HISTORY OF TUSCOLA COUNTY

 

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TOWN OF FREMONT

         By Hon. Alonzo B. Markham

    This town is bounded on the north by Indian Fields, east by Dayton, south by Watertown and county line, and west by Vassar and Juniata.
     according to Indian traditions, this township was once an important portion of the hunting grounds of the Chippewa Indians, and there are abundant evidences of sanguinary conflicts between hostile tribes of these natives of the soil. 

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     The first lands located in this township were on Houghton Creek, and selected by the late Professor Douglass Houghton.

ORGANIZATION.

     The town of Fremont was organized by the board of supervisors at a meeting held January 6, 1857.  The territory comprised township 11 north, of range 9 east.
     The names of the freeholders of the above described township who signed the application are as follows:  C. B. Mills, Ezra Tripp, Calvin Fox, James Wells, Wilson Kitchen, James Mead,  A. B. Tripp, James roberts, Joseph Mead, S.Spencer, Leonard Fox, R. B. Smith, David Fulton and L. C. Schermerhorn.
     The first township meeting was held at the house of James Wells, on section 26, the 6th day of April, 1857.  There were six votes cast, and every voter was elected to one or more offices.
     It is related that at this town meeting an inventory of the cash on hand was taken, which resulted in an exhibit of $2.50.

LAND ENTRIES

     The following list shows the entries of land made prior to the year 1860:

TOWNSHIP 11 NORTH, RANGE 9 EAST.

SECTION 1     William J. Cornell, September 25, 1852
                        Henry P. Roberts, et al., November 1, 1852
                        Henry P. Roberts, November 1, 1852
                        Daniel d. Dewey, April 23, 1853
                        James M. Baldwin, August 9, 1853
                        Samuel Bessy, December 4, 1856

SECTION 2.    William J. Cornell, September 25, 1852
                         Henry P. Roberts, August 25, 1852
                        Henry P. Roberts, August 25, 1855
                        William Turver, November 15, 1855
                        John F. Brown, November 24, 1855

SECTION 3    Jonathan Orser, December 5, 1855
                        John McMahon, December 13, 1855

SECTION 4    Edward K. Collins, Jr., May 25, 1856
                        Hermon Camp, August 4, 1856

SECTION 5    Enos Merrill, January 23, 1856
                        Edward K. Collins, Jr., May 26, 1856

SECTION 6    Enos Merrill, January 23, 1856
                        Edward K. Collins, Jr., May 26, 1856

SECTION 7    Douglas Houghton, May 10, 1836
                        Woodbridge Spencer, January 22, 1856

SECTION 8    Douglass Houghton, May 10, 1836
                        William A. Heartt, July 15, 1852
                        Charles B. Weaver, January 22, 1856
                        Rowland Tefft, January 22, 1856
                        Woodbridge Spencer, January 22, 1856

SECTION 9    William A. Heartt, July 15, 1852
                        William a. Heartt, November 13, 1852
                        Jonathan Wells, February 28, 1853
                        Charles B. Weaver, January 22, 1856
                        Rowland Tefft, January 22, 1856
                        Jonathan Wells, March 1, 1853

SECTION 10    William A. Heartt, July 15, 1852
                        William A. Heartt, November 13, 1852
                        John R. Woodford, November 24, 1855
                        Royal C. Remick and Charles Merrill, December 5, 1855

SECTION 11    John F. Brown, November 24, 1855

SECTION 12    Charles Merrill and Charles D. Farlin (or Foster) December 15, 1855

SECTION 13    James L. Ketchum, June 25, 1852
                          Thomas M. Anderson, August 25, 1856
                          Josiah Elliott, September 3, 1856

SECTION 14    Thomas M. Anderson, August 25, 1856

SECTION 15    William A. Heartt, November 13, 1852
                            Charles Merrill, November 19, 1855
                            John De Lafayette Minor, December 6, 1855
                            Hermon Camp, August 4, 1856

SECTION 17       Douglass Houghton, May 10, 1836
                            William A. Heartt, November 13, 1853
                            Johnathan Wells, February 28, 1853
                            Hermon Camp, August 4, 1856

SECTION 18    Douglass Houghton, May 10, 1836
                          Charles Merrill, November 19, 1855
                          Charles Merrill and Royal C. Remick, March 25, 1856
                          Charles Merrill and Royal C. Remick, October 8, 1856

SECTION 19    Charles Merrill, November 19, 1855
                          Charles Merrill and Royal C. Remick, November 11, 1856

SECTION 20    Royal C. Remick, July 24, 1856
                          Henry Knibbs, November 15, 1859

SECTION 21    Richard Stuck, November 16, 1855
                          Eutychus F. Godfrey, June 14, 1859
                          Henry  Knibbs, November 15, 1859

SECTION 22    Charles Stuck, November 16, 1855
                          Richard Stuck, November 16, 1855

SECTION 23    Royal C. Remick, November 15, 1854
                          Franklin R. Beck, September 21, 1855
                          William Turner, November 19, 1855
                          William Turner, October 21, 1856

SECTION 24    Franklin K. Beck, September 21, 1855
                          John Brooks, October 21, 1856
                          Horatio N. Wheat, August 22, 1859
                          Edgar Sheldon, September 17, 1859

SECTION 25     John O. Conner, October 12, 1854
                          James Wells, March 1, 1854
                          Leonard Fox, April 2, 1855
                          Franklin K. Beck, September 21, 1855
                          Michael Ryan, October 16, 1855
                          John Taylor, October 16, 1855

SECTION 26    Charles G. Southworth, June 4, 1852
                          Martin Watrous, June 4, 1852
                          Calvin Jewett, October 16, 1854
                          James Mead, October 18, 1854
                          Joseph Mead, October 18, 1854
                          Royal C. Remick, November 15, 1854
                          James Wells, April 19, 1855
                          Franklin K. Beck, September 21, 1855

SECTION 27    Charles Merrill, October 16, 1852
                          S. Spencer, October 18, 1854
                          John Mead, October 16, 1854
                          Roswell Wilsie, May 12, 1855
                          Roswell Wilsie, July 19, 1855
                          Winton L. Morey, September 14, 1855
                          Franklin K. Beck, September 21, 1855
                          Franklin K. Beck, September 22, 1855
                          Nathan F. Scott, October 24, 1855
                          Calvin Manwell, November 14, 1855

SECTION 28     Charles Merrill, October 16, 1850
                          Frederick B. Leonard, June 10, 1854
                          Franklin K. Beck, September 21, 1855

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                        James Roberts, November 19, 1855

SECTION 29    Charles Merrill, November 19, 1855
                          Hermon Camp, August 4, 1856

SECTION 30    Charles Merrill, November 19, 1855
                          Hezekiah W. Whitney, June 10, 1856
                          Ralph Forbs, July 19, 1856
                          Hermon Camp, August 4, 1856

SECTION 31    Elbridge G. Allen, January 24, 1856
                          Reuben McCreerey, July 12, 1856

SECTION 32    Charles Merrill, October 16, 1852
                          Isaac H. R. Snider, December 27, 1855
                          Elbridge G. Allen, January 24, 1856
                          Nathaniel Nelson, July 5, 1856

SECTION 33    Charles Merrill, October 16, 1852
                           Royal C. Remick, February 7, 1853
                            Calvin Fox, July 28, 1855
                          Franklin K. Beck, September 21, 1855

SECTION 34    Charles Merrill, October 16, 1852
                          Royal C. Remick, February 7, 1853
                          Jonathan Wells, February 28, 1853
                          Duncan Campbell, November 27, 1854
                          Oliver P. Smith, April 16, 1855
                          Roswell Wilsie, May 12, 1855

SECTION 35    Ezra Tripp, January 5, 1855
                          Walter E. Smith, April 4, 1855
                          John S. Ryno. September 5, 1855
                          Franklin K. Beck, September 22, 1855
                          William Hamilton, October 8, 1855

 SECTION 36    Norman Cone, June 12, 1854
                          Charles B. Mills, January 22, 1855
                          James Boyd, March 21, 1855
                          Leonard Fox, April 2, 1855

EARLY HISTORY

     Glancing back through the historical past something more than twenty years---a short time, truly, in comparison with other events---we find, on the 26th day of April, 1855, an unbroken forest covering all the area of our beautiful township, for the march of civilization had not then touched it with a withering hand.  The deer, unalarmed, pursued his way through the forests, slaked his thirst at the babbling brooks or laid himself down for peaceful repose, joint tenant of the mighty wilderness with the Indian, whose advent antedates history and almost tradition.  Heretofore none had risen to question their supremacy to those beautiful lands and the more beautiful forests, but the on ward flight of civilization was fast approaching, and before the meridian sun of the 27th day of April, 1855, had shed its refulgence over the graceful elms and might pines of these forests, a new epoch was reached.  At about the hour of twelve, noon, on that eventful day, a man who had braved the terrors and hardships of a long unbroken trail, stood near the spot where the house of Jacob Maier now stands, on section 26, owner of the soil beneath and the trees above him, the sole resident of the township, the first who had dared to stake his fortune on the endeavor.  This was James Wells, who brought with him his wife and children and has ever since been a resident of the town.  Soon the sound of the ax is heard, the forest patriarchs bow their heads to the heavy blows and soon fall mightily to the earth , subservient to the will of man.  Civilization has commenced, a new epoch is reached and the stepping stone for this beautiful township of ours is laid.  That same afternoon the foundation for a house was laid, and that night Mr. Wells and his family slumbered beneath the fair canopy of heaven, miles from the nearest settlement, and pioneers of the wilderness.  Before noon on the 28th the house was completed and roofed with basswood logs, the first white habitation in the township or rather the area that subsequently was made into Fremont.   From that time forward till January following Mr. Wells might be considered as the only resident.  During the summer he planted corn and potatoes and in the fall wheat, covering it with a hoe.

     In January, 1856, William Turner moved in from Canada, bringing a span of horses and sleigh, and settled on section 23, on the farm now owned by James B. Crosby.  He had the first team but afterward exchanged them for a yoke of cattle.  From that time forward the settlement was quite rapid, for in March following, Calvin and Leonard Fox, Wilson Kitchen and David Fulton moved in with their families, also from Canada, bringing teams, mechanical tools and implements of husbandry and settling upon the places they now occupy.  In the summer of 1856, James Wells harvested the wheat he had so nicely hoed in among the logs the fall before, and the first of it was ground in a large coffee-mill owned by him, the balance was taken to Teller's mill, in Millville, four miles from Lapeer, a distance of twenty-four miles through the wilderness, the journey occupying four days.  And thus was the embryo of the township formed.

     On the 9th day of April, 1856, Rev. C. B. Mills, a Free-will Baptist minister, moved from Ohio into the town with his family, he being the first minister of the gospel, and preached the first sermon on Sunday, April 21, 1856, to the very few people who were then settled in the neighborhood.  On June, the 22d, following, Cynthia, daughter of the Rev. C. B. Mills, was born, being the first white child born in the township.  This township was then attached to Vassar and had been assessed by their supervisor, for many descriptions of land were owned by non-residents before the first settler had arrived.  During the summer and fall of 1857, many settlers came into the township, many houses were put up, everybody was everybody else's neighbor; good feeling, good health and good times were these, and the people were happy.  To be sure they had no luxuries, but their neighbors had none, so they were content.  They had no mills or stores; they either had to go to Lapeer or some other distant point, laboriously, with cattle, but that was romantic and more happy.  Wolves howled about their houses at night but they were brave.  They had no locks or fastenings for their doors, but they were honest.  During the spring fruit trees were planted by most of the inhabitants and preparations were made for future luxuries.  This was the state of things upon the closing in of winter.  Hitherto nothing had occurred to mar the peace and quietness of the pioneers, but on the 21st of January, 1858, death came among them The victim was L. C. Schermerhorn, father of N. R. Schermerhorn, of this town.  Those few people got together and mournfully performed the last sad rites to their neighbor and laid him peacefully to rest in the ground now occupied as a cemetery, on section 25, this being the first death that occurred in the township.  This was the beginning of sorrows.

     Either the fall before or early in the spring of 1858, a schoolhouse was built on the land of Calvin Fox, nearly across the street from the house of Dr. Curtis, on section 36, and Margaret Kinney, a young lady of good qualities and estimable character, taught the first school in the township, and this continued to the school for some time, till at the present writing over 380 children are reported and six school-houses are built, five frame and one log, and have a school term of at least three months in a year.

     Going back to the 4th day of April, 1857, we find that on that day at the dwelling of Leonard Fox the Free-will Baptist Church was formed, of which C. B. Mills was chosen pastor, which organization has since remained.  And this was the first church organization in the township.  On the next day five persons were confirmed to that religious faith, and were baptized in the brook in the woods north of Leonard Fox, on section 25 by the Rev. C. B. Mills.  The

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persons at that time confirmed were Calvin and Leonard Fox and their wives, and Alford B. Tripp, all residents of the township.

     On the 28th on November, 1857, a deed conveying eighty acres of land on section 14, was made from one Anderson to L. C. Schermerhorn, and was the first conveyance executed in the township, the same land now being owned by Rudolph Frenzel.  The first marriage was solemnized by Rev. C. B. Mills in the spring of 1857, between William Hamilton and Mary Ann, daughter of James Wells, at his house on section 26, in this township.  Nothing further of importance occurred in the years 1858 and 1859 worthy of mention in history.

MILITARY HISTORY

     On the 12th day of April, 1860, Fort Sumpter was fired upon by order of General Beauregard, and the key-note for war was sounded.  Shortly after the president's proclamation sounded to the four corners of the country asking for aid.  nor was Fremont backward in answering to the many patriotic calls that were made to the young men of the country.  With a population then of not more than forty-two or forty-three persons liable for military duty, the township furnished as volunteers (most of whom went in the Twenty-third Michigan Infantry), twenty-one men of the nerve and sinew of the then struggling township-almost one-half of the men at that time liable for military duty.  Their names are historical, and must be mentioned here because they are honored heroes.  the most of them fought with Sherman in his victorious march to the sea.  Their names are:  William Wells, Asa Foote, Alford Tripp, Allison Bryant, Lanson Bryant, William Graubner, Leonard Fox, F. H. Kitchen, Eli Brooks, John Turner, William Turner, Elisha Kitchen, Welcome Innman, John Schermerhorn, George Shultz, Peter Lauber, Gustavus A. Frenzel, David Butricks, Samuel Shultz, Peter Lauber, Gustavus A. Frenzel, David Butricks, Samuel Bessey and Shaw and W. C.. Schermerhorn.  Of these twenty-one men who went forth at the call of the president, nine paid the tribute with their lives, and their graves, if unknown, are hallowed by the thought that they died heroes battling for their country and its flag.  The names of those who fell are:  William Wells, Alford Tripp, John Schermerhorn, Asa Foote, Welcome Innman, Lanson Bryant, Elisha Kitchen, Peter Lauber and Walter Schermerhorn.

     The first mail route was from Lapeer to Vassar though Fremont once a week, and Ezra Tripp was postmaster,  The route was established in 1860, and a man by the name of Hays was the first person to carry the mail through the township.  At about the same time Ezra Tripp opened a small grocery store on section 34, and was the first person engaged in the mercantile business.  In the year 1864 a hotel was opened on section 30, known as Kelley's Tavern, now Juniata Station, and was the first house opened for the public.

     The first death of a native resident was a child of James Mead, but I have been so unfortunate as not to gain the date thereto.  I have been waiting patiently and earnestly to be able to recount the marriage of a born resident, but up to this moment I believe that happy circumstance has not arrived.  Alas! for natural progress of our beautiful township.

   The first steam engine brought into the used in the township was that of Rosell and Rosenberger on section 27 about the year 1866.  Farming and stock raising has been the chief product of the township, though in former years large amounts of pine were handled.

     The first church built in this township was on the northwest quarter of northeast quarter of section 23, and was dedicated on the 15th day of September, 1867, by Presiding Elder Miller, and was named the Zion's Church of the Evangelical Association of North America.

     The first Fourth of July celebration occurred in the year 1862 on section 27, at the quarterly meeting of the Methodist Protestant Church.  The orator was John Leach,, presiding elder of the circuit.  Politically speaking, the township of Fremont is Republican, and has ever been so.  Four years ago at the presidential election it cast 128 Republican votes and no Democratic, and was known as the banner town through the Republican papers of the State for that year.  We claim now over 900 inhabitants, and have 180 registered voters.

RECAPITULATION

1855.    April 27, James Wells settled; the first settler; the first house built April 28, 1855.

1856.    C. B. Mills, first minister, April 9, 1856; preached first sermon April 21, 1856; June 22, Cynthis Mills first child born.

1857.    January 6, township organized; April 4, first church society formed, C. B. Mills pastor; same spring William Hamilton married; first marriage; November 28, first deed made, Anderson to Schermerhorn.

1858    January 21, L. C. Schermerhorn died; the first death; first school-house built, school taught by Margarette Kinney.

1859.    First saw-mill built on Houghton Creek by William Hamilton.

1860.    First postmaster and grocery, Ezra Tripp.

1861-62.    Twenty-one soldiers enlisted, nine of whom died.

1862    First Fourth of July celebration.

1865    First house built in Mayville by H. K. Crittenden.

1866    Hotel and store built by Tubbs & Coffeen

1867    Coffeen's store burned late in December, 1867; German Church dedicated September 15, 1867.

1868    March 31, village platted.

1870    Methodist Episcopal Church built.

1872    November 1, grist-mill burned, owned by Horace Fox.

1873    June 19, great conflagration in the village.

1876    First centennial celebration.

1881    Railroad finished September, 1881.

 

 

2009 by Carol Ewing Szelogowski at cas1571@juno.com