History of

From History of Ingham and Eaton Counties, Michigan
by Samuel W. Durant
Published 1880 by D.W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia


The first white settler within the limits of Wheatfield township, as conceded by every one, was David GORSLINE, who entered land on the northeast quarter of section 34, on the fifteenth day of June, 1836, and settled with his family in October of the same year.

The GORSLINE family was originally from France. His mother was descended from a Holland family. His father, Richard GORSLINE, was a resident of Newtown, L.I., at the time of David's birth, which occurred May 3, 1802. He soon after removed to New York City, and when the war of 1812 broke out enlisted in the army, and was killed at the battle of Queenstown, Upper Canada, on the same day that the British Gen. Brock fell and Gen. Winfield Scott was taken prisoner. His wife remained in New York City until her death, in March, 1848.

About the time his father entered the army David went to live with an uncle, where he remained about six years. In 1818 he commenced working by the month, and continued until he was married. His marriage to Miss Clarissa WORDEN, daughter of Pardon WORDEN, of Orange Co., N.Y., occurred Jan. 8, 1824, and the ceremony took place in the town of Liberty, Sullivan Co., N.Y. The young couple lived in Sullivan County for about two years,
when they removed, in 1826, to Niagara County, where they made their home until 1836, when they settled in Ingham Co., Mich., before any township, excepting Stockbridge, had been organized in the county. Mr. GORSLINE cleared up and improved his farm, and continued to reside upon it until 1872, when he moved to Williamston village, and in 1874 settled where he now lives, in the hamlet in Leroy township, which has been variously known as "Phelpstown," "Shacksboro," and "Podunk." He sold his old homestead about 1872, to W. and D. RAYMOND.

Mr. GORSLINE states a curious fact, which is also corroborated by Gardner FLETCHER and George BEEMAN, that the township of Wheatfield has never had a store, tavern, church, saloon, or practicing physician located within its borders. Mr. GORSLINE, and probably other farmers, kept travelers occasionally, but not regular taverns; and Joseph WHITCOMB was accustomed to prescribe in mild cases of sickness in a manner akin to the botanical practice of medicine; but he had no medical education, taking it up, as the Yankee would say, "in his own head."

Mr. GORSLINE and his family experienced many hardships, passing the following winter in a rude log cabin, with no neighbors within a radius of six miles. The next settlers after Mr. GORSLINE in Wheatfield were Daniel and Jacob COUNTRYMAN, who settled, in the spring of 1837, on section 13. Ephraim MEECH came with the COUNTRYMANs, but settled on section 18, in Leroy township. Daniel COUNTRYMAN died some years later, and his widow has been since twice married.

In November, 1837, William DROWN located in the neighborhood, and Mr. GORSLINE, assisted by Randolph WHIPPLE and William CARR, of Ingham township, rolled up a log house for the new-comer. Just thirty years from that day those three men with Mr. DROWN met at the house of Harvey HAMMOND, had a pioneer supper, and talked over the scenes that transpired when their hairs were less gray.

The first death in the town was that of an infant child of William and Betsey HAMMOND. They came from Niagara Co., N.Y., in the fall of 1839, and settled on section 2, Wheatfield. In the fall of 1840 their first-born, after a short existence, sickened and died. Medical assistance was almost out of the question, as the nearest physician was about twenty miles distant, and most of the way through a trackless wilderness. Settlers were so remote from each other that but one or two, living some six miles distant, came in and assisted the afflicted family in the hour of their trouble. The occupation of the undertaker was unknown in that vicinity, this being the first visit of the angel of death among us. J.M. WILLIAMS, of an adjoining town, having a few joiner tools, and some experience in using the same, manufactured for them a coffin,- the first one required in the four northeast corner towns of Ingham County. With the assistance of Mrs. Elijah HAMMOND, a relative of the afflicted family, they laid the little one in its narrow bed.  The day of the funeral was clear and calm; not a breath of air moved the leaves of that almost unbroken forest in which the newly erected cabin of Mr. HAMMOND stood. The funeral at that lone house, though few attended, was a really sad one. An old gentleman by the name of Sidney KING, who settled on section 23 (northeast quarter) about 1839, with a spade upon his shoulder, headed the lonely procession; next came Mr. WILLIAMS with the coffin containing the remains of the departed child under his arm, then came Mr. and Mrs. HAMMOND; lastly, Mrs. Elijah HAMMOND, a relative of the mourners: these five constituted the first funeral procession in the township of Wheatfield. Mrs. HAMMOND being in feeble health, the sad procession slowly wound its way along the stumps, logs, and brush of the newly chopped fallow to a little knoll on the north end of the farm. There the two men hollowed a little grave, lowered the coffin into it, strewed some dried leaves of the forest over it, and heaped the newly-dug earth upon its lid. Mr. KING, in the brief, fervent way of a backwoodsman, offered up to the throne of grace a few appropriate words- though not altogether refined, mingled, as they were, with the half-subdued sobs of a grief-stricken mother- in the stillness of that day, under the shade of those grand forest trees, and the occasion will long be remembered by those few who bore witness to that sad ceremony.

William HAMMOND settled on section 2, in the fall of 1838. His widow still lives in the township, on section 11.

The two elder WILLIAMS brothers, O.B. and J.M., from Genesee Co., N.Y., settled on section 11, about 1838, from which they removed to section 13, where their father,Oswell WILLIAMS, had entered land July 11, 1836. From this last location they removed to the site of Williamston village in 1840.

Elias and Jeremiah KENT,
brothers, settled on the southeast quarter of section 20, about 1840. Jeremiah and wife remained until their deaths, but Elias sold and removed to Williamstown.

another early settler, is a native of Vermont, having been born in the township of Berkshire, Franklin Co., in 1816, commonly known as the "cold season." His father, John FLETCHER, removed to the town of Seguin Sabrevois, County Rouville, (now in Iberville County), Lower Canada, now Province of Quebec, when he was two years old, in April, 1818, where he remained for a period of seventeen years. He removed to Ann Arbor, Washtenaw Co., Mich., in 1835, and from there to the northwest quarter of section 4, in Ingham township and county, in 1840, where he resided until his death, August 17, 1843.

Gardner FLETCHER came with his father to Michigan, and to Ingham County. In the spring of 1840 he purchased eighty acres on the northeast quarter of section 29, Wheatfield township, then a part of Brutus. Previously he had bought of his father fifty-eight acres, but after a short time sold it to Stephen CURTIS, and purchased on section 29. His father purchased in all 320 acres in Ingham township.

In the fall of 1840 Mr. FLETCHER commenced chopping on his new purchase. He was then an unmarried man, and worked more or less at his trade (that of carpenter and joiner) in various places. In 1841 he built a log house on his land and kept "bachelor's hall" a number of months. In May, 1842, he rented his house to a family from Ann Arbor. The new-comer had a brother, and the three men cleared about thirty acres and sowed it with wheat. On the 23d of March, 1843, Mr. FLETCHER married Miss Pamelia PUTMAN, a sister of Daniel PUTMAN, now residing on section 14. He immediately settled upon his land, and remained there until the spring of 1846, when he exchanged it for eighty acres, where he now resides, on section 28. He made the trade with Jerome LOOMIS, who paid him a considerable sum a boot money.

On the new place there were about two acres of timber cut down, but none cleared, and there was no house on the premises. The spring and summer of 1846 Mr. FLETCHER spent prospecting the mining region on Keweenaw Point, Lake Superior. In March, 1847, he settled permanently on his land in Wheatfield, having built a log cabin previously on the ground where now stands his present dwelling. In this log dwelling he resided for a period of seven years, when he erected an improved log house on the south side of the road, where he had purchased additional land. In this building, which is still standing, he resided eighteen years and seven months to a day, when he removed into his present fine frame residence, which was erected in 1872. His farm and improvements are in excellent condition, and the contrast with that of forty years ago is very great.

also an early settler, was born in Hamilton Co., N.Y., then a part of Montgomery County, in 1805. He subsequently removed to Onondaga County, and from there to Genesee County about 1828, where in the same year he married. In 1846 he moved to Michigan, and settled on the place he now owns on section 34. His place is situated on Deer Creek, with a small branch of the same running through it from south to north. This region of the township is considerably broken by the ridges before mentioned, but not to such an extent as to interfere with its cultivation. In this neighborhood are some very fine farms, among them those of the RAYMONDS, DENNIS, GORSLINE, and CARR.

Stephen CURTIS
settled just over the south line of the township in Ingham as early as 1840, and about 1868 moved to section 33 in Wheatfield, where he has since resided.

John Jacob REHLE,
from Prussian Germany, came to America with his family in 1849, and settled in Wayne Co., Mich., about nine miles from Detroit, where he remained five years, and in 1854 removed to his present location on the northeast quarter of section 8, where with his sons grouped around him he is enjoying the fruits of his labors. The family together own 300 acres of fine land, upon which are some of the best improvements in the township. An extensive deposit of sand and gravel forms quite a group of hills at this point, rising probably from forty to fifty feet above the small creek which flows towards the north and west. This swell in the land affords beautiful and picturesque building sites. Mr. REHLE purchased his land of a man named SLOAN, who had cleared about twenty-five acres and built a log house. These primitive beginnings have given place to broad fields and fruit-orchards, to herds of cattle, abundant crops, and fine and even elegant dwellings and good out-buildings.

Richard PUTMAN
The Putman family were early settlers in Michigan. Richard PUTMAN, born in Herkimer Co., N.Y., removed to Dearborn, Wayne Co., Mich., in 1835. He remained there three years, and in 1838 removed to Leroy township, Ingham Co., where he resided until his death, in August, 1856. In the year 1838 he worked a farm in Ingham township. His land in Leroy was purchased from government July 15, 1836, from which it would appear that he had visited the county two years previous to his permanent settlement.

The two sons of Richard PUTMAN, Daniel and David (who were twins), in 1853 purchased what has since been known a the HAMMOND farm, on section 25. This tract, in the northwest quarter of the section, the brothers cleared up and occupied jointly until about 1860, when David sold his interest to Harvey HAMMOND, and removed to Williamstown, and subsequently to Leroy township. Daniel at a later date disposed of his interest in the farm, and in January, 1864, purchased his present location on the northwest quarter of section 14.

William BEEKMAN,
from Orleans Co., N.Y., settled on the west half of the southwest quarter of section 10, in June, 1855. His farm (eighty acres) constituted a part of lands entered by John ELLIS, a locomotive manufacturer of Schenectady, N.Y., in 1836, from whom Mr. BEEKMAN purchased. It is a fine tract of most excellent land, as level as a floor, but in fine condition for cultivation. Mr. BEEKMAN cleared up his land and made all the improvements.

George BEEMAN,
from Steuben Co., N.Y., settled in Washtenaw Co., Mich., in the fall of 1836. In 1843 he purchased land on section 2, Wheatfield (110 acres), and subsequently 160 acres on section 1, on the opposite side of the road. William HAMMOND purchased a portion of this land from Oswell WILLIAMS, who entered it from government July 24, 1836. Mr. BEEMAN purchased of HAMMOND. The latter had built a log house and barn, and the house was the one destroyed by fire in 1846. The place was rented at that time by H.C. DAVIS, who was town clerk in 1846. Mr. BEEMAN after the destruction of his log house built a board shanty sixteen by twenty-four feet, and again rented the place. About 1848 he built the frame dwelling still standing on the west side of the highway, and in 1876 erected on the southwest quarter of section 1 the fine brick mansion of which we will furnish a sketch. Mr. BEEMAN's buildings and improvements are equal to any in the township.

This township, though one of the best in the county for farming purposes, and though settled at an early period by a few pioneers, is nevertheless one of the newest in the county in general appearance, the stumpy fields, log dwellings, and large tracts of forest land giving it the appearance of a newly-settled region. There were two causes for this state of things; large tracts were originally entered by John ELLIS, before mentioned, Orman COE, McHENRY, KERCHEVAL, HEALY & SMITH, William H. TOWNSEND, and others for purposes of speculation, and these parties held their purchases for years without making any improvements, considerable tracts in a wild state still being held by heirs of John ELLIS.

Another cause was the scarcity of means among the early settlers, most of them bringing little besides strong hands and willing hearts for the subjugation of a wilderness swarming with wild beasts, and filled with malarious swamps, mosquitoes, and rattlesnakes.

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The following were the resident taxpayers in the township of Wheatfield in 1844:

William HAMMOND Alfred H. KEYES George BEEMAN
Benjamin WITHEY Eli WITHEY George HAY
Elias KENT Jeremiah KENT Charles BELDING
Sheffield CRIPPEN Benjamin MARTIN Edward E. COCHRAN
Admiral B. CAMP Gardner FLETCHER David L. COCHRAN
Turpin GREEN Manford FELTON


Originally, what is now the township of Wheatfield formed a part of the township of Ingham, organized by the Legislature on the 11th of March, 1837, and including what now constitutes the four congressional townships of Ingham, White Oak, Wheatfield, and Leroy. The first town-meeting was held at the home of Caleb CARR.

On the 22d of March, 1839, the Legislature erected a new township from Ingham called Brutus, which included the north half of the old township and now constitutes the townships of Wheatfield and Leroy. (This name was chosen by Ephraim Meech, the first settler in what is now Leroy township, who was from Brutus, Cayuga Co., N.Y.) The first township-meeting for Brutus was held at the house of Ephraim MEECH,  the first settler in Leroy, in the spring of 1840.

On the 19th of March, 1840, the eastern half of Brutus was organized as a separate township, under the name of Leroy, which left the present town of Wheatfield  a congressional township bearing the old name of Brutus. This name not being quite satisfactory, at the suggestion of David GORSLINE a petition was drawn up and forwarded to the Legislature, which, on the 20th of March, 1841, changed the name to the present one of Wheatfield, exhibiting good taste on the part of Mr. GORSLINE and the other inhabitants. It is also very appropriate, for a better wheat-growing region is not found in the State. (The name of Wheatfield was proposed by Mr. Gorsline from the township in Niagara Co., N.Y., from whence he emigrated to Michigan.)

The records of the township, including the original ones of Brutus, from 1837 to 1846, inclusive, were, unfortunately, destroyed by fire in the log dwelling of George BEEMAN in the winter of 1846-47. H.C. DAVIS was then town clerk, and was occupying Mr. BEEMAN's house. There is now no means of procuring the names of township officers previous to 1846, except through the recollection of the "oldest inhabitants."

According to the recollections of David GORSLINE, whose memory of events is good, the first township-meeting for Wheatfield was held in the spring of 1841, at the house of Wm. TOMPKINS, on the southwest quarter of section 10, at what was then, and still is, known as "White Dog Corners," - so called from the fact that there were three white dogs owned in the vicinity, one of which, belonging to George HAY, was killed by a falling tree. HAY was something of a wag, and when he had buried his defunct canine, with some ceremony, he named the place White Dog Corners. Sanford OLDS was the first supervisor of either Brutus or Wheatfield after the name was changed, and the first town clerk was Rufus CARLE. Other early supervisors were Wm. TOMPKINS, David GORSLINE, and Joseph WHITCOMB. David CARLE was also among the early clerks. The first treasurer of Wheatfield was David GORSLINE, who was also among the early justices.

The officers for 1846, so far as ascertained, were as follows:

Supervisor: Joseph WHITCOMB;
Town Clerk: H.C. DAVIS
Justice: Manford FELTON

Supervisor: Joseph DENNIS
Clerk: James WILSON
Treasurer: William S. FROST
Justice: Harvey HAMMOND

Supervisor: David GORSLINE
Town Clerk: Elijah HAMMOND
Treasurer: Stephen B. OLDS
Justice: Joseph WHITCOMB

Supervisor: Harvey HAMMOND
Clerk: S.D. WATSON
Treasurer: William CARR
Justice: George AMY

Supervisor: David GORSLINE
Clerk: David L. COCHRAN
Treasurer: Joseph WHITCOMB
Justice: James SLOAN

Supervisor: Harvey HAMMOND
Clerk: James WILSON
Treasurer: William S. FROST
Justice: A.D. POLLOK

Supervisor: E.E. COCHRAN
Clerk: Philip HOWARD
Treasurer: Joseph WHITCOMB
Justices: Gardner FLETCHER,

Supervisor: Harvey HAMMOND
Clerk: James WILSON
Treasurer: William S. FROST
Justice: George A. GILLIT

Supervisor: David GORSLINE
Clerk: Henry LANE
Treasurer: Joseph WHITCOMB
Justices: No names given

Supervisor: John C. GRANGER
Clerk: James WILSON
Treasurer: A.D. HATCH
Justices: H. HAMMOND
James B. FROST

Supervisor: George BEEMAN
Treasurer: Michael CHRISTIAN
Justice: No names given

Supervisor: George D. SPAULDING
Clerk: William S. FROST
Treasurer: George BEEMAN
Justices: George AMY

Supervisor: George BEEMAN
Clerk: James WILSON
Treasurer: Elijah HAMMOND
Justices: No Names given

Supervisor: Harvey HAMMOND
Clerk: Benjamin COLE
Treasurer: Stephen A. BIGELOW
Justices: A.D. POLLAK

Supervisor: David GORSLINE
Clerk: Oscar A. EVERDEN
Treasurer: Michael CHRISTIAN
Justice: Joseph GILBERT

Supervisor: William S. FROST
Clerk: John W. BUTLER
Treasurer: Jacob REHLE
Harvey HAMMOND (full term)
Silas BUTLER (two years)
William BEEKMAN (one year)

Supervisor: David GORSLINE*
Treasurer: M. CHRISTIAN
Justices: Benjamin COLE
*Mr. Gorsline resigned, Daniel Holmes
appointed Sept. 9, 1854.

Supervisor: George H. EDGERTON
Clerk: Francis B. COLE
Treasurer: John J. REHLE
Justice: William BEEKMAN

Supervisor: David HOLMES
Treasurer: M. CHRISTIAN
Justice: John POLLOK

Supervisor: F.R. ROCKWELL
Clerk: John W. BUTLER
Treasurer: George CARR
Justice: William S. FROST

Supervisor: David GORSLINE
Clerk: S.D. WATSON
Treasurer: James McGOWAN
Justice: William B. BARBER

Supervisor: Frederick R. ROCKWELL
Clerk: Erastus L. TUTTLE
Treasurer: George CARR
Justices: Daniel PUTMAN

Supervisor: James SLOAN
Clerk: S.D. WATSON
Treasurer: David GORSLINE
Justice: George A. GILLIT

Supervisor: F.R. ROCKWELL
Clerk: E.L. TUTTLE
Treasurer: John C. CANNON
Justices: Silas BUTLER
George CARR

Supervisor: Joseph DENNIS
Clerk: James WILSON
Treasurer: Merritt CHAPPEL
Justices: M.J. POLLOK (full term)
Silas BUTLER (two years)
Irving BROWN (one year)

Supervisor: F.R. ROCKWELL
Clerk: E.L. TUTTLE
Treasurer: J.C. CANNON
Justice: William CORYELL

Supervisor: David GORSLINE
Clerk: James WILSON
Treasurer: William BEEKMAN
Justice: William H. BARBER

Supervisor: Martin V. JESSOP
Clerk: Charles A. REHLE
Treasurer: William E. DENNIS
Justice: A.D. POLLOK

Supervisor: W. BEARDSLEY
Clerk: Joseph A. SNOW
Treasurer: William BEEKMAN
Justice: William STEWART

Supervisor: M.V. JESSOP
Clerk: Charles A. REHLE
Treasurer: William E. DENNIS
Justice: John YOCUM

Supervisor: W. BEARDSLEY
Clerk: James WILSON
Treasurer: David C. RAYMOND
Justice: George A. GILLIT

Supervisor: Martin V. JESSOP
Clerk: Charles A. REHLE
Treasurer: James APSEY
Justice: Theodore VanHORN

Supervisor: Wetmore BEARDSLEY
Clerk: Myron J. POLLOK
Treasurer: L.M. DENNIS
Justices: Albert D. POLLOK

Supervisor: M.V. JESSOP
Clerk: Charles A. REHLE
Treasurer: James APSEY
Justices: William BEEKMAN*
George CARR*
*Haven't qualified

Supervisor: David GORSLINE
Clerk: James WILSON
Treasurer: L.M. DENNIS
Justice: Josiah B. SHERMAN

1880 Misc:
Superintendent of Schools:
School Inspector: J.E. WESTGATE
Highway Comm.: G. Edwin STATES
Drain Comm.: John W. BUTLER
Constables: Simeon KENT*
George HADDY*
Jacob REHLE*
* Heve not qualified


The following list of persons liable to military in the township in 1848 is from the record, and may be of interest to the younger generation:

Admiral B. CAMP David L. COCHRAN
Alford H. KEYES Perry ROOKER
Henry PRICE George HAY


These, as will be readily understood, have been neither very many nor very important. Brick have been made to a considerable extent on section 2, within the corporate limits of the village of Williamston, but at present nothing is being done in this line.

A steam saw-mill was erected by Frederick R. ROCKWELL on the northwest quarter of section 15 about 1870, which has been operated to a greater extent or less extent since, the bulk of business being transacted during the winter months. In 1876, Mr. ROCKWELL removed to Williamston, where he is engaged in the furniture business, under the firm-name of ROCKWELL & TUTTLE. Since that time his son, George B. ROCKWELL, has managed the mill. When in full running order the mill employs five hands, including Mr. ROCKWELL. The product, entirely of hard-woods, is sold at the mill. Mr. ROCKWELL, Sr., was from Ohio, and first settled in White Oak township, where he operated a steam saw-mill for about two years, when he removed it to Wheatfield in 1870. M.H. BOWERMAN was for a time in company with him in the mill business.

In 1864 the township voted considerable sums at various times for the payment of men who enlisted in the army, but the record does not show the amounts actually paid.


There have never been any church edifices erected in this township, but religious meetings have been held for many years in the various school buildings. The religious denominations represented in the township are Methodist Episcopal, Wesleyan Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists, Catholics, and perhaps others.Many of thee attend religious services at Williamston. The first Protestant minister who visited the township is said by the oldest settlers to have been Elder FERO, a prominent Baptist clergyman.

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