TUSCOLA COUNTY HISTORY
The year 1870 witnessed a marked improvement in the material interests of Caro, and toward its close there was a pronounced sentiment in favor of having the village incorporated. December 1, 1870, the editor of the village paper alluded to this subject and called a public meeting of citizens in an article as follows: “ At present we have fourteen stores of different kinds, ten shops, three saloons, three hotels, one printing office, one dentist, four physicians, three lawyers, one daguerrean gallery, open part of the year, one barber shop, one meat market, one livery stable, one foundry, one tannery, one paint shop, one saw and grist-mill and one brewery. We have also a church, lately built at a cost of about $4,000, and a union school with an average daily attendance of about 160 students. The population of the place has materially increased. During the past season there have been thirteen houses built, or now nearly completed and five new business places. Many important additions have been made to residences and business places. The population of the village at the last census was 180. In consideration of our rapid growth would it now be well to direct our attention to the subject of procuring a village charter? Nothing has been done as yet toward the improvement of our back streets, building sidewalks, etc. It requires a population of not less than 300 to get a corporation one mile square. That is as large as is needed at present. The legislature will soon meet, and it is time something was done by our citizens. We have mentioned the subject to several, and all express the same opinion---‘something should be done.’ We therefore take the responsibility of calling a meeting for Monday evening of next week at 7:30 o’clock precisely, to take the matter of incorporation into consideration, and if at that meeting it is thought best by the citizens to procure a village charter, proceed immediately to the necessary measures to secure one. Let every citizen of Caro be present at the meeting at precisely half past seven at the court-house.”
In pursuance of the call made a meeting was held at the court-house, of which F. Craw was chairman, and H. G. Chapin, secretary. It was unanimously voted to proceed to incorporate the village of Caro. C. P. Black, J. P. Hoyt and H. P. Atwood were appointed a committee to draft a charter for submission to a subsequent meeting. William E. Sherman, R. Whiteside, and William McPhail were appointed to investigate and report at a subsequent meeting, on limits of the corporation. The meeting then adjourned until Monday evening, December 19, at 6 o’clock.
At the adjourned meeting, held December 19, 1870, a charter was adopted and arrangements made for presenting it to the legislature. It was determined that section 3 of the township of Indian Fields should comprise the corporation.
A bill for the incorporation of the village was passed by the legislature in February, 1871, and signed by the governor.
The charter provided, among other things, that so much of the township of Indian Fields, in the county of Tuscola and State of Michigan, as is comprised in section 3, township 12 north, range 9 east, should be made and constituted a village corporate under the name and title of the village of Caro. That the elective officers should consist of a president recorder, treasurer, assessor and eight trustees, to be elected by a plurality of votes by ballot, of the inhabitants of the village, having the qualification of electors under the constitution of the State; these officers to hold their offices for one year and until their successors were elected and qualified; no person, however, being eligible who had not the qualification of an elector of the State nor been a resident of the village three months. The president, recorder and trustees were constituted a body corporate and politic with perpetual succession, to be known and designated by the name and title of “the common council of the village of Caro.” Annual election of officers to be held on the first Tuesday in March in each year.
It being the general feeling of the citizens fo the village that partisan politics should not enter into their charter election, a call was made for a citizens’ caucus, to be held March 6, 1871, for the purpose of nominating a union ticket. At the election held March 7, an opposition ticket appeared in the field, but excited little interest, the entire union ticket being elected. 102 votes were polled, said to have been about a two-thirds vote. The officers elected were as follows: President, H. P. Atwood; recorder, S. C. Armstrong; treasurer, A. M. Judd; assessor, Henry Church; trustees: C. P. Black, J. P. Hoyt, G. W. Howell, S. P. Sherman, W. Balch, G. S. Gage, C. Montague, A. P. Cooper.
The first marshal of the village was J. T. Mills, and the first street commissioner, Joseph Gamble.
The total number of votes cast at the first election was 102.
The first meeting of the common council was held at the courthouse, March 11, 1871, at which only preliminary business was transacted.
One of the objects sought to be gained by the incorporation was that of local improvements, and the first work of the council was upon streets, alleys and sidewalks. The question of cattle running at large also came before the council, and early in the summer a pound was ordered built, and an ordinance for the impounding of animals passed. The enemy of the public pound appears to have been abroad in the land about this time, and the first official appearance of that institution after its construction is in connection with the prosecution of a certain individual, who, not having the
fear of the law before his eyes and being actuated by unlawful designs upon the peace and dignity of the municipality, did burglariously enter and feloniously take fro the sid village pound a certain occupant thereof.
It is noted that in August, 1871, the street commissioner was directed to clear Sherman Street of logs.
At a meeting of the council held January 18, 1872, it was resolved that a special meeting of the tax paying electors of the village be held at the court-house, January 29, 1872, to vote upon the question of issuing the bonds of the village to the amount of $3,000 to be used in aiding in the construction of a court-house. At that election fifty-seven votes were cast, a majority of which were in favor of the issue; whereupon the council at its next meeting, February 6, 1872, ordered that three bonds of the village, of $1,000 each, bearing seven per cent interest and payable March 15, 1873, be issued for the purpose specified. At the same meeting the first step in the direction of a fire department was taken, an order being passed for procuring six ladders, two twenty-five feet long, two twenty feet long and two fifteen feet long, sufficiently strong to hold two persons; also to procure twelve buckets, with a light wagon to carry ladders and buckets.
The first step toward a village lock-up was taken in August, 1873, by an order for the construction of two cells, in connection with other improvements on the town hall, recently purchased.
The cost of moving the town hall is reported as having been $45, and the relative cost of the building to that of removing it would seem somewhat strangely disproportioned, were it not explained that the sale to the village was a mere formality to satisfy the requirements of the law.
The number of qualified electors who voted at the third annual charter election in 1874, was 106.
May 12, 1874, A. M. Judd tendered to the common council his resignation as president, which was accepted, and on the 9th of June, H. P. Atwood was by the council elected president to fill the vacancy.
107 votes were cast at the fifth charter election.
The treasurer’s report for the year ending March 2, 1875, shows total receipt, $620.31; total expended, $509.50.
April 13, 1875, the council directed the street commissioner to remove the stumps from the street running northeast from the church to Grant Street.
June 1, 1875, the council authorized the expenditure of $20, to assist in stumping, logging and grading Frank Street.
On the 2nd of November 1875, the common council was instructed to make arrangements with the sheriff of Bay County, to receive prisoners sentenced under the village ordinances. The marshal was directed to arrest all disorderly persons during the night and Sabbath, and to see that the ordinance requiring the closing of saloons at nine o’clock P. M., is enforced.
At the meeting of the council January 25, 1876, the recorder announced the death of Hon. C. C. Stoddard, president of the village and presiding officer of the council. Thereupon a committee was appointed to draft resolutions of respect which were duly reported and adopted.
Seemingly imbued with the exhilarating spirit of the centennial year the village council determined upon a more exalted state of things, and March 14, 1876, attested its sincerity by the adoption of the following resolution: “Resolved, that no justice of the peace be allowed the use of the council room, unless they clean the room immediately after.”
The village still remains without any fire department, although several attempts have been made to secure some kind of fire protection. The subject of water works has been agitated, but up to the present time no decisive action has been taken.
At the spring election in 1883, James W. Spencer, Republican, received 132 votes, and R. J. Parkhurst, Democrat, 128 votes.
FIRST VILLAGE PRESIDENT.
Hon. Henry P. Atwood, first president of Caro village, was born in Tompkins County, New York, from whence his father brought his family in 1836 to Ingham County, Michigan, and settled on a farm. While a resident of that county he studied law in the office of Griffin Paddock, at Mason. In 1854 he left that county and went to Gilford, Tuscola County and began farming, his health being too poor to continue office work. In 1855 he returned to the law and was admitted to the bar at Saginaw City, Judge S. M. Green being the judge presiding at the time of his admission. He then commenced practice at Vassar, where he remained from 1856 until 1865, also carrying on a farm at the same time. From Vassar he returned to Ingham County, practicing at Lansing for some time. He then came back to Tuscola County, locating first at Watrousville, but finally coming to Centerville, now Caro, where he has resided continually ever since. In public life Mr. Atwood has held the following offices: Clerk of Ingham County in 1848; member of the State legislature from Tuscola County in 1854; prosecuting attorney five terms; supervisor for the township of Juniata and also for Indian Fields, and first president of the village of Caro. The latter position he has filled twice since. Married and has a family of six children.