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This page was last updated Tuesday, 25-Jun-2013 05:58:01 MDT

History of County and Townships - Shiawassee County, Michigan

HISTORY OF SHIAWASSEE COUNTY AND ITS TOWNSHIP

 

In 1822, the U.S. Government employed Joseph Wampler, William Brookfield and parties to survey what is now known as Shiawassee County. Once the survey was completed, the land description was recorded at the U.S. Land Office in Detroit. This opened the way for land purchases. When the land for the county was originally laid out in 1823, it included parts of present day Livingston, Ingham and Genesee counties. The present day boundaries were established on March 23, 1836. At that time, an Indian Reservation covered parts of NW Burns Township, Antrim, Vernon and Shiawassee Townships. The county received it's name from the Indians. It is said that the first fur trapper asked Indians for directions to the reservation and they answered in their own language "Shiawassee."  It meant " the river straight ahead." The Shiawassee River has been called by this name since. The first pioneer families sent agents or family members ahead to purchase their land. They later traveled here in small groups along the Shiawassee and Maple Rivers. As they traveled from Oakland county to their new lands they built roads. Travel was difficult and all who were able to walked. Life was very hard for the pioneers. They often built a large cabin to share until each family could build it's own. Many lives were lost to the harshness of the wilderness. One by one the townships were established as more people came to settle in Shiawassee. The county seat is located in Corunna and the largest city is Owosso. Some of the early villages and towns no longer exist. Those that survived are mainly small towns and villages, that serve a farming community or have become bedroom communities to Flint, Saginaw and Lansing.
 

For an in depth history of the entire county, please visit the Clarke Historical Library site. They have scanned images of the 1880 History of Shiawassee and Clinton Counties online. There is no name index for this book available online however.
 

BURNS TOWNSHIP

In 1820, Whitmore Knaggs, came to Burns Township to trade furs with the Indians on the reservation. Other traders soon followed including his nephew John Knaggs. They established a trading post that would become the location of the first post office. Ebenezer F. Wade was the postmaster. The township is believed to be named for the Scottish poet, Robert Burns and it's first settler was Dyer Rathburn in 1835. Francis Prevost founded Byron in 1836, The first township meeting was held in his home. Elected officers were Ezra D. Barnes, Thomas P. Green, Amos Foster, Peter Kanouse, Rufus C. Rathburn, Francis J. Prevost, Robert Crawford, John Burgess, Wallace Goodin and Almonzo Woods. The township was officially recognized on March 11, 1836. In 1850 the land occupied by the Indian Reservation was opened for settlement. Although Byron would remain the only village in the township, worship services were held in one of the eight schools at Union Plains. A cemetery was established and remains today. Several places in Byron have been placed on the State Register of Historical Places, including the cemetery. There are over twenty-seven hundred graves and approximately six hundred are dated before 1900.
 

ANTRIM TOWNSHIP

Antrim Township is thought to have gotten it's name from Antrim, Ireland or the town of Antrim in New Hampshire. Allen Beard (pronounced Baird) and his brother-in-law Lyman Melvin of New York, were the earliest pioneers to the township. They purchased land on what is now known as Beard Rd. Peter Cook And Alanson Alling were soon neighbors of the brother-in-laws. Other early pioneers include; Calvin Howard, Mortimore B. Martin, Almond Harmon and his brothers, Harvey, Chauncey and Daniel, Nathaniel Durfee, John Adams, Mortimore Martin, John Ward, Charles Locke, John Near and Horace Flint. The Harvey brothers built a sawmill at the Glass River area. They soon sold it to Thomas Munger, who sold it to Issac and Walter Wright. A small village, consisting of a school, blacksmith shop, sawmill store and church, soon emerged. It was named Antrim but later changed to Glass River. John Near was the first postmaster. While we might think of the "Pony Express" as being a western service, it was through them that mail was delivered. Today only the church and old store remain. The church was a First Methodist Episcopal Church. Elected officials for the township were: Thomas B. Flint, Charles Locke, John Ward, Allen Beard., Henry Harmon, Lyman Melvin, Horace Flint, Hiram Van Natter, Peter Cook and Chauncey Harmon. The first election was held April 2, 1838 at the home of Almond Harmon. Some of the township drains are named after these pioneers; Peck, Morgan, Clay, Griffith, Scribner, Love and Neal. At one time the township had ten schools. There are three cemeteries located in the township.
 

BENNINGTON TOWNSHIP

In 1838 the township was part of Perry Township. In 1841 the State of Michigan, laid out the boundaries of the present township. The name, was given by the first pioneers. Many of which came from Bennington, New York. There is a road and small village by the same name. Samuel Nichols bought the first land in the township in 1825. The first township meeting was held in his home in1838. Elected officials included; Lemuel Castle, Ira B, Howard, Samuel Pitts Jr., Nelson Waugh, Joseph P. Roberts, Samuel B. Bugbee, Samuel Nichols, Samuel Kellogg, Jerry Howard, Archibald Purdy, Joel North, Hiram Davis and Horace Mann. Giles Tucker opened the first store. Next came Jonathon M. Hartwell. He established a stage coach stop, hotel, tavern, general store and post office. Mr. Hartwell became the first postmaster in 1841. The post office was named after him and run by his family until 1901. A small village named Pittsburg was named for Moses Pitts. Who, along with his son, Safford, opened the hotel, store, post office, blacksmith shop and established the church and school. Henry Rutherford was the postmaster. Other early settlers were C. W. Sager, M. E. Bugbee, Issac Gale, James Bugbee, Ezekiel Cook and Newcomb Mitchell. The village of Bennington had a store, depot, elevator, post office and church. The first postmaster was Benjamin Davis. The six rural schools were also used as churches for worship services.
 

CALEDONIA TOWNSHIP

On March 22, 1839, the legislature declared Caledonia to be a separate township. It was probably named after a town in New York. By 1842, the township had expanded into it's present day boundaries. The first settler to the township was John Swain, from Chenanago, NY in 1834. He was a carpenter and preacher, who held the first worship services in the township. A member of his family was the first to be born in the township in 1836. He sold his farm on Kerby Rd. after his wife had died and been buried there in 1836 and moved to Vernon. Captain John Davids, who had been the agent for the Shiawassee County Seat Co. bought the farm and gave up his position of agent to become a farmer. Other first settlers were, Philo Rockwell and Stephen Hawkins. Rockwell didn't remain in the area very long. Hawkins built the first County Courthouse, several homes, the first school known as Hawkins School and the first bridge known as Hawkins Bridge. Titus Yerkes and his wife had come from New York and Pennsylvania in 1849. He was a miller and had a dam built across the Shiawassee River. Lemuel Eddy built a grist mill known as Valley Mills. The first township meeting was held in 1839 in the home of Alexander McArthur, who was elected Supervisor. Samuel Warren was secretary and treasurer. D.P. Congdon, Alexander McArthur and W.R. Seymour were assessors. S.N. Warren, McArthur, and John Davids were the school inspectors. Stephen Hawkins, Ninion Clark and John Davids were the highway commissioners. Justices of the Peace were Samuel N. Warren, McArthur, Davids and Don C. Griswold. James Thompson of Jefferson Co., NY, came in 1857 and with the help of another settler named Moe, built a cabin on 160 acres in section 14. He later brought his family and established a school for his children. The area surrounding the farm later became the Caledonia Coal Mines. Samuel Kerby, with his family of 12 children came from Canada in 1870. He was a preacher. Samuel Kerby Jr. operated a grain elevator on their farm in section 24. In 1847, the county purchased an 80 acre farm to be used as the county poor farm. Many elderly people lived there in their last days and a cemetery is located on the property in section 32 on Lyons Rd. Corunna is the county seat and is located in Caledonia township. Early settlers of Corunna were Alexander McArthur, Andrew Mack, J.C. Schwartz, John McDonnell, S.B. Miner, Horace Comstock, John Davids, and Nelson Ferry. Mr. Ferry was a teacher and surveyor and taught at the first school in Corunna. Elected officials for Corunna in 1858 were A. McArthur, B.O. Williams, E.F. Wade, A.A. Belden, C.W. Coe, George Wilcox, P.S. Lyman and Daniel Bush. Joel K. Akrim was the first postmaster. Other early pioneers were Luke Parsons, Hugh McCrudy, Andrew Parsons, Silas and Daniel Ball, A.H. Beach, John Frasier, James Wheeler, Chauncey Hurlburt, John Ingersoll, Henry Gilbert and Todd Kincaid.
 

FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP

Fairfield is the smallest of the townships and because it was heavily wooded with many swampy areas, it was not settled until much later than the other townships. In 1884, the railroad went through and a small village was established by a man named Carland, when he was sent there by the railroad. The first post office was established in December 1884. The elevator and Methodist church still serve the area residents. The Hambleton Church was named for E.S. Hambleton and was built near the Methodist church. The first township meeting was held at the home of Henry Stebbins on April 3, 1854. J.A. Borden was elected Supervisor. Henry Stebbins was elected Clerk. Other officials were Henry Higgins, treasurer; Lewis Lockwood, Uri Squires and G.B. Munson, highway commissioners; Alfred Veltman, Munson and A.S. Braley, justices of the peace; John A. Meyers, James Hill and J.E. Rouse, constables; Squires, John A. Borden and Veltman, school inspectors; Stebbins, Veltman and Meyers were the poormasters. Ephraim F. Bennett, George Munson, Itheial Munson, Moses Leavitt, R.G. Van Deusen, Lewis Lockwood and Chester Fox were among the early settlers along with the Williams and Duham families. The Olney Corners post office was established in 1883 in the settlement named after J. Olney.
 

HAZELTON TOWNSHIP

The township receives it's name from Porter Hazelton, who along with two brothers, George and Edgar, built a bridge across the Flint River. The State had hired them to build the bridge but had no money to pay them or their partner, Ezekial Ewing, upon it's completion. The state instead gave them much of the land known as Hazelton Township as payment. Porter began selling the land to settlers. The first elected officials were; Supervisor, Orrin Smith; Clerk J.L. Richardson; Treasurer, E.D. Lord; Highway Commissioners, Stanton Latham, J.L. Richardson and Otis Burpee; Justices of the Peace, Abram Pearson, S.D. Latham, J. Willis and Otis Burpee; Directors of the Poor, Abram Pearson and E.E. Fowls; Constable, E.E. Fowls. Latham and Fowls were relatives who came to the township in 1848. Mr. Latham was instrumental in organizing the townships government but didn't stay very long. Other pioneers were; Salmon McIntyre, H.S. Allan, WW. Warner., Daniel Patterson, C.S. Gilliet, Jacob Brown, Amos Lewis, John Decker, Elijah Coon, B. Dutcher, George Jacobs and John Judd. The villages of the township were New Lothrop, Juddville and Hazelton. New Lothrop was set upon 80 acres owned by A.W. Gillet and a Mr. Luce along with 80 acres owned by Nathan and Levi Colby. Gideon Silverthorne and Alexander Bailey built a store in 1871. A grist mill, blacksmith shop, hotel and harness shop were also built. The school house and churches were built later. The town was named for C.V.N. Lothrop, an area landowner. The first postmaster was Calrton K. Rummels, 1878. Juddville was named for pioneer John Judd. Jane Judd was the first school teacher. In 1858 a Methodist church was established. The first postmaster was Eli D. Babcock, who was also a blacksmith. Hazelton was located in parts of sections 14 and 22. It was first entered in 1836 by Eliakim wood from the estate of General James Wadsworth. H.J. Patterson and his wife had the first school in their home. Eratus Call and B.F. Dunlop built the first store in 1872. Other businesses soon followed. The first postmaster was John Newell in 1857.
 

MIDDLEBURY TOWNSHIP

Obed Hathaway was the first settler in Middlebury Township in 1836. He came with his wife and four children. They stayed with Henry Leach of Sciota Township until their own cabin could be built. In 1837 George Slocum brought his family to the Leach home and stayed until their cabin was built in section 35 of Middlebury. Middlebury receives it's name from Middlebury, New York. The first election was held in the home of Moses Clark Jr. in 1839. The officials elected were; William Palmer, supervisor; Moses Clark, clerk; John Slocum, treasurer; Wm. Palmer, John Palmer and Elijah Potter, assessors; Wm. Palmer, John Palmer and Moses Clark Jr., school inspectors; John Slocum, Moses Clark Jr, and John Palmer, highway commissioners; John Slocum, Elijah Potter and Moses Clark Jr., justices of the peace; John Palmer, overseer of the road district no. 1. There were no hamlets located in Middlebury. The residents relied on the businesses in near by Ovid and Burton for goods. In 1845 George Slocum was granted a postoffice at his home. It was named Middleburgh as there was already a Middlebury postoffice in the state. In 1850 a postoffice was opened on the farm of Ira Stinson. He was the first postmaster. The office was later moved to the farm of Horton Warren when he became the postmaster. While later in the history of the township, it should be known that during World War II, a prisoner of war camp was located in the township. A racetrack, located at Carland Rd and M-21, was used to house German prisoners who had been brought to the United States. The camp was known as Camp Owosso. The men were housed in tents with cement floors. 200 prisoners were brought in on May 30, 1944. By July the number had risen to 375. Prisoners were allowed to work out on area farms and at the Roach Canning Factory as well as at the Aunt Jane's Pickle Factory. During the winter the prisoners were taken to camp Custer, near Kalamazoo, MI. In 1945 they were returned to the camp. For the most part the prisoners were well liked and presented little problems in the township. Two prisoners tried to escape but were caught and sent to Camp Custer. At the end of the war the camp was disbanded.
 

NEW HAVEN TOWNSHIP

New Haven's present day boundaries were set in 1850. Before that it included part of Hazleton Twp. and was originally part of Owosso Twp. Horace Hart, his wife and his four sons, Robert, Joseph, Lewis and Joel were the first to purchase land in 1836. He purchased 480 acres in section 35. Richard Freeman came next from England to settle on land owned by Peter Reid. He was followed by Humphrey Wheeler from Oakland Co. in 1838. Mr. Wheeler built his home and soon built a log hotel on his property at the corner of present day State and Henderson Rds. The hotel became a stage stop and on Aug. 3, 1857, Mr. Wheeler became the first postmaster of the Wheelerville Post Office. The postoffice was closed in1865. Wheeler also had a general store on his property. It was visited often by the Indians as well as bears and wolves. April 1841 saw the first township meeting at the home of Mr. Freeman. The elected officers were: Supervisor, Humphrey Wheeler; Clerk, Joel A. Hart; Treasurer, Lewis Hart; Assessor, H. Wheeler, William Durkee, Horace Hart; School inspectors, H. Hart, H. Wheeler, Peter Reid; Justices of the Peace, H. Hart, H. Wheeler, Wm. Durkee; Directors of the poor, R. Freeman, J. Hart; Highway commissioners, Peter Reid, John Dunlap; Constable, Robert C. Hart. The first school master was Ira Rush. Area churches included the Methodist Episcopal Church, later moved and change to a Wesleyan Church, Free Methodist Church, German Evangelical Church, which had it's own school and is now a Community Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Union Church and Easton Church. There was also another Wesleyan church. There was a postoffice near the Easton church and Milford A. Taylor was postmaster in 1887. The first township postoffice had been established in 1851 with Lewis Hart as postmaster. This postoffice was in West Haven. In 1869, Ezra Mason surveyed the little town of West Haven for two men, Mr. D. M. Estey and E.E. White. They planned to build a furniture factory. A Mr. Quackenbush had dammed the six-mile creek and built a saw mill there. Mr. White came in 1868 and Mr. Estey in 1869. They built a factory to make furniture and bedsteads. Soon a school and two stores were built. One by Joseph Gibbs, who sold to Abram Mott a short time later. Mr. Mott sold to Estey and White. J.W. Angell was the manager of the other store. He was also the first postmaster at West Haven. Anson Kimball opened the blacksmith shop and Frank Thill had a wagon shop. In 1875, Mr. Estey sold the factory to a family named Callard and moved to Owosso. In the late 1890's a coal mine was established in West Haven. It operated until after 1911. There was a German settlement at the western part of the township. Some of the later settlers included these families; Shautz, Freeman, Wildermuth, Schultz, Bussell, Alliton, Osmer and Bartz.
 

OWOSSO TOWNSHIP

The city of Owosso is the largest city in Shiawassee County and is located in Owosso Township. When the county was first surveyed the land was inhabited by Chief Wassa and his band of Chippewa Indians. The city was named for the chief with the original name being Owasso. This was changed to present day Owosso. Benjiman Williams had traveled to Owosso in 1833 with Chief Little Bear. When he returned to Shiawassee Twp. he talked his brother, Alfred into buying land in Owosso. They purchased land in section 24 in august 1833. Elias Comstock and Lewis Findley from Oakland Co. were the next to purchase land in 1835. They purchased in sections of 13 and 24. Soon many families were coming from Oakland county to settle. It was in July 1835 when Elias Comstock, Lewis Findley, his daughter Lucinda, her husband Kilburn Bedell, John Overton, his wife and child, David Van Wormer and his family came to Owosso. Lewis Findley built a small cabin for them all to share until others could be built. A double cabin was built for the Van Wormers and Overtons on the river bank across from what is now the City Hall. Mr. Bedell built in section 12. Mr. Bedell is believed to be the first white man to die in the township. He took ill on a trip to the Exchange in Shiawassee Twp. and died shortly after returning home. He was buried on his farm near the river. A historical marker is located on the property near his grave. Mr. Findley had the first farm in the township and was active in politics, he later moved to New Haven. He is buried in the West Haven cemetery beside his wife, Lucy. Their tombstones bear witness to them as first pioneers. The city of Owosso, Mr. Findley and his family have a special meaning to my family. He was my husband's 3rd great-grandfather. After Mr. Bedell died, Lucinda married Andrew Madison. It is from them my husband descends. The cabin of Elias Comstock still stands today and is located in Heritage Park on Curwood Dr. Mr. Comstock was born in 1799 in New London, CT. He was the first Justice and later served as Supervisor, County Judge and Probate Judge. He help establish the first school. In 1836, the Williams brothers built the first dam across the river for water power. They started a store known as Williams Trading Post. Silas and Daniel Ball also became active business men in Owosso. Daniel was the first postmaster in 1838. The first city elections on April 4, 1859 elected the follow men: Amos Gould, Mayor; John Ingersoll, Clerk; Daniel Lyon, Treasurer; E.W. Barnes, Supervisor of the First District; Elisha Leach, Supervisor of the Second District; Charles M. Moses, Charles L. Goodhue, Alderman of the First Ward; Daniel L. Thrope, Thomas D. Dewey, Alderman of the Second Ward; John Gutekunst, George R. Black, Alderman of the Third ward; Stillman J. Harding, Eli D. Gregory, Alderman of the Fourth Ward; Ira Merell, Justice of the Peace for Second District; George K. Newcombe, Amos M. Kellogg, School Inspectors; Daniel Wait, M.W. Quackenbush, Directors of the Poor; Robert Hodgkins, of the First District and Ephriam Gould of the Second District, Constables. Two of Owosso's most famous people are Thomas Dewey, who almost became President of the United States and James Oliver Curwood, beloved author of many books and movies. The is a castle in Owosso that was built by Mr. Curwood. It also stands in Heritage Park on Curwood Dr. Mr. Curwood used the castle for a studio. Today it is a museum open year round. Owosso township was formed in 1937. On May 1, 1837 a meeting was held at the home of Daniel Ball in Owosso Twp. At that time the township covered the whole northern have of Shiawassee County. As other townships were formed and settled Owosso township came to it's present size. The officers elected at the first township meeting were: Supervisor, Lewis Findley; Clerk, Alfred L. Williams; Assessors, Daniel Ball, Samuel Warren and Abram Wilkinson; Highway commissioners, John B. Griswold, Henry S. Smith, Jehial Dunning; Justices of Peace, Daniel Ball, Elias Comstock, Alfred Williams, John Davids; School Inspectors, Elias Comstock, Alfred Williams, Samuel N. Warren; Constables, Henry S. Smith, Jehial Dunning, Abraham T. Wilkinson; Poormasters, Henry S. Smith, Samuel Wilkinson and Lewis Findley. The townships earliest settlement was founded by Rueben Griggs, who came from Henderson in Jefferson Co. NY with his brother-in-law Abram Wilkinson. They built one log cabin to house the two families and their five children for the first winter. Ezra Mason came next in 1836 from Rochester, NY. He brought his pregnant wife, two daughters and his brother-in-law and his family with him. They shared a cabin the first winter. His son, Ezra, was born Nov. 3, 1839 and was the first white child to be born in the township. Apollos Dewey from Vermont came with his family in 1839 to land he had purchased in 1835. He became a business man in the city of Owosso. A small hamlet, named Mungerville was founded by Philander Munger. He became the first postmaster in 1864. The town was later renamed Burton. The town was home to State Senator James McBride. At one time there were many businesses in Burton, however little remains today.
 

PERRY TOWNSHIP

Perry Township was given it's present boundaries in 1841. At first it was part of Shiawassee township and in 1838 it was separated but included part of Bennington township. It is named for Naval hero, Oliver James Perry. Josiah Purdy was the first settler, in 1836. The first school was named for him. William Morrice and his family from Aberdeenshire, Scotland came next in 1837. His brothers, George, John and Alexander followed him in 1838. The village of Morrice is named for them. Charles Tyler became the first postmaster in 1877. The village was platted by Issac Gale the same year. The first meeting was held at the home of Mr. Joseph Purdy on April 15, 1841. Elected to office were; Supervisor, Lyman Bennett; Clerk, J.P. Roberts; Treasurer, Lyman Bennett; Assessors, John Spaulding, J.P. Roberts, Winfield S. Ament; School supervisors, B.B. Brigham, J.P. Roberts, Lyman Bennett; Highway Commissioners, Levi Harmon, J.P. Roberts, Lyman Bennett; Justices of the Peace, J.P. Roberts, Levi Harmon, W.S. Ament, John Spaulding; Collector, Horace Green; Directors of the Poor, William Stevens, Josiah Prudy; Constables, John P. Shaft, Wm. Harmon, Horace Green, James Nichols. Horace Green and Dr. Joseph Roberts had come in 1837. The first school was at the home of Horace Green, who's daughter was the teacher. Josiah Stevens, J. Hinkley and Charles Locke established the first school in the eastern part of the township. Other early settlers were; George Reed, Jesse Whitford, Phineas Austin, John Shaft, Dr. S.M. Marchall, Bessie McQueen and Wiiliam Laing. Mr. Laing was the first postmaster of Perry Centre. James Andrews and Henry Smith were early teachers in the township. The townships largest city is also named Perry. It was originally named Perry Centre and was located about a mile south of the present city. Perry Centre was founded in 1850 and thrived until 1877 when the railroad went through. The village was moved to it's present location. Fire once destroyed most of the downtown area. Today, Perry is one of the fastest growing areas in mid-Michigan.
 

RUSH TOWNSHIP

Although Henry Rush didn't arrive in the township until 1843, the township was named for him. The first settler was Ransom White. He came in 1839 and settled on land in section 26. Next came Avery Thomas in 1842 from New York. William Goss, also from New York followed Mr. Rush. Being one of the northern most townships, Rush was not declared a separate township until 1850. A meeting was held at Henry Rush's home on April 1, 1850. The elected officers of the township were: Supervisor, Avery Thomas; Clerk, Wm. Goss; Teasurer, Robert Irland; Justices of the Peace, Wm. Goss, Avery Thomas, Robert Irland; Highway Commissioners, Wm. B. Hurd, Jonas Robbins, Robert Irland; directors of the Poor, Henry Rush, Richard Freeman; School Inspector, Avery Thomas; Constable, Jacob Rush. Lewis Hart was the first postmaster. The post office was later locate in Hendersonville, where William Cook became postmaster. Hendersonville was the township's only village and is named for Andrew Henderson. His son, John, built the first store. Soon other businesses grow and the small town had a sawmill, wagon and blacksmith shops. As well as a hotel grain elevator and other small shops. A coal mine was located in the township in the early 1900's but closed after a time as the coal ran out. Early pioneers to Rush were, Walter Graham, R.A. Sutliff, Michael O'Rouke, Wm. Sawyer, Silas Clark, Andrew Simons, Curtis Devoe, Samuel Ayers, Samuel Shuster, Benjiman Washburn, G. Whitfield Drown, Joseph Hoffman and brothers, Michael and Patrick Carmody.
 

SCIOTA TOWNSHIP

Cornelius Putman was the first pioneer of Sciota Twp. He brought his family from Buffalo, New York in 1836. The first township meeting was held in 1842, after the township had been defined and declared by the State of Michigan. The meeting was held at the tavern of Cyrus Miller in Laingsburg. The officers were: Supervisor, Mason Phelps; Clerk, Henry Smith; Treasurer, S.B. Fuller; Assessor, Levi McDaniels; Highway Commissioners, G.M. Goss, D.F. Randall; Justices of the Peace, Cyrus Miller, B.F. Childs, A. Smith; School Inspectors, A.P. Smith, Henry Smith, S.B. Fuller; Constables, A.C. Laing, L. McDaniels; Overseers of the Poor, E.M. Cross, A. Smith. Laingsburg, the only city in the township, was founded by Dr. Peter Laing. He came to the township in 1836 and built a log home. His home became a place for travelers to stay overnite and also a tavern. It would later become a stage stop. As travel increased along the Grand River Trail, Dr. Laing's house couldn't accommodate all those who wished to stop. The story goes, he built a large bonfire and anyone who wish could camp near it. His house became a store and post office. Henry Smith was the first postmaster in 1841. Mail was brought by pony express but later by stage coach. In 1854, the town name was changed to Nebraska, but was changed back to Laingsburg in 1864.
 

SHIAWASSEE TOWNSHIP

The earliest settlers to the township were, A.L. and B.O. Williams, who purchased land in section 25. They came from Grand Blanc and settled on their land in 1831. They quickly built a trading post to trade with the Indians and other pioneers. Soon they had a hotel, store and bank, known as The Shiawassee Exchange. When the brother's moved to Owosso Twp. in 1833 and sold their business to Andrew Parsons and Lemuel Brown. Although John Tinklepaugh was the areas first farmer, he didn't stay very long. Charles Bacon came in 1836 and was followed by Lucius Beach. Beach bought property in Shiawasseetown. Soon there was a hotel, store, post office and tavern, located in a two-story building. School was, oddly enough, held in the tavern along with court hearings. The town also had a carding mill, sawmill and other businesses. The little village of Newburg was founded by Hosea Baker, who came in 1833 to section 14. The village got it's name from Dr. Nicholas P. Harder, who had lived near Newburgh, New York. John Gramley was the first postmaster. Another small town was Fremont. John W. Gilbert and Issacs M. Banks were the first settlers in 1841. They originally called it Florence but this was later changed. They built the store and postoffice. Alonzo Howard was postmaster. The town would soon have three taverns a school and church. Like many of the smaller towns and villages of Shiawassee County, Fremont declined with the coming of the railroad. Bancroft would benefit from the railroad depot there in 1877. The town had a saw mill, planing mill, flour mill and two elevators. A school and churches were added. Early settlers to the township included; Wm. Newberry, A.G. Warren, G.W. Warren, Ephriam Wright, Jordan Holcomb, J.S. Harder, John Lemon, Joesph Parmenter, and O.E. Moore.
 

VENICE TOWNSHIP

Venice township's first pioneer was Zachariah Webb, who came in 1836. Next came Joel B. Goss in 1837, as did Hiram Johnson. William Placeway came in 1838 but like Mr. Webb, who left in 1838, he didn't stay long. Nelson Ferry, a surveyor and teacher came from Ohio with his family. He help establish the first school. School was held in his home, with his daughter being the teacher. When a school had been built, Mr. Placeway became the teacher. He taught in several area schools as well. Elnathan Brown came in 1839. He built a hotel and overnite stop in section 30. There was a grist mill near by. Riley Byington was a shoe maker and repaired shoes and boots in his home. Charles Wilkinson came from Jefferson County, New York in 1840. He settled in section 7, and held school in his barn. His son, George was the first boy born in the township. The first township meeting was held on April 1, 1843 at the home of Neely Sawtell. Elected officials were; Supervisor, Daniel I. Lipe; Clerk, Neely Sawtell; Treasurer, Charles Wilkinson; Highway Commissioners, Truman Bunce, Joseph Dunbar, A.M. Jennings; Directors of the Poor, Truman Bunce, A.M. Jennings; Constables, Charles Wilkinson, Wm. Placeway. Other pioneers were; Andrew Lytle, Alonzo Owens, Joseph Card, E.S. and C.L. Cronkhite, Samuel Martin and John Gerardy, who came from France in 1855. The townships only village was Lennon. It was built on the county line and was named for Peter Lennon of Genesee County.
 

 

VERNON TOWNSHIP

The township is believed to have gotten it's name from Vernon, New York. The first township meeting was held in 1837 at the home of William Reed, who had come in 1836. Mr. Reed was born in 1794 in Trenton, New Jersey. His wife was Minerva Woolcot. They had nine children, at least six of which were boys. The officers elected at this meeting were; Supervisor, Ransom w. Holley; Clerk, James Rutan; Justices, R.W. Holley, James Van Auken; Highway Commissioners, John Smedley, R.W. Holley, C.W. Miller; Assessors, Noah Power, Marvin Wilcox, Joseph Parmentor; Collector, S.N. Whitcomb; School Inspectors, James Rutan, R.W. Holley, James Van Auken; Constables, Noah Bovier, S.N. Whitcomb. Mary Miller, purchased the first land in the city of Durand in 1836. James and John Kenyon, William Young and Dr. L.D. Jones were the next. James C. Brand built a sawmill and made barrel staves and headings. Durand also had a store, wagon shop, blacksmith shop and a store which sold drugs and medicines. Durand was originally known as Vernon Center. It was renamed Durand after the Congressman who had helped get a postoffice for the town in 1876. William Putnam was the first postmaster. Durand was once a major railroad depot in the area. Today it is the location of the Michigan Railroad History Museum. The museum is housed in the old Grand Trunk Depot. Another village was Vernon located in sections six and seven. Mr. James Van auken from New York built the first brick home in the county there. James Rutan was the first postmaster in Vernon in 1842. His daughter Julia, taught school in their home. The first town elections were held in 1871, at the National Hotel. Elected were; President, Russell E. Bell; Trustees, Ephraim Jones, William Larry; Clerk, wm C. Pinney; Marshal, Benjiman Chase; Treasurer, Mortimore D. Rhodes; Assessor, Benjiman P. Warner. Thomas Winans and Joseph W. Yerkes had been judges of the election and Henry A. Bruno acted as clerk. Other pioneers were; Henry Leach, Jacob Wilkinson, Samuel Whitcomb, John Smedley, Joseph Pierce, Nathaniel Chalker, Wm. Garrison, Joseph Parmentor, Wm. Lovejoy, and Edward Holmes.
 

WOODHULL TOWNSHIP

John and Josephus Woodhull first came to the township, which would bear their name, in 1836. John brought his wife, three children, and the brother's parent and sister with him from Detroit, after a cabin had been built. William Hildreth had helped in the building. The first township meeting was held at the tavern of Peter Laing in 1839. Officers elected were: Supervisor, James Woodhull; Moderator, Henry Leach; Clerk, Oliver B. Wescott; Assistant Clerk, Benjiman Hewitt; Inspectors of the Election, John and Josephus Woodhull, Walter Laing, John Graham. At this time Woodhull still included what is presently Sciota Twp. The townships were separated in 1842. The first school was built by the Woodhull brothers, along with neighbors from Clinton county and Laingsburg. Indians that lived in the area at the time were friendly to the whites and they lived well together. John Shaft founded the village of Shaftsburg on part of the 2380 acres he had purchased in 1846. Shaftsburg, of the 1880's had several stores, a hotel, post office, blacksmith shop, school and churches. Shaftsburg, today has only the school, post office, small library, fire station and churches left. Many of the area residents are descendants of the early pioneers. Other pioneers include; Philander Maine, Patrick Cocoran, Samuel Graham, William Hammond, Reuben Place, Francis Mann, Benjiman Hewitt and Abram Schermerhorn.  

This page was created by and maintained by Bonnie McVicar-Briggs, Copyright 1996-2004.
This page was maintained by Pamela Cutway, Copyright 2004-2007.
Copyright 2007 - Cheryl Bechtel
Copyright 2008 - 2012 Pat McArthur

Additional Sources  
Shiawassee County History - author unknown
At first glance this looks like a photograph album, but scrolling down the page reveals additional information.
Michigan County Histories and Atlases - University of Michigan Digital Collection Index by Subject
National Register of Historic Shiwawassee Places

 


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