From History of Ingham and Eaton Counties, Michigan
by Samuel W. Durant
Published 1880 by D.W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia
The ROLFE Brothers
Ephraim, Nathan, Benjamin, Ira, Hazen, and Manasseh ROLFE, from Vermont and
New York, all located in the township. ( Ira Rolfe was directly from Thetford,
Orange Co., Vt. His brothers had lived in Genesee Co., N.Y. Ira is the only
survivor of the six brothers, and is seventy-eight years of age.)
The following account of the settlement of Benjamin ROLFE in this township was written by his son, Alvin ROLFE, and is preserved in the records of the County Pioneer Society:
"In 1834 my father, Benjamin Rolfe, and family moved from Thetford, Orange Co., Vt., to Genesee Co., N.Y. They stayed there until June, 1836, then moved to Michigan. They started from Bethany Thursday, and got to Detroit Sunday morning, coming on the boat 'Thomas Jefferson.' It was in the time of the great June freshet, which many will remember. The country from Detroit to Ann Arbor was completely covered with water. It took us from Monday morning until Friday night to get to Saline, in Washtenaw Co., - distance forty miles, which can now be traveled in two hours. Came from Saline to Jackson, and stopped there until we looked up land, which was in this town. We went to the land-office in Kalamazoo and took up the land, paying $100 for eighty acres. We started from Jackson Monday morning, cut our road to Vevay, and had to ford Grand River. We built a shanty on the place I now live on. This was the first blow struck in this part of the town,* - July, 1836.....The first time I went to Mason there was a small piece chopped on the section-line, near where the DONNELLY house now stands, by E.B. DANFORTH. The next spring he sowed it to turnips, raising the largest I ever saw. Our nearest saw- and grist-mill was at Jackson. Some would like to know how we got along without lumber to build with. For floors we cut nice basswood logs and split them into planks, 'spotted' them on the under side, and laid them down as even as we could, then adzed them off, which made quite passable flooring. For a roof we peeled bark. For gable-ends we split shakes. The first lumber we got in Jackson, for a coffin for a sister of mine. She died April 7, 1837, and I think was the first person who died in the town. The first marriage was that of Jasper WOLCOTT and Harriet SERGEANT, now the wife of Edwin HUBBARD. The first birth, I think, was Nelson WOLCOTT, son of Jasper WOLCOTT. The first saw-mill built in the county was by E. B. DANFORTH. A man by the name of LACEY took the job in the summer of 1836. The first grist-mill was started by Mr. DANFORTH, who got a pair of mill-stones about twenty inches in diameter, set them in the corner of his saw-mill, and propelled them by the bull-wheel of the mill. Many a bag of corn have I carried on my back from my place to Mason, without any road, to get it ground. The first road we had from my place to Mason was cut in 1837."
Mr. ROLFE speaks of the "money" in circulation in 1836-37 as follows:
The "neighborhood," at the time of which Mr. ROLFE writes, extended thirty or forty miles. He at one time went to the raising of a saw-mill, at the old village of Jefferson, on section 29, in Alaiedon township. It was up by dark and Mr. ROLFE returned home, arriving about two o'cock in the morning.
"Our nearest neighbor north of us was Mr. SCOTT, distant twenty five miles. We did not see those neighbors very often, but heard of them often, as hardly a night passed but our house was filled with men looking after land. When I first saw Mason, there were, I think, twenty acres chopped, two log houses, and a saw-mill being built. Mr. LACY and Mr. BLAIN, with their families, were the only white people living here. Mr. DANFORTH came soon after and took charge of affairs as the agent of the village. During the winter the saw-mill was finished, and in the spring of 1837 the school-house was built. School commenced, I think, in June. Miss Lucy ROLFE taught for one dollar per week. There were eight pupils. The Indians often came to visit our school, and wondered what we were doing. The first night I stayed in Mason there were several hundred Indians encamped near where the court-house now stands. The first circuit preacher was a Mr. JACKSON, who preached one year. The first Presbyterian church was organized, in 1839, by the Rev. Mr. CHILDS, of Albion. The first settled pastor was the Rev. F.P. EMERSON, who stayed some three years.
"At Dexter was our nearest post-office and store, or grocery. I can remember, in the spring of 1837, that my father was appointed justice of the peace, and he had to go to Jackson to qualify. All the road that then existed was an Indian trail...Settlers came in fast, and Mason soon became a thriving village."
(William R. HORTON, brother to Mrs. Linderman, states that Mr. Linderman had come to Ann Arbor in May, 1836. During the summer he went to Kalamazoo and entered land for himself and Mr. Horton, and in the fall moved upon his own place in Vevay, arriving at evening on the 2nd day of October. On awakening the next morning they discovered about six inches of snow on the ground.)
"My father, Joab PAGE, came with his family into Michigan in the winter of 1831-32; arrived at Jacksonburgh about the 16th of February, 1832,- then only one framed house there. This was built by a Mr. AMES; he then, having just buried his wife, rented the house to my father for a few months. Father built the first saw-mill in Jackson County. It was situated a few rods east of the present southern depot. The second one he built upon his own land, eight miles east of Jackson, and two miles south of the old trail-road running from Detroit to Marshall. He built and kept the first hotel in Grass Lake. In 1836 the emigration into the interior of Michigan was so great that we counted in one day over sixty wagons; it was almost a continuous string of teams, each carrying a family and their entire possessions. They usually carried and cooked their own provisions.
"In the year 1840 we moved to Vevay, Ingham Co., near the ROLFE settlement. We were obliged to cut our road to our home, one and a half miles. No schools nor districts were organized at that time, but the neighbors concluded to have a school. My sister, Orcelia PAGE, (now Mrs. G.D. PEASE), taught the school in a log shanty scarce higher than our head. The floor was made of logs split in two, with the flat side up; it had one window of glass, and a large stick-and-mud chimney, which let in a good supply of light from the top.
"During the first year of our residence the Rev. Mr. JACKSON (Methodist) preached a few times in the neighborhood. Our people made an abundance of maple-sugar. They took ox-teams and started for market, though it was very uncertain where they would find a family that had pork, flour, or potatoes to change for maple-sugar. They did not return as we had expected; in about two weeks we learned from a neighbor, who had returned from market, that our people were at Leoni and my husband seriously ill. I set out to find a way to go to him; walked one and a half miles to get a horse and then in another direction one and one half miles to get a wagon, and someone to drive for me and bring the team back. To get to Leslie, four and one half miles, we traveled eight, and then could not shun all the mud holes, for our wagon-box dipped mud and water several times, and sometimes it was with difficulty that we stayed in the wagon and kept it right side up."
In 1844 (September), Mr. PAGE and family removed to Lansing. He afterwards returned to Mason, where both he and his wife subsequently died.
William H. HORTON,
The first winter Daniel SEARL was in Michigan he worked on the dam at Mason, which was located where the State road crosses Sycamore Creek, northwest of the present site of the DONNELLY house. In the fall of 1836, Mrs. SEARL, Sr., and ten children, with Abner BARTLETT, a son-in-law, came to the county. The latter settled in Vevay, and the other members of the family in Ingham. Two of the daughters were married the next year (1837), and removed to the township of Dexter, Washtenaw Co. Nathan SEARL, the father of this large family, died in July, 1869 or 1870, aged eighty-two years; his wife's death had occurred about sixteen years before. Of the entire family but four are now living,- Daniel, on section 15, in Vevay; Merrick, on section 11, in Vevay; Mrs. Otto BIGNALL and Mrs. Henry HUNT, both in the township of Vevay. Mrs. BIGNALL, who was one of the daughters married in 1837, is now a widow. Merrick SEARL, who was but five years of age when the family settled, lived at first in the township of Ingham with his brother Daniel. About 1853 he purchased the farm upon which he now resides. It was then wild, unimproved land, but will rank at present among the finest and best-improved farms in the township.
Hiram PARKER, Esq.,
When Mr. PARKER went to Kalamazoo to locate his land he made his application, but found so many ahead of him that it would be some time before his business could be attended to. He therefore made a trip to Illinois, and examined the country south from Chicago for about forty-five miles, not being much pleased therewith. On the shore of Lake Michigan he picked up a bed-cord which some pioneer had doubtless lost. He was accompanied by his sister's husband, Jesse MONROE, a soldier of 1812 (now of Lansing), and a young man named Blois HURD. They had a one-horse wagon, in which they carried their provisions. The streams were all very high, and they experienced much difficulty in getting through. In swimming Grand River- at what was afterwards known as Berry's bridge, they lost a portion of their provisions. Their route was along an Indian trail. Jesse Monroe settled in Clinton County, and HURD's father, Hinman HURD, in the township of Vevay, Ingham Co.
When Mr. PARKER went to Vermont to get married, he went by the way of Dexter and returned the same way. He thinks that, had he known a tenth part of what his experience was to be in the wilderness, he never would have asked anybody to come with him. He met Hinman HURD at Troy, N.Y. Mr. HURD had been out with the rest to look for land, but stayed at Jackson and allowed his son, Blois HURD, to make the selection in his place. From Jackson he returned East, in company with Deacon MERRITT, and was moving West with his family when met by Mr. PARKER at Troy. The latter bargained with him to come to his house in Vevay and put a roof upon it, but he (HURD) found a vacant house in Ingham township belonging to H.H. SMITH, which he moved into and occupied while building a house for himself on section 25, in Vevay. He was in Vevay about two weeks as a settler before Mr. PARKER returned, and was the first actual settler in the eastern part of the township. Mr. PARKER was the second, and Charles GRAY and family third. The nearest house was then that of a man living at the northern boundary of what is now the township of Henrietta, Jackson Co., about fifteen miles away.
In June, 1837, Mr. PARKER started for Dexter after flour. On the way he met a couple of men that informed him there was none for sale, as the had tried to purchase some and failed. It had all been purchased by a speculator at Ann Arbor. Mr. PARKER learned that there was some at Scio, and to that place he at once repaired. He found that the supply there had also been bought for speculative purposes, but he finally purchased two barrels of it of the miller, who was not particularly friendly to the speculator. The money paid for it was that of the bank of which the speculator was president, and was of the nature known as "wildcat." The miller had specified that the flour must be paid for in "good Eastern money;" but while Mr. PARKER was looking his roll of bills over to see if he had the necessary amount (twenty-five dollars) of the article required, the miller espied the "wildcat," and thought was good enough for the man, as it was his own money. It was paid and Mr. PARKER left with the flour. He had not reached home before he learned that the bank had failed and the money was of no account, and, as he had borrowed part of it, he considered he had procured his two barrels of flour at a very fair bargain. Very soon after making the purchase he learned that the price of flour had been raised to seventeen dollars per barrel.
After the county election in 1838 (the first after organization), it was provided that the board of county canvassers should meet to canvass the votes at the county-seat, or at the nearest house thereto. The county-seat, which had been laid out in the northeast portion of the township, on sections 1 and 12, was a fine-looking place- on paper; but no improvements had been made nor county buildings erected, and the board met at the home of Hiram PARKER, as the nearest to the county-seat. Charles THAYER & Co., the proprietors of the land on which the seat of justice for Ingham County had been located, built a log house at the locality, but it was never occupied for dwelling purposes, and the hopes of the projectors of the "county-site" were destined to be dashed to the earth. Their proposed city was soon forgotten, and the thrifty village of Mason sprang up farther west, which became the county-seat in 1840.
Mrs. SPENCER was formerly Mrs. Manly GRAY, she having been married to him in February, 1846. They remained on the old farm with his father. Manly GRAY died Nov. 1, 1865, and his sister Emeline, afterwards Mrs. Loren RICE, of Leslie, died in 1863. The other sister, Eliza, married Daniel POTTER, and is now living in Bunker Hill township. Mrs. Manly GRAY was afterwards married to John E. SPENCER. She is a daughter of Silas HOLT, who settled in the township of Bunker Hill in October, 1843, and is one of a family of nine children.Mr. HOLT was the first to enter land in that township, but did not settle until the time stated.
Henry A. HAWLEY is still residing in the township, and has been one of its most prominent citizens and successful farmers. His home was always open to all, and a generous welcome was accorded them. Mr. HAWLEY's land was entered July 23, 1836, on sections 14 and 23. The old homestead is now the property of his son, Adelbert A. HAWLEY.
(A link to a 3 1/2 page narrative by Henry A. Hawley
Mr. NORTHRUP's brother Thomas settled in the township about 1841, having lived about a year at Kalamazoo village, and also for a time at Middlebury, Ind. Upon settling in Vevay he located on the farm next to his brother. Both of these farms were in the woods when the NORTHRUP brothers arrived, and were covered principally with a heavy growth of oak.
In the summer of 1831, while living in Gull Prairie, Enos NORTHRUP loaded twenty-two bushels of wheat in his wagon, and started with that and an ox-team to mill, at Constantine, St. Joseph Co., about fifty miles away. There were no roads and no bridges, and it was necessary to ford all the streams. By the second night after leaving home he had arrived within two or three miles of his destination, and stopped at a shanty into which a family was just moving. He turned his oxen loose, - one wearing a bell - and slept on the ground.In the morning the oxen were missing. Two or three days were spent looking for them, an Indian aiding him part of the time. He went to Nottawa-sepee Prairie and then started back, inquiring everywhere for the lost oxen, and finally reached home, but found no cattle there, and could learn nothing about them. He had the same experience three times before finally finding them, spending nine days in the search and traveling 300 miles, besides spending five dollars in money, but at last discovered them within ten miles of his home, and in time reached home with his grist, the family having used flour in his absence which was made by grinding wheat in a coffee-mill.
The saw-mill mentioned by Mr. HAWLEY was operated by him about fourteen years. The dam was washed away several times. The frame of the old mill is yet standing, but has been several times repaired and added to. The mill had a capacity for cutting about 200,000 feet per annum, with its one saw. The lumber used in many of the barns of the neighborhood and on the road to Dexter was sawed at this mill. one of these barns is that on the farm of Enos NORTHRUP. On one occasion, having broken the saw in the mill, it was necessary to get a new one. Mr. HAWLEY did not happen to have sufficient money at the time, but procured the necessary amount of a man who owed him, walked to Jackson, purchased the saw and brought it home on his back, and the mill was running again within forty-eight hours after the old saw was broken.
Mrs. HUBBARD, whose maiden name was SARGENT, had come to the State in 1834 with her brother-in-law, Henry FIFIELD, from Essex Co., Mass., and located at Jackson. In October, 1836, Mr. FIFIELD and his family and Miss SARGENT came to Ingham County and settled in the township of Vevay, south of Mason. Mr. FIFIELD was therefore one of the first settlers in the township.Their goods had been ferried across Grand River in a small "dug-out," at Freeman's, in Jackson County, and they were two days making the journey to their location in Vevay. After building his house, Mr. FIFIELD had to wait until the river froze over until he dared to cross it and go back after lumber to finish with. From October to December, 1836, the family lived in the house without floor or chimney, having no opportunity sooner to procure lumber with which to build them.
FIRST BIRTHS, MARRIAGE & DEATHS
Benjamin F. SMITH,
Almon M. CHAPIN,
Jonathan B. CHAPIN, M.D.,
1844 RESIDENT TAXPAYERS
EARLY TOWNSHIP OFFICERS
By an act of the Legislature approved March 6, 1838, that portion of the county of Ingham designated on the United States survey as township No. 2 north, of range No. 1 west, formerly a part of Aurelius, was set off and organized into a separate township by the name of Vevay, and it was directed that the first township-meeting be held at the public-house in Mason. (This was probably the house of James BLAIN, as there was no regular "tavern" in the place until 1839, when George W. SHAFER completed and opened the "Mason Exchange." BLAIN's house was of necessity a "public-house," and he kept land-lookers and travelers because there was no one else to do so.) The township records contain the following account of the first township-meeting:
"At a meeting of the inhabitants of the town of Vevay, County of Ingham, State of Michigan, held on the 2d day of April, 1838, for the purpose of organizing the aforesaid township, and choosing township officers,
"Resolved, That Minos McROBERT be Moderator, Anson JACKSON, Clerk, Hiram CONVERSE, Hiram PARKER, B.F. SMITH, Inspectors of Election.
"Resolved, that there be two Constables, two Fence Viewers, two Pound Masters, and three Assessors.
"The following officers were elected by ballot:
"Peter LINDERMAN, Supervisor.
"Resolved, That swine shall not be free commoners."
It was also resolved to hold the next election at the school-house in the village of Mason. The following is a list of the principal officers of the township from 1839 to 1879, inclusive:
There is no information given in this book regarding Religious organizations in Vevay township.
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