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History of Calhoun county, Michigan : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principle interests (Volume 1) online

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"accepted list" of the higher educatiouHl instittitions of tiic state. The


pupils take an active interest in literary work, holding weekly meetings
where (juestions of living interest are discussed; best authors are read
and the principles in oratory and debate are given proper attention.
A high school paper is published each month of the school year by the

District No. 2. Athens, where the village now stands, was legally
organized December 31, 1837, by the school inspectoi-s of the township,
at the home of Alfred Holcome. (School had ])een maintained for about
three years in the old log school house but it was in the nature of a
private school. ) Alfred Holcome was given the contract to build a school
house which was to be eight-square, with portico in front, and to contain
two fire-places in the middle of the, house. House was to be twenty-two
feet in diameter, with eight-feet posts and was to be completed by the first
of the following October, for the contract price of $300.00. Asahel Stone,
the moderator, donated the lot upon wliicli tlic house was erected.

A fine $35,000.00 school building' was riveted in 1911. It is conceded
to be one of the best, if not the best, seliool building for the town the size
of Athens, in the state. Superintendent C. S. Harmon with seven assist-
ants has charge of the one hundred and ninety-seven pupils who are now
attending school in the district. Fifty-three non-resident pupils are
found in the high school. The l)uilding is eiiuipped with a good working
library of seven hundred and eighty well seh^eted volumes, physical and
chemical laboratories, gymnasium, and a fine athletic field adjoining the
school property. The cost for insti'uelinn. last year, was $4,300.00. The
school was recently placed on the \nii\i'i'sit\- list. They are leaders in
athletics, having won the state high school baseball championship for the
last four years. -

In 1839 Miss Sarah Babcock taught the first school in the village of
Homer, with an enrollment of fifty pupils, in an old building which had
been fitted up for that purpose.

In 1842 $300.00 was voted to build a new school house. This build-
ing was completed in 1843 and served the district twenty years, but
finding that two schools could not be supported in a place of the size,
at the annual meeting in 1863 it was voted to purchase the academy
which had been organized as a select school in 1854, for the use of the
district for the sum of $2,000.00. In 1864 a graded school was organized,
which has since met the re(iuirements of the thriving village. In 1890
a fine modern brick building was erected. The committee in charge
did not let the expense stand in the way of any improvement that would
add to the efficiency of the school or the comfort of the teachers and
pupils. Each room is so arranged that the light comes from the back
and left, while the black boards are in front and to the right.

The equipment consisting of physical and chemical laboratories,
libraries and all school appendages are excellent. The school has been
approved by the visiting professor from the U. of M. The total cost of
the school, last year, was $10,672.30 of which $5,475.00 was for teachers'
wages. Two hundred and fifty-nine pupils attended school in Homer
last year, forty-one of whom were non-residents. Superintendent A. J.
Flint, a Calhoun rural school product, who later graduated from Homer
and then took his professional course at Ypsilanti. has charge of the


school and is exerting a grand influence over the pupils. He is a student
.of human nature and his knowledge of ' ' Boy Nature ' ' is apparent on the
athletic field, on the streets, in the homes and wherever his boys con-
gregate. He is their leader in the Boy Scouts, and in their division of
the county Y. M. C. A. Where the boys go, Flint is invited and Flint

Ten teachers are employed in the schools.


The Indians furnish an interesting but comparatively colorless chap-
ter in the history of Calhoun county. From about 1800, the Pottawat-
tomies occupied the lower part of Michigan territory. A remnant of
this once numerous and powerful tribe still live near the village of
Athens, in the southwest part of the county.

In the second war with Great Britain, the Chippewas were friendly
to the United States, while Ottawas and Pottawattomies were hostile;
but in later years the last named tribe assumed and maintained a very
friendly attitude toward the Americans.

In the Black Hawk War of 1832, that in which Abraham Lincoln
served as Captain, the Sacs sent their runners among the Pottawattomies
of Calhoun and other counties in the southern part of Michigan, seeking
an alliance against the whites. The Indians in this section for a time
seemed restless and sullen. The latter attitude particularly gave rise to
the rumor that they were about to go on the war path. The citizens were
apprehensive of trouble and it was deemed best to take some precaution-
ary steps. Accordingly, a meeting of citizens, a sort of council of war,
was called in Marshall. It was held in one room of a double log house,
in the spring of 1832. It resulted in organizing, anning and equipping
a company from the county, which soon after marched away to partici-
pate in the anticipated war. The captain was Isaac N. Hurd, a native
of New York state, and by education a civil engineer. He was among
the fir.st comers to ilarshall. Isaac E. Crai-y was chosen second lieuten-
ant. Crary was a young man who had recently come into the then wil-
derness of southern Michigan. As credentials to the pioneers who had
preceded him, he brought a college diploma from his Alma Mater, and
a certificate of membership of the bar of his native state. Fortunately
the war was of short duration and the soldiers from Calhoun County
did not get beyond their native state. They were soon back and follow-
ing their accustomed pursuits.

An interesting character among the Indians at this time and to whom
there attached a pathetic interest was one Johnson, a white man, who,
when a little child, was stolen from his parental home somewhere in
Kentucky and carried away by the Indians into the northwest country.
Growing to maturity among his captors, he married an Indian girl, who
became the mother of several children. In his later years, it became
known from whence he had been taken as a child. He was induced to



return ou a visit to the home of his childhood. Endeavor was put forth
to get him to return and live among the people of his own race; but
nothing could induce him to abandon those who had so long been his
associates and companions and some of whom were bound to him by the
ties of blood. He lingered among them till the end of life and dying,
was laid to rest in the Indian burying ground near Climax.

A mission and school was long maintained in the vicinity of Athens.
The R€V. Manassah Hickey, one of the early students at the Wesleyan
Semiuaiy, now Albion College, and still well remembered by the older
generation in our midst, preached among them for years. ^Ir. Ilickey's
sister, who was also educated at Albion, was the Principal of the school.
A number of Indian maidens from the Pottawattomie tribe were educa-
ted at Albion. One of them, who is reputed to have become a very skill-
ful interpreter, was later Preceptress of the school for her people.

As a rule, the Indians in Calhoun County were friendly to the whites.
When not under the influence of the red man's "fire water" (the white
man's whiskey), they were kind and genei'oiis, accomodating and help-
ful to the early settlers. As a race, here and elsewhere, all things con-
sidered, they were more sinned against than sinning.



The Washingtonian ^Movement — Washingtonianism in Battle Creek
— The Red Ribbon IMovement — The Women's Christian Temper-
ance Union — Legislation.

It is a long stride in temperance reform from the j'ear 1804 when
Benjamin Rush, of Phihulelphia, published an able paper on "An In-
quiry into the Eifects or Ardent Spirits on the ;Mind and Body," and
the year of 1912 when in Jlichigan the battles are fought by counties,
and many of them successfully, in favor of the absolute prohibition of the
liquor traffic within their boundaries. The way of temperance reform
has been a tortuous one. liut however crooked, however many seeming
reverses, the trend has been constantly forward. It was not until 1808
that the first temperance society was organized in the LTnited States.
At that time a pledge was exacted that would by no means satisfy the
orthodox temperance people of t.oday.

A new standard was set up and the flag planted far in advance of
the then existing battle line, when the Rev. Dr. Lyman Beecher, father
of Henry Ward Beecher and of Harriet Beecher Stowe, introduced and
successfully carried through a resolution in the Congregational Associa-
tion of ]Massachusetts against the then prevailing custom of ministers

The Washingtonian ]Movement

had a very humble and obscure origin but its beneficent influence was
far reaching and in a way permanent. A tailor, a carpenter, a black-
smith, a coach maker and a silver plater, each and all hard drinkers,
were on the evening of April 3, 1840, assembled in a tavern on Liberty
Street, Baltimore, partaking of their usual potions, when they fell to
discussing the temperance question. The same evening in a nearby
church a minister was delivering a lecture on that theme and it was
agreed by four of the number, that they would go and hear what was
said and return and report. They went and on coming back made a
favorable report. Before they went to their homes that night it was de-
termined to form a temperance club and one of their number was deputed
to draw up a pledge and present for consideration on the following Mon-
day evening. When they convened at the appointed time and place, the
following was presented and adopted : ' ' We, whose names are hereunto



annexed, desirous of forming a society for our mutual benefit, and to
guard against a pernicious practice, which is injurious to our health,
standing and families, do pledge ourselves as gentlemen, that we will
not drink any spirituous or malt liquors, wine or cider."

They called their organization "The Washingtoniau Society." That
little cluster of men in Baltimore "set the clock of temperance reform
ahead, a quarter of a century." It was the beginning of the first great
temperance revival in our country. It led to many thousands of men in
all parts of the country abjuring the drink habit and becoming total
abstainers. Many of the most eflfective and famous temperance advocates
the cause has had were from the ranks of men who had been addicted to
strong drink.

"The Washingtoniau movement struck ^Michigan in 1841 and spread
from town to town converting great numbers by the irresistible power of
its advocates. Never before had there been such an awakening in this
county. A cry went forth, an alarm sounded out like a tire bell in the
night, arresting the drinker in his downward career. * * * There
was no disagreeing or separating into opposing parties in regard to the
plan or means used in suppressing the rum traffic."

WAsiiix(.iT()xi.\xisji IN Battle Creek.

A well known .Michigan writer of the last generation says, "One of
the memorable incidents in the history of Battle Creek is the introduction
of Washingtonianism in that village in the winter of 1841-42. IMar-
shall had succumbed to the reform and had sent three of her representa-
tive citizens to carry the glad tidings to the neighboring village of
Battle Creek. The meeting was held in the ^Methodist church and it was
crowded to its utmost capacity to seat those who came. The first speaker
was Thomas Gilbert.*

He represented that class of gentlemen who take the "occasional
glass." His speech was direct and forcible. He said the habit of taking
the occasional glass would lead to taking one much oftener and that to
the drunkard. The next speaker was Bath Banks, ^larshall's main
liquor dealer. He said he had abandoned the liquor business. AYash-
ingtonianism had opened his eyes to the evil of liquor selling and now
eveiy time he turned the faucet the gurgling of the liquor .sounded to
him like cutting men's throats. The last speaker was jMr. Robert Hall,
a farmer living near iMarshall. He stated in plain and honest words
the reason of his conversion to temperance. He had been for years an
habitual drunkard. He had gone home drunk one winter evening on
his ox sled. His faithful beasts had taken him to the door of his house,
but they could do no more. When discovered by his family he was near-
ly frozen to death. He said when he came to ^Marshall and settled on
a fanu they called him j\Ir. Robert Hall. He began to tipple and they
called him "Bob Hall." Tippling led to deeper drinking, and they

* Mr. Gilbert was for many years after one of the foremost citizens c
Eapids, dying a few years ago universally resiieeted by the citizens of tha


called him "Old Bob Hall." He became an occasional druntard, and
they called him "Old Hall." Finally he became a gutter drunkard
and they called him "Old Alco-Hall."

Marshall had not only signed the pledge herself but she had sent her
representatives to Battle Creek and other places in the county where
they introduced the new gospel and set the work to going. From Battle
Creek there went out Erastus Hussey, Dr. John L. Balcom, William H.
Coleman and others to proclaim the new way and secure signers to the
pledge. The whole county was stirred by the earnest advocates and
large numbers forsook the drink habit forever and the cause of tem-
perance took a long step in advance through the intiuence of the Wash-
ingtonian movement.

Interest in the cause of temperance was kept alive by the formation
of local temperance societies and by the tours of able and eloquent ad-
vocates of the cause. In 1849 a great impetus was given the cause by
the visit to America of the famous Irish priest and apostle of temperance,
the Rev. Father Theobald Mathew. As a temperance advocate he had re-
markable success in Ireland. In this country he not only taught Catholics
but Protestants as well the wonderful power of personal influence when
brought to bear on the drinker. Father Mathew 's societies were every-
where formed and through the impulse given by tliis remarkable ad-
vocate vast numbers of people were induced to abandon the "cup" and
many young men were so influenced as never to form the habit of drink-
ing intoxicants.

The Red Ribbon Movement

In 1876 a wave of temperance swept over the county and, indeed, the
whole State under the leadership of Reynolds and the red ribbon. Every
signer of the pledge was designated by the sign of a red ribbon. That
badge became very popular. None were too proud nor too great to wear it.
It seemed to take on new influence and new honor every time it was seen
in the lapel of the coat of a reformed drunkard and of these there were
large numbers.

Michigan has furnished several advocates of the temperance cause
of more than local reputation. Among these may be mentioned the Rev.
John Russel, who was long the foremost leader in our State. Robert E.
Frazer, of Detroit, who came to the front during the red ribbon move-
ment, was an advocate of rare power and very effective in pleading
with his fellow men. The Michigan man of widest reputation among the
temperance leaders of national prominence at this time, 1912, is Samuel
Dickey of our own county, now and for some years past, President of
Albion College.

The Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Perhaps the longest sustained and most effective influence for tem-
perance in these later years originated in a crusade organized among the
women in the little town of Hillsboro, Ohio, in 1874. What was supposed
to be but a local and spasmodic protest against the saloon became, after


it had spread through tlie various states. Jliehigau ainoug the number,
and exhausted the impulse that gave it the appearance of a revolutionary
force, a well organized, disciplined and effective power under the name
of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. The Union is made up
of a body of Christian women, drawn together from the various churches,
whose common bond is the promotion of temperance and the prohibition
of the saloon. The organization is national in its scope, having local so-
cieties in all the principal cities and towns. It is self-perpetuating.
Deaths, removals, nor discouragements seem not to effect it. With
cumulative force it moves resistlessly forward. It is a power that must
be reckoned with by all who undertake to estimate influences that make
for or against the cause of temperance in this country.


The cause of temperance legislation not only in Michigan but in many
other states in the Union, has been exceedingly varied. It has had almost
as many phases as Joseph's coat is supposed to have had colors. Laws
have been enacted providing for state prohibition, county prohibition,
township and ward prohibition. These have been amended, repealed
or re-enacted in some other form. The courts have been resorted to and
contested cases carried to the Supreme Court of the United States. Bat-
tles have been waged on the hustings, at the ballot box, in the legisla-
tures and the congress. These battles have been fought at times under
partisan and again under non-partisan banners. Jlen have rallied at
times around the standards of moral suasion and the signed pledge,
again around regulation by license or tax and the enforcement of law
and again by absolute prohibition. At other times the ardor of the people
has blazed up and spread like a consuming tlame and again they have
seemed to lose all interest. All men recognize the evils of intemperance
but they differ greatly as to the best method of coping with those evils.

Michigan tried prohibition from 1853 to 1875. In the winter and
spring of 1886-87, another state wide contest was held that aroused the
entire coinmoiiwealtli. At the spring election a total of 362.775 votes were
cast, of these 178,4:70 were for prohibition and 184,305 against, the
ma,iority against being but 5,835. In that election Calhoun county cast
5,458 for and 3,424 against, or a ma.iority of 2,034 for. Under the
present law, known as county option, the county has fluctuated. In
1909 the county was carried under the local option law by 9] ma.jority
and the prohibitory law was in force within the county for two years.
In 1911 an appeal was again taken to the people and the returns showed a
majority of 25 for license. At this writing, 1912, the county is again
under the license system, but petitions are being circulated asking the
board of supervisors to again submit the (juestion to the people of the
county at the spring election of 1913.



Albion and Athens Townships — Athens Village — Battle Creek
Township (by Mrs. Laura Ringes) — Bedford and Burlington
Townships — Village of Burlington — Clarence, Clarendon, Con-
SHIP AND Village — Homer Banks — Lee, Ler^iy, ^Marengo, JMar-
shall, Newton and Penfield Townships — A Few Pioneer Ex-
periences' — Sheridan and Tekonsha.

Albion Township

By the surveyors' description, Albion township is known as township
3, range' 4 west. In 1834, by an act of the territorial legislature, it
was comprised within the township of Homer. In pursuance of an act
of the legislature, April 1, 1837, it was organized as Albion township.
The surface of this section is in general undulating. The soil is a rich
black loam well adapted to the cultivation and production of grains,
fruits and grass. The Kalamazoo river entering the township from the
southwest. Hows towards the northeast and uniting at Albion with the
east branch forms an excellent water power. The latter was a determin-
ing factor in originally locating the site of the present city of Albion.
There are a number of small lakes in the township ant! many never
failing springs.

The pioneers made no mistake when they selected Albion township
as the locality in which they would make homes for themselves and their
descendants. The township too was fortunate in the class of men and
women who constituted the early settlers. The influence of the Robert-
sons, the Ilowells, the Holmes, the Knickerbockers, the Kinneys, the Far-
leys, the Balls, the Sheldons, and later the Andersons, the Parsons, the
Havens, and many others both among the earlier and later comers, has
done much to make Albion township one of the best and most desirable
residential sections of the county. Minard and Garfield Farley, grand-
sons of David Farley, one of the prominent early settlers, have dem-
onstrated the value of an education in agriculture, and particularly in
the knowledge ;iiid cultuic nf IVuits. The renovation of old orchards,
the care of the new. tlie jxM-l'ecliiit;- of the quality and the increase of the
quantity of fruit by these young men have demonstrated possibilities
before scarcely believed.



AYhile the towiisliip li;is no \ill;i^c. iioi- rliuivli, nor liioii school williin
lier present limits, her elose proximity tti Albion eity, to Homer niul
Concord places all these within easy reach of her people. Many of her
sons and daughters are graduates of the high school or the college or
both, while the average degree of intelligence, morality and religious
character make her people to rank in these resjiects among the foremost.

The Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad traverses the town-
ship from the southwest to the northeast nearly through the center of
the town diagonally. The ^Michigan Central touches its Iwrders on the
northeast while the Cincinnati Northern passes through the .southwest
corner, and the Air Line road runs within a few rods of the southeast
corner. The interests and history of Albion township have always been
closely related to those of Albion city and Homer village, which are
treated more fully elsewhere. For many years the township has furn-
ished to both city and village named some of their formost citizens.

Athens Township

One of the earliest sections settled in Calhoun county was that por-
tion embracing what is now Athens township. Originally it included
LeRoy and Burlington townships. Probably no finer prospect was held
out to the pioneer than that which Athens presented. About one-si.\th
of its area was fine prairie. About ten sections were heavily tindiered
with whitewood, black cherry, black walnut and oak. In the way of
timber it is said there was nothing better in the county. That which
was not prairie or heavily timbered was beautiful stretches of "oak
openings," presenting to the early comers the appearance of an extended
park. At certain seasons of the year the wild flowers added much to the
charm of the scenery.

The principal streams are the Nottawasepi and Pine creeks, wiiich
unite on section 29 and form a large tributary to the St. Joseph wliii'h
they enter in Kalamazoo county a few miles below.

It was in the month of June, 183L that the three Nichols brothers,
viz : Warren, Ambrose and Othorial, together with Benjamin F. Ferris,
Alfred Holcomb, Isaac Crossett, Asahel Stone and a Mr. Brown, came
into the township and located their claims on what is now called Dry
Prairie. During the summer, houses were built of hewn logs and shelter
for the limited quantity of stock was provided before winter set in.
These resolute men and women seemed abundantly satisfied with the
progress they had made in the short time since they had come into the
new country and the future appeared full of promise. All eagerly an-
ticipated the coming of spring, the planting of crops and development
of their lands. While in the midst of this work suddenly a pall fell
upon the people of the entire section. They had read of the ravages the
cholera was making in the east and among the troops eni'oute to the
scene of the Black Hawk war in the west, but had no thought the dread
disease would search out their little colony so secluded and distant from
the routes of public travel. Their consternation can be imagined when
at the close of a sultry day in June, 1832, just a year from tlieii- first
coming, a report spread through the settlement that the malad.N- which

Online LibraryWashington GardnerHistory of Calhoun county, Michigan : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principle interests (Volume 1) → online text (page 22 of 74)