Elizabeth Palmer Peabody.

Portrait and biographical album of Branch County, Mich online

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County, and a gentleman who is thoroughly repre-
sentative of its progressive element.

The father of our subject was also a native of
Pennsylvania, and was born Oct. "io, 171)8. He
remained a resident of that State until 1836, when,
growing enthusiastic over the inducements held out
to farmers by the new-born State of Michigan, he
bade good-by to his childhood home and. accom-
panied 1)3' his wife and family, set out for the
AVest. Upon his arrival in this county he settled
in Sherwood Township, where the hand of man had
not yet begun the struggle that was so rapidly to
transform the wilderness into fields that would be
found fertile as gardens, while it should be dotted
over with towns and villages, and made alive with
beautiful herds of domestic animals. Mr. Giltner
came well equipped physically for the work before
hiin, and after a long life of eighty-six j^ears, dur-
ing which he had seen his sanguine dreams more
tliai) realized, he rested from his labors, and was
gathered to his fathers March 30, 1886. The mother
of our subject was a native of the same State as her
husband, and was born Aug. 6, 1800. She passed
away some years previous to tlic death of her hus-
band, Oct. 1, 1879.

The parental family of our sniiject included eight
children, of whoui John F. was the seventh in order
of birth. He was an infant of two years when the
family uiidertdok their journey to this State, and
since liis arrival in Branch Count}' he has been a
continuous resident of the same, except three years
which he spent in California. While acquiring an
elementary education in the primitive schools he
learned in the school of experience on his father's
farm to develop those qualities which underlie a
strong and worthy manhood. He passed his life
following his peaceful vocation, until he had secured
the necessary equipments to found a home of his
own, and he was then united in uiarriage, the lady
of his choice heing Miss Catherine L. Wells, who
was born in Michigan on the 5th of February,
1845. Of this union there were four children, all
daughters : Nettie K. was born May 4, 1 «G4, and died

Oct. 8, 1881 ; Nora M. was born July 14, 1866, and
died Dec. 10, 1 869 ; Nellie T. was born Feb. 3,
1868, and Sept. 18, 1886, she became the wife of
Charles Wells, a farmer of Calhoun County; M.
Pearl was born Jan. 25, 1873, and died May 8,
1880. The mother of these children died Nov. 28,
1880, and our subject was a second time united in
marriage, with Miss Lara A. Eddy, who was born
in Huron County, Ohio, Oct. 18, 1859. She is the
daughter of John R. and A. M. Edd}-, who were
also natives of Huron County, and came to Michi-
gan in 1870, where they settled in Branch County,
The marriage was solemnized on the 18th of May,
1 882. and they .at once settled on the old homestead
of our subject.

Mr. and Mrs. Giltner are members of the P. of
H., both of Subordinate and State Granges. He is
one of a party of four representative pioneers, who
regularly on the 13th of August celebrate the anni-
versary of their birth. From their appearance
the}' all have a prospect of many returns of the
auspicious day. In politics our subject is identi-
fied with the Republican party.


\f/ L. GRAHAJI, who is a leading farmer and

I (@ stock-raiser of Gilead Township, is very
jJ^V pleasantly located on section 17, about four
miles distant from Orland, Ind. He was born in
St. Joseph, this State, in 1838, and is the young-
est of a family of ten children of L. L. and Hannah
(Wright) Graham, both natives of New York.
They were married in that State, and went to Ohio
in an early d.ay of its settlement, and remained
there several years. In 1828 they came to Michi-
gan, when it still formed a part of the great North-
western Territory, and made a settlement in what
is now St. Joseph County. It was then scarcely in-
habited, and Mr. Graham had to wrest his farm from
its primeval forest-covered state. He remained there
a number of j'ears, actively engaged in agricultural
pursuits. In 1843 he removed with his family to
Branch County, and purchased the place on section
17 where our subject now resides. It was mostly

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oovererl with timber, and he again brave!}' began
the pioneer task of clearing and improving a farm,
but his r.seful career was closed by his death in
1845, when an honest, industrious and thoroughly
npright citizen was removed from this community.
His excellent wife survived him many years, dying
at a venerable age in 1885. Mr. Graham had an
honorable record as a soldier in the War of 1812.

The subject of this sketch was reared on his
father's homestead, and received his education
mostly in Branch Count}', and attended the graded
school at Sturgis for five years, thus obtaining an
excellent education. After leaving school he at
once entered upon the vocation to which he had
been reared, preferring that to any other for his life
work, and that he has made an assured success of it
is evinced by the appearance of his fine farm, with
its broad and highly cultivated fields, embracing
160 acres of rich and fertile land, on which are neat
and commodious buildings, well adapted to the
various wants of a farmer. He has paid much at-
tention to raising stock, and his farm is well sup-
plied with fine Norman horses, cattle of good
grades, a large number of Merino sheep, and swine
of the Poland-China breed.

Mr. Graham was married in Branch County, in
May, 1871, to Miss Lucy Foster, a native of tliis
County, where she was born in 1847, being the
third child in a family of six children. Her parents
were James and Lovicia (Hancock) Foster, natives
respectively of New York and Lorain County,
Ohio. Her paternal grandparents, John and Eliza-
beth Foster, were natives of England, and her
grandfather followed a seafaring life for a number
of years. At one time, while on a lung voyage, he
was captured in China and remained a prisoner two
or three years. After receiving his freedom he
returned to the United States, where his death
occurred. Mrs. Graham's maternal grandparents,
Smith and Orrilla (Holcomh) Hancock, were natives
of Connecticut. Mrs. Graham's parents came to
Branch County in pioneer days, and are still living
here, at the present time making their home in Ba-
tavia Township. As a hard-working farmer Mr.
Foster has faithfully performed his share in devel-
oping this rich agricultural region. Mrs. Graham
received a liberal education, and for fifteen terms

was successfully engaged in teaching in Branch
County, and also taught two terms in Iowa. Her
pleasant wedded life with our subject has been
blessed b}' the birth of two children, Ethelbert and
Arthur, both of whom are at home and attending

The intelligence and culture of our suliject and
his amiable wife render them very desiraljle mem-
bers of this community, in which they occupy a
high social position. Mr. Graham is influential in
the councils of his township, and has served as
Supervisor for one year, and has taken an active
part in securing good educational advantages for
the youth of this community. He is an earnest
worker, a strong and clear thinker, is free from bad
habits, and his life is guided by the highest princi-
ples of honor and integrity. In politics he vt)tes
with the Prohibitionists, although he does not take
an active part in political life. He belongs to the
Grange society here, which is a strong organization
with a membership of nearly 150, holding their
meetings in their fine Grange Hall, which cost about



• ^ ' '» - N. GROVE. The maternal grandfather of

PI our subject came to Michigan about 1835,
and purchased 800 acres of Government
land on sections 4 and 9, in Noble Township. Two
years later he was joined by his son-in-law, the
father of our subject, who brought with them F.
N.. then a child three j'ears of age. There were
then but a few log houses scattered here and there,
the owners of which were just beginning to make
their impression upon the soil of the western part
of this county.

John and Mary (Rippey) Grove, the parents of
our subject, entered upon the task before them of
building up a home in the wilderness with all the
energy and perseverance which they had inherited
from their substantial German ancestry, and in due
time realized the reward of their toil. Grandfather
Rippe}' likewise labored as an agriculturist, and liv-
ing to a ripe old age, w.as called hence in 1858.






The parents of our subject lived to see the country
around tlicm develop into a civilized coininunit3',
and contributed their full share toward its progress
and welfare.

The subject of this sketch was born in Allegany
County. N. Y., May 6, 1834. His great-grand-
parents on both sides of the house came from
Germany in the Colonial days, and settling in Penn-
s_vlvania, occu|)ied themselves as tillers of the soil.
F. N. was the third child of his parents, whose
family included five sons and three daughters.
Three onl}' of these lived to mature years. Our
subject began his first studies in the pioneer school
nearest his home, but his eilucation has been ac-
quired largely by his own habit of reading and ob-
servation. Upon reaching manhood his ambition
was to procure a home of his own, and his first real-
estate purchase was 115 acres of land on section 9
in Noble Township. Here he improved a good
farm, put up a neat residence and substantial out-
buildings, and subsequently invested his surplus
capital in 120 acres additional, about thirty of
which was improved. This lies on section 3. It is
ail now in productive condition and yields bounti-
fully the rich products of Southern Michigan. Mr.
Grove keeps excellent grades of horses and cattle,
and of late years has turned his attention largely
to the breeding of fine sheep.

The lady who twenty-seven years ago became
the partner of the joys and sorrows of our subject,
and to whom he was married in 1861, was Miss
Sarah C. Hartz, of Noble Township, who was born
in Union County, Pa., Aug. 10, 1837. Her parents,
George and Ann (Fry) Hartz, were of German
descent, and the father a carpenter by trade. He
came with his wife and family from their native
State of Pennsylvania in the year 1844, settling
first at Three Rivers, in this State, where he fol-
lowed his trade and also fulfilled contracts at Colon
and liurr Oak. He died in February, 1886, at
Burr Oak. Six of the eight children comprising
the parental household lived to mature years. Mrs.
Grove was the second born, and, like her brothers
and sisters, acquired a good education in the com-
mon school. She remained under the home roof
until her marriage, and is the mother of two sons
and four daughters, all living and at home with

their parents. They were named respectively:
William H., Mary E., Charles F., Annie Adell, Lilly
May and Sarah F.

Our subject cast his first Presidential vote for
Fremont, but of late years has been a zealous sup-
porter of the principles advocated by the Green-
back party. He is a man decided in his views and
one whose opinions his neighbors hold in high re-
spect. While busily emplo3-ed in developing his
farm and attending to the needs of his family, he
has uniformly kept in view the welfare and progress
of his township, and has done what he could to-
ward its general advancement, morally and finan-
cially. He is rated among its solid men and most
reliable citizens.

-— ^^'>ii;^^^?5^^^^

jrSljYRON BP2NT0N, general farmer and stock-
Jr^^V '■'^'*^'' is ^^^^ '^n extensive apiarist, and has
(j^)lli at this time about 150 colonies of Italian
^^5^=^ bees; he is pleasantly located on an excellent
farm of 200 acres of well-improved land on section
25, Matteson Township. This beautiful farm is
adorned by a handsome and commodious set of
frame buildings, together with a fine young orchard
of a great variety of fruit trees, and all the im-
provements which make it an object of attraction
to the passers-by are the result of the thrift and en-
terprise of its present owner. When Mr. Benton
took possession of the farm in 1876, it had been
owned by a non-resident, I. Sawing, of York State,
and was still unbroken by the plowshare and in its
wild state, wholly covered by timber. Mr. Benton
has been a resident of this township since 1864, and
was engaged in farming on other sections until he
located on his present farm.

Mr. Benton claims for the land of his birth that
State which has furnished so much of the most
progressive element of Southern Michigan, having
been born in Claverack Township, Columbia Co.,
N. Y., July 24, 1824. His father, Ezra E. Benton,
was a native of Pittsfield, Mass., and received a
good education in the public schools of that section,
while he also learned the trade of a clockmaker.



561 '

He came of New England parentage and was the eld-
est of a large famil}'. In his native State he engaged
in the profession of a school teacher, and after his
removal to the Empire State he continued his voca-
tion until his marriage, near Hudson, with Christina
Lant, who came of an old and respectable Dutch
family, from which President Van Buren was de-
scended. She was reared to womanhood in her
native State, receiving a good education, and after
her marriage with Ezra Benton the^^ located in Co-
lumbia County, where Mr. Benton engaged at his
trade of clockmaker, and was also occupied for some
time in his profession of school teaching.

Ezra Benton was remarkably liked for his indus-
try and his genius, and all his life was an extensive
reader and a clear thinker. He was a close reasoner
in many lines of thought, and contributed largely
to the press his poetic productions. He was a poet
of some local distinction, as is evidenced by his
ode to the elm tree that stood in the public square
of the town of his nativity, and which fell to the
ground about the time of the outbreak of the Rebell-
ion. The poem was written in 1821, when Mr. Ben-
ton was visiting the land of his boyhood, and he was
then about twenty-three years of age. The last
stanza will serve to illustrate the style as well as the
philosophic and prophetic character of the ode.

Majestic Elm! ma}' many aflowerof virtue, genius,
round thee rise;

Thy favored country blessings shower while free-
man's sons their freedom prize.

Yes. noble tree, long may'st thou tower, long be thy
country's heroes free.

But should they bow to tyrant's power, then fall
thyself and cease to be.

Other poems have been written by Mr. Benton,
which elicited favorable notices from the press.

The subject of this sketch is the eldest son and
the second in order of birth of the three children
included in the parental family. His sister, Mrs.
Maria Clapper, resides in the township of her na-
tivity, in Columbia County, N. Y., while his brother
Lawrence is a resident of Greene County in the same
State. Lawrence spent fourteen years in the militia
of the United States, and was wounded in the bat-
tle of Gettysburg, Pa. When our subject was but
a child of three years the parental family was

broken up by disagreement, and he was afterward
reared by strangers until eighteen years of age.
At the separation of his father and mother,
Byron was under the care of his father, and was
placed with strangers while his father was on the
road repairing clocks, and not settling for the care
of our subject, he was taken to the County Poor
House at about the age of seven years, and became
a public charge for the space of four or five
months. He was bound by the county to a man
who owned a cotton factory. His grandfather
Lant learning where he was went and took him home
with him, our subject remaining there until about
nine years of age, when he went to live with a
farmer by the name of William Chidistei', his father
binding him until he was twenty-one 3-ears of age
to learn farming. At the age of fifteen, his mother
learning his employer had broken the contract, ad-
vised our subject to leave, which he did. From
that date our subject provided for his own wants,
and was his own boss, having sued for his clearance
and being successful in obtaining it. At the age
of eighteen he started out to learn the trade of
carding and cloth-dressing with an uncle in Medina
County, Ohio. Being naturally brilliant, he had
secured a good practical education, while at the
same time earning his own livelihood, and eventually
engaging as a teacher, followed that occupation for
some years.

Mr. Benton was first married, in Medina County,
Ohio, to Miss Clarissa Phelps, who was born and
reared in that county, and was the daughter of
Timothy and Mary (Hulbert) Phelps, both of
whom are now deceased. The mother of Mrs. Ben-
ton passed away when her daughter was quite young.
Mrs. Benton passed away in less than a year after
her marriage. For his second vvife Mr. Benton
chose a sister of his first partner, Adelia M. Phelps,
who was also born and reared in Medina County.
They began their married life as poor people, en-
gaging in farm work and other kinds of labor, and
were thus employed until their removal to this
State. By untiring application, directed by good
judgment and economy, they overcame obstacles
that would have appalled hearts less stout than
theirs, and at length found themselves on the high-
way to a competency. But just as they were pre-



•> m -<•




piired for the enjoyment of the ease and comfort
to wliich their hiborious lives had justly entitled
them, Mrs. Benton was called to her final lesvard,
and p.nssed awa}- at her home May '24, 1SS7. when
fifty-four years of age. Of her union witii our
subject there were born eleven children, three of
whom arc now deceased, viz: Cynthia E., Lyman
B. and Mary. Mary died in infancy, and the other
two were aged respectively twenty-seven and
twenty-one years. The surviving members are re-
corded as follows: Clara A. is the wife of Wash-
ington Smith, of Owosso, Mich.; Herbert E. is a
farmer in Matteson Township; Byron, Jr., is by trade
a carpenter, and resides in Kansas; Lester FL lives
in Denver, Col.; Perry is a master of the art of
penmansi)ip. and is at present engaged in teaching
that branch in the commercial college in Iowa City ;
Azor is attending school in Iowa Citj% and makes
penmanship a special study, while Lemnel B. and
Lawrence reside at the homestead. All these chil-
dren while acquiring a school education, learned in
the school of experience, to which they were of
necessit}' subjected, many valuable practical lessons,
and are noted examples of what this course of study
will accomplish. The}' possess rare intelligence and
early in life became self-supporting, while they are
now remarkable for their industry and enterprise,
integrity and good habits.

In Matteson Township our subject was united in
marriage with his present wife, who was formerly
Mrs. Olive (Ballou) Lewes, and was born in Port-
age County, Ohio. She is the daughter of Jefferson
and Jemima (Pierce) Ballou, the former of whom
was a native of Ohio and a cousin of President
Garfield. He was a carpenter by trade, and becom-
ing an early settler of Matteson Township, followed
his calling in connection with agricultural pursuits,
and resided in the township until his decease. Mrs.
Ballou still survives, :it tlie age of seventj'-four
years, and makes her home in Bronson. Mrs
Olive Benton came to this count}' when a child, and
received her education in tiie puiilic schools of
Matteson Township. SIh; was iwice mari-ied prior
to her union with our suiiject. her first husband
being Joiui .McKinney, who was a native of Ver-
mont, a graduate of Oberlin College, Ohio, and a
mason liy trade. He died in Cijidwater, leaving

fonr children : Nellie, at present a teacher, has been
a copj'ist at Cleveland, Ohio, in the employment of
the Government; Harrj' L. is a baker by trade, and
resides in Lansing; P>1ith E. and Alice L. Her
second marriage was with Dr. Roland Lewes, a na-
tive of Japan, and a graduate in medicine of his
native country, where he was reared to manhood.
He then came to this country and became connected
with Bellevue Hospital, N. Y., and subsequently
was a professor in the Michigan Medical College, at
Detroit. While engaged at this work his future
wife was a student at the hospital, and completing
the course became a professional nurse, and has
since engaged in that work to a considerable extent.
Dr. Lewes was finally bitten by a rabid dog in
New York City, and died of hydrophobia.

Mrs. Olive Benton is an active member of the
Baptist Church, at Bronson, and is a woman of rare
intelligence and culture. .She is one of those good
women who never grow old, and her genial and
sunny temperament, together with her good habits,
have preserved the freshness of 3'outh, and she is a
remarkably beautiful woman. Mr. Benton affiliates
with the Republican party in politics, but is not an
office-seeker in any sense of the term, preferring to
devote his attention to more domestic concerns.

J^-OIIN COWARD, successfully engaged in
I general or mixed farming on sections 14 and
! 1.5, INIatteson Township, is the proprietor of
' a tract of land comprising eighty acres, nearly
ail of which is well improved, and contains a fine
residence and substantial and commodious out-
buildings for the storage of the bountiful products
of his soil and the shelter of good grades of domes-
tic animals. Mr. Coward has lived on this farm
since 1 872, through he has been a resident of the
township since 1865, and lived in Bronson Township
eighteen months before he came here.

Mr. Coward is a native of that country which has
furnished a liberal quota of the pioneer element of
Southern Michigan, having been born in Cam-








bridgesbire, England. March 5, 1833, while his
father, also John Coward, was a native of Lanca-
shire, and came of piu-e English ancestry. He fol-
lowed the occupation of a shoemaker in his native
Isle, and was there united in marriage with Miss
Elizabeth Bates, a native of the same shire, and of
the same ancestry. When young Coward was sev-
enteen years of age the family came to the United
States, and locating in Byron, Genesee Co., N. Y.,
made it their home until 1863. They then migrated
to this State, and choosing Matteson Township, this
county, settled on a farm, which became their home
for fifteen years. They finally removed to Bron-
son Township, and still survive at the remarkable
ages of ninety and eighty-two years, respectively.

John Coward was the third child in order of birth
in the parental family, and after his advent into
this State he was engaged in farm work until his
marriage. This interesting event in the life of our
subject took place July 3, 1862, in Clarendon, Or-
leans Co., N. Y., when he led to the altar the
maiden of liis choice. Miss Elizabeth A. Benton,
who is a native of that State, and was born in
Byron. Jan. 29, 1840. Mrs. Coward is the daugh-
ter of Thomas and Sarah (Ship) Benton, who were
natives of England, and came to the United States
after marriage. The father died in Clarendon
Township, Orleans Co., N. Y., Feb. 23, 1887, while
the mother still survives, at the great age of ninety
years, and resides with her daughter, Mrs. Mary J.
Brown. Mrs. Coward pursued her studies in the
common schools in Orleans County, and assisted in
domestic duties, learning from her excellent mother
those lessons which have been of incalculable value
in the conduct of her own home. Of her union with
our subject there have been born two children:
Nellie A., the wife of Bert Cline, a farmer in Calhoun
County, and Benton J., who took to wife Miss Efiie
E. Hawn, and is engaged in farming in Matteson

Mr. and Mrs. Coward are members of the Free
Methodist Church, and theirs is not an idle profes-
sion, but is exemplified in all their relations, busi-
ness or social. They are thoroughly in sympathy
with Republican principles, and are progressive
public-spirited citizens, always ready to encourage
and assist in any movement looking toward the im-

provement of the community in any mannei'. Mr.
Coward is an ardent worker in the cause of temper-
ance, and is entirel^^ in sympathy with the Prohibi-
tion movement, having been the Chairman of the
committee of that body in the township for four
years, and votes, as may be expected of a man whose

Online LibraryElizabeth Palmer PeabodyPortrait and biographical album of Branch County, Mich → online text (page 78 of 94)