Saginaw County Michigan

Richland Township

This district of the county gives promise of equaling in its physical and social characteristics many of the older settled townships. The population in 1880 was estimated at 700, but within the year which has since elapsed this number has met with many additions. Large clearances have been made, new homes erected, and the period of its greatest advancement entered upon. June 7, 1881, was the steam saw-mill of Smith & McMann's started at "Hemlock City." It is the intention of the proprietors to add flouring-mill machinery at an early date. These, with kindred industries, which may spring up in the near future, will add to the prosperity of the township, and tend to hasten its development. The village known as Hemlock City is located in the western center of section 28. At present there are a post office, two stores, a commodious hotel, a steam saw-mill, and 25 dwelling-houses in the village. With the development of its agricultural resources Hemlock City will grow in importance, and perhaps form one of the leading municipalities in the county.

The township of Richland was organized under authority given by the Board of Supervisors Jan. 8, 1862. At that period it embraced the following territory: Town 12 north, of range 1 east, and town 12 north, of range 2 east. The order was "that this territory is hereby erected into a township to be called and known by the name of the township of Richland; the first annual township meeting thereof shall be held at the school-house in district number 5, in section 22, town 12 north, of range 2 east, on the first Monday in April, 1862; and at said meeting Thomas A. Porter, Lemuel Cone and William McBratnie, three electors of said township, shall be the persons whose duty it shall be to preside at such meeting."

The first township election was held April 7, 1862, in the schoolhouse of district number 5, section 22. T. A. Porter, L. Cone and Wm. McBratnie were Inspectors of election. The last-named was Moderator; James A. Wiltsie, Clerk, and Frederick Field, Constable. William McBratnie was elected Supervisor; T. A. Porter, Clerk; Geo. Brown, Treasurer; D. L. Cole and Frederick Field, Justices of the Peace. The Treasurer elect failed to file his county bond within the allotted time, when Andrew McBratnie was appointed to that position. The total amount of taxes for 1862 was $1,409.60, and of expenditures $1,399.80. The list of township officers from organization to the present time is as follows:


Wm. McBratnie 1862-63 Henry D. Smith 1872
Thomas A. Porter 1864 T. A. Porter 1873
E. C. Curtis 1864 John McMullen 1874
H. D. Smith 1865 Joseph Porter 1875-76
T. A. Porter 1866-69 Geo. W. Carson 1877-78
Joseph Porter 1870 J. B. Johnson 1879
Joseph Lewis 1871 Geo. W. Carson 1880


T. A. Porter 1862 J. D. Brown 1873
John McMullen 1863-69 Jedd Bennett 1874-76
Jacob King 1870-71 Wm. McBratnie 1877-79
James Henry 1872 L. Rienehart 1880


George Brown 1862 A. C. Fitting (Fiting) 1872-73
Fred. Fitting (Fiting) 1863-66 Winfield S. Cone 1874
Andrew McBratnie 1867 Aug. C. Fitting (Fiting) 1875
H. D. Smith 1868-69 James Henry 1876-77
Edmund A. Reeve 1870-71 Levi G. Whitney 1878-80


D. L. Cole 1862 A. T. Cooper 1871
Fred. Field 1862 Jacob King 1872
E. C. Curtis 1863 Patrick O'Connor 1873
Gilbert Smith 1863 James Henry 1874
Mahlon M. Bounting 1864 T. A. Porter 1874
D. S. Cole 1864 Patrick O'Connor 1875
Andrew McBratnie 1866 Jacob King 1876
Gilbert Smith 1867 H. L. Johnson 1876
James M. Frost 1868 Walter D. Pettit 1877
David Stratton 1868 August C. Fitting (Fiting) 1878
J. B. Johnson 1868 Civilian Phelps 1878
Patrick O'Connor 1870 Argalus T. Cooper 1878
D. S. Cole 1871 August C. Fitting (Fiting) 1880
Note: Above justices list has year the years 1869 and 1879 not listed.

The present officers are Geo. W. Carson, Supervisor; Joseph H. Whitney, Clerk; Jedd Bennett, Treasurer; Winfield S. Cone, Highway Commissioner; A. L. Carver, School Superintendent; Jas. B. Johnson, School Inspector; Walter D. Pettit, Henry Beamish, Alonzo T. Hodges, Justices of the Peace; G. W. Pettit and Isaac Williams, Constables.


There are one fractional and six full school districts in the township, each in possession of a frame school-building. The school census gives 252 children, 164 of whom attended school during the year 1880. The school property is valued at $3,300. The number of teachers employed is nine. The expenditure for 1880 was $1,569.38.

The people generally profess Christianity. However varied in form these professions may be, all have studied to live together in peace and banish from their midst the demon of bigotry. The German Lutherans possess one church building—the only duly dedicated house of worship in the township. The land upon which the church stands was presented to the Lutheran Society by Frederick Fitting.


In the following personal sketches, the principal settlers of this section of the county are noticed:

Henry Bemish, was born at Rochester, N. Y., in 1830; is a son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Conklin) Bemish; natives of Ireland, who came to Rochester about 1819, and went into the grocery business, which they continued for several years. His mother died there in 1834, and his father came to Michigan in 1838 and settled where East Saginaw now stands. He died at Pine Run and was buried there. The subject of this sketch came to Michigan in 1838 and settled at Saginaw, with his father, and remained there several years, and made occasional trips back to New York. In 1855 he settled in Thomastown, and there followed farming and lumbering, being 13 years with one firm. He came to Richland in 1878 and bought the hotel which he now occupies. He was married in Saginaw City, Nov. 27, 1853, to Delia Irish, a native of Oakland county. They had 5 children in all, 4 of whom are living—Norman T, who married Nellie E. Lewis, and resides at Hemlock; Wm. F., Henry, Edward (deceased) and Edwin. While in Thomastown he was Commissioner five years, Justice of the Peace two years, Road-master about seven years, and since being in Richland was Commissioner and Constable three years, which office he holds at the present time. Mr. Bemish is an old settler and prominent man, keeping the only hotel in Hemlock City, situated on the business street, and forms a prominent feature of the city.

Geo. W. Carson was born in Ohio in 1826, a son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Willoughby) Carson, of Irish and Welsh descent. They both died in Seneca Co., Ohio. Mr. Carson was brought up there and received his education. While living there he followed farming and also worked at his trade of carpenter and joiner eight years; was also a dealer in stock for five years. Arriving in Michigan, Jan. 17, 1866, he settled in Saginaw county, tp. of Brady, and bought a farm of 160 acres, but now consisting of 80 acres. He also owns village property at Chesaning. He was first married Feb. 3, 1852, in Ohio to Martha C. Moore, a native of that State, who died May 3, 1873, in Brady tp. She left 4 children—John F., Rosa E., who married Legrand Sanderson, residing in this tp.; Geo. B. and Martha. He was married again, November, 1875, at Chesaning, to Mrs. Catharine A. Crane, a native of Canada. They have 1 child—Effie. Mr. Carson was Supervisor in Brady two years, and four years in this tp. During the war he enlisted in Co. C, 14th Ohio Regiment, Home Guards, and was stationed at Washington Heights, and at Johnson Island; served in all about 120 days. He has been an active member of the Free-Will Baptist Church 20 years, and is preaching at present at Hemlock City. During his life he has been Republican in his political views.

Lemuel Cone is a native of Vermont, where he was born in 1800. His father and mother, Lemuel and Dolly (Parker) Cone, are natives of Scotland and came to America the year before the Revolution, and died in New York State. During the war of 1812 he enlisted, at the age of 13 years, and served till the close of the war. He was also in the Black Hawk war in 1832, and served till its close. Being wounded there, he has carried a ball in his body ever since. After the war he went to Ohio and was farming there for 15 to 20 years, when he came to Michigan and first settled in Monroe county, and then in Shiawassee county, after which he came to Saginaw county and settled in what was then called Saginaw tp., but afterward had the honor of naming it Richland tp. In 1854 he bought 160 acres of land of the Government, but did not settle till 1857, when, with his brother, Martin Cone, who also took 160 acres, he began the first clearing in that tp.

Mr. Cone was married four times. His first wife was Elizabeth Tyler, a native of Ohio, by whom he had 4 children, only 1 of whom is living—Malinda, who married Barnett Putnam, a resident of Shiawassee county. His second marriage was to Sarah Rice. Five children were born of this marriage, but only 2 are living—William, the oldest, who married Rebecca Cole; and Winfield, who resides in the place. Since he has been in the tp. he has most of the time held some office, one of the positions being that of Highway Commissioner. Mr. Cone has done well by each of his children, giving them a good start in life. During the Mexican war, where he served three years, he was a Lieutenant, and at one time had charge of a company. He was in the battle of Mexico under Generals Scott and Taylor.

George Dungey was born in England, March 5, 1826, a son of George and Maria (Kerwin) Dungey. His father died there in 1864, and his mother in Upper Canada in 1872. He was brought up in England and lived there until he was 19 years of age, when he went to Canada, where he remained about 25 years, engaged in farming. In 1869 he came to Michigan and settled at Hemlock City, and was there six years, working in a saw-mill and on plank roads. In 1875 he bought his present farm, consisting of 80 acres, with 50 improved. On April 7, 1851, he was married in Canada to Mary Glewa, a native of Quebec, and they have 9 children—James, Hannah, William, Maria, George, Walter, Mary J., Jemima and Freeman. Hannah is the wife of Eli Wells, of Vestaburg, Mich., and Maria is the wife of Emmet Parks, of this county.

Friedrich Fiting was born in Germany in 1819. His father and mother, Christian and Louisa (Drahger) Fiting, died there. He was brought up and received his education in the father-land. Learning the trade of wagon-maker, he worked at it 20 years, when, in 1856, he came with his family to America and landed in New York city, and from there he went to Buffalo, where he remained two months; then he came to Saginaw Co., Mich., and located in Thomastown for three years. While there he bought his present farm before moving upon it, then consisting of 240 acres. Mr. Fiting was one of the oldest settlers here, and made all the improvements himself, together with his sons. In 1842 he was married to Regine Zafel, and they have 3 children—Wilhelmina, who married Fritz Simon, a resident of Saginaw City; August C. and Chas. H. The 2 latter sons are living on the place, together with their families. August C. married Christine Kastorf, a native of Germany, and there are 4 children in his family—Anna, Louisa, Fritz and Lydia, all being at home. Charles was married to Antonie Bunterbart, a resident of this tp. They have 2 children, John and Charles, also living at home. They are a prominent family of the tp. The old gentleman was Treasurer for six years and School Assessor 20 years. August has been Justice of the Peace three years, and is now elected for another term; also was Treasurer and School Director—the former four years and the latter 12 years. Charles, the youngest son, is now holding the office of Moderator. One remarkable fact is that the entire family live and act as one, all owning land together, and have now increased it to 500 acres, 200 of which is improved. August has a residence directly across from the homestead, and with his family is working for home interest. They were the principal operators in the erection of a German church, which is located in sec. 14, near at hand, the only one west of Saginaw in this county.

O. B. Hale, M. D., is a native of Mansfield, Ohio, where he was born in 1840. His parents are A. B. and Eliza (Conklin) Hale, natives of Livingston Co., N. Y. They came to Ohio in 1831, and settled at Mansfield. Mr. Hale resided there until 1854, then went to Cuyahoga Co., where he received his education at Berea, graduating there. His medical education he received in Cincinnati, at the Eclectic Medical College, where he graduated with honors, beginning his regular practice at Cincinnati in 1864. From there he went to Dayton, where he practiced five years. Mr. Hale has traveled a great deal over different parts of the country, practicing his profession part of the time, visiting Mitz, Indiana, Otsego, Fremont, Ohio, and finally coming to Lenawee county, this State, and then to Saginaw county. During his stay here he served three years as a Methodist minister; has also served as a minister at different places in connection with his practice. He settled at Hemlock City in August, 1880, and has a large practice. He was married in 1863, in Huron Co., Ohio, to Jennie Venable, a native of New York State, who died Feb. 2, 1881, and was buried at Hemlock. She leaves 4 children—Alton B., John P., Ord and Lena. During the war Mr. Hale enlisted at Norwalk, Ohio, where he raised a company and received a Captain's commission from Gov. Todd, of Ohio; was at the close of the battle of Shiloh; at the battle of Cheat Mountain and the siege of Corinth.

Joseph B. Johnson was born in Lockport, Niagara Co. N. Y., in 1836. He is a son of Albert G. and Lucy T. (Nelson) Johnson. His father is now living in Niagara county, and his mother died in 1845 at that place. He received his education there, following farming till he was 23 years of age. Leaving New York in April, 1859, he located in East Saginaw, where he remained about three years, following the carpenter and joiner's occupation, also running engines in various saw-mills. In 1861 he began boring for salt wells, which he followed at different times for a number of years. At Bloomington, Ill., he put down a coal well in 1863, and in 1865 put down oil wells in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and in 1870 an artesian well at Chicago. His present place he bought in 1860, but did not move upon it till the fall of 1863. He built his house himself. His farm contains 140 acres. He was married at South Bay City in 1862 to Lucinda A. Bennett, of Cattaraugus Co., N. Y. They have 2 children living—Orson B. and Arthur D. Mr. Johnson at present holds the office of School Inspector, Director and Overseer of Highways; was also Justice of the Peace eight years.

Daniel Kennelly was born in Ireland in 1826. His father and mother were Jeremiah Kennelly and Julia, nee Hickey. They left Ireland in June, 1847, and settled in Canada, where they remained 16 years, following farming. They then came to Michigan in 1865, and remained at East Saginaw one year, when they went to Swan Creek, and bought each of their 3 children 80 acres of land. His mother died in Canada, and his father at Swan Creek. They had 10 children, 8 of whom are living Daniel, Timothy, Dennis, Johanna, Mary, James, Jeremiah and Julia. Daniel, the subject of this sketch, was married in Canada, February, 1854, to Eliza O'Brien, a native of Ireland. They have 8 children living—Julia, Catharina, Timothy, Jeremiah, Johanna, Sarah, Dennis and Mary. Julia was married to Alleck McLavish a resident of Saginaw City, and Catharina to William O. Grady, residing in Thomastown. Mr. Kennelly has held the office of School Moderator for the last three terms.

Joseph Lewis was born in Niagara Co., N. Y., in 1826; son of Oliver Lewis and Lucy Avery, natives of Vermont. His father died Feb. 17, 1861, in Newfane, Niagara Co., and his mother died in June, 1862, at the same place. Receiving his education there, where he was brought up, he engaged in farming till he was 41 years old, when, in 1867, he came to Michigan, and located in Richland tp., this county, where, buying his present farm, he has resided ever since. At the breaking out of the war, he enlisted in the 12th Independent Battery, at Lockport, Niagara Co., November, 1861, serving three years and a half, till the close of the war. He was in the battle of the Wilderness, siege of Petersburg, and smaller engagements. In October, 1.849, he was married to Julia A. Brown, before coming to Michigan, and they have 2 children living—Nettie E., who married Norman Bemish, a resident of Hemlock City, and Carrie A., residing at home. Mr. Lewis has been a member of the M. E. Church 32 years, and is one of the most substantial citizens of the tp.

Peter Lunney was born in Halton Co., Canada. in 1852, a son of Hough Lunney and Ann, nee Noble. At 17 years of age, he moved to Saginaw county, and settled at Hemlock City. His mother is now living at Vestaburg, Montcalm Co., where she owns a house and lot. He was in the employ of Henry & Co., manufacturing shingles, for eight years. Then he moved to his present place, containing 80 acres of land, 30 improved. Mr. Lunney was married in 1874, at Hemlock City, to Emma J. Perkins, a resident of this tp. They have 3 children—Nelly, James and Gertie. For one year Mr. Lunney was Tp. Treasurer. He is at present School Director, which office he has held three years. Has also been a school-teacher for two terms in this district, and he is one of the prominent men in Richland tp. His farm is situated in one of the most desirable parts of the tp., which now presents a fine appearance.

Wm. McBratnie is a native of Scotland, where he was born in 1834; is a son of John McBratnie and Ann Christison, natives also of Scotland. Mr. McBratnie came to America in 1851, and located in Saginaw Co., at Thomastown. In 1859 he came to Richland and remained five years, and then was in Thomastown again nine years, and then resided in Saginaw City nearly two years. While there, he was sick a great deal of the time. In 1874 he came to Hemlock City, and opened his present business on the main street, and has a full line of dry-goods, groceries, etc., in fact, a general store; and by industry and strict attention to business he has gained for himself the trade of the surrounding country. His store, having the post office of Hemlock City, makes it very convenient for all. Since Mr. McBratnie began in business, it has been steady, and increasing yearly. In 1877 he received the appointment from the Government as Postmaster, which office he retains at the present time. He was the first Supervisor in the tp. in 1862-63; was also Treasurer of Thomastown three years, Supervisor four years at different times, and Clerk two years, being at present Notary Public of this tp., and has been for the past four years; also Justice of the Peace and School Director.

He was married in May, 1862, to Armanda M. Cone, daughter of Lemuel Cone, this marriage being the first in the tp. Mrs. McBratnie also taught the first school in the tp. They have no children of their own, but have 2 which they have adopted, Lemuel Parker and Bessie Moulton. He was connected with the Agricultural Society of Saginaw Co., being in 1874 elected Secretary, which office he held three years; he also acted on the Executive Committee for 10 years, and was appointed Chairman of the first meeting of the society held at East Saginaw.

Civilian Phelps was born in New York in 1834, a son of David and Hero (Emerson) Phelps. His father is now living in Jefferson Co., N. Y., and his mother died there some years ago. Mr. Phelps was brought up and received his education there; he spent his early days on a farm, which occupation he followed, together with teaching school. After the war broke out, in 1862, he enlisted at Watertown, in Co. A, 10th N. Y. Artillery, and served three years. He was in the battle of Petersburg, and stationed in Virginia and Maryland. In 1865 he was united in marriage in Vermont, with Miss Martha S. White, a native of that State, and they have 1 child living, Edward C. He came to Michigan in 1873, and located in Richland tp., on sec. 10, where the owns a fine farm of 80 acres, 35 of which are improved. On their coming here the entire family was taken down with small-pox, which took away 1 child, Ida May, who is buried in the place. The house, clothing and furniture had to be burned to satisfy the authorities, leaving them with scarcely anything; but by hard labor and perseverance they made the little home in which they are now living. A fine orchard and vineyard are on the place, which they have under cultivation. Mr. Phelps has been Superintendent of the Schools for three years, and is now serving his third term as Justice of Peace. His father is 85 years of age, and was in the war of 1812, and fought at Sackett's Harbor, for which he draws a pension. He still continues to labor on the farm.

Ben Smith was born in Greene Co., N. Y. in 1836; is a son of Harman Smith and Leva, nee Tuttle, natives of N. Y. Ben resided in Ohio 16 years, 27 years in Fond du Lac Co., Wis. Mr. Smith has traveled through a great many States, and at the age of 16 years was sailing on the lakes. When the war broke out he enlisted at Detroit in Co. H, 1st Mich. Cav., in which he served three years and was discharged. He immediately re-enlisted at Pontiac, and served about 11 months. He was in the battles of the Wilderness, second Bull Run, Harper's Ferry and Winchester, under Gen. Sheridan, also other engagements of a lighter nature. Mr. Smith was married Feb. 12, 1871, to Lydia E. Campbell, and had 1 child, Rosa; his wife died Dec. 7, 1874. He married again April 28, 1875, Mrs. Margaret Thompson, a native of New York. They have 1 child of their own, Leva M., named after Mr. Smith's mother. He has been in Richland tp. since 1870, and has been Drain Commissioner 10 years; also member of the School Board. The farm which he occupies contains 40 acres, well improved.

Henry D. Smith was born in New York in 1827. He is a son of Levi and Sally (Higgins) Smith, natives of that State. They died in Wyoming county. Mr. Smith was brought up on a farm, and followed the occupation of a farmer part of the time. He is a carpenter and joiner by trade and worked at it in connection with a saw-mill, which he ran for 12 years. He came to Saginaw in 1862, where he remained but a short time, when he bought a farm just east of Hemlock City, which he worked for 12 years. Finally he bought his present farm west.of Hemlock, where he now resides. Since he has been in the county he has worked at his trade at different times to a good advantage. On Nov. 7, 1845, in Wyoming county, he was married to Mercy J. Dunbar, who died there in 1854, leaving 2 children—Eugene and Rudell. He was married again in February, 1856, to Mary Frimer, and to them 5 children were born—Orelia, Augustus, Minerva, Elmer and Elsie. Mrs. Smith died in 1873, and again the family was left without a wife and mother. Being a prominent man in Richland tp. Mr. Smith has been its Supervisor for three years, Treasurer two years and Highway Commissioner two years.

Patrick Welch was born in Oneida Co., N. Y., in 1843, a son of Patrick and Margaret (Mulroy) Welch, both natives of Ireland. They settled in New York in 1840; there they remained three years, and then went to Canada; were there till 1872, when they came to Saginaw county and settled in Richland tp., where they own 80 acres of land. They were married in Ireland in 1839, and now have 7 children—James, Patrick, Bridget, Margaret, Maria, John and Thomas. Patrick, the subject of this sketch, was married at Saginaw City in May, 1872, to Margaret Burns, a native of Canada. They have 4 children—John, Elizabeth, Francis and Margaret, all residing at home. Mr. Welch owns 80 acres in his farm, and is a leading citizen of the tp. At one time he held the Commissioner's office for one year.




Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, By Michael A. Leeson, Damon Clarke, Published 1881 Chas. C. Chapman & Co., Chicago pages 887-895.
Copyright ©  2010 of  all rights reserved by: Volunteers hold copyright to the online material they have donated for this site.  Not to be copied and used in any format to any other site or in any other media. Personal use within family files is allowed.


Click here to go back

  Saginaw Site Index


This server space is provided by Michigan Family History Network genealogical server space.
Copyright © 2004-2013 all rights reserved of html coding and graphics by .  Volunteers hold copyright to the material they have donated for this site.  Not to be copied and used in any format to any other site or in any other media.