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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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powers and allow them to negotiate the loan upon such terms and rate
of interest as the Board should deem advisable. In March, the super-
visors applied to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the loan,
and S. S. Alcott was appointed superintendent of the construction of
the county buildings and given full power to contract for material
and labor and adopt a plan in outline for the building as presented by
Supervisor Wright. The loan, however, was not effected until July,
when it was obtained of the Superintendent of Public Instraction and
Henry J. Phelps, Moses Hall and Chaiies Olin appointed a building
committee. Another draft of the proposed building was adopted and
the bar and the bench invited to appear before the Board and make
suggestions as to any alterations deemed desirable. The loan was se-
cured at seven per cent. The l)uilding was to be constructed of Marshal]
sandstone for the foundation and of brick for the superstructure.

The corner-stone was laid on the 22nd day of July, 1837. The address
attending the ceremonies of the corner-stone laying was delivered by
^Ir. S. H. Preston. We subjoin herewith a brief extract in which he
said: "The rapid progress which Calhoun County has made in popu-
lation, in cultivating the soil, in improving its extensive water power, in
affording encouragement to the mercantile and mechanical interests,
in fosterinc' religion and learning by establishing churches and schools,
is ti'uly flattering to the enterprise of the first settlers of the county.
To till' mind of the stranger, when he takes into consideration its recent
settlement, it nuist afford pei'fect astonishment."

The building was ready for occupancy in 1838, but instead of twelve
tliousand as was originally intended, it cost between twenty-five and
thirty thousand dollars.

The county having secured a new and comparatively expensive Court
House, it proved not so easy to get a jail and sheriff's house. In Homer,
the sentiment was so strong against it, that at a public meeting called,
pursuant to notice, to consider the propriety of remonstrating against
the project of building a jail aud jailor's house for the county, the
following resolutions were passed as the judgment of the meeting:


"Resolvi'd: That, wiicreas the County of L'iilluniii having raist-d a
large sum of money for building a Court House, and having partly
finished cells for criminals, it would be unjust to lay further burdens
on the inhabitants, at this time, for building a .iail and jailor's house.

'■Resolved; That it is the opinion of this meeting tiiat the true policy
would be to finish the cells already conuiieuced for criminals anil if
necessary a room for debtors and not let them out for any other purposes.

'■Resolved; That while we recognize the doctrine that the inajmity
should govern, we also claim the i)rivilege of being iicai'd wln'u our in-
terest or the interest of the County is at issue.

■■Resolved; That ilessrs. Thornton, Dorsey, Smith and Stevens be
a committee to learn the amount of taxes assessed for County purpo.ses
in the years 1837 and 1S:}S and the amount of money loaned to the
County, also the cost of the court house and report these facts at a
future meeting." The above proceedings were published on January
16, 1839.

^laishall. alive to what it conceived to be the interest and welfare
of the City and County, was proclaiming the importance of building
a jail and a jailor's house, and at an adjourned meeting of its citizens
at the National Hotel, with Philo Dibble in the chair and Sidney S.
Alcott acting as Secretary, adopted the following action :

■■Resolved; As the sense of this meeting, that a good, permanent and
secure County jail is an indispensable auxiliary to the Courts of Justice
and that witliout it one of our most valuable and cherished rights and
privileges as citizens of a free government is lamentably depreciated.

■■Resolved; That we discard the oi)inions of those who think it more
economical to pay taxes to thieves, house breakers and conterfeitei-s,
than to lawfully constituted collectors of the assessments, which have
the common protection and safety of the community for their object.

'■Resolved; That we deem it the duty of the County Commissioners
to proceed forthwith to mature a plan for such jail and to take the neces-
sary steps to raise the funds for building one the approaching season,
and proceed to put the same under contract to be completed as .soon as
may be."

The last of the above set of resolutions was published January 18,
1839. The outcome of the agitation for and against was, that provision
was made to care for prisonei's in the basement of the Court House,
which for many years served as a jail. This jail was built of squared tim-
ber, put up inside of one of the rooms in the basement. During the
term of the late Colonel Charles W. Dickey as Sheriff, there was a general
escape of the prisoners, nine in number. They managed, by heating
the iron at a stove that stood in the corridor, to burn through the logs
and burn off the lock-fastenings. They also burned out the staples
in an oak log to which one of their number was confined.

A New Court House Needed

The foundations of the old Court House proved too weak \i> sii]ipoit
the walls. The structure became very- defective and unsightly. It was
furthermore regarded' as unsafe. On the 24th risoners to jail and in taking prisoners to penal and rel'orniatory
institutions it ranks twenty-seeond ; the total expense for the entire year
being but $5,260.00 Food is furnished the prisoners by the sheriff at
a stipulated price per meal. This [iriee, in this year, li)12 aggregates
but .$2.61 per week per prisoner, being among tiie very lowest among the
counties of the state.

The Calhocn Coknty Home

On the 20th day of Decendier, 1849, the Board of .Supervisors bought
13-t acres of land two miles northeast of ilarshall for a county poor
farm, paying for the same two thousand dollars. At that time the dis-
tinction between township and county poor was abolished and all the
inmates were made a county charge. The home was openetl on Sep-
tember 20, 1850, when seventeen inmates were admitted. The original
building was a frame structure and was put up in 1850-51. Additions
were made from time to time as the necessities required. The main
building was heated by hot air furnaces. In the earlier years not only
the poor but the insane, the feeble minded and the homeless and neg-
lected children were cared for here. Gradually the state has provided
for all but the first named class in institutions specially adapted to
their care. But the Board of Supervisors makes an annual appropria-
tion for the support to the county's indigent insane in some one of the
state hospitals and also for support of the criminal insane in the state
hospital at Ionia.

In 1890 a brick Imilding was jiut up. costing $10,000.00. In 1904 a
new county home was built of brick at a cost of $25,000.00. This
building is steam heateii, and is lighted by electricity. A beautiful
maple grove stands a little way in front of the home, while between it
and the main building is a well kept lawn with tiowers and shrubbery,
giving a homelike air to the exterior, while within the inmates are made
as comfortable as possible. Generally speaking, the beneficiaries of the
home are elderly people of whom about two-thirds are men and one-
third women. There are in tiie home a few young men and women who
are mentally deficient.

The Superintendents of tlie Poor in their repoit for tile fiscal year
ending June 30. 1911, say that the Board of Supervisors made an appro-
priation of $18,000.00 for the support of the poor, $3,000.00 for the
support of the insane, and two hundred dollars for support of the
criminal insane. Out of the $18,000.00 for the support of the coun-
ty's poor, $8,283.00 was disbursed to the cities and townships. Out
of the latter sum the only townships in the county that did not draw any
aid from the poor fund were Battle Creek and Clai-ence. Fredonia town-
ship drew but six dollars and Sheridan township but six dollars and fifty

The coiinty farm will average fairly well with the general run of
farms in the county. It is stocked with horses, cows, hogs and poultry.
Last year, 1911. the farm raised 550 bushels of potatoes and 15 tons of
hay. The procei-ds of sales fi-om the farm for the year aiiioiiiiti'd lo


$616.69. The men in charge of this responsible trust are known as
the Superintendents of the Poor. At this time they are: Henry A.
Whitney; Prank Laberteaux, Albion; David Walkinshaw, Marshall.

County Officers

The Calhoun county officers in 1912 are as follows: Circuit Judge,
Walter H. North; Judge of Probate, William H. Porter; Sheriff, La
Verne Fonda; County Clerk, Ray E. Hart; Register of Deeds, C. Howard
Daskam; County Treasurer, George S. Barnes; Prosecuting Attorney,
Robert Kirschman ; Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Edward R. Loud ;
Circuit Court Stenographer, Roy E. Eldred ; County School Commis-
sioner, Frank D. Miller; Drain Commissioner, L. C. Williams; Circuit
Court Commissioners, A. N. Ford, Battle Creek, Charles 0. Miller,



Marshall IMen and JIeasures in State and National History (by
John C. Patterson) — Battle Creek as a Station on the Under-
GROL'ND Railway (by Charles E. Barnes) — The Underground
Railroad (by Burritt Hamilton) — Calhoun County Agriculture
(by J. H. Brown) — Roads and the Improvement of Roads.

Marsilvll JIen and ^Marshall Measures in State and National
History *i

By John ('. Paftcrson

P^ineison has said, "An institution is the lengthened shadow of one
man." It can with equal propriety be said that a beneticent achieve-
ment and a progressive reform are the lengthened shadow of some effi-
cient leader seemingly raised up for the purpose, whose influence on
mankind is beyond measure. Marshall has had several, such leaders,
men who have formulated measures, perfected governmental policies and
have set in motion political forces which have brought forth results
and have produced consequences of far-reaching magnitude. While as
citizens of ilarshall, we cherish a local pride in claiming them as pioneer
citizens of our city, we cannot claim them as all our own, for their work,
infiuence and achievements were not confined to our city, county or

*Note iy the Editor: — The above article will well repay a oareful reading by
every would-be well-informed citizen of the county and of the state. It treats not
only of a number of the county's most prominent citizens of a former generation;
of measures which in their influence, reaching far beyond the limits of the county
and of the state have become nation wide in extent and permanent in character.
The article was originally prepared for the historical collection of the Michigan
Pioneer Society.

The author, the Hon. John C. Patterson, recently deceased, was a native of Cal-
houn county, having been born in the township of Eckford in the year 1838. Ho
graduated from Hillsdale College in 1864, receiving the degree of A. B. in curvu..
and in 1867 from the law department of Union University. N. Y. His professional
life was spent in the city of Marshall. As a lawyer, he took high rank among the
attorneys of the county. He was long a member of the Board of Trustees of his
Alma Mater and for two terms was a member of the State Senate. Mr. Patterson
was a man of high pei'sonal character and greatly esteemed by his fellow-citizena
of the county. It is said that the preparation of the above article occupied his
leisure time for more than two years.

1 Delivered at midwinter meeting, .Jan. 13, 1900.



State, but have been rendered, exercised and felt over the United States,
and in fact over the whole world. This city, this State, this nation and
the world at large are under lasting obligations to Isaac E. Crary,^ the
founder of the public school system of ^Michigan, to John D. Pierce,^
the organizer of the said public school system and the father of the Home-
stead Exemption Law of I\lichigan, and to Charles T. Gorham, Oliver
C. Comstock, Jr., Asa B. Cook, Jarvis Hurd, John M. Easterly, George
Ingersoll, Herman Camp, Randal Hobart, Platner iloss, William Parker,

Hon. John C. Patterson

Charles Berger, James Smith, Hovey K. Clarke, Erastus Hussey and
other citizens of Marshall, in arousing sentiments, directing influences,
and in starting forces into action which eventually overthrew American
slavery. It is not to be forgotten that many other workers were labor-
ing for the same end, and for years had been preparing the way ; but the
acts, counsel and influences of these Marshall m*en can be traced directly
in a continuous course and by a connected chain of events into measures,
and organization which eliminated African slavery from our land. It
is the purpose of this paper to trace the little leaven while it was leaven-
ing the whole lump, and to follow its influences and acts to final results.

2^ee sketch, Vol. XIV, p. 282, this series.

3 See sketch, Vol. XXXV, p. 29.5, this series and Bingham Biographies, .582.


Isaac E. Craky,
The Founder of the Public School System ol' .Michi

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 6 of 74)