HISTORY OF TUSCOLA COUNTY
VILLAGE OF REESE
This village is situated on the west boundary of the town of Denmark, at the junction of the Detroit and Bay City Branch of the Michigan Central Railroad, and the Saginaw Tuscola & Huron Railroad.
The history of the village extends back to the year 1865, when R. K. Rogers purchased land of Jesse Hoyt for actual settlement. In June, of that year, Mrs. Louisa Woodruff and Daniel Woodruff, her son, built the first house and occupied it as a home. The following November Mr. Rogers built the second house in the place.
In the fall of 1865 a survey was made for a State road from East Saginaw to the county line, and work upon the same was commenced in the winter of 1868-9. In 1867 Mr. Rogers opened his dwelling for a hotel and called it the County Line House. In 1870 the State road was planked to the county line by a company organized for that purpose, and known as the Saginaw and Watrousville Plank Road Company. In 1871 the road was completed to Watrousville, and a mail and stage route established by A. W. Gates, a stage proprietor of East Saginaw. The stage and express office were kept in Mr. Rogers hotel. The postoffice was also first kept in the same building, and was named Gates, in honor of the stage proprietor, who was instrumental in getting it established.
In the fall of 1871 Daniel Woodruff opened a grocery and provision store across the street from the hotel, and about the same time Archie Scott and George Melatt opened a blacksmith shop.
The elements of a village were now collected, and in September, 1872, Asenath M. Rogers platted eleven acres and designated it by the name of Gates. The survey was made by E. W. Gerrish, of Caro.
In 1873 the Detroit and Bay City Railroad was built, and Hudson B. Blackman platted a tract of land adjoining Gates, and named it Reese, in honor of G. W. Reese, Superintendent of the railroad. Mr. Blackman also donated the right of way and depot grounds.
In May, 1875, A. M. Rogers’ first addition to the village of Gates was surveyed and platted.
The name of the railroad station being Reese, the village and vicinity finally came to be known by that name.
The first school meeting was held at Reed E. Stark’s, in April, 1866. R. K. Rogers was director, W. B. Stark, moderator, and William H. Mathews, assessor. The first school was taught by Caroline Ellis, of Tuscola, in a lumber shanty, in the spring of 1866. The principal in 1883, is E. D. Dimond; Bell E. Lane, assistant. There are 200 children of school age in the district.
The present postmaster is James N. Taylor, who has held the office since 1878.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
At the third quarterly conference of Denmark and Gates Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church, held in Denmark, May 16, 1873, the following persons were elected trustees of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Reese, viz.: George White, Josiah Mosher, James Ward, Robert K. Rogers, George W. Chapin, John C. Weller and Daniel J. Wakeman. This was the beginning of this church as a legally incorporated body. Its first pastor was Rev. Frederick Strong, succeeded by Revs. J. H. Cornalia, James Withey, J. H.Cornalia- again, P. J. Wright and H. Palmer, the present pastor. In 1874 a church building was erected at a cost of about $1,500. It is 32X50 feet in size, with a seating capacity of 300. The membership is forty-two. The Sunday-school has a membership of over 100, and an average attendance of about sixty-five. Services of the church have been held every Sunday since it organization.
FREE-WILL BAPTIST CHURCH.
October 6, 1869, Elder L. L. Andrews organized a church in this denomination, at a school-house about a mile from Reese. It was called Oak Grove Free-will Baptist Church, and consisted of eight members. An extensive revival in the winter and spring of 1869 added largely to the membership of the church. In April, 1874, a reorganization of the church was made under the pastorate of Rev. L. McElroy, and a house of worship erected in the village. Rev. John Tree has for the past four years been pastor. The membership is now thirty-five. The trustees are William B. Stark, B. F. Chamberlain and Frank Ayers. The Sunday-school has an average attendance of fifty.
SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS
A church of this denomination was organized in April, 1881, by Elder A. Weeks, with fifteen members. Meetings are held every Saturday, that day being the recognized Sabbath of this denomination. Prayer meetings also are held during the week.
Services are held once a month by Rev. Father Krembs in an unfinished edifice, about one and a half miles southwest of the village. A subscription has been raised, lots secured and preparations are being made for the erection of a house of worship in the village.
LATTER DAY SAINTS.
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ, of the Latter Day Saints, has an organization in the village of Reese, established in 1877 by Elder Robert Davis, with twelve members. It now numbers twenty-three membersw and is under charge of Elder Edward Delong. Meetings are held at private houses. The president of the district is Wm. H. Kelley.
KNIGHTS OF HONOR.
Reese lodge no. 1316, was instituted in December, 1878, with the following as charter members, viz: D. C. Braman, T. A. Brown, O. Hubbard, Wm. Parks, L. M. Sherwood, Wm. B. Stark, J. A. Teters, D. J. Wakeman, P. J. Wright, L. A. Parks, Daniel Cartright, Dr. R. Morris, Alex Casebeer, Orvil Gillett, A. G. Miller, Geo. B. Rowe, V. D. Starr, J. N. Taylor, H. Van Petten, Samuel Ward, John Newberry, Abraham Jessup, A. H. Guiesbert and Thomas Guliver. The first assessment, No. 52, amounting to $29.-20, was paid January 7, 1879. The present officers are as follows: Dictator, Wm. Parks; vice-dictator, Geo.B. Rowe; assistant dictator. John Newberry; reporter, J. N. Taylor; treasurer, L. M. Sherwood; financial reporter, Alex. Casebeer; chaplain, H. Palmer; guide, O. Hubbard; past dictator, D. J. Wakeman.
A Good Templars’ lodge with twenty-seven members was organized at Reese, in July, 1883. The officers elected were as follows: W. C.,_ Towns; W. V., Jennie Hopkins; W. S., Manuel Markhart; W. T., Gertie Towns; W. M. Frank Thomas; W. I. G., Carrie Towns; W. O. G., W. C. Wilcox; R. H. S., Mrs. Jane Towns; L. H. S., Stephen Leonard; W. C., H. Palmer; W. A. S., Jennie Markhart; W. F. secretary, Chas. Leonard; deputy marshal, Mrs. Mina Griggs.
Wm. B. Stark was born in Rushville, Yates County, N. Y., in 1831. In 1837 his parents moved to Canada, where he remained until about twenty years of age, learning and working at the trade of wool carding and cloth dressing. He then shipped as cabin boy and cook on a sailing vessel and sailed Lakes Erie and Ontario during the summer of 1852. In October, 1853, he married Jane E. Tryan, of Onandaga County, New York. During 1854 and 1855 he was mostly engaged in boating on the Erie Canal and its tributaries. In 1856 he moved to Sheffield, Berkshire County, Mass., and followed farming until 1862. In July of that year he enlisted in Company K, Thirty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers. The regiment was assigned to the Eighth Army Corps and served under Sigel, Hunter, Sheridan and others in the Shenandoah Valley. Was with Hunter in his famous starvation raid through the Allghenies, and fought at Winchester, Fisher’s Hill, Cedar Creek and most of the engagements of the valley. Mr. Stark was slightly wounded at Piedmont, Virginia, June 5, 1864, but continued with his regiment, which was transferred in December, 1864, to the Twenty-forth Army Corps, before Richmond. They were in five days’ almost continuous fighting at Hatcher’s Run, Petersburg and Richmond, and witnessed the surrender of Lee’s army. He was mustered out at Richmond, Virginia, and discharged July 6, 1865, at Boston, Massachusetts.
In October, 1865, Mr. Stark moved to Denmark, Tuscola County, and settled in the dense forest. But two families were anywhere near them and they were living in tents. Wolves, bears, wild-cats and deer were plenty, and occasionally the cry of a panther startled them. Six brothers of the Starks and a sister came into the neighborhood within a year or so. In 1870, in company with two other families, they went to Kansas, traveling in covered wagons, taking nine weeks for the journey. He remained in Kansas until July, 1875, when he returned to Denmark and took up his residence in the village of Reese, where he now resides.
GEORGE ROBINSON was born in Dryden, Lapeer County, Mich., in 1846, and nothing of particular interest occurred in his life until 1864, when he enlisted in the Eighth Michigan Cavalry, in Company E., and served till the close of the war. He was taken prisoner in the Stoneman raid and was incarcerated in Andersonville prison, where he experienced the inhumanity of the enemies of his country, being reduced by exposure and starvation to nearly a skeleton; on reaching Detroit he weighed but eighty-one pounds. In 1878 he went to Imlay City and in 1880 came to the township of Denmark, where he took charge of the Detroit Iron Company’s business at their coal kilns in Reese. He was married in 1867 to Miss Carrie Ingles, of Memphis, Michigan, and has three children. Mrs. Robinson was born in 1849.
M. G. GARDNER was born in Yates County, New York in 1844. His education was obtained in the common schools and the Eddytown Seminary, where he graduated, after which he taught school winters and worked on a farm summers. In 1874 he engaged in mercantile business, which he continued till 1878, when he came to St. Charles, Saginaw County, where he was in the stove business till the next year, when he came to Reese and formed a partnership with F. Hood, under the Firm name of Hood & Gardner, for the manufacture of staves and heading and doing a general mercantile business. Mr. Gardner was married in 1878 to Miss Emma Hood, who was born in Dresden, New York, in 1858, and has two children.
LESTER M. SHERWOOD was born in Ontario County, New York, in 1843. He was raised on a farm, working summers and attending school winters till the fall of 1859, when he entered the Ypsilanti Union Academy, where he remained two years. In 1862 he went to Jackson and was ticket agent in the office of the Michigan Central Railroad, and agent for the American ExpressCompany till 1871, when he came to Denmark and engaged in lumbering on a lot he purchased on section 3. He cut the timber and lumber for the railroad station at Reese and in 1879 opened a general store there, which he sold in 1882 and is now (1883) engaged in buying and shipping grain. Was married January 10, 1877, to Miss Ella Wakeman, of Reese, and has one child.
ALEXANDER CASEBEER, one of the early settlers of Denmark, was born in Johnstown, Allegany County, N. Y., in 1830. While a child he moved to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, with his parents, where they died, leaving him at nine years of age to do for himself. He worked for the farmers until 1850, when he came to Tuscola County and worked in a saw-mill three years. During that time he bought eighty acres of land in the township of Denmark, and in 1853 commenced to clear it, keeping bachelor’s hall for a time. In 1854 he married Miss Elizabeth Woodward, of England, by whom he has had four children. Mr. Casebeer enlisted in his country’s service during the rebellion and served a year and a half, when he was discharged on account of disability. After his return he engaged in farming until 1880, and mercantile business till 1882, when he sold his store to Mr. Wakeman, of Reese, since which time he has been engaged in raising bees, being considered good authority on bee culture. When Mr. Casebeer first came to the township there were just men enough to fill the offices; the collector’s fees for that year amounted to fourteen cents per day. He endured all of the hardships incident to pioneer life – working hard and faring poor – and at first had to carry his provisions on his bac from Vassar. At one time he and a neighbor found some musty meal in a deserted shanty, and enjoyed it as a great luxury. There were no roads for several years, except such as they made by driving through the woods, always carrying an ax to clear the way.
Henry Van Petten WAS BORN IN Sterling, Cayuga County, N.Y., October 25, 1830. His early life was spent according to the customs of the time, working on the farm summers and attending to the district school during the winter. In the fall of 1850 he came to Vassar, Tuscola County, and engaged in limbering, which he continued one year, when he returned to New York for eighteen months, coming at the end of that time to Denmark, where he still resides. He was married in 1853 to Miss Rebecca Terwileger, of Wolcott, Wayne County, N.Y., and has nine children. When he first went to Vassar it contained but about one dozen board buildings and the country around the little village was a dense forest, there being but five or six families above Vassar in the county. In December, 1863, Mr. Van Petten enlisted in the Twenty-third Michigan Infantry, Company D, and served one year and ten months. He was in the battles of Franklin and Nashville and other places where danger was imminent. The land he purchased in Denmark was in its primitive state, and his first work was to clear a space large enough to build a shanty upon. The snow at the time being two feet deep, shows the determination of himself and wife to overcome every obstacle and reach success, if possible. He now owns a farm containing 150 acres of improved land – a striking contrast compared with the time when he had to carry supplies upon his back from Vassar, a distance of ten miles, often in water over his boot tops.
JAMES N. TAYLOR was born in Richmond, Va., February 8, 1848, and lived at home till 1860, when he went to Washington, and was in the employ of the government during the four years of the war. He then returned to Richmond, and in 1872 came to Michigan, residing in Saginaw County till 1873, when he came to Reese. He was married July 12, 1878, to Miss Eva M. Overton, of East Saginaw, and has two children. In 1879 Mr. Taylor had the misfortune to lose the greater part of his property by fire, but has succeeded in recovering his loss to a great extent. He is a notary public, has held the office of township clerk three years, and has been agent for the American Express Company and postmaster at Reese, since 1878.
REV. L. L. ANDREWS, an early settler of the township, was born in Vermont, October 22, 1822, and moved with his father to Tioga County, N. Y., where they resided until he was twelve years old. Removing then to Canada he remained there until about twenty years of age, when he returned to the State of New York, and lived in St. Lawrence County, where he was married in 1844 to Miss White. In that year he returned to Canada and located near the Rideau River, where he resided ten years. He then removed to Dover, Norfolk County, Ontario, residing there six years, when he went to Round Plains township of Windham. In 1864 he sold out and came to Michigan, stopping awhile in Bridgeport, Saginaw County, and in 1866 purchased his present farm on section 7, which at that time was wild land, and he was obliged to camp until he could erect a house. Now he has a good home, the result of his industry and economy. About 1853 he was licensed to preach in the Freewill Baptist Church, and about a year thereafter was ordained a regular preacher at the Norfolk quarterly meeting. After his arrival in the wilds of Tuscola he continued to exercise his gifts as a preacher, and during the winter of 1869 a great religious revival was commenced and carried on in the township of Denmark chiefly through his instrumentality. Its effects were widespread, and there are many now living who date their religious experience to that time. A church of eight members was formed in 1867 and Mr. Andrews was chosen pastor, and at the close of the revival forty or fifty people were added to the society, including his three sons.
JOSEPH STARK was born in Rushville, Yates County, N. Y., June 4, 1828. In 1837 he went with his parents to Waterloo County, Ontario, where his father engaged in carding and cloth dressing, and he worked in the shop. In 1839 they removed to Norfolk County, where they continued the same business until he was eighteen years of age, when he engaged in farming. In 1862 he came to Saginaw, Mich., and engaged in the manufacture of soap and potash. In 1866 he came to Denmark and purchased a piece of timber land on section 8, and commenced lumbering. He returned to Saginaw and was there till 1871, when he went to Vassar, and had the running of the stage between that place and Saginaw for nearly two years. In 1873 he came to Reese and opened a hotel. He was married October 5, 1858, to Miss Betsey McIntosh, of Port Dover, Canada, and has three children – Almira Christie, born November 27, 1859; William Henry, born July 15, 1861, and Celia A., born February 4, 1864. When Mr. Stark first came to Reese there were but three families in the place – his brother William, Mr. Rogers, and Mr. Woodruff. The forest stood in all its wildness around the place, and there were no roads except the State road, which had been chopped through, but had grown up to bushes. The first clearing in the neighborhood was made by Mr. Stark, who had the only horse team within three miles of Reese; and the first school meeting was held under a tree and a school board organized, the first school being opened in a shanty on his place.
EARNEST SCHULTZ was born in Mecklenburg, Germany, in 1846, and emigrated to America with his parents in 1850. After landing in New York they came to Detroit, where they remained two and one-half years, when they came to Tuscola County and settled on section 30 in Denmark. His early life was spent in attending school and at work. In 1870 he married Miss Rachel Voss, of Denmark, formerly of Germany, by whom he has two children, one living.
CHARLES VOSS was born in Detroit in 1851. Came with his parents to Tuscola County, where his father purchased a farm which was one-half of section 19. This has since been divided, Mr. Voss receiving eighty acres of it for his share. In 1872 he was married to Miss Matilde Kool, of Bloomfield, and has three children.
CHARLES MOORE was born in the township of Yarmouth, Elgin County, 1837, and was brought up on a farm. At sixteen years of age he went to learn the carriage trimmers trade, which he followed as a business in Pontiac and Ann Arbor till after the war. In 1882
he came to Denmark and settled on section 15 where he purchased a farm. He was married in the fall of 1861 to Miss Melissa E. Baron, of Oakland County, the daughter of David Baron, one of the first settlers of Tuscola County, and who took up the farm where Mr. Moore now resides. Mr. Moore has a family of seven children five sons and two daughters.
FRANK WILCOX was born I Buffalo, N. Y., in 1844, where he resided until twelve years of age, when he came to East Saginaw and attended the old academy on Hoyt Street. In July, 1866, he was licensed as an engineer in the Eighth District of Michigan, and followed that business till 1874, when he came to Reese and bought a saw-mill which he is still running. He was married in 1866 to Miss L.A. Hill, of East Saginaw. She was born in Orleans County, N.Y., in 1845, and when about ten years old, came to Michigan with her parents. She has one child, a daughter.
WALTER WOODARD was born in Jefferson County, N. Y., July 25, 1845, worked on a farm until twenty-one years of age, and came to Michigan in 1870. In February, 1881, he came to Tuscola County, and was in the employ of the Detroit Iron Company till the spring of 1882, when he took charge of the company’s kilns at Reese. The kilns were built in 1879 and have a capacity of 25,000 bushels per month. He was married in 1870 to Miss Edith Nutting, of Jefferson County, N. Y., and has three children.
JACKSON C. CORNWELL was born in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1850, attended the law department of the Michigan University, from which he graduated in 1876 and was afterward with Messrs. Mills, Barker &Co., of 176 and 178 Woodward Avenue, Detroit. In 1878 he went to Wisconsin and from there came to Tuscola County and engaged in the furniture business. He afterward purchased a stock of groceries of J. J. Gies, and now carries on the combined business of an undertaker, furniture dealer and grocer.
SILAS HAIGHT, an early settler of the township, was born in Genesee County, N.Y., in 1839. His early life was spent on his father’s farm, where he worked summers, and was sometimes threshing in the fall. About 1860 he came West and stopped two years in the city of Marshall, after which he came to Denmark and commenced work on a farm his father had previously purchased on sections 27 and 28. In 1867 he married Miss Elizabeth Loss of Vassar, who died in 1875, and the following year he married Mrs. Electa Thompson, of Otisville, Genesee County, formerly of Brighton, Canada, and by whom he has three children. When Mr. Haight first came to Denmark he had to contend with the hardships of pioneer life. As the forest covered the land, he had to clear away the timber to make room for his shanty. His sister kept house for him, and they were determined, if possible, to overcome all difficulties. The roads were cut out, but not worked, and they were almost impassable, except in the driest time in summer and when frozen in winter. As he had to go to Flint, a distance of forty miles, for his supplies, the hardships of the trip can be imagined. The first year he had an ox team, but afterward used horses. He was on his place about five years before he could raise his bread, during which time he had to depend upon the money he could earn working in saw-mills or rafting logs on the Cass River, and in other kinds of work.
SAMUEL GARNER, one of the pioneers of Tuscola County, was born in Lincolnshire, England, March 31, 1824. He emigrated to America in 1849, and engaged in farming in New York, that being his previous occupation in England. He afterward came to Michigan, and carried on farming in Milford, Oakland County, seven years. In 1857 he came to Denmark and purchased land on section 35, and has since been a resident of the township. He was married in 1850 to Miss Ann Gaunt, of Lincolnshire, England, who was born in 1822, and by whom he has had ten children, seven of whom are living. William was born July 15, 1852, married October 18, 1882, to Miss Lucy E. Whidden: Elizabeth A. was born February 11, 1854, married to Thomas Wilson, October 28, 1874; Mary Eliza was born September 19, 1856; Samuel, born February 11, 1861; Ida M., born January 10, 1868; Merrel, born February 28, 1865; Agnes E., born September 12, 1867.
JOSEPH WELLS, a native of England, but an early settler of Tuscola County, was born in Lincolnshire in 1816. Came to America in 1836 and landed in New York, from whence he came to Michigan and located in Milford, Oakland County, where he worked by the month on a farm for seven years. He married Miss Deborah Haines, of Milford, formerly of Stanstead, Stanstead County, Ontario, October 30, 1843, and has nine children. After his marriage he worked at blacksmithing for several years, and in 1854 came to the township of Denmark and purchased a farm on section 35. The first year he chopped five acres and the next years built a shanty, and moved into it May 4, 1856. He brought with him a year’s provisions and a team, but in common with other early settlers suffered many privations and hardships.
DIEDERICK GERSTEIN was born in Rheda on the River Ems, Province of Westphalia, Prussia, April 18, 1828, and emigrated to America in 1850, reaching the United States July 4. He first settled in the town of Bloomfield, but afterward purchased a farm on section 29, in Denmark. In 1854 he married Miss Caroline Huss, of Zilwaukee, Saginaw County, who was born in Westphalia in 1835. They have a family of nine children. Mr. Gerstein is the son of a lawyer of Westphalia, in easy circumstances, and knew nothing of hard work until he came to America. He attended the gymnasium of Dartmound nine years, and when the war broke out between Denmark and Prussia, better known as the Schleswig Holstein war, he went as a private soldier and at its close returned to the city of Dartmound and studied mathematics. December 5, 1848, the two leaders of the republican party were arrested, whereat a mob assembled to liberate them, and as he was in sympathy with it was taken prisoner and kept in confinement at Hamm until his trial came off July 23 and 24, 1849, when he was acquitted. He then went to the city of Bann and studied natural philosophy, but could not content himself there, as he felt he was under the espionage of the police, and decided to leave to his native country and go to America. This he did as above mentioned and worked and roughed it in the woods of Tuscola County as best he could, and has by his own labor cleared 180 acres of land. In 1864 he enlisted in the Twenty-ninth Michigan Infantry and served about one year.
WILLIAM PARKS, one of the early settlers of Tuscola County, was born in Brownstown, Wayne County, N. Y., August 23, 1835, and resided in that county until eighteen years of age, during which time he learned the watchmaker’s trade. He enlisted September 19, 1861, in Company A, Second Michigan Cavalry, and served two years, being discharged for disability. During his service he participated in the battles of Corinth, New Madrid, and other engagements. Mr. Parks has spent the greater part of his life in Tuscola County, and in 1875 engaged in keeping a general store. In 1882 he form a partnership with Mr. Little and opened a drug store and jewelry store in Reese. He was married in 1863 to Miss Ellen Wilcox, who was born in Washtenaw County in 1844. They have eight children.
JAMES B. THOMPSON, one of the early settlers of Tuscola County, was born in Genesee County, N. Y., April 26, 1820. At the age of six years his father died and he had to do for himself as best he could. He first visited Michigan in 1836, and about 1841 came to Lapeer County and remained there about nine years. In the fall of 1853 he came to Tuscola County and purchased land in the township of Gilford, which he afterward sold, and about 1855 returned to Lapeer County. On the 7th of May, 1859, he again went to Gilford and purchased a farm on section 36. From this time until 1867 he moved several times, but finally settled on section 4. In 1882 he sold his farm and moved into the village of Reese, where he opened a dry goods store in partnership with his son, Frank Thompson. Mr. Thompson married Miss Eunice Winslow, of Dryden, Lapeer County, who was born in the State of New York in 1829. They have two children. Frank, who was born April 10, 1853, has been with his father most of his life, and married Miss Delgracia Gillet, of Denmark. They have one child.