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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE OF STANTON
by J.K. Fairchild, Editor of Montcalm County Journal in 1876
The village of Stanton is situated in the geographical center of Montcalm county on a collection of “earthly eminences" or more comprehensively, a plurality of hills of various descriptions. Its site comprises a portion of territory extending largely into the townships of Day, Douglass, Sidney and Evergreen. The greater portion of the land is that formerly owned and donated to the county by Fred Hall, Esq., and the St. Mary’s Ship Canal Company in 1861. This land was donated to the county on the proposition of locating the county seat here, which proposition was fully carried out and the county headquarters was established in the year 1862, we believe. The first white settler was Levi Camburn, Esp., a man of much zeal, energy, commendable enterprise, and withal an honored and respected citizen, who is an active resident of the village today. Mr. Camburn, we believe, was treasurer of this county at the time of its location, which office he successfully and satisfactorily filled for several years. The next man who established a home for himself and family in Stanton was G. F. Case, Esq., a gentleman of many noble qualities, who is now a live, active member of the single interests of the village and the operator of a first-class shingle mill. Of late years Mr. Case has partially been deprived of his hearing, which has rendered many of the desirable charms of life useless to him, and prohibited him from taking as active a part in all of the interesting “movements" of the town as he would have done had his hearing been good.
The original survey and plat of Stanton was made in the year 1864, and the village was incorporated by and act of the Board of Supervisors, October 1867.
The first election was held on the 11th day of November, 1867, at which time the following persons were duly elected officers of the village:
In February, 1869, the village was re-incorporated by a special act of the Legislature, with the following territory bound: The north half and the south half of the northwest quarter of section 31 in Township eleven north, of range seven west; the north fractional half and the north half of the southeast quarter, and the north half of the southwest quarter of section 1, in township ten north, of range seven west; the northwest fractional quarter of section 6, in township ten north, of range six west. This boundary is a rather peculiar one, but nevertheless it must be remembered that it represents four flourishing township.
The first election under this incorporation was held on the 8th day of March 1869, and the following officers were chosen:
The first county election held after the county seat was located at Stanton was on the 4th day of November 1862, with the following results:
Stanton, since its incorporation as a village, has been marked by a degree of growth and development characteristic of but few towns, and we may say it owes its success in a great degree to the successfully managed municipal government which it has the honor of possessing. The truth of this statement is more fully confirmed by a glance at the work of the past year. Hundreds of feet of sidewalk have been constructed, new crosswalks built, new streets opened and old ones remarkably improved, and in fact and almost endless amount of improvement made, all of which conduce to the enlivenment of the enterprising spirit of the citizens, and the enhancement of the place in various points of view. The erection of many fine dwellings and improvements of old one-a correct statement of which we shall give further on in this article creates also another feature in the important progressiveness of our village.
While the citizens of Stanton have given much of their attention to their business and domestic interests, they have not been unmindful of the vast importance of securing the village excellent educational interests. The splendid system of public schools now in successful operation, under the control of Prof. E. H. Crowell, speaks in loud praise of the progressive element and the enterprising spirit of the town. Though the building is not all that could be desired, yet it answers the present demands of the schools, and together with the excellent and able teachers that have been furnished, there is nothing lacking to make the common education to the youth complete in every particular. Besides Prof. Crowell’s room there are five departments, numbering a total of 277 pupils, as follows:
Grammar School, 36; A Intermediate, 28; B Intermediate, 66; A Primary, 49; B Primary, 99. These departments are presided over by the following lady teachers:
Regarding Prof. Crowell, principal, and his excellent wife, instructor in the B Primary department, we speak from long personal acquaintance, and know them to possess rare talented qualities as tutors. The other instructors-all ladies-are filling their respective spheres as teachers with commendable ability and satisfaction, and we would speak from personal acquaintance regarding them, but our misfortune has placed us in a position that we haven’t been able to make their acquaintance at all, and consequently they will have to take the will for the deed, in this instance.
The religious interests of Stanton are fair in comparison to those of other towns. There are at present three regularly organized church societies-Methodist, Baptist and Congregational-numbering a total membership of 150. Each society possesses a fine church edifice of its own, and maintains regular Sabbath services and weekly prayer meetings. The following are the names of the respective pastors:
All of the churches maintain flourishing Sabbath schools, superintended by the following gentlemen:
Taken altogether, the religious interests form a prominent part in the bulk of Stanton’s possessions, and we are proud of the same.
The railroad projects of Stanton citizens have been numerous, and past history. The Coldwater & Marshall road was the first to attract the attention of the place, and by the way of inducement to secure its northern terminus, $55,000 was pledged-$10,000 in personal subscriptions and $45,000 in personal bonds; but this project failed. Next came the Saginaw & Grand Rapids, or the “Lowell Hall" road, to which $19,000 in notes were pledged, and this project “fell through." The Greenville & Stanton branch of the D. L. & L. M. road then followed, to which $10,000 in notes were pledged-and all that was a “delusion," too. But, finally, along came the Kalamazoo, Lowell & Northern R. R., tow which $10,000 were pledged, and the citizens hold to this project with a tenacious grasp yet, and propose to until they secure the road. In fact, the can easily raise the $10,000, and more too, if necessary. The Ionia & Stanton branch of the D. L. & L. M. R. R. was completed in Stanton on February 1873, and is now one of the best paying roads in the state. The amount of lumber shipped from Stanton makes an immense freight business for this road, and we vouch to say it does more business in the lumber shipment line than the whole main portion of the road from Howard City to Detroit. As Stanton is situated in the midst of a vast pine forest, the lumbering business here must continue lively for many years to come, and then when the pine is all gone, one of the best farming countries and liveliest cities in the state will be left; hence the need of a competing line of railroad to export and import goods and products.
Having given a brief, but we think, comprehensive account of the establishment and progress of our village, we now “tack ship" and “go for" the noble band of merchants, who have fought, bled and we may add, almost died for the interests of the “county sent."
We head the list with the name of D. M. Gardner, one of the pioneer merchants of the town. Mr. Gardner came to Stanton about ten years ago the past fall. He opened up business on a small scale, in the little building now occupied as a post office, and having an excellent trade from the start, he was soon compelled to enlarge his stock and quarters, when he moved into the building at the corner of Main and Camburn streets, where he continues to do business at the present time. He deals in dry goods, clothing, groceries, notions, crockery, glassware, etc., and also is quite extensively engaged in the lumbering business. He owns about 600 acres of excellent pine, and has a shingle mill of his own in operation at Sibley Center. Manufactures lumber and shingles quite extensively. Mr. Gardner is also the much-esteemed postmaster of Stanton, and is highly respected by all that know him.
Taking our leave of Mr. Gardner for the present, we proceed to make mention of the important firm of G. C. Wallace & Bro. who came here in the fall of ‘66 from Birmingham, this State. For three years the business grew and flourished under this firm name, when Mr. G. C. Wallace purchased his brother’s interest in the store and conducted the business alone until the fall of ‘74. He then sold out his stock of goods to Mr. R. T. Dyer, who had just moved to Stanton from the “Buckeye" state, and went out of the mercantile business entirely. Mr. Dyer then continued the business alone until last August, when Mr. Wallace again purchased a half interest in the establishment, and the firm name has since been known as Wallace & Dyer. Messrs. Wallace & Dyer’s line of trade comprises groceries, provisions, crockery, glassware, fruit, flour, feed, est.. They possess the only exclusive store of this kind in Stanton, and do an immense business. They also handle lumber and shingles quite extensively. Both are excellent gentlemen and the right men in the right place.
Another of the pioneer merchants is Harvey W. Rice. Mr. Rice was a former resident of our neighboring city of Ionia and came to Stanton about eight years ago the present week. He at first opened up a small business in the Parker building, corner of Main and Lincoln streets, which building was destroyed by fire some years since. Being compelled to seek other quarters, he purchased a lot farther up Main Street and in company with another party, erected what is now known as Union block, and moved his stock of goods thereto. Here Mr. R. Continued business on a somewhat larger scale, when last summer, owing to an increase of same, he was compelled to enlarge his quarters and, moving his store room back, he extended his half of the Union block some 40 odd feet, so now he has a building with proportions of about 22/104 feet. This gives him a commodious sales and storeroom, fully adequate to the demands of his stock of goods. One of the most important features of Mr. Rice’s portion of the Union block is its convenience, which he has spared no pains to make complete. Under the building there is a fine commodious cellar, fitted up in a manner commendably accessible and convenient, which is principally used for storing farm produce, syrups, molasses, etc. A mammoth cistern with a capacity for holding 150 barrels of water, has been constructed adjacent to the building, and with an excellent force pump, together with 150 feet of rubber hose, a first-class available means of fire protection to the property furnished, ready for operation at any moment. Mr. Rice’s business comprises almost everything in the trade line, with the exception of hardware. Dry goods, clothing, boots, shoes, groceries, provisions and lumbermen’s supplies, are sold in abundance. Lumber shingles and Studebaker wagons are also handled on an extensive scale. Mr. Rice is one of our most honored and respected citizens, and takes a prominent part in every honorable enterprise of the village.
The firm of J. M. Zinkhan & Co. was established in 1872. The business was formerly owned and conducted by J. M. Zinkhan alone, who commenced the same in 1869, continuing until 1872, when Mr. N. Shepard purchased an interest in the establishment. Since then the business has been carried on under the firm name of J. M. Zinkhan & Co. Messrs. Zinkhan & Shepard are extensive dealers in clocks, watches, jewelry, etc. During the past year they have added very materially to their stock of fine gold and silver watches, jewelry, etc., added several very beautiful new show cases to their store, and we may truthfully say they have one of the finest establishments of the kind in Montcalm county. Mr. Zinkhan came to Stanton from Hillsdale in the year 1864, and first gave his attention to the gun smithing business, which he continued five years, when he embarked in the jewelry business as aforesaid. He is a man that takes considerable pride in his business, and also an active part in every valuable enterprise of the village, and withal is a gentleman of excellent business and social qualities. We shall speak personally of Mr. Shepard in connection with the extensive firm of Moore & Shepard, real estate dealers, further on in this article.
The firm of Jas. Richards & Son was formerly owned and carried on by Wm. Betts, Esq., who sold out to the above parties in the year of ‘73. The firm is composed of Mr. James Richards of Cleveland, Ohio, and his son, J. W. Richards, of this village. The business is the largest of the kind north of Ionia. It comprised the general line of shelf and heavy hardware mill supplies, rubber and leather belting, rubber hose, brass goods, sash, doors, putty, glass, etc. Immediately after the business came into the hands of the Messrs. Richards, the store was enlarged by and addition of fifty feet in the rear and the stock of goods was increased more than double. From the time of their purchase of the business the sales began to increase rapidly and finally to assume proportions astonishingly large. During the past year nearly $51,000 worth of goods were sold by this firm, which is counted a pretty fair business in this section of the state. Messrs. Richards & Son know the value of printers’ ink, and their success is largely attributed to a generous use of the same. Both are men of rare business qualities, and a valuable aid in the furtherance of every good project.
The firm of Reynolds & Hawley is among the most important of this village. Established scarcely three years ago, with but small capital, by two plucky, energetic young men, it has grown and flourished in a manner wholly surprising, and the small capital invested has been doubled and redoubled. The senior member of this firm, Mr. M. A. Reynolds, came to Stanton about five years ago, where he plied his vocation as clerk in the store of H. H. Hinds for several years, or until the year 1875. Mr. E. D. Hawley, the junior member of the firm, became a resident of the village about the year 1871, and for several years was clerk and bookkeeper in the store of Giles Gilbert, and more recently the Stanton agent of the D. L. & L. M. R. R. at this place, which capacity he filled for the space of about one year. Messrs. Reynolds & Hawley are extensive dealers in drugs, medicines, groceries, lumbermen’s supplies, books, stationery, periodicals, tobaccos, cigars, etc. They run a free delivery in connection with their store, and are doing a large and flourishing business. Both are young enterprising men of fair business ability and persons whom the village of Stanton could not well do without.
The firm of D. L. Case comprises a business establishment wholly among the leading mercantile institutions of this village. The proprietor of this establishment, D. L. Case, Esq., resides in the city of Lansing, and first opened a business here in the mercantile line one year ago. A vast lumbering business is also done in connection with this establishment, and the interests and control of the whole are under the supervision of Mr. J. M. Case (son of the proprietor), a young man of excellent ability and an enterprising and much respected citizen. In the line of mercantile trade this firm deals largely in dry goods, clothing, boots, shoes, groceries, lumbermen’s supplies, etc. Buys and ships lumber and shingles, all kinds. The business, though but one year old, is one of the largest in town, and we are happy to add, is on an increase commendably surprising.
R. Hudson & Son constitute a business firm of no little importance to our flourishing village. The business of this firm is managed by Mr. M. E. Fanning, a young man of excellent business qualities, and withal one of the most promising young men of our town. Clothing, boots, shoes, hats and caps comprise the general line of trade of this establishment and to say that a large business is done would scarcely be making just mention of the fact. The loads of goods that are constantly carried away from this store by customers is an evidence of prosperity, and in the selection of Mr. Fanning to preside over the business, R. Hudson & Son made the proper and successful move. The business is but a little over one year old, but nevertheless has a place in the front rank of the most important and enterprise of the place.
Wood & Thayer
This establishment opened first about ten years ago, under the firm name of Wood & Gilbert, and is among the largest and oldest in Stanton. The parties who founded the establishment, Messrs. E. K. Wood and Giles Gilbert, two of the liveliest and most enterprising men of our village came here in the “infant days" of the town. They carried on the business together until 1872, when Mr. Gilbert purchased M. Wood’s interest in the same and continued alone for two years. In 1874 Mr. Wood, purchasing the stock and goods, and forming a co-partnership with Mr. C. A. Thayer, the business has since been carried on under the firm name of Wood & Thayer. A bit of Mr. Wood’s first experience in this section was driving an ox team in the lumber woods, and this is where he first attained a success that gave him the proper start in the world. During all of the years of co-partnership of Messrs Wood & Gilbert, the lumbering business was quite extensively conducted by them, and in fact now the firm of Wood & Thayer is doing a large business in that line. Messrs. Wood and Thayer are both formerly from Wyoming county, New York. They are gentlemen of business ability and esteemed citizens of our town. Their trade is very extensive, and comprises the general line of lumbermen’s supplies, drugs, medicines, groceries, provisions, flour, feed, hardware, boots and shoes, and in fact almost everything needed by the domestic and lumbering communities. We shall speak of Mr. Gilbert further on in this article, as connected with the lumbering interests of the place.
J. N. Voorhees
J. N. Voorhees, dealer in all kinds of kitchen, parlor and office furniture. This business was first established in Stanton by our present county treasurer, Henry Kent, Esq., formerly a resident of Fairplains, this county, in the year 1873, and was continued by him until the 14th of the present month, when Mr. J. N. Voorhees purchased the same. It is the only furniture store in the place, and hence does a commendably large business. Mr. Voorhees was also a former resident of Fairplains, but henceforward we expect him to be numbered among the enterprising citizens of Stanton.
Lunn Bros., bakers and confectioners, and dealers in groceries, is a firm of much importance to Stanton. The business of this firm was established by Ira Carter and G. N. Lunn in the spring of ‘72, under the firm name of Carter & Lunn. The business was carried on under this management until the following December, when Mr. Carter went out of the firm. In April, ‘73 Mr. J. W. Lunn, a brother to J. N. purchased an interest in the business, and during that time the firm has been known by the name of Lunn Bros.
Messrs. Lunn Bros. keep in their employ a first-class baker, and manufacture their own bread, cakes, pies, confectionery, etc. They have just made a change of base and moved to more commodious and central quarters, in the building formerly owned by James C. Gilson.
Peter Deyo came to Stanton about seven years ago and, purchasing the building now occupied by him, embarked in the general hardware and tinnery business. Mr. Deyo has experienced many of the hardships of the true pioneer, and has brought his business from a low basis up to a lucrative condition, now enjoying an extensive trade in his line of merchandise. Mr. Deyo is a skilled workman and does a very large business in the repairing of defective tinware and stoves. He is enterprising, and withal an honest and pleasant man to deal with.
Ward & Wallace
This important firm was established about the middle of September last. Previous to the establishment of the same, Mr. Ward (the senior member of the firm) was employed by Messrs. Richards & Son in the hardware business, and also for some continued length of time superintended the business of said store, when the same was in the hands of Wm. Betts, Esq. The junior member of the firm, Mr. G. C. Wallace, is of the extensive firm of Wallace & Dyer, grocers, of this village, and is well known by all. Messrs. Ward & Wallace are dealers in general mill supplies, their stock comprising belting, packing, saws, files, gas pipe and fittings, bolts, lubricating oils, brass goods, etc. Their store is highly appreciated by our millmen and lumbermen, and is certainly a valuable acquisition to our thriving village and, we are happy to learn, is doing a lucrative business.
M. A. Bradford
M. A. Bradford opened up business in Stanton about the middle of last June, occupying a portion of the building in, which is stored, the goods of Messrs. Ward & Wallace. Commencing with but a small stock, he gradually increased the same until now he has a fine assortment of goods and does a creditable business. Mr. Bradford is a young man of irreproachable character, and we do not know of any man in town whom we would rather see succeed than he. His business comprises the general line of small, fancy furniture, picture frames, brackets, parlor croquet sets, stereoscopes, chromos, engravings, etc. He also does all kinds of furniture repairing neatly and cheaply. We highly commend him and his business to the public as worthy of liberal patronage
Webber & Chapin
The Banking House of Webber & Chapin was established in the month of April, ‘73. The parties comprising the firm of Oscar Webber of the firm of Webber & Hall, Ionia, and C. W. Chapin, of this village. Business was first commenced and continued for six months in a “corner" portion of G. C. Wallace’s building, corner of Main and Camburn streets, when the building next west of the Turner-Vine core block was erected and in the same this banking house was formally established. The growing increase of the banking business during a single year is immense. The business comprises that usually carried on by all first-class banking houses, and it is a business institution in which our citizens take a great pride.
Nye & Lowing
Nye & Lowing are the proprietors of the “Old Reliable" Meat Market, which was established in this village about seven years ago, by Mr. I .Carter. From the date of establishment the business was continued by Mr. Carter until the year 1870, when C. B. Nye, an employee of Mr. Carter, purchased an interest in the business, and the firm was then known as Carter & Nye. September last Mr. Nye purchased his partner’s interest and became sole proprietor of the market, and shortly after disposed of one-half interest to J. E. Lowing, since which time the firm has been known and conducted under the name of Nye & Lowing. Messrs. Nye & Lowing are very extensive dealers in all kinds of fresh and salted meats, and also handle country produce and oysters in their season. They are both excellent citizens, and we may add invaluable to the business interests of Stanton.
Houser & Morrison
Houser & Morrison established their present business Sept. 30th, 1875. For several years previous to this date, the senior member of the firm M. Houser, was engaged in the lumber inspection business, being in the employ of several different parties. During this time he also became a member of the mercantile firm of Well, Patchin & Houser, and more recently was a partner of A. S. Brool, in the purchase and shipment of lumber and shingles. Mr. Morrison was formerly a teamster in the village, which occupation he followed for some time, and through which he made fair pecuniary attainments. The business of Messrs. Houser & Morrison comprises the general trade in fresh and salt meats, which they handle quite extensively. They pay cash for hides and pelts, and do all business in a business-like manner. Both are among the leading enterprising citizens of our village, and are reliable men.
Moore & Shepard
Moore & Shepard is the heaviest real estate firm in the town. The parties comprising the firm are E. B. Moore and Norman Shepard. They formed a copartnership and opened up business in the real estate line in 1868, and from that time until the present have continued to do an extensive business. Recently they made a single sale of pine lands from D. P. Shaw of Pontiac to Long, Blanchard & Co., Pennsylvania, amounting to $200,000, and previous and since that time have made sales averaging from $25,000 to $50,000, which clearly gives the reader an idea of the extent of their business. Messrs. Moore & Shepard came to Stanton about eleven years ago, and for the first few years were engaged in driving stage and teaming from Ionia. This they followed until the organization of the above firm. Commencing with but small means, they have gained ground until now they both have the honor of possessing considerable property. They are both live men and among the most esteemed and enterprising citizens of the village.
John W. S. Pierson & Company
On November 21, 1876, John W. S. Pierson, assisted by his brother, Philip T. H. Pierson, opened a hardware and stove store in the Morrison building on east Main Street. With increasing trade, early in 1877 the stock was removed to the Paine building, 108 West Main Street, where a lease was taken for a term of years. The great fire of October 12, 1880 completely destroyed the building and stock of goods. The business was soon re-established in temporary quarters in the Palace block. Meanwhile, the implement building at 114 East Main Street was fitted up with a store front and counters and the business was removed to this point until the Paine building could be rebuilt.
In March 1881, the business was reopened in the new Paine building, 108 West Main Street. On February 23, 1885, the implement building at 112 East Main Street was completely destroyed by fire. An adjoining lot on the west was purchased of Mr. E. K. Wood and plans were made for the Pierson building, size 44 by 100 feet. Meanwhile, Mr. Pierson, together with D.L. McFadden, erected the Phoenix block, on Camburn avenue, as a permanent building for the implement department. That year the business that had been as founded by John W.S. Pierson was changed to John W. S. Pierson & Company, and Philip T. H. Pierson became a partner. On January 22, 1886, the dedication of the present building was celebrated by a reception which marked the rebuilding of Stanton, and the exercises were attended by a large number of people from the cities and the rural districts. On March 13, 1886, the new building was opened for business purposes. On February 1, 1891, the business was incorporated under the name of John W.S. Pierson & Company, the officers being John W.S. Pierson, president; Philip T.H. Pierson, vice-president, and Elmer S. Stebbins, secretary and treasurer. At this time Levi W. Hunsicker and George W. Markee became stockholders in the corporation with the officers. On November 21, 1901, the silver anniversary, marking twenty-five years of continued business, was celebrated.
(Mr. John W.S. Pierson is the only pioneer merchant among all those named here who has retained his interests in Stanton. He has built a fine home on Lincoln Street and still resides there.)
Wm. Bock’s Mill
Wm. Bock’s lumber and shingle mill was erected in 1873. A portion of the machinery in this mill was formerly operated in the mill known as the Morse Mill, situated on the State road a little south of this village. This mill we believe was sold on contract to Hastings & Co. a year or two ago, but owing to non-fulfillment of said contract the mill again fell pack into the hands of Mr. Bock. The mill cuts a large quantity of lumber and shingles during a single year, the greater portion of which is shipped from this village.
F. H. Hurdman & Co.
The mill of F. H. Hurdman & Co. was erected in 1873. It is, we believe, an exclusive lumber mill, and as such has a very large capacity. The proprietors of this mill reside at Zanesville, O., and their lumber operations here are managed by competent men.
Galloway, Blackman & Co.
The extensive lumber and shingle mill of Galloway, Blackman & Co. is situated about one and a half miles east of the village. It was erected in 1872. The mill contains the most improved machinery for cutting lumber and together with two first-class shingle mills works up many million feet per annum. The sawing is under the supervision of Albright Bros., who are practical lumbermen, while J. B. Sherw9od has control and management of all the lumbering operations of the company. Mr. Sherwood is a thorough-going man and serves his employers faithfully and satisfactorily.
Turner & Payne
Turner & Payne’s mill was erected in 1871. This mill is of quite large capacity and manufactures large amounts of lumber annually. The proprietors of this mill are among the early settlers and businessmen of the village, and do an immense business in the lumber and shingle shipping line. Both gentlemen are esteemed citizens of our village, who contribute largely to the laudable enterprising spirit of the place.
Thomas Tew is the proprietor of two first-class shingle mills, one being erected in 1873 and the other in 1875. His mills are kept in operation the greater part of the time, and turn out millions of shingles annually. Mr. Tew is a thorough-going lumberman, practical in all the details of the business.
Oscar Fenn’s shingle mill, which is supplied with two of the latest improved shingle machines, was erected in 1875. This mill has a capacity for cutting from fifty to sixty thousand shingles per day. The mill is kept in operation a greater part of the time, and most all shingles manufactured by it are shipped away. Mr. Fenn is another of the practical fishermen and invaluable citizens of our village.
D. D. Kidder
The mill of D. D. Kidder, northeast of this place, was erected in 1874. It is an exclusive shingle mill, with one machine, and kept in operation most of the time. Most all of the shingles manufactured are shipped from this station.
A. B. Nevins
A. B. Nevins’ large lumber and shingle mill was erected in 1872, and has been idle but short intervals since the day the machinery was set in motion. It has a very large capacity and turns out its lumber and shingles in good shape.
Windsor & Fawcett
The new shingle mill of Windsor & Fawcett was erected last summer and fall, and has but recently been put into operation. However, with one machine, the mill is cutting from 25,000 to 30,000 shingles per day and does its work well. As is the case with most all other mills of the village, all shingles manufactured are shipped away.
Wm. H. Stevens
The mill of Wm. H. Stevens is now the oldest in the village. It was built in 1863. It has been in operation most of the time since it was first put in operation, with the exception of last year, when it remained idle the greater part of the time. Mr. Stevens, the proprietor of this mill, is one of the wealthiest men of the village. During the past season he erected a fine brick block on the corner of Main and Camburn Streets, which does credit to himself and is an ornament to the town.
D. Curtis & Co.
The shingle mill of D. Curtis & Co. is perhaps the most important adjacent to the corporate limits of our village. The machinery of this mill is of the latest improved pattern. Its on shingle machine has capacity for cutting from 50,00 to 60,000 per day with ease. We have as yet not had the pleasure of forming the acquaintance of but one of the proprietors of this mill -Mr. C. S. Wells-but so far as we have seen, can speak with respect and commendability. Mr. Wells is one our young, enterprising citizens, whom any intelligent lad will do well to follow in example.
There are other mills hereabouts of which we might speak, but they are, many of them, situated too far out of the corporation to be noted in an article of this character. Most of the mills mentioned are operated by the residents of this village and all do their shopping from this point.
Among the prominent buyers and shippers of lumber and shingles who own pine lands but not mills, and lumber during the winter season, are H. H. Hinds, Gilbert & Eaglebeck, Israel Lucas, E. K. Wood, C. H. Houser, and others whose names we have been unable to learn.
The Bailey House
This hotel, or a portion of it, was erected by A. Vinecore in the year ‘67. The site on which the building stands is a portion of ground that was formerly reserved for the county jail; but the board of supervisors at one session came to the conclusion that a good hotel was much more needed than a first-class jail, and consequently offered to donate the ground to any person or persons who would erect a good hotel on the same. Mr. Vinecore accepted the proposition of the board, and built the hotel as aforesaid, calling the same the “Vinecore House". In 1872, Mr. L. H. Bailey of Ionia purchased the hotel and changed the name to Bailey House, and also materially enlarged the same. He conducted the house until about two years ago, when the same was purchased by his son, Herbert Bailey, who still retains the proprietorship and conductorship of the same. During the past summer the house has been thoroughly refitted and enlarged and a fine basement and cellar added thereto. The cellar is one of the finest, and most accessible in the county, while the basement contains one of the finest sample rooms west of Detroit. Mr. Bailey, the proprietor, is a landlord of worldwide fame, being known as one of the best and most practical hotel keepers in the State. He is highly esteemed as a citizen and takes an active part in every laudable enterprise.
The Stanton House
The Stanton House came into the possession of J. J. Newcomb & Son in 1865. At that time it was nothing but a small log hut which had been erected a few years previous. It was at once enlarged and the name of hotel given it. In 1872 J. J. Newcomb died, since which time the hotel has been conducted by C. M. Newcomb, his son. A large addition was made to the Stanton House last summer, and now the hotel presents an imposing appearance. There are eleven fine sleeping rooms in the new part, together with sitting and other rooms. A still farther enlargement of the hotel is contemplated newt spring, as the accommodations are inadequate for the demand. The proprietor is a live young man, public-spirited and enterprising, and conducts his hotel in good shape.
This hotel is situated near the D. L. & L. M. R. R. depot and was erected in the fall of ‘74, by Noah Mishler. It has changed hands several times, and now is in the possession of Geo. W. Baker, we believe, who is conducting the same in first-class style. The house is well fitted throughout, and affords good accommodations to the traveler.
The history of this village so far as newspapers are concerned, is one of vital importance. The first edition of the Herald was printed on the 11th day of September, 1867. The hero who founded the Herald was E. O. Shaw, Esq., now publisher of the Newaygo Republican, and regarding the career of that paper says: “We remember very well that it was at the time considered one of the most important events in the history of the village, and for days before the boyish publisher was almost bored to death by inquiries of, ‘When will the first paper be printed? I want to be there to see it’". We believe that Hon. G. F. Chase claimed and was awarded the very first copy. The office was crowded with men fro hours before the forms were ready, and a breathless interest was manifest until the first sheet was printed, and it was eagerly scanned by all. The first issue was a six column sheet printed on the 11th day of September 1867. But the patronage was much greater than was anticipated, and the citizens manifested so much more liberality in their patronage than could be expected in a new town where all were pioneers and many of them struggling with the vicissitudes incident to the pioneer life that it was decided to enlarge the Herald at once. Consequently, the next issue contained seven columns to the page, which size it still retains. We write this as a historical fact and one which we think properly belongs in any history of Stanton which may be written." E. R. Powell purchased the Herald in December 1868, the proprietorship of which he still retains. Mr. P. is one of the pioneer editors and publishers of this State, a fair writer, and withal a man of some considerable means.
Montcalm County Journal
The Montcalm County Journal is young but vigorous, and put in a first appearance on the 24th day of September, 1875. It is just conceited enough to believe it is quite able to “hoe its own row." Of course it is just as liable to take wood on subscription as any other sheet.
LAWYERS, JUSTICES AND DOCTORS
Go where you will, you always find the inevitable lawyer, and Stanton in this regard is fully up with the times so far as plurality is concerned. If we were to give the history in full individually of the legal fraternity of Stanton, in would undoubtedly make a book equal in size and pages to Webster’s Unabridged,’ and for that reason an attack upon our law expounders is not a desirable one, in as much as it requires the whole history to “show them up" in the proper light. Consequently, what we shall have to say, pro or con, relative to them must be brief and to the point-excusing detail for the present. If Daniel Webster didn’t say “brevity is the soul of wit," so here goes:
M. Clement Palmer was admitted to the Cook County Bar Association in 1868, and practiced law in the city of Chicago until 1872, when he went to Ann Arbor and attended a course of lectures in the Law Department of the University, graduating at that school in 1873. He was admitted to the Bar Association of the Supreme Court of this State in the month of March, 1873; went to Big Rapids, practiced law in that city a short life, and came to Stanton in November, ‘73. Mr. Palmer is a young man of considerable talent, well versed in the laws and statutes of this, and we may add, foreign countries. He takes great interest in the welfare of his clients and defends them with a commendable degree of ability and success.
H. Irving Garbutt was formerly a resident of Lakeview, this county, and came to Stanton January 1, 1870. For two terms he acted in the capacity of clerk of Montcalm County, which office he filled with ability and satisfaction. He was admitted to the bar in this county in July, ‘74, and the same year was elected Prosecuting attorney of this county, which office he has filled since then, and continues to fill with much satisfaction. He is among the ablest of our county and takes much interest in the prosperity of our village.
Harmon Smith was, we believe, with the exception of J. P. Beers, the first lawyer in the place. He was the first to open a regular law office in the village. Faithfully serving his country through the late war till its close, he came to Stanton it 1866 and commenced the practice of his profession and has been one of the most active and successful lawyers in this county ever since. He has experienced many of the ups and downs of the early pioneer life of the village, and by economy and strict attention to business has won for himself a good name and attained a creditable portion of this world’s goods. Mr. Smith is among the talented lawyers of Montcalm County, and has held several important county offices during his residence here. He takes great interest in village matters, and contributes largely to the enterprising spirit of the place.
John C. Mattison came to Stanton about seven years ago, and during the first year of his residence here was employed as the principal of the Union school. He then left Stanton, being absent one year, when he returned. He was elected justice of the peace in 1871, and has filled that office ever since with a degree of ability. He opened the first justice’s office in the place. Mr. M. was admitted to the Bar Association of this county in ‘71, and from that time until now has practiced law a portion of the time in connection with the justice business. He is a “gentleman and a scholar," and is doing quite an extensive business in the legal line.
Dr. H. B. Ranney took up his residence in Stanton in October 1870, and for the first six months practiced dentistry alone. He then associated the practice of medicine with his dentistry business, since which time he has made the practice of both professions his exclusive business. He informs us that his business averages $4,000 annually, which certainly is very large for a new county like this. Dr. Ranney removed from St. Johns to this place, and during his residence here has kept pace with the enterprise and general movements of the village.
Dr. D. A. McLean came from northern Ohio and took up his residence in Stanton about four years ago and has practiced medicine in the village and surrounding country ever since. He graduated in medicine and surgery at the Michigan University in November 1868. The doctor thoroughly understands his business and has a very wide practice in this community. He is a respected citizen and enterprising in every sense of that term.
Dr. T. D. Powers commenced the practice of medicine in Stanton on the 19th day of June last. He is a graduate of both the Geneva Alopathy and the Dundee Homeopathy Schools of New York State. He came from Holland City to this place, where he formerly practiced medicine for about seven years. His practice now is entirely after the Homeopathy method of “administration," which is proving quite successful in this com- .......has practiced since 1854, and has been quite successful with all his cases in this section. In addition to the medical learning, the doctor is considerable of a literary man, and perhaps reads more books and periodicals than the average of one man out of every ten.
George Stoneburner removed from the township of Bloomer to Stanton and commenced the practice of law in 1869. He was admitted to the Bar Association of this county in ‘67, and to practice in the U. S. Court in ‘71. He is a man of good legal training and never goes around a forty-acre lot to fake a point.
Ira H. Sheldon is one of the pioneer residents of the village. He came from Hastings to this place in 1865, and in 1872 opened a real estate and insurance office in the village. His life and fire insurance business is quite large. At one time he represented twelve different companies, and did a fair business for them all. He is a young man full of life and energy and is bound to succeed.
P. S. Dodge was admitted to the Bar in Elkhart, Ind., about seven years ago. In 1873 he graduated in the Law School of the University of Michigan, and the same year took up his residence in Stanton. He is an able attorney, and ranks among the most enterprising of our citizens.
Lyman C. Moore graduated in the Law Department of the University of Michigan in the spring of ‘69, and took up his residence in Stanton the same year. He is one of the prominent members of our county Bar Association, and has made the practice of law his exclusive business during his residence here. He takes an active part in the leading enterprises of the village.
Dr. A. L. Corey, formerly a practicing physician and surgeon in Ionia, removed to Stanton about two years ago. He graduated in medicine and surgery at Ann Arbor University in the spring of ‘68 and from there went to Ionia, where he practiced his profession until the time of his removal here. He is one of the most successful physicians and surgeons, and a tip-top “feller" anyhow.
Robert Bamber was elected justice of the peace for Day township two years ago last spring, and has since acted in that capacity, having his office with Lyman C. Moore. He is a man of sound judgment and well-versed in legal matters.
George A. Smith, lawyer, came to Stanton on the 7th day of July 1865, from the army. He is an old pioneer and has had considerable experience as a newspaperman. He established the Barry County Pioneer in the year 1850, having his headquarters at Hastings, the county seat, and continued the publication of that paper until 1860, when he sold out and went into the drug and medicine business at Hastings. He was captain of and raised the first company of volunteers in Barry County and went to the army and did his country good service. He was postmaster in this village in 1867, under the administration of President Johnson. For the first few years of his residence here he practiced medicine, and being admitted to the Bar of Montcalm County in 1869, he has since practiced law, being quite successful as an attorney. Mr. Smith has made considerable money in Stanton and, like all other lawyers in this village, is working his way to glory and fame.
Asa Morse, or Judge Morse as is more frequently the term used, came to this village from Almira, N. Y., in 1867, and engaged in the lumbering business, which occupation he followed up to about three years ago. Judge Morse is a lawyer by profession, and we may add, one of the very best in Montcalm County. He graduated in the Albany, N. Y., law school in 1862, after which he served a term of ten months in the late Rebellion. Receiving his discharge from the Army, he practiced law a short time in Almira, N.Y., when he came to the village and engaged in business as aforesaid. He was elected justice of the peace for Day Township last spring. He is a man of honorable principles and excellent morals and has but few, if any, enemies in the county.
F. H. French opened a real estate office in this village about five years ago. Mr. French is a young man of good business ability, and is among the ablest and most enterprising settllers of the place. He does a large business in the real estate line and, being a notary public, is always prepared to do swearing in the best scientific manner. His office is with H. I. Garbutt, prosecuting attorney, in the Turner block.
The real estate firm of E. D. Finch, which was established by Fenn & Finch about three years ago, is among the most important of the village. The business was conducted under the firm name of Fenn & Finch from the date of establishment until about one year ago, when Mr. Fenn went out of the firm. Mr. Finch is a gentleman of noted respect, and invaluable to our village. His real estate sales are large and increasing, and comprise almost everything from a common village lot to a section of pine land.
Dr. E. Culver came to this village from Shiawassee County about five months ago, and from that time has had a very extensive practice in the community. He is a graduate of the Michigan University School of medicine and surgery, and withal is one of the best physicians in the village.........(The rest of this article was missing)
Mrs. M. Barnes
Mrs. M. Barnes, millinery and dry goods. This establishment was first opened in E.R. Powell’s building, first east of Wallace & Dryer’s store, was secured, and the stock of goods removed thereto. Mrs. Barnes’ line of business comprises an extensive trade in millinery and fancy goods. She also does dressmaking on a large scale, and in that line, as well as millinery, seems to give general satisfaction. She has been in the business in Stanton about two years, and has conducted the same in such a manner as to receive a large patronage.
Mrs. W.S. Flemming
The millinery and dress-making establishment of Mrs. W.S. Flemming is one of the important institutions of our village. It was established in April, 1870, by Mrs. E.C. Mann, who continued the business until August last, when the same was purchased by Mrs. M. Sutton. Two weeks ago the business changed hands again and was purchased by Mrs. W.S. Fleming. It is a large establishment of the kind, and ladies’ hats, bonnets, dresses, etc., are manufactured quite extensively. A fine stock of fancy goods is always kept on hand.
Clark & Riensmith Lumber Co.
We head this somewhat lengthy list with the planning mill establishment of the Clark & Rinesmith Lumber Co.
This mill is, with the exception of E. Colby & Co.’s, one of the largest of the kind in this county. It was erected in 1874, and in its extent comprises a very large building, containing two first-class planning machines, siding saws, rip-saws, box-saws, etc. The company buys most of their lumber, manufacture it into flooring, ceilings, siding, box machines, etc., and ship the same east. The persons comprising the firm are residents of Fort Wayne, Ind. They also operate several saw and shingle mills on the main line of the D.L. & N.R.R.
The large planning mill of A.J. Sterling was erected in 1872 by the Stanton Planing Company, and continued operations under that name until last March, when A.J. Sterling became the solo proprietor of the same. This mill comprises an excellent planer, siding saws, etc., and also has in connection with it machinery for the manufacture of shingles, conducted by C.R. Williams. All kinds of flooring, ceiling, siding, batts, etc., are manufactured in this mill. Mr. Sterling, the proprietor, is formerly of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He is a man of unusual zeal and energy, enterprising, and is bound to succeed in any legitimate business.
Miner & Ackles
The iron and machine shop of Miner & Ackles was erected and put in operation in the year 1874. By way of explanation, we should have said that the machine shop alone was in operation in 1874, and that the foundry was not put into operation until about the first of October last. The gentleman composing this firm, were formerly proprietors of a machine shop at Muir, from which place they moved their machinery to Stanton. They manufacture boilers, engines, mill machinery, agricultural implements, etc., and do a large and lucrative business.
E. Colby & Co.
The lumber manufacturing interests of E. Colby & Co. have no equal in extent anywhere in this section of the state. They have in operation several large planning machines, siding saws, etc., which are situated in a building and run by steam. Their lumber and shingle mill is very large, having a capacity for working up nearly 100,000 feet of logs per day. These mills are owned by E. Colby & Co., of Ionia, and are kept in operation the greater part of the time. They will manufacture about 30,000,000 feet of logs into lumber and shingles the coming summer.
Smith & SweeneyThis business firm was first established by Robert Smith, six years ago. The only branch of business which was represented at the outset was that of general blacksmithing. This branch of business was continued by Mr. Smith nearly a year, when a large building was erected on Main street, and a copartnership was formed by himself and F. Sweeney, of Jackson, and general carriage and wagon making was added to the business, Mr. Sweeney being a practical wagon-maker, and conducting that branch of business. Ever since the firm has been known by the name of Smith & Sweeney, and the business has grown and flourished under the same. Both are young men, practical in all branches of their business, which includes everything from a common horse, nail and a “go-cart" to the finer, fancy and copious articles, instruments and vehicles.
Bush & Whiteman
Bush & Whiteman (formerly Henning & Bush, and more recently Z. Bush) are proprietors of a carriage, wagon and blacksmith shop situated on Main street. The business was first started by John Henning, after which a copartnership known as Kenning & Bush was formed and continued until last June, when Mr. Bush became sole manager of the business. About five weeks ago the copartnership of Bush & Whitman was formed and the business is now dispatched under that firm name. Messrs. Bush & Whitman manufacture all kinds of wagons and carriages and do all kinds of blacksmithing and repairing. They are doing quite an extensive business.
J.C. Gilson opened business at Stanton, in the boot and shoe manufacturing business line, in December, ’67, in what was then known as the Bennett building, which he purchased of a gentleman named Mallet. Since that time Mr. Gibson (?) has continued the business at the old stand until about the middle of last month, when he made an exchange of business sites with Lunn Bros. and moved his tools and stock to the building formerly occupied by them for a bakery. Here he is now located and continues, as ever, to do business on the square. He is the oldest shoemaker in town, we believe, and during his sojourn in Stanton has made considerable of an amount of money.
Samuel Harman, boot and shoe manufacturer, first opened business in Stanton, about four years ago in J.M. Zinkhan’s building. Last summer he erected a fine, large building of his own on Main street and moved his tools and leather stock there, and has since been “grinding out" work in a lively manner. He generally keeps in his employ several first-class workmen and manufactures boots and shoes exclusively for his own trade. He is an excellent workman, and his business is beginning to assume quite large proportions. All kinds of repairing is neatly done.
Exclusive Lumber and Shingle Mills
Mr. Giles Gilbert is one of the oldest as well as most extensive lumbermen in the village. He came to Stanton in 1865, and in connection with Mr. E.K. Wood, conducted the lumbering and mercantile business for many years, when he sold out his mercantile interests to Mr. Wood and has since given his whole attention to lumbering. He has a large mill at Derby Lake and manufactures lumber, lath and shingles on quite an extensive scale. His lumber yard is situated near the D.L. & M. R.R. depot and, to make the loading of cars more easy, he has caused the construction of a sidetrack through the center of his yard. He ships annually immense quantities of lumber, lath and shingles to almost all parts of the United States, and in fact receives all the orders he can possibly supply. Mr. Gilbert is among the most energetic and enterprising of our citizens, and takes rank among the leading business men of the village.
Hon. G.F. Case erected his present shingle mill about two years ago. His mill comprises one first-class shingle machine, jointing saws, packers, etc., and does an average daily cutting of about 26,000 shingles. As previously stated in this article, Mr. Case was the second person to build a home in Stanton, after the location of the county seat. He started the first shingle machine ever brought to the village, which he operated for several years, and has since been the proprietor of several very important lumber and shingle mills. He is a man that takes great pride in seeing the village progress, and always has a good word for almost every person he meets.
A. Emerson, Esq., formerly a resident of Fairplains, this county erected a shingle mill in Stanton about two years ago. His business consists principally in jobbing for other parties, and his mill is kept in constant operation. From 25,000 to 30,000 shingles are manufactured per day, which is considered pretty good work for one first-class shingle machine. Mr. E. is a practical shingle manufacturer, and runs his mill in tiptop shape.
Wales & Son
Wales & Son’s lumber mill, formerly owned by Turner Bros. & Co. was erected in 1866. This mill has been on the quietus during the past year. The proprietors are residents of Bridgeport, Conn., we believe.
The lumber mill of R. Whiteman was erected in 1872 and has since been in almost constant operation. The proprietor of this mill resides in Dansville, N.Y., and his lumber operations here, which are very extensive, are under the management of D.L. Densmore, formerly of Owosso. The mill is very large in capacity and all lumber manufactured by it is principally shipped east and south.
(Missing are the articles from the November 8th and November 15th papers)
G. Dingman came to Stanton about nine years ago and purchased 40 acres of land, what is now known as the northeast quarter portion of this village. During the first few years of his residence here he sold lots, manufactured lumber, etc. In 1873 he embarked in the general blacksmithing business, opened a shop on land at the corner of Pine and Mill streets, which business he has continued to follow ever since. Mr. Dingman is a practical workman and a live and energetic citizen.
S.D. Hurd, contractor and builder came to Stanton about three years ago, and opened a shop in the building in Main street near the railroad. Mr. Hurd’s line of business embraces almost everything in the building and wood manufacturing line, such as cabinet and joiner work, scroll sawing, etc. During his residence here he has succeeded well and has earned a good name as a citizen as well as a business man.O. Lane’s restaurant and dining room was opened about four or five weeks ago. Though one of the newest small business stands of our town, it is, however, important. Oysters, warm meals, etc., are “served up" in a good style.
Crippen & Buckleys Livery and Sales Stable is among the “pioneer elements." The stable was built and the livery business established in 1868 by Sprague & Horton, and continued by them until last March, when Messrs. Crippen & Bucklow, the present proprietors, purchased the safe. The barn is well equipped with first-class rigs. They keep on hand an average of 19 to 25 horses, and withal do a large and flourishing business. The proprietors are men of good repute, honest in all their dealings and successful in their business.
Noah Mishler established his livery stable about six months ago, and from that date has made the livery business pay exceedingly well. He keeps nine good horses, and his turnouts are first-class. Conveys passengers to all parts of the county.
H.O. Watrous opened a carpenter shop in Stanton about the middle of December last. He came to this village about two years ago, and up to the time he opened a shop of his own was in the employ of Samuel Hurd. Mr. Watrous does all kinds of work in the line of building, cabinet making and joinery, and may at all times be found at his shop in the rear of Lunn Bros. bakery.
Orrin Wilson, tonsorial artist, opened a shop in Stanton about three years ago, and by skill art and strict attention to business has won for himself a name and fair competence. He keeps in his employ J.O. Witeman, a first-class barber, and all work is done in style and according to the most strict method of satisfaction. You will always find the “latch string" out, at Wilson’s barber shop.
Newal Hart, a young man formerly in the employ of O. Wilson, opened up a shop of his own in the tonsorial line, August last, in G. Smith’s building Main street. He is a good barber, and a young man who has many friends in the village. He seems to be doing a fair business in the barbering line, which is a criterion to the effect that his work gives general satisfaction.
Mrs. B.F. Davenport opened a dressmaking establishment in the Goldsmith building about six weeks ago. Her line of work embraces cutting, fitting and all styles of dressmaking and patterns cut to order.
Townsend’s Dining Hall was opened about one year ago in W.H. Stevens’ block. Warm meals, oysters, etc., are “served up" here in the best style, at all hours of the day.
E. LaGrange’s harness shop is one of the newest institutions of the place. All kinds of light and heavy harness are manufactured here by a practical workman named F.H. Geiger, late of Jackson. This business promises to be a success in Stanton, and we feel confident that Mr. LaGrange will make well out of it, if the same is properly conducted.
Theodore Gale opened a watch and jewelry repairing shop in this village nearly one year ago. He first commenced business in Harm Smith’s building and from thence to the post office, where he still continues to hold forth and do all kinds of repairing with neatness and dispatch.
J.A. Bradford has been deputy postmaster at Stanton for nine consecutive years. He first went into the office in 1867, when the same was in charge of G.A. Smith. A few words of comment are due him for the valuable services he has rendered this village during that time.
This closes our brief history of Stanton. There are some other matters of importance regarding which we might speak. We shall “write again" sometime.
In publishing this History in the Montcalm County Journal we unintentionally omitted to mention one branch of business viz., the “knights of the brush." H.F. Speaker, the veteran painter of the village, came to Stanton about eight years ago, and has flourished the brush more or less in and about the village during the greater part of the time. He is familiar with all branches of the art, and does all his work well, of which he has quite an extensive line. The first painting done by H.B. Gosse in Stanton was on the M.E. church, in 1872. Mr. Gosse has been a resident of our town ever since. He is a young man of considerable artistic ability, practical, we may say, in all branches of the painting business. During his residence here he has done an almost endless amount of work, and made considerable money.
THE FIRST FIGHT OVER LOCATION OF COUNTY BUILDING
Interesting Reminiscences of Early Days in Montcalm County
FOREWORD--During the past two months or more, readers of the Clipper-Herald have been enjoying reading the early history of Stanton and vicinity as given in articles setting forth the experiences and recollections of early settlers here. This feature has been made possible by the energetic and capable work of Mrs. Mary Clifford Smith, who interviewed the pioneers, took copious notes of their statements, and re-wrote the stories in pleasing narrative style typed and ready for the printer. This entailed no small amount of work for Mrs. Smith, and she is receiving the thanks of many readers for the efficient manner in which she performed the job.
As an added feature in the “early history" program, the Clipper-Herald publishes below the first of a series of four letters written by Mr. George F. Case, one of the very first settlers here. These letters are reprinted from the Montcalm Herald, in which paper they were printed in the spring of 1898. At that time Fred E. Moffatt was editor and publisher of the Montcalm Herald, who finally induced Mr. Case to write the letters for publication. The letters were clipped from the Herald at that time and have been carefully preserved by Mr. Delos S. Towle, and through his courtesy we are permitted to offer them to the Clipper-Herald for publication.
LETTER No. l
Editor of Herald:
Well, having left old Green Mountain state at a very early age, and at the age of 16 settled in Jackson county, this state, at the age 24, with my young wife, I settled in Greenville, this county, and in the spring of ’54 went to work in a saw mill at that place. Greenville at that time was about as large as Sheridan is now. In this same year I set up the first printing press in the county, and still have a copy of that first paper printed, Sept. 4, ‘54, Milo Blair, proprietor. In that same year I helped elect Kinsley S. Bingham, the first Republican governor ever elected, and I have helped elect all the rest of them. In November ‘57, I moved to what was known as the Rider mill in Evergreen township, and in 1860 was elected supervisor “on the county issue," and whether I have served my constituents faithfully time will tell.
The county of Montcalm was organized by act of the legislature in 1850, and the county seat was temporarily located at Greenville until 1860 when it was to be permanently located by the board of supervisors. But, as the county began to grow, the Greenville people began to get uneasy about the matter, so they went to the legislature and got the organic act amended so as to put the matter under the general constitutional provision, which required a two-thirds vote of the people--quite a change, you see. But Greenville was not happy then; the eastern part of the county was growing too fast. So they went to the legislature again and succeeded in getting four towns from Mecosta county, known as the Pierson towns, attached to this county for judicial and municipal purposes. But our representative, Jake Ferris, succeeded in getting a provision in the act prohibiting these towns voting on the county seat question. Well, now, wasn’t Greenville mad clear through!
This brings us to 1860, the year for the final settling of the matter. Now, you must remember, that there was not a lawyer outside of Greenville in the whole county, and all the business men and smart men were gathered there. So you can imagine it was a rather unequal contest for a lot of us backwoods mossbacks to enter. We had very few papers to read back in the woods, but every supervisor had a copy of the Statutes and we made that our study in those days--I know I did at least. The year 1860 being state equalization year, the board of supervisors met in June, and the struggle began at that time. There were several places mentioned, but the geographical center of the county was the only place that could be agreed upon, and the opposition declared that if the county seat was moved from Greenville it should go to the center of the county, if it was in the middle of a big swamp, which many of them believed it to be at that time. Well, after a long discussion and considerable buncombe, we made the geographical center of the county as the proposed county seat. Then the claim was set up that we had not land to locate on, although Hon. Fred Hall had agreed to deed the county 40 acres, and George S. Frost, agent of the St. Mary Falls Canal Co., had agreed to deed us 40 acres more in case the county seat should be located on either forty. But there was so much talk about it that we finally sent two members of the board to Ionia to get a deed from Mr. Hall. They drove from Greenville to Ionia in the night, got Mr. Hall out of bed, got the deed and were back in time to answer to their names at the morning roll call. That settled considerable noise, but there were threats of “government injunction" because we would not allow the supervisor from Pierson to vote on the county seat issue, although the act attaching that town prohibited him from so voting. You know good lawyers sometimes overlook some very small but vital matter. So it was with us. We adjourned without ordering the election, supposing we could finish up the business at the October meeting. But you remember I told you I was studying law in those days and I happened to discover that we had to give thirty days notice of the election, which we could not do after the annual meeting in October. Well, what then? I hitched up my team, put in a small grist and went to Amsden to mill and also to see our chairman, Mr. M. P. Follett, and by good luck found my friend, Ira Barlow, Supervisor from Sidney. We talked the matter over and decided we were beaten unless we could call an extra session of the board. We at once drew up a petition and signed it, but of course we had to have the signatures of a majority of the board. I took the petition home with me and the next morning I mounted one of my horses and started for signers. I first went to Bushnell and got Wm. Castle’s name, thence to Bloomer, Aaron Lyon, Supervisor; thence to Crystal, John L. Smith, Supervisor; thence to Ferris, Peter Schlappi, Supervisor. I stayed all night there and next day came home and rested until the next morning. Then, taking my other horse, I went to Greenville to the County Clerk’s office to get the call issued, but found the clerk, Dr. Sprague, away from home. So I started out to find his deputy. I found him finally in the person of Byron Moors, who informed me that he had never done any business in the office and knew nothing about it, but as we were old friends he said that if I would write up the call he would sign it and affix the seal, and you can guess I was not long in getting that call ready. When it was ready and copies made, it was agreed that I should notify all the eastern members and he would send an officer to notify the western members. Then, of course, I had to travel all that road again, and no one but an old resident knows what it meant to traverse the eastern part of this county forty years ago. September the 20th the Board of Supervisors met in special session. Then the fun began! The member from Eureka came blustering around, and claimed that we could not hold a legal meeting because he at least had not been legally notified. Well, that was a staggerer, to be sure. But our chairman ordered the clerk to call the roll, and the members all (including the Eureka member) answered to their names. That, of course, settled the legal point. We very soon ordered the election and went home. Well, the canvass was about as hot as a presidential canvass generally is. We carried the election by a safe majority, although the town of Pierson persisted in voting and sent their canvasser to help canvass the votes, and we ignored that town’s vote, although we had a majority, even counting this vote. This ended the matter until our January meeting, when there was more fun. Geo. F. Case.
COURT HOUSE CONSTRUCTED; OCCUPIED
Interesting Reminiscences of Early Days in Montcalm County
(Article No. 2, by Geo. F. Case)
In January, 1861, the board of supervisors met in adjourned session. The county seat having been located at the center of the county, the next thing was to get things going. We ordered twenty acres of land cleared for a building site.
Then we ran against a snag. We found we could appropriate $1,000 for building purposes by a majority vote, but it required a two-thirds vote to appoint a building committee to spend that money. Now the Pierson supervisor became a factor and we could not get a two-thirds vote without him--a dilemma for sure. Well, we found the supervisor from Pierson, Mr. Blanding, had an ax to grind, so we began to turn. He wanted the town of Winfield organized and agreed to vote with us if we would organize the town. You must remember that we were all back woods mossbacks, so we passed the organic act for his town and then took up the appointment of a building committee, but when it came to a vote Mr. Blanding voted against us, claiming that he only agreed to vote for the appropriation, which only required a majority vote, which we had without him. It being late in the evening, we adjourned till morning. The first thing in the morning was to consider the organizing of the town of Winfield, Bill Backus County Clerk, although rather sharp had failed to transmit the matter to the Secretary of State, which would have put it beyond our reach. This put us back a year and the matter remained in status quo until the October session of 1861, at which time Mr. Blanding, of Pierson, acme to us and said, “Boys, I was wrong, my people gave me fits and told me that since the county seat had been fairly located it was best to go ahead and get things going as soon as possible." We said, “All right, Mr. Blanding, you vote with us for the building committee and then we will help you organize your town." You can bet your last cent that we appointed that committee in about as quick time as you ever saw business done in any legislative body. And that committee was instructed to build a building for court house and county offices and have it ready for the meeting of the board the first week in January. It was then just the middle of October. We adjourned from Greenville to meet in an imaginary building the first week in January, and not a wagon road nearer than Nevins Lake nor a saw mill nearer than Amsden. But we did it.
But wasn’t the air hard to breathe on account of its being so full of injunctions! Talk of “Government by Injunctions"--No Sir-ee, we would not be allowed to take the books and records up there in the woods, not as long as there were any injunctions left anywhere around. Not much! The first week in January 1862, the board of supervisors met as per adjournment at the new county seat and in the new court house. You should have seen us come tramping up there with our dinner baskets, like a lot of school boys out in the country. But we did not need our baskets, as Dr. Derby had moved from Derby Lake, established a boarding house in one room of the court house, was prepared to feed us, and had arranged a row of beds on the floor on each side of the court room, so we proceeded to business. Of course, the lobby was not very large and those injunctions that were so thick around Greenville were not in very large force. So we grew bolder and actually voted that court house to be the judicial seat of Montcalm County and Judge Lovell actually respected that vote and held the next term of court there. Now if you will go up to the county clerk’s office “Johnnie" will tell you that the meeting of the board January 1862, was a hot one. He will tell you that we even got up in the night to hold a session, by-the-bye, our chairman got tired of too much fun (there was not much sleeping) and when he got the board in session at two o’clock in the morning he was going to rush business right through and go home, but he “reckoned without his host," although he used some big words that would burn the paper if you should try to print them. He could not hold that board even with gag-bits, and after about five minutes session the board was adjourned until morning. What a night, oh my countrymen! Morning came at last and after the ordinary business was over the board ordered the county officers to move to their respective offices and occupy the court house forthwith--which means immediately, pretty soon, before long. Well then, we had a county seat and called it “Fred" in honor of Fred Hall, of Ionia, who gave us the forty acres on which the court house stands. Mr. Hall did not appreciate the honor and objected to the name, but it went by that name for several months, until we got up a petition for a post office. We left the name blank and sent it to Mr. Hall to give it a name. Mr. Hall, although a Democrat, was a great admirer of Secretary Stanton who was President Lincoln’s Secretary of War, and he immediately inserted the name of “Stanton" and forwarded our petition to the Post Office Department. Then we had to go to the legislature and get our name changed accordingly.
We at once platted the forty acres on which the court house stands and gave one half acre to every person who would build a house thereon, suitable for a family to live in, and one-fourth acre on Main street for business purposes. In the first week in February ‘63, I moved to Stanton to take charge of the county clerk’s office and I at once began to inquire about the forty acres of land the Canal Co. had promised us. No one seemed to know and the former clerk, being one of our “friends of the enemy," had done nothing about the matter, so I at once commenced a correspondence with Mr. George Frost, the agent of the Canal Co, at Detroit. He quibbled about the matter for some time, but after quoting his promises which I found in writing among the files in the clerk’s office, he wrote me that, “Relying on the accuracy of your representations, I have made a deed and forwarded it for the president’s signature." The deed came in due time and the city was that much richer. Now if any one tells you they are going to move the county seat back to Greenville or to any other place you just tell them to come and see me, and I will give them a small idea of what it costs to move a county seat. Now, that the county seat is disposed of, I will mention some other matters that I have neglected while living over again the county seat war.
First, I will give you a little outline of the way financial matters were conducted. As long as our county seat remained at Greenville our county orders were never worth more than 75 cents on a dollar, and we usually had to take one-half of that in trade, the treasurer’s office always being kept in a store, except the last two years, and if we would not trade out a large part of our order we would be obliged to wait for our money indefinitely. GEO. F. CASE.
EARLY GROWTH OF TOWN AFTER COURT HOUSE SETTLEMENT
Industries and Schools Organized and Wagon Roads Built
Letter No. 3
Lumber and Wild Cat Money
When I settled in Greenville in 1854, there were two saw mills and each mill cut about three thousand feet of lumber in eleven hours, or six thousand feet a day, as they usually run night and day. The lumber was rafted into Flat River, run to Grand Haven and shipped to Chicago, and paid for in merchandise and western wild cat money, and we had to take our pay in the same. The money was worth 50 to 75 cents on a dollar--or, in worthless--for we could not travel “east" with it, even as far as Ionia. It was certainly poor enough for a populist.
The county at that time was covered with pine timber, which if it could have been left standing until today would have been worth at least one hundred million dollars. But we kept cutting it and increasing the capacity and number of our mills until the old mills of forty years ago make us think of the farmer cutting his wheat with a sickle. Compare the sickle, cutting a handful at a time with the modern harvesters, or wheat headers, cutting a swath fourteen feet wide, and you have about the difference in saw mills 40 years ago and now. “Verily the earth do move," or the people do at least.
Development of Stanton
Very soon after the county seat war was over and the court house was built, our county treasurer, Hon. Levi Camburn (our present mayor) moved his family into one room of the court house and with the register of deeds, Uncle Dan Cornell, commenced business. About the same time Mr. Abe Roosa built a log house for a hotel. I came from my farm in Evergreen, nine miles, to help raise that building and many others came nearly as far. The hotel stood just south of the present Central House. My family was the third to settle here and my one scholar made six in the public school. I moved here the first week in February, 1863. Each family in succession occupied the log shanty built by the jobbers who chopped the first twenty acres I told you about. The shanty stood partly in the street between the Stevens block and the Beers house. Capt. Beers was the fourth settler and lived in a log house where John Braun’s house now stands. The cabin was built by a Rev. Trowbridge, who preached around the country and here for a few years.
Mr. Camburn built a comfortable frame house in the summer of ‘62, and in ‘63 Capt. Beers, Uncle Dan Cornell and myself each built a small frame house nearly all alike. The small part of the Beers house and the small part of the Cornell (the latter now owned by Orion White) are still standing. The one I built burned several years ago. It was owned by W. J. Fairbanks. It meant something to build in those days. My lumber was drawn from the old Rider mill in Evergreen, and the others from the same place or Amsden. Although there was a saw mill built here about that time, the lumber was all green.
To get our sash, doors, nails, glass, etc., I took my ox team and with Capt. Beers and our families, we drove to Ionia, bought our goods and got home, being only three days and two nights on the road--and still some people grumble about railroads.
The State road from Ionia was finished to the sand hills, three miles south. That three miles was finished in 1863. Our mail was brought from Greenville on horseback once a week. Capt. J. P. Beers was the first postmaster. After the State road was finished we succeeded in getting a mail route established from Ionia. Then, after a year or two of mud wagons, we succeeded in getting a mail route established from Ionia. Then, after a year or two of mud wagons we finally got something they called a “stage," and it certainly was a great improvement.
If you want to know any more about it, ask Norm Shepard. But perhaps he can’t remember about it for he had no wife then to help him remember--just an old bach.
Well, business just run along leisurely, our stuff all carted in from Ionia and our lumber and shingles carted out in the same way, until 1873, when the railroad was completed. Then business began to hum.
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This delay made it necessary to provide office and vault space for the several offices, which was done by renting rooms in various buildings on Main street. Circuit Court was held in a room over Smith Brothers store. The Probate Court was in the rear, the School Commissioner had a desk on the East side, and the County Clerk had the rest of the building now occupied by the Danish Kitchen. A good vault was built in this building for their use. The Sheriff’s office and jail was in the North side of the City Hall, now occupied by the School shop. The Prosecutor had rooms over Stevensons store, (now Stebbins). The Treasurer was located where Herb Baker’s Insurance is, and I believe that he also used the same vault as the Clerk. The Register of Deed’s Office was in the building now occupied by the Moyer store and a good vault was provided for this office. The Surveyor and Drain Commissioner were located over the Clerk’s office.
The Abstract office at that time was owned by D. A. Towle, and was located in the building now owned by Drs. Lilly, Hansen and Reid.
A proposal to bond the County for $40,000 was submitted to the voters on April 3, 1905. It lost by a vote of 3,197 for to 3,774 against. On April 2, 1906, it was again voted on; but lost 3,214 to 3,455. It was submitted again on November 6, 1906 and lost by a vote 2.231 to 2.474. The bond this time was to be for $30,000. On April 1, 1907, the same proposition was defeated by a vote of 2,371 to 3.074.
Nothing further was done until April 5, 1909, when the proposal was for a $50,000 bond issue, which was lost by a vote of 3,920 to 4,113. The proposal to bond for $50,000 was finally carried on April 4, 1910 by a vote of 2,966 to 2,935, a majority of 31. And, so five years after the Court House burned, the people, by their vote, adopted the Resolution adopted by the Board of Supervisors to bond for $50,000.
On April 13, 1910, the Board of Supervisors met and appointed a committee to advertise for bids for the sale of the bonds. The same day, George Holland of Sidney, Henry Sharpe of Montcalm, and Edwin Porter of Douglass were appointed as a building committee. The bonds were sold, Edwyn A. Boyd was selected as the Architect, and the contract to build was let to Wright & Prall of Ionia, on June 24, 1910, for $58,280.68, and included building the sheriff’s residence, jail, and boiler house or heating plant. The contract for heating was let to Henry Gable of Ionia for $3,168.33 and the plumbing for $2,034.36. The building required about two years, and the various offices moved in during the year 1912.
The building is a beautiful structure of buff colored brick, trimmed with stone and is considered to be fireproof. It is equipped with excellent vaults for the safety and preservation of the various records, files and vital statistics.
SCHOOLHOUSE VICTORIOUSLY COMPLETED
Early Day Citizens Were Proud of their New Building
Letter No. 4
We had a few fogy croakers, who thought it unwise to put two thousand dollars into a school house to accommodate so few scholars. Well, I was director and working member of the board and of course had to stand all the abuse, but I stood it like a little man and told them there were scholars, and scholars, and more school. We selected our plan and proceeded to let the contract to build what is now the central part of our schoolhouse, consisting of two rooms and a small wing or “L" on each side for hall and stairways. But there was so much noise and opposition that we finally concluded to leave the upper room without seating. The building was commenced in June and finished, so that we started out first school in the building Christmas day. E. K. Wood was teacher and he enrolled seventy-five scholars. How was that for progress? Seventeen pupils in June and seventy-five in December, and the building of that schoolhouse was what did it. As soon as the frame was up, strangers looking for a location would say, “Well, you must take a deal of interest in schools to build such a house as that here in the woods." So, I say, the building of that schoolhouse was the making of Stanton. And if anyone asks you, please tell them that the old settlers are just as proud of that school today as any parent can be of his children on graduation day. When school was well under way we got tired of the teacher having to pound on the window with the back of a book to call the children into school, so we went to work and got up socials, exhibitions and other entertainments, until we finally raised money to purchase a bell. The bell came and I succeeded in coaxing two men to help me put the bell up over the roof and into the place where it now hangs. You can guess it was no small job, as the roof was icy and the bell weighed 200 pounds, but I was younger in those days. And I still love the sound of that bell, and I believe I can hear it better than any of the church bells. You remember that we used the schoolhouse for church purposes in those days. We made our arrangements so that each one should have an equal share of time--we did not bother much about “ologies," but “we had all things in common." But the school must have an organ, so we started the entertainments and socials again and kept at it until we had nearly money enough and while I was in Lansing during the summer of ‘67 I bought the organ for seventy-five dollars and brought it home with me, bringing it from Ionia in a livery rig.
Soon after this our schoolhouse was too small and we rented the house just east of the M. E. church for a primary department. Then after a year or two we commenced building additions to the schoolhouse and kept it up every two or three years until it came to present its present shape. Then we bought the building that is now used for the kindergarten department. The rest of the school business you know about, perhaps, better than I do. Only this, we old settlers worked hard to get our school started right, and if the present and succeeding generations of children will make good use of the school we worked so hard to establish, we will feel that we are well paid. But we cannot get value received for our time and money unless every child of school age is compelled, if necessary, to attend school.
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