial Delegate in Con-
gress. He also held the following positions: Regent of the University
organized under Territorial Government, and subsequently selected to
make disposition of such lands as were allowed by Congress to be sold,
trustee of various educational organizations, vestryman of St. Paul's
First Episcopal church, and was one of the small number who became
personally responsible for the expense of building the first church.
Major Biddle was thoroughly versed in Latin, Greek and French, and
is the author of several literarv works. He was one of the four, with
General Cass, General Henry Whiting, and Henry Schoolcraft, to pre-
pare the series known as the Historical Sketches of Michigan, covering
the entire history- of Michigan, and which are regarded as high
authority. He was a forcible writer, and took great interest in and
possessed great aptitude for historical investigation.

He was chosen President of the Constitutional Convention of 1835,
notwithstanding his party (^Whig) was in the minority, and subsequently
received a majorit}^ of the votes for United States Senator. He was
subsequently the Whig candidate for Governor. He took an active
part in sustaining his fellow soldier. General Harrison, for the Presi-
dency, in 1840, and also General Scott, when he was a candidate.
During the latter years of his life he spent much of his time on his
farm, the present site of Wyandotte, and also in looking after a large
estate in St. Louis, to which he had fallen heir. In 1859, returning
from a trip to Europe, he spent the summer at White Sulphur Springs,
Virginia, where he died suddenly on the 25th of August, 1859, leaving
as surviving members of his family, the widow of General Andrew
Porter, William S. Biddle, Major James Biddle and Edward I. Biddle.



MRS. S. DAVENPORl, and DR. LOUIS DAVENPORT.

" Her whole life was an example of great excellence of character.
She was beloved by the rich and poor; by the former for her gentle
and cultivated manners, and by the latter for her generous sympathy in
their misfortunes, practically demonstrated by her liberal gifts in relief
of their physical needs." Such is the tribute to the memory of the sub-
ject of this sketch.

Mrs. Sarah (Horner) Davenport was born in Detroit, January 25,
1810. She was the daughter of Mr. Archibald Horner and Elizabeth
Thorn. Her father was a native of Philadelphia, and was a relative of
the late Professor 'Horner of the Pennsylvania Medical College, who
was the author of several works now used as text books by the pro-
fession, and the colleges of this country. Her mother, Elizabeth Thorn,



— 239 —

was a native of Detroit, and was born in the same house where the
subject of: this sketch and all her children first saw the light. This house
occupied the present site of Basset's drug store and Gourley Bros.'
furnishing store, on Woodward avenue. Her father came to Detroit
in 1S03, for the benefit of his health, after his marriage, which occurred
November 6, 1804, he operated in real estate. Among other realty
owned by him was ten acres of what is now Woodward avenue, through
which Davenport street now runs. He was one of the first eleven tax



Online LibraryFred. (Frederick) CarlisleChronography of notable events in the history of the Northwest territory and Wayne County → online text (page 25 of 51)