Biographies
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This page contains biographical sketches (full or extract) of former Hillsdale County residents.
The majority come from pre-1921 published sources as cited in the sketch.



Alward, Ben R. * Deacon Seth Anderson * George F. Anderson * George Armstrong * John W. Ash * Peleg Ash * John Ashworth
Taylor M. Avery


Ben R. ALWARD

Compendium of History and Biography of Hillsdale County Michigan. Chicago: AW Bowen & Co 2 Parts - Fully Historical and Largely Biographical (1903) page 451.

Scarcely anything in the business life of America is more striking or suggestive than the opportunities it affords to young men of capacity and enterprise, and the decided adaptability to its requirements which they exhibit. All our life from youth is a preparation for more responsible and important work, for it is all active and exacting experience, requiring readiness and quickness of perception, clearness of vision and broad and responsive resourcefulness. The age is rapid, does not halt for studious reflection, and those who are embarked on its hurrying currents must work with the tide or be left behind.
One of the impressive illustrations of this truth presented by the business circles of Hillsdale county is found in the career of Ben R. ALWARD, of Camden, the owner of the private bank of that village, which is one of the best known and widely useful. financial institutions of the county. Mr. ALWARD had a continued and thorough course of preparation for the banking business under the direction of a master of fiscal affairs, and his course since he became the head of the bank which he operates has demonstrated that the lessons given to him were not wasted and that his vocation was wisely chosen.
Ben R. ALWARD was born in Camden township, Mich., on December 4, 1876, the son of John B. and Ella R. (STEWART) ALWARD, a sketch of whom will be found elsewhere in this volume. His education was begun in the public schools of the township and completed by a course of three years at Hillsdale College. In the intervals between the terms of the schools he was attending he was employed in the office of Orson D. CHESTER, whose business interests were extensive and varied. After leaving college it became necessary for young ALWARD to take the place of his father as the cashier of Mr. CHESTER's bank, a position long held by the father and which he was obliged to give up by failing health. He resigned in the fall of 1895, and the son served as cashier from that time until the death of Mr. CHESTER on November 7, 1902.
Mr. ALWARD then established the Bank of Camden as the successor of Mr. CHESTER's bank in the popular favor, and he has since conducted it with increasing popularity and an expanding business, It is a private banking institution, with sufficient capital and flexibility and breadth of spirit and management to meet the requirements of the community, having a liberality in accommodation that makes it a valuable adjunct to every phase of the industrial and commercial life in the midst of which it is conducted. Its security is well established, its methods are modern, its resources good and expansive and its facilities have scope for rapid and accurate work at all times.
In addition to his business activity Mr. ALWARD exhibits a commendable practical interest in the general affairs of the community, giving to its public and social life a due share of his time and attention, and materially aiding by his personal efforts and influence all undertakings for its advancement or the welfare of its people. He is a zealous member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, belonging to Camden Lodge. In all parts of the county he is looked upon as one of the rising men of southern Michigan, elevated and elevating in his citizenship, and worthy of the high esteem in which he is universally held.
submitted by Tracey Morris


Deacon Seth Anderson

From the Portrait & Biographical Album of Hillsdale Co., MI, 1888, p.548.

Deacon Seth ANDERSON, well-known throughout Wright Twp. and vicinity, is a son of one of the earliest settlers of Hudson Twp., Lenawee Co., MI, where he, the father, located in 1837. He purchased a tract of land bordering on Posey Lake and erected a log cabin, in which our subject was born Aug. 19, 1839. He cleared part of the land and lived there three years, then sold out and came to this county, settling on section 10, Pittsford Twp. Here the family resided until 1852 when the father sold out and started a new farm on section 9 where he made his home until his death in Feb. 1862. His wife survived him by only a year, dying at the homestead in 1863.

The parents of our subject, James and Lydia (PRESTON) Anderson, were, respectively, natives of Mass. and Vermont, the latter, a daughter of John Preston, was first married to a Mr. HORTON. James Anderson left his native town of Blandon, Hampden Co., MA, when a young man, making his way first to NY State, where he was married, and from there migrated to the Terr. of Mich. in 1836. The journey was made by team to Buffalo, and thence by lake to Toledo, where they took cars drawn by horses on a railroad from that town to Blissfield. There they spent the winter and in the spring following located in Hudson Twp., as before stated.

The grandfather of our subject, James Anderson, Sr., is supposed to have been, like his son, a native of the Bay State. He was an early settler in NY State whence he migrated subsequently to Mich. and spent his last years in Pittsford. Seth, our subject, was but an infant when his parents located in this county, settling in the wilderness of Pittsford Twp. Wild animals frequently prowled around their cabin home. Indians had but a short time previously left the country. Young Seth was trained to habits of industry, and assisted his father in clearing the farm, continuing under the home roof until his marriage.

This most important event was celebrated on the 29th of June, 1862. The maiden of his choice was Miss Harriet A. BRITTON who was born in Pittsford Twp. Sept. 5, 1842. Her parents, Richard and Ellen (COLLINS) Britton, were natives of Seneca Co., NY, and their household included two sons and five daughters. The girls of the family predominating, they assisted the father to a great extent in the farm work and Harriet was especially active and energetic. She was also an apt scholar and considered fully qualified to teach when 18 years of age. This occupation she followed for a time, and continued to live with her parents until her marriage. Mr. Britton died in 1875. His widow subsequently married Lorenzo BARKMAN and is written of elsewhere in this volume.

Mr. and Mrs. Anderson started out married life in Fulton Co., Ohio, where Mr. A. operated a sawmill for two years. He then returned to this county and purchased the land which he has since occupied. Five acres only were then cleared of trees, the stumps still remaining. His first business was to put up a shelter for his family and, needing hard cash, he was compelled to find employment so he resumed carpentry work, of which he had some knowledge, and followed this trade for several years. In the meantime, he continued to improve his farm land and buildings.

To Mr. and Mrs. Anderson there were born four children, three now living. The eldest, L. Luella, is pursuing her studies in Hillsdale College; she has also taught a number of terms in the county. Oscar J. and Roy R. are bright and intelligent boys aged 17 and 5 years respectively. In politics, Mr. A. is a strong Republican. He and his family are members of the Baptist Church at Hudson, of which he is Deacon and Superintendent of the Sabbath School.

submitted by Katherine Paty, Tempe, AZ
thomkath@earthlink.net


George F. Anderson

From the Portrait & Biographical Album of Hillsdale Co., MI, 1888, p.508.

George F. ANDERSON. One of the most interesting periods in the life of this gentleman, now a resident farmer of Litchfield Twp., was during his connection with the Union Army, in which he made a fine record as a soldier. The remembrance of this is the source of much satifaction to him in that he was permitted to emphasize his patriotic sentiments and assist in the preservation of one of the best governments which the sun ever shone upon. First a member of Co. F, 11th Mich. Light Artillery, he was later transferred to Co. K, 11th Mich. Cavalry. He was all through the Kentucky campaign, assisted in driving the raider Morgan from the soil of Southern Ohio, and traveled through the States of Indiana and Pennsylvania, during which time he received the commission of 2nd Lieutenant, with which rank he was mustered out. Aside from sustaining an injury by the falling of his horse, he returned home unharmed, although unable to labor for some time afterward. In 1864 he was Provost Marshal of the 9th Congressional District of Kentucky.

George F. was born in Scipio, Cayuga Co., NY, Dec. 25, 1836, the son of Alfred and Mary (WORMEN) Anderson. The father was also a native of NY State while the mother was born in Philadelphia, PA. The paternal grandfather served as a soldier in the War of 1812 and was with Andrew Jackson in New Orleans. The parents of our subject, after their marriage, settled in Cayuga Co., NY, whence, in 1842, they removed to Ontario Co. and from there to Monroe Co., locating 12 miles from Rochester. The father purchased a farm and there spent the remainder of his days, dying in 1850 at the age of 50 years. After his death the mother and children moved back to Ontario Co. where she still lives in Farmington and is now arrived at the advanced age of 99 years.

The six sons and three daughters of the paternal family are still living. Of these George F. was the second son and third child. He was five years old when the family first moved to Ontario Co. After the death of his father he hired out for work during the summers and attended school in the winter. The subsequent loss of property sent all the children from home to look out for themselves. George came to this State in about 1852 where he was first employed on a farm and then engaged in putting up lightning rods. He was thus occupied until the outbreak of the Rebellion. In the early part of 1863, while at home on furlough, he was married, in Litchfield Twp., Feb. 15, to Miss Roxana COHOON, who was born in Jonesville, this county, Feb. 7, 1844.

The young couple began life together at a comfortable little home in Litchfield Twp. and in due time became the parents of nine children. The eldest, Frankie, is the wife of E. E. RICHARDSON of Litchfield Twp., and is the mother of one child, a son, Roy. Eddie is farming in Kansas. The others -- Frederick D., Harry, Louie, Flora, Abbie, Walter and Otto -- are at home with their father. The mother died at the family homestead Dec. 29, 1884. She was a lady of many estimable qualities, a devoted wife and mother, and is greatly mourned by her family and a large circle of friends. She was the daughter of Chancy and Ellen (VANDERWATER) Cohoon who were natives of NY State and came to Mich. in 1840. Her paternal grandfather died at his home in Adams Twp. in 1885 when 97 years of age. Mrs. Anderson's parents are still living at their home in Adrian; the father is 64 years old. Their family consisted of two sons and three daughters, Roxana being the second child. She was 19 years old at the time of her marriage.

Our subject's farm comprises 132 acres on section 10, 110 acres of which he purchased with the residence in 1870, having since added to his real estate. Politically, he belongs to the Republican party, and was a charter member of Stewart Post No. 259, G. A. R., at Litchfield, officiating at present as Sergeant Major. As a farmer he has succeeded fairly well, being able to provide a comfortable home for his children, and his farm property is equal to a snug bank account, and better, as it cannot be carried off to Canada by an absconding cashier.

Submitted by Katherine Paty, Tempe, AZ
thomkath@earthlink.net


George F. Armstrong

From the Portrait & Biographical Album of Hillsdale Co., MI, 1888, p.314.

GEORGE ARMSTRONG, a retired manufacturer of boots and shoes, and having his residence in the city of Hillsdale, is in possession of a fine home and a competency. He was born Aug. 12, 1816, in County Fermanngh, Ireland. and when a lad of thirteen years commenced learning the shoemaker's trade, at which he continued five years. Then deciding to seek his fortune in the New World, he embarked on a sailing-vessel bound from Londonderry, Ireland, to Quebec, Canada, and which, when off the coast of Newfoundland, was wrecked by colliding with another vessel, but which, although greatly disabled, succeeded in making port.

From the Dominion young Armstrong crossed over into the States, taking up his residence first in Waddington, N. Y., and thence drifting westward to Wisconsin. He, however, not long afterward returned to the Empire State, where he employed himself at his trade in the cities of New York and Brooklyn, until in April, 1845. At this time he set his face westward once more, and coming to Southern Michigan, engaged with the firm of Charles Boove, in Hillsdale, with whom he remained one summer. In the fall he put up the business house on wlhat is now Howell street, cutting away the brush before building. In this structure he carried on his business and also lived for a period of seventeen years. Mr. Armstrong now decided upon a change of occupation, and removed to the farm which he had previously purchased in Cambria Township, but fifteen months later returned to Hillsdale, where he has since lived somewhat retired.

Mr. Armstrong was married, in November, 1845, to Miss Martha Nares, of Brooklyn, N. Y., and who is the daughter of Jerry Nares, who was a native of New York. Mrs. Armstrong was born in 1826, in New York, and by her union with our subject became the mother of five children, two of whom died in early childhood. Jane E., the eldest daughter living, is the wife of C. W. Hicks, who is carrying on an insurance business in Council Bluffs, Iowa; Anna R. is the wife of E. W. Marsh, of Ludington, this State; George A. is a resident of Des Moines, Iowa, where he operates as general agent of the State for the underwriters of New York City.

Mr. Armstrong is rather conservative in his political views, but usually votes the Democratic ticket. He cast his first Presidential vote for Martin Van Buren, and like every true disciple of the Democracy warmly endorses the course of President Cleveland.
Contributed 2009 by Pat McArthur


John W. ASH

Compendium of History and Biography of Hillsdale County Michigan_ Elon G. Reynolds, ed Chicago: AW Bowen & Co Part First - Hillsdale County Michigan Fully Historical 1903-page 116

John W. ASH, was born in Lenawee County, Michigan in 1845. He is the brother of Peleg ASH and son of John ASH and Esther HAVILAND ASH.
The family came to Hillsdale County in 1852.
John married Miss Cordelia J. DECKER in 1869, a sister to his brother's wife, Ellen C. DECKER, and daughter of Hiram DECKER and Harriet LOOMIS DECKER.
John and Cordelia had three children:
* Harriet E. ASH, wife of W. M. MORGAN
* Lottie M. ASH, wife of B.L. SNYDER
* William L. ASH.
John has a half-interest in the family farm, belongs to the Jefferson Grange and is a Freemason.
Contributed by Tracey Morris


Peleg ASH

Compendium of History and Biography of Hillsdale County Michigan_ Elon G. Reynolds, ed Chicago: AW Bowen & Co Part First - Hillsdale County Michigan Fully Historical 1903-page 115-16

Peleg ASH
Born: 30 Sep 1843 - Lenawee Co MI
Parents: John ASH ( of England - d. Dec 1852) & Esther HAVILAND (father Peleg HAVILAND of NY, she d. 5 Dec 1902)
Married: 1863 - Ellen C DECKER (daughter of Hiram DECKER and Harriet LOOMIS)
Died: after 1903 ?
Children: John H, James L and Alwilda B (m. E.H. RAYMOND)
Other Info: Father came from England to Quebec, then to Hillsdale in 1852. Esther remarried Thomas PARTRIDGE, then William BRYANT. She was also a Quaker. Peleg's grandfather was killed in a coal mine in England.
Contributed by Tracey Morris


John ASHWORTH

From the Portrait & Biographical Album of Hillsdale Co., MI, 1888, p.294.

John ASHWORTH, an old settler of this county, residing on section 4 in Amboy Twp., was born in Genesee Co., NY, March 20, 1831. His parents, Thomas and Sarah (GOWFORTH) ASHWORTH, were natives of Yorkshire, England, and after emigrating to the U.S., located in Franklin Co., NY, whence they came to Mich. in 1837 when John was six years of age.
At that time Michigan was just transformed from a territory into a state and was a comparative wilderness. The parents first settled on a tract of wild land near the present site of the city of Hillsdale. The father secured 40 acres from the Government. Indians, deer and wild turkeys roamed freely across the countryside. The father cleared the land and labored in that locality until 1848 and then, coming to Amboy Twp., settled upon the land which is now the homestead of our subject. This area was also in an undeveloped condition. The entire family, father, mother and children, put their shoulders to the wheel and in the course of a few years realized the gratifying results of their labor.
Thomas ASHWORTH rested from his earthly toils on July 5, 1868. The mother, now in the 88th year of her age, having been born in 1801, is still living and makes her home with her son John. She has been a bright example of the pioneer wife and mother. She looked well to the ways of her household, which in due time numbered seven children, of whom but five are now living: Mary is the wife of John BENTON of Lansing; Jane, Mrs. Nichols LUTHER, resides in Toledo, OH; Betsy married David ROBINSON, a farmer in Woodbridge Twp., this county; Elmira, the wife of Erastus COBLEY of Jackson, MI, and our subject.
John Ashworth was reared amid the wild scenes of pioneer life. He was early in life taught to make himself useful around the homestead and, although receiving a limited amount of school instruction, gained much by his habits of reading and observation. He was married rather late in life, when past 32 years, May 22, 1863, to Miss Mary JACKSON, who was born in Lincolnshire, England, July 7, 1844.
Her parents, Joseph and Judith (ASHWORTH) JACKSON were also of English birth and ancestry. They came to this country when Mary was nine years old and settled among the pioneers of Montgomery Co., OH, where they spent the remainder of their days. Of their large family seven survive. They are Charlotte, wife of John DICKENSHEETS living in New London, OH and Harriet, now Mrs. HICKMAN of Michigan City, Indiana. The rest: Lizzie; Mary; Sarah, wife of Charles LEWIS; Ellen, wife of Frank STEVENS, and John W. are all residents of Dayton, OH.
Mr. ASHWORTH, our subject, has lived on his present farm since a youth of 18 years, and became possessor of it in 1858. Politically he is independent and has served as Director in his school district and as Constable.
He and Mrs. ASHWORTH have two children, George W., born Aug. 1, 1864, and Ida M., born Mar. 20, 1868. George married Miss Cora SALMON and lives in Amboy Twp.; Ida continues a member of the parental household.
Contributed by Tracey Morris


Taylor M. AVERY

Portrait & Biographical Album of Hillsdale County Michigan 1888, Chapman Bros. p 301
[NOTE: The following is an extract of the original sketch]

Taylor M. AVERY was b. 5/29/1815 in Brownville Twp., Jefferson Co., NY. His parents were Frederick and Persis (BRACE) AVERY.
Both were natives of Conn. Their children were: Charles B., Isaac, Polly, Nancy, Richardson, Taylor M., Harlow and Fredericka. Both died in Jefferson Co., NY, Persis in 1824 and Frederick in about 1853, aged 72 or 73.
Taylor M. was marr. on 5/30/1843 to Laura LOOMIS. Laura was b. 4/5/1821 in Herkimer Co., NY, the dau of Stephen B. and Katie (BORT) LOOMIS, both natives of Herkimer Co. Stephen B. died in 1870 in Jefferson Co., NY; Katie was still living there in 1888.
They had ten children: Laura, Fayette, John, Stephen, Alvira, Delia, Charlotte, Warren, Frank and William, who died young.
Taylor and Laura were marr. in Jefferson Co., NY and farmed there until the spring of 1857 when they moved to Hillsdale Twp., where they built up a farm on part of section 28. They had two children: Minnie P., who died at the age of 17, and Frank L., who married Ida HOWARD, and lived in Hillsdale.
Contributed by Tracey Morris

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