ORVIN HEADLEY, farmer, section 35, Ashland Township, was born in Trumbell Co., Ohio, Dec. 5, 1831, and is the son of John and Celia (Coburn) Headley. His parents were natives respectively of Pennsylvania and New York. They were of German descent, and when the son was in his sixth year they removed to De Kalb Co., Ind. The father there engaged in farming and educated his children in accordance with his means and the facilities by the locality and period.
Mr. Headley was married June 12, 1853, in De Kalb Co., Ind, to Julia A., daughter of Dayton and Sophronia (Loomis) Moore. Her parents were born in Massachusetts and New York and were of Puritan lineage. Mrs. Headley was born Jan. 7, 1834, in POrtage Co., Ohio, and while she was yet an infant her parents removed to Medina Co., Ohio, and from there to De Kalb County. She secured a good education and was engaged a number of years in teaching in Indiana, and continued to follow the profession for two years after coming to Michigan. The family includes an adopted daughter, Minta A. Coburn, born July 4, 1869. Her parents were Orson and Ann (Headley) Coburn. Mr. and Mrs. Headley belong to the religious denomination known as Christians and hold their membership at Bailey.
In 1854, Mr. Headley came to Michigan. He moved his entire earthly outfit, consisting of his wife, household effects and farm stock. The locomotive power consisted of an ox-team and the journey consumed 12 days. (He has since made the entire trip between "sun and sun.") He settled first in Muskegon County, occupying the cabin which had been the home of Dr. Tatman, a name well-known in Newaygo County. During the first year he was engaged in chopping in the woods, and his wife taught school. He bought a farm under the Graduation Act. (This statutory provision related to Government lands which had been in market for various periods with reference to which it had been constructed. The prices for such lands varied in accordance with the time; those longest in market were offered at twenty-five cents an acre, and they were graded upwards to one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre.) Mr. Headley arranged for the purchase of a tract of 40 acres in Ashland, at 75 cents per acre. This land was situated in so dense a wilderness that he was obliged to cut a road thereto. He cleared a piece of land of brush whereon to set his house, and devoted all the time he could spare to the improvement of his place, his liesure for that purpose being regulated by the question of supplying the necessaries of life. He was in vigorous health, with a disposition to work, and found his resources in plentiful demand among neighbrs who had more money than available strength; and he worked at clearing land until he sufficiently improved his own property to sustain his family. The prosperity of Newaygo County is no mystery to an observer who considers what the necessities of its early settlers really were and all the privation and hardship they entailed, and the class of men who brought victory from such conditions. The generation of to-day would stand appalled if one simple condition of that period prevailed - that of obtaining supplies from remote points - even with the present facilities. The contrast proves the value of time and strength in the development of a new country, and that money may not always be a necessary means. Probably the most supreme moment of disgust experienced by Alexaner Selkirk was that in which he discovered the nugget of gold and realized its intrinsic worthlessness. It is a significant fact that they who were compelled to carry supplies from Grand Rapids until their land became sufficiently productive to be made sustaining, feel so well compensated by their achievements that those days of effort have sunk to comparitive nothingness, and it is certain that their cheerful, even joyous, recital of their experiences convey no impression of suffering or struggle. To his original purchase, Mr. Headley has added 60 acres, and has 40 acres under fine improvement.
Mr. Headley is a Republican in political belief and action. He ranks high in the esteem of his townsmen and has accepted the duties and responsibilities of many official positions. He has been Township Treasurer 13 succeeding years and is holding his second incumbency as Supervisor; is also assessor and Treasurer of his school district, a position he has held 12 years. He belongs to the Order of Good Templars and is connected with Lodge No. 369, of Ashland, in which body he occupies the position of Lodge Deputy.
As a representative pioneer agriculturalist of Newaygo County, the portrait of Mr. Headley is presented in this work.