Mecosta County Early Days

Extracts from
Mecosta County, MI
Chapman Brothers - Chicago 1883
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by Sharon K. Merren

In Mecosta County the first white child born was Alice Brockway, daughter of William and Margaret Brockway, the second family to settle in the County. She was born Feb. 12, 1853, less than a year after her parents settled "among the pines."

In the fall of 1854, Silas Moore and Mrs. Sally French were married at Big Rapids, by Elder Kelly, of Big Prairie. This was the first wedding in the county.

In the fall of the same year, James Montague, of Green Township, sowed two acres of winter wheat, which was undoubtedly the first wheat sown in the county.

In the summer of 1856, John Hinton, of the township of Hinton, built a large frame barn, which was the first frame building erected in the county.

The lumber for it was cut with a whip-saw, involving a task that would discourage most men. John Davis erected a large frame barn in the township of Mecosta the same year.

In the fall of 1856, Warren & Ives erected a part of the frame for a water-power saw-mill on Mitchell Creek, near where Michigan Avenue, in Big Rapids, crosses the stream. The mill was completed during the next spring and summer, and started for the first time, and a few boards sawed, on the Fourth of July 1857, twenty-six years ago. This was the first saw mill, and the first lumber manufactured in Mecosta County.

Immediately after the mill was put in operation, the same firm Messrs. Warren & Ives, erected a small frame building for an office, a few rods south of the mill. During the same summer, they erected a two-story frame boarding house, which was the first frame dwelling in Big Rapids, and also a large frame barn.

In November, 1857, a weekly mail was established between Big Rapids and Greenville. Jesse L. Shaw was appointed postmaster at Big Rapids, the name of the office when first established being Leonard.

In May, 1858, a log school-house was built on section twenty-eight, in the township of Green; and during the summer following a school was taught in it by Mrs. Martha J. Evarts. This was the first school-house built, and the first school taught in the county.

During the Summer of 1858, Augustine N. Williams erected and opened a small hotel, which grew to be the Pacific House of later years, but which is now not run as a hotel. A part of the present structure is the original building erected by Mr. Williams. Although every settler's "latch-string" was kept hanging out, and every man's cabin afforded a stopping place for the traveler, this was the first hotel in the county.

The first general store in Mecosta County was opened by Edson Fuller, in 1859, in Big Rapids. The stock of merchandise for this store was hauled by teams from Grand Rapids, over roads that neither tongue nor pen can describe. The store stood on the corner of Michigan avenue and Elm street.

The first framed school building in the county was a two-story edifice built in Big Rapids in 1859.