Saginaw County Michigan

Birch Run Township

Birch Run Tp. occupies the southeastern angle of the county. It forms a rich agricultural district, and is inhabited by a thrifty, intelligent people. The Flint & Pere Marquette railroad runs through its southwestern sections, with a depot at the village of Birch Run. The creek, after which the township is named, waters the central sections. The north feeder rises in section 14, on the farm of E. L. Parker; the south branch, or main feeder, in the center of sec. 25. The head waters of Silver creek flow in three streams through the southwestern sections; while Dead creek waters the northeastern portion of the town. There are a few marshes to be found. The water and salt springs are numerous. The salt well bored some years ago in section 21, produces some of the purest brine found in the State. The mineral resources of the county are left undeveloped.

Toward the close of 1853 a meeting of the settlers of the district now known as the township of Birch Run, decided to apply to the County Board for the organization of No. 10 north, of range No. 8 east. This application was made by 19 freeholders, and was considered by the supervisors in session, Feb. 9, 1853. The Board resolved: "That the territory as described be, and the same is hereby, duly organized into a township, to be known and designated by the name of Birch Run, which said township is described as being within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the county of Saginaw and the State of Michigan; and be it further resolved, That the first annual meeting for the election of township officers for the further organization of said township, be held at the house of Proctor Williams, situate in said township of Birch Run, on the first Monday in April next, and that the following named persons, to wit: Lyman Webster, Beverly M. Brown and Proctor Williams, being three electors of said township, be and they are duly designated and appointed to preside at said township meeting, and to perform all the duties required by the statute."

The first township meeting was held at the house of Proctor Williams, the first Monday of April, 1853, when the following inspectors declared the polls open: Beverly M. Brown, Moderator; Calvin Silvernail, Clerk; Lyman Webster and Proctor Williams.

The result of the balloting was as follows:
For Supervisor, Joseph Matheson, 18; Proctor Williams, 17. For Clerk, Calvin Silvernail, 21; Elisha Marvin, 14. For Treasurer, Hiram M. Brown, 19; Elisha Marvin, l6. For Justices, Beverly M. Brown, 35; Proctor Williams, 23; Lyman Webster, 34; Erastus Hammond, 18; R. H. Little, 16; Jacob W. Sims, 7. For Commissioner of Highways, Beverly M. Brown, 19; Jacob W. Sims, 19; Elijah O. Williams, 17; Thomas Robins, 16; James Trumble, 16; Elisha Marvin, 16. For School Inspectors, Lyman Webster, 19; Hiram M. Brown, 19; Myron L. Root, 16; Joseph Mattheson, 16; For Overseer of Poor, Andrew Chappell, 18; Tyler Parkhurst, 18. For Constables, Geo. Brown, 35; J. W. Sims, 20: Thomas Robins, 19; Abner Curtis, 19; Andrew Chappell, 16; Elijah O. Williams, 6; Leander McDonald, I6.

In addition to these officers the following were elected to fill the minor township positions; Michael Reardon, Commissioner of Highways; Jerome D. Embury, Superintendent of Schools; Orrin Cornell. School Inspector; John Wilson, Eliakim Morse, Oliver Smith and Hezekiah Cooper, Constables; Lucius Bell, Deputy Clerk.

The following is a list of the principal officers of the township since 1858:


Joseph Matheson 1853-54 Harvey J. Loomis 1868-69
David Sproul 1855 John Dobson 1870
J. V. Horton 1856 Orville A. Kent 1871
Theo. F. Smith 1857-58 John Dobson 1872
Alfred Williams 1869 Louis P. Racine 1873-74
Preserved H. Warren 1860 Chester A. Branard 1875-78
Joseph Matheson 186 unreadable Allen R. Brown 1879
David Sproul 1863-65 Enoch Smith 1880-81
John Dobson 1866-67    


Calvin Silvernail 1853 Aaron C. Edwards 1873
Elisha Marvin 1854-55 Warren Campbell 1874
Chester C. McLean 1856 Henry D. Miller 1875-76
James Trumble 1857-65 Talbot Slenon 1877
Thomas S. Marr 1866 Warren Campbell 1878
James Trumble 1867-70 Leonard B. Arger 1879-80
Warren Campbell 1871 Middleton S. Beach 1881
Alfred Holmes 1872    


Hiram M. Brown 1853 Isaac Tottan 1864
Dewitt C. Chappell 1854-55 James C. Marr 1865-69
Emory Norris 1856 C. P. Douglass 1870
James Marr 1857 Enoch Smith 1871-72
P. H. Warren 1858 William J. Herron 1873-74
Isaac Tottan 1859 Enoch Smith 1875-76
Harvey J. Loomis 1860 Allen R. Brown 1877-78
Duane Osborn 1861-62 Isaac Tottan 1879-80
James C. Marr 1863 Oscar E. Utley 1881


Beverly M. Brown 1853 Thomas Campbell 1866
Lyman Webster 1853 Robert Campbell 1867
Proctor Williams 1853 William J. Herron 1868
Erastus Hammond 1853 Oliver Smith 1869
Elisha Marvin 1854-55 A. D. Rundlet 1870
Proctor Williams 1856 David Sproul 1871
Preserved H. Warren 1857 Orville A. Kent 1872
Chapman Williams 1858 David Sproul 1873
David Sproul 1859 Orville A. Kent 1872
Proctor Williams 1860 David Sproul 1875
Robert Colville 1861 Alfred D. Rundlet 1874
John Marr 1861 David Devoe 1874
Erastus Hammond 1862 David Sproul 1875
Henry Perry 1863 Garrett B. Gray 1876
John Dobson 1864 V. B. Rottiers 1877
George Smith 1865 Lucius Bell 1878
Nathan Bears 1865 T. L. Runnels 1879
William Wheeler 1866 Alfred Holmes 1881
    V. B. Rottiers 1881


The purchasers of the United States land in this township are enumerated as follows:

Surname Given Section Purchase Date
ADAMS John 7 1854 Nov. 8
ATHERTON Oliver 29 1836 Aug. 26
AYLSWORTH Ashel 17 1836 Oct. 14
BAELL Frederick 27 1836 June 25
BAELL Frederick 7 1836 June 25
BAELL Frederick 18 1836 June 25
BEACH Samuel 2 1854 March 6
BEECHER Charles N. 27 1854 Oct. 9
BEERS Nathan 15 1854 Dec. 15
BEVINS William 3 1854 Nov. 10
BINGHAM William 30 1836 Aug. 26
BISHOP Giles 22 1854 May 6
BLACKMER R. 35 1836 Sept. 24
BLACKMER R. 34 1836 Sept. 24
BLIVEN Othill 2 1854 Nov. 9
BOMBARD Alex. 3 1854 Dec. 16
BOOTS William 15 1853 Sept. 3
BOUCH BOUCK Nicholas 6 1836 Aug. 25
BOUCH BOUCK Nicholas 5 1836 Aug. 24
BRENT T. L. L. 28 1836 April 11
BRENT T. L. L. 6 1836 April 11
BRENT T. L. L. 7 1836 April 11
BRIGGS Clark 30 1855 Jan. 9
BROOKS Rozel 13 1855 Jan 16
BROWN David M. 22 1853 Sept. 3
BUCKLEY James 14 1854 Nov. 11
BUMP Elias J. 30 1853 Dec. 12
BURHANS Rebecca 1 1852 Dec. 4
CALL George 35 1836 Sept. 26
CAMP Herman 24 1853 Dec. 5
CAMP Herman 31 1853 Dec. 8
CAMP Herman 13 1853 Dec. 5
CAMP Herman 13 1853 Nov. 17
CAMP Mayor 23 1853 Dec. 28
CARROLL Charles 21 1836 June 28
CARROLL Charles H. 5 1836 June 28
CARROLL Charles H. 6 1836 June 28
CARROLL Charles H. 20 1836 Jan. 28
CARROLL Charles H. 17 1836 June 28
CARROLL Charles H. 8 1836 June 28
CARROLL Charles H. 33 1836 June 28
CARROLL Charles H. 34 1836 June 28
CARROLL William T. 8 1836 June 28
CARROLL William T. 17 1836 June 28
CARROLL William T. 34 1836 June 28
CARROLL William T. 20 1836 Jan. 28
CARROLL William T. 33 1836 June 28
CARROLL William T. 21 1836 June 28
CHANDLER John M. 8 1855 Jan. 22
CHAPIN Volney 11 1851 Nov. 3
CHAPIN Volney 3 1854 Jan. 6
CHAPIN Volney 12 1851 Nov. 3
CHARRUAND J. J. 27 1836 June 25
CHARRUAND J. J. 18 1836 June 25
CHARRUAND J. J. 7 1836 June 25
CLARK William 18 1851 Feb. 28
COLBORN Elias 20 1836 Nov. 14
COLBORN Elias 28 1836 Nov. 14
COMFORD Sylvan 31 1854 April 10
CUDNEY Jonathan 13 1854 Nov. 10
CURRY John 10 1854 April 8
CURRY John 10 1854 May 10
CURRY John 2 1855 Feb. 10
DAVIS John J. 31 1853 Nov. 10
DAY Jarey E. 23 1854 Nov. 16
DEAN George M. 15 1854 Nov. 10
DEAN George M. 11 1853 Nov. 14
DEAN Henry B. 11 1853 Nov. 14
DECKER James C. 23 1855 Feb. 8
DEWEY Daniel D. 23 1854 Oct. 18
DIAMOND John 14 1855 Jan. 16
DIBBLE R. E. 33 1836 June 25
DIETZ David 5 1836 Aug. 24
DIETZ David 6 1836 Aug. 25
DONIGAN John 19 1851 March 3
DOUD Nelson 15 1854 Nov. 9
EWER Peter F. 28 1836 July 13
FREMPER Jacob 30 1854 June 15
GARLAND J. B. 8 1836 March 30
GARLAND Jerome B. 6 1854 Nov. 8
GASKIN Peter 19 1851 Feb. 28
GEBHARD John G. 6 1836 Aug. 25
GEBHARD John G. 5 1836 Aug. 24
GILPIN Horace Jr. 18 1837 Feb. 11
GODARD S. A. 1 1854 Aug. 26
GODARD S. A. 2 1854 Aug. 26
HALL Richard 3 1854 Nov. 10
HAMM D. G. 28 1836 April 23
HAMMOND Daniel 3 1854 Nov. 4
HAMMOND E. 2 1854 March 23
HAYNES Danial H. 1 1851 Jan. 23
HAYWARD N. C. 19 1836 Sept. 13
HODGMAN L. 4 1853 April 19
HODGMAN Leveritt 3 1853 April 19
HOLINSHED C. B. 10 1854 Dec. 11
HOLMES Charles P. 33 1836 April 28
HUBINGER John G. 4 1851 Aug. 6
HUBINGER John G. 3 1853 Nov. 22
HUNTER J. G. 1 1854 Feb. 17
HUNTER Sarah 1 1854 Jan. 9
JACKSON Anson 21 1853 June 16
JAILLET W. H. B. 18 1851 March 3
JEROME Edwin 20 1836 May 18
JOHNSON William 12 1853 May 20
JORDON Michael 19 1851 Feb. 28
KENT Garden 24 1853 Oct. 12
LACY Edward F. 27 1853 Dec. 16
LEE Gideon 17 1836 May 3
LEE Gideon 21 1836 March 3
LEE Gideon 8 1836 May 3
LEE Silas S. 10 1854 Dec. 12
LEEVIS Lansing 3 1854 Nov. 10
LETTERMAN A. 8 1853 Oct. 24
LIKE Chris. Jr. 34 1836 Sept. 26
LINCOLN Isaac 10 1854 May 15
LINE Peter heirs 29 1854 Aug. 8
LITTLE Norman 18 1851 March 3
LITTLE Norman 19 1851 March 3
MARTIN Harriet B. 22 1853 June 16
MCDONALD F. 35 1836 Sept. 26
MCLEAN C. C. 27 1853 Oct. 28
MESSENGER Jacob 8 1854 Nov. 28
MITTS Charles A. 8 1855 Jan. 16
MITTS James B. 24 1855 Jan. 8
MOON George C. 21 1836 March 29
MOON George C. 20 1836 March 29
MOON William 17 1836 March 28-29
MORRIS Rowley 32 1836 Aug. 26
MORRIS Rowley 33 1836 Aug. 26
MORSE Eliakim 29 1853 April 27
MORSE Royal 31 1853 Nov. 1
NEWELL Miriam S. 21 1850 Dec. 9
NORRIS Emory 22 1854 Nov. 10
NORRIS Julia 13 1853 Nov. 16
NORRIS Moses R. 15 1854 Nov. 11
O'CONNOR P. 4 1855 March 10
PEARSON Benjamin 32 1836 Aug. 26
PETTIBONE D. A. 4 1854 Feb. 15
PHILLIPS Nathan 20 1836 Nov. 14
PHILLIPS Nathan 28 1836 Nov. 14
POLLOD George 3 1853 Nov. 22
PRATT Charles 27 1836 Sept. 26
RATHBUN John 36 1853 Dec. 31
REDSON Thomas 9 1854 Nov. 11
RICHARDSON William 34 1836 Sept. 24
SAUNDERS Ezra 20 1851 Feb. 28
SERGEANT Joseph 1 1854 July 18
SHAW Guy 11 1855 Jan. 9
SILVERNAIL Jeffrey 24 1854 Nov. 11
SILVERNAIL Philip 23 1854 May 10
SIMPSON William 25 1854 Nov. 10
SIMS Jacob W. 27 1853 Dec. 7
SMART David 34 1836 March 1
SMART Robert 34 1836 March 1
SMART Robert 28 1836 March 1
SMITH Enoch 8 1854 March 10
SMITH John 4 1855 Jan. 6
SPARKS Ezra B. 29 1854 Nov. 10
SPROUL David 5 1854 Nov. 10
THURSBY Thomas 30 1854 Nov. 10
TROOP Jabez W. 5 1836 Sept. 16
TRUESDELL John 32 1836 Aug. 26
WADHAMS M. 29 1837 March 21
WADHAMS M. 36 1837 March 21
WADHAMS M. 35 1837 March 21
WADSWORTH James 26 1836 July 5
WILLIAMS Ebenezer 12 1854 May 9
WILLIAMS Proctor 14 1854 Dec. 12
WIRTS Caleb H. 27 1836 June 25
WOODING John 9 1854 Nov. 7
WOODING John 4 1854 Jan. 23
WOODING John 4 1854 May 18
WOODING John 10 1855 March 14

Few of those patentees became permanent settlers. The present occupying proprietors purchased their lands from them, and therefore claim all the credit for bringing this portion of the county into its present high state of cultivation.


There are eight districts in the township, each possessing a substantial frame school-building, which with other school property are valued at $5,300. Not one of the schools is graded. The number of children enrolled is 459, of which number 371 were reported as regular attendants. The total expenditures for the year ending 1880 were $2,884.69. The amount derivable from primary school fund was $191.04; the sum of district taxes, $1,766.90; the amount of the two-mill tax was $1419.58; from other sources, $187.32. The total indebtedness of the districts is $785. The number of teachers employed in 1880 was 14, of whom six were males.

There is only one tavern in the township, viz.: that of David Sproul, on section 17.


contains four grocery stores, operated by Messrs. Beach & Finch, M. J. Collom, L. P. Racine, and C. M. Rock. The latter has a shoemaker's shop in connection with the store. The railroad runs through this village. The present station agent is Alfred W. McKee. The hotel kept by Mr. Finch has been in operation for a number of years. The population of the village is about 75.

The first Baptist church was built in 1872. It is a neat frame structure. The society of this church is large and influential. Under the pastorate of Rev. Mr. Niles, it continues to make great advances. The temperance workers of the town are energetic and able in the advocacy of the sacred cause.


The rest of the history of Birch Run township can be better told in the form of brief personal sketches of its principal citizens, many of whom are the pioneers that opened the settlements here and materially helped to make this community what it is today.

John Armstrong, farmer, sec. I7; P. O., Birch Run; was born in England, in 1808, and is a son of John and Dorothy Armstrong. In 1841 he came to America, landing in Quebec; 1849 landed in East Saginaw. In 1852 came to this tp.; has served one term as Highway Commissioner. He was married in England, in 1833, to Ruth Hutton, who was born in 1810. Five children were born to them, 4 of whom are living—James, Elizabeth, wife of Simon Sharrow; Hannah, wife of Benjamin Bauker, and David. Ruth is deceased. Mrs. Armstrong died in 1841. Mr. A. is a member of the Episcopal Church and is a Republican. He owns 117 acres of land.

Clark Briggs, farmer, sec. 30, was born in New York, Jan. 8, 1808, and is a son of Thomas and Hannah Briggs, both natives of New York. Clark was raised on a farm, and has pursued the vocation of a farmer through life. In 1854 he came to Saginaw county with only 10 shillings in his pocket, and at present he owns 166 acres of good land, and is comfortably situated in life. He was married in 1838 to Phoebe Pierce, who was born in New York in 1812. Of their children only 3 survive—Phoebe, wife of Peter Baldwin; Eunice, wife of Nelson Morse, and James. Two sons, Clark and Francis, lost their lives during the civil war.

Allen C. Close, farmer, sec. 32, was born in Ireland in 1809. He came to America in 1835, and to Michigan in 1863. He was married in Ireland to Catherine Doane, who was born in the "Emerald Isle" in 1809. They have 3 children—Daniel, Alice, wife of John Dewey, and William. Mr. Close is a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

Marlin J. Colin, general merchandise, Birch Run Station, was born in Jefferson Co., N. Y., May 10, 1837. His parents are Xavier and Julia (Hory) Colin, natives of France. Marlin was reared on a farm, and when of age went to sea, remaining on the waters for 10 or 12 years. He then came to this county and entered the general mercantile trade with L. P. Racine. He has been postmaster of Birch Run Station since July 19, 1875. He is connected with the Masonic and I. O. G. T. (being W. C. T.) societies, and a member of the M. E. Church and Republican party. He was married in New York to Phoebe M. Johnson, a native of the "Empire State." They have 3 children--Albert J., Louis and Edmond D.

G. W Coon, farmer, sec. 29; P. O., Birch Run; was born in New York, May 9, 1815. His parents were George and Nancy Coon, the former a native of Rhode Island, and the latter of Vermont. G. W. was married May 25, 1840, to EIiza A. Cotter, who was born in Jefferson Co., N. Y., Feb. 4, 1820, and was a daughter of John and Lucy (Wilson) Cotter, natives of Vermont. One child was born to this union, Victoria L. Mrs. Coon died in 1873, and at Flint, Mich., in 1878, Mr. C. married Lucinda Carr, who was born in Canada, May 25, 1834, and is a daughter of Moses and Elizabeth Carr, the former a native of New Hampshire, and the latter of Connecticut. Mr. Coon is a Mason, and has been Township Assessor in the State of New York.

Truman Curtis, farmer, sec. 26; P. O., Pine Grove; was born in New York, March 4, 1804; parents were Jeremiah and Mary Curtis, natives of Massachusetts, and of English descent; father died when subject was small, and he was bound out to work for a Presbyterian; was severely whipped for attending a Methodist meeting, and ran away from his master; he has been a farmer through life, with exception of a few years at cabinet and chair making; was Justice of the Peace three years; has been Highway Commissioner and School Director, and is connected with I. O. O. F.; was married Oct. 20, 1823, to Sophronia Gillett, who was born in Cortland Co., N. Y., in 1805; of 7 children given them, 5 are living—Silva A., wife of Jonathan Smith, of New York; Lauren, James, Sophia and Emmett. His wife died in 1849. He was married again in Ohio to Barbara Ferguson, who was born in Lake Co., O., April 5, 1824. They have children—George, Josephine, Charles, Albert, Ella and John M.; subject and wife are members of the M. E. Church, and well-respected citizens of Birch Run tp.

Samuel Dexter, farmer, sec. 19. was born in New York, Jan. 17. 1816, and is a son of Samuel and Mary Dexter, both natives of Massachusetts. Mr. Dexter came to Saginaw county in 1863, and now owns 43 acres of good farm land. He is a man thoroughly posted on ecclesiastical matters, having formerly been a minister of the gospel. He was married in 1841 to Mary Coon, who was born Oct. 31, 1819, and is a daughter of George and Nancy (Batten) Coon, her father of Rhode Island, her mother of the State of New York. Five children have been given them, 2 of whom are living— George S., Edna E., wife of John Dellinger. The deceased are Sarah J., Ella and Nancy M.

Morgan Dodge, farmer, sec. 28, was born in Jefferson Co., N. Y., Sept. 24, 1821, and is a son of Obed and Betsey (Merrill) Dodge, the former a native of New Jersey, of English descent, and the latter a native of Vermont, of French ancestry. Mr. Dodge learned the ship-carpenter's trade in 1839, and worked at it for 17 years. He was also engaged in the lumber business, and was foreman of a large ship-yard for several years. He came to Saginaw county in 1877, and since then has filled several township offices. He owns 80 acres of farm land. Mr. Dodge was married in Jefferson Co., N. Y., in August, 1849, to Maria, daughter of Carlton and Pruda Parker, who was born in Canada West in 1830. They have 3 children—Carlton, born in 1854; Edward, born in 1862, and George, born in 1864.

A. C. Edwards, farmer, sec. 29, was born in Steuben Co., N. Y., Nov. 23, 1839, and is a son of Pierpont and Lucinda (Williams) Edwards, the former of whom died while on a visit to this county in 1879. The latter is still living, and resides with the subject of this sketch. Mr. Edwards was married in New York, in 1863, to Flora, daughter of Richard and Mary Near. Mrs. Edwards was born in Jefferson Co., N. Y., in 1841. They have 1 child, May, born Sept. 12, 1870. Mr. Edwards is connected with the I.O.O.F.. the Baptist Church, and the Republican party. He owns 80 acres of land. P. O., Birch Run.

William H. Ferguson, farmer, sec. 28, was born in New York Oct. 15, 1844. His parents were Jeremiah G. and Sallie J. (Honeystead) Ferguson, natives of New York. The latter is still living, and resides with her son. In 1861 William H. enlisted in Co. E, 33d N. Y. Light Artillery, serving three years in the service of the Union. He is a member of the Greenback party: owns 40 acres of land. He was married in 1865 to Mary A. King, who was born in England in 1844. They have 5 children—Louisa, William, John, George and Lucinda.

Reynear Hoagland, farmer, sec. 21; P. O., Birch Run; was born in New Jersey June 23, 1847; parents are Elias and Maria Hoagland, natives of New Jersey; subject of this sketch came to Saginaw county in 1869; was in the "construction corps" of the Union army 18 months, during the civil war; is Democratic in politics; was married in Genesee Co., Mich., in 1871, to Mary Shay, who was born in Lenawee county in 1847; they have 1 child—Lizzie, born Sept. 2, 1871; subject owns 80 acres of land.

Hon. Alfred Holmes, retired farmer, was born in Saratoga Co., N. Y., March 22, 1805, and is a son of Caleb and Eunice Holmes, natives of Connecticut. Mr. Holmes lived on a farm until 16 years of age, when he learned the blacksmith's and carpenter's trades. He came to Michigan in 1837, first locating in Livingston county, and in 1843 in Saginaw county. He is Democratic in politics, and in 1848 was elected to represent this district in the Michigan Legislature. Since then he has filled various tp. offices, and has given general satisfaction. He was married in New York, in 1830, to Elmira Hillier, who was born in New York in 1805. Of the 2 children born to this marriage, 1 survives-Ada A. Mrs. Holmes died in 1836, and in 1865 Mr. H. was joined in marriage to Mrs. Jane Davis, who was born in New York in 1830. They have 1 child-Edith, born in October, 1870. Mrs. Holmes has 4 children by a former marriage-Erma A., wife of Tabor Davis; Anna E., wife of Cyrenius Finch; Nora, wife of M. S. Beach, and Allie. Mr. Holmes' portrait is given in this volume. See page 239.

Orville A. Kent, farmer, sec. 38; P. O., Arbela, Tuscola Co., Mich.; was born in Portage Co., Ohio, Aug. 14, 1834; parents are Gurdon and Huldah (Granger) Kent, natives of Connecticut. Subject of sketch was reared on a farm, and has followed agricultural pursuits through life; now owns a farm of 240 acres, all the result of hard toil and economy; was Supervisor of tp. for one term and has held various other tp. offices; was married in Saginaw county, in 1857, to Sophia Curtis, daughter of Truman and Sophronia (Gillet) Curtis; wife was born in New York, Aug. 11. 1840; 6 children given them, 3 living-Bert. G., born Oct. 17, 1871; Fred., born Nov. 7, 1869, and Emelia, born Sept. 7, 1877; deceased are-Orson N., born Aug. 2, 1860, and died July 28, 1867; Ole G., born Aug. 8, 1864, and died July 12, 1867; and Otis, born Sept. 21, 1867, and died Oct. 28, 1867.

Augustus Letterman, farmer, sec. 6, Birch Run tp., was born in London, England, in 1824; parents were Richard and Catharine Letterman; subject of sketch was reared a "farmer's boy" and has been successfully engaged in farming through life; he was one of the pioneer settlers of Birch Run tp; be owns 200 acres of farm land; was married in Canada, Jan. 15, 1850, to Anna McNeal, who was born in Ireland in 1825. Ten children have been given them- Kate, Ellen, Robert, Frank, Bessie, Maggie, Archie, Jennie, Mary and Rachel.

Harry Letterman, farmer, sec. 6, was born in Upper Canada, Feb. 14, 1836; parents are Richard and Catherine Letterman, natives of England, who came to America in 1834; subject of sketch was reared on a farm, and came to Saginaw county in 1856, where he has since been engaged in agricultural pursuits; at present owns 160 acres of good land; was married in this county, March 27, 1864, to Mary Dobson, who was born in Genesee Co., N. Y., Nov. 4, 1842. Of 5 children born to this union, 4 are living-Clara B., born Jan, 23, 1864; Eveline, born Jan. 18, 1886; Allie, born Dec. 23, 1871; and Delia, born Oct. 1, 1869. Albert, was born Oct. 1, 18—, and died Sept. 8, 18—. Mr. L. in a Republican, and has held various tp. offices.

Joseph Mathewson, the oldest living settler of Birch Run tp., was born in Scotland, Nov. 5, 1819, and is a son of William and Margaret Matthewson, natives of Ireland, and of Scotch descent. They emigrated to America in 1823, settling in Canada, but in 1836 located in Lenawee Co., Mich. Joseph located in this tp. in 1849, when Indians were as common as pine trees. He now owns 115 acres of good land on secs. 6 and 16. He was married in this county in 1850, to Caroline, daughter of Enoch and Elizabeth Smith, who was born in New York in 1831. They have 10 children —William H.; Ada, wife of Charles Beach; David, George, Margaret, Clark, Hannah, wife of William Bidwell; John, Elizabeth and Joseph. Mr. Matthewson has been Supervisor of Birch Run tp. for four years, and during the late war was enrolling officer for Government.

Christopher Nicholis, farmer, sec. 6; P. O., Cass Bridge; was born in England in 1831; came to America in 1853, locating in Ingham Co., Mich., where he remained until 1860, when he settled in Saginaw county; was married in 1852 to Eliza Foster, who was born in England in 1831. Of the 10 children born to them, 6 are living—Harry, Sarah, Charles S., George W., Frederick and Mary E. His wife died in 1870. He was married again in 1879 to Mary Burnison, who was born in Canada in 1847. They have 1 child, Benjamin. Subject has been: Justice of the Peace, and filled several other tp. offices; owns 70 acres of land, is a member of the M. E. Church, and votes for the candidates of the Republican party.

Raphael Porter, farmer, sec. 20; P. O., Birch Run; was born in Jefferson Co., N. Y., Dec. 16, 1825; parents were Asa and Tabitha Porter, natives of New York. Subject of sketch came to this county in 1866; was married the same year to Sarah E. Warden, who was born in St. Lawrence Co., N. Y., in 1847. They have 1 child, Augustus, born in 1877. Subject has held various tp. offices, and is a member of I. O. O. F. lodge, No. 292, of Birch Run. He owns a farm of 75 acres.

J. J. Powell was born in St. Lawrence Co., N. Y., Sept, 20, 1835; parents are Miles and Polly Powell. Subject of sketch has been engaged in butchering and farming through life; in 1864 he enlisted in Co. B, 4th Reg. Mich. Cav., and assisted in the capture of Jefferson Davis; has been Assessor and Director of Schools of Birch Run tp.; was married in this county Jan. 1, 1856, to Sarah E. Jacobs, daughter of Francis and Maria Jacobs. His wife was born in Vermont, Oct, 14, 1837. Nine children have been given them— Emma E., Margery, Miles, William R., Jackson (deceased), Harvey, Jason, Arthur, Gertrude and Benjamin.

Louis P. Racine, merchant, Birch Run Station, was born in France, Feb. 25, 1839. His parents, Peter and Margaret (Croissant) Racine were natives of France and emigrated to America in 1848. They reside at present in Jefferson Cu., N. Y., where the former is a successful farmer. Louis lived amid rural scenes until of age, when he shipped as a sailor on the "great lakes," following that kind of work in summer, and teaching school in winter for seven years. Mr. Racine was a poor man upon his arrival in Saginaw county, but by hard toil and economy has succeeded in the world, and now owns a good farm of 111 acres, also other property. He is an enterprising business man, and well respected. He is a member of the I. O. O. F., and the Republican party. He was married in New York March 6, 1866, to Melitine Colon, daughter of H. Calon, and born in New York, November, 1838. Two children were given them—George D., born Jan. 20, 1867, and Eugene C., born in this county in 1870. Mrs. Racine departed this life in 1876, and Mr. Racine was again married in Genesee Co., Mich., in 1879, to Mrs Sarah L. (Randall) Fangboner, a daughter of Sealand and Sarah Randall, the former a native of Vermont, of English descent, and the latter of New Jersey, and of German parentage. Mrs. Racine was born in New York, Feb. 1, 1840.

Victor B. Rottiers, a prominent farmer of Birch Run tp., was born in Jefferson Co., N. Y., May 24, 1842; parents were John N. and Ruth A. (Cotter) Rottiers, former a native of France, latter of New York; subject of sketch, in 1862, enlisted in Co. G, 10th Reg. N. Y. Heavy Artillery, and served three years, being discharged with the rank of 1st Lieutenant; emigrated to Saginaw county in 1865; now owns 280 acres of land on sec. 35; has been Highway Commissioner, and is serving second term as Justice of the Peace; was married in Jefferson Co., N. Y., in 1860, to Emily, daughter of Jacob and Anna Shubenburg, natives of Prussia; wife was born May 24, 1846; have 2 children—John N., born Oct. 14, 1871, and Anna R., born Oct. 28, 1875.

Thomas L. Runnells, farmer, sec. 21; P. O., Birch Run; was born in Maine, July 31, 1825, and is a son of David and Sarah (McDowell) Runnells, of Scotch descent. Thomas spent his early life on a farm until 19 years of age, then worked in lumber camps in winter, and at the saw mills in summer. He came to Michigan in 1851, and during the war was Lieut. of a Michigan company. Since his return from the army, he has been a Justice of the Peace, and also school officer. He was married in 1853 to Rhoda Marr, who was born in Canada in 1830. Three children were given them, two of whom are living—Cora E., born Dec. 21, 1856, and Elizabeth M., born Nov. 6, 1861. Francis L. was born May 23, 1854, and died Jan. 7, 1865. Mrs. Runnells died in 1855, and Mr. R. married, in this State, his wife's sister, Adelia C. Marr, who was born in Canada in 1837. They have 1 child, William L., born Aug. 26, 1868.

David Sproul, jr., farmer and innkeeper, sec. 13; P. O., Birch Run; was born in Scotland, June 3, 1811, and is a son of David and Nancy Sproul. Daniel immigrated to America in 1824, settling in Genesee Co., N. Y.; in 1835 in Lenawee Co., Mich.; in 1842 in Genesee Co., and in 1853 in Saginaw county. Mr. Sproul has been Justice of the Peace for 20 years; was Supervisor six years, and is Democratic in politics. He own 81 acres of land, the fruit of his own labor and perseverance. He was married in New York, March 14, 1834, to Hannah J. Matthewson, who was born at Glasgow, Scotland, Sept. 1, 1816.

J. L. Thompson, farmer, was born in New York in 1830, son of Daniel and Sarah (Kinney) T. He was reared on a farm, and has been a farmer through life. He is a local minister of the Protestant Methodist Church, and does good service in the cause of his Master. He was married in Steuben Co., N. Y., in 1854, to Eleanor Cook, who was born in New York in 1834, and is a daughter of John and Alvira Cook. Three children have been given them, only one of whom is living—Rosa M., born Aug. 29, 1867. Mr. T. owns 28 acres of good land.

Isaac Totton, farmer sec. 20, was born in New York, March 30, 1829. His parents were Isaac and Catherine Totton, natives of New York, the former of whom died in 1853; the latter resides with the subject of this sketch. Mr. Totton came to this county in 1854, carrying all he possessed on his back for seven miles. He now owns 80 acres of good land, has a pleasant home, and bears the good will and esteem of all his acquaintances. He was married in Allegany Co., N. Y., in 1854, to Calista Adams, who was born in 1833. Of their 6 children, 5 survive—Ella, wife of Silas Knowles; Frank, Mora, Eddie and Allie. Mr. Totton has been Township Treasurer; is a member of the I. O. O. F. Lodge, No. 292.

Jacob Tremper, farmer, sec. 30, was born in New York, Aug. 24, 1810. He was a son of Jacob and Anna (Decater) Tremper, both of German descent. Jacob lived on a farm until 14 years of age and then changed his life and followed the sea during the summer, and built boats during the winter season. He remained at this business for 18 or 20 years, and in 1854 came to Saginaw county, where he has since resided. At one time he owned 280 acres of land. He has served in nearly all the tp. offices, and was Postmaster of Birch Run for seven years. He has been a member of the School Board for over 20 years, and is connected with the Baptist Church. He was married in New York, July 13, 1834, to Miss S. A. Phelps, who was born in Canada, June 5, 1816, and is a daughter of Daniel and Harriet (Emerson) Phelps, both of English descent. Of the 9 children given them, 8 are living—Daniel B., James G., Michael, Harriet M., wife of D. Webster, of Reed City; Sybil B., wife of Allen Brown; Harry J., Harley M. and Allie E., wife of Frank Strong. Augusta C., (deceased) left a child, Edith, who resides with her grand-parents.


Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, By Michael A. Leeson, Damon Clarke, Published 1881 Chas. C. Chapman & Co., Chicago pages 723-733.

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