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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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former, in 1836, was erected the first brick building in the county,
the National hotel, built by Aiulrew Jlann. who opened it with the
first formal ball ever held in Marshall, on January 1, 1836. (Messrs.
George Bentley and Nathan Benedict came on in 1834 to do the carpenter
work on this hotel.)

Isaac E. Crary built, on the court house square, the first pretentious
house in Marshall. It was a fi-ame building, the first to be plastered in
the county. In 1836, Chauncey ]\I. Brewer and Charles T. Gorham,
opened a general store on the north of court house square and carried
on a thriving business here till 1838 when they bought the lot on the
northwest corner Eagle and State streets and erected the first brick
store in the lower village. This was called the Eagle store, and gave
the name to the street passing east of it. This partnership lasted till
1840, when Mr. Gorham retired to establish a bank, which is still con-
tinued under the name of the First National Bank, by his son and is
the oldest continuous banking business in the state. Upon Mr. Gor-
ham 's withdrawal Jlr. Brewer took in his two bi-others-in-law, John
Dusenbury and Edward Butler, and the firm continued under the
name of Butler, Brewer and Dusenbury, till 1845. Mr. Brewer con-
tinued it alone till 1870 then his sons C. D. and E. G. Brewer took
the business. It bore this firm name till 1890 since which time Mr.
E. G. Brewer has continued the business with the exception of the
years 1897-98. A wonderful set of ledgers are in possession of Mr.
Brewer, having been kept continuously since 1836. They are of his-
torical value to the town, as it was Mr. Chauncej' Brewer's custom, to
jot down under the proper dates anything of town importance that had
taken place.

Other merchants of 1836 were Charles P. Dibble, afterward owner
of Sidney Ketchum's Mansion House, Schuyler and Wallingford, H. H.


Comstoc-k (tlnigsi. Hutlcr ami Dust'ubury. ill-. >Mi-('all was \hv first
tailor, anil Ke\-. Hovarl his tirst custoiuer.

Ou December 7, 18:!ti the first newspaper of tlie county luaile its
appearance, called the Cdllioiin Vottntij Patriot, edited by II. *'. liuncc.
In 184() it was changed to tlie Dmunralii- Expounder.

December 16, 1886, the Marshall Times came out, edited liy (i. J.
Greves; it was the first Democratic, but subseiiuently changed its politics,
took tlie name of The Rcpubliean, and afterwards that of The SUihsinaii.
(Both papers continue to the present day, the Esponndi r lieing known
as the CItronieIc and the statesman by the same name.)

ilarshall was incorporated into a village, October 2S, IS:)!, wiih
the following officers. Sidney S. Alcott, president; Cyrus Hewitt,
recorder, and Chauncey M. Brewer, treasurer.

Another historical event of 1837 was the dedication of the Episcopal
church which was finished in the autumn of that year. The church
occupied the site wiiere now stands the Lutheran church, and was the
frame structure now used as a blacksmith shop on Hamilton street.

During the stirring times when Michigan was being admitted to
statehood, occurred the formulating and founding of Michigan's public
school system, by two of Marshall's talented men of learning, Rev.
John D. Pierce, and General Isaac E. Crary. It had its inception one
summer afternoon wlien the two men, warm friends of education, sat
on a log discussing the future of the new state to be.

The spot where occurred tlie birth of the idea of our w'onderful
school system is appropriately marked with a boulder placed by the
Mary Marshall Chapter, D. A. R.. It is on Chas. E. Gorham's lawn,
which at that time, was a wooded hill, north or the court house.

The improvement of the upper town went on with the same rapidity.
In 1838 the Marshall House Co. (Sidney Ketchum, president, Geo. S.
Wright, secretary) built the ilarshall IIou.se, a very elegant and pre-
tentious hostelry, planned by the architect who built Trinity church,
N. Y. This was by far the finest hotel in Michigan, iluch improvement'
having been made in the passes over marshes and streams on tlie Terri-
torial road, a line of stages had supplanted the wagons, and these made
three trips out from Detroit each week for delivery of mail and passen-
gers. Zenas Tillotson ran the stage line from Jackson to Niles, and it
was indeed an event, when these coaches, gay with yellow paint, and
drawn by four and six liorses, with great tooting of horns and flourish
of whip, drew up before the hospitable doors of the Marshall House.

In 1838 Mr. Sidney Ketchum built his beautiful ilansion House,
which has given the name of Mansion to the street on which it stands,
and also the same year, built for the ilethodists a fine stone church ou
east Green street. The first service was held in this church in December,
1838. Previous to that the service had been held at Mr. Ketchum 's home
and later in the school house.

Calhoun county was organized for judicial purposes by an act of
Territorial legislature, ilareh 6th, 1833. The first session of the circuit
court, held in Xovem))er, 1833, was presided over by Judge W. A. Flet-
cher, and Eleaser ;\IcCainly, associate. A grand and petit .jury was
summoned, with Oshea ^Vilder foreman. All discharged for want of



business. This session and those following, were held in the frame
school house, until the tirst eourt house for Calhoun county was erected,
in 1838. This was a substantial and pretentious colonial brick structure,
built with an expense of from $25,000 to $30,000. It stood in the court
house square, now the West End park, faced east, and had, at front
and rear entrances, the colonial portico with pillars. The roof was
topped by a square cupola. Unfortunately, the foundation used wa.s
the .soft Marshall sandstone, which proved inadequate for its support, so
that, in the late sixties, it was condemned and abandoned. The fol-
lowing is an extract of the sketch made of the statistics of the county,
and placed in the cornerstone of the first eourt house, July 22, 1837.
"In the village of Marshall there are at present two printing offices,
seven lawyers, seven physicians, four clergymen, two surveyors and
civil engineers, three churches, Methodist, Episcopal and Presbyterian,
three taverns, seven drygoods, four grocery stores, one drug and medicine
store, two bakeries, two jewelry shops, one chair factory, one fanning
mill factory, one cabinet factory, one tin and copper, one furnace, four
blacksmiths, two wagons and carriage, two tailors, one millinery, two
shoemakers, one livery stable, one flour mill and one sawmill in operation,
and one of each in building. ' '

From its organization the Calhoun county ))ar was composed of men
of rare intellect and brilliancy. It is said of Marshall that no town of
its size in the world has had so many notable n:en practice before its bar
— men who were to occupy places of eminence and honor in state and
nation. ^lany of the finest political speakers lectured within the old
eourt house walls, or, in times of great mass meetings, from under the
giant elm before its portals. This tree still stands, and is rightly re-
garded by ^lar.shall's citizens as an historic elm, as sheltered by its
branches, such men of renown have spoken as Cassius M. Clay, Thos.
E. Ilendrix, of Indiana ; Benjamin Butler ; Wm. E. Seward also addressed
a political meeting, but from the porch of Mr. Sidney Ketchum's house.
It was a great event, the da.y had been elaborately arranged, and Mrs.
Kingsbury writes of how her father, the proud marshal of the day, was
discomfited by the running away of his horse, who bore the irate
officer far from the gala scene and threw him into the marsh, where the
high school now stands.

Because of the culture and intellect of its settlei's, Marshall's social
life, from the very beginning was characterized by a refinement and ele-
gance not usually found in frontier life. We have an interesting account
of a social event in 183f), from the pen of ]\Irs. Joseph Frink, who was
Miss Bellona Pratt. "In November, 1839, two weeks after our arrival
in ]\Iarshall, Jlr. Sidney Alcott, a former Rochester man and a friend
of father's (Judge Abner Pratt), and of Judge Lee's, who came west
with us, gave a very large party in honor of fallier and Judge Lee.
The guests were composed of old and young. Among the num])er were
three young married couples, the brides in their i)ridal robes, ;Mr. and
Mrs. Chas. T. Gorham, ilr. and Mrs. David Wallingford and Mr. and
jMrs. J. C. Frink. I must say that I have never seen any more style and
refinement at a party since. At eight o'clock, coffee and cake were served


dining room below. The game consisted of "wild turkey, prairie chicken,
quail, etc. All the serving was done by colored waiters." Mr. Aleott's
house still stands north w-est corner JIansion and Grand streets.

In 1841 the town was again visited by a scourge, this time in form
of a fever, which was attributed to the overflowing of the millpond,
causing malaria from the stagnant pools. Application was made for
the I'emoval of the dam, but the indignant owner refusing, the people
took the matter into their own hands. On Sunday morning, the day
and hour being chosen with the idea that the owner would be in church,
it was demolished. The irate owner appeared on the scene while the
work was in progress, and trouble ensued, but at last a compromise was
effected, a race dug, and the cause of illness destroyed.

An important building erected in 1843 was the Presbyterian church,
located on the north side of main street, in the center of the block be-
tween Eagle and Division streets. It was of colonial design, built of
brick, with pillars in the front. Here many brilliant ministers preached
the word. Rev. Calvin Clark, J. P. Cleveland, John Wilder, Samuel
Hall, Jas. Trowbridge, Wm. McCorkle, Livingston Willard, P. F. Ford,
and others.

The next step of importance in the town's development was the en-
trance of the ^lichigan Central Railroad in 1844. The railroad, then
owned and constructed by the state, had reached Jackson in 1841 At
that date negotiations were started for the grading and l)ridging of the
road from Jackson to JIarshall, ])ut the road was not completed to this
point till August, 1844. On the 10th day of that month, amidst great
excitement, the firat train came in to town. ^Ir. John Bean remembers
the occasion distinctly. The conductor of the first passenger train was
Zenas Tillotson, who, upon the advent of the railroad, discontinued his
stage line.

It 1848 the first telegraph office was established by 1lie Erie and
Michigan Telegraph Company.

The famous old frame school house, so long the seat of intellectual
life, scholastic, theological and .iudicial, having served as schoolhouse.
church and court house, was deemed to have outlived its usefulness, and
'a new school house decided upon. The question of location was settled
liy i»laciiii; it exactly between the school districts, which had been coiii-
hincd. even tliougli that position was in the midst of the marshiest marsh
possible. So, in 1817. a new red hi'ick school house was built, where now
stands the Central buildiu":.

This same year occurred iii'i-lia]:)s as interesting an event as ever
touched Marshall's village life, in tliat it proved nation wide in its effects,
namely "The Crosswhite affair." The recounting of this has, very
properly, been given by the granddaughter of the Mr. Gorham who
bore so conspicuous a part in the event. ^March 7th, 1859, ilarshall was
organized into a city, with Clias. P. Dibble, mayor; Elias Hewitt, re-
corder; Jonas B. Conklin. treasurer.

During her thirty years of village life, ^Marshall had figured largely
in the affairs of the state.

Mr. Sidney Ketchum, the founder of the town, the mighty moving
power of all the financial matters of that early period, became hopelessly


involved during tlie panic following the issuance of the siieeie circular
by Andrew Jackson. lie made a manly effort to retrieve his lost
fortunes by buying and seeking real estate in New York city, but fortune
frowned on him, and in his decrepitude and age he returned to the
theater of his successes, to find a resting place for his weary body. He
died September 16, 1862.

In closing the history of ^Marshall's village life I give a list of names
of some of her citizens, who gave largely of themselves to community,
state and nation.

In the bar were: Hon. J. Wiight Gordon, ex-governor of ^Michigan
and U. S. consul at Pernambuco; Hon. Edward Bradley, congress-
man ; Judge Albert Pratt, circuit and supreme judge and consul to Hono-
lulu under Buchanan; Judge Robert Cross; John Van Annan, the great
criminal lawyer of Chicago; Hon. Parson AVillard, ex-governor of In-
diana; Geo. C. Gibbs, first reporter of the supreme court; Hon. Walter
Hayes, congressman from Iowa; Gen. Isaac B. Crary, who, with Rev.
John D. Pierce was the founder of the Michigan school system ; Wm. P.
Greenough, professor in Harvard college and publisher of Latin text
books, and Hon. Thos. J. O'Brien, minister to Japan and later to Italy.
Of other occupations and professions: Rev. J. D. Pierce, first superin-
tendent of public instruction in the U. S. ; Hon. Victory P. Collier, state
treasurer; Hon. Chas. T. Gorham, minister to The Hague, afterward
assistant secretary of the interior at Washington and acting secretary
for a time under Grant and Hayes ; Hon. Chas. Dickey, U. S. marshal ;
Hon. Digby Bell, commissioner of the land office; Hon. ^Montgomery
Gibbs, attache at the court of France; John P. Merrell, rear admiral
U. S. N.

Landmarks op ^Iarshall

By Amrliii Friiik Kcdfield

I have been asked to write a brief paper on the landmarks of Marshall.
These are not many, but are worth recording for the benefit of the sur-
prisingly large number of people who seem to know nothing of our
early history, or of the intei'esting events that have taken place in this
old town.

Long ago the old log houses l)\iilt by George Ketchuni and his
party in 1830, and the lo^' iion^^e of Dr. A. L. Hayes across tin- river have

In 1831. Rev. John D. Pierce, a Congregational missionary, came and
built a double log house on the lot where Mr. Manlius I'dfetl's house
now stands. This was an important center, serving as mceliiii; house and
post office, but of this there are no remains.

The first frame house of any pretentions was that built by Isaac E.
Crary. ]Mr. Crary 's second wife, in writing her recollections, says- it
was the first plastered house in the village. Here Jane Elizabeth
Crarj', daughter of Judge Horatio Plickok, died aged thirty-two years,
her obituary appearing in the first i.ssue of the Statesman, September
12, 1839. i have a copy of the obituary before me now and it is very
(luaint. The old house stood on the north side of Main street near


the West End park until last year when it was removed. Part of it
stands back of the double house of Mr. Hoeltzel. The Statesman is
still running as a daily paper.

The first brick building in the county was the National hotel, still
standing near the West End park and known as the Dean flats. This
w'as opened January 1, 1836, by its proprietor, Andrew Mann, with a
ball which was attended by people from miles around. Col. ilann also
provided the dinner for the first Fourth of July celebration, in 1836.
The table was graced with roast pigs set every eight feet flanked front
and rear with wine bottles. In 1835, Judge James Smith of Canan-
daigua and Mr. Montgomer.y Schuyler came to Marshall together, and
Judge Smith in writing of his experiences says: "At Detroit we and
several other passengers took an open wagon called a stage and after
jolting along two days and two nights, through mud and swamps, on
what was then known as the Territorial road we reached IMarshall
about sunset of a chilly autumnal day. The stage landed us at the
only public house in the lower village (undoubtedly the National
hotel) and the landlord met us at the door. On seeing the load of
passengers dismount, instead of greeting us with a welcome, he began
to storm about and e.xclaimiug angrily that he wished 'every steam-
boat on Lake Erie would burn up or sink." He declared he did not
want any more people to stop with him, for his women folks were worn
out already with extra work. Tired and hungry as we were, we were
somewhat dismayed by this inhospitable demonstration and began to
wonder where we could find food and shelter for the night. But some
of the more experienced passengers pleaded with the irate landlord
and presented our needy condition so persuasively that he finally con-
sented to see what he could do for us, and after some delay a plain
but plentiful supper was spread before us and in due time we were
provided with beds which we occupied in couples.'"

Sidney Ketchum built in 1831 a log cabirf on the lot where he
afterwarcls built his brick house. Here he gave the first social party
given in the county. Every person in the town was invited including
babies, and most everyone attended. Mrs. A. L. Hayes, in writing
of it later said: "It was a fine entertainment and the companv were
well appearing, and well dressed. It would not disgrace Marshall or
any other town at the present day." In 1837, Mr. Ketchum built the
first brick dwelling house in town. It was called the Mansion House
and soon gave its name to the street on which it stood, Mansion street.
This house is now the home of Mr. William J. Dibble. After Mr.
Ketchum moved away this house was used as a young ladies' seminary.
I liave a folder sent out in 18.5.") advertising the school.

"Young Ladies" Institute, Boarding and Day School

"The Mansion House and ample grounds surrounding it, formerly
owned by Sidney Ketchum, Esci., have been purchased for the purpose
of establishing a boarding and day school under the direction of Mr.
and Mrs. H. A. Pierce, principals. . . . The position of Marshall
being a central point between Detroit and Chicago, renders it easy of


access from all towns both east and west. Situated in one of the most
beautiful and healthful towns in the west, amidst a society fliat has
always been distinguished for its refined, elevated, and highly inoi'al
character . . . this institution is most confidently (•(immciidcd In
public favor."

Deacon Lord also put up a brick dwelling at the same time, and
a very fine one it was for the day. This house is now owned by IMr.
William Lewis and is situated on the corner of State and IMullieri'y

The old school house that stood just east of the present home of
Mr. Edgar G. Brewer was the scene of the first connnunion celebrated
in the county. A two days" meeting was held by the ^Metiiodists. June
6 and 7, 1832. the Rev. Pilcher of the Tecuraseh circuit had charge.
The Congregational church was organized in 1832, by Rev. Pierce.
At the first meeting May 20, twenty-five persons were in attendance.
They met in the log school house as did also the Episcopalians later.
In 1895, it was serving as a barn, but has since been removed.

From the time of the foundations of the to\^^l were laid it was ex-
pected that ^Marshall would be the capital of the state. The bill fulfilling
this pledge actually passed the senate by a majority of fourteen, l)ut
as is reported, by influence it was thrown out of the lower house, de-
feated by a majority of only two. We still have our Capitol hill in the
southeastern part of town.

Stone Hall, at present the home of Mr. Wm. F. Church, was one
of the earliest houses built in town and is still one of the most beau-
tiful homes. It was begun in 1837 by Dr. Andrew L. Hayes, the first
physician of the county. The lumber was drawn from Allegan, and
the stone taken from our celebrated sand stone quarry. Luther Hayes,
■who was the first white boy born in the county, died here in 1847, and
Walter I. Ha.ves, afterward congressman from Iowa, was born here
in 1841. In 1853, Walter Hayes begged his mother to write a poem
about the house which she did ; much of it is of intimate family affairs,
but much is of local interest, though not a masterpiece as a poem. She

' ' There are many locust trees about the home we love
From which we named the place, we call it 'Locust Grove.'
The roof in front is supported Isy five pillars all of white.
They form a pleasant portico where we often sit at night.
The two parlors are in front with four windows to the floor
Each opening on this portico and answering for a door.
Thou hast played here in the deep shade when thy heart was full of glee
Here too thou often sat upon thy father 's knee.
While he told thee of the olden times when the wolf and bear
Roved over these plains and cha.sed the timid deer.
He told thee of the Indian, too, who gave» the friendly hand
To the white man, who ungrateful drove him from his land."
Etc. etc.

The first brick block built in the village is now standing on Exchange
street, back of the G. A. R. hall. It contained the first hardware store
in the county. This was opened in 1836 by David Wallingford and


Montgomery Schuyler, the hitter afterwards dean of Christ Churcli
cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Calhoun County Patriot, aunouueed January 18, 1839:

"Marshall House

"We have the pleasure of aunouneiiig to our friends al)road, and
tlie travelling public that this large and elegant hotel has been com-
pleted and on Saturday last was opened by Mr. W. L. Merrifield, with
a sumptuous public dinner." This hotel built by the Marshall House
Company was most elaborately furnished, costing about 51530,000.00. It
surpassed at any time any hotel in the northwest and was a noted resort
for years. It was originally quite a handsome building, with fluted
columns, and balconies, and is said to have been planned by Mr. Upjohn,
the architect of Trinity church of New York. One wing is still standing
facing East End park and is occupied as a dwelling by ^Irs. Belle Perrin.
During the winter of 1830-7 the few Episcopalians got together
and the village was canvassed to ascertain what amount could l)e raised
toward the building of a church. Lay services were being held in the
old school house. The same spring the bishop of that diocese, Samuel
MeCoskrj% visited Marshall and preached in the school house which
was the second service of the church in the village. Dr. Schuyler
writes, "That was a glad day for the little band of churchmen, when
they were ready to present to the bishop a neat and tasteful church for
consecration." When the new Episcopal church was built, 1861, tlie
little church was taken by the German Lutherans and used by them
for many years. It is now standing on Hamilton street and is used
as a blacksmith shop. I have alwaj's understood that the marriage
of Miss Bellona Pratt, daughter of Judge Abner Pratt, to Gen. Crary,
was the first marriage to take place in the old church. ]Miss Pratt
was the second wife of Gen. Crary and after his death became the
second wife of Joseph C. Frink.

In June, 1836, Chauncey M. Brewer and Chas. T. Gorham arrived
in Marshall and immediately opened a general store. In 1840, Mr. Gor-
ham withdrew and went into the banking Irasiness, and Mr. Brewer
continued with the store which is still run by his son, Edgar Brewer.
This is the oldest continuous business in the town and probably in the

The first services of the Roman Catholic faith were held in 1837,
when Father ]\Iorrisey came from Northfield to take charge of a funeral.
After this he came six or eight times a year, by stage or on horseback
to conduct services. No church was built until 1842. The first altar
was obtained from Saint Ann's church in Detroit, then the cathedral.
It is a valuable relic and is preserved in the chapel at St. Mary's

The Presbyterian church was organized Juiie 21, 1841, in the
Marshall Academy, which stands at 53 High street, directly back of
Mr. Clinton Cook's residence. Rev. Elias Child acted as moderator,
and James P. Greaves as clerk, with thirty-eight members from the


Cougregatioual clmruli as eliartur lueinliers. For soiur time cliiircb
services were held iu the eourt house that stootl in tlie cily paric. la
1842, Jabez Fitch built a brick colouial church on Main street. This
the society bought after ]\Ir. Fitch's death and used it until the present
edifice was built in 1872. It was too bad that the old building was

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 31 of 74)