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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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begin operations, each placing two thousand dollars in the bank with
which to commence the work of developing the property. McCamley
reached Detroit at the time agreed upon as did J. J. Garusey and his
brother-in-law, Sackett, and their wives, but they said they had been to
look at the place and could not dive there. The result was that the
entire undertaking as planned failed. The year 1831 did not close
promisingly for the future Battle Creek. In 1832, Samuel Convis, who
owned an interest in the Garnsey purchase, came and erected the first
log house in what is now the city of Battle Creek. In the spring of the
same year iloses Hall journeyed from Vermont to Battle Creek and
purchased land for himself and for his brother Talman W. Piloses
Hall was one of the pioneers who left a permanent impress upon the
community. He is said to have been a man of "commanding figure and
noble appearance and a self poise that was admirable. ' ' He was a. man of
profound religious convictions. Was one of the founders of the Presby-
terian church and a staunch member and liberal supporter to the day of
his death. He served one term in the state legislature and for many
years was a justice of the peace and an acting magistrate at the time of
his death, 'May 12, 1860. Among others who came into Battle Creek in
1832 were Polydore Hudsou, the firet postmaster, Roswell Crane, John
Conway and the Langley brothers. It was in March, 1833, that Na-
thaniel Barney came from Chautauqua county, New York. He is listed
as one of the original proprietors of Battle Creek. The wife of General
Ezra Convis was his daughter. He was one whom men long delighted
to remember for his genial nature and kindliness of heart. He wa.s ap-
pointed postmaster in 1834. For many years he dispensed hospitality
to the traveling public and "Barney's Tavern" though kept in a log
house was quite as well known then as the "Post Tavern" is now.

Sands McCamley and Ezra Convis

Judge Sands McCamley, who had lived for a time on the Nottawa
prairie from which he soon removed to iMarshall, living there at the time
of the cholera scourge, by which dread disease his wife was attacked but
happily recovered, returned to Battle Creek in 1835, and became a per-
manent resident. It is perhaps strictly within the truth to say that
McCamley was the most conspicuous and the most useful of the early
day comers to this city. The late Hon. George Willard says of him and
his time, "The year 1835 displays to our view, as we look back upon the
past, a much busier scene than the incipient city had ever presented
before. Judge McCamley having bought an equal and undivided half
of the original Garnsey purchase in February, 1834, and having re-
moved here the following winter, was now ready to commence opera-
tions. General Convis havmg control of the other half, the understand-
ing was that Judge McCamley should have control of the whole water
power, upon the condition that he would improve it. Of the proposed
village they were to be the proprietors. The day was approaching when
the people were actually to have a town. A body of twenty or thirty
men including many sons of Erin, were engaged in building the long


race which in its day, and under the ciir>iinstancfs uikIit w Inch ;il! mum
works were then of necessity completed, was a iiionuiiient ol' noble en
terprise. While that work was advancing, the first saw mill was in pro-
cess of erection. In November of that year the water was let into tiie
race and the victory was won. The saw mill made the frosty woods to
echo with its incessant movement anil oni- worthy friend, Judge ilcC'ain-
ley, began to witness in reality what he had seen in imagination in
June, 1831, as he stood liere with Mr. Redfield and longed to make the
waters of the Kalamazoo provide the forces for establishing at this point
one of Michigan's great centers of manufacture and trade. Ilis efforts
were increasing for the advancement of Battle Creek and his name will
long live in its histon' as one of the city's greatest benefactors. Judge
McCaraley was the first state senator from the district of which Battle
Creek was a part. It has been said of him that "he was possessed of a
strong, clear intellect, a sound judgment, a resolute purpose and had the
sagacity to see the right thing to be done to bring about a successful
enterprise whether of a public or of an individual enterprise."

General Ezra Convis may be regarded as Judge McCandey's closest
competitor for first place among prominent men who lived in this part
of Calhoun county in the late thirties. He came from Silver Creek,
Chautauqua county, New York. His first visit to Michigan was in 1832,
in company with Nedibiah Angell. They prospected above Battle Creek
and other parts of the county but the general did not become a perma-
nent settler until 1834. "He at once became interested in the affairs of
the young colony and took an active part in its enterprises. He, in
connection with Mr. Barney, his father-in-law, became owner of one-half
of what is known as the Garnsey purchase," the tract of over eight
hundred acres before referred to. This furnished a new and inviting
field for one of Mr. Convis' active turn of mind, and he began the work
in earnest. In taking views of the region about his new home, he found
a desirable location some mile and a half above the mouth of the
Battle Creek, which included the rapids in the stream at that point.
Here he at once saw that a water power could be obtained and also
that in this locality there was the making of a town. He selected eight
acres covering the water power and began to see visions of a prospective
town. He bought other lands in the vicinity.

In 1835 General Convis sold his one-half interest in the Garnsey
property and gave his interest in the water power to Sands McCamley,
provided he would improve it.

He now turned his attention to building up a town on his purchase
north of Battle Creek. Under his management he soon began to see
the village of Verona springing up about him. There was at Verona,
in 1837, .iust about the same development as at Battle Creek. In those
days at Verona, Deacon David N. Salter was running the saw mill;
Colonel Stewart had built a grist mill; AVillard Mills and Ashley,
worked at tailoring; mechanics at their trades; David Caldwell kept
the tavern and he and his brother, John, had a cabinet shop ; David H.
Daniels, Sylvester ^lills and Jeremiah Teed were selling dry goods as
were Brown and Brigham; Dr. Rhodes was attending the sick and Felix


and Gillespie did the pettifogging." It will be seen that in the days of
which we speak, Verona was no mean competitor of Battle Creek.

On the admission of the state into the Union, General Convis was
elected a member of the state house of representatives, of which body
he was chosen speaker. He was re-elected for a second term. It was
while in attendance on the sessions of the legislature, then sitting in
Detroit, during the winter of 1837-38, that he received an injury re-
sulting in his death. It seems that with a number of other legislators
he was invited by Mr. Ten Eyck, a famous landlord of that time, to
attend the wedding of his daughter about ten miles from the city. On
the return of the party, the sleigh was overturned and the General so
badly injured that he died shortly after in Detroit. The CaUioun
County Patriot, of Marshall, in its issue of ]\Iarch 4, 1837, in comment-
ing on the death of General Convis, said, "He came to Michigan in 1834,
was elected a delegate to the state convention, which formed the con-
stitution and was a member of the last legislature. The house ap-
pointed him their speaker. He was re-elected to the present legislature
by a large majority. He was justly regarded as a very useful member
and at this time his death is a loss to the county and state and is
irreparable to his family."

Among others who came to Battle Creek in 1834 and 1835 were
Warren B. Shepherd, Josiah Gilbert, Joseph Farnsworth and David
Salter. This same year came also the pioneer merchants of Battle
Creek, William H. Coleman and David H. Daniels. Rev. Robert Adams,
the first Baptist minister, and John Marvin, the first blacksmith, were
valuable additions to the growing population.

The First School in B.vttle Creek

Was taught by Warren B. Shepherd in the winter of 1834-35. A
tax of sixty dollars had been levied and raised with which to build a
log school house, which stood on the corner of ilain and East Canal
streets. This school house did duty for three or four years and in it
the children and youth of the city were taught. Among them were
enrolled some of the foremost men and women of the generation next
after the pioneers. In his later years, Schoolmaster Shepherd delighted
to tell of his pupils who had come to local prominence.

Following the log school house was a nuich larger and more preten-
tious structure which cost five Inmdred dollars. In 1850, after a good
deal of agitation for and against, it was hnally decided to build a three-
story brick school house at a cost of six thousand dollars. This building
did duty for twenty years. It was in 1870-71 that the Central building
was erected at a cost, building and grounds, of one hundred thousand
dollars. This fine and roomy structure, at the time it was built was
one of the largest and best equipped union school buildings in the state,
served the city for high school purposes for nearly forty years, when
the present high school building, which will compare favorably with
any in the state, was erected.

At that time, I. L. Stone, A. M., now the liead of the great Duplex
Printing Press plant, was the able and successful superintendent.


The Ciiriu'iiEs of Battle OiiEEK

Followed in rapid siict't'ssion upon tin* niaterial and educational de-
velopment of the plaee. The .Methodist Episeopal chureh was the first
to enter the town as a permanent religious institution. It was in 18;5t)
that a elass was formed by the Kev. Asa Phelps. Mr. Phelps was a
soldier during our seeond war with Great Britain. Some yeai-s after
the war, he was converted and joined the Methodist Episcopal ehurcli,
and later became an ordained minister in that denomination. He came
to .Michigan in IS'Si, first settling at Bellevue. In 1886 he removed to
the township of Enuuet and in the same year organized a .Methodist
elass of seven members in Battle Creek. Mr. Phelps preached the first
sermon, services being held in the log school house. The first house of
worship was a small frame structure built in 1841. In 1840, this church
was sold to the colored Baptists and a new brick structure costing
twenty-five thousand dollars was built and which did good service until
the present beautiful and commodious house of worship was erected
some two or three years ago.

Among the pioneers who early came to Battle Oreek were a iiunibcr
of members of the Baptist church. Services were held in the log sciiool
house until better facilities could be afforded. The Rev. William Tay-
lor, the pioneer Baptist minister of Schoolcraft, is credited with preach-
ing the first sermon by a member of that denomination in this city. It
was in 1849 that the Baptists built their first house of worship in Battle
Creek. In 1872 a fine new building was erected at a cost of twenty-five
thousand dollars.

The old log school house was in 1836 the birthplace of the united
Congregational and Presbyterian church. The local members of these
two Christian bodies, after due consideration and discussion of the
subject, unanimously resolved to form a church on the plan recom-
mended by the general assembly of the Presbyterian church and the
association of congregational churches of Connecticut in 1801. This
plan seems to have been very equitable, tor when the letters of member-
ship were submitted they were exactly equal in numbers. In January,
1842. a committee was raised "to superintend the building of a meeting
house." A site was selected and by the fall of 1843 the building of the
edifice had so far progressed that worship was held in the basement.
A little later the church was completed and the Rev. Alexander Tratter
was called to the pastorate. It would seem that certain prominent mem-
bers of the church participated in the election excitement of 1844 to a
degree which carried tiiem beyond their proper Christian bearings.
Under date of November 21, of that year, there appears a confession
signed by six of the prominent members expressing regret for "having
been engaged in betting on the election" as "inconsistent with the
spirit and principles of the Christian religion, a species of gambling
pernicious in its influence on society, to be frowned upon and discoun-
tenanced by all good men and ("hristians generally." In the membership
of this church have been enrolled the names of some of the most influ-
ential men in the historv of Battle Creek. Among them are IMoses
Hall. Talman AV. Hall. f)avi(l IT. Daniels. Jchn S, Van l'>runt. Philt


Gilbert, S. W. Leggett, W. H. Coleman, Samuel Flagler, William H.
Skinner, and B. F. and H. T. Hinman. This union organization served
the purpose of the membership of both denominations for a long time,
but the union was iiltimately severed and the adherents of each now
worship in their own church. Aside from the larger cities, the Independ-
ent Congregational church has, on Maple street, one of the finest houses
of worship in the central west, while the Presbyterians are well housed
and prosperous.

The first service held by members of the Episcopal church was about
the year 1839, conducted by the Rev. F. H. Cummings. At that time
there were but three or four Episcopalians in Battle Creek. The Rev.
M. Schuyler came in 1841 and under his ministration the interest and
numbers increased. In April, 1842, Bishop Samuel ]\IcCaskry came
and held service in the ^Methodist Episcopal church, when six persons
were confirmed. There were several visiting clergymen and the occa-
sion was deemed a very important one as bearing on the future of that
church in this city. On the seventh of August, following, a parish was
organized. In 1843, a call was extended to the Rev. R. A. Cox at a
stipulated salary of two hundred dollars a year. On the eleventh of
June, 1848, "a neat and substantial church building," haying been
completed, was dedicated by Bishop McCaskry. In April, 1855, the
Rev. George Willard was called from Coldwater to the rectorship of
the church in Battle Creek, at a salary of six hundred dollars. A more
complete history of this parish is found elsewhere. On the roll of its
membership in the years gone by are, among many others, the names of
Samuel W. MeCamley, W. M. Campbell, John Stewart, E. L. Stillson,
W. M. Campbell, C. S. Gray, J. F. Hinman, C. S. Merrell, Victory P.
Collier, and C. F. Bock. The church now has a fine property on iMaple
street, originally built iu 1876 at a cost of twenty five thousand dollars.

The Adventists began to hold services in 1854 in a small frame house
sixteen by twenty-four in size. They now have, on Cass street ad-
jacent to MeCamley park, in the western part of the city not only the
largest auditorium in the citj' but one of the largest in seating capacity
of any house of worship iu the state.

The Catholic church was organized in 1860. For a time the members
worshipped in a little church built and first occupied by the Society of
Friends. The Catholics have now one of the finest church properties
and strongest parishes in the city.

The above named are the oldest in point of settlement and among
the most prominent in the city. These with others are treated more at
length in another chapter.

Battle Creek has her full quota of secret, fraternal, literary and
social societies and clubs. These are elsewhere set forth.

Manufacturing Interests

Nothing has contributed so much to the rapid increase in popula-
tion, to the accumulated wealth and the general prosperity of the city
as the manufacturing industries. Many of those operating in the ear-
lier years have ceased to exist but these interests, as a whole, have never


been of such inaguitudu as uow. It so liappeus that tlie oldest of tliese
is the most important. It is now sixty-four years siuce the Nichols and
Shepard Vibrator Threshing Machine plant began to do business on
west Canal street. It was in 1869 that it built the plant it now occu-
pies at the junction of the Michigan Central and Grand Trunk Railroads.
The Advance is another very important concern that manufactures
along the same line. This plant was recently purchased by the M.
Rumley Company, of LaPorte, Indiana. It will continue to be operated
in this city by its new owners, who have already increased its produc-
tive capacity. The Duplex Printing Press plant, at the head of w'hich
is I. L. Stone, is an exceedingly important industry. Its output is sold
not only in all the large cities of the United States but in those of every
country not only in Europe but in the Far East.

Jefferson Avenue, North, ik 1866

The American and the Fnion Steam Pump Companies and the H. B.
Sherman Manufacturing Company are among the solid concerns of the
city. Each company has a large domestic, besides a vei-y considerable
export trade.

The prepared food industry which at one liiiit- seized not only
Battle Creek luit the country for miles around with a sort of craze,
during which many plants were built and most of them started, much
money invested and the most of which was lost, has settled down to a
staple business which is carried on by a very limited number of con-
cerns of this class. The success of Mr. C. W. Post, the acknowledged
head of the Prepared Food industry, has been phenomenal and has
made Battle Creek, ^Michigan, known in every hamlet in the land. The
Toasted Corn Flake Company, at the head of which is Wm. K. Kellogg,
is another concern of this class which is doing a large business and seems
to be on a soldid foundation. These are some of the more important




of the present day industries of Hattle Creek, but tliei'e are many others
in a prosjierous condition and well deserving of mention. Unitedly they
have made Hattle Creek one of the most widely known eities of its size
in the eountry. Among the present day eaptains of industry in Hattle
Creek may be mentioned Edwin C. Nichols, William H. ]\Iason, Irving
L. Stone, Edward C. Iliumau, Chai-les W. Post, C. E. Kolb, William
K. Kellogg, Howard H. Sherman and L. H. Anderson. Tiiese men
have each and all done mueh to place Battle Creek in the front rank
of the manufacturing eities of Michigan.

But the one institution that lias given Battle Creek its widest fame,
that brings more people within the gates of the city and from a more
extended area and sends them away grateful that they came, is the

Battle Creek Sanit.\rium

Its inception, development and gi'owth are covered by the time of
one life and that life we tnist not yet far spent. The Sanitarium is
largely the product of the genius of John H. Kellogg, though he has
now and has had in the past the help of many able assistants building
up and carrying forward the work of the institution. It nevertheless
remains, that to Dr. Kellogg more than to any other one man does the
city of Battle Creek owe the fact that it has the largest single health
giving plant in our own or any other eountry ; that its head is an author
of wide repute and a surgeon of international reputation. The Battle
Creek of the future will think of John H. Kellogg, M. D., as one of the
great men of his time, one of the benefactors of his race.

These, with others whose names might with propriety be hung in
this cluster, together wuth the bankers who stand at the head of her
solid and secure financial institutions, her merchants and business men,
her enterprising press, her able bar and her well conducted schools,
have caused Battle Creek to outstrip many of her competitors of the
earlier years and to place her in the forefront of the enterprising and
growing cities of her class.


Battle Creek is fortunate in having the service of two important
trunk lines of railroad. The ]\Iichigan Central entered the city in
December, 1845, and as it is one of the oldest so it is probably the most
important of any that passes through our state.

The Chicago and Grand Trunk is another great traffic ai-tery
traversing the state from a northeasterly to a southwesterly direction.
It puts Battle Creek in direct touch with the Atlantic seaboard at
Portland, ilaine, and through the empire city of Chicago, with the
great west. A third line running from the southeast to the northwest
gives the city a direct outlet to the east through Toledo and by way of
Lake ilichigan to the northwest. A fourth line gives access to the Lake
Shore and Michigan Southern and other systems to the south. Besides
these steam lines, there is a third rail electric road, one of the best in the
middle west, which with its connections gives hourly service from De-


tioit through Battle Creek to Kalamazoo. An extension of the system
is now being built from Kalamazoo to Grank Rapids, where it will con-
nect with a line already in operation from the last named city to
Rluskegon. A second interurban electric line has been surveyed and
the right of way secured from Battle Creek to Coldwater. It is hoped
that the work of construction will soon be commenced. Prom every
point of the compass these various lines give waj'S out from, as well as
ways into. Battle Creek. Locally the people are served by a well man-
aged electric urban line.

PiRE Department

The Battle Creek fire department is not without a historj'. The high
character of its personnel from the beginning to the present writing,
together with its great work at different times in saving both life and
property, commend it to the favor of all our people.

The original Tempest No. 2, hand engine company, was organized
August 2, 1856, while Battle Creek was yet a village of a few hundred
people. On the day named, a public meeting of citizens was held to
organize a fire company. Chester Buckley presided and L. H. Stewart
acted as secretary. A temporary organization was perfected by the
election of N. Fillis as foreman; Victory P. Collier, afterward state
treasurer for two terms, was assistant and C. H. Stewart, secretary. At
a meeting of the company held August 12, the following were elected
permanent officers and "Tempest" selected as the name of the new
company : Foreman, John Nichols, founder and president of the Nichols
and Shepherd Company; first assistant, John J. Wheeler; second as-
sistant, George Hyatt; third assistant, W. G. Morehouse; secretary,
N. Fillis ; treasurer. Victory P. Collier.

From its organization to the outbreak of the Civil war, this company
maintained a leading position among the volunteer fire companies of
the state. The company took part and won victories in the old time
state tournaments.

Among the names on the roll besides those already mentioned, we
find W. W. AVooluough, long one of Battle Creek's most prominent citi-
zens ; Edwin C. Nichols, the present president of the Nichols and Shep-
herd Company: William H. Neal ; David Shepbard ; George W. Hyatt;
Thomas Hart: James C. Halladay ; P. H. Barnes; W. H. Green; S. S.
French, who became a surgeon ; L. H. Rhines, who rose from the rank
of captain to that of colonel and fell at the head of his regiment in
one of the many engagements before Petersburg, Virginia; George C.
Barnes, who became a major of volunteers and gallantly gave his life
in battle for his country ; Cornelius B.yington, who also rose to the rank
of major and while commanding his regiment in a desperate assault on
the enemy during the siege of Kuoxville was mortally wounded, falling
into the hands of the enemy and dying a few days after; Captain
George C. Knight; Lieutenants, Charles Galpin, George Hicks, M. Pish
and Sergeants, Martin Wagner and Richard H. Freeleigh, all members
of old Tempest No. 2.

During the Civil war No. 2 disbanded. It was not until 1872 that



another volunteer ((Hiipaiiy was organixi'd with Charles H. Jeffers as
t'orenian; James Fiiile\-. liist assistant; and Lewis Williams, second
assistant; secretary, II. Phelps; and A. A. Ellsworth, treasurer. This
company came to be regarded as the model fire company of the state.

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 40 of 74)