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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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166 HISTORY OF CALHOUN COUNTY

all feared but which no one thought would come, had entered the home
of Warren Nichols. It laid its hand with fatal touch on five members in
a family of eleven. Father, mother and three daughters followed each
other in quick succession until there were five vacant chairs in the home
and five new graves on the fann that now lies within the corporate
limits of Athens village. Isaac Crossett was another numbered among
the victims and his body was cared for and buried by Alfred Holcomb
and Benjamin F. Ferris in a grave which is also within the present




Two White Oak Trees, Near Athens

village limits. The gloom which hung over the settlement was not lifted
during the entire summer.

The year 1833 brought reinforcements from the east. Among others
who came about this time were Hiram Doubleday from New York,
Peter Beisel from Pennsylvania and Lot Whitcomb from Vermont.
The two last named in the year 1835 built the first saw mill in the
township. About 1837 came Francis A. Mann, who with Asahel Stone
were political factors of importance in the town for many years. Each
was the leader of the" opposing factions and many a battle royal was
fought on the local political arena.



HISTORY OF CALHOUN COUNTY 167

The first postoffice in the township was kept by Lot Whitcomb.
Later there were established a number of postoffices, but under the free
rural delivery system these have all been taken up. Athens village has
the only postoffice in the township. This office has been for several years
in the presidential elass. Newton E. j\Iiller, the first postmaster to be
appointed by the i>resident, has conducted the business in a manner
satisfactory to both government and the people.

Athens is still the home of the Pottawattomies, a reumaut of
the ancient tribe that possessed this fair land long before the white man
ever looked upon it. Only a few, about sixty, are left where once there
were many. Peaceful, fairly industrious and reasonably prosperous, the
traits of their race considered, they form an interesting link in the chain
that binds the present to a fast fading past.

The first township meeting was held in 1835. At that meeting Hiram
Doubleday was chosen moderator and Benjamin F. Ferris, clerk. All
persons residents of the township were declared to be lawful voters.
Henry C. Hurd was elected supervisor; Benjamin F. Ferris, township
clerk: George Clark, Granville Beardsley and William Adams, assessors;
Franklin C. Watkins, collector; Isaac Watkins and Richard Tuck, di-
rectors of the poor; Horton Warren and F. C. Watkins, constables;
Alfred Holcomb and Robert McCamly, fence viewers; Isaac Watkins
and Joseph Watkins, pound masters; John C. Ferris and David Dexter,
overseers of highways.

Athens Village

One of the best towns of its size in southern Jlichigan is the village
of Athens. It was incorporated in 1896. William Lehr was the firat and
Elmer E. Overholdt, the present president. The village has a fine electric
lighting plant operated by the Athens Will and Power Company. The
power is developed from the Nottawasepi river which runs through the
town. The streets are well lighted by two large Tungsten burners on
every corner. There is also a fine water system installed some six years
ago, by which excellent drinking water is furnished the citizens and
fire protection afforded to property. Its school house is probably not
surpassed by that in any community of a like number of people in the
state. For several years past, the young men of its high school have
given the school and town a state reputation in the field of athletics
defeating nearly all comers, whatever the size of the school or town
they represented. The several churches of the village are housed in
substantial structures and both the pulilie services and the Sunday
schools are well sustained. Athens has one bank which is in a sound
condition. It has an excellent class of business houses and its merchants
and business men generally are prosperous. One steam railroad, the
Goshen-Miehigan branch of the ^Michigan Central, constructed in the
year 1888, runs from Battle Creek on the north to Goshen, Indiana, on
the south. The proposed electric line from Coldwater to Battle Creek
will ran through Athens. The line is promoted by the JFichigan-Indiana
Traction Company. There seems to be strong probabilities that this
road will be built at an early day.



168



HISTORY OP CALHOUN COUNTY



The Athens Hardwood Lumber Company is one of the important
industries of the village, employing at some seasons of the year as high
as twenty-five men. It is the only band mill in southern Michigan.
The Athens Creamery Company is one of the successful concerns of the
town. Two large grain elevators, one owned by P. I. Simons, of Jack-
son, with S. W. Lehr as local manager, meet the wants of the rich farm-
ing community all about. Wood and Woodruff, local lumber dealers,
carry one of the largest and finest assortments in .southern ^Michigan.

Its generally well-to-do people live in comfortal)le homes. Its side-
Avalks are as good, and there are as many miles of them in proportion to
the number of inhabitants, as will be found in any village in the state.
Its shaded streets and well kept lawns give a general atmosphere of
homelikeness to the village.




New High School Building, Athens



The Atliens News was the first newspaper to be printed in the village
and was established by McDowell Brothers, of Mendon, in 1880. The
plant was brought in by wagon, for Athens had no railroad until 1888.
This paper was very small in size and survived but a short time.

The Athens Times was established in 1883 by L. H. Love, who printed
a four page 8 x 12 sheet on a .job press, for a number of years when it
was enlarged to a five column quarto and later to a six column ciuarto,
only two pages of which were printed at home. Mr. Love owned the
paper, with the exception of a few brief intervals, until June, 1908,
when his health failed and he sold to H. 0. Eldridge, who sold to George
H. McMillen, August 1st of the same year. The hand equipment was at
once discarded for a modern power plant and the Times now prints
four pages at home and enjoys a splendid advertising and job printing
patronage, while the subscription list has almost doubled. Mr. Love, to
whose pluck and ability the Times owes its existence, died in February,



HISTORY OF C'ALIIOrX I'OrXTY 169

1909. He was a printer of the old school and his versatility as a writer
made him a capable eountry editor.

Only one paper ever arose in Athens to compete with him, tiie
Athens Bee, which was established in 1896, by Jerome F. Gulp, with
his son-in-law, R. H. Newman as editor. This paper lived tor seven or
eight years and suspended publication, the plant being sold to Vieksburg
pai'ties who moved it to that city where it formed the neucleus of the
plant now used by the Vieksburg Herald.

The Times is independent so far as politics are concerned.

B.\TTLE Creek Township
By Mrs. Laura Binges

Battle Creek township which wa.s formei'ly included in the original
township of ^Milton, was established bv the act of the legislature in
1839.

The first township meeting was held at the home of Samuel Convis,
wlio was elected the first township clerk.

Samuel Convis came from New York state in 1832, making the
.journey with an ox team. He located land on the present site of Battle
Creek where there was at that time but one settler.

The first settlements made in Battle Creek township were on
Goguac prairie in 1831, the settlers being attracted hither by the easily
cultivated and fertile prairie land.

Among the first pioneers was Josiah Goddard who purchased the
farm on section 15 later owned by David Young. The only surviving
member of the family living near is ^Mrs. William Reese of Battle Creek.

Calhoun Goddard, son of Josiah Goddard, was the first white child
born in the township in 1833.

Isaac Thomas settled on section 14 in 1831 and erected the first log
house in the same year. This house was burned by the Indians the fol-
lowing year. ilr. Thomas plowed the first soil within the limits of the
township in 1832, and sowed the first grain in 1833.

Dorrance Williams came here in 1828, when he was employed by the
U. S. government in surveying the land included within the present
limits of Battle Creek towTiship. He selected a fractional quarter of
section 14 where he settled in 1831. This farm is now owned by William
J. Foster.

■'Uncle" John Stewart. Sr.. ])ought of Dorrance Williams the farm
now owned and occupied liy William J. Foster. Here Mr. Stewart
planted the first apple orchard in the township, of which thirteen trees
are still standing in 1912.

The death of Mrs. John Stewart which occurred in September, 1832,
was the first death in Battle Creek township.

The first marriage solemnized in the township was that of John
Stewart, Jr., and Miss Anser, which was celebrated on Goguac prairie
March 6, 1833.

Henry C. Eberstein. a native of Germany, who with his family started
for America in 1832, in June. 1833, arrived on Goguac Prairie, and set-



170 . HISTORY OF CALHOUN COUNTY

tied on section 15 on a farm now occupied by his son Charles and
daughter Lillian. Here he was identified with the growth of the com-
munity until his death in 1885, when he was the oldest pioneer of the
township.

Aaron Moorehouse located on a farm of one hundred and sixty acres
in section 26, which he entered from the government in 1835. These
letters patent were signed by Martin Van Buren, and the land has never
been transferred, but descended to the original owner's daughter, and
at her demise to her son Gilbert Nichols of Battle Creek, who is the
present owner.

In 1835 Asa Langley settled in section 26 on a farm later owned by
Cassius Pearl. In 1837 he built the first saw mill of the township which
was discontinued in 1860.

Also in 1835 came Anson Mapes who located in section 30 where he
resided for forty years, and died there in 1875. And Andrew Reese,
who was born in Massachusetts in 1790 and who came here in the fall of
1835. He settled on the Reese road where he lived until his death
which occurred in 1875. He was survived by a widow and ten children.
The only living members of the family are Mrs. Flora Burrell of Battle
Creek, and John Reese who lives on a farm east of the city.

To this fei'tile prairie also came Joseph Young with his mfe and
nine children in 1835. He bought the laud which was later owned by
his eldest son, David, and now is owned and occupied by a son of the
tliird generation. Myron Young. On this farm Joseph Young built the
tii-st stone house in the township in 1841. This house was burned in the
summer of 1910. Joseph Young operated his farm until 1861, when he
moved to Battle Creek, where he lived until his death which occurred
in 1878, at the age of 87.

David Young who came here with his parents from the Empire state,
in 1835, did his share in the pioneer work of the neighborhood. He
^^atched the city of Battle Creek grow ' ' from a village of one house and
that a log cabin. ' ' Mr. Young was ninety -two years old at the time of his
death which took place in 1909 on the old homestead.

Dr. John Beach and his wife Harriett, natives of Vermont, in the
summer of 1835 purchased a quarter section of land in the southwest
part of the township. Dr. Beach wished to discontinue his medical
practice and had chosen the piirsuits of farming in hopes of recovering
his health. However it was soon learned that he was a physician and so
great was the demand for his professional services that he could not
refuse. There was at that time only one physician in Battle Creek, and
he had no horse, so that his calls were limited to walking distance.
The remaining large territor.y extending north to Bellevue, west to
Comstock, and east to Marshall, was visited by Dr. Beach who traveled
on horse back. There was no medicine to be purchased hereabout in
those days, so after the supply which he brought from the east was
exhausted. Dr. Beach had recourse to the products of the forest. This
overwork exhausted his physical strength, and brought on lung trouble
which caused his untimely death.

After the death of Dr. Beach, his widow erected in 1849 the first
brick house in the township. This was occupied by herself and son, E.



HISTORY OF OAl.IlorX COrXTY 171

Darwin, until shu ilied in 1882, having reaelu'd nearly four score .years.
This farm was held by members of the family until the spring of 1!)1"2
when it was sohl by Carl P. Heaeh, grandson of the subject.

Allen Willard first settled in the neighborhood of Dr. Beach in 183G.
He later bought the Hemes Sweet place, on the east side of Lake
Gogiuic. Here he quietl.v spent the evening of his life passing away in
1876, at the age of eighty-two. Mr. AVillard was a man of rare intelli-
gence and scholarly habits. He possessed an ardent love for literature,
and made a thorough study of the New Testament and the Constitution
of the United States. He was survived bv two sons, George and Charles,
who became prominent and influential citizens.

In this part of the township in 1836 also settled Deacon Heman
Cowles who purchased on section 36 the farm now owned and occupied




Photo by J. H. Bro^ni

David I^oung Farm House, Completed Jily 4, 1841. Burxed in 1911.

by his grandson, Fred W. Cowles. "Deacon"' Cowles was a man of
more than ordinary intelligence and decision of character. He felt com-
plimented to be called an abolitionist when others looked upon it as a
disgrace. He was prominent in affairs both religious and educational
until his death which occurred at the age of eighty-three years. He lies
buried in the South Battle Creek cemetery.

The first grist mill was erected by Abraham Minges in 1862. The
first flour ground l)etween its stones was made into biscuits by Mrs. 0.
Amadou for the wedding of her daughter Eugenia to the builder of the
mill. j\Ir. Minges operated the mill two years and sold it to one George
Jones. The property has been in the possession of several individuals,
now being owned and operated by the widow of the late George Yanger
and her sons, Leon and Harry. It is also used as a cider mill and is a
useful enterprise in the community.

The brick manufacturing plant now the property of Jasper Adams



172 HISTORY OF CALHOUN COUNTY

is the oldest enterprise in the township. The laud in which the elay
deposit is found was entered from the government in 1831 by Aranthus
Thomas. The clay was not used for manufacturing purposes until the
property was purchased by Simon Carr in 1839. In 1840 ^Ir. Carr
began the manufacture of brick by means of the crude hand molds,
and for twelve years he carried on this business. They were well made
however, for the first brick houses in the township were built of his
brick and are still standing, occupied and in a state of excellent preserva-
tion. In 1851 the projierty was sold to Lyman Godfrey and S. D.
Crane, BIr. Godfrey becoming sole owner the following year. For thirty
years Mr. Godfrey operated the plant with the hand mold method, until
1882 when the property was purchased by Jasper Adams. Mr. Adams
installed machinery and equipped it with modern methods of drying and
burning. For a time from 1885 until 1890 the yard was run by the
firm Adams and Ilall Brothers, Charles and Henry Hall, builders and
contractors of Battle Creek, ^h: Adams again resumed the business
alone and continued with the manufacture and sale of brick until 1903,
when he closed the plant because of broken health, the yard at tiuit time
having been in operation for nearly seventy years.

Three railroads cross the township, the Michigan Central which
passes across the northeast corner, and its southern branch, called the
Goshen Division of the Michigan Central, crossing the southern part of
the township with a Hag station and side track at Adams brick yard.
This branch line was constructed in 1889. The third line, the Grand
Trunk, cxlciuls across the western portion nearly the entire length north
and soutii. It lias a Hag station and side track at Renton. This railway
was comi)h'1c(l in lS(i!).

The fii'st scIkkiI was taught on Goguac Prairie in a small log sciiool
bouse, by Aranthus 'i'lidiiias in 1S33 or 1884. Among the scholars were
mcinln'i's of the Strwart. (Idddard, Thomas, and Conway families. In
1S.")S this scIkkiI house was (lis|)lacc(l for a brick building which is the
present district No. '■', of the township.

The first religious meetings were held by the Methodists at the hou.se
of Daniel Thomas as early as 1833, when the gospel was preached by
Rev. :\Ir. Hobart of :Marshall

The South Battle Creek Baptist church was the first recognized
religious society. This was organized by Rev. John Harris, in 1839, and
was legally instituted in 1842. The meetings were held in private
houses until 1847, when the present church building, a neat frame
structure, was erected. Rev. Harris was the first pastor and Solomon
Case the first deacon. A Sabbath school was organized about the same
time and was sustained for over sixty years.

The Battle Creek Township Grange No. 66 was organized September,
1873, at the home of Nathaniel Chilson. ilr. Chilson was the first
master, which office he held several .rears. Other charter members were
Charles Merritt, E. :\I. C. Merritt, :\Iiles Townsend, Hattie Townseud,
Alonzo Robinson, Hattie Robinson, H. L. Munn, L. K. Phelps. I. W.
Caine, 'Slyva. Caine, Chester Chilson. Daniel Caine, iliss I. V. Chilson,
J. A. Robinson, ]\Iiss Delie Chilson, Mesdames D. Phelps, H. A. Chilson,
H. M. Chilson, and James M. Haryhan.



IIISTOKY OF CALIIOUX COCXTY 173

For several years the grange meetings were held in various halls in
the eity of Battle Creek, then for a time they iiiet in the South Battle
Creek Baptist eluireh. In 1899 the present grange hall was built, near
the prairie road on a lot purchased by the grange joining the No. 3
school district. The grange hall is equipjDed with election booths, antl is
used for other town meetings.

Battle Creek township gave loyally her sons to the cause of the rnion
in the Civil war. The names of those who served are as follows: Anson
Beckley (mustered out 18(35, still living) ; Leuo AV. Bloss, (mustered out
1865, now dead) : Thomas J. Cook, (discharged for disability, still
living) ; Judd Cummings, (deceased) ; Lansing Fairchild, (deceased) :
Jasper Gregory, (deceased) : Walter Gregory, (still living) ; Thos. Jen-
nings, (deceased) ; Philetus Karr, (deceased) ; Capt. James B. Mason,
(resigned Lieut. Col. 11th ^Michigan Cavalry, killed) ; George ilcCul-
lum. (discharged for disability, 18()4r, now dead) ; DeWitt .Miller: James
Miller, (discharged at expiration of service 1865) ; John .Aliller; AVilliam
JMiller, (killed at Nashville, Tenn., 1863) ; P. B. .Alitchell, (mustered out
September, 1865, still living) ; Henry Oldfield, (deceased) : Spencer Old-
field, (still living); Eugene Perry, (deceased); Samuel I'ugsley, (mus-
tered out September, 1865, (still living) ; Wm. Picauld, (deceased) ;
James Robinson, (mustered out August, 1865) ; Robert Sharp, (de-
ceased) ; High Stewart, (uuistered out November, 1865).

Those who represented the township in the late Spanish-American
war were: A. Shirley Adams, Vernon E. Cummings, and Earl M. Perry.
These young men were in active engagement in the Battle of San Juan
Hill. All returned uninjured but in poor health because of the un-
sanitarj' conditions of the island.

Goguac Lake is an interesting feature of the township because of its
historical interests, and its value as a sunnner resort. The Indian name
was Goghawgiac — spelled Gogoguae by the pioneers. It is located in
section 14, 22, and 23, and is connected with Battle Creek by an electric
line. Along its shores are hundreds of cottages, which afford ((uiet
resting places for busy city dwellers during the summer months, when
it is an active scene of the outdoor sports of nature lovers and pleasure
seekers. Traces yet remain of an Indian mound which is located on the
lake's border directly west of AVard's Island, and once i)\-er its watei's
glided the bark canoe of the red men.

BkL)F( )RD Towx.ship

This is the most populous township in the county, numbering by the
census of 1910, 2,076. This increase in population is largely due to the
thriving village of Urbandale, a suburb of Battle Creek but lying within
the township of Bedford.

We take pleasure in submitting the following interesting historical
matter pertaining to Bedford township, furnished by Mr. C. E. Bradley.
It not only shows how and what town business was done in Bedford
seventy-three years ago, but it shows also who were the then male resi-
dents, all of whom were pioneers and helped to make Bedford's history.

Fir.st annual township meeting held at the hou.se of Josiah Gillx'rt
on the 1st dav of April. 1S;)9.



174 HISTORY OF CALHOUN COUNTY

The meeting was organized by appointing Caleb Kirby, , moderator,
and John Meachem, Joseph Kirby, Erastus R. Wattles and John L.
Bolkeom, inspectors of the meeting, who, having qualified, appointed
Lucian M. Weaver, clerk.

The meeting then proceeded to vote for township ofBcers which re-
sulted as follows: Supervisor, Caleb Kirby; town clerk, John Meachem;
treasurer, Isaac Sutton ; assessors, Schuyler Goff, John P. Ames, Harvey
Cooley; collector, John Armstrong; school inspectors, John Meachem,
Caleb Kirby, Abraham Lockwood; directors of the poor, Isaac Sutton,
Jacob Frost; commissioners of highways, Isaac Sutton, Erastus R.
Wattles, Stephen H. Carman; justices of the peace, John P. Ames, one
year; John Meachem, two years; George B. Hamilton, three years; Noah
P. Crittendon, four years ; constables, John Armstrong, John Hamilton ;
overseers of highways, district No. 1, John Stringham ; district No. 2,
Solomon Tupp; district No. 3, Jacob Stringham; district No. 4, John
Meacham ; district No. 5, Harvey Sam ; district No. 6, Josiah Gilbert ; dis-
trict No. 7, Thomas H. Thomas ; district No. 8, John Hamilton ; district
No. 9, Schuyler Goff. Voted that there be a pound erected in the center
of the town, also that John Meachem be pound master. Erastus B. Wat-
tles M'as appointed deputy township clerk, April 3, 1839.

"At a meeting of the township board held the 18th day of April,
1839, the following vacancies wci'e ttlled by appointment: Josiah Gilbert,
overseer of highways in district No. 6 ; Erastus B. Wattles, school inspec-
tor in place of Abraham Lockwood, who neglected to qualify.

' ' To the Clerk of Calhoun County : We do certify that we believe
the persons herein named possess the requisite qualifications for jurors for
the year 1839, viz : Abraham Frost, Noah P. Crittendon, David Stillson,
Joseph Kirby and Lucian M. Weaver.
"Bedford, May 25, 1839.

"H. Cooley,
"J. P. Ames,

"Schuyler Goff, Assessors.
"John Meachem, Town Clerk.

"Voted : That the sum of $200 be raised for the purpose of liuilding
bridge across the Kalamazoo river in district No. 9.

"Voted: That no boars over three months old shall run at large,
with a penalty of one dollar to be collected of the owner by any person
who shall prosecute for the same.

"Voted: That a map be procured from the Land office for the use
of the assessors.

"Voted: That the next township meeting be held at the liouse of
John Meachem.

"We, the undersigned inspectors of the towaiship meeting, held on
the 1st day of April, 183?, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a cor-
rect statement of the proceedings of said meeting.

"John S. Bolkcom,
"e. r. w.\ttles,
"John Meachem,

■■Jo.^EPH KiRnY.



HISTORY OF CAl.TIorX COrXTY ITf)

"At a meeting of the township board liekl on the 22nd daj- of June,
1839, the following compensation was alluw^'d to towTiship officers: town
board, to\\ii clerk, treasurer, each member one dollar per day ; assessor,
highway connnissioner, each one dollar and tifty cents; collector, five
per cent on gross footing on assessment roll, ten i)er cent on state tax
for 1838. Incidental expense for year $349.67. Building bridge, $200.00.

"Joux JIeaciiem, Town Clerk."

HlULl.VCTIIX 'rdWNSIUl'

is located in the .southwest part of Calhoun county ; its southern boundary
meets the north line of Branch county, with Tekonsha on the east, Newton
on the north and Athens on the west. The government surveys designate
the township as town 4 south, range 7 west. The southern half of the
township is described as "very level, intei*spersed with beautiful plains,
well watered by small streams and is generally free from stone, the soil
being a sandy loam, in places mingled with clay." The northern por-



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 23 of 74)