By Mrs. Martha Cullimore
This week a lady takes her place as narrator of the events of early days in Isabella county. Mrs. Martha CULLIMORE, 72 years of age, and a resident on Section 13, Fremont township, since 1863, when she and her parents drove up from Indiana. Mrs. CULLIMORE has been a reader of the Enterprise from the early times, when printing papers was more of a task than it is now, and has followed the march of events as chronicled by this paper in the passing years.
(In the margin it says this paragraph is incorrect) Being the first school ma’am in the county, Mrs. CULLIMORE started early to “teach the young idea how to shoot” and the “three R’s”. Her school was much different from the modern and expensive and convenient seats of learning today.
That traveling then was not without its dangers is shown by the story of the night spent at the farmhouse en route from Indiana to Michigan.
Read her story, which follows!
I saw your request in the Enterprise for the history of the early days of Isabella county.
I am seventy-two years of age and have lived in Isabella county since the spring of 1863 with the exception of two years which we lived in Whitley county, Indiana.
I came from Whitley county, Indiana, to Isabella county, Michigan, with my parents in March 1863. We drove through with teams and wagons. There were thirteen of us. My father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. JAMES GARNER, my three sisters, Jane, Barbara, and Emma, my two brothers Hugh and John, my grandfather and grandmother, and myself and three young men, George CULLIMORE, who afterwards became my husband, and two brothers by the name of Naras. We were ten days driving through. We endured some hardships and had some very narrow escapes of our lives. One night we stopped at a house to stay all night and had just nicely got to bed when we heard someone at our door trying to get in. The men folks got up and dressed and did not go to bed again that night.
Father and grandfather stayed in the house with us women and children and the tree young men that were with us went to the barn and watched the horses and wagons. When they got to the barn there were three men with guns, and they tried to get our men folks to go hunting with them; but they were wise and did not go. We got up early and left there as soon as it was day light and at the next place we stopped they asked us where we stayed all night and when we told them they said, Well, you were lucky to get away alive.” They told us there were lots of people seen go there but that we were the first ones that were ever seen to come away.
We landed in what is now Fremont township. We lived in some old lumber shanties until we could get us a house built. Having bought a farm of a man by the name of Thomas MERRILL, we settled in what is now Fremont township on section 17, range 13n, 5 west and I still own and reside on the farm.
Our nearest post office was Elm Hall, 20 miles away, our nearest neighbor was two miles and they were scarce.
The first summer we were here we raised our crops of corn, beans and potatoes planted around between the logs, as we did not have time to clear the land first, but we raised enough to live on such as it was. We often had to eat our meals without any bread, as flour and bread were scarce and hard to get.
We could hear the wolves howling at night close by, there were also plenty of bears, lynx and lots of small animals. The Indians were plentiful here when w came. They were a lot more plentiful than the white people were. The Indians and the wild animals together sometimes made it real interesting.
Our first house we built was a log house, 12 x 14 ft. and six feet high. That was not very large but it was a shelter for our heads just the same.
My father and I worked for Thomas MERRILL in his camp on the bank of the Chippewa River. My father worked for him with the team and I did the cooking for the men. I did the washing for the camp down in the river and hung the clothes on bushes and trees to dry.
(In the margin it says this paragraph is incorrect) I was the first schoolteacher of Isabella county. I taught two terms. I rode on horseback to what is now Mt. Pleasant, to take the examination for schoolteacher.
In the spring of 1863 when I first saw Mt. Pleasant there were only two houses there, the old Preston house and Mosher house. Later Mr. MOSHER ran a store for Mr. BABBITT. The store building was about 10 x 13 feet and it stood where the Mt. Pleasant Furniture and Hardware store now stands. In the year 1864 or 1865, W. W. PRESTON built the first hotel, where the Park hotel now stands.
(In the margin it says this paragraph is incorrect) The first doctor in Isabella county was Dr. BREMER. He had his office where the Fancher block now is located.
I sure have seen and endured some very hard times in the early pioneer days and now I am an invalid, have been crippled up with rheumatism for 23 years. I was one of the first subscribers for the Enterprise and am still a subscriber.
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