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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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The entire state of ^Michigan sent to the front as soldiers in the Civil
war one man for every eight of its entire population, old and young,
male and female. Of this enormous proportion of its best, most pro-
ductive, and manly sons, Penntield supplied its full share.

In a pecuniary way, it supplemented national and state bounties to
volunteers by liberal township subscriptions and appropriations, and
cared for the dependent families of those who fought its battles at the
front.

The township invariably voted as its sons fought ; there was never a
"fire in the rear" as in some northern localities.



HISTORY OF CALHOUN COUNTY 207

The home burden of farm and household \v;is also luavy with so
many aetive producers gone, leaving double duty to those I'cinaining, yet
every home found time and material to send ilelieaeies and eomforts
the government i-ould not supply to the sick and wounded, and good
cheer to all.

And when "the cruel war was over" it has cheerfully supi>orted in
common with the entire loyal states, the most liberal system of pensions
the world has ever seen.

A complete list of her soldiers, and tletailed record of their heroic
and honorable part in the war may he found elsewhere in this history.

The Chicago and Grand Tnink Railway runs north easterly through
the township following the general course of the Battle Creek stream.
Its central portion was originally built by the Peninsular Railway Com-
pany of Battle Creek about 1868-9. For a long time its power equip-
ment consisted of a single pony built locomotive, with rolling stock
corresponding. The irreverent dubbed it the "Triweekly" road, ex-
plaining that it tried weekly to make the up trip, and tried to get back the
next week. It had no turntable, and for years its trains were pulled one
way by its little engine running head first, and on the return trip by
the same engine running "tail first."

The state went wild on railroad aid legislation about this period, and
some twenty acts were passed by the legislature authorizing the issue of
bonds in aid of as many proposed roads by the cities, towns and villages
through which they were to pass.

This township held a special election to vote on a proposal to l)ond
itself for ten thousand dollars to aid the contemplated road, the vote
being taken at an open air mass meeting, after an address bj' the presi-
dent and promoter of the road, not strictly according to the modern
Australian ballot system, but by a division, each side successively passing
before tellers, who differed on their count, but declared the proposition
carried by a small majority. The anti's claimed that many illegal votes
were given that these decided the day against them. At the next town-
ship election party lines were forgotten, and a hot fight ensued between
railroad aid and anti-railroad aid partisans, the one side claiming an
illegal and fraudulent election, the other the disgraceful repudiation of
a contract.

The anti's won.

Litigation ensued which was in due time decided by tlie Sui>reme
Court in another case, the court holding all taxation for raili'oiid aid
or similar purposes unconstitutional and void.

The road ultimately became part of the Grand Trunk system ; has
})een double tracked and made first class in every respect, and is now
one of the main through lines from Chicago to the seaboard.

Pennfield Grange No. 85 was organized October 6, 1873, with thirty-
one charter members. George C. Hicks heading the list, and remaining,
with his wife Mary Hicks active members to this day. It has a fine
hall, grounds and outbuildings, has been and is an active and efificient
factor in promoting intelligent agriculture, education, mutual help in
all good enterpri-ses.

The order as a whole has long been in advance of average public



208 HISTORY OF CALHOUN COUNTY

sentiment, has led in movements for the Australian ballot system, now
universally adopted, for free rural delivery of mail, the greatest boon
of recent times to the farmer and to the general public ; has long favored
direct popular election of United States senators, the parcels post, pri-
mary nomination of public officials, and other important reforms just
on the verge of accomplishment.

In all these directions Pennfield Grange as a part of the united and
effective whole has done and is doing its full share.

Its first more important officers were Silas E. Woodworth, master,
Richard Keeler, secretary; Richard S. Pool, lecturer. Its present ones
Frank B. Garratt, master; Miss Clara E. JMcDermid, secretary; Miss
Alice Cronk, lecturer.

There is also a flourishing Farmers Club in the township, its presi-
dent being Philip Bowers, secretary Mrs. Minnie Collier.

On special and unusual lines has been the work of Silas E. Wood-
worth on his farm on sections 17 and 20.

Coming from western New York in 1866, he planted in that year the
first vineyard of Concord grapes in the state, three acres, and seven
additional acres two years later, 10 acres in all

The soil and climate proved excellent for the purpose, the trimming
and cultivation were thorough, the demand gratifying.

The grapes sold at times as high as fifteen cents the pound, and the
average price for the first eight years was eight cents the pound at



In 1882 he planted the first Niagara grapes in the state; 400 vines
costing $1.50 each; $600 in all; the trimmings each year to be re-
turned to the Niagra Grape Company, the corporation controlling the
propagation and sale of the new wonder. Wise men shook their heads
at the risky enterprise but the result proved Mr. Woodworth 's good judg-
ment and foresight. Brightens and other choice vai-ieties were added as
the market gradually demanded, and the new enterprise proved a grand
success for both producer and consumer, until at present grapes are
cheap as apples, and all may enjoy them at trifling cost in cash or labor.
In 1868 Mr. Woodworth planted the first extensive pear orchard in the
county, 200 trees, dwarfs and standards alternating.

The dwarfs produced a crop in four yeai-s, holding on until the
larger, slower growing standards came into bearing, when having passed
their usefulness they were removed to give room for the ' ' standbys. ' '

In 1892 ]\Ir. Woodworth introduced the Jersey cow ; the first herd in
the township, increasing to twenty-six in number, devoted to producing
milk and cream for market, his entire product being sold to the Battle
Creek Sanitarium for seventeen years. •

An early test of his milk by the state veterinarian gave 5.6% butter
fat, which at that date was utterly unbelievable by the local milk in-
spectors — "no cow living could give so rich milk" — and only repeated
tests in their presence could convince them.

i\Ir. Woodworth also built eighteen or more years ago the first silo
in the township, and one of the first two in the county, George Perry of
Battle Creek township building another the same year.

Mr. and Mrs. Woodworth still own the farm and retain at a good ripe



HISTORY OF CALHOl'X COUNTY



209



age its general oversight ;iiul iiiaiiageinent. in well earneil comt'ort and
plenty.

No adequate history of the township ean be written witliout hon-
orable mention of the late Samuel G. Gorsline.

Born in Wayne county, N. Y., 1830, he settled with iiis family
and other relatives near the Cobblestone school house in 1867 ; was
recognized at once by his eonimunity as a man of rare intelligence,
broad sympathies and sterling worth ; was successively teacher,, town-
ship clerk, supervisor, highway commissioner, township superintendent
of schools, member of county board of school examiners for many years,
doing efficient and permanent work in every position.

He was a man of unusual range of abilities and accomplishments
up to date farmer, successful stock feeder, enthusiastic horticulturist
and botanist, a skillful and valuable helper in accident, sickness or
misfortune.




Photo by 1. H.



CoBBiL'-roNr S( 11



He was a prime mover and helper in every good work in his neigh-
borhood and vicinity : occasional preacher, twenty-five years and more
superintendent of his home Sunday school, zealous and efficient in larger
fields of effort.

He had a rare gift for reaching and influencing the young people
he knew or met. and no assembly or gathering was not the better for
his presence and help.

No other citizen has left a stronger or better impress on the township.

The first bridge built was that across the Battle Creek stream, south
of the present town house, generally known as the jMcAUister Dridge,
which was built by Samuel D. Moore.

The township being intersected by two large streams, the Battle
Creek and the AVonondagua. has a liberal number — six considerable



210 HISTORY OF CALHOUN COUNTY

bridges, which were originally built of wood, and rebuilt about once
in fifteen years, until recently first class modern and permanent ones,
five of steel and one of cement, have been successively erected, all built
by the Illinois Bridge Co.

An interesting feature of the township is the Flowing Wells on sec-
tion 33, developed for a water supply, and forty-three acres purchased,
by the city of Battle Creek, but not yet connected with its water
system.

They are five in number, two of six inches diameter, three of eight
inches, varying in depth from 95 to 150 feet, mainly in the ]\Iarshall
Sandstone, the drill striking numerous pockets or openings in its down-
ward course.

The wells were tested in 1905 by five large traction engines driving
centrifugal pumps, and yielded eight million gallons per day for ten
days, without being pumped to their fullest capacity. The largest
amount of water used by the city for all purposes in any one day has
only reached about four million gallons, hence the wells already sunk
seem to be amply sufficient for the entire city supply for years to come.

In ciuality the water has less than the average hardness, is very cool
and clear, vmrivalled for culinary and drinking purposes. It is ex-
tensively used for a drinking water in preference to the city supply
from Goguac Lake, although available only as bought from water wagons
run by private enterprise, or taken away by the parties using it, in
bottles and .jugs.

The first experimental well was sunk in 1904, and the property
bought by the city in 1906.

The writer gratefully acknowledges generous and kindly aid in the
preparation of this brief history, from numerous friends interested in
recording and preserving the honorable story of this sample section of
our great state — ^liehigan.

Sheridan Township.

Sheridan is in the eastern tier of townships in Calhoun county and
lies next north of Albion. A considerable portion of Albion City, in-
deed all lying north of the centre of Michigan avenue, was originally
a part of Sheridan township and the history and development of the
latter is closely related to that of the former.

Sheridan, as designated on the maps of the old United States survey,
is Town 2 South, Range 4 West. The surface is generally undulating
and in some parts hilly. The soil is a gravelly loam. Wheat, corn,
beans and potatoes are staple products. Much attention has been given
to the raising of fine quality of stock. The Kalamazoo river enters the
township at the City of Albion and flowing in a northwesterly direc-
tion leaves it at the northwest corner of Section 31. Rice creek traverses
the township from east to west through the central portion, passing
out of the towaiship in the northwest part of Section 30, and a little
later unites with the Kalamazoo at Marshall. Winnipeg Lake, in the
western; Jlontealm, in the southwest, and Hall's Lake, in the central,
are beautiful sheets of water which, under favorable conditions, still



HISTORY OF CALIIOUX COUNTY :211

reward the p.-iticiif fislici-m.-iii. The Idwiisliip was ori^iini/nl in April,
183(5. A infetiug lor tlial puri)ose wa.s liukl at tlie lioiiic of ]{ciibeu
Abbott ou the farm now owned by Keubeu J. Emery. Abbott's place
was located on Section 20 on the Territorial road leading from Tletroit
throngh Ann Arbor, Jackson, Marshall and on to the west. A])bott kept
a tavern which for years was one of the landmarks to the westbound
traveler. He also kept the postottice known in the primitive days,
before Albion had an existence, as Waterburg, to which as late as
1838 the Albion people came for their mail. It was at Abbott's that
the pioneer citizens of the township came to hold their first towTi
meeting ou the day and date last above named. At that meeting
Orris Clapp was called to the chair and William M. Pearl and Daniel
Rossiter chosen clerks. There being no ballot box, the hat was passed




Albion



and each man entitled to vote cast his ballot, which the clerks counted,
reporting their findings to the chairman, who immediately announced
the result. In this way Chandler M. Church was elected supervisor;
Howell Bidwell, to^\^l clerk; Orris Clapp, William C. Whiti^ and Reuben
Abbott, assessors; William M. Pearl, Daniel Rossiter, ^Martin Tichnor
and Howell Bidwell. justices of the peace; J. W. Hicks, collector;
William C. White and Chandler M. Church, over.seers of the poor;
Phineas Spaulding, M. J. Lathrop and Daniel Rossiter. commissioners
of highways; W. C. White, J. P. ("onrad. commissioners of schools;
J. W. Hicks, Phineas Spaulding and Cyrus Dutton. constables; Reuben
Abbott and William C. Harding, fence reviewers.

Of the above named pioneers, we find that Reuben Abbott was the
first to locate in the township, coming from Erie, New York, with his
family, in the month of September, 1831. He entered land on sections
29 and 30 and built a log house of the very generous dimensions of
sixteen by twenty-two feet. Soon after (■()iii])leting this, the structure



212 HISTORY OF CALHOUN COUNTY

was enlarged and the house opened to the public. In the same year
came Orris Clapp and settled on section 31. In 1833, Chandler Church
came and made a permanent location on section 33. The same year
M. J. Lathrop settled on what is now the well known Billinghurst prop-
erty. In 1835, Martin Tichnor entered two hundred acres on sections
26 and 35. In the same year Joel Doolittle, Phineas Spaulding and
John P. Conrad were enrolled among the permanent settlers. The
year 1836 witnessed an unusual influx of home seekers, among them
Mark Crane and Caleb Lewis, who founded some of the well known
families of tlie later years both of Sheridan and Albion.

The ^Michigan Central Railroad enters the township at Albion and
passes westward through almost the entire southern portion. Thi
Lansing branch of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern enters at
Albion and passes through the southeast corner of Sheridan township.
The iliehigan United Electric Railway system parallels the M. C. R. R.
through the town. By these three lines, excellent shipping facilities
are afforded as well as ways of travel that make all points easily ac-
cessible to the people.

The people of Sheridan have pursued a steady, even course. There
are no very rich and no very poor in the tovsmship. With rare excep-
tions all are comfortably circumstanced. Only $6.50 was drawTi by
the township from the poor fund of the county during the entire year
of 1911.

There are no cities, no villages, no high school and no church in
the township, but the advantages which these afford are easily obtain-
able at Albion. The average of her people do not suffer by comparison
with those of other townships in the county.

Tekonsh.v Township

The towusliip of Tekonsha, located in the soiitlieasteni ])art of Cal-
houn county on the Air Line of the ilichigan Central Railway, was
organized in 183(i and constitutes one of the most prosperous divisions
of the county. It is well watered by the historic St. Joseph river and
numerous small lakes which add beauty to the landscape as well as fur-
nishing excellent sport for anglei-s. • It is a fine grain and stock raising
country, and is noted for excellence in these branches of agriculture.
The railroad was completed in 1870 with the assistance of a $15,000
bonus voted by the township.

The pretty village of Tekonsha is located on the old Jackson and
White Pigeon territorial road and on the site of a Pottawattomie Indian
village, of which some relics are still preseiwed, and from whose chief,
Tekonquasha, the town takes its name.

The first location of land in the township was made by Darius Pierce,
May 29, 1832, and included the site of the village, but the first actual
settler was Timothy Kimball, who built a log house near the site of the
present saw mill in 1833. The original plat of the village was laid in
1836, but it was not incorporated until 1878. The survey included 528
lots on the north side of the river with Jackson avenue as the main street.
The first hotel was built of tamarac logs in 1835, and in 1837 the present



HISTORY OP CALlIOrX COCNTY 213

Blake House was linished and designated "'Tekonslia House.'' The
proprietor was Samuel Hemenway, who was also the town's first mer-
chant. The mill raee was completed in 1887 and the saw null built.
In 1837 the postotifice was established and a mail route laid out from
Coldwater to ilarshall. The first blacksmith shop was started by Cor-
nelius Osboru, who later removed to California.

A school house was built on the northeast part of the village plat in
1837 of planks sawed at the mill. Another school building was built
later, and in 1873 the present fine building was erected at a cost of
$12,0U0. In 1910 a wing was built on the south side of the building at
a cost of .$2,800 to accommodate the growing school, and such is its thriv-
ing condition that another addition will soon be necessary to keep pace
with the increasing attendance.

The flour mill, now owned by the A. II. Randall Mill Co., was
erected by Dr. Campbell Waldo, about 1850. The same gentleman
started various industries here, including a select school taught by
his son, C. G. Waldo.

A private bank was organized in 1877 by Allen & Johnson, which
in 1892 was made a state bank with a capitalization of $30,000. It is
one of the most reliable banking institutions in the state. The first
newspaper was issued December 7, 1878, by James Gribbeus and was
knowii as the Tckonsha News. Later proprietors of the paper were
A. G. Randall and T. F. Robinson, J. A. Harsh and B. F. and Lillian
C. McMillen.

Horace Merriman was the first supervisor of the township and
Oetavius C. Lyon w-as the first president of the village.

A Methodist mission was established as eai'ly as 1832, which was a
part of the Coldwater and later of the Burlington mission circuit. The
name of the charge was changed to Tekonsha in 1864. The foundation
of the church was laid in 1867 and it w'as completed in 1869. Rev.
James W. Reid was the first pastor after the dedication of the build-
ing. The Tekonsha charge at present embraces also the parish at
Lyon lake, which also owtis a fine church building.

The Baptist church was organized July 19, 1838, with forty-one
members. The first clerk of the church was A. N. Bradley. The frame
church, which is now- the substantial home of the society, was dedicated
May 25, 1870.

The Presbyterian church was organized March 24, 1847, by Rev.
Lewis ilills, a delegate from the presbytery at Marshall. He became the
pastor, dividing his time between Tekonsha and Clarendon. The first
church was a frame structure built in 1853 and was later succeeded
by a handsome brick edifia-.

The principal industries of the town today are the A. H. Randall &
Son Flouring and Saw Mills, the poultry packing plant of H. N.
Randall and the various grain and stock buying firms, which make
Tekonsha one of the best markets in all these lines in southern Michigan
and the best shipping point, considering its size, on the Air Line
division.

The streets are well lined with concrete walk, heavily shaded hy
stately maples and well lighted.



214 HLSTORY OF CALHOUN COUNTY

The tow'u has every reason to be proud of its record in the great
eivil eontliet of 1861-65. After reading the names of Tekonsha citizens,
who helped Michigan to furnish her (luota of soldiers for the preser-
vation of the Union, one cannot hut realize, tiiat the hamlet and country-
side was all but stripped of its male population to aid the Federal
authorities prosecute the war. Recruits were sent to every branch of the
service, who served in great battles and historic campaigns with courage
and fortitude, and with credit to themselves and to their commands.
Among the commissioned officers were Captain Charles Carrick of the 1st
Michigan Infantry, First Lieut., George Granger, and Second Lieut.
Josiah Hammond of the 28th Michigan Infantry. The first named was
promoted from the ranks for conspicuous gallantry on the field of l)attle.




;\[ain Street, North, Tekonsha

Perhaps the town's principal figure in the great rebellion was Brig. Gen.
William II. Hammond, who held his commission as a general officer from
the state government. As a member of the state "military contract
board" he was one of those instrumental in organizing the first troops
sent from ^Michigan to take part in the disastrous battle of Bull Run,
and was highly complimented by his superiors for his zeal and aliility
in helping to organize and equip the Michigan regiments all through the
war. He was quarternu^ster-general of the state by appointment of
Governor Blair, from 1868 to 1865, and was the first man to hold that
position. He seems, however, to have been little known in the village,
his home having been in tlie northwestern part of the township. There
remain with us about twenty veterans of the Civil war, nearly all of
whom are members of Wortli Post, G. A. R.

Tekonsha has contributed her portion to the civil as well as to the
military liistory of the state. Dr. Campbell "Waldo, one of the most
prominent of tlie early settlers, and a physician of repute, was elected



HISTORY OP CALHOUN COUNTY 215

to the state senate in 1848. He had previously been an assemblyman in
the state of New York. George H. French, who was also an early settler,
but who removed from Tekonsha in 1848, was elected to the state senate
in 1860, and introduced as a war measure the first resolution asking for
the abolition of the slaves. It passed both houses. In 1863 he introduced
a resolution, unanimously adopted, to provide for perpetuating the
memory of Michigan's falleh soldiers in an imperishable " Roll of Honor."
Harvey Randall was also a member of the lower house, taking his seat
in 18()7. These honors again came to Tekonsha in 1885, when Alva D.
Eldred was elected representative, and later, in 1899, when Edward P.
Keep assumed the office.

The first banking institution Tekonsha ever had was organized as a
private bank by S. B. Allen and John Johnson in 1877 and continued
as a private bank till 1902. On April 1, 1902, it was reorganized under
the banking laws of the state as the "First State Bank" of Tekonsha,
with the following board of directors: S. B. Allen, John Johnson, F. E.
Allen, H. W. Cushman, A. D. Eldred and E. P. Keep ; S. B. Allen, presi-
dent ; John Johnson, vice president ; F. E. Allen, cashier ; II. W. Cush-
man, assistant cashier. During the year 1903 the bank lost two directors
by death. S. B. Allen and A. D. Eldred. In 1904 the following were
elected directors: John Johnson, F. E. Allen, II. W. Cushman, R. E.
Waldo, B. G. Doolittle and E. P. Keep. John Johnson was elected presi-
dent ; E. P. Keep, vice president; F. E. Allen, cashier; H. "W. Cushman,
assistant cashier. During that year llr. Johnson moved to California
and in 1905, F. E. Allen was elected president; E. P. Keep, vice presi-
dent ; H. W. Cushman, cashier. These officers held the offices for two
years, when Mr. Allen and IMr. Cushnuin moved away. It 1907, the
following were elected directors : B. G. Doolittle, R. E. Waldo, H. N.
Randall, E. W. Randall, Edwin Dean, J. H. Proctor and E. P. Keep,
who elected E. P. Keep, president; R. E. Waldo, vice president; B. G.
Doolittle, cashier; T. D. Rice, assistant cashier; and these officers have
held their positions ever since.

The bank was capitalized at !|;;5( ).(»(!().( id. surplus $4,500.00. It does a
general commercial and savings bank liusiiicss, its deposits range around
$150,000.00, and is in a very prospemus i-ondition.

The Tekonsha Ncirs, an independent weekly, was establislied in 1878

by James Gribbens, and the first paper was issued of that year.

Mr. Gribbens soon disposed of tlie paper to C. W. Iliggins and went
to Chicago, where he operated a job printing plant, but later entered



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 28 of 74)