HISTORY OF TUSCOLA COUNTY
1850-Leander W. Van Kleeck, sheriff; William Harrison, clerk; E. W. Perry, treasurer; Townsend North, register of deeds; Hiram S. Penoyer, prosecuting attorney; O. A. Gibbs, judge of probate; Joshua D. Smith, county surveyor.
1852- James Saunders sheriff; William Johnson, clerk; Sanuel North, treasurer; William Johnson register of deeds; John Moore, prosecuting attorney; D. G. Wilder, judge of probate; Joshua D. Smith, county surveyor.
1854- John Perry, sheriff; John Johnson, clerk; David Atwood, treasurer; William Johnson, register of deeds; John Morre, prosecuting attorney; D. G. Wilder, judge of probate; A. Judson Slafter, county surveyor.
1856- John V. Harrison, sheriff; John Johnson clerk; Daniel G. Wilder, treasurer; John Johnson, register of deeds; John J. Wheeler, prosecuting attorney; David G. Slafter, judge of probate; A. Judson Slafter, county surveyor.
1858- Ira C. Kibbe, sheriff; John Johnson, clerk; Daniel G. Wilder, treasurer; John Johnson, register of deeds; Benj. W. Huston, prosecuting attorney; David G. Slafter, judge of probate; David E. Cranston, county surveyor.
1860- Chas. R. Selden, sheriff; Frederick Bourns, clerk; Alson Greenfield, treasurer; Theophilus Baldwin, register of deeds; Henry P. Atwood, prosecuting attorney; Chas. B. Mills, judge of probate; Lyman J. Corbin, county surveyor.
1862- Sabin Gibbs, sheriff; Frederick Bourns, clerk; Alson Greenfield treasurer; Theophilus Baldwin, register of deeds; Henry P. Atwood, prosecuting attorney; Chas. B. Mills, Judge of probate; Emanuel Staley, county surveyor.
1864.- Peltiah M. Case, sheriff; Frederick Bourns, clerk; Sabin Gibbs, treasurer; Theophilus Baldwin, register of deeds; Henry P. Atwood, prosecuting attorney; Chas B. Mills, judge of probate; Emanuel Staley, county surveyor.
1866- Benj. F. Richards, sheriff; Jefferson J. Wilder, clerk; Sabin Gibbs, treasurer; Isaac R. James, register of deeds; Daniel G. Wilder, prosecuting attorney; Chas B. Mills, judge of probate; David E. Cranson, county surveyor.
1868- Tiffany Nettleton, sheriff; Jefferson J. Wilder, clerk; Sabin Gibbs, treasurer; Isaac R. Jameson register of deeds; John P. Hoyt, prosecuting attorney Myron D. Orr, judge of probate; David E. Cranson, county surveyor.
1870- Tiffany Nettleton, sheriff; Jefferson J. Wilder, clerk; Joseph Gamble, treasurer; Franklin A. Goodell, register of deeds; John P. Hoyt, prosecuting attorney; Myron D. Orr, judge of probate; John Staley, county surveyor.
1872- Jas. H. Cumings, sheriff; Cameron C. Stoddard, clerk; Wm. M. Rogers, treasurer; Jas. W. Spencer, register of deeds; Henry P. Atwood, prosecuting attorney; Myron D. Orr, judge of probate; Travis Leach, county surveyor.
1874- Jas. H. Cumings, sheriff; Cameron C. Stoddard clerk; Wm. M. Rogers, treasurer; Jas. W. Spencer, register of deeds; Henry P. Atwood, prosecuting attorney; Myron D. Orr, judge of probate; Travis Leach, county surveyor.
1876- John A. McPherson, sheriff; Nathan M. Richardson, clerk; Wm. M. Rogers, treasurer; John Staley, Jr., register of deeds; Rufus P. Edson, prosecuting attorney; Wm. Johnson, judge of probate; Geo. B. Felton, county surveyor.
1878- John A. McPherson sheriff; Nathan M. Richardson, clerk; Wm. M. Rogers, treasurer; John Staley, Jr., register of deeds; Rufus P. Edson, prosecuting attorney; Wm. Johnson, judge of probate; John A. Terkey, county surveyor.
1880- Morgan A. Jones, sheriff; Nathan M. Richardson, clerk; Cas. R. Selden, treasurer; Edwin G. Fox, register of deeds; Rufus P. Edson, prosecuting attorney; Wm. Johnson, judge of probate; John A. Terkey, county surveyor.
1882- Wm. McKay, sheriff; Edward R. Cookingham, clerk; Chas. R. Selden, treasurer; Edwin G. Fox, register of deeds; Edward H. Taylor, prosecuting attorney; Wm. Johnson, judge of probate; John A. Terkey, county surveyor.
The following is a list of representatives to the State legislature from Tuscola County, elected in the years named:
1850- Alanson Calkins; 1851, Paschal Richardson; 1854, Henry P. Atwood; 1856, Wallace R. Bartlett; 1858, Paschal Richardson; 1860, C. C. Stoddard; 1862, D.G. Slafter; 1864, J. D. Lewis; 1866, Alson Greenfield; 1868, B. W. Huston, Jr.; 1870, B. W. Huston, Jr., re-elected; 1872, John P. Hoyt; 1874, John P. Hoyt, re-elected; 1876, Chas. B. Mills, 1878, Geo. H. Grnger; 1880, Geo H. Granger, re-elected; 1882, First District, Eleazer B. Hayes; Second District, Cyrenius P. Black.
1854, Harry Joslin, 1856, Henry P. Atwood; 1858, Benj. W. Huston; 1860, Henry P. Atwood; 1862, J. Dennison Lewis; 1864, Mark D. Seeley; 1866, Benj. W. Huston, Jr., ; 1868, Mark D. Seeley; 1870, Alonzo B. Markham; 1872, Alonzo B. Markham; 1874, Edward H. Taylor; 1876, William A. Rose; 1878, Fred. S. Wheat; 1880, Fred. S. Wheat and Alonzo B. Markham; 1882, Geo. F. Getty and Henry S. Hadrall.
COUNTY OFFICERS IN 1883
Following are personal sketches of present officers of Tuscola County:
William McKay, sheriff, was born in Ayshire, Scotland, September 9, 1840. In the spring of 1854 he emigrated to America and settled in Lapeer County, where he remained twenty years. During his residence in that county he interested himself actively in local politics and held several offices, the duties of which he administered satisfactorily. In 1875 he bought the Hurd farm in Dayton, Tuscola County. He held the office of supervisor from that town sex consecutive terms. In the fall of 1882 he was elected to his present office on the Republican ticket, and thus far has performed the duties of his office to the satisfaction of all concerned. As a farmer, Mr. McKay ranks among the most successful in the county, being the owner of 400 acres of excellent land 200 acres of which compose his home farm. He is well known as an active Republican and a man of irreproachable character.
Edward R. Cookingham, clerk of Tuscola County, is a native of Chautauqua County, New York, where he was brought up on a farm. In 1868 he left there and came to Tuscola County, buying a farm in the township of Almer. He continued on the farm until 1882, when he was elected clerk of the county. He represented his township for some six years on the board of supervisors, was township clerk one year, and county superintendent of the poor three years. Was married in 1864 and has two children. Rents his farm and lives in the village of Caro. In addition to farming, Mr. Cooking ham has lumbered, cutting his own timber at times and jobbing for other parties.
Charles R. Selden, county treasurer, was born in Redford, Wayne County, Mich., March 7, 1882. His parents were from Vermont, to which State they returned, but afterward came back, and settled at Brownstown, Wayne County, Mich. In 1852 they came to Denmark, Tuscola County, his father being virtually the first settler in that township. The son was educated in the township schools and at the high-school in Ypsilanti. Mr. Selden lived on this farm in Denmark until 1880, when he was elected county treasurer. He then came to Caro. In 1882 he was re-elected county treasurer. He then came to Caro. In 1882 he was re-elected. He was supervisor for Denmark for eighteen years, sheriff of the county two years, and has also held a number of township offices. He was married in 1856, to Ellen E. Miller, a native of Vermont. They have one child, a daughter. The Caro Advertiser and Citizen of December 28, 1882, says:
“Charles R. Selden, who for the past two years has handled the fiancés of the county, will continue to handle them for the coming two years. That he has made a good official, and pleasing to the public, is evident from his re-election by the largest majority of any one on the county ticket, therefore, it is needless for us to enter into any eulogy of his many excellent qualities.”
Edwin G. Fox, register of deeds of Tuscola County, was born March 14, 1848, in Oxford County, Ontario, where his parents had moved from the State of New York to engage in business. When he was about six years old, they left Canada and settled in Lapeer County, Michigan, and 1858 removed to the part of Vassar Township, Tuscola County, now called Fremont, where they engaged in farming. Mr. Fox’s business experience began with his eighteenth year, when he was employed in mercantile work as clerk, continuing in the employ of various merchants until 1876, when he engaged in trade in Mayville, which he has continued to the present time. He has a large store and extensive stock of general merchandise, requiring the attention of three men to attend to the wants of his patrons. He makes all purchases himself, and keeps a careful eye on the management and welfare of his business. Being a shrewd, careful and withal and enterprising business man, he has rapidly and safely extended his trade, and is taking a front rank among the solid men of the county. His business career began with a capital of $600, this being the total sum with which he began business in 1876.
Mr. Fox was for six years township clerk of Fremont.
Recognizing his careful business capacity and careful and exact methods, the people in 1880 elected him register of deeds of the county, to which office he was re-elected in 1882. The duties of a register are clerical mostly, yet it requires a man who can expedite business when necessary, and also “put himself out” somewhat, as the expression is, to accommodate. These necessary characteristics Mr. Fox possesses in an eminent degree. A practical, careful business man, he has made the public his friends, while performing the duties of his office with punctuality, exactness and a strict observance of law, no light task for a public man. Mr. Fox is married and has one child. His present residence is in the village of Caro.
Edward H. Taylor, attorney at law, Vassar, and county prosecuting attorney, is a native of England and was born at Lyth, near Lake Windermere, in 1843. At nine years of age he came to America with his parents and located at Ransomville, Niagara County, N.Y. He remained at home working on the farm and attending school until the 8th of August, 1862, when he enlisted as a private in the One Hundred and Twenty-Ninth New York Volunteer Infantry, and on the 22d of the same month was mustered in at Camp Church, Lockport , N. Y. From there the regiment marched at Baltimore, Md., and occupied Forts Federal Hill, McHenry and Marshall, and till December, 1862, were drilled in infantry and artillery practice by a United States officer, after which the regiment, by order of the War Department, was transferred to the Eighth New York Artillery- a full regiment of twelve batteries. During 1863 he was promoted to drill sergeant and was commissioned second lieutenant in October, 1864, and placed in charge of the ordnance department of Baltimore. In front of Petersburg, January 1, 1865, he was commissioned first lieutenant, and February 14, 1865 was breveted captain. During the month of May, 1865, the regiment in command of Col. P. A. Porter, was ordered to join Gen. Grant in the Wilderness, and was assigned to the Second Brigade, Second Division, Second Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac, Gen. Hancock commanding, and participated in the battles of the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, Ream Station, Petersburg, Crow Forts, Long-Bridge, Farmville, ad ws in the front line of battle on the 9th day of April when Gen. Lee surrendered. On the 25th of June following the regiment was mustered out, and by an order of the War Department, Capt. Taylor was placed in command of Company E, of the Tenth New York Zouaves, which was mustered out on the 10th of July, 1865, in New York City
Returning home he engaged in mercantile business one and a half years, when he was burned out and sustained a heavy loss. He afterward taught school and read law till April 14, 1872, when he came to Vassar and at the June term of the circuit court- Judge Lovell presiding- was admitted to the bar. He practiced law till 1874, when he was elected circuit court commissioner, holding the office two years, since which time he has practiced his profession
and has also done a large real estate and insurance business. In the fall of 1882 he was elected prosecuting attorney for Tuscola County and has served the village of Vassar in the capacity of trustee, village attorney, secretary of the school board and trustee of the district. Since 1872 Mr. Taylor has been actively engaged in politics and for the past six years has been chairman of the Republican county committee. He has also been largely interested in farming and clearing up lands.
William Johnson, M. D., probate judge, was born at Charnwood, in the county of Surrey England. His parents emigrated to the United States when he was but a boy, and located at Pittsford, Monroe County, N.Y., in the 1834. In 1844 they removed to Armada, Macomb County, Mich., in which county his mother died in the year 1863, his father dying some two years after at his son’s residence in Tuscola County. Dr. Johnson came to Vassar in 1851, where he has resided ever since, save one year in the Tuscola village. In 1842 he commenced the study of medicine in the State of New York, continuing it after his removal to Michigan. Since he settled in Vassar he has been actively engaged in the practice of his profession, until within the last four or five years.
In 1858 he and his brother James started a drug store, with which he was connected for a number of years. He sold his interest to the brother, and the business is now (1883) continued by his brother’s widow. This was the first drug store in the county. Dr. Johnson has held a number of public positions. Under the United States government he was pension examiner and held the office from 1866 to 1883, when he was compelled to resign on account of ill health. He was also draft examiner during the war. In 1852 he was elected register of deeds and county clerk, the two offices being combined. During his term of office the records of the county were transcribed, in doing which the books of Lapeer and Saginaw Counties had to be carefully copied so far as they referred to the territory composing Tuscola County was concerned, the latter being at one time connected with the two former ones for judicial purposes. In Vassar he has been connected with the management of Union School District No. 1 for twenty-one consecutive years, also town and village clerk, highway commissioner, etc In 1876 he was elected judge of probate for a term of four years, and in 1880 was re-elected.
Dr. Johnson was one of the founders of the Tuscola County Agricultural Society, and was for a number of years president of it. He has also been an active member of the Farmers’ Club, and also president of the same. He is a practical farmer, having a farm in Vassar Township, and is also much interested in stock raising. He has a fine herd of Durhams, or Shorthorns, fourteen in number, also a Holstein. His own driving horse is a thoroughbred Hambletonian.
He was married January 19, 1854, to Miss Elizabeth E. Harrison, daughter of Dennis Harrison, who settled in Tuscola County in 1837. Mr. Harrison died September 4, 1881, and Mrs. Sarah M. Harrison, his widow, resides with her son-in-law, Dr. Johnson. She is now eighty-seven years of age.
An interesting retrospective view is obtained from the following article, written by William A. Heartt, of Wahjamega:
“The wide spread reputation that attaches to our county as being a first-class farming section is of long standing and had its inception as far back as the time when the government of the State was yet territorial. Being sufficiently elevated and rolling to afford ready drainage, though seldom approaching to what might be called hilly; with a rich and varied soil, never failing supply of good, living water, abundance of timber for all practical purposes, combined with an equable climate, tempered by the waters of the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron, rendered it ighly attractive to the appreciative seekers after permanent homes in the past, and with the many added advantages which time has brought in the way of churches, schools, the press, and all they imply, is making it more sought after to-day than ever before by a class of people we are glad to have as neighbors.
“Previous to the year 1835 the territory embraced within the present limits of our county was wholly the property of the government , and the hunting ground of the aborigines and trapper. By referring to the tract book it appears that entries were first made in 1835 by D. Harrison, E. Ellis and others in the present township of Tuscola for purposes of settlement, and during the years of 1835-36 some two thousand more entries were made by outside parties for purposes of speculation evidently, but the disastrous commercial revulsion which overwhelmed the country in 1837 had the effect to almost wholly defer operations in Tuscola County lands for other purposes for the long period of ten or more years. The year 1850 marks the period when it may be said the county commenced having its steady, uninterrupted and healthy growth and development. The construction of what was long designated the “White Bridge” over the Cass River at Bridgeport on the Saginaw turnpike, by Mr. North, the payment for which work was made in State lands, led to the selection of several sections of land in the at present township of Juniata; viz: sections 17, 18, 19, 20, and 30 in 1848, also the present site of the village of Vassar, including the valuable water privilege which was immediately improved by Messrs. North and Edmunds, and through their enterprise was made the entering wedge for opening up to settlement all that portion of the country lying north and west of the Cass. A large proportion of the better class of farming lands in the townships of Tuscola, Vassar, Denmark, Juniata and Indian Fields had become appropriated as early as 1852 and 1853, at which tie emigration had commenced to penetrate the county on the south side of the Cass, through the towns of Watertown and Millington.
“To the earlier settlers the interval from 1835 to 1850 was attended with many hardships and privations, and called for persistent struggles to secure the necessities of life, rendered so, largely, by reason of the long distances to market and absence of anything like an approach to good roads.
“As early as 1852 the lumbering operations on the Cass had assumed such proportions as to work and entire relief to the settler who had previously found it so difficult to make sale of his products. A home market was established at prices frequently in excess of those governing outside by more than the difference of cost for transportation, and it became a very frequent occurrence for the farmer after having effected a sale to the lumbermen of the surplus products of the farm, to engage for the service of himself and team, likewise his wife and family, in the camp during the winter following. This state of things continued for many years, and it was only within a few years past that the lumbering operations have become so curtailed as to fail to provide winter employment for all the surplus labor of men and teams.
“The rapid growth and development of the county during the past thirty years is largely attributed to the favoring circumstances attending the removal of forest product. The Cass River pine had a reputation beyond that of any and all other known lumber districts, and millions of feet of the product of other localities have found ready sales in markets like Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis from being represented as “Cass River.”
“We reach the close of the third decade in the growth of the county at 1880, and to those who have been called to take an active part in bringing about results already secured, retrospect is
Pleasurable and offers much of encouragement and hope for the future.”