From the Enterprise: By Mrs. Zelina Coszatt
Along the latter part of Sept. in the year of 1863, I, with my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sylvester Flanshbury, two brothers and three sisters, left Jackson county and started for the woods. My uncle brought us with a team and wagon and we landed all safe and sound at the home of an old acquaintance, Thomas Kirkby, living near Summerton. We stayed there for a while until my father could build a home. He had homesteaded a piece of land on Section 21, Lincoln township (and the fourth generation is now living on the same place) and to this homestead he came. He had to chop down the trees and brush to clear a spot on which to build our house. When he got it built we moved in on the first day of October. There was only half of the floor laid and that was of what they called puncheon (boards split out of logs).
The county a that time was solid woods, no roads or clearings and only two little log houses on this half mile where now there are seven nice large farm houses. A neighbor woman, Mrs. Demming, got lost in the woods between here and her house, a half mile south of here.
My father had to go to work to support his family and he did lots of chopping. He would walk a long ways to his work and chop all day and walk home in the evening carrying provisions home on his back. It was on one of these trips, he was bringing home some fresh meat, that the wolves chased him. They no doubt could smell the meat, and he could hear them howling behind him and following him up, but somehow they circled round to head him off and they came out beyond the house so he got home all right.
We had to eat Johnnie Cake and partridge many times, but we never went to bed hungry in our lives.
I well remember, not so very long after we came here, there were Indians camped around nearby, and one morning we had just had our breakfast, when in walked a great big Indian. We children were scared nearly out of our wits and scamped around behind our mother, expecting to be scalped or something else equally bad I suppose, but nothing happened. My father wanted him to eat breakfast but he would not and finally he went on and we saw no more of him.
The very first school meeting that was ever held here was held at my father’s house. They laid out a school district and built a little log schoolhouse on the site where the Lincoln Center schoolhouse now stands. The first teacher was Mr. Madison. I went to school that first term and since then all five of my children have taken their first eight grades of schooling there.
One time when my oldest sister was working for one of our neighbors, about a mile from home, we were expecting her home at a certain time but she did not come and my mother becoming anxious about her sent my brother and me to see about her, and on our way we had to cross a creek and just as we got to it out jumped two nice big deer and ran off into the woods.
My father had no team for quite awhile after we came here. He went down to Gratiot county and bought a cow and raised the first team of oxen we had.
At first the nearest gristmill was at St. Johns (in margin: mistake, there was Indian mills and Reynold’s Mill at that time) but my father got most of his flour and corn meal from the ones he worked for. Then finally they built a mill at Old Salt River, near what is now Shepherd, and my father thought he would go to mill himself. He had two wagon wheels, one high and one low, so he took them and made him a cart and hitched his oxen to it and went to mill just as proud as some are of their big trucks today.
There were six more children born after we came here making twelve altogether, so, of course we all had to help to clothe ourselves as soon as we were large enough. When I was about eleven years old I worked for Mrs. Henry Beebe, across the road from us a week and she paid me seventy-five cents and my brother and I walked to Old Salt River and bought me a new dress. I bought the goods of Wilbur Struble, who had a store there at the time.
My mother used to buy a bolt of muslin and make each of us girls a new white dress. He would wear them like that for a while and then she would get some butternut bark and color them and then we had another new dress.
One thing we had then that we don’t have now and that was lots of maple sugar and “sirup”, but we didn’t have sap buckets and evaporators as they do these days. My father had to make troughs to catch the sap in. These were made by taking short pieces of log and splitting them half in two and then hollowing them out. He also made a large trough to put the sap into when gathered in that would hold several barrels of sap. We have made as high as nine hundred pounds of sugar in one year.
We had some good old uncles at Grand Ledge who used to bring us a wagon load of apples every fall before we had any apple trees or anything like that. And, my, how we did enjoy those apples.
I was married in 1878 and my husband and I bought the place across the road from my father’s and we moved onto it, and we have never moved off. One of the landmarks, the old granary standing by the road on our place, has just been torn down.
My father and mother took the “Northern Pioneer” and we have always taken the Enterprise every since we were married, excepting two or three years.
I have watched this part of the county grow from a solid forest to one of the nicest farming districts in Isabella county and will say to the younger generation that they haven’t had a hard times as they perhaps think they have.
Mrs. Zelina Caszatt
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