NATHANIEL D. MACUMBER, farmer, section 27, Denver township, was born in Bristol, ONtario Co., N.Y., Feb. 6, 1817. His parents were Nathaniel and Mary (Clark) Macumber, natives of Massachusetts, and of Scotch descent. Soon after their marriage they moved upon a farm in Bristol, N.Y., and in 1817 emigrated to the then Territory of Michigan, and settled in Oakland County, upon a famr of 80 acres in the township of Novi, near the present site of Novi village. In one month after their arrival in Michigan his father died, leaving a wife and five children. What is quite remarkable, these children are all living and are residents of this State; and, although the parents were weakly, there is not an invalid among the children, and all have acquired a competency. Their names are: Hannah, Jason, Mary, Nathaniel D. and John C.
After the death of his father, Nathaniel was "bound out." and suffered more hardships and privations than usually fall to the lot of so young a man. After serving three years he sought his liberty; not by way of "coaxing off," but by suddenly breakig the bonds of tyranny that were crushing out his manhood. Accompanied by another young man, he started out to encounter the vicissitudes of life free from all restraint. He earned his first dollar by digging potatoes four days; and with this sum he set out for Monroe County, which he reached in due season. Here he engaged as errand boy for a man named Baten, with whom he remained for some time. His industry and fidelity won for him the love of his employer, and he always reverts to those days as an oasis in life's desert.
Upon leaving Mr. Baten, he went to Cleveland, Ohio, with a broom peddler; but the season being dull he found it difficult to find work. He finally acccepted a place in a blacksmith shop and learned the trade, working at it during the winter season, and spending the summer on the toe-path of the Ohio canal, for three years. When 17 years old he returned to his old home in Oakland County, where he worked on a farm until 21 years of age. He saved $100, with which he purchased 80 acres of land in Clinton County, where he built a shanty and began to improve his farm. Feb. 17, 1840, he married Amorette Higbee, daughter of Girard and Electa (Isham) Higbee, natives of Vermont, who was born in that State in 1817. They immediately settled upon the farm, which by severe toil was soon all improved.
In 1853, in company with an experienced "land looker," Mr. Macumber took a tour through the northern portion of Michigan. They explored various portions of the country, finding no living object to attract attention, except occasionally a timid deer; but they found an unbroken forest, embellished with beautiful, fragrant wild flowers. they finally located the N.W. 1/4 of section 27, in the present township of Denver, Newaygo County, it being the first land that was taken in the township; this does not include the pine lands, however, a portion of them having been previously taken. In March, the following year, Mr. M. built a board shanty. Mr. Daniel Weaver had established a saw-mill at Fremont and offered a reward to the person that would opne a road from that town to White River, a distance of 13 miles. Mr. M. accomplished this work with a yoke of oxen, and secured the reward. After completing his little shanty, 14 x 24, he went for his family, which then consisted of his wife and seven children, and moved them to his new home, arriving on a very cold day i March. His shanty had only three sides enclosed, and consequently there were 24 feet of doorway; but being well supplied with wood they were able to keep warm by hanging blankets around the stove. Inside of this little enclosure his family slept, while he kept up the fire. The next day he closed the extensive aperture in his dwelling, and from that time forward they were very comfortable for pioneers.
At the close of the second day he found that his ready cash amounted to $2.50. With this meagre sum, he started out to make a home in a dense forest and rear a large family of children. In order to obtain seed wheat for his first crop, he had to drive a cow to Newaygo, kill her and peddle the beef. And thus, step by step, he has pursued his arduous undertaking to make a nice home, and sufficient means to maintain himself during his last days. He has been successful; and from a primitive forest of 160 acres, he has produced a magnificent farm, which now consists of 220 acres, well improved. To perform this arduus task he has had but little aid except that of his own son. Upon this farm he has recently built an elegant residence, costing $5,000.
Mr. Macumber is a man of remarkable physical development; is intellectual, and vey influential among his townsmen. Feb. 6, 1874, his wife died of dropsy, leaving eight children and hosts of friends to mourn her loss. She was a kind and indulgent mother, an affectionate wife and a warm friend, - ready at all times to lend a helping hand wherever needed. Her husband attributes a great part of his success in life to her timely efforts. Jan. 18, 1880, Mr. M. married Mrs. Nancy (Civen) Cunningham, daughter of William and Sarah (Lowrey) Civen, natives of Ireland, who was born Jan. 1, 1854. Her parents came to this country when she was an infant, and located in Ontario, Can., where her mother died. Her father afterward moved to Monroe Co., N.Y., where his daughter lived and was educated, in the schools at Rochester. After completing her education she married Mr. Cunningham, and being a skillful seamstress, followed her vocation until she moved to Grand Rapids, where her husband died. They had six children, four of whom are living: William, Edward, Anna and Charles; Mary and George are deceased.
Mr. Macumber was Highway Commissioner several years, during which time he laid out, and helped to lay out, most of the main roads in the township. He took an active part in the first political meeting in the town, and is an active Republican.