links. Email Kathy
Huron County's Earliest Settlers Chapter 3 (72-93)
dedicated June 17, 1900, E. A. Moore, pastor, at a cost of $11,000. This society has had a steady growth and is now one of the best appointments on the Port Huron District. Both church and parsonage have all modern equipments. Rev. Frank H. Cookson is pastor at the present date.
The Baptist church was organized in 1878 with eight members. Rev. Alfred Amey was the pastor. In 1879 the first church was built at a cost of $2,500. This was due largely to the unflagging interest and great zeal of the faithful membership. Only one year later the great fire of '81 that nearly wiped Bad Axe off the map burned this structure. Under the energetic leadership of Rev. James McArthur the present house of worship was erected at a cost of $3,000. The parsonage was built in 1897 under the pastorate of Rev. C. T. Jack. This society is also in a prosperous condition today and has an important part in the religious life of the city. Rev. Drury Martin is the present pastor.
St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal church was established as early as 1880 by holding services in the school house under the care of Rev. W. H. Smythe. The church building of this society was completed in 1882 and a rectory built in 1883.
Some Catholic families settled in Verona long before the village of Bad Axe was founded, but for many years they had -no place of worship. To the zeal and activity of the late Joseph Murray may be credited the forming of the present well organized and flourishing parish. In his home in early days the few Catholic settlers would gather to meet the missionary priests who came to say mass for them. Not until 1885 was any effort made to have services in Bad Axe. At this time Rev. George Langel established a mission and once a month came from Ruth to have mass in the home of Mr. McAvoy. The society prospered and it became necessary to rent a hall to accommodate the growing membership. In 1888 the people. decided to erect a
church and the following committee was appointed to look after the work: Joseph Murray, Michael Scully, Chas. McAvoy and Michael Holland. The present church is the result of their efforts, assisted by Martin Conaton and Dr. M. C. McDonell. A rectory has been built since then and the church building remodeled and renovated.
The people of Bad Axe have been instrumental in establishing an excellent school system and now have a high school building that is up to date in every respect. The district is a fractional one embracing parts of the townships of Verona and Colfax. It was incorporated some years ago by the state legislature.
In 4882 an impetus was given to the growth of the town by the entrance of a railroad-the western branch of the Port Austin and Northwestern was completed through Bad Axe to Port Austin. Later the Saginaw, Tuscola and Huron division connected Bad Axe and Saginaw. The Pere Marquette has control of this road now. The Grand Trunk railroad entered the town from Cass City in 4913.
BAD AXE WIPED OUT BY FIRE
The village of Bad Axe suffered greatly from the terrific fire that swept, over the county in 1881. That destructive element left only 21 buildings of all descriptions. Soon afterward there were 110 residences besides the business houses, thus showing the indomitable spirit and energy of the people. B. L. Scott has no peer in this county for genuine push and no man has done more for the town than he, says a paper of that period. He has given employment to many men and is helping build Lip the village by furnishing lumber for the town. Today some of these men are still living in Bad Axe and are able to tell the story of those strenuous times.
Thomas Martin cut the first tree down just where the Hotel Irwin is situated in June 1864, and camped on the site of George Andrews' house. The next morning
one of the party shot a deer a few rods from there.
Worthy of mention among those who settled in this county is the name of Dean Cutler, now of Bad Axe. He has lived over 71 years amid its stirring scenes. His father visited this place when it was a wilderness to see a Mr. Peacock, whose hip was out of joint.
James Baldwin was another man who did his part nobly in the transition of Bad Axe from a forest to a progressive city. He came to the county in 1868 and to Bad Axe in 1887, where he conducted a hardware business in partnership with James Stillwell. He was elected register of deeds in 1888. He held this office six years.
Another man who witnessed the inception and evolution of Bad Axe was J. A. Wright. The first dwelling house in the town is said to have been built by a lawyer, James Skinner, still living in the town. We wish to mention among the names of early pioneers that of A. L. Wright, who filled many places of trust and responsibility. He was a resident of the county when but a boy. His original homestead being on the state road four miles southwest of Bad Axe. When in his teens there was no school in his immediate district so he attended one a mile away at one time walking that distance for several months on a crutch. He was a real estate dealer, banker and farmer.
James Nugent and Joseph Fremont are men who have also contributed their share toward the development of the town. The pioneer shoeman of Bad Axe was Calvin Foster. He also served his country in the Civil War, enlisting in the 10th Michigan Infantry with which lie served until the close of that struggle.
The site of the town is on a gravelly ridge about four miles in length and half a mile wide. It used to be a famous hunting place for the Indians in early days. W. T. Bope told this incident of his experience with some of the Indians: One of them always had Mr. Bope take care of his money. Instead of a bank book or receipt this Indian would cut as in any notches on a stick as he
gave dollars to Mr. Bope. When he wanted his money back he would present the notched stick. This mode of banking seemed to work satisfactorily if it was primitive.
Many of the early inhabitants of Bad Axe have passed away but their memory still lingers and the story of their labors is best told by the religious, educational. political and industrial institutions which they had part in establishing and which shall continue long after the granite memorial which marks their last resting place has grown moss covered with the passing years.
The next township to which we wish to direct attention is that of Gore so named because it resembles in shape that part of a lady's dress. It was organized from Rubicon in 1862 with John H. Tucker as supervisor, George Allen, clerk, and Robert Hunter, treasurer. It is a small township and the history of the people's early life is one with Rubicon and its soil and advantages are about the same. The fire of '81 caused much suffering and the entire township was burned over. Port Hope, was the market for all produce from the farms. It's long shore line affords superior water facilities and makes the site of the township an attractive one.
Directly west of Sand Beach township lies that of Sigel. It was organized some time prior to 1864 with Watson Robinson as the first supervisor on the records. He took up 80 acres of land under the homestead act that same year. In the fire of '81 all of his buildings and crops were destroyed. He found himself the morning after the fire without a hat or shoes and practically destitute of clothing of any kind. With his accustomed energy and enterprise he began at once to rebuild and repair as far as possible the damage done by the fire.
The first settlers in this, township were Fred Jurgess, Joseph Lakowski and Waterhouse Whitelam, who came in 1859. Samuel Williams was another pioneer in this section of the county. In the early lumbering days he had worked for Pack, Woods & Go., at Harbor Beach and later at Port Crescent. He moved on to his farm in Sigel soon after the fire of 71 and by diligence and hard labor transformed this piece of land from the wilderness that it was in 1874 to the modern country home of the present day.
The land in this township is flat except in the western part. The soil is sand and clay mixed. This section did not develop or increase in population in proportion to other townships. The three early schools were, located on sections 24, 22 and 7. The Lutherans were the first to establish churches here.
Running through the township is the east branch of Willow Greek. The fire of ~81 passed over the entire township and that of '81 burned the northern part. The original timber was pine, cedar, hemlock and hard wood. Bad Axe was the nearest railway station and the nearest port, Sand Beach, now Harbor Beach.
Sheridan township lies in the southern tier. It was named after General Sheridan and was organized at the annual meeting of the board of supervisors, October 9, 1886, out of the following territory, formerly belonging to Bingham: Town 15 N. of R. 12 E. John McIntosh was the first supervisor. He came in 1859 when that section was but a wilderness. For the first settlers in the 50s were the Campbells, Morrisons, McKinnons, McPhails, McIntyres, McTaggarts, Shaws, Buchanans and Whillans. They were followed by the Camerons, Baties, McLellans, Lietchs, Fletchers, Robbins, McCahans, Crofts, Allis, Sweeneys, Clarks, Hendersons, MeAlpines,
Alex Gillies, Peter McInnis, Thomas Sherwood,
J.B. Wilson, Angus McIsaac, H. Stoddard, John Thompson, James McMillan, John Bishop and Joseph Reily, an Indian who owned a farm and in 1867 had six acres under cultivation. The settlers with the exception of two families were Scotch Highlanders who first emigrated into Canada and from there to Sheridan. They were very industrious, hospitable and strongly attached to their religion. The. five McTaggart brothers, with their two sisters, came in 1858 and located land. A. O'Henley was a later settler Coming in 1875 and purchasing 320 acres of land. Here we also find the McAlpine family as well as that of Addison Boomhower, who came in ,1869 and located 160 acres of land. After the fire of '71 he went to Ohio for a year and a half. Since that time he has been a resident of the township. In those early days as elsewhere lumbering was the chief industry, five companies being at work at one time in this place. The land was covered with a heavy growth of hemlock, cork pine of huge dimensions, beech, sugar maple and other hardwood trees. The task of the pioneer in clearing such land was a tremendous one. The soil is a rich gravelly loam, intermixed with a little clay and fine particles of limestone. The land is rolling in the south and west and flat in the north and east part of the township. The people gave early attention to schools and churches. The first term of school was held in district No. 1 with Mrs. E. Wilson as teacher. Catholic services were held in a cabin half under ground in 1866. The Frazer Presbyterians also held services that same year. The Erskine Presbyterian church was organized about 1892. The first roads as elsewhere were merely trails through the woods. Now they have miles of state roads. This township suffered much from the great fires of 71 and '81 but in time all traces of these terrific conflagrations passed away and today we find tine farms with well appointed farm houses. The entire township is given over to agricultural pursuits, there being no village within its limits. The principal rivers are the Pigeon and the tributaries of the Cass. Millions of logs at one time were banked along these streams.
Lake township was organized in 1867 by special act of the legislature. Its territory was taken from that of Grant and Caseville. John B. Woodhull was the first supervisor and Robert Gotts clerk. There were 21 voters at the first election. The first settler was William Fisher in 1859. Robert Gotts and Hannah Davison were the first couple married in the township in 1866. Mr. Gotts told the following story of his coming into this section: "I had a longing to own a bit of this green earth, so came here in 1864. 1 found my land was three miles from the nearest neighbor. Had to cut a trail through the woods, which took several days. Built a small shanty, got in some provisions and settled down for a long winter of solitary life. Owing to a mistake in locating the lands by the parties who helped me, found the next Spring that I had chopped on the wrong land all winter. Had to begin all over again. For many years there were no bridges across the Pigeon river, so often in the winter time had to break the ice where it was not frozen hard enough to bear the weight of a man and wade or pole a raft across with the necessary supplies. As soon as I had a clearing large enough to raise grain I bought two and one-half bushels of spring wheat for $3.00 per bushel. Had to carry it on my back for four miles, then plant it with a hoe. The next year sowed 12 bushels of oats which I also carried in, bringing two bushels at a time. Generally the implements the pioneer had were an axe, hoe, hand spike, shovel and a grindstone, until the fires of '71 and '81 let in the sunshine and the wind. This made it possible to burn the timber more easily. The problem in those days was not how to get timber, but how to get rid of it. The first school was organized in 1864. The first Sunday school was started by three men who leaned toward the Presbyterian church, the Primitive Methodists and the Church of England. These three promoters asked the people to bring their Bibles. When Sunday came the school house was full. Then came
a problem. Who would open the session with prayer? Finally they solved the question by repeating the Lord's Prayer and the Apostle's Greed. Some one suggested that they have singing, so the Scotchman selected a hymn out of the Westminster hymnal and the first Psalm. The Sunday school proved to be a success, but the school house burned in the fire of '81 and that ended the work."
Lake township is drained by the Pigeon and Pinnebog rivers. The soil is a clay loam except along the shore. About one-third of the township was touched by the great fires of '71 and '81. William Dufty bought 160 acres of land in 1865. He married Mary Ann Smith, who with her parents came to Caseville township from Pennsylvania in 1861. Two families settled in Lake in 1859-Thomas McCormick and Archie McIlhargey. When we read this early date we have but a faint conception of what life then meant in a dense wilderness. Take away the roads and bridges and every vestige of the white man's improvements and restore the wooded territory of 1859 and then imagine these pioneers with their families, effects and whatever fortune they might possess embarking oft times on a rudely constructed "jumper" drawn by a team of oxen, making the irksome journey over winding trails into the land of their future homes. Here surrounded by the trees of the forest in which wild animals abounded they made the little clearings and built the log cabins. There were days of privation and scanty fare but many of them lived to see this region rise from ague swamps and tangled forests into the charms of health and vast prosperity. Even as late as 1874 Mr. Musselman in the woods near his home killed two cubs and attacked the old bear but she showed
Fight and he had to flee for his life.
Among these early settlers we find the names of M. C. Smalley, George Henry, Samuel Lewis, H. Champagne, Ingraham Harrison and Lewis H. Guyeau, whose life history would tell many incidents of that period. Rush Lake is situated in this township, just south of the Babbitt Quarries. It was originally about two and one
half miles long and about a mile wide. This lake is somewhat higher than Lake Huron, which is within a mile of it but direct drainage is prevented by the ridge of sand stone between them. There is a large island in this lake and some fish. A splendid quality of high bush huckleberries grow on the. island which is thickly covered with a growth of spruce and other shrubs, making it difficult to go in any direction other than along the trails which form a maze as they zigzag to every point of the compass. The ground is mossy and yielding except where the roots of the trees so near the surface form a net work. Many wild fowl come here in the fall as it is a natural habitat for water birds. In late years drains running east towards the Pinnebog and west to the Pigeon rivers have lowered the level of the lake and reduced its size. Along its shores the Upthegrove families settled and the home of Mr. Chapman was near the Babbitt Quarries. He was one of the early teachers in the Caseville school.
Chandler township was organized in 1879. Its territory was taken from that of Lake. Wilson Smith was the first supervisor. Thomas Edwards, who came in 1860 is said to be the first settler. The land is rolling in the north and east and flat in the south and west. It is drained by the Pinnebog and Pigeon rivers and has no waste land. There are no large villages in this township. The entire section is given over to agricultural purposes and there are some excellent farms in their part of the county. Beans, clover hay, wheat and corn being the principal products. Sugar beets are also raised in some parts of the township.
The little village of Soule is on the east branch of the Pinnebog river. In 1876 John Soule came to that section and purchased two acres on which the village is situated. Chas. Soule built a grist mill, saw mill and store on this site. The settlement which gathered
around these buildings naturally took Mr. Soule's name. He was also instrumental in 11aving the township of Chandler organized and named in honor of the then senator from Michigan, Edward McKay came to the township in 1878 and purchased 160 acres on section 24. He became one of the leading agriculturists and later increased his estate by purchasing another 160 acres in section 25. On the east boundary of tile township is a splendid Catholic church with a large membership. This point is called Hewletton. The priest from here at the present day cares for the Caseville Catholic church also. The first Protestant religious services were held in the home of Ralph McCoul. by Rev. Mr. Cross, a Methodist preacher in 1868. Two brothers, John and James Bedford came in the early 50's and settled in the township. James afterwards sold his land to his cousin, James Bedford. William Hedley was another pioneer, coming in 1867. Other settlers in the 60s were Thomas and Anthony Green, Dan Hart, John Howardth, Robert Smith, Darling Anderson, Mr. Nichols, the Harveys, Daniel Langley, Obed Melick, the Devines, the Lenaways and Christian Flack. To merely mention these sturdy pioneers gives but little idea of the hardships and privations they endured in establishing homes for their families. These men and many others not mentioned were chiefly instrumental in the transformation of the township from a wilderness to a region of fruitful farms and comfortable homes. Many of them carried in on their backs the necessary provisions for the sustenance of their families. Often walking on logs through swamps and over trails tormented by those pests, the mosquitoes, which swarmed in clouds around them. Even the homes were besieged by these insects with their buzzing noise. A "smudge" was to be seen at every door in those days.
Among the men who did much to develop this section the name of Edward Heaton is worthy of mention. He located 320 acres of land under the Graduation act.
He lumbered in the early years and later through his energy and enterprise had one of the finest stock farms in the county. He raised the first grain, owned the first team of horses and wagon in Chandler township. He bought his farm implements in Detroit and Lexington and for many years owned the only fanning mill in the settlement.
In the '70's we find these names on the roll fit Chandler: Maxwells, Youngs, Thompsons, McLeods, Brooks, Wilsons, Fitchetts, Hays, Alexanders, Thomas Farver and the Sawyers. Several of these families were Scotch and where they lived was known as the Scotch settlement. They were nearly all adherents of the Presbyterian church.
In 1879 Oliver township seceded from Lake and the first election was held in April of that year. Frank Black was chosen supervisor. This township did not suffer as much from the great fires as did the others, It is drained by the Pinnebog river. Among its early settlers were S. D. Grimmey and John Oliver, after whom the township is named. Patrick Bliss, who located here in early days carried in the first cook stove for his own use, on his back, making four trips to bring the various pieces from Caseville. The roads in this section were mere trails through the forest at this period. The first school in the township was taught by Miss Agnes MeAulay, of Caseville. Among her pupils were the children of Mr. McGillivray, who built the first house in Elkton. His family were the first to settle there. Mr. McGillivray was a blacksmith by trade and is still a resident of the, village. It is said that the village got its name from the fact of an elk being killed in a marsh nearby that weighed a ton. Mr. Dennis F. Smith tells of cutting hay in this same marsh in 1859. He worked for Hanks, Thompson and Buttars, the father of John Buttars, who
were engaged in lumbering. Also worked for Francis Crawford on the Pigeon river at the Burrit Shanties in 1860 and 1861.
South of Oliver is Grant township, named after Gen. Grant. It was organized in 1867 by an order from the board of supervisors. Levi Williamson was not only the first supervisor but the first settler, coming in 1863. Other names inseparably connected with this township's history are those of the Lambkins, Eamleys, Bodeys, Brackenberry's, Tellers, Parkers, Hallocks, O'Neals, Hintons and the Proudfoot family. This township is drained by the Pigeon river and the Sheboyonk Greek. The timber was largely maple, beech, pine, elm and hemlock. The soil is clay loam in some parts and in others sandy with clay as a subsoil. There is some choice farming land here. It is estimated that there were at least 6,000 acres of swamp land in this township.
The first post office was at Canboro with Mr. Parker as postmaster. He also had a general store. This post office was established in 1870 with semi-weekly mails from Sebewaing and Bad Axe. The office was discontinued when the rural free delivery took its place with routes extending from Gagetown in Tuscola county and from Owendale, a village on the Grand Trunk railway and situated in Brookfield. This village was named after Mr. Owen, who was the principal factor in its early history.
Many of the men who settled in Grant township in the '60's had served in the Civil War, hence the name, Grant.
The eastern part of the township was the first to be settled. Here we find two families of the Keatings. A member of one of these families was among the earliest preachers in this locality. The Aldrich family built a home on the town line and an odd character by the name
of Miner lived on the bank of the Pinnebog river. Many of these early settlers traveled on foot to Caseville to purchase supplies. On one occasion William Younglove and Mr. Stretcher made a trip to Caseville together. They carried their purchases home in bags and when they came to a creek or river would throw the bags over and then follow the best way they could. One of these men had several dishes which his wife had ordered in his sack. On coming to the river he tossed it over, forgetting all about the fraility of his ware. Too late he realized what would happen. He found but one cup intact when he reached the other side.
James Proudfoot's father moved from York S late to Grant, just before the great fire of 1871. Came from Caro to Gagetown by stage and made the remainder of the journey in a lumber wagon. The next day started to Bay City for his household goods, going from Sebewaing in the boat, the Mary Mastina. Shortly after leaving there the boat ran on to a sand bar and it was several hours before the crew could get her off. In the meantime the great fire had swept into the vicinity of his home in Grant and all that night his family fought for their lives and home. They succeeded in saving everything after a strenuous struggle.
The first teacher in District No. 1 was Mrs. Gage in 1872 and Bell Randolph taught the next term in 1873.
Brookfield township was organized in 1867 and the first election held at the residence of A. H. Burton in April, 1868. Elijah Thompson had the honor of being the first supervisor. Mr. Burton was the first settler, locating there in 1865, and was also a prime mover in the organization of the township. In recognition of his efforts he was allowed to select the name. This he did naming the place after his old home in York state. He was also the first clerk of the township. W. Pobanz was
another pioneer in this section, coming in 18710 and that same year Mr. Schnepp purchased land and built a house. In 1865 Hiram Spitler took tip a homestead of 120 acres. Other well known it men were the Holmes families who settled in this and adjoining townships. The land is generally flat with a clay loam soil. It is drained by the Sheboyonk Creek. and the Pigeon river. In recent years large drains have been cut throughout the township. The fires of '71 and '81 just touched the corner of this section.
Bloomfield township was organized in 1872 and William E. Elliot elected supervisor. The fire of '71 swept over two-thirds of this township and the fire of '81 caused much suffering and loss. Clinton Gage came to Bloomfield in 1875 and he saved the lives of his family in the great fire of '81 by getting under a wet carpet for several hours. Later in the day another family, that of Mr. Gregor also took refuge under this same covering. The whole atmosphere seemed to be filled with smoke and fire. The first clearing made in this section was by Henry B. Gillard, who came in 1871. Ronald McDonald also located here in that same year. He was a Scotchman by birth but had spent several years in India. He served in the Crimean War two years and was a soldier in India in the English Army 19 years. He married the daughter of another English soldier in Secunderabad and here his son, Harry McDonald, w4s born. The writer has heard him relate many thrilling experiences that befell him in that far off land. Two well known men who settled in Bloomfield in the, 70's were Hugh Walker and Robert Beattie. Another early settler was John Clark, who served as justice of the peace for over 20 years. In 1878 Lewis W. Coon came and settled in the township. There were other men belonging to this period whose names are not recorded.
The life of all of these early settlers was full of toil and hardships. Their first task after putting up the log cabin home was to clear and break up the virgin soil., then put in the crops so necessary for their sustenance. No easy task amid the stumps. Potatoes were the main crop then. The land in this township is flat and a sandy loam soil. It is drained by the east and west branches of Willow Creek. Port Hope was the nearest market. The little hamlet of Redman is situated in this township and John Kinch, who came in 1876, was one of the postmasters there. The M. E. church was organized in 1883. There were also two Baptist churches and one Episcopal society.
In 1869 Meade township was organized from Hume. At the election in April Spencer A. Case was elected supervisor. The first settlers were Peter Rivers and Anthony Libby, who came in the spring of 4859, and Chas. Gilbert, V. Nelson and J. Martin came in the fall. In 1861 Desire Filion located here and a couple of years later started a store. Filion is named after him. J. Fleming came in 1867. Leonard R. Thomas came from Warwick, Ont., in 1878 and settled in this township. He afterwards represented Huron county in the state legislature and served many years as supervisor. Other early settlers were Chas. Armstrong, son of the first sheriff of the county, and also of Huron, St. Clair and Sanilac, when they were one. John Lackie, whose son William is the present supervisor of Meade; D. McAlpine, two families of the Nelsons, who originally came from Norway and William and George Kerr. Mr. Kerr always took an active part in the affairs of the township. Joseph Jeroue came to Meade in 1859 and purchased land. Felix Fillon, who settled here in 1876 had made a trip to Huron County in 1859, purchasing land in Caseville township but on account of the ague returned to Canada, residing there until 1860 when he came to Hume, but
in 1862 entered the Union Army. On receiving his discharge he once more came to Hume, remaining until 1869, then went to Canada, where he lived six years. In 1876 he came back to Port Austin for one year then moved to Meade where he established a home. Another pioneer family was that of A. Lipsic. They built a palisade around their garden and orchard of cedar posts, pinned together and sharpened at the top. No deer could enter here to destroy the crop. The Methodist church in this township was built in 1881, after much sacrifice and toil on the part of the builders. The first child born in Meade was a son of Chas. Gilbert. The land here is rolling in the northern part and flat in the southern. The clay loam soil is easily tilled and produces good crops. The east branch of the Pinnebog river drains this township. The fire of '71 and '81 touched this township and did much damage especially that of '81. The township is named after General Meade. The nearest trading place is Pinnebog, which lies partly in the township.
Another township named after a president is that of Lincoln, organized in 1877. The first election held at the home of George Collins resulted in the election of Desire Filion as supervisor. The first settler was John H. Prevorse, who came in 1865 and endured all the labors and hardships of pioneer life. We can imagine how great these trials were when we read the records in the register's office that the first mortgage foreclosed in the county was when the John H. Provorse farm was sold on foreclosure to Robert W. Irwin, August 2, 1875. Richard Winsor was the attorney in the proceeding and Hugh M. Ross, deputy sheriff, carried on the sale. lit fact Mr. Ross handled most of the sales on foreclosures for a number of years. In the year 1885 we find 25 such sales. Among the early settlers in this township we find the names of Leon Filion, B. G. Church, W. H. Parker,
Ronald McDonald, John D. Parent and later Anthony Tetreau who purchased and established the farms afterwards called Tetreau's Gorner. The whole township was burned over in the fire of '71 and the eastern side in '81. It is drained by Willow Greek, which empties into Lake Huron. Here as in other parts of the county broad fields and comfortable homes now occupy the ground where once the wolf and wild deep trod.
Many of the sturdy, hardy pioneers who viewed these scenes of early days have passed away and the story of their adventures sounds like some fairy tale of old.
Winsor township was organized in 1880 from Fair Haven. It was named after Richard Winsor, a well known pioneer of the county. The first election was held May 6 and John T. Linson chosen as the first supervisor.
The soil in this township is a clay loam and highly productive. It is drained by the Pigeon River and Sheboyonk Greek.
Among the pioneers of this section was G. U. Bean, who came with his mother and five brothers to Winsor when but 11 years of age. This township was then but a wilderness of green, swampy land. After years of toil and hardship such as early settlers only know he succeeded in making a comfortable home.
John Linson first came to the Ora Labora colony in Caseville township, where he built a tannery and in three years had lost his entire property, He next secured a claim of 160 acres of land in section 15 Winsor township which he held for six years. During the time he had this land he built a small log shanty on it in the midst of the forest. - Here one night a large bear tried to get into the building. Mr. Linson had no gun with him and but a latch upon the door of the cabin. He barricaded the door as well as he could and all
that night with an axe in his hand kept watch through the small window upon his unwelcome visitor. The bear prowled round and round the building, snuffling and scratching every now and then upon the door. It was just breaking day when bruin ambled away into the surrounding woods. After that experience Mr. Linson never spent another night there without a gun nearby. He sold his land in 1875, but previous to this purchased a farm on the banks of the Pigeon river. This place is about a half mile west of the town and is now owned by the Michigan Sugar Company. Other pioneer families in Winsor were the Hysers, Warrens, Froebes, Jacobs, Moellers, Korns, Nitz's, Muenteners, Hoffmans, Drahers, Wassermans, Deitzels and Roedels. Will Kain was a step-son of Mr. Jacobs. The site of Pigeon was a swamp. It is said that 40 acres of land now in the center of the town, was traded for a gun. Berne was unknown. The first school was conducted in the German M. E. church on the banks of the Pigeon river. Here Herman Roedel swayed the rod for a while. Then came Fannie Snell of Bay Port, a niece of J. and T. Snell's, who taught one year. She was followed by Florence M. Morse (now Mrs. Richard Gwinn) who had charge for two years. During the second year the district purchased the building from the M. E. society and a church was built at Berne Corners. Miss Morse was the teacher once more in 1880-82. Among the pupils of that day were the Heineman brothers, who later moved to Saginaw. Mrs. Conrad, Fred and Henry Zimmer, Mrs. Anna Baur, Chas. and Louis Mair, Henry Moeller and John Deifenbach, now of McKinley township. Five months was the entire length of the school year there. Books of all kinds were brought by the pupils and the parents could not understand why these were not all right. Among the interesting events of that time was the wedding of Alice Hyser and William Brown on New Year's day, 1877. Miss Morse and the Froebe family attended this ceremony. It took place at the old Hyser farm, a few miles up the river from where Pigeon is now situated
The lumber road followed the bank of the river through the woods, if road it might be called. The whole party rode in a wagon with boards on instead of a box and once this vehicle got tangled up with the numerous logs that projected into the highway. Every one had to help get the logs out of the track. On arriving at the Hyser home, which was of course a log building with a wing built on, forming an L-shaped structure, they found that all of the other guests were there. For seats there were benches around the room and in the center a bench on which sat the bride, groom, bridesmaid and best man. Every one had a splendid chance to see the bride's dress which was made of a pretty blue material. At one end of the same room was the long table already spread for the dinner. 0. P. Chapin was the officiating justice of the peace. He must have had the dinner in view for the marriage ceremony only lasted about one minute. There was but scant attention paid to the congratulations but rather the guests congratulated themselves on the abundance of good things provided. Plenty of roast goose, honey, pies, cake and other dainties. A dinner like this was a rare treat in those times and nearly every housewife within reach had assisted in its preparation. When it was over it was time to go home for people did not travel in autos in that day.
While we have mentioned the families who settled near Pigeon there were several other settlers near the state road leading from Wild Fowl Bay to Kilmanagh, William Kappen, the Heberlys, Pincombs, Grants, Harders, Bathers, Pobanzs and Graves families.
Another well known pioneer William Holmes, came in 1868 from Lockport, N. Y. He made the journey by means of three teams and sleighs. They traversed lumber roads and finally the last part of the route was traced by means of blazed trees. Such men as these put their axes on their shoulders and marched into the virgin forests and built their homes and their independence
by their own sturdy hands. Mr. Holmes owned 1,000 acres of timber land on which he lumbered for many years, He had a saw mill near the southern line of the township, built in 1881.
Since that early period McKinley township has been organized. Its territory being taken from that of Caseville, while White Rock has been absorbed into that of Sherman.
A PIONEER FAMILY OF NOTE
Among the pioneers in Huron county there are those who have been identified with more than one place. Especially deserving of mention is the Desjardins family, who lived for many years in the county. Much of the history of this family is the story of many another who came to the wilds of Huron County after a struggle so overwhelming that it left them stripped of their equipment and compelled them to begin a much greater struggle to regain property and position. In 1856 Gregoire Desjardins left Quebec and came direct to the wilderness of Bingham township. Forestville at that time was the nearest trading post and all goods had to be taken over by ox teams through a winding forest path with its unbridged creeks and swamps. Later a road was built with its old time corduroy bridges and mail carried and other elements of civilization became available. John Zacharie, the oldest son was the mail carrier for many years. Samuel E., who became a, noted architect in Chicago, was born while they were waiting at Forestville. Benjamin was the first to arrive at the new hillside home. He became an inventor. Paul, so well known in Huron County, was an older son. He taught school for a few years and then entered Albion college where he trained himself for the ministry,
During the early years the small clearing around the log cabin gradually began to widen, keeping pace with the growth of the family. They had their logging bees at which the neighbors joined to pile up the trees already cut into logs and burn them. The mother and daughters spun the wool and flax. These were sent out and woven and after that they had the fulling bees when the woolen homespun cloth was shrunken. The Desjardins family at the beginning had practically its own school and the Sunday gatherings, the early Sunday school and the study of the Bible extended to the neighbors. It was under these difficulties that this remarkable family was raised. In 1863 Marie, the oldest daughter, married James Shepherd, living one mile and a half across a thick forest. In 1864 Persis, the only one who did not survive her mother, married James M. White, living six miles away. John H. White was her son. On account of the lack of schools Mr. Desjardins moved not far from Port Austin and later to the then thriving village of Port Crescent. It was from this place that three of the boys, Paul, Samuel and Benjamin went to begin their life work. In 1880 Mr. Desjardins sold the property at Port Crescent and purchased a farm near Filion. In 1884 they once more changed their residence going to Bad Axe where they spent the last years of their life.
The father and mother of this family coming to Michigan in middle life never acquired such mastery of the English language as to be able to participate in the religious worship of their neighbors. Mr. Desjardins often opened the session of the first Sunday school they were instrumental in organizing with prayer and reading the scriptures in French, after which such of the neighbors as could read, taught the lesson in English. The descendants of this family numbered nearly 100 at the time Mrs. Desjardins died in 1903. Mr. Desjardinis dying 15 years before. This family were no common influence in their day and generation along social, spiritual and intellectual lines.
Another familiar name in the county is that of Robert Winterbottom., who came to Willow Greek in '1855. Here he worked as a sawyer and shingle maker for six or seven years. Then entered the hotel business but lost everything he owned in the great fire of 1871. Even his children were left destitute of the necessary clothing. He was compelled to send them to Port Austin where clothing and money had been sent to the fire sufferers by outsiders. After this he worked in various towns in the county, finally in 1876, moved to Port Hope, where he opened a hotel. He was elected sheriff of the county in 1884.
Richard Winsor the first representative from Huron County in the Michigan Legislature made his campaign over trails in the woods in 1860. He said some of the incidents of that trip would no doubt astonish the present citizens of the county.
In the legislature of 4 866 we find H. C. Gallup representing the interests of the people.
AN EARLY MILLIONAIRE
One of the few millionaires who have lived in Huron County was George W. Pack. At the meeting of the board of supervisors in 1864 he was on the equalization committee and the valuation of the county was $539,733, Caseville having the highest valuation, $72,524. It was at this meeting that Port Austin was selected as the county seat.