Among the leading business men and representative citizens of Antrim county, Michigan, few stand
higher in the esteem of the public or have exerted a wider influence than Nelson Upthegrove, of
Central Lake. Mr. Upthegrove springs from an old and highly respected family that had its paternal
origin in Germany, while from the maternal side he inherits the sturdy characteristics of a
long line of English ancestors, one of whom came to America in an early day and settled near
Chiniquar, in the province of Ontario, Canada. The paternal grandfather of the subject, although
a native of Germany, was partly of Spanish descent; he immigrated to the United States a number
of years ago and located near Tonawanda, Erie county, New York, where he purchased land,
established a good home and in due time became prominent in the affairs of his locality.
Joseph F. Upthegrove, the subject's father, who was born on the homestead in Erie county, was early left an orphan and at a tender age began the struggle of life upon his own responsibility. In his youth he learned carpentry and later took up the trade of millwright and for a number of years devoted his attention to these lines of work, becoming quite proficient in both. In 1860 he settled in Huron county, Michigan, and during the ensuing nine years resided there and also two years in the county of Sanilac, working at his trade in connection with agricultural pursuits, having purchased a tract of land shortly after coming to the state. Disposing of his interests in Huron county in 1868, he changed his abode to the county of Antrim and purchasing a claim at the head of Torch Lake, moved his family to the same the following year and began the work of its improvement. Mr. Upthegrove was one of the early settlers of Torch Lake and, like the majority of pioneers of this part of the state, experienced the vicissitudes and many of the hardships which fell to the lot of those who blazed the way of civilization to what has since been one of the finest and most promising sections of the commonwealth. In addition to clearing and developing his land, he devoted considerate time to buying furs in various parts of Michigan and Canada and he also achieved quite a name as a hunter, having long enjoyed the reputation of being the most skillful shot in the county of Antrim. For a number of years his home was a favorite stopping places for travellers, prospectors and land seekers and during certain months seldom a night passed that the floor of his cabin was not thickly strewn with blankets, quilts, and the skins of wild beast, every square foot of available space being utilized to afford sleeping accommodations for guests who sought his hospitality. His door was ever open and his entertainment tendered with a heartiness that sweetened the welcome to all who entered therein, and though by no means in affluent circumstances, it is said that no poor or needy passerby ever applied to his generosity in vain.
Hannah Adams, wife of Joseph Upthegrove, was born in Chiniquar, Canada, August 29, 1826, and their marriage took place at Esquerson, Ontario, on August 20, 1844. Her parents died when she was quite young and she knew little of her family save that it was eminently respectable and that the different members thereof did nothing to tarnish the luster of its good name. She is remembered as a true helpmeet to her husband during the trying period of their pioneer experiences and to her earnest, self-denying efforts and sacrifices in their behalf her children attribute not a little of their success in life and honorable reputation which they now enjoy among their fellow men. Joseph Upthegrove resided on his farm at the head of Torch lake until 1880, when he sold out and moved west, but after spending several months in Kansas, Texas and the Indian Territory he returned to Antrim county and purchased a place three and a half miles northwest of Central Lake and about two miles from the original homestead. Here he passed in quiet and content the evening of a very active and well spent life and on December 1, 1891, answered the summons which must finally come to all, dying at a good old age, respected by all who knew him. Mrs. Upthegrove survived her husband until December 17, 1903, at which time she entered the great beyond, departing this life in the seventy-eighth year of her age. The children of this excellent couple consisted of six sons and two daughters, whose names are as follows: D_____; Joseph G., in the United States signal service with headquarters at Ashland, Wisconsin; Sarah V., of Bad Axe, Wisconsin, widow of the late Peter Peterson, of that place; Nelson, whose name introduces this sketch; Wellington, whose death occurred on December 10, 1892; Charles died in early youth; John, a carpenter and contractor of Central Lake, Michigan; Lavinia E., wife of Thomas Mitchell, of Elk Rapids; Peter, a farmer of Central Lake township, Antrim county, and Henry, who owns and resides on the family homestead.
Nelson Upthegrove, to a brief resume of whose life story the readers' attention is herewith respectfully invited, was born at Esquerson, Ontario, March 11, 1849, and remained with his parents until a little over thirty years of age. He received a common school education, and like his father was a natural mechanic, consiquently he utilised his skill in this direction by early turning his attention to carpentry, a trade in which he soon acquired marked proficiency and which he followed with decided success for a number of years. Mr. Upthegrove accompanied his parents upon their removal to Michigan and bore his share in the clearing and developing of the homestead on Torch lake. When not thus engaged he worked at his trade in various parts of the country and being; as already stated, a skillful builder, his services were in great demand by the people who gradually replaced their log dwellings with more comfortable and substantial frame edifices. Later he entered the employ of the Cheboygan Lumber Company, in which he soon rose to the responsible position of foreman and while engaged in this capacity he was put in charge of one of the company's camps with from forty to one hundred and twenty men under his supervision. He discharged his duties in an able and business-like manner, earned the confidence of his employers and as long as he remained with the company was considered one of its most capable and reliable men. Resigning his position after several years of faithful and efficient service, Mr. Upthegrove turned his attention to other pursuits until 1880, at which time he made an extensive tour of the West, spending about three years traveling over various parts of Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and old Mexico, devoting a part of the time to prospecting and mining. While in the latter capacity he located and sold several very valuable mineral properties, including what has since become the celebrated Ivanhoe mine in the Black Range Mountains of New Mexico and others, which had he retained until the present time would doubtless have made him more than a millionaire. As it was he profited by his prospecting and upon his return to Michigan in 1883 he was not only richer in knowledge and experience than when he started upon his tour, but also considerably better off from a financial point of view.
On October 27, 1883, Mr. Upthegrove was united in marriage with Miss Margaret Reid, of Saginaw county, Michigan, immediately after which he settled down to farming on the family homestead where, with the exception of one year in the dry-goods business at Eastport, he continued to live and prosper until 1892. In the latter year he abandoned agriculture and removed to Central Lake, where he has since resided, his attention the meanwhile being devoted to various lines of business, in al1 of which his success has been encouraging. For some time he dealt quite extensively in agricultural implements and all kinds of farm machinery and at intervals invested judiciously in town and country real estate, making a number of valuable improvements on the former which have added greatly to the appearance and commercial interests of the place. Among the first of his buildings in Central Lake was the corner block now occupied by the Stevens & Stevens Bank, and the postoffice, which he erected at a cost of nearly three thousand dollars; he also owns the store building adjoining in which the largest stock of hardware in the town is kept, besides several other structures used for business and residence purposes. Mr. Upthegrove is a public spirited man and few have done as much as he towards the material development of Central Lake and the advancement of its various interests. In addition to his large investments in the town, to which, by the way, he is adding almost constantly, he does a thriving business loaning money and dealing in real estate and it is eminently proper to state that nearly every industry in the place has profited hy his assistance and influence. Energetic and essentially progressive, he has long been a recognised leader in the community and to him more perhaps than to any other man does the public turn for direction and advice when important measures are inaugurated and enterprises for the general good are to be carried forward. Mr. Upthegrove was made a Mason in his twenty-fourth year and from that time to the present has been active in the work of the order, having risen to honored positions in the blue lodge, the chapter and commandery. He has been worthy patron of F. J. Lewis Chapter, No. 213, Order of the Eastern Star, since its organization and his wife also holds an important official station in the same chapter, both being among its most active and influential members. In addition to his prominence in Masonic circles, both subordinate and grand lodge, he is a leader in the Pythian brotherhood at Central Lake and at intervals has held some of the prominent offices within the power of the organization to bestow.
Religiously, Mr. and Mrs. Upthegrove are Congregationalists and regular attendants of the church in Central Lake, being liberal contributors to its material support and to the various lines of work under its supervision. Socially they are highly esteemed, as their influence has ever made for the good of the community and for the moral advancement of the large circle of friends and acquaintances with whom they are accustomed to associate. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Upthegrove has been blessed with one child, Clair, who is now at the age of nineteen, a student in the State Normal School, having been graduated from the Central Lake high school in 1902, the only member of the class of that year to make the required grade and receive the honor. He is now taking a full course in mechanical engineering, which he proposes making his profession, and those cognizant of his strong mentality and varied attainments bespeak for him a brilliant career.
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