CASS COUNTY, MICHIGAN ~ MORTALITY
MICHIGAN PIONEER AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY
1893 - Volume XXII
DR. LEVI ALDRICH -- Dr. Levi Aldrich died at Edwardsburgh, December 16, 1892, aged 73 years. He several times represented Cass county in the State legislature and was a member of the constitutional convention of 1867.
MRS. RACHEL BYRON -- Mrs. Rachel Byron died in Detroit March 16, 1893, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Julia Gates, in the 86th year of her age.
Mrs. Byron was the mother of our friend and townsman, John Tietsort (of whom a sketch is also found in this report).
She was first married to Abram Tietsort, Jr., in 1826. By this marriage she had six children, five of whom are now living, viz., John, Julia, Perry, Ira, and Wesley; and , so far as is known, Julia was the second white female child born in Cass county.
Mrs. Byron's second marriage, to the Rev. Joseph Byron, of the M. E. church, occurred in 1841. The offspring of this marriage was four children, viz., Melissa, Linnie, Elizabeth, and Joseph Edgar.
Few, if any of the pioneers of this county now living, can recount so many stirring events in the history of southwestern Michigan as could Mrs. Byron in her life time.
In 1831 she settled with her then husband, Abram Tietsort, Jr., on the east bank of Stone Lake, but a few rods north of where the bowl factory now stands. Then the country was in possession of wild beasts and savages, who roamed at will through its forests, and over its plains, lakes, and rivers, claiming title direct from the Great Spirit. Then dense forests nearly surrounded Cassopolis and covered the site of this capitol of Cass county. Then the howl of the wolf, and the barking of the fox furnished music to the early settlers, as each day's sun went down; and the fleet, timid movements of herds of deer as they came to view the settlers' cabins, were suggestive of juicy venison steak to eat with hominy, when the hard day's work was done. Too much cannot be said in behalf of those sturdy pioneers, men and women, who first settled in southwestern Michigan.
"Their rough log cabins! in fancy I see them still;
And old memories rush up to tell me, I always will.
Many privations; trials, harassing doubts and fears
Came o'er them: tried their metal almost to tears;
Who then believed this nursery of stalwart men;
Would soon develop into a State so grand? No one, then."
As one of this class, Mrs. Byron performed her duties well and faithfully in those early days. Whether as wife, mother, or friend, she stood high in the esteem of all who became acquainted with her, or shared with her the hardships incident to pioneer life. All loved her for those high social qualities which go far to lighten the burdens of human existence; and now that she has gone from among us, we can do no less than reverently invoke God's blessings upon her, and those of her offspring she left behind.
MRS. MINERVA R. DUNNING -- Minerva Reynolds was born November 13, 1803, in the township of Lansing, Tompkins county, N. Y. January 12, 1824, she was united in marriage with Allen Dunning, in the township of Scipio, Cayuga county, N. Y., who was the first white child born in that township. Immediately after their marriage they settled in Erie county, Pennsylvania, where Mr. Dunning had previously located land and erected a log house for the reception of his bride. There they passed the first twelve years of their married life, when attracted by the opportunities of the then far west they removed to Michigan, arriving at Edwardsburgh in July, 1836. This country was then enjoying what would now be called a "boom," and they paid $7 an acre to John Hudson for his location on Section 11, which he had located and bought from the government in 1830. This is the same farm where her husband died on the 10th of December, 1869, and where she lived until her death. She was the mother of twelve children, five daughters and seven sons, four daughters and five sons survive her, all of whom were present at the funeral except one daughter, who is in ill health. The deceased in her early years was a member of the Christian church, but her husband being a firm believer in the final restitution of all souls, she joined with him in opening the doors to that blessed doctrine. She died on the morning of the 31st of March, 1893, aged 89 years, 4 months, and 17 days.
The home was one of unbounded hospitality, and in an early day was known far and wide as a place from which none were ever suffered to go away hungry, disconsolate or uncomforted. It was especially known as an asylum and recruiting station for traveling Universalist preachers, and many of the most eminent divines of that church have found hearty welcome beneath its roof, where they frequently held services, proclaiming the everlasting and universal redemption of all mankind, to those who were tired of the narrow dogmas of partial salvation of the other churches. In a history of Cass county, published in 1882, the author speaks of the deceased and their large family, as follows:
"Mrs. Dunning laughingly recalls the time when numerous heads appeared at every available opening in the house to view the passing stranger; but on the same principle that many hands make light work, many happy hearts make a happy home, and this certainly was one; as much so in those early days, when deprived of the many now considered indispensable adjuncts of the house, as when in later years they became possessed of them. All who met Mrs. Dunning were charmed with her kindly manner and pleasantly beaming countenance, and it is no subject of wonder that their house was seldom without visitors, either friends or strangers."
MRS. JULIA ANN HALL -- Julia Ann Carr was born at Albion, N. Y., June 28, 1818. In 1835 she was married to Orville B. Glover, and with him came to Michigan and settled in Edwardsburgh in 1840, where she and her husband united with the Presbyterian church while the late Rev. Alfred Bryant was its pastor. She was the mother of five children, Harrison, who died about seventeen years ago, Lowell H., Jay, Tamerson, the wife of Geo. W. Merrill, and William. Her husband died in 1852, leaving her with these children, the oldest being but fifteen; but she cared for them and kept them together until they were old enough to care for themselves. In 1856 she was married to John Earle, who after two years left her again a widow. In the early part of 1861 she was married to Henry J. Hall, and went with him to his home in Buchanan, where she resided until her departure May 6, 1893. Mr. Hall died in 1885, and since that time she had lived with her daughter. She leaves two sisters, Mrs. Jane Jerome of Laporte, and Mrs. Nancy B. Noyes of Edwardsburgh, and one brother, John P. Carr, of South Bend, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She was a plain woman and very domestic, caring more for home and family than all else. If she could make her children happy, her own happiness was complete. The children for whom she toiled during their infancy, having laid her to rest, unite in saying that her memory shall remain with them and that her precepts shall guide them.
CHARLES H. KINGSBURY -- Charles H. Kingsbury died at his home in Cassopolis, April 25, 1893.
The deceased was born in Massachusetts and was the oldest child of the well known pioneer, Asa Kingsbury, deceased. He was cashier of the first National bank from the time of its organization until a year ago, and had a large personal acquaintance. He was about 63 years of age. He leaves a wife and five daughters, one daughter having preceded him to the spirit land, and a number of brothers and sisters.
JAMES KIRKWOOD -- James Kirkwood was born at Beith, Ayrshire, Scotland, April 12, 1811. He received a common school education and at the age of 17 started in life for himself as a common farm hand. On attaining his majority he left the land of his nativity and came to the United States. He lived in the town of Galway, Saratoga county, N. Y., two years and from there went to Summit county, Ohio, where he remained until his removal to Cass county, Michigan, in February, 1836, when he purchased the farm in Wayne township on which he lived until the death of his wife eight years ago, since then he has resided with his daughter in the same township. He was married in 1840 to Isabel Brown, also a native of Ayrshire. They reared seven children, only two of whom are now living, Hon. John Kirkwood, now a member of the legislature, and Mrs. Elmer Hall. He was reared a Presbyterian, and though his views were somewhat broader, clung to that faith through life. He was ready to go when the Master called, and his last words were, "It is all right, the sooner the better." He was an uncompromising, faithful democrat and had been a subscriber to the National Democrat of Cassopolis since the day of its first issue. He was one of the best type of the sturdy, honest pioneers whose courage and industry have made Cass county what it now is. He died at the residence of his daughter, April 20, 1893, in the 82d year of his age.
JOHN KIRKWOOD -- John Kirkwood, who died at his residence in Wayne township, May 14, 1893, was born and reared on the farm where he died. He was a bachelor and in the fifty-second year of his age. In this same report will be found a sketch of his father, an honored pioneer of the county.
John Kirkwood was a modest, unassuming man, well known in his immediate vicinity, and of late years his acquaintance had been somewhat extended on account of having been several times elected supervisor of his township, and last fall being the successful candidate on the democratic and people's tickets for representative in the State legislature. He was a man of good judgment, sincere in his attachments, and of unswerving honesty.
A committee of six of his fellow members in the legislature acted as pall bearers. On the day of his funeral his chair and desk in representative hall, at Lansing, was appropriately draped, and a page from the Legislative Journal of April 19, showing that on that day he was granted an indefinite leave of absence on account of his own poor health and to attend the bedside of his dying father, was surrounded with black crape and flowers and placed on his desk. The House also took a recess from noon until 7 o'clock p.m., covering the hours of the funeral, as a mark of respect.
MRS. GEORGE NEWTON -- Mary E. Tharp was born in Jefferson township, Cass county, Mich., October 14, 1843. She was married to David G. Rench, December 1, 1866, and died at her home in Cassopolis April 10, 1893, aged 45 years, 4 months, and 13 days. She was the mother of five children, three sons and two daughters. She was converted in 1889, and united with the Methodist church of Cassopolis and has been a faithful and devoted christian.
JACOB W. RUMSEY -- Jacob W. Rumsey was born in Monroe county, N. Y., on the 1st day of May, 1826, and came to Michigan when but a boy, settling in St. Joseph county when it was but a wilderness. He afterward moved to Newberg, Cass county, where he resided until his death, May 10, 1893. aged 67 years, 1 month, and 10 days. He leaves an aged widow, who is an invalid, and three daughters to mourn his loss. He was a kind and loving husband and father, an honest and upright citizen, generous to all, and quick to respond to the wants of the many. No one asked him for assistance but was willingly accommodated if within his power. His loss will be felt by the whole community.
MRS. EUSEBIA SMITH -- Eusebia S. Earl was born in Jefferson county, state of New York, in the year 1846, and moved with her parents to Michigan in 1852. They settled in Bangor, Van Buren county, where they remained until 1867, when they removed to Cassopolis. She was married to Thomas J. Smith in October, 1869, who died several years since. She died at her home April 7, 1893. She was a christian lady of much influence, being at her death president of the church Ladies' Aid society.
JOHN TIETSORT -- John Tietsort died at his home in Cassopolis April 29, 1893. He was born in Miltonville, Butler county, Ohio, November 22, 1826, and was the oldest son of Abram Tietsort. His father moved to Niles, Mich., in April, 1828, and from there to the location where Cassopolis now stands, in the spring of 1830, being the first settler on the site of this village where John was raised and where he resided until his death, with the exception of two years spent in California, he being one of the forty-niners carried away by the excitement of the gold discoveries of that period. At the end of two years he returned, not having accumulated any fabulous fortune, but still somewhat better in purse than when he left.
He was at the time of his death the veritable "oldest inhabitant," having lived in the first house that was erected here, and for a longer time than any other person. From the time of his return from California until 1873 he was actively engaged in mercantile business, most of the time in partnership with Charles G. Banks, the firm name of Banks & Tietsort being a familiar one in this locality for many years. The brick store now occupied by Read & Yost was built by them, and at the time of Mr. Tietsort's death was still owned by them.
Mr. Tietsort had been married three times. His first wife, with whom he was joined November 25, 1852, was Ellen Silver Sherman, daughter of Elias B. Sherman. She died August 26, 1862. He was married to Eleanor Robinson January 26, 1864. Her death occurred October 27, 1869, and upon July 17, 1871, Mr. Tietsort married Addie Silver Robinson. He had three daughters by his first wife, Blanche Goucher, now a resident of Clay Center, Kansas; Ellen Graham, now a resident of Chicago; and Miss Florence, who resided with her father, and one son, Ralph, by his second wife, now a resident of Grand Rapids. All of whom, with his wife, survive him.
John Tietsort was a public spirited, generous man, an excellent neighbor careful and exact in his business with a reputation without reproach. He was an ardent lover of music and to the promotion of musical culture and study in the community, especially in church music, he devoted a large amount of time, not professionally or for reward. He said during his last sickness that he had sung at over 300 funerals. There was no singing at his funeral, all of the singers in the vicinity who are usually called upon on such occasion declaring themselves unequal to the task.