From History of Ingham and Eaton Counties, Michigan
by Samuel W. Durant
Published 1880 by D.W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia
EARLY SETTLEMENT - LANSING TOWNSHIP
The NORTH Family
The first of the family to settle in this State was Joseph E. NORTH, Jr., the eldest son, who, in September, 1836, located land in the township of Ingham before it was organized. In the spring of 1837 he exchanged this land for section 32, in Lansing township, before that township was organized, also. This entire section was entered from government early as 1837 by Hezekiah FERGUSON. (On the record at Mason this name is written FORGISON, which may be correct, though good authority gives it as written in the text. Ferguson paid as "boot" a gold watch to equalize trade). In September of the same year his next brother, Henry H. NORTH, now of Delhi township, came to Lansing. Joseph E. was then at work for Judge DANFORTH, of Mason. The next day after Henry's arrival, the two brothers started to visit the land of Joseph E., in Lansing township. He had already erected a temporary shanty foe shelter, and they reached this about four P.M. Near by Henry found an abundance of leeks growing wild, and the looked so "perfectly lovely" to the hungry boy that he pulled a quantity of them, and, roasting them, ate heartily of them for supper; but, like the soldier who ate too many persimmons in the army, he was awakened by a deathly feeling in the night. A heavy thunder-storm was raging and the rain fell in torrents. It was a bad night for him, and he has never eaten leeks since. Being a stranger to a forest region he very naturally stood in wholesome fear of wild beasts, which certainly then abounded in Michigan. The storm quenched the fire, and he was very apprehensive of an attack from some fierce denizen of the surrounding forest, whose mournful cries he could hear coming ominously on the night wind. He finally awoke his brother and told him his fears, and was laughed at for being alarmed by the hooting of an owl. Henry was quieted, but was not sorry when daylight appeared. He had no appetite for breakfast, however, on account of his leek supper; but his brother told him he would not mind such little things after he had been in the county two or three years. Henry did not like the culinary duties of camp life, and declared that if he came to Michigan to reside he should bring a wife with him.
Joseph E. NORTH, Jr., married Miss Emily F. ROLFE, the second daughter of Benjamin ROLFE, on the 1st of July, 1838.(Mr. NORTH was married by Peter Linderman, justice of the peace) This marriage is the second one recorded in the county, that of William CODDINGTON and Miss Harriet WHEATON, married by Orrin GREGORY, justice of the peace, on the 6th day of may in the same year, being the first. In the early part of September, 1838, Joseph E. NORTH, Jr., settled on section 32 in Lansing, and resided there until his death in 1851.*
Subsequent to his first visit to Michigan, in 1837, Henry H. NORTH returned to New York, where on the 16th of December, 1838, he married Almira BUCK, in Tompkins County. Joseph E. NORTH, Sr., according to records, entered land in Lansing township on section 33, in 1837 and 1838. According to the recollection of his son Joshua, he visited Michigan in the fall before his settlement and purchased the land; and according to the recollection of his son Henry H., he left Lansing, Tompkins Co., N.Y., on the 20th of May, 1839, and reached his land in Lansing, Mich., on the second day of June following. Joshua, the third son, and Thomas, the fifth, came to Lansing in the fall of 1838, and for a short time lived with and assisted Joseph E., Jr., in clearing up his land. When their father came, in 1839, they became inmates of his family. The old gentleman remained on his farm in Lansing until his death.
Two of the brothers, Henry H. and Joshua, now reside in Delhi township, and Jesse D. lives in the city of Lansing, but owns the old farm in the south part of the township. The NORTHs settled in an excellent country, and the condition of their lands and improvements shows that they are thriving farmers.
Naming the Township
The young couple removed to Leslie, Ingham Co., Mich., arriving there on the 6th of May, 1836. They erected a temporary shanty in the wilderness, six miles from any settlers, but being soon after attacked with sickness, which almost every settler was subject to, they became homesick. Wild beasts and snakes troubled them, and one day, leaving their two children in their cabin, they went out to examine their land and got lost in the woods; but their faithful dog found them, and they followed him home. The dog was afterwards killed by wolves.
Mr. COOLEY was a stranger to everything connected with woodcraft or farm labor, and the prospect of making a comfortable home in the new country seemed anything but pleasing. Becoming at length sick and disgusted, he returned with his family to New York in 1837. But there was something enticing in the West after all, and in November of the same year, leaving his family, he returned to Michigan. At Jacksonburg he made the acquaintance of Jerry and William FORD, or, at least, one of them. These men had, in 1836, laid out a village on section 21, in Lansing township, which they named "Biddle City." Learning that Mr. COOLEY was looking for a place to settle, and also that he was a tailor and his wife a weaver, the FORDs persuaded him that at or near their new town was the place to settle; that it was sure to be a great city, and that the trades of himself and wife would soon make them comfortable, if not absolutely rich. To this enticing story Mr. COOLEY lent a willing ear, and came down to view the country. The nearest government land to "Biddle City" which he could find was on section 30, in the southwest part of the township, lying on Grand River, and about two miles southwest of the new city. It proved to be an excellent piece of land, and the section now includes some of the best farms in the township.
One of the FORDs came along with COOLEY, but only remained a short time, and then departed and left him alone in the wilderness.Mr. COOLEY knew absolutely nothing of the labor necessary to hew out a home in the woods. He had never handled an axe in his life, and in cutting down a tree he hacked on all sides of it, and when he thought it about nearly to fall, ran out of its reach.He did not even know how to plant his vegetables after he had managed to prepare a small plat of ground, but planted potatoes, corn, beans, and cabbage promiscuously in the same hill.
In building his first cabin he managed it by felling a tree, letting the butt rest upon the stump, and then covering the trunk with brush and sod. He did not know where the lines of his land were, and employed a Mr. Scott, of DeWitt, in Clinton County, to point them out for him, paying him, according to his son's account, fifty dollars for his services. A second time he lost his lines, and had to pay Mr. Scott once more to establish them for him. His land was the southwest fractional quarter of section 30, town 4 north, range 2 west. He purchased deer-skins from the Indians and made himself a full border suit, including a coon-skin cap. His son, J.F. COOLEY, Jr., remembers this suit as a great curiosity. Soon after completing his shanty, he followed the river to Jacksonburg, where he purchased supplies for the winter, and then, procuring lumber, built a boat to transport them down to his future home. This was in December, 1837.
On his way down the river, not being a skilled boatman, he came to grief in the swift water, opposite where now stands the village of Dimondale, where night overtook him. His craft struck a bowlder, and either broke up or stove a hole, so that his provisions got into the stream and his flour and salt were nearly spoiled. He, however, waded around among the ice and the slippery stones and saved a portion. Having no means of making a fire, he ran up and down on the bank of the river to keep from freezing. At length the barking of a dog attracted his attention, and following the sound he came to a wigwam, where he found an Indian and his squaw, who took him in, rubbed his half-frozen limbs, and made him as comfortable as circumstances permitted. For food they set before him the best they had, - boiled or roasted hedgehog or muskrat. On the following morning he paid the indian two dollars to carry him down to his shanty. The Indian soon after abandoned his camping-place, and built a wigwam near Mr. COOLEY's.
The inexperienced settler now began to clear a spot of ground and built a better cabin of logs. Here he remained until the spring of 1838, when he wrote his wife to join him with the remainder of the family. Mrs. COOLEY accordingly bade good-bye to her parents, and, taking her two boys, Jacob F., Jr., and Lansing J., came to Detroit where she arrived in safety, though it was in the midst of the Canadian "Patriot war." At Detroit she hired a teamster to take her to Jackson, but the sheriff followed him for some misdemeanor, and he fled into the woods, leaving Mrs. COOLEY with the team, which she drove to Jackson, where it was taken from her. Nothing daunted by the terrors of the road, she started with her boys on foot for Eaton Rapids. After walking several miles she met a man who told her if she would take a certain trail which he pointed out she would save considerable distance; but the path was so obscure that after a little time she lost it in the woods. Placing her children on a log, she bade them stay right there until she returned, and then proceeded to find her way out. At length she heard a cock crow, and the sound guided her to a settler's cabin occupied by one BLAKESLEE, who went with her to find her children, which they succeeded in doing after a long search. Mr. BLAKESLEE then took his team and carried Mrs. COOLEY and her children to Eaton Rapids, where she stopped with a Mr. SPICER, who procured an Indian to notify her husband of her arrival. He soon appeared, and building a boat took his family down the river. Night overtook them, and they were obliged to encamp on the bank until morning, when they proceeded on their way, and before noon on the 15th day of June, 1838, reached the site of their future home.
They had no team or domestic animals of any kind, and Mrs. COOLEY assisted her husband to clear a small piece of land, which they sowed with wheat, and planted a few vegetables. They kept a record of time by marking it every day on a board or log with charcoal. Their first "Independence" day - July 4, 1838 - was celebrated on a flat rock near the river, where Mrs. COOLEY sang songs, to the delight of the Indians, while her boys played with their dusky friends under the trees along the river-bank.
About the middle of July the entire family were taken sick, and were nearly helpless for several days. A family named SKINNER had settled up the river in the township of Windsor, Eaton Co., and Mr. COOLEY got an Indian to go and notify them of their troubles. Mr. SKINNER came and took them to his house, where they remained for several weeks, and this experience exhausted all the ready money they possessed. Recovering from their sickness, they returned to their home in the fall and found their crops al safe, their old Indian friend having taken care of them during their absence. They exchanged the products of their land with the indians for fish and venison, and thus opened the famous "dicker" trade of the early days.
In the following winter the family were all again taken sick and lost the day of the month, but a traveler happening along in January set them right again. At length all their provisions were consumed and they were forced to live upon the charity of their early Indian friend, who managed to procure sufficient food to keep them from starving. At one time Mr. COOLEY was so low that they all expected he would die, and he finally told his wife to lay his body in a bark trough, cover it with dirt, and take her children out of the woods. But he at length recovered.
In the spring of 1839 Mr. COOLEY went to Jackson and worked at his trade, leaving his wife alone with her children. For fourteen months she never saw a white woman. Wild beasts were plenty and exceedingly troublesome. At one time a gang of wolves followed Mr. COOLEY, as he was bringing home some meat for his family, for a long distance, but he finally reached home in safety. At another time, when out blackberrying, he was chased by a bear and escaped with the loss of his hat. Occasionally the family would suffer the fire to go out, and then some one would have to travel ten miles to procure a supply. Some of the Indians were at times insolent, but they were generally friendly. Their insolence never availed them anything, for Mr. COOLEY was resolute and defended his rights.
After they began to raise corn he rigged a novel contrivance, though a common one in those days, to pound it. It consisted of a mortar made by burning a hollow in a stump, and rigging a spring-pole, to which was attached a wooden pestle; and this answered a very good purpose.
On the 6th of January, 1840, Mrs. COOLEY gave birth to a son, which is said to have been the first male child born in the township. He was named Nathan L. COOLEY. A friendly squaw performed the offices of physician and midwife, and was the only woman present.
In the fall of 1838 they heard of neighbors down the river and to the southeast of them. These were Coe G. JONES, on section 5, and Joseph E. NORTH, Jr., on section 32. The NORTHs made them a visit. The Fourth of July, 1839, was celebrated at the house of Joseph E. NORTH, Jr. His father had recently moved into the settlement, and the three families celebrated together.
Their first threshing was done on the ground, and the first wheat-grist was taken to Eaton Rapids by Mr. COOLEY, who was gone three days. The children could hardly wait for the first loaf of bread to bake, but when ready for the table they divided it with the dusky Indian children, who enjoyed it as well as they. The earliest mills near them were at Eaton Rapids and Ingersoll's, now Delta. When they patronized the mill at Ingersoll's they took the grist down the river in a log canoe or "dugout," and then went across the country, through the woods, and hauled the canoe and ground grist back along the narrow path, through mud and water, with an ox-team. The canoe was not a first-class land carriage, but they managed to haul it by fastening a log-chain around its nose, though it required great skill and constant attention to prevent the curious vehicle from overturning in the rough pathway. Sometimes in the winter when they wanted to cross the river with their oxen and the ice was not strong enough to bear them, Mr. COOLEY would cut a channel across and swim over.
When at length, they became the possessors of an ox-team, a cow, a pig, and a few sheep they congratulated themselves upon their improved circumstances; but their joy was short lived, for a great black bear carried off the pig, and the lean and hunger wolves made short work of the sheep.
The hardships and privations of the early settlers of Michigan, save only in one respect, that of Indian wars and difficulties, were certainly as formidable and discouraging as were ever encountered by the people of ant State in the Union. The country was largely made up of dense and heavy forests, interspersed with swamps, marshes, and lakes; the earliest roads were more horrible than can be conceived of by the present generation; and then there was the almost interminable labor of cutting down the timber and clearing it away before anything could be grown for the support of man or beast. In the midst of their labors the deadly malaria fell upon them, and they froze and burned alternately for months and years with the ague and fever. When the first scanty crops were raised, and there was a small surplus, it took weeks sometimes to carry it to an uncertain market, and the cost of transportation ate up al the proceeds. Wild beasts, dangerous reptiles, and persecuting insects were as plenty as snow-flakes in a January storm, and it was literally a struggle between life and death, with the chances in favor of the latter alternative.
In many instances the earliest comers lived for several years without a store or school or church accommodations, and the wonder is that men and women did not degenerate into fierce barbarians and abandon all hope of civilization amid the depressing circumstances which hemmed them in on every side. Nothing but an indomitable will, and a most sanguine looking forward to a better day in the future, an undying faith in the power of human intellect over the forces of nature, ever kept hope alive in the hearts of the pioneers of Michigan, and enabled them to work out the mighty problem of reclaiming a most forbidding wilderness and building up a free and prosperous commonwealth. There are a few comparatively sunny places among the "oak-openings" and beautiful miniature prairies of the southern and western portions of the peninsula, but they were only exceptions. By far the greatest portion of the State has been won from a state of nature only through almost unparalleled hardships and the most unflinching perseverance.
Within a year or two Mr. COOLEY built a second and improved log house. the first one stood near the northwest corner of his quarter section, and a considerable distance from the river near a copius spring, which latter item no doubt had considerable weight in determining the selection of his land. The first dwelling was built by himself and his wife, and was a rude affair. The only windows were small openings left in the logs, covered with greased paper. The roof was constructed of troughs, the first course laid with the convex side down, and the second inverted and lapping over the edges of the other. This plan, providing the troughs were sound, made a very comfortable covering, impervious to water so long as the material did not warp or crack.
The second house stood about fifteen rods west of the first, nearer the river. When it was all ready to be put up it took all the able-bodied men in five townships to raise it. It had a roof made of heavy stakes, pinned upon the transverse timbers with three-quarter-inch ash pins. The improved building boasted of a better chimney and sash windows, which latter Mr. COOLEY whittled out with a pocket-knife.
Mr. COOLEY was probably the first settler in Lansing township, having arrived, as we have seen, in the autumn of 1837. (Joseph E. North, Jr., built a shanty on section 32 in the spring or summer of 1837. See account of the North family). There is some uncertainty regarding the arrival of the first family, but the probabilities run to Mr. COOLEY's family, who reached their destination on the 15th day of June, 1838. The deed for his land was dated 1837, and signed by Martin Van Buren.
Mr. COOLEY died on his farm June 9, 1865, at the age of fifty-eight years, two months, and sixteen days, at a period when he should have been in the prime of his physical powers. No doubt the hardships of a pioneer life had much to do with his comparatively early demise. He left a wife and five children, - three sons and two daughters, - to each of whom he gave a farm, and saw them settled around him. Mrs. COOLEY died February 21, 1870.
The JONES Family
Justus came from Hydeville, N.Y., to Lansing township probably about 1839 or 1840, and purchased land on section 5, in the northwest corner of the township. He was not an original owner, but bought from other parties. He remained here until about 1849, when he sold and went to Ohio, and a few months later removed to California, where he is now living. He was one of the inspectors of election at the first township-meeting held in Lansing, in April, 1842, and was also one of the first justices elected at the same meeting, one of the assessors, and an overseer of highways. He filled the office of justice of the peace probably as long as he remained in the township, and his name appears attached (as justice) to the acknowledgement of the original plats of the town of Michigan, made on the 2d of June, 1847. He seems to have been quite a popular man, for the record shows that he was unanimously elected to several offices. He raised a large family of boys. According to Mrs. G.L. DINGMAN's recollection he sold to a man by the name of BARKER, but Mr. O.H. GILKEY, of whom we have received much of this information, thinks he sold to a widow, whose name he does not remember.
*Mrs. McKIBBEN, formerly Mrs. NORTH, remembers some of the early preachers, Rev. Henry LESTER being about the first. Another, Rev. LEVANWAY, seems to have been an impostor, for he purchased a horse by the aid of Mr. NORTH and others, soon after which he disappeared and was not heard of afterwards.
Early in 1836, Jerry and William FORD entered that portion of section 21 which lies east and south of Grand River, and on the 11th day of April, in that year, laid out a village on the south half of the section, which they called "Biddle City."* It included the whole of the southeast quarter and about 120 acres on the south side of the southwest quarter of the section, being a mile long on the south line, half a mile on the east line, and about 120 rods on the west line. It had forty-eight full blocks and seventeen fractional ones, and was provided with a "public square," a "church square," and an "academy square." It boasted of many high-sounding names to its principal streets, and was altogether a remarkable city, - on paper. Quite a number of lots were sold, but the plat was subsequently vacated. Those curious to look up such matters will find the famous city plat on the first leaf of Liber 6, Deed Records, in the register's office at Mason.
The village site was afterwards sold for taxes. A part was purchased by Joab
PAGE, who sold to C. P. BUSH. (See farther on)
* This place was said to have been named in honor of Maj. John BIDDLE, of the United States army in the war of 1812. He was also a delegate in Congress from the territory of Michigan and a historical writer of some prominence.
EARLY SETTLEMENT - City of Lansing
James SEYMOUR, one of the original proprietors of the town of Michigan, now the city of Lansing, was a cousin of ex-Governor Horatio SEYMOUR, of Utica, N.Y., and at the time he purchased lands around Lansing was president of a bank in Rochester, N.Y. It is probable that Horatio had a pecuniary interest in these purchases, and, according to the record at Mason, on the 10th of August, 1847, James SEYMOUR deeded him an undivided half of the property. Subsequent to the death of Mr. BURCHARD James SEYMOUR continued the improvement of the water power at North Lansing, and erected mills and other buildings. He was never a permanent resident of Lansing.
He died at the house of his son-in-law, Rev. C.S. ARMSTRONG, in Lansing,
in 1859. After his death his son Charles assumed his interests, and at a
later period he and Horatio SEYMOUR made a partition of the Lansing property.
The latter is still interested in the city to a small extent, mostly in unsold
lots. The assessment for purposes of taxation for 1880 shows property of
the value of $6900 belonging to Governor Seymour.
Beyond a peradventure the first person who erected a dwelling within the limits of the city of Lansing with the intention of making a permanent stay was John Woosley BURCHARD. Col. BURCHARD was born in Scipio, Cayuga Co., N.Y., in 1814. His father subsequently removed to the village of Moscow, Livingston Co., N.Y., where he carried on the trade of a harness- and saddle-maker, at which John W. also worked in his younger days. The latter began the study of law about 1836, and, as his wife recollects, at Rochester, N.Y.
In 1839 he removed to Lenawee Co., Mich., where he was admitted to practice, and in the same year settled as an attorney in Mason, Ingham Co.
On the 7th of April, 1841, he married Miss Frances HAYNES. He continued to practice at Mason until 1843, in August of which year he removed to Lansing.
As has been stated, section 9, now wholly included in the city, and on which the water-power at North Lansing is situated, was purchased from the government in 1835, and 1836 by William H. TOWNSEND and Frederick BUSHNELL, the latter taking all except the portion of the northwest quarter lying north of the Grand River. James SEYMOUR, of Rochester, N.Y., also purchased lands on sections 8, 10, 15 and 17, and it was understood that SEYMOUR and BUSHNELL were in company in the purchase. At any rate, we find by the record that James SEYMOUR, on the 13th day of October, 1841, sold to John W. BURCHARD the southeast fractional quarter of section 9, including the water-power, or a portion of it. This transaction shows either that SEYMOUR and BUSHNELL were or had been in company in the purchase of these lands, or that SEYMOUR had bought BUSHNELL's interest in this quarter section.*
In August, 1843, Col. BURCHARD took his family to Lansing and settled there in a log house which he probably built a short time previously on the block where the "SEYMOUR House" and "Grand River House" were afterwards (about 1847) erected. Immediately on the removal of his family he commenced the erection of a dam across Grand River where the present one stands. Mrs. NEWMAN remembers well that the wolves were frequently heard howling in the night near their cabin. The country around was a dense wilderness. There were then two children in the family, -a son, John W., named for his father, now living in Leslie, and a daughter, who became the wife of Samuel L. KILBOURNE, Esq., but since deceased. Col. BURCHARD was very sanguine of the future, and indulged in fond anticipations. The dam was completed in the fall of 1843, and in the winter or early spring he went East and procured assistance from his brother, Charles W. BURCHARD, now living in in Nunda, Livingston Co., N.Y., and Thomas CLARK, to aid him in getting his mill-irons and equipment, which were purchased at Auburn, Cayuga Co., N.Y.
With these he returned to Lansing and prepared to erect a saw-mill. The spring flood of 1844 had washed out a portion of the new dam on the west shore, and it became necessary to repair the break. On the 7th of April, in company with three hired hands, - William PIERCE, Alonzo BAKER, and a third, whose name is not remembered, but believed to have been Col. G. JONES, - he ventured in a canoe below the dam to examine the break, and while so engaged the back-water carried the canoe under the sheet. The three men who accompanied him were saved, but he was drowned, and his body recovered ten days later, being found on an island bar at Ingersoll's (Delta), several miles below. At that time there was no public burial-ground at Lansing, and his remains were taken to Mason and interred. This sad bereavement occurred on the third anniversary of Col. BURCHARD's marriage.
[NOTE: Col. BURCHARD's obituary will soon be posted on the obituary boards connected with the Ingham County Main Page at MIGenWeb.]
After Col. BURCHARD's death his widow removed from Lansing, and the property again fell into the hands of James SEYMOUR, who continued the work of building mills and made other improvements.
As corroborating evidence bearing upon the early settlement of John W. BURCHARD
at Lansing, the following facts were obtained from Samuel TOWER, Esq., a
resident of Greenville, Montcalm Co., where he is engaged in foundry and
In the autumn of 1843, Mr. TOWER, who is a native of Springfield, Windsor Co., Vt., left Albany, N.Y., accompanied by his wife and child, and also his wife's father, and came to Detroit, Mich., his destination being Grand Rapids, whither his father's family had removed from Vermont, in 1839. At Detroit he took the Michigan Central Railway and proceeded to Jackson, then the western terminus of the road. Arrived at that place he looked around for some mode of conveyance to Grand Rapids, and found the best he could do was to pay teamsters $100 to take his family and effects to that point. As he had only about eighty dollars, this plan was impracticable. Pursuing his inquiries, he found several persons engaged in building a couple of scow-boats, and, inquiring what they were going to do with them, was informed that two families, with their household goods, were going down Grand River in them as far as Ionia, or farther. At that time TOWER did not know that Jackson was on the head-waters of Grand River, and asking where the river was, was informed that he was on its banks. A new train of ideas at once took possession of the immigrant. He inquired where they got their lumber, and was told they procured it from a certain man, but had purchased all he had, and, they thought, all there was in the place. Looking around, he found a man who discovered in his loft three very nice pine planks, but which he said were not for sale, as he was going to work them up into sash. TOWER says, "I am going to have them." "Well," the man says, "I guess not, because they are not for sale." "How much will they be worth," says Tower, "when they are worked up?" "About six dollars," says the man. "Here's your money," says Tower, and procuring tools he proceeded to cut them up and make a scow-boat, about fifteen feet long and seven feet wide, which would carry about two tons' weight. He matched the lumber, and procuring a quart of tar spread it over the edges and drove it together, and after a few hours' soaking in the river the boat became perfectly water-tight. He built a cabin "amid-ships," and placing his household goods and family on board started his voyage down the river. He had among his heavier goods a cook-stove and a large family bureau. He also bought a small box-stove to warm his cabin, as the weather was quite cold and there was some thin ice in the river. He had made a long sculling-oar, but for the first thirty or forty miles, or until he had passed Eaton Rapids, he used a setting pole. Between Jackson and Eaton Rapids, or near the latter place, he hauled up to the bank on account of rain, and taking a path leading from the river found a log house, and in it a man who afterwards became Governor of the State, with his family. This gentleman, who must have been Austin BLAIR, set down his men and helped the family up to his house, where they remained for two or three days before the storm subsided.
Starting out anew they pursued their way to Eaton Rapids, where there was a dam across the river and a bridge a little below the dam. There was a slide or chute in the dam, and the river being comparatively low nearly all the water ran over the slide. TOWER walked out on the dam, which was nearly dry on each side of the apron, and determined to run over it in his boat. The people living there thought it a foolhardy venture, but taking out his bureau, and getting a bed-cord ready to fling to parties on the bridge so as to have them tow the craft ashore, he pushed on to the opening, and steering with much skill went through safe, though, he dipped a little water as he dashed into the stream at the foot of the slide. Passing under the bridge he stood up and threw the line to those waiting for him, who towed him ashore, where he took in the family and bureau and once more went on his way. He says there was only a small clearing at Eaton Rapids at that time.
About the 25th day of November, 1843, he swept around the bend in the south part of what is now the city of Lansing, and passing down the river under the shade of the stately forest-trees, which then overshadowed the stream, he soon brought up at another dam, and this he found had no slide to facilitate the passage of his craft. Here was a small clearing, and to the right of the dam, about thirty rods away, towards the northeast, was a solitary settler's log house, from which curled the smoke of a welcome fire. Here was living John Woosley BURCHARD with his family, consisting of a wife and, Mr. Tower thinks, one child. There was also a man whom he remembers as being named MYERS, and possibly one or two others, who were working for BURCHARD. Mr. BURCHARD had then certainly been living there long enough to erect a substantial dam, from timber which was cut in the surrounding forest and the bowlder stones and clay and gravel taken from the bank.
Mr. TOWER and family remained over-night with BURCHARD, all the party finding accommodations in the log cabin, which he describes as quite roomy and comfortable. BURCHARD and his help assisted in getting the boat around the dam, and the family once more resumed their voyage towards Lake Michigan. Snow had fallen during the preceding night to a depth of six inches, and there was considerable slush ice in the river. Mr. TOWER thinks that BURCHARD procured his flour and supplies at "Ingersoll's," a few miles below Lansing, where there was another dam and mills. There were no mills at Lansing.
The two families before spoken of, who were building boats at Jackson, had passed down the river a few days earlier, and the men had been so independent and insulting to the few people along the way that they had received no assistance in getting around the dam. They had told the settler's at Ingersoll's or Delta that there was a fellow coming whom they would help; and, sure enough, when TOWER reached Delta and brought his boat ashore all the people were awaiting him. They told him about those who had preceded him and said they had heard of him, and if he wanted to procure supplies now was his time, for they had them. Leaving his boat and family he went to a small store some distance away, where he purchased flour or bread, meat, and a few groceries; but when he offered money for them the proprietor would not take a cent. He said it was all right, he had heard of him, and he was welcome to all he needed; but the other fellows had been too saucy, and had to help themselves around the dam and pay for whatever they got. When TOWER returned to the river to his surprise he found his boat, family, and goods awaiting him on the river below the dam. While he was away the men had taken everything around in good shape, and "Sped the parting guest" with many jolly "good-bys" and invocations for "good luck."
In due time the traveler arrived safely at Grand Rapids with his family, having made the voyage of 250 miles from near the head of the Grand River to within forty miles of its mouth. His boat cost him about seven dollars, and he sold it at Grand Rapids for fourteen, and it went to Grand Haven. Mr. TOWER passed the other families before reaching Grand Rapids, and was probably the first man who made the voyage with his family to the last-mentioned place. He vividly remembers the journey, the incidents connected with it, and the country through which he traveled.
The PAGE Family
The PAGE family was among the very earliest to settle within the limits of what now constitutes the city of Lansing. Joab PAGE, the father, was born in Clarendon, Rutland Co., Vt., Feb. 16, 1788. On the 11th of May, 1811, he married Abagail OLDS, who was born in Poultney, Rutland Co., April 3, 1878. Mr. PAGE was a carpenter and builder by trade, and a very excellent mechanic, well known in Vermont and New York in his younger days. His daughter, Mrs. W. SMITH of Mason, says he framed and raised in 1829-'30 the first church building at Sheldon, Franklin Co., ever erected in Vermont without the use of liquor. Among his labors in the State of New York was the erection of the first iron-works at Peru, Clinton Co. In 1830 he removed from Vermont to Orleans Co., N.Y., where he remained until February, 1832, when he came to Jacksonburg (now Jackson), Mich., with his family. He had visited the place in 1831, and built the first saw-mill ever erected in the place. He was, in addition to his other trades, a millwright, and his services were in great demand in the new country. He purchased property two miles south of Leoni, in Jackson County, and erected a saw-mill on the out-let of Grass Lake, which ran through his land, in the summer of 1832.
He afterwards sold his property and built and kept a tavern on the old Territorial road, called the "Grass Lake House." This he also sold and erected another hotel building of brick, which he in turn sold and removed to the south part of Vevay township, Ingham Co., in the fall of 1840, purchasing a farm of 160 acres, probably on section 32. On this he built a log house, improved his land, and remained until his removal to the site of North Lansing, in the autumn of 1844.
Mr. PAGE had four children, - one son, Isaac Chauncey PAGE, and three daughters, - all of whom were married and accompanied him to Lansing. His daughter, Cornelia M., married Whitney SMITH; another daughter, Orselia, married George D. PEASE; and a third married Alvin ROLFE. A dam had been built by John W. BURCHARD some time previous to this date, but Mr. BURCHARD, having been accidentally drowned near it in the spring of 1844, Mr. James SEYMOUR went on with the work of building a saw-mill and improving the water-power, and to aid him in the enterprise he sent for Mr. PAGE and his sons on account of their being mechanics. Mr. SMITH was regularly bred to the business of a millwright.
When they arrived at the spot where North Lansing now stands they found a single untenanted log cabin,* which stood south of where the SEYMOUR house was afterwards built, on the same block and a little back from the road. Into this they moved, but it was so small that they immediately built an addition to it, and here they remained while constructing the saw-mill for SEYMOUR.* One of his sons-in-law, ROLFE, remained only a few weeks, and returned to his farm, in Vevay township, where he is now living. The son, Isaac C. PAGE, was in poor health, and finally died in Lansing, Dec.12, 1848.
(* This log cabin was built by Mr. BURCHARD in 1843)
When the family removed to Lansing it was not with the intention of settling permanently, but simply to work upon the mill for SEYMOUR. But the town grew apace, and when in 1847 the State capital was removed to the place the settlement increased rapidly, and all eyes were turned toward the new capital in the wilderness. When the town of "Michigan" was laid out early in the summer of 1847, Mr. PAGE and Whitney SMITH purchased a lot and erected a two-story frame house, which afterwards became the "Grand River House," and kept boarders, having at one time as many as sixty. Mr. PEASE also bought a lot and built a house, which is still standing, on the corner of Adams and Centre Streets.
Within a year after building the "Grand River House," Messrs. PAGE and SMITH sold the property and purchased six lots in another part of the village, where they erected a dwelling. This is now known as the PARMELEE place. Here they remained until February, 1853, when they exchanged the property for a farm, now partly included in the village of Mason, Mr. PAGE's health became impaired and he was never in good health afterwards. He died April 28, 1863, on his farm
During his residence in Jackson County, Mr. PAGE had served as a justice of the peace, and he was elected to the same office in Lansing in April, 1845, being the first resident justice within the city limits, though not the first in the township. He held the office during one term. He was also elected to the office of supervisor in 1845, 1846, and 1847. His son, Isaac C. PAGE, was regularly elected supervisor at the annual town-meeting in April, 1845, but, removing on account of his health, his father was elected in his place at a special election in September of the same year. The son was also elected township clerk in 1847.
Whitney SMITH was the principal millwright in this part of the country for a number of years, and did most of the work in his line about Lansing until the time of his death, which occurred at Mason, Sept. 7, 1866. George D. PEASE also died at Mason, in the house now occupied by his widow and the widow of Whitney SMITH, May 12, 1876.
Joab PAGE was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and held official positions for many years in that body.
Among the prominent settlers in Lansing (then Michigan) in 1847 was James TURNER. Mr. TURNER was a native of Cazenovia, Madison Co., N.Y., where he was born April 1, 1820. He came to Michigan and settled at Mason, where, in company with William JACKSON, of Leoni, Jackson Co., he engaged in the mercantile business. In the spring of 1847, Mr. TURNER settled in Lansing, where he continued the same business. At Mason, and probably also at Lansing, their goods were exchanged for wheat, corn, oats, grass-seed, flax-seed, pork, tallow, lard, beeswax, butter, cheese, furs, deer-skins, hides, ashes, black salts, etc. Mr. TURNER built an ashery in Lansing, and manufactured pearl-ashes. He occupied for a store a portion of the SEYMOUR House, the first hotel erected in the lower town, which was built the same year of Mr. TURNER's arrival (1847).
He continued in business in Lansing until he engaged with Charles SEYMOUR and H.H. SMITH in the construction of the plank-road between Lansing and Mason, about July 1, 1850, when he removed his store to the road, locating a part of the time at Leroy and afterwards at Fowlerville. While engaged in the construction of this road he spent a winter, probably in 1850 and 1851, in Florida, where he went for his health, being threatened with a pulmonary difficulty. Subsequently to his return from the South he was again engaged in the mercantile business in company with Daniel L. CASE, at North Lansing, where they were afterwards burned out, on the northeast corner of Franklin and Turner Streets.
In connection with Messrs. CASE and LONGYEAR, Mr. TURNER was the founder of the female college known as Miss ROGERS' School, now the Odd-Fellows' Institute. He was also largely interested in the Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw and the Lansing and Ionia Railways.
On the first of October, 1843, Mr. TURNER married Miss Marian MUNROE, daughter of Jesse MUNROE, a native of Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vt., where he was born in 1791. Mr. MUNROE is still living (June 1880), in good health, with his daughter, Mrs. TURNER. The latter was born in Amherst, Erie Co., N.Y., whither her father had removed from Vermont, Dec. 8, 1818. The family is of Scotch extraction. Mr. MUNROE removed to Michigan in 1836, settling in Clinton County, in the town of Eagle, where Mr. TURNER was married.
About 1838, Mrs. TURNER made a visit to friends residing in Mason, going on horseback, accompanied by a relative. She went via Okemos, fording the Cedar River at that point, which was so swollen that Mrs. TURNER - then Miss MUNROE - was obliged to hold her feet upon the horse's back to keep them out of the water. On their return to Clinton County they followed the Indian trail along Grand River, and stopped for lunch on the ground, or very near, where the TURNER mansion now stands. Miss MUNROE was greatly pleased with the location and the fine view it afforded, and remarked that she would not wonder if, when she was married, she might some day make her home there. The prophecy has long since been fulfilled, and certainly there is no more pleasant site for a home in Ingham County, overlooking, as it does, a long sweep of the beautiful river and a broad scope of cultivated country in all directions. At the time of this first visit the whole region was a wilderness. The high bluff bank of the river at this point is clothed with majestic growth of forest-trees, then open and unobstructed by undergrowth, with cold, pure springs gushing from the slopes, and dashing to the river below. This is to-day the most romantic spot in the vicinity of Lansing, and with a small outlay could be transformed into a picturesque park.
Mr. TURNER had purchased lots in the lower town previous to his marriage and removal here. On these mrs. TURNER planted a few locust-trees in the spring of 1844, one of which is still looking thrifty and vigorous. Mr. TURNER built a small one-and-a-half-story frame dwelling (still standing) on these lots, which are situated south of the lane leading to the family residence. The present property was purchased at various times of F.M. COWLES, James SEYMOUR, and Isaac TOWNSEND, or his heirs. Mr. TURNER was administrator of the Isaac TOWNSEND estate. Mr. TURNER's death took place on the 1st of October, 1869, in his fiftieth year and on the anniversary of his marriage.
Mr. Augustus F. WELLER
Upon their arrival at what was then the nucleus of the future city they all put up at the house of Joab PAGE, who was boarding-house keeper, landlord, esquire, and boss mechanic all in one. There they boarded for several weeks while examining the present site of the city. Justus GILKEY, who lived on section 5, down the river, was the only man who had whiskey for sale by the quantity within reasonable distance of the capital, and it was in constant demand. The commissioners tramped through the woods from North Lansing to where the residence of Hon. O.M. BARNES now stands, and during the whole exploration the Scotchman, SMART, made the woods echo with his crisp expletives as he floundered through the mire or fell headlong over the rotten logs which everywhere covered the spongy ground.
William H. TOWNSEND cleared a space of about an acre where the Capitol stands, and on this cleared spot a game of ball was played.
Christopher C. DARLING
In 1826 he removed to Cleveland, Ohio, where he engaged upon the canal connecting Lake Erie with the Ohio River. He resided in Cleveland eight years. On the 9th of April, 1829, he married, at Tuscarawas, Ohio, Miss Anne CULVER, born Sept. 22, 1809; she survives her husband.
In June, 1832, Mr. DARLING removed to Jackson (then Jacksonburgh), Mich. In the following year he operated the first saw-mill built at the place. During the years 1834 and 1835 he was engaged in the construction of Territorial roads. In 1836 he removed to eaton Rapids, where in company with Messrs. HAMLIN and SPICER he erected a saw-mill, and subsequently a grist-mill. It is claimed, also, that he opened the first public-house in Eaton Rapids.
In 1845 he came to Lansing to aid James SEYMOUR in building a permanent
dam across Grand River. (At the time of building the dam, in 1843, Mr.
Burchard visited Jackson for the purpose of procuring the services of
Mr. Darling to superintend the work, and he probably was so employed) The
dam built by Col. BURCHARD, in 1843, was insecure, and frequently
much damaged by floods. Mr. DARLING was an excellent workman, and succeeded
in putting in an enduring structure. In the summer of 1847 he opened
a store and bakery on the spot where the Hudson House now stands. He rafted
the first sawed lumber used in Lansing from Eaton Rapids. In 1848 he
removed his family from Eaton Rapids to Lansing, and resided in the place
until his death. He was a prominent member of the Universalist Church,
and contributed largely in the erection of a house of worship. He was
highly esteemed as a worthy citizen.*
TOWN OF MICHIGAN
Immediately following the location of the State Capitol at Lansing, or rather in Lansing township, the State commissioners proceeded to lay out the school section (which was State property) into blocks and lots, reserving about thirty acres of the same for the use of the State. This reservation included blocks Nos. 99, 100, 101, 110, 111, 112, the old State-House square, now block No. 115, and the large block where the new Capitol stands, No. 249. The new capital was named by the Legislature the "Town of Michigan."
In conjunction with the State, the parties owning lands adjoining
section 16 proceeded to lay out large portions of sections Nos. 9 and 21
into lots and blocks, the streets and blocks corresponding with those upon
section 16. These parties, joint proprietors with the State in the new
town, according to the record at Mason, Liber 7, page 593, were James SEYMOUR,
Samuel P. MEAD, George W. PEEK, and William H. TOWNSEND. The following
certificate explains itself:
The name bestowed upon the new capital does not seem to have been very
satisfactory, and at the next session of the Legislature the following
appears of record:
* Joseph E. North, Sr., is generally accorded the honor of having given the name "Lansing" to the township, from a town of the same name on Cayuga Lake, now in Tompkins Co., N.Y. When the legislature named the new village "Town of Michigan," he is said to have felt not a little disappointed, and it was owing somewhat to his remonstrances that the name was changed to lansing within a year thereafter.
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