1880 Township of Marion Part A. Pages 346-350a

Marion Township Map

346. This township was formed from Putnam in 1837. It is one of the four interior divisions of Livingston County, and lies directly southwest of its geographical centre. Adjacent township organizations are Howell on the north, Genoa on the east, Putnam on the south, and losco on the west. By the original United States survey, it was designated as township No. 2 north, of the base line of range No. 4 east, of the principal meridian. Its present name, although suggested by one*who had formerly resided in the town of Marion, Wayne Co., N.Y., is, with the latter organization, derived really from Gen. Francis Marion, a gallant American officer, who, as the "Swamp Fox of the Carolinas," gained much celebrity and distinction during the war of the Revolution.

"Well knows the fair and friendly moon the band that Marion leads
The glitter of their rifles, the scampering of their steeds.
'Tis life to guide the fiery barb across the moonlit plains;
'Tis life to feel the night wind that lifts their tossing manes.
A moment in the British camp--a moment and away
Back to the pathless forest before the peep of day."

--From Bryant's Song of Marion's Men.

     The general surface, which here reaches the greatest attitude of any portion of the county, over five hundred feet above Lake Erie,--is diversified with plains, bluffs, and ridges, dotted with numerous small lakes, and intersected by streams whose surplus flow, here divided by Nature's watershed, starts in opposite directions, and ultimately finds its way to Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan. The original timber consisted principally of white and red oak, hickory, beech, and maple, on the higher grounds, while black and white ash, whitewood, and elm predominated in the lowlands.

     Openings of light, dry soil, known at an early day as Prevost's, Boyden's, Hubbard's, and Chubb's plains, besides others of lesser note, occurred in various parts of the township. These, interspersed with more heavily timbered belts, the meandering brooks abounding with excellent fish, and numerous beautiful, clear lakes, fed by springs and rivulets, made this region in early summer a most enchanting spot. Wild-flowers grew in great profusion, which, with a considerable growth of pale-green grass, rendered the carpet nature had created more lovely than an artificial one. Deer and wild fowl were very plentiful,--the former as tame as domestic animals not especially well treated. In the low timbered places wild grapes climbed to the tree-tops. Whortleberries and cranberries were to be found in numerous swamps, and along the higher banks of the streams apples and wild plums abounded.

     These bounties of nature, here so lavishly displayed, enticed the Indians to tarry within her borders, and contributed much to the oft times scant larder of the pioneers of Marion. Cedar Lake was a favorite resort of the aborigines during the hunting and fishing seasons. Two trails crossed to the north of the lake, and on a high hill or bluff, still farther to the northwest, was their usual camping-ground. Near by this was a place of burial, and here many of their weapons of war and the chase have been found.

     The principal water-courses of Marion are the Cedar and Shiawassee Rivers. The former takes its rise from the lake of the same name, and flows northerly through the west half. The latter starts from Coon Lake and flows in a general course towards the north through the east part. Some eighteen lakes are found in the township, a majority of them being in the southern part. Among the most considerable are Cedar, Pleasant, Coon, Grass, Triangle, and Mud Lakes. Horseshoe Lake, the largest body of water in the northern part, is situated on section 10. The total lake surface of the township is not far from 700 acres. Springs generally abound, and in all respects the locality is well watered. The soil consists of the alternate belts of sand and clay loam usually found in Michigan. It produces abundantly, and in the quality and amount of its agricultural products Marion stands in the front rank of Livingston County townships.

     Her people are chiefly engaged in the pursuits of agriculture, and numbered in 1874--the last census--1162.

THE FIRST SETTLEMENTS

     Sardis Davis, one of the pioneers of Cattaraugus Co., N.Y., purchased the northwest part of the 346a.

Image of
Hiram P. Baker Residence,
Marion, Livingston County, Michigan

     347. north part of the northwest fractional quarter of section 2, Sept. 15, 1834, and we have reason to believe that he became the first resident of township 2 north, of range 4 east, during the same season. It is related by those who were personally acquainted with Mr. Davis that he was about forty years of age at the time of his settlement here; an invaluable pioneer, generous in the extreme, whose door was ever open to those in need of a shelter or sustenance, and who more than once divided his bread with the hungry to the extent of going to sleep without an evening meal. He was one of the most active in procuring the organization of the new township of Marion, and, as will be further noticed, # was one of the first justices of the peace and highway commissioners elected. Mr. Davis was a carpenter by trade, and one of the first framed barns ¥ in the township was erected by him in 1837. He harvested the first crop of wheat in 1836. His wife, a most estimable lady, died the same year,--hers being the first death in the town. In 1839 or 1840, Mr. Davis removed to Wisconsin, and his further history is unknown.

     In the summer of 1835, Deacon Israel Branch, of Ann Arbor, purchased the southeast quarter of section 11 from the government, and of James T. T. Allen and David Godfrey the northeast fractional quarter of section 2. He settled upon the latter section during the early part of the fall of 1835, thus becoming the second settler of the township. Sometime during the year 1836, while visiting Ann Arbor, he died. The lands situated upon section 2 were soon after purchased of his heirs by Edward F. Gay, who settled here in 1837. Before the winter of 1835-36 had fairly closed in, Major Francis I. Prevost, Alexander Boyden, Jean Louis François Benoit Fasquelle, and Stoddard Smith, all from Washtenaw Co., Mich., moved in, and erected for themselves log habitations in the northwest part of the town. All of these settlers last mentioned purchased their land from the general government. Major Prevost remained here but a short time, having sold his possessions to Ebenezer Stearns in the spring of 1837. Mr. Fasquelle also remained here but a brief period (one winter), having sold his lands and improvements to Guy C. Lee. In 1836 he returned to Ann Arbor, where, as Professor of Modern Languages, he served in the State University for many years. He was the author also of a valuable work entitled "Fasquelle's French Series."

     Stoddard Smith, father of Pierpont L. Smith,
settled upon the east half of the southwest quarter of section 7, remaining there until his death.

     The history of Alexander Boyden is well known to nearly every present resident of Marion. "Boyden's Plains" has ever been a landmark in the township annals. A favorite variety of wheat, propagated by him and bearing his name, was extensively cultivated by people of the county. His location was admirable and his lands were readily brought under cultivation, but his great delight was in threading the intricacies of the forests in pursuit of the game with which they then teemed, and it is related that during the winter of 1835 and '36 he killed more than 100 wolves and deer. He died in 1877, upon the farm where he began the first improvements more than forty years previously.

     Sylvester Rounds, from Wayne Co., Mich., was the next settler in the township. He made the first entry upon section 19, Jan. 14, 1836, being the northwest fractional quarter, or 166 acres, and, during the same winter, built a log house and settled his family here. He was a man well versed in the amenities and duties of life and a consistent member of the Methodist Church. At his house the itinerant minister always found a hearty welcome. Among the members of his family was an elder son, by the name of Jabez, who, like most young men, was fond of company and the gatherings which usually terminated in an exhibition of the "light fantastic." One evening there was to be a prayer-meeting held in the neighborhood, and, at another house, a dance. The family possessed but one horse, an Indian pony, which the father usually rode to meetings," and which he proposed to do on this occasion. On the other hand, Jabez required the pony to take his girl to the dance. Long and loud were the arguments between them, which was finally ended by Jabez exclaiming, "There is no use talking, father, the stoutest man takes the horse!" and Jabez departed with the pony. Robert Munns, a son-in-law of Mr. Rounds, settled in the same vicinity in February, 1836, and became one of the first highway commissioners of the township.

     On the 6th of May, 1836, Hiram Wing, his brother, John L. Wing, and their father, Barker Wing, a veteran of the war of 1812, arrived in the township. The brothers had purchased a portion of section 15 in October, 1835. Upon this they erected a log house, and began the Herculean work of hewing out a home in the wilderness. They were from Marshfield, Plymouth Co., Mass., originally, but in years subsequent to 1824 had resided in Oneida and Wayne Counties, N.Y.
348. Hiram Wing, aged seventy-five years, now resides in the village of Howell, having removed from his farm in Marion eight years ago. In the quiet possession of a modest competency, good health, and all his faculties, he bids fair to remain, for years to come, one of the respected and honored landmarks of the past, one of the very few now living who saw Marion in 1836, and witnessed its many transitions to the present.

      The first township-meeting was held in his house in 1837, at which he officiated as clerk, and was the same day elected township clerk and justice of the peace. He relates many incidents illustrating the difficulties and hardships which beset the paths of those who chose Marion as their home prior to 1840; but as none are of a startling nature, were shared in common by all residents, and have been many times related at home firesides, we forbear their repetition. He is quite certain, however, that at the time of his settlement none had preceded him other than those already named, viz.: Messrs. Davis, Branch, Prevost, Boyden, Fasquelle, Smith, Rounds, and Munns.

     During the summer and fall of 1836 the population of the township was further increased by the arrival and settlement of some 20 or more additional families. Among them were Miles Chubb, who settled in the southeast part. Townsend Drew, from Steuben Co., N.Y., who still resides on the land then purchased by him, it being upon the highest elevation in the town. He early devoted much attention to fruit culture. He also built the first framed house, in the fall of 1836, Mr. Barker Wing doing the carpenter work. Henry G. Love, James Bavin, Nehemiah Gilks, Thomas Love, William Love, Elisha Love, Stephen T. Probet, Adam Rubbins, and Joseph Brown were all from England. Thomas L. Hancock, from Washtenaw Co., Mich. Dr. Thomas Hoskins, the first physician, and the first supervisor of Marion, was also from Washtenaw County. He is described as having been an able man, a practitioner of the old school, rigid in his treatment, yet withal a genial gentleman. He removed to Scio, after continuing here but two or three years. George P. Jeffreys, from Washtenaw County. Samuel Lyon, from Steuben Co., N.Y., who, as "Deacon Lyon," to became well known throughout the county for his many estimable qualities.

     Guy C. Lee, with his sons, George W., Henry B., and Frederick J., were from Madison Co., N.Y. This family became one of the most prominent in the township. They soon made large improvements, and to their example and inculcation may be attributed much of the high moral character for which the people of Marion have ever been noted. Guy C. Lee was a gentleman respected by all men, and his voice was ever heard in behalf of the right. Free speech, free labor, free Christianity, in fact, universal freedom, were themes upon which he never wearied, and probably no other man brought so much moral power into the township. One of his daughters taught the first school; and foremost among the early residents of the town was his elder son, George W. Lee, who, as one of the first justices of the peace, assessor, teacher, and postmaster, was conspicuous in the first years of Marion's history. In later years he settled in Howell, where he engaged in merchandising. From thence he moved to Detroit. During the war of the Rebellion he received the appointment of paymaster, and is now performing the duties of Indian agent.

     Other settlers of 1836 were Peter Merrihew, Elisha Martindale, William R. Marshall, and Artemas Mahan, all of whom came in from Washtenaw County; Price Morse, from Genesee Co., N.Y.; Nelson A. Smith, from Eric Co., Pa.; George Sewell, from England; Chas. Van Winkle, from Allegany Co., N.Y.; William Younglove --a prominent pioneer and his son Aaron, from Washtenaw Co., Mich.; Mrs. Rebecca Green and family, from Massachusetts; and Henry H. Smith, from Genesee Co., N.Y. Of Artemas Mahan, just mentioned, Mr. Edward F. Gay, in some pioneer reminiscences, published in 1872, related the following incident:

     "But one house now intervened between Uncle Robert's [Robert Bigham's, in Brighton] and my destination, to wit, 'Peet's Log Hotel,' in Genoa, some seven miles east of Howell. At sundown I had arrived within three miles. At this place I discovered a shanty covered with bark, and in a locality which had been previously described to me by an acquaintance by the name of Mahan, who had recently located in Marion, a short distance from Howell. He said that after preparing his future home in Marion, he returned to his former residence, expecting soon to move his family. While on his return, on foot and alone, at this spot, in midday, he was approached by two men, each armed with a hand-pike, and his money or his life was demanded. Without parleying, he gave them all of his money except some small change, which he begged them to allow him to keep, together with his life, which they generously consented to do, while he hastened to leave them without making any attempt to know who they were, or why they had thus treated him. Mr. Mahan always after seemed reluctant to discuss this incident, though considered, a man of the strictest integrity."

     Before taking leave of the settlers of 1836 a perusal of the following facts, furnished by Thomas Love, will be of general interest to Marion people, showing as it does the inception and commencement of the "English Settlement."

     Henry G. Love and his family arrived in New York City from England on the 10th of June, 1836, and immediately began a journey westward, with the intention of settling in Illinois. Proceeding to
348a.

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Thomas Love

Image of
Mrs. Thomas Love

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Residence of Thomas Love, Marion,
Livingston Co., MI

     349. Albany by steamer, they disembarked, and again continued their journey to Rochester, N.Y., via the Erie Canal.

     At the latter city the female portion of the family were left in comfortable quarters, while the father and his son, Thomas, kept on via the canal to Buffalo; thence by lake steamer to Detroit. In Detroit they met some English friends who had already entered land in township 2 north, of range 4 east, and were persuaded by them, on their representations, to enter lands in the present town of Marion. Henry G. Love purchased four lots on the west half of section 33, situated south of Cedar Lake. Of their friends, Edwin M. Cust bought on the west side of the lake, or the south half of section 29; Stephen T. Probet, east of the lake; and Joseph H. Steel, north of the lake; while James Bavin located lots situated upon sections 22 and 23. The party then purchased in Detroit four yoke of oxen, two wagons, provisions, plows, axes, and other necessary implements, and then began their journey towards their locations in the new township via the Grand River road. Mr. Love declares that it was a grand road. Straight out from Detroit, as far as the eye could reach, led this highway, which had been improved to the extent of cutting down the trees and filling the low and marshy places with the trunks, terming the same "causeways."

     Over this route they rumbled along until reaching Ore Creek, now Brighton; then leaving the Grand River road, they turned westward and finally arrived at the residences of the Messrs. Carpenter, Hoagland, and Bennetts, in the present township of Hamburg, where they remained for a Sunday's rest. Here the little party lost the further companionship of Mr. Cust, as he bought some land of Mr. Bennett, and concluded to settle in Hamburg. The remainder, consisting of Henry G. Love, his son Thomas, and nephew, William Love,
β Stephen T. Probet and nephew, James Bavin and brother, Adam Rubbins, Joseph Brown, and their guide, whose name is now unknown, continued their journey on Monday, July 4th, and before nightfall reached the east side of Cedar Lake, and camped on the land entered by Mr. Probet. Probably this was the first party who crossed the east line of the township for the purpose of settling. All who preceded them had come in from the south, through Washtenaw County.

     A shelter was soon arranged with boards brought with them, and then they attacked the forest with the purpose of cutting out logs for houses. They were not good choppers at that time, however, and at first were obliged to hire some help who were to the manor born. But, as Mr. Love remarks, they soon learned the "Yankee trick," and ere many days the strokes of the axes in the hands of the English colonists resounded as loud, regularly, and with as good effect as any, as shown by the immediate clearing of five acres on the land of Henry G. Love. A cabin was built upon the Probet place, and the family left at Rochester soon came on, accompanied by Nehemiah Gilks. A crop of wheat was sown the same fall, but it proved to be too late in the season, and was a failure. About the first thing done, after getting settled, was the cutting of the largest whitewood-tree to be found on Mr. Bavin's premises; this was fashioned into a huge canoe, and launched upon Cedar Lake. This was the first boat placed upon the lake by white men, and proved a source of great benefit to the settlers, for, as one of them remarks, "there was an abundance of fish in Uncle Sam's waters, and but a small amount of pork in the barrels at home."

     During the winter of 1836-37 the English settlers cleared about 15 additional acres with their four yoke of oxen; the land was plowed the following summer, the whole sown to wheat, and a good crop resulted. In the summer of 1837, Thomas Love broke five acres for Henry H. Smith, the first ground plowed on Smith's land. At this time it was very difficult to obtain the most common articles of food. Flour was worth $15 per barrel, and corn $1.75 per bushel. Provisions were obtained at Dexter, Scio, and very frequently none nearer than Ann Arbor.

     Thus have we briefly traced the settlement here of a small company of English people,--men and women of sterling worth,--who, to the present time, have honored themselves and the land of their adoption.

     In January, 1837, Thomas B. Brooks settled upon section 1, and prior to the first township election, which was held April 3d of the same year, Edward F. Gay came. Ebenezer Stearns, who brought in from Ohio the first horses and sheep, Thomas Schoonhoven, who made the first improvements on the farm afterwards occupied by Elijah F. Burt, Cornelius Potter, the first blacksmith, William Hudson, and James Hoadley were all domiciled in various portions of the township. There were about 20 voters present at the first township-meeting of whom 16 received office. The whole number of names reported upon the first assessment roll, dated
350. May 1, 1837, as resident tax-payers was 34, and the total population of the township for the same year, according to the State census, was 202.

     Of the settlers last mentioned, Edward F. Gay perhaps became the most prominent. He was a native of Connecticut, and first came to Michigan in 1831, settled at Ann Arbor, and engaged in merchandising. He remained there until 1837, when, having meanwhile purchased the premises in Marion previously occupied by Deacon Branch he removed there April 1, 1837. During the same year he built and occupied a store in Howell, which was the second framed building erected in the village. He was an active and respected citizen. in every particular, and served as Marion's supervisor during the years 1841 and 1842. Further mention of Mr. Gay and family will be found in the history of Howell village.

     Ezra N. Fairchild, another well-known pioneer, the first surveyor, and prominent during his whole residence here as a township officer, settled in May, 1837. He came from Genesee Co., N.Y., and died at Battle Creek, Mich., in 1875, from a chronic disease contracted while surveying land in Livingston. County.

     Other settlers of 1837 were George D. Baker, Waters Clark, from Monroe Co., N.Y.; David Dickerson, who settled on section 14, Seth C. and Seth A. Darwin, from Livingston Co., N.Y. The latter brought in a stock of dry-goods, which were sold at "Darwin's Corners," in 1837 or 1838. William Davis, from Erie Co., Pa., was another settler of 1837; also Horace Griffith, from Steuben Co., N.Y.; Joseph Walker, from Allegany Co., N.Y.; James Haddan, Samuel Hubbard., Jeremiah Kent, Hiram Mitchell, from Madison Co., N.Y.; Myron Mitchell, his son; Lewis Pardee, from Monroe Co.; N.Y.; Thomas Ross, Walter R. Seymour, from Wayne Co., Mich.; William, Joseph, and Parley H. Sexton, William J. Webster, and Conrad Woll, Ashbel A. Winegar came from Cayuga Co., N.Y., to Michigan in the fall of 1837. He drove the entire distance, bringing two teams of horses. The journey required thirty days. He says that emigrants moving West filled the roads in many places for miles, and his experience in traversing thirty miles through the "Maumee Swamp" will never be forgotten. The roads generally about as bad as could be, and many of the farmers living along the route stood in readiness, with teams yoked or harnessed, to assist-if well paid for it--those whose teams were stalled.

     Among the settlers of 1838 were James T. Bashford, Zebulon M. Drew, Nathan Fields. Josiah P. Jewett, Noah Drew, Jesse Shafer, James Sloan who was another early blacksmith) Patrick Smith, and Lyman E. Beach, Jr. The latter was a native of Madison Co., N.Y. In years just prior to his removal to Michigan he had resided in the counties of Chautauqua, N.Y., and in Erie, Pa. During the month of March, 1838, accompanied by his young wife, be arrived here and settled upon lands that had been located by his father in April, 1836.

     The entire distance was accomplished with an ox-team and wagon--a great achievement, considering the difficulties then attendant upon a passage through the terrible "Maumee Swamp." A log shanty was erected upon the southeast corner of section 7, which possessing neither floor, door, nor window, was occupied in that condition until the frosts of winter came on. This primitive structure gave place in later years to a more comfortable log dwelling, which in turn was succeeded by a framed house. Mr. Beach and his estimable wife experienced all the vicissitudes incident to pioneer life. But when, after a few years of industry and economy, they were standing on the threshold of prosperity, just entering upon the full fruition of their most ardent hopes and aspirations, both were called to that bourne from whence none return. Mrs. Beach died in 1856, aged forty years. Mr. Beach. followed the partner of his joys and sorrows three years later, dying at the early age of forty-three years. Their children--four sons and one daughter--all reside in Livingston County at the present writing, the elder son, William M., being the present. efficient County Register of Deeds.

     During the three succeeding years, viz., 1839, 1840, and 1841, the population of the town was still further augmented by the settlement of Elias H. Bristol, Isaac Baker, Joseph H. Best, Ebenezer Bliss, Joseph D. Bull, James C. Baker, Hiram P. Baker, Charles Clark, Ephraim C. Hendee, Merritt S. Havens Jonathan Lee, Ozro F. Olds, Asahel Rust, Eli A. Roberts, William Spafford, William L. Tompkins, John T. Watson, Lorenzo Smith, Julius D. Smith, and Ephraim Smith. The latter was a veteran of the war of the Revolution, the grandsire of Henry H. Smith, and lived to the great age of ninety-nine years and thirteen days.

     Hon. Pierpont L. Smith, who throughout his whole residence in Marion has been one of the best-known and most respected citizens of the township, purchased lands here in 1835,--as shown in list of land-entries,--but he did not become a permanent resident until some three or four years later. He has occupied many offices in the gift of his fellow-townsmen, and has borne a conspicuous part in the advancement of Marion to her present proud position.

     Elijah F. Burt, came to the village of Howell,
350a.

Image of
Mrs. E. Basing

Image of
Mr. E. Basing

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Residence of E. Basing,
Marion, MI

 

     * Hiram Wing.

     # See list of township officers

     ¥ An informant states that barns were built by Sardis Davis and Sylvester Rounds at the same time.

     β Wm. Love came from Berkshire Co., England, in 1834, and after two years' residence in New York State, the latter portion of which was spent in the city of Rochester, his brother, Elisha, came on from England. The brothers joined the English settlers of Marion in 1836 . In 1839, William Love was married to Miss Keziah Bennett, a daughter of John Bennett.

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