Locke Township

From History of Ingham and Eaton Counties, Michigan
By Samuel W. Durant
Published 1880 by D.W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia

EARLY SETTLEMENT

Land was purchased in the township of Locke in 1834, but no attempt at settlement was made until 1838. The following account of the first settlement of the township is from the records of the Pioneer Society.

David PHELPS and Watson L. BOARDMAN
"In February, 1838, David PHELPS, a resident of New York City, located land on section 26. Mr. PHELPS, without a road or trail, guided only by the marked trees of the surveyor, was enabled to find his land, but many were the misgivings as he stood alone in that deep forest, twenty miles from a post office, thirty-four miles from a mill, and neighbors quite remote;* but he had a stout heart and a strong will, and finally overcame his doubts. Procuring the assistance of six men from Livingston County, soon the ringing of axes and the crash of falling trees broke the stillness of the forest,  and Mr. PHELPS in a few days erected the first white man's shelter in the township. Several months later, Watson L. BOARDMAN, brother-in-law of Mr. PHELPS, with his family, occupied the house lately erected by Mr. PHELPS, he having no family save one son, who lived with the BOARDMAN family. The first female settler was a widow named PITTS, who, with one son, dared to face the hardships of pioneer life. With the help of her small boy she cleared a patch for corn and potatoes, working bare-handed and bare-armed, piling up the black and smoking brands of the newly-cut fallow. For the first year she had hard work to drive the wolf from the door, but the wants of her little one nerved her to overcome all obstacles.

First Birth, Marriage, Death, and Postmaster in Township
The first birth of a white child in the township, Emeline CARLTON, occurred in 1839, in the family of William CARLTON, and four years later one of the family died.* The first marriage was that of Dean PHILLIPS and Harriet CARR, in 1839, the ceremony occurring at the house of Caleb CARR, on section 32. Mr. CARR was the first postmaster, his office being on the route from Howell to Grand Rapids, and the mail was carried over this route once a week, on horseback, on the "Grand River trail."

The first religious services were held at the school-house known as the Brown Eagle, by the Christians, most of the inhabitants for miles around attending. Many carried their rifles along, and left them standing against a tree during service, guarded by a dog. These services were conducted by Seneca H. PETTUS and Elder WINANS. The first sermon was preached by a clergyman named George ALEXANDER, in a log cabin. Harvey GRATTON and Lewis BUTLER were among the early exhorters.

At a general election, held in the township in the fall of 1840, there was no ballot-box. The inspectors of the election procured a stand-drawer of David J. TOWER, at whose house the election was held, pinned a newspaper over the top, and deposited the ballots in the drawer by lifting the corner of the paper. The next spring (1841) Mr. TOWER was authorized by the town board to make a ballot-box. He accordingly split some boards from a basswood log, and with axe and plane completed his ballot-box; it had six compartments, and the lid was fastened with a hasp and padlock.

In the fall of 1840, David PHELPS and a man named JOHNSON started with a yoke of oxen and a sled to spend a week or two hunting bees and camping out in the woods. After some time they returned with three barrels of honey, just as it came from the trees. Their own appearance was ludicrous in the extreme. Their buckskin breeches were so shrunken and shriveled with dews and rains from fording streams that they scarcely reached below the knee. The men were smeared and their clothing saturated with honey; smoke and soot had aided in making up the picture; their boots were bound together with strips of bark, and their hats had the appearance of having been through a hard siege, and when they came home, following the team with its load of honey, they created a sensation, and those who saw them are not likely to forget the occasion.

Orson CHAMBERLAIN
was a former of Genesee County, who removed to the township in 1839 and located upon section 26, where he purchased 164 acres of Edmund H. HALL. Upon this land stood a log house, but no other indication of improvement. Mr. CHAMBERLAIN began at once, after establishing his family in their limited quarters, the labor of chopping and clearing. He had at the end of the year rendered six acres productive, the larger share of which was sown with wheat. Other improvements followed as time passed, until a well-cultivated farm had superseded the wilderness found on his arrival. In 1870 a substantial frame residence took the place of the primitive abode formerly occupied, in which the family now resides.

Leonard COLE
arrived in the same year, having purchased and settled upon land on section 14 which was entirely unimproved. He began the clearing of this land, and eventually rendered it very productive. Neighbors were neither numerous nor easily reached at this early day, and the settlers were obliged to depend upon their own exertions. Only on occasions of raisings did the community appear in full force to offer assistance, more frequently lured by the social pleasures of the occasion and the good cheer which inevitably accompanied such a gathering. Mr. COLE occupied the farm until his death, when his sons, the present occupants, inherited the land. His widow survived until the year 1878.

David J. TOWER
settled in the township soon after the advent of Mr. COLE, and was one of the inspectors of election at the first township-meeting held in Locke. He was a public-spirited citizen, and did much to advance the interests of the community.

On one occasion the settlers at an early day were totally destitute of flour. Mr. TOWER took $100 and purchased the necessary article, which he distributed among the inhabitants, allowing them to work out their indebtedness on the public highways.

Stephen AVERY
Among the early pioneers who manifested much enterprise on their arrival was Stephen AVERY, who removed from Ontario, Canada, in 1837, and settled in Livingston County. In 1840 he sought a home in the present township of Locke, - then Phelpstown, - and located on section 17, where he purchased 120 acres of unimproved land. The log house he built is still standing, though mr. AVERY survived his advent but a short time, having died in September, 1844. Two sons and a daughter are still residents of the township.

Nicholas F. DUNCKEL
was born in the beautiful Mohawk Valley, in New York State, and removed to Canada, where he resided for nine years. In 1834 he emigrated to Wayne County, and in 1842 removed to Locke. Here he purchased of Rufus STARKWEATHER 160 acres on section 27, which he found unimproved, and upon which he immediately began the erection of a log house. After removing his family here, Mr. DUNCKEL turned his attention to the clearing of a portion of the land, which, as early as practicable, was sown with wheat. He was assisted in his labors by his sons, four of whom accompanied him to the township. Plymouth, Wayne Co., afforded a point for marketing, while brighton was the milling centre. The nearest sawmill was at Williamston. Indians were still numerous, but not hostile. They were constant and untiring beggars, and rapacious in their appetite for bread, pork, and other articles of the settlers' cuisine. No school afforded advantages upon Mr. DUNCKEL's arrival, though one opened soon after. Mr. DUNCKEL survived until 1872, and died at the house of his son George, on section 28. Another son, Oliver G., resides at Belle Oak.

Levi ROWLEY
removed from Saratoga Co., N. Y., to Albion, Mich., here he remained but a brief time and removed to Leroy, and in 1842 became a resident in the township of Locke, where he located upon section 32, on a farm embracing eighty acres, for which he effected an exchange of property with Henry RIX, the former owner. It had been partially improved by Caleb CARR. Mr. ROWLEY continued these improvements, and remained upon the place until his death, in 1870, when it came into the possession of his son. Levi ROWLEY was one of the most active and public-spirited of the early pioneers, and did much to promote the growth of the township.

Henry RIX,
the previous occupant of this farm, was a resident of New Jersey. His stay was brief, Leroy township having soon after offered superior attractions.

Walter LEARY,
a gentleman of English extraction, removed from Ann Arbor to the township, and settled upon eighty acres on section 34, which had been entered by R. G. STARKWEATHER, and purchased from him by mr. LEARY. He improved the land and remained upon it until his death.

Arnold PAYNE,
removed at the same period from the county of Livingston, and settled upon eighty acres purchased also of STARKWEATHER, which was unimproved on his advent in Locke. He erected a log house and a frame barn, and remained ten years, during which time sixty acres bore witness to his labor in its improved condition. He later sold to James SULLIVAN, and removed to Maple Rapids, where he died. He had in his family circle eight sons, all of whom departed with him.

Dr. H. A. ATKINS
removed from his former home of Elba, N. Y., to the township in 1842, and settled upon the northwest quarter of section 3, where he became the earliest resident practitioner in the township. He left for a brief period, but retained his land, and on his return resumed his practice. He is now a resident of Belle Oak, where, in addition to his professional labors, he devotes much time to the study of ornithology and the pursuits of literature. He is a man of wide research, and takes much interest in the compilation of facts regarding the early history of the county.

James McCREARY,
A former resident of Herkimer Co., N. Y., located, in 1844, upon eighty acres which he entered in 1839. The township, at the time of his purchase, was almost unpopulated, but on his arrival he found many neighbors, among who were Messrs. LEARY, ROWLEY, and PAYNE, the former of whom offered him a home during the first two years of his residence. With the assistance of Mr. DUNCKEL he erected a frame house, to which his father and mother removed. The first year ten acres were cleared, and steady improvement was made after that time.

Dr. RANDALL, of Livingston County, was among the earliest physicians, and Dr. LEASIA, of Williamston, was frequently called. Mr. McCREARY continued to improve his land, and succeeded in making it one of the most valuable farms in Locke.

Israel LOVEJOY
Came from New York State in 1843, having entered land in December, 1837, and again in January, 1838, on section 2. On this section he settled and remained nearly twenty years, when he chose a residence elsewhere.

Trowbridge HARMON
Removed from Clyde, N. Y., at the same time, and selected eighty acres on section 1, which he improved. He was a bachelor on his arrival, but subsequently married. The land was entirely cleared by himself. He experienced many deprivations, but overcame all obstacles, and was able to add to his possessions until he now has 180 acres, mostly improved.

Hiram LOVEJOY,
another pioneer from the Empire State, settled, in 1845, upon eighty acres on section 3. This land, all uncleared on his arrival, he rendered productive by hard labor, and converted into a valuable estate, upon which he continued improvements until his life was suddenly ended by a stroke of lightning, in 1874. His sons now occupy the farm.

F.B. SHELLMAN,
a pioneer from Tioga Co., N.Y., was among the earliest settlers in the northeast portion of the township, having purchased of Archelaus GREEN 100 acres on section 2. He built a shanty of primitive construction, and devoted much of his time at first to labor for others. His progress in clearing and making improvements was therefore slow. Very few settlers had located immediately near. He recalls Isaac COLBURN as the nearest. There were no schools in the vicinity, and a tedious journey was necessary to obtain supplies. Mr. SHELLMAN has since improved his land, built a commodious residence, and rendered his estate valuable.

William SHELLMAN
came also from the same county and State and located on section 2, where he remained until his death, in 1862.

Dexter FULLER,
formerly of New York State, settled upon eighty acres on section 1, where he had secured the improvement of five acres and the planting of an orchard before his arrival. He still resides upon the land.

Richard CASTLELINE,
A pioneer of Pennsylvania extraction, also located on section 2, in 1845, where he erected a log house and began the battle of life in the woods.Here he remained laboring upon his land until his death in 1869.

W.T. WALLACE
came from Steuben Co., N.Y., in 1846, and in June of that year settled upon eighty acres on section 24, to which he later added forty acres. This was entirely unimproved, with the exception of a small tract that had previously been underbrushed. He remained with David PHELPS the first year, and on his marriage removed to a shanty built upon his land. Messrs. PHELPS, BOARDMAN, and BROWN were near neighbors. Mr. WALLACE has greatly improved his land, upon which he still resides.

James SULLIVAN,
a pioneer  of 1847, from Ohio, and formerly of Orleans Co., N.Y., purchased and settled upon 160 acres in section 33, formerly owned by Arnold PAYNE. Twenty-five acres had been chopped and a log house already built upon it, though much labor remained yet to be done. Mr. SULLIVAN did much to increase the productiveness of the land, and in 1866 erected a new and substantial residence, his present home. Three sons live near him in the township.

Ira D. PERRY
settled in 1845, on section 10, which was cleared and improved by him. His son now occupies the place, Mr. PERRY having died during the present year.

Lewis BUTLER
settled in 1848, on section 34, which he purchased of Isaac LEARY. He subsequently removed to Indiana, and now resides in Williamston.

John GRIMES
was a pioneer from Broome County, who settled upon eighty acres on section 31, which was uncleared when he became owner of it. He first underbrushed the road adjoining his farm and then erected a shanty, in which he lived while clearing a portion of the land. Mr. GRIMES made rapid progress and added to his possessions until he now has 650 acres. Deer were so abundant on his arrival that a herd of twenty-two were seen feeding with the cattle. They afforded an abundance of fresh meat to the settlers, but were in a few years exterminated.

Robert FISHER,
formerly of Wayne Co., N.Y., settled in 1850, upon the northeast quarter of section 24, which was, with the exception of five acres, uncleared. He built a shanty and began the labor of improving. Rapid progress was made, and a well-cultivated farm, upon which he now resides, has superseded the wilderness.

Among other early settlers in the township of Locke may be mentioned Truman SPENCER, who came from Wayne County in 1855, and located upon section 13, where he built a saw-mill; D. BURTON, who located on section 15; Dyer COLE, of Lockport, N.Y., who settled on section 27, and later on section 16, where he improved a farm and still resides; William T. JOHNSON, on section 4; Jefferson PEARCE, who had land on sections 10 and 13; Benjamin and Henry PETTENGILL, on sections 11 and 14, respectively; A.T. TenEYCK, on section 21; Stephen SCOFIELD, on section 3; J.C. TOWNSEND, on sections 27 and 28; A.M. OLDS, on section 30; W.W. IRONS, on section 10, and Nicholas FULTON, on section 28.
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*Mr. PHELPS son, David B. PHELPS, states that when his father settled (which was on the 9th of April, 1838), he was six miles from any other house, the only one in that distance being that of Mr. GRANT, in the township of Conway, Livingston Co. Mr. PHELPS was from Deep River, Conn., where the son was born.

*The little one was buried on the farm of Stephen AVERY, and the funeral sermon was preached by George L. BOARDMAN.

BELLE OAK

The hamlet of Belle Oak was begun upon land owned by James L. NICHOLS, who entered it May 23, 1842, having paid seventy-five dollars in State scrip for a tract embracing forty acres. He improved a portion, then sold to Albert AVERY, who occupied it for a period of twelve years. The first house in the immediate neighborhood was erected by NICHOLS. Other lands were owned by Oren LAWSON and Andrew KIRK. Mrs. PITTS, afterwards Mrs. Solomon PETTINGILL, was also one of the original proprietors. Truman SPENCER made his advent in 1855, and, in connection with PITTS and FISHER, purchased ten acres of the PITTS estate for a mill site. Upon this a saw-mill was erected in 1855, which was consumed by fire in 1867, and rebuilt by SPENCER & FISHER. The present proprietors are WATERMAN & HOVEY. It has a forty horse-power engine, with a capacity of 1000 feet per hour of hard lumber. The estate of Oren LAWSON sold to Truman SPENCER, and Andrew KIRK disposed of his interest to Clark PIERCE, who conveyed to Delos A. SMITH, by whom the property was divided into lots and sold.

Mr. SPENCER, in 1863, erected a small store, and ROGERS & COLE, in 1872, built a stave-mill, which was sold the following spring to William GOLDEY, who remained for four years a resident of the place, and during that time also opened a store. A wagon-shop was started by Robert FISHER, who subsequently sold to William O. FISHER. There are at present two blacksmith-shops, kept by DUNCKEL & CASTLELINE, and a store owned by HOVEY & WATERMAN. The hamlet boasts two physicians, Drs. Harmon A. ATKINS and George D. SPENCER. There is also a public school, with seventy-five scholars, taught by Alta BENJAMIN. O.G. DUNCKEL is the popular postmaster.

ORIGINAL LAND ENTRIES
(Link to Page)

1844 TAXPAYER LIST

NAME SECTION ACRES
Trowbridge HARMON 1 80
Joseph BROOKS 2 60
Isaac COLBURN 2 40
James DENIO 3 40
I.H. LOVEJOY 2 174
Stephen SCOFIELD 3 87
Widow ATKINS 3 119
William T. JOHNSON 4 240
D.J. TOWER 7 508
Moses MELVIN 10 80
William M. BARNEY 10 80
Jefferson PEARCE 10, 13 80
Albert AVERY 11 40
Stephen AVERY 11 60
Charles MARSH 11 40
Benjamin PETTINGILL 11 40
Henry PETTENGILL 14 40
William CARLTON 14 40
Leonard COLE 14 80
Cornelius COLE 14 60
John COUNTRYMAN 17 160
O.P. WORDEN 17 80
A.T. TenEYCK 21 160
David PHELPS 23,25,27 240
Joshua MARCH 24 80
Solomon PETTINGILL 24 160
W.L. BOARDMAN 26 160
Arnold PAYNE 27, 28, 33 40
William SALTER 27 80
N.F. DUNCK 27 80
Hiram STARKWEATHER 27 80
J.C. TOWNSEND 27, 28 160
Nicholas FULTON 28 40
Isaac W. FULTON 29 80
Henry FREDERICK 29 40
A.M. OLDS 30 80
Levi ROWLEY 32 80
Z. and W. LEARY 34 160

TOWNSHIP ORGANIZATION

The township of Locke was formerly, together with the present township of Williamstown, embraced in the township of Phelpstown. By an act of the State Legislature, passed Feb. 16, 1842, it was erected as an independent township, and its present name bestowed.

TOWNSHIP OFFICERS

At the first annual meeting of the township of Locke, held at the house of John C. TOWNSEND, in 1842, David PHELPS was chosen moderator, A.M. OLDS clerk, and David J. TOWER, Stephen AVERY, and Isaac W. HUTTON inspectors of election. The ballots having been cast in accordance with the law, the following officers were declared elected:

Supervisor, David PHELPS; Township Clerk, A.M. OLDS; Justices of the Peace, D.C. OLDS, D. TOWER, Stephen AVERY, David PHELPS; Assessors, Stephen AVERY, D.J. TOWER; Highway Commissioners, Benjamin BARNEY, Ira COLBURN; Treasurer, A.T. TenEYCK; School Inspectors, Stephen AVERY, E.B. HULL; Constables, Joseph BROCK, J.C. TOWNSEND.

YEAR SUPERVISOR CLERK TREASURER JUSTICE of
the PEACE
1843 David PHELPS A.T. TenEYCK D.J. TOWER Levi ROWLEY
1844 David PHELPS Jefferson PEARCE A.T. TenEYCK Josiah NICHOLS
1845 Jefferson PEARCE Albert M. OLDS Albert AVERY David PHELPS
1846 D.J. TOWER A.M. OLDS Levi ROWLEY Trowbridge HARMON
1847 D.J. TOWER David PHELPS Levi ROWLEY J.C. WATKINS
1848 D.J. TOWER Levi ROWLEY David PHELPS J.C. WATKINS
1849 E. HITCHCOCK A.M. OLDS Levi ROWLEY David PHELPS
1850 J.W. FULTON A.M. OLDS Levi ROWLEY N.W. CAPIN
1851 J.H. LOVEJOY A.M. OLDS Levi ROWLEY --
1852 J.H. LOVEJOY David PHELPS Levi ROWLEY J.C. WATKINS
1853 Levi ROWLEY George SHELLMAN W.T. WALLACE S. SCOFIELD
1854 Robert FISHER G.W. SHELLMAN W.T. WALLACE I.N. PICKARD
1855 Levi ROWLEY Lyman HILL -- G.W. SHELLMAN
1856 Levi ROWLEY Lyman HILL William T. WALLACE James W. WALDO
1857 Truman SPENCER A.M. OLDS W.T. WALLACE Dyer COLE
1858 Truman SPENCER A.M. OLDS O.H. JONES J.C. WATKINS
1859 Truman SPENCER Levi ROWLEY O.H. JONES Robt. FISHER
1860 Truman SPENCER Hiram A. MIXTER Orville M. JONES Lyman HILL
1861 J.C. WATKINS A.M. OLDS O.H. JONES Levi ROWLEY
1862 Levi ROWLEY George FISHER George DUNCKEL O.L. BROWN
1863 Levi ROWLEY George FISHER William T. WALLACE George W. SHELLMAN
1864 T. SPENCER Albert N. OLDS William T. WALLACE Thomas T. BROWN
1865 Truman SPENCER A.M. OLDS George DUNCKEL Daniel H. TRUMAN
1866 J.C. MARTIN Oliver S. SMITH George DUNCKEL O.G. DUNCKEL
1867 J.C. MARTIN D.B. PHELPS P. PETTENGILL George C. WOOD
1868 D.B. PHELPS R.G.C. KNIGHT George DUNCKEL John D. BULLOCK
1869 D.B. PHELPS R.G.C. KNIGHT George DUNCKEL Daniel H. TRUMAN
1870 D.B. PHELPS George C. WOOD Oliver S. SMITH O.G. DUNCKEL
1871 O.S. SMITH George C. WOOD R.G.C. KNIGHT H.J. LOVEJOY
1872 Oliver S. SMITH Charles E. SPENCER R.G.C. KNIGHT Jefferson PEARCE
1873 W.T. WALLACE George D. SPENCER George HARPER Moses HILL
1874 W.T. WALLACE William T. TANNER George HARPER Hubert F. MILLER
1875 W.T. WALLACE Nicholas CRAHAN George HARPER Wilbur CHAMBERLAIN
1876 R.G.C. KNIGHT Daniel L. BOARDMAN O.S. SMITH O.G. DUNCKEL
1877 R.G.C. KNIGHT Daniel L. BOARDMAN O.S. SMITH Judson DOWD
1878 W.T. WALLACE D.L. BOARDMAN George HARPER H.F. MILLER
1879 W.T. WALLACE E. WILLIAMS George HARPER H.J. LOVEJOY
1880 R.G.C. KNIGHT Asa W. SPENCER George DUNCKEL Levi PARKER

1880 Misc. Officers:
Superintendent of Schools: O.S. SMITH
School Inspector: Frank LIVERANCE
Highway Commissioner: Frank PRICE
Drain Commissioner: Gerritt A. TUTTLE
Constables: David DUNCKEL, Charles LOVEJOY
Marcine DUNCKEL, Henry ARNOLD

CHURCHES

First Wesleyan Methodist Church
The First Wesleyan Methodist Church was organized under the auspices of  Rev. Harvey HODSKISS, Jan. 18, 1856, with the following as the first officers:  Rev. Harvey HODSKISS, pastor; Elijah B. WHEELER, class-leader; Simon G. WRIGHT, steward. The constituent members of the church were Elijah B. WHEELER, Alonzo HILL, Simon G. WRIGHT, Mary WRIGHT, Hannah HILL, Nancy A. SULLIVAN, Martha TRUMAN, H. HODSKISS, Mary LEARY, Nancy PRATT, Abram WRIGHT. The earliest meetings were held at the Rowley school-house, on section 33, and for a succession of years it was the scene of most of the religious convocations of the organization. In 1880 a church edifice was erected  at a cost of $1400, which was dedicated with impressive ceremonies Sept. 29, 1880. A commodious parsonage was erected the year previous. The pastors in succession have been: Revs. H> HODSKISS, Amaziah CURTIS, Samuel BOYLS, H. HODSKISS, Abram CASSIDY, B.H. BRUNDAGE, Hiram JOHNSON, J.C. MARTIN, Orin H. JOHNSON, Erving W. BRUCE. Since the organization of the church the names of 160 members have been placed upon the roll. Its present membership is 72. A flourishing Sunday-school exists, with an average attendance of forty, of which Gilbert ROWLEY is superintendent. Elmer GEAR is the present class-leader and James SULLIVAN steward.

Free Methodist Church
A class of the denomination of Free Methodists was organized in 1872 under Rev. GOLDEN, who conducted religious services in the various school-houses of the township. He was followed by Elder MUDGE, who visited the point during his regular circuit duties. Elders CARRIER and WITHAM succeeded, and at the present writing, the Conference of the Free Methodist Church being in session, the appointment for the succeeding year has been announced. Meetings are still held at the school-houses, no house of worship having been erected. A Sunday-school has been organized, which is now under the superintendence of Tompkins TOWNER.

Methodist Episcopal Church
Rev. Joseph ENGLAND organized a class under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church about 1872, preaching having occasionally been held on previous occasions in the school-houses of the neighborhood. Elder Edwin DAW, who had a short time previously arrived from England, followed, and after him Revs. GIBERSON and NIXON. Services are held at the school-house in Belle Oak. Peter V. FISHER is the present class-leader, and a Sabbath-school, under his superintendence, holds its regular meetings at the school-house, the attendance being governed by circumstances.

The Adventists
formerly had a very flourishing organization in the township, but it has recently declined.

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