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.

Samuel H. Oaks * Owen O'Hanlon * James Olds * Hon. J. M. Osborn(1) * Hon. John M. Osborn(2) * John. C. Osborn

Samuel H. OAKS

From the Portrait & Biographical Album of Hillsdale Co., 1888, p.282

Samuel H. OAKS, proprietor of 200 acres of valuable land on section 22, Wheatland Twp., is a native of Wayne Co., NY, where he was born in the modest homestead of his parents in Rose Twp., Sept. 15, 1829. The latter were Charles G. and Sally S. (HILLS) OAKS, natives respectively, of VT and NY. The father was born in Concord, Caledonia Co., VT, Jan. 12, 1802, and the mother in Rensselaer Co., NY, Aug. 26, 1804. Charles OAKS followed farming all his life and died at his home in Rose Valley, Wayne Co., NY, in the 82nd year of his age. The mother, still living, makes her home with a daughter there.
The subject of our sketch was one of seven children, four of whom are living, three sons and one daughter. One brother, Seth A., is a resident of Waupaca Co., WI, engaged in merchandising and farming. Charles G., Jr., is in the lumber business in Wayne Co., NY.
Samuel H. left the farm when 22 years of age and began working in the cooper shop of his father. On Dec. 26, 1850, he was married to Miss Esther HUMPHREY who was born Aug. 14, 1830, in Dutchess Co., NY. Her parents were Henry and Tamar (WELCH) HUMPHREY, both also natives of the Empire State whence they moved westward and died some years ago, the father in Wheatland Twp., this county, and the mother in Tecumseh, Lenawee Co., on Feb. 27, 1887. Mr. HUMPHREY was a blacksmith by trade, The parental family included seven children, five now living, two died young.
Mr. and Mrs OAKS commenced their married life in Rose, Wayne Co., NY, where Samuel owned a small piece of land and where he followed the cooper's trade for two years. The family then set out for Michigan where Mr. OAKS purchased 40 acres of partly improved land in Wheatland Twp. Through industry and economy he found himself able to invest in additional land which he brought to a good state of cultivation. The homestead bears fair comparison with those of the thrifty and enterprising families about them.
There are three children in the family. Elizabeth, born Dec. 12, 1851, in Wayne Co., NY, is now the wife of Corwin COX, the son of Robert COX (see sketch on p.657); they have two sons and one daughter. Charles H. was born Oct. 16, 1853, also in Wayne Co., and married Miss Ida M. FOWLER; they have a daughter and a son. George S., born Dec. 10, 1856, in Wheatland Twp., married Muss Jennie VOORHEES of Wheatland and they have a bright little girl. The sons are engaged in agricultural pursuits, and before starting out for themselves, assisted their father greatly in building up the homestead. Mr. Oaks uniformly votes the Republican ticket and is a strong advocate of temperance. He and his estimable wife regularly attend the Baptist Church but are liberal in their religious views and not confined to any particular denomination.

Owen O'HANLON (1852 - after 1903)

Compendium of History and Biography of Hillsdale County Michigan. Elon G. Reynolds, editor. Chicago: AW Bowen & Co 2 Parts - Fully Historical (1903) and Largely Biographical (1903)- page 176

On the farm on which he now lives in Allen township, the life of Owen O'HANLON began on December 17, 1852, and, on that farm, the whole of it so far has been passed. His parents were Thomas and Jane (SHANNON) O'HANLON, natives of New York state, of Irish ancestry. The father was born in Elmira and the mother at Baldwinsville, He came to this county to live in 1841, and purchased eighty acres of land in section 36, in Allen township, and afterward purchased forty acres more. In course of time, he bought another farm in the county.
On February 4, 1847, his first marriage occurred and secured for him a faithful and energetic helpmeet. Their land was all wild land which had never felt the hand of cultivation, presenting all the exacting conditions of the unbroken frontier and requiring all the strenuous efforts involved in those conditions for its subjugation and proper tillage. They gradually cleared it up, and, before death ended their useful work, they had made it over into productive and attractive farms, fruitful with all the products of advanced husbandry and fragrant with the flowers of cultivated life. The mother died in 1863 and the father in 1897, at the age of seventy-nine.
On April 4, 1867, he married a second time, being united in this wedding with Miss Eliza A. CROCKER, who died in 1879. There were four children in the family, three of whom reached years of maturity, the son, Owen, and two daughters, all of whom are living, residents of this county.
The father was a man of local prominence, much esteemed for his uprightness of life and his wisdom in reference to public affairs. He acceptably served seven years as township supervisor and was a valued member of the Reading Lodge of Masons. The grandfather was Owen O'HANLON, a native of Ireland, belonging to a family long resident in the Emerald Isle and connected in a leading way with its turbulence in times of war and its progress and social elevation in times of peace. He was a cooper by trade, and also a farmer, and held a high place in the regard of his American countrymen for his mechanical skill, his excellent character and his abundance of knowledge in various lines of thought and industry. He died in 1860 at Horseheads, New York, where much of his mature life was passed. Five sons survived him, two of whom are still living, one in this county and one in New York.
His grandson, Owen O'HANLON, the subject of this review, grew to man's estate on the paternal homestead and was educated in the district schools of the neighborhood. As soon as he left school he took a vigorous hold on the farming enterprise and has been connected with it ever since. The improvements begun by his parents have been continued and enlarged in scope by himself, the farm being the product of their joint efforts and creditable alike to the genius and the skill of both.
Mr. O'HANLON married in 1880 Miss Eugene ORR, a daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (FRICK) ORR, early emigrants from, first Vermont, and, second, Indiana, to this county. Her father died in Reading township in 1887, where her mother is still living. Mr. and Mrs. O'HANLON have one child, their son, Hugh, who is attending school at Hillsdale.
In politics, Mr. O'HANLON, like his father and his grandfather, has been a lifelong Democrat, and, like them, he has taken an active interest in public affairs. He served as supervisor of the township in 1893, and, in 1902, was the candidate of his party for clerk of the county, but was unable, notwithstanding his personal popularity, to overcome the large adverse majority of the county. He is well-esteemed as a wise and safe counselor and a citizen of public spirit andd progressive ideas. He was elected supervisor in the spring of 1903, and is now serving in that responsible office.

James OLDS

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 52.

James Olds was an early settler. His wife and Mrs. Lois JONES were sisters and that fact decided the family to locate here.
They reached Jonesville [Michigan] on 13 Oct 1830 and their first location included a portion of the present village. He bought for his first home the log house Mr. JONES first put up in the town. He was the first register of deeds of Hillsdale County.

Hon. J. M. OSBORN ( 1819-1893)

Compendium of History and Biography of Hillsdale County Michigan. Elon G. Reynolds, editor. Chicago: AW Bowen & Co 2 Parts - Fully Historical (1903) and Largely Biographical (1903) - pages 176-78

Nearly ten years have passed since, on December 9, 1893, death ended the useful labors of Hon. John M. OSBORN, of Pittsford township of this county, and, in that time, his reputation for integrity and force of character, fine business capacity, uprightness of life and for all the graces of an elevated manhood has grown and strengthened.
He was born at Perrinton, Monroe county. New York, on March 9, 1819, the son of John and Mercy-Ann (SWIFT-EATON) OSBORN, the scion of an excellent old English family, members of which settled in this country in Colonial days.
His paternal great-grandfather remained loyal to the Crown during our Revolutionary struggle and at its close returned to England. At his death, tradition reports. his estate was confiscated, because the heirs were all citizens of the new republic on this side of the Atlantic. His son was a native of New England, where he married, and where his son, John, father of John M. OSBORN, was born and reared. After leaving school he learned the trade of cabinetmaking and subsequently that of carpenter and joiner.
When the War of 1812 began, he promptly joined the army in his country's defense, and was in the force that crossed the Niagara River at the storming Queenstown Heights, and, after a severe engagement, at great odds against them. for want of support and by reason of the British receiving reinforcements, they were ordered to lay down their arms, which they did by throwing them as far as they could into the river. Mr. Osborn was soon after paroled, but to the end of the War, he quietly did service to his country in aiding the transportation of supplies to the troops on duty.
After the war was over he settled at Perrinton, New York, as one of the earliest pioneers of the section, resumed work at his trade of carpenter and joiner, and, at one time, took a contract for excavation work on the Erie canal, which was then in building.
In 1838 he visited this state and bought a tract of land in Pittsford Township. Hillsdale county, and, in 1840, became a resident of the county, locating at Lanesville, as Hudson was then called, and there worked at his trade, in the fall of that year bringing his family to his new home. He continued work his at trade until 1847, when his son, John M. OSBORN traded a residence which he owned in the village, for eighty acres of farming land in the township, which thereafter was a part of the family homestead, and here the parents died. They had three children, Eliza Ann, who died at the age of six years John M., and Delora O., the recently deceased wife of William BAKER.
John M. OSBORN attended the public schools near his home until he was about fourteen years old, then began to earn his own living by working on a farm at six dollars a month, except during the winter months, when he was able to still attend school, although irregularly. As time passed. and his usefulness increased, his wages were increased until they reached the munificent sum of thirteen dollars a month when he was sixteen. He was a great and reflective reader and utilized his spare time on the farm in improving his education, gaining a cumulative knowledge of business principles and keeping posted on current events.
When he was nineteen he began teaching school at Fairport, New York., two years later becoming a resident of this state and continuing this occupation at Hudson. His first school here was opened in the back room of a grocery, but, before the term had closed, a schoolhouse was built and occupied. Mr. Osborn remained in that section of the county for several years, teaching in the winter and working on the construction of the Michigan Southern Railroad in the summer, actively assisting the civil engineer in establishing the grade, estimating the quantity and the value of the excavating work, the amount and the cost of the material, and the worth of special labor. He subsequently worked as a laborer in constructing and. later, in keeping in repair, the section of the road near which he lived. At other times he was engaged in the cultivation of the soil, farming until 1840.
In that year he formed a partnership association with William BAKER and started a merchandising business under the name of J. M. OSBORN & Co., they trading goods for every kind of farm produce, and he continued in this enterprise with some change of partners until 1851. For seven years following that date he bought and shipped black walnut lumber to eastern markets. In 1858 he opened a drygoods store in partnership with S. A. EATON, as Osborn & Eaton. and they conducted a flourishing business until 1863, when they closed the partnership by selling out. Mr. OSBORN afterward conducted a similar business alone for three years and during this period death robbed him of both parents and his wife.
A little later, yielding to strong importunity, he formed a partnership with Moses PERKINS, and, as Osborn, Perkins & Co., they organized a bank at Hudson, which was carried on under the personal supervision of Mr. Osborn until he retired from the firm. The institution is now conducted by Thompson Bros. and is in a flourishing condition In 1883 Mr. OSBORN was chosen to manage the affairs of the Hudson woodenware manufactory, and, by his judicious management, he made the enterprise a paying one, which it had never been before.
In early life he was a Democrat in politics; but his opposition to slavery made him a Free-Soiler when that party was organized, and later he became a Republican. Mr. OSBORN was honored with almost every office in its gift, and, in 1869, and again in 1871, he was elected to the legislature. In 1875 he was chosen to represent his county in the State Senate, in that body enlarging the usefulness he had shown and the reputation that he had won as an active and far-seeing lawmaker in the lower house. He always took a sagacious interest in all national affairs, and, although never seeking a Federal office, he was appointed a U. S. inspector of wagons by President Garfield, in this position, as in all others, rendering efficient and valuable service.
In business, in political affairs and in public life, Mr. Osborn always kept prominently in view the advancement and development of the community in which he lived. He was potential in inaugurating and pushing to a successful completion the construction of the Cincinnati, Jackson & Michigan Railroad, which runs through Hudson and was completed in 1887. He subscribed liberally to the stock of this enterprise and, in every way, gave it his most zealous and helpful support.
In fraternal circles he was an enthusiastic Freemason, belonging to lodge, chapter and commandery, ascending thirty-two rounds of the mystic ladder of the Scottish Rite, and ninety-six of that of the rite of Memphis. In religious affiliation he belonged to the Methodist Episcopal church.
Mr. OSBORN was married three times. His first marriage was in 1851, with Miss Elizabeth DANIELS, a native of Wayne county, Michigan, who was his companion for fifteen years, dying in 1866.
On April 5, 1870, he married with his second wife, Mrs. Harriet A. (WHITE) ROBINSON, of Jacksonville, Tompkins county, New York, who was born on May 28, 1832, the daughter of Rev. William and Prudent (WICKES) WHITE, of that state. Her father was of Quaker parentage, but became a Baptist minister, and, for many years, he was actively engaged in preaching in New York and Ohio. In 1852 he settled in Hillsdale county on a farm he purchased in Wright township, which he sold after a few years' residence on it, and bought another in Linden township, Genesee county, where he passed the remainder of his days, dying in old age. His widow survived him several years, passing away in 1889, at the home of her son at Linden in that county.
His third marriage occurred on October 3, 1891, with Sarah TUCKER, a native of Meridian, Cayuga Co., New York, a daughter of William and Anna (O'CONNOR) TUCKER, natives of Limerick, Ireland, where they were reared and married, soon after that event coming to America, settling at Meridian as farmers. They lived there until their deaths in the later sixties. Mrs. Sarah OSBORN was reared and educated in New York and came to Michigan in 1878.

Hon. John M. OSBORN

Portrait and Biographical Album of Hillsdale Co. Mich Chicago: Chapman Brothers 1888 pgs 255-256

Hon. John M. OSBORN was born in Perrinton, Monroe Co., N.Y., March 9, 1819, and is the scion of an excellent old family which came to this country from England during the Colonial days. His paternal great-grand-father was loyal to the Crown during the Revolu-tionary War and afterward returned to England. Tradition reports that his estate was confiscated as the result of Colonial success and the absence of claimants.
The paternal grandfather of our subject was, it is supposed, a native of Connecticut, where he was married and where his son John, the father of our subject, was born. The latter was quite young at the time of his father's decease, and soon afterward became a member of the family of one Mr. KELLOGG of Eastern New York, with whom he lived until able to support himself.
John OSBORN, the father, learned the trade of cabinet-maker and subsequently that of carpenter and joiner. Upon the outbreak of the War of 1812, he enlisted, and was among those who crossed the river at the storming of Queenston Heights.
After a severe engagement, for want of support and being confronted by British reinforcements, the Federals were ordered by the officer in command to lay down their arms, which they did by throwing them with their utmost strength into the Niagara River. John OSBORN was soon afterward paroled, but did service quietly in aiding the transportation of supplies for soldiers on duty during the war. After peace was declared he settled in Perrinton, N.Y., among its earliest pioneers.
The father of our subject now resumed his trade as carpenter and joiner, and at one time took a contract for excavation on the Erie Canal, then in process of construction. In 1838 he visited Michigan Territory, and purchased a tract of land on section 17 in Pittsford Township, this county. He then returned to New York State, where he remained a resident until 1840, then made his way westward again and worked at his trade in the village of Lanesville, as the present Hudson was then called.
In the fall of that year he went back East, and on the 20th of October started with his family for their new home in Michigan. They proceeded via the Erie Canal to Buffalo, and thence by lake to Toledo, where they took cars for Adrian on the Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad. The remainder of their journey was made by team.
Mr. John OSBORN located in the village of Hudson and followed his trade until 1847, when an exchange was made of a residence which John M. had obtained in Hudson, for eighty acres of the land in Pittsford, the place which his son, our subject, now occupies.
He followed his trade but little after this removal, but gave most of his attention to the improvement of the home, which by the joint efforts of father and son, was transformed into a most desirable piece of property, both attractive and valuable. Here the father resided until his death, which occurred April 28, 1867.
His wife, formerly Mrs. Mercy Ann EATON, was a native of Duanesburg, N. Y., and there were born to them three children: Eliza Ann, who lived to be only about six years of age; John M., the subject of this sketch, and Debra O., who is now Mrs. William BAKER. As the birthdays of the two latter occur on the same day of the same month, namely, March 9, they since 1821 have always visited together on its recurrence and usually with some extra "lay out" befitting the occasion.
Our subject acquired his education in the common schools and mainly prior to fourteen years of age, after which time he commenced to earn his own living, working on a farm at $6 per month, with the exception of the winter season, during which he continued his studies at school. That early experience which taught him self-reliance, proved of inestimable value in after years.
As time progressed and his usefulness increased, his wages as a farm hand were raised, and when sixteen years old he commanded $l3 per month. All this time he had not suffered his mind to rust, but had availed himself of every opportunity to peruse instructive books, acquire a knowledge of business principles, and keep himself posted upon current events.
When nineteen years old he commenced teaching school near Fairport, N.Y., and two years later found him a resident of the new State of Michigan and a teacher in the young town of Hudson. He first presided over one of the pioneer schools which was located on the east side of the river. The session was commenced in the rear part of a building, the front of which was utilized as a grocery. In the meantime a schoolhouse was in process of construction and the term was finished in the new building.
Young OSBORN followed teaching in the winter season several terms in that locality, and during the summer seasons worked first on the Michigan Southern Railroad, then operated by the State, and in process of construction from Monroe, Mich., westerly across the State. As the result of his reading and study, he proved an efficient assistant to the civil engineer who was establishing and perfecting the grade, estimating quantity and value of excavation of embankment, also for material furnished, or for special labor done. Mr. O. subsequently aided as laborer in construction, and afterward in keeping the road in repair in the locality.
When not thus employed he confined himself to general farm work until 1846. During that year, in company with William BAKER, he engaged in mercantile business, the firm name being J. M. Osborn & Co. Their stock consisted of almost everything required in the household and about the farm, which they parted from in exchange for all kinds of farm produce, termed "dicker", which had a broad meaning in those early days of pioneer life.
Mr. OSBORN continued merchandising with some change of partners until 1851, and for seven years was engaged in buying and shipping black walnut lumber eastward. In 1858 he opened up as a dry-goods dealer in company with Mr. S. A. EATON, under the firm name of Osborn & Eaton, and they conducted business successfully until 1863; they then sold out, dissolving the copartnership. Subsequently Mr. OSBORN engaged in a like enterprise three years, during which time occurred the death of the mother, wife and father. All this tended to lessen temporarily his life of activity.
Finally, being strongly importuned. Mr. OSBORN lent his aid in organizing a private bank under the firm name of Osborn, Perkins & Co., and which for several years was conducted under the personal supervision of the senior partner, and continued until his retirement from the firm. The institution is now perpetuated by Thompson Bros.
About 1883 Mr. Osborn was a member of the company which purchased the Hudson Woodenware Manufactory, which up to this time had never been a success. He was chosen to conduct the business, and under his judicious management the enterprise became a paying institution. His business capabilities and his growing experience were now contributing to make of him one of the leading men in mercantile circles, and his cool and temperate judgment in all his dealings seldom led him to do anything in haste or that which was unadvisable.
Mr. OSBORN was a Democrat, politically, in his early manhood, and until the Free-Soil movement, but as he was conscientiously opposed to slavery, he identified himself with the Republican party at its organization. He has always taken a lively interest in National affairs, and in his township has been honored with the various offices within the gift of his fellow-citizens.
He was Clerk of Hudson Township in early years, and represented Pittsford Township in the County Board of Supervisors three terms. In 1869 he was elected a member of the Michigan Legislature, and succeeded himself in 1871. In 1875 he, was selected to represent his county as State Senator, and thus has come honestly by his title of Honorable. Among the social orders he is an afilliant with the Masons, and has knowledge of the Blue Lodge, Chapter and Commandery degrees also of thirty-two degrees of Scottish Rite Masonry, and ninety-six degrees of Rite of Memphis. He claims to general Christian theology, and favors the Methodist Episcopal Church.


Portrait and Biographical Album of Hillsdale Co. Mich Chicago: Chapman Brothers 1888 pg 479-480

John. C. OSBORN, a representative farmer of Hillsdale County, is located on section 23, Hillsdale Township, where, in addition to what is included in the term general farm-ing, he devotes special attention to stock-raising, in which industry, as indeed in all his ventures, he has been successful.
The subject of this notice was born in Adrian, Lenawee County, Oct. 4, 1836, and is the son of James and Abigail (CRANE) OSBORN, natives respectively of Dutchess County, N.Y., and Elizabethtown, N.J. The father was born in 1812, and died in Adrian, Lenawee County, April 14, 1883. He was a farmer by occupation, and in religion was a supporter of the Universalist Church. He was a man in whom the strength of character and sterling qualities which appear to have been hereditary among the settlers of the Empire State were not lost, and brought his life work as an agriculturist to a successful issue, leaving to his de-scendants a competency.
The mother of our subject was born in 1822, and died in 1856. She was a member in good standing of the Baptist Church, and ably seconded her husband's efforts in providing for the wants and education of their family of nine children.
John C. OSBORN was the second child in order of birth in the parental family. and while being reared to farm pursuits, received the rudiments of an edu-cation in the district school, which he afterward materially broadened by an attendance of three winters at the High School in Tecumseh. Free from the cares and anxieties attending a more stimulating life, he grew up to a rugged manhood, and passed his life uneventfully until 1860, when he resolved to go out into the world and engage in the battle of life for himself.
Accordingly he embarked for San Francisco, going by way of the Isthmus of Panama, and reaching Sacramento in safety, he engaged in farm labor for Dr. MANLOVE, with whom he remained thus employed six months. He then proceeded to Lake Tahoe, where he spent one month engaged in baling hay, and then removed to Virginia City, Nev. At the end of two months he returned to Sacramento, and engaged on a farm in sowing wheat, and subsequently in teaming on the Sierra Nevadas.
While on the Pacific Coast, the appeal for troops to aid in defense of the Union was heard throughout the land, and young OSBORN, inspired by the patriotic feelings which characterized his ancestors, was not slow in responding to the call. Oct.18, 1862, he enlisted in Company D, 3d California Regulars, and engaged in drill in Sacramento, after which he was sent overland to Salt Lake with a view to protecting emigration, and the mails in transfer. He remained there eighteen months, and was then ordered to Denver. Col., where he did provost duty six months, at the expiration of which time he was mustered out of the service, and re-turned to his home in 1865. He purchased eighty acres of land, and resumed the work of his early life.
Having now reached a condition of life in which he could safely assume the responsibilities of a family, and finding that it is not good for man to be alone, Mr. OSBORN took unto himself a wife in the person of Mrs. Mary (CLEMENS) KNAPP who is a native of New York, and was born in 1837. Of her union with Mr. KNAPP there was born one child, Phebe A.. who became the wife of Cyrenus H. WHITE, Aug. 18, 1874. Mr. KNAPP enlisted in the Union army, and lost his life in the service of his country. Mr. and Mrs. White have been blessed by the birth of four children: Charles R., who died at the age of two months; Lulu B., Mary E. and Ethel N. Mr. OSBORN and wife were married Sept. 5, 1867.
The extensive travels of our subject, and the con-siderable experience thus acquired, together with his close habits of observation, have combined to make him a well-informed, practical man, while his sterling qualities place him high in the esteem and confidence of his fellow-townsmen, who in testimony of their appreciation of his interest in the public welfare, have appointed him to the various office within their gift. Politically, he is a straight Republican, and loses no opportunity of emphasizing his views by supporting his party at the polls. Socially, he is a member of the I. O.O. F., Tecumseh Lodge No. 14. Mr. OSBORN is not a member of any church organization, but his wife is identified with the Baptist Church, and is a woman of strong character and amiable disposition.

Submitted by former MIGenWeb Hillsdale County Coordinator, Tracey Morris

This information is made available to the public for non-commercial purposes.


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