Fred. (Frederick) Carlisle.

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

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a daughter, wife of the Hon. Charles Kent, of this city.


George Kirby is a native of the State of Massachusetts, was born
in Berkshire county in 1806 and came to Detroit in 1838. He has
witnessed the growth of Detroit from a population of 8,000 to 255,000.
During all this time, until within a few years past, he has been identi-
fied with the leather interests of the city, and actively engaged in pro-
moting material improvements and enterprises which have tended to
make Detroit what it is to-day.

Mr. Kirby was married to Miss Clarinda S. Tracy, of Maysville,
N. Y., August i8th, 1833. They have three children. May S. Kirby,
Elizabeth P. Kirby and George T. Kirby.

Mr. Kirby is now enjoying the fruits of a successful business life,
based upon principles of integrity, combined with energy and industry,
in its conduct.


Bossuet, the noted pulpit orator of France, says : " A man not
spoiled has no need of proof as to his free agency, for he feels it, and
he does not feel more clearly that he sees, hears or reasons, than he
feels his power to deliberate and choose."

— 380 —

It is in evidence that the subject of this sketch has demonstrated
by his manner of living that he holds himself responsible for his motives
and acts. Amid all the vicissitudes of his earl}^ and later life, with its
hardships, temptations and disappointments, his childhood's impressions,
and in mature years, his reason, seemed to have governed his action in
the maintenance of good and antagonizing evil, in the belief " that he
who is diligent in seeking good procureth favor, but he that seeketh
mischief, it shall come unto him."

Ervin Palmer was born in the town of Exeter, Otsego county. State
of New York, October loth, 1832. On the paternal side he is of
English descent and German on the maternal. Gilbert Palmer, his
father, was born in Stonnington, Conn., where his ancestors settled on
their emigration from England in the year 1629, and where branches
from the Palmer family still reside. This name figures prominently in
the early history of Connecticut, among those who took an active part
in the French and Indian wars, and on the side of Independence during
that of the Revolution.

When quite a boy his father removed from Stonnington, locating
in the town of Exeter, Otsego county, N. Y., where Gilbert, on arriving
at manhood, married Hannah Herkimer, a descendant of General
Herkimer, of Revolutionary fame, whose ancestors came from
Germany and located large tracts of land in the Mohawk valley. Her
grandfather gave the name to Herkimer county.

Gilbert Palmer must have been a man of energy and independence
of character. He taught school in the winter and worked at his trade
(that of a cooper) during the summer, and was recognized as the chief
man in the town, as soon after his marriage he was chosen Justice of
the Peace, which he continued to hold until his removal to the Terri-
tory of Michigan in 1833. On his arrival he decided to locate in the
town of Exeter, Monroe count}^, where he purchased from the govern-
ment a large body of land which he cleared and improved, leaving to
his family at his death (in 1840) a fine farm. He was a man very
much thought of by his neighbors, taking much interest in church and
educational affairs, becoming not only prominent in his own town but
throughout Monroe county, and was appointed Justice of the Peace
by Stevens T. Mason, which position he held until Michigan became
a State, and was then duly elected. His commission is now preserved
by his son, Ervin, the subject of this sketch.

Ervin Palmer is the youngest of five sons born to Gilbert and
Hannah Herkimer Palmer, and is the only one living. There was one
daughter, who married Lewis Welch, and they resided in Monroe
county, which county he represented four years in the State Senate.
She is a widow, and still living.

Mr. Palmer remained with his widowed mother on the farm until

— 381 —

he reached the age of seventeen; meanwhile, by improving the oppor-
tunities afforded in his town, and having acquired a good EngHsh edu-
cation, he decided to take a collegiate course. After spending one year
in the Baptist College at Kalamazoo preparatory, he entered the
Michigan University in 1853, from which he graduated June 27th, 1857,
and immediately commenced the study of law with Messrs, Howard,
Bishop & Holbrook, of Detroit. He prosecuted his studies with them
for a year, and completing them with the Hon. G. V. N. Lothrop, he
was admitted to the bar by the Supreme court in 1858, and after spend-
ing a little more than one year in the office of Mr. Lothrop as his office
clerk, he established a practice in Detroit.

In the fall of i860 Mr. Palmer was elected Circuit Court Com-
missioner for Wayne county, and at the expiration of his term of office
formed a co-partnership with John Ward. The law firm of Ward &
Palmer continued for over twenty years, at the end of which, on its
dissolution, Mr. Palmer associated his eldest son, Harry E., with him
in the practice of law, the firm being at present Palmer & Palmer.

The religious convictions of Mr. Palmer induced him to unite with
the Congregational church on coming to Detroit, though in boy-
hood, he was a member of the Methodist church. His relations with
his church in Detroit have been pleasant for himself, helpful to his fel-
low members, and useful to the church at large, both in its spiritual
and material welfare and growth.

Mr. Palmer has been identified with the Republican party since its
organization, ready day or night to give his aid in promoting its suc-
cess and being positive and independent in character, is somewhat
aggressive in his action and efforts.

As a citizen he has ever given his earnest support to all measures
and enterprises tending to improve his adopted city in moral, edu-
cational and material growth.

As a lawyer he ranks as the peer of any at the bar, is respected
by his professional brethren, and by the several courts of the United
States and this State. He never loses chents, is noted for his devotion
to their interests, rarely resorts to the courts if a case can be adjusted
outside of it, and is always careful in the preparation of his causes
before going to trial.

In i860 Mr. Palmer married Miss Emma L. Humphrey. She was
born in London, Eng., of English parents, and came to this country
when she was fourteen years old. Mrs. Palmer is a woman of more
than ordinary executive ability, as is shown by the government of her
family and domestic affairs, thus reheving her husband of many cares
and imparting to her children, by precept and example, truths and
principles by which to guide and govern their future life and conduct,
and fit them to be good and useful members of society.

— 382 —

They have eight sons and two daughters. Mrs. Alice Palmer
Henderson, of Minneapolis, is a regular contributor to the press
of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and as such has acquired emin-
ence. Harry E., associated with his father, as law partner; Lewis
WiUiam, traveling agent for Messrs. Berry Bros.; George P., a student
in the Minnesota University; Charles Gilbert, salesman for Phelps,
Brace & Company, wholesale grocers, Detroit; Ervin Richard and
John W., students in Detroit High School; Herbert V. and Zelda Mae,
attending public school, and Alfred Wood, the youngest.


Was a member of the First Congregational Church of Detroit from its
organization until his death, was prominent and efficient in all enterprises
and measures in the interest of humanity, education and morals. In
business, he enjoyed the confidence of a large circle of acquaintances.
He was born in Western county, Connecticut, March 27, 1802. After
attending the public schools of his native tow^n, and gaining a know-
ledge of the saddlery and harness making trade, he engaged in
business at Bridgeport, Connecticut, until 1837, when he removed to
Auburn, N. Y., continuing in business there till 1843, when he
removed to Detroit, where under the firm name of Baldwin &
Hayden, he carried on the wholesale and retail saddlery and harness
business until his death, which occurred December 17, 1875.

December 22, 1826, Mr. Baldwin married Miss Maria Booth, of
Bridgeport, Connecticut. She survived his death but a few years.
The children who survived them are Mrs. William B. Wesson, Mrs.
Russell, Mrs. Butterfield, Mrs. Glover, and a son.

Mr. Baldwin was one of the original members of the First Congre-
gational church of Detroit, being a deacon from 1844 up to the time of
his decease.

In politics, Mr. Baldwin was Republican, and was elected by his
party, Sheriff of Wa3me county, in 1854. While not a politician in the
common meaning of the term, he was active in promoting the success
of his party in a modest, unassuming manner.

In bearing, he was cordial and cheerful, S3-mpathizing with the un-
fortunate, both in kind words and deeds.

In all reforms, whether in morals, education, or the means to
improve the health and material growth of the city, he was liberal with
his time, influence and money.

— 383 —


Colton says: "It is with antiquity as with ancestry, nations are
proud of the one and individuals of the other."

Hon. Elliott Truax Slocum has reason to, and should be, proud of
his ancestry, especially as he is of Michigan birth and springs from a
line which suffered much, not only to make his native State what it is,
but on the paternal side to contribute blood and treasure, in the struggle
for American independence.

Elliott T. is the only son of Giles B. Slocum and Sophia Maria
Brigham Truax. On his paternal side he can go back ten generations
to Anthony Slocum, who is recorded as one of the forty-six " first and
ancient " purchasers of the territory of Cohannet, now Massachusetts.
Next came Giles Slocum, the common ancestor of all the Slocums
whose American lineage has been found to date from the 17th century.
He was born in Somersetshire, Eng., and settled in Portsmouth town-
ship, Rhode Island, in 1638, where he died in 1682. Then followed
respectively the generations of Samuel, Giles, Joseph, Jonathan, Giles,
Jeremiah and Giles B., the father of Elliott T.

He should be equally proud of his maternal ancestor. Col. Abra-
ham Caleb Truax, who at the surrender of General Hull, refused to
recognize its terms, escaped through the lines and was the first who
communicated with Perry, and subsequently conveyed the intelligence
of his victory to the resident Americans of Detroit.

Elliott T. Slocum was born at Trenton, Wayne county, in 1839. ^"^
boyhood he was one of the leaders of his companions, and notwith-
standing the pecuniary circumstances of his family were better than
most of his associates, he is said never to have presumed to arrogate
more than his equal rights with other boys.

In accordance with his own inclinations and the wishes of his
parents, he prepared for a college course with the Rev. Moses Hunter,
of Grosse Isle, and graduated at Union College, Schenectady, N. Y., in
the class of 1862. The Rev. Dr. Eliphalet Nott, then its president,
signed Mr. Slocum's diploma, conferring the degree of Bachelor of Arts,
which was one of the last signed by that celebrated divine.

In 1869 he took his second degree. Master of Arts, from the Uni-
versity of Michigan. The studies in those degrees include a course of
civil engineering and surveying, in both of which Mr. Slocum is well
skilled, both theoretically and practically.

After graduating he immediately engaged with his father in super-
vising and looking after their large land, lumber and farming interests,
meanwhile as a born American taking more or less interest in politics
and in familiarizing himself with the questions relating to political
economy. His investigations at that early period of his life have proved

— 384 —

of value to him in enabling the intelligent exercise of views and opinions
by which to regulate his own, as well as the actions of others in matters
connected with governmental affairs.

In 1869 he was elected State Senator on the Republican ticket,
from the Third Senatorial District, which was strongly Democratic,
and served with honor to himself and to the satisfaction of his constit-
uency. In the many important senatorial contests of Michigan, Mr.
Slocum has taken an active part and from them, as from other public
matters in which he has likewise taken great interest, he has acquired a
wide personal acquaintance. He was one of the first directors of the
Chicago and Canada Southern Railroad, and was assigned the duty of pro-
curing for it the right of way. This difficult undertaking he accomplished
without sacrifice to the public or the Railway Company. In all his
private and public acts he exhibits the manner and spirit which charac-
terized his ancestors.

In 1886 he was appointed a member of the Board of Park Com-
missioners of the city of Detroit, and until recently was its president
where he did excellent service, and by constantly supplying and causing
to be executed new and original ideas, he proved himself a most com-
petent and faithful member. To his service is due much of the beauty
and development of the Island Park.

Mr. Slocum made two trips to Europe, where, being naturally
attracted by the wonderful dykes of Holland, by which vast tracts of
lowlands have been reclaimed from the sea, he spent some time in
stud3dng the methods and results of the Dutch engineers. The know-
ledge thus gained, together with a careful study of the parks of Europe,
came into useful play in the smaller field of Belle Isle Park.

Those who know Elliott T. Slocum appreciate him for his inde-
pendence of thought and acts and the frankness with which he presents
and advocates his views without demanding that others should endorse
or adopt them.

He succeeded his father as trustee of the Saratoga Monument
Association of New York, and with George William Curtis, Hon. S. S.
Cox, Hon. John H. Starrin and others, took an active interest in the
erection of one of the finest monuments in the world on the battlefield
of Burgoyne's Surrender, at Schuylerville, N. Y., near the home of his
father's familv.

In the management of extensive business interests left by his father
and in the creation and development of new projects, Mr. Slocum has
displayed good judgment and has been uniformly successful.

He is a director of the Detroit National Bank, and a member of
the Grosse Pointe, Detroit and Michigan Clubs.

He was married July 30th, 1872, to Charlotte Grosse, daughter of
the late Ransom E. Wood, an old resident and wealthy capitalist of
Grand Rapids.

— 385 —


It requires courage, as Helvetius expresses it, to remain ignorant
of useless subjects which mankind generally value.

The subject of this sketch was a practical man, and what he sought
in life was what would afford ends beneficial to his fellows. This led
him to investigate and determine that which would benefit humanity
and contribute most to the physical interests of the community and
times in which he lived. Educated in this school when but a mere boy,
he engaged with a printer and learned to compose and put in form his
own and the thoughts of others, and to deduce therefrom the obliga-
tion of man to society, to his country, and the general good of mankind.

Henry Starkey was born in Binghamton, N. Y., in 1828. His
father was a physician of high standing, devoted to his profession, and
when Henry was five years of age, emigrated to Michigan in 1833, and
settled in Kalamazoo. From this period Henry Starkey became iden-
tified with Michigan.

After a preliminary education at the district schools, he took a
primary course in the Michigan University. Abandoning the regular
course he went into a printing office, and while there became imbued
with the idea that the military service would best subserve the duty
and business of life, and therefore enlisted in a company of mounted
riflemen in the regular army, and participated in all the battles with
Mexico, until the peace treaties were signed.

At the close of the Mexican war he came to Detroit and went on
the Detroit Free Press, then conducted by Wilbur F. Story. Subse-
quently he organized the Detroit Typographical Union, and represented
it in the National Convention of Typographers at Buffalo, N. Y., in
1854. ^^ o'^^ o^ ^^ corps of the Free Press he continued in its ser-
vice until appointed Clerk of the first Recorder's Court, which position
he occupied until the breaking out of the late civil war, when he entered
the Fifth Michigan Cavalry, and was appointed a lieutenant in Company
H and participated in all the battles of that regiment until after the bat-
tle of Gettysburg, when, owing to an injury which disabled him, he was
honorably discharged.

On his return to Detroit he was elected City Clerk, which position
he held until appointed secretary of the Board of Water Commissioners.
He retained this position until his death. Henry Starkey was consid-
ered the encyclopaedia for all information relating to the proper methods
by which the city and its inhabitants are supplied with water; the appli-
ances, cost and dispensing were as familiar to him as the letters of the

Mr. Starkey devised the present system of house numbering in
Detroit, giving each twenty feet a number, whether occupied or not,

— 386 —

and was recognized as authority on all matters relating to the municipal
government, many knotty questions being submitted him to solve.

Mr. Starkey was a firm and steadfast friend, a warm-hearted,
genial companion, and a high-souled, honorable gentlemen. His friends
were legion, and he greatly enjoyed meeting them. He was a member
of the G. A. R., of the Loyal Legion and of the Masonic order.

He departed this life October 28, 1888, leaving a widow and three
children, Harry, who is one of the collectors of the Water Board, Miss
Jenny, on the editorial staff of the Free Press, and Mrs. Wm. H. San-
ford, besides several grandchildren.


Benjamin Godfrey Stimson, the immediate subject of this sketch,
was the son of Dr. Jeremy Stimson, and was born at Dedham, Mass.,
March 19th, 1816. His mother, as the christian name indicates, " Hope
Still " Godfrey, was of Puritan descent.

In early boyhood Mr. Stimson attended the schools of his native
town, and at the age of sixteen went to Boston and obtained a situation
in the house of a leading mercantile firm, with whom he remained two
years, when, desiring to see more of the world, and fanc3ang the sea, he
in August, 1834, shipped as a sailor on the brig Pilgrim, bound for
California. He had as a shipmate on this voyage, the author of the
weU-known work, "Two Years Before the Mast," Hon. Richard H.
Dana, and the intimate friendship formed between Dana and Stimson
continued during life, as is manifested and feelingly referred to by the
former in a personal letter of condolence addressed to Mrs. Stimson
after the decease of Mr. Stimson.

Returning to Boston in 1836, and finding the desire for further
adventure too strong for his remaining, his inclination led him west, and
in 1837 he came to Detroit and embarked in the mercantile business.
He continued this business until 1847, and then engaged in that of commis-
sion, and was also a partner in publishing the Detroit Tribune, then
recently established. The same year (^1851) he was appointed timber
agent, with headquarters at Barbor, Wis. This occasioned frequent
and long journeys through the west, which were mostly made on
horseback. This experience enabled him to form a very correct know-
ledge of the country west of Detroit, which was of great value to him,
and to others who sought his advice in after life.

At the expiration of his term of office as timber agent, he purchased
a warehouse and resumed the commission business in 1857. Being
largely interested in vessel property in 1861, he sold his warehouse and

— 387 —

devoted his time and efforts in that direction. At this time he was the
owner of four large sail vessels, and also built the bark Henry P. Bald-
win. In 1866 he sold his vessel property and purchased the dock at
the foot of Shelby street, erecting thereon a large brick block, known
as the Stimson Block, at the time, the largest business block in Detroit.

As far back as 1843, he had purchased live acres of land on Wood-
ward avenue, and had erected a homestead (which his family still occu-
py), and in 1869 purchased an adjoining five acres. This, as well as the
rear of his first purchase he subdivided (^opening a new street known as
Stimson Place). He realized a fine profit from the sale of these lots,
and after disposing of the Stimson Block in 1869, he bought thirty-six
acres further out on Woodward avenue, which he subdivided into one
hundred and forty-five city lots, and four broad avenues. Forest,
Hancock, Warren and Putnam. These lots he sold on time contracts,
but in all cases where the purchasers were unable to meet their pay-
ments, instead of enforcing the conditions of the contract (forfeiting the
sum paid) he returned the payments and took the lots back. During the
time the present City Hall was being built, Mr. Stimson was Controller
of the city, and it is due to him that many thousands of dollars were
saved the taxpayers through the care and vigilance exercised by him
during its construction.

Failing health compelled him to resign this position in 1870. The
Common Council on accepting it passed a series of resolutions com-
mendatory of his integrity in the management of the city's finances as

Mr. Stimson was a member of the Episcopal church, was Junior
Warden of St. John's at the time of his death, from its organization had
been officially connected with it, and was a large contributor of money
and time towards its construction, as well as that of St. Luke's Church
Home. The cause of education found him an ardent supporter, and
organizations and associations for the improvement of the morals and
the elevation of society found him a generous friend.

Durincr the Patriot war he was commissioned lieutenant in the
Brady Guards by Governor Barry, it being the first independent mili-
tary company in Michigan.

Mr. Stimson was married twice. His first wife was Miss Lavina
Turner, whom he married in 1840. She died in 1853. In 1858 he
married Miss Cordelia Ives, who is still living. He left two sons,
Edward Ives and Arthur Kissel Stimson.

His death occurred December 13th, 1871, from disease of the heart.

Thus departed from his family a kind and loving husband and
father, and from among his fellow citizens a just, upright and enterpris-
ing man.

The name of Mr. Stimson appears on the list of members of the
Historical Society, which in April, 187 1, was merged into and became
the Wayne County Pioneer Society.

— 388 —


Frederick Wetmore, was a native of the State of New York, born
in the village of Whitestown, Oneida county, on the 7th day of August,

His father, Amos Wetmore, and his mother, whose maiden name
was Lucy Olmstead, were born in Connecticut, of English ancestry.
They removed to New York soon after the close of the War of Inde-

Their marriage took place in 1802. They had six sons and three
daughters. Amos Wetmore died in Whitestown, Oneida county, N.
Y., June I, 1845. Lucy Olmstead Wetmore, died at same place, May
22, 1840.

The father of Mr. Wetmore carried on a farm and also a grist and
saw mill, this furnished the subject of this memoir with employment
during the summer, and enabled him to attend school during the winter
months. That he improved the opportunities afforded by the latter is
evidenced in that at the age of sixteen he was prepared to enter
college, but was prevented by a severe attack of illness, which so
affected his health as to induce his seeking some avocation suiting his
physical condition; and having a brother in the crockery trade at Pitts-
burgh, Pennsylvania, at the age of seventeen he went as a clerk in his
store. He remained with his brother seven years, and in 1836, engaged
in the transportation business on his own account, until 1841, when,
during a visit to New York he made the acquaintance of two English
manufacturers of crockery, who induced him to engage jointly with
them in the crockery business, and to fix upon Detroit as his location.
This arrangement was carried out, they shipping the goods and he
selling them. These relations between them continued until 1844,

Online LibraryFred. (Frederick) CarlisleChronography of notable events in the history of the Northwest territory and Wayne County → online text (page 41 of 51)