Enterprise: From Fred Delo, Sr.
I saw your request in the Enterprise for the history of the early pioneer days of Isabella county. I am eighty-four years of age and have lived in Isabella county since 1862. I left Saginaw, Oct. 2, 1862. There were twenty in our crew and it took us ten days to come up the Chippewa river poling a scow. We slept on the bank of the river wherever night overtook us. We cooked our meals by campfire. It reined most of our journey.
We landed in what is now Broomfield township, just fourteen miles from Isabella City which had then a grist mill, blacksmith shop and a hotel which was run by a man names Nelson. There were also a few shanties.
First I helped to build a camp for Thomas MERRILL on the bank of the Chippewa River. I worked for him until April 11, 1863. Then I started for Canada to get my father, mother and family. It took me three days to reach Saginaw, which was about sixty miles from our camp. I walked all the way, mostly by Indian trail through dense forests. I then took the train from Saginaw to Detroit and crossed the river by boat to Windsor.
My people and I came back to Michigan about the last of April by way of Detroit and Pewano, that being the nearest station. We came from there with team and wagon to Elm Hall and then to the Chippewa River and the journey took us two days. We settled on Section 32, range 14N, 5 West, near Stony Brook in what is now Deerfield township. Our nearest post office was Elm Hull, 20 miles away, and our nearest neighbor was ten miles away. We lived in an old lumber camp.
During the summer we planted a field cleared by the Merrill Lumber Company, about seven acres of land, which they had to corn and potatoes, but our corn froze. We also cleared more land.
We got short of money so I set out July 3, 1863, for Muir to work in the harvest fields. I walked all they way which took me two and one half days. I stayed there a month and started to return when I was twenty miles from home I heard a report that the Indians were killing the whites. I was greatly alarmed, but when I reached home, I found it was a false report, having been made by two men who were working for Mr. Merrill on his farm. They had set fire to the camp and reported to Mr. Merrill at Saginaw that the Indians did it.
Mr. Merrill came down to get father and me to go to his farm and take care of his crops and harvest them. During the winter of 1863 and 1864 I ran a small camp for Mr. Merrill. We still lived in the old shanty, where we first settled and mother did the cooking for the men.
About the middle of the winter, father was taken sick, there was not a doctor in the county so I started out on foot for Mt. Pleasant, going the first four miles guided by blazes on the trees made by the government surveyors. Then I found a trail which I followed to Mt. Pleasant. Mr. Measler was the only man in the county that kept medicine. He was a government for the Indians. I got some and started back the same day.
In the spring we moved to the Merrill farm to raise provisions for the camp.
In the fall of 1864 we moved to what is now my home in Fremont township, having bought the land the previous spring of the Merrill company. During that summer I hired some Indians to chop four acres of timber ready for logging.
Early in the winter I built a log shanty 12’ x 14’ and six feet high. The roof was made of split pine and the floor of poles. The first nigh I stayed in the shanty I heard wolves howling close by. The following day I found that they were following a deer. There were also plenty of bears, lynx, and lots of small wild animals.
I chopped on this farm the fore part of the winter. I lumbered in the winters and farmed in the summer of the early days but have farmed all the latter years.
I was one of the first subscribers to the Isabella County Enterprise.
Early History of Mt. Pleasant.
In the fall of 1862 when I first saw Mt. Pleasant there was one house, the old Preston house. The cellar was being built for the Mouser (Mosher) house. Later Mr. Mouser run a store for Mr. Babbitt. The store building SW corner Main & Broadway) was about 10’ x 12’ and it stood where the Mt. Pleasant Hardware and Furniture now stands.
Mose BROWN rented a room in the Preston hotel and he put in a small stock of goods having brought it all in on a one-horse wagon. In 1864 or 1865 W. W. PRESTON built the first hotel, where the Park hotel now stands.
The first dock in Isabella county was Dr. BREMEN. He had his office where the Fancher block is now located. (in margin: wrong one of first in Mt. Pleasant but not first in county).
Fred DELO, SR.
Route 1, Blanchard, Michigan
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