HISTORY OF TUSCOLA COUNTY
FIRST SETTLEMENT OF WATERTOWN
The passage of what is known as the Graduation Law,
in the summer of 1854, was the means of stimulating the first settlement of
Watertown. Many were the booked "per-emptions" and settlements on paper by
faint-hearted pioneers and those actuated only by a spirit of speculation, which
it will not pay to notice. But the township was first invaded by actual
settlers between the 20th and 25th of September of that year. The
expedition was fitted out from Goodrich, in the county of Genesee. Several
individuals, having signified a desire to make for themselves homes in the
wilderness, a team was procured, and the emigrants and their outfit proceeded as
far as "Farrel's Mill," a point more recently known as the site of the
Hemmingway Mills, in the north part of Marathon, in Lapeer County. Here we had
reached the point where we must "take to the woods." To prepare for the
exercises before us, we here partook of a substantial lunch, indulged in a
little "target practice," in which Nathaniel M. Berry was champion and the
writer came out second best, and then shouldered our outfit of tent, implements
and provisions, and set our faces tot he northeast. The day was far advanced
when we reached the Cedar Swamp on sections 27 and 34. Toiling our way
through the tangled recesses of the swamp with our heavy loads, we at length
struck upon Elm Creek, a small stream which passes through the present village
of Fostoria, carrying the waters of Cedar Lake to Flint River. Following
down this stream it was near nightfall when we emerged from the swamp and
entered upon a beautiful rolling tract of rich land timbered with beech, maple,
rock-elm and basswood. We pitched our tent about ten rods south of the
quarter post between section 26 and 35. A bed of hemlock boughs,
overspread with a blanket and a buffalo robe, and a blazing fire at the tent
door, made us comfortable for the night.
Day dawned, and after partaking of our morning's repast,, our company scattered through the woods; and finally when the second night came more than half our company had experienced all the frontier life they could well enjoy at one installment. They took up their line of march for home, without leaving even a lock of hair by which t be remembered. The third night found us with plenty of room in our previously crowded tent. By this time we could get down to a solid night's rest, for it is a fact that for the first night or two the bed of boughs will feel a little harsh; but about three days of active wood exercise will make it "feel soft as downy pillows are." As a sequel it resulted that Nathaniel M. Berry located by pre-emption the northwest quarter of section 35 and became the first settler of Watertown. Thomas Donahue pre-empted the southeast quarter of the same section, but after a few months' experience as a pioneer he decided to abandon his new home, sold out his "chance" to Curtis Coffeen, and returned to the haunts of civilization. Augustine Welch pre-empted the south half of the northeast quarter of section 35 and the south half of northwest quarter of 36, but soon sold out to Samuel Crandall and followed his predecessor, Donahue. A few others booked their claims, but left them to return no more, without even sleeping upon them the first night. Such is life in the wilderness.
For ten succeeding nights the tent served as a lodging place for those of us who were left of the little invading army. At this time Mr. Berry, having built his shanty and "moved in," began to put on airs, and assumed a more aristocratic style of living. But alas, how transitory are all things human. No trace is now left of that primitive habitation. As I look out from my window a rank growth of wheat now waves over the memorable spot. It was a little west of south, and twelve or fifteen rods distant from the quarter post between sections 26 and 35. In dimensions about ten feet wide from east to west, and perhaps fourteen feet long from north to south. Its shed roof, sloping from east to west, was covered with "shakes," roughly and hastily split out of "Uncle Samuel's" pine. The quarter sections thus occupied by Watertown's first settler is now the home of Enos H. Goodrich, whose comfortable and commodious farm buildings now overlook the village of Fostoria and the railroad that connects it with the outside world. Mr. Berry did not long reside on this piece of land; having purchased eighty acres joining it on the north, he built there a comfortable log house, cleared a small farm, planted and reared a fine orchard, and remained a quarter of a century. He had married his second and present wife soon after settling here, and his son, Enos G. Berry, was born here on the 9th day of December, 1856.
Nathaniel M. Berry, Watertown's first settler, was born in Royalton in the county of Niagara and State of New York, May 27, 1817, and removed from there to Michigan in the year 1841. He was elected one of Watertown's first magistrates, a position to which he was repeatedly re-elected. Recently he has removed to a new farm on section 6 in this township, where he now resides. The labors of life have borne heavily upon him, and he feels his infirmities; but he still takes a laudable pride in being our first settler, and a lively interest in whatever pertains to the welfare of Watertown. From the period of Watertown's first settlement, which, as I have shown, took place in September, 1854, the immigration was rapid, and at the expiration of the first six months a score of families were scattered through its woods. So little did these pioneers know of each other's operations, and so scattered are exactly which has the precedence. So suddenly, so quietly and so unexpectedly did they come that the sound of an ax, the barking
of a dog, or the tinkling of a cow bell, was frequently the first notice a
man would receive of the arrival of his neighbor. In many cases it is
difficult, even with all the facts before us, to fix the exact date of a man's
settlement. For instance, a man would come in, put up a shanty and build a
few brush heaps, and go back to his family, returning with them at the
expiration of several weeks or months. This was the case with several who
made their first beginnings in the last months of 1854, and went away to return
with their families the following spring. For reasons thus stated, if our
efforts to chronicle the advent of these settlers in their exact order should
not be crowned with entire success, it will not be strange. With these
preliminary remarks we will proceed.
"Trait" Crosby, who was probably the second actual settler of Watertown, took up his abode on the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 25, where Henry Kincaid now lives, in November or December, 1854, but returned to his former residence in Oakland County the following season.
Franklin Wright and Alpharet J. Glynn came together. They emigrated from the State of Ohio late in the autumn of 1854. Leaving their families with some friends in Arbela, they struck out for the woods, and pitched their tents on section 4, Mr. Wright taking the southwest quarter and Mr. Glynn the southeast quarter of that section. They built their "shanties" in November, 1854, and moved on with their families the following spring.
Samuel McNeil and his son, Samuel P., or Perry" McNeil, as he was and still is familiarly called, followed close upon the heels of Wright and Glynn. They settled on the same land where Perry now resides, being the northeast quarter of section 9. They made their first break upon the wilderness late in November of 1854, but left their cabin unoccupied until the 28th day of the following April, when they perfected their formal settlement, and were a few days in advance of Messrs. Wright and Glynn, who, with their families, had wintered in Arbela.
John and Ira Patterson (brothers) settled upon the east half of the northeast quarter of section 20. Their settlement was simultaneous with that of Messrs. Glynn and Wright and the McNeils, as near as can now be ascertained.
Mr. Peronel at or about the same time settled on the west half of northeast quarter of section 21. The Pattersons and Peronel remained but a short time.
Roswell Miller about the same time settled on the northwest quarter of section 21.
George Turner and his son George settled on the west half of the southwest quarter of section 24 (where Erastus Sperry now lives) early in the spring of 1855. This man, George Turner, Sr., died alone in the woods on the northeast quarter of section 26 in the month of April, 1857, and is supposed to be the first white man that ever died in Watertown. A coroner's jury, the first ever impaneled in the township, pronounced his disease apoplexy.
Edmund Elwood settled on the west half of the southwest quarter of section 13, land now occupied by Charles Bolton, early in the year 1855. He has been gone for many years.
Patrick O'Neil settled on the northeast quarter of section 13, also, early in 1855, and still lives on the same farm.
Amos L. Kinney settled in the south half of southeast quarter of section 16 about the same time. Short and useful was Mr. Kinney's life in Watertown. He was an intelligent citizen, an industrious and energetic pioneer, and was elected as first town clerk at the organization of the town, and subsequently held the office as long as he lived. And his official books now in the archives of the town bear testimony to his accuracy and correctness as a business man. His widow still resides with her son Andrew on the same farm at Watertown Center. Other sons, George, John and Charles, are all prosperous and successful farmers of Watertown; and still another son, Dr. Kinney, is established in the practice of medicine at Ortonville, in the county of Oakland.
Thomas Duncan settled on the northeast quarter of section 8 on the second day of June, 1855, where he has resided continuously for over twenty-eight years, during which time he has held several offices of public trust in the township, particularly those of supervisor and justice of the peace, for many years.
Curtis Coffeen also come in the year 1855, in summer, or early autumn, and settled on the southeast quarter of section 35. This tract had been claimed and pre-empted by Thomas Donahue, of Goodrich in Genesee County, who had managed to hold the land since the preceding September, when he came in with Mr. Berry, the first settler. Mr. Coffeen converted it into a farm, but afterward removed to Mayville and embarked in the mercantile business, and was subsequently found running the first steam brick machine at Vassar, but now resides on his farm in the town of Rich, in Lapeer County, just over the Watertown line. The farm is still owned by Henry Coffeen, of Vassar, who with commendable energy succeeds his father in the brick business.
Of the foregoing settlers most are supposed to be still living; but out of the number George Turner, Samuel McNeil, Amos P. Kinney and Alpharet J. Glynn have passed from the scene of their earthly labors, and their bones repose in the soil of their adopted township.
Other settlers followed in rapid succession, and possibly some cotemporary or even prior to those here mentioned; but it is not deemed necessary to pursue the subject further, as this article was simply intended as a sketch of the first settlement of Watertown.
The first saw-mill in Watertown was built by Enos Goodrich, on section 26, and was raised in July, 1867, and began cutting lumber about the close of that year. It was an upright and muley mill, with a capacity of about 10,000 feet of lumber in twelve hours. There was a shingle-mill in connection with the saw-mill. In April, 1873, the mill was burned, and rebuilt during the following summer. In 1876 it was sold to Walter Carr, and run irregularly with the saw-mill. In April, 1873, the mill was burned, and rebuilt during the following summer. In 1876 it was sold to Walter Carr, and run irrugularly by the Carr Brothers until the spring of 1883, when it was purchased by E. B. Schott & Co., of Otter Lake, by whom it is now operated.
AN EARLY INCIDENT.
In the first years of settlement in Watertown a man brought his wife and hcild from Ohio, and settled here to make themselves a home. He had cut his was through the woods to the site he had selected, and encountered all the trying situations that were incident to pioneer life. His wife was in feeble health, and soon was obliged to return to Ohio, where she could have the comforts and care that could not be provided in their isolated situation. She went, leaving the husband and little boy to live by themselves, and continue the work that had been begun. The society of the child cheered his loneliness, but how heavily the anxiety for his wife weighed, none but those similarly situated can tell. One day there came to him the message that his wife lay dying, and that he must hasten to her side, if he would see her once more alive. he was many miles from a railroad, and there was not a dollar in his purse. Closing the door of the cabin from out of which the light of home had departed, and taking his little boy by the hand, they set forth upon a tiresome and lonely walk through the pathless woods. To him it seemed a race with death, and the uncertain issue of the contest made suspense torturing in the extreme. Reaching Pine Run, his situation became known, and friends supplied him with money to pay traveling expenses. They pushed on, and reached the bedside of the wife and mother while she was yet alive. While her
life lasted they remained, and when death came, laid her in the grave, then returned to the cabin and the clearing to renew the battle of pioneer life.
THE LONG HILL.
At an early day in Watertown a father and a son had been helping a neighbor get inhis hay, and frequent draughts at the "little brown jug" visibly affected the minds and bodies of both. At the close of the day's work they started for home, which was quite a distance off. They had an ox team and lumber wagon. Putting a bunch of hay into the wagon for a pillow, they laid themselves down, and started the oxen for home. During the progress of the journey the rear wheels came off, letting the back end of the wagon drag on the ground. In this way they went for some distance, the travelers riding with their feet elevated at an angle of forty-five degrees, while their heads were bumping along in close proximity to the ground. At last it seemed to dawn upon the muddled brain of the father that their position had changed, and he managed to mutter to his son that he didn't remember that long hill when they went over in the morning. The son raised himself up and discovered that two wheels were missing. They got out, hitched their oxen to a tree, and camped there until morning, when they recovered the missing wheels, and thus restored the original level of the road.
According to the annual school report of Watertown for the year ending September 4, 1882, the directors for the ensuing year were Thomas Coverdale, John Kinney, Delos Smith, and Joseph Wood. There were four school districts, and the same number of frame school-houses. Whole number of children of school age in the town, 381; number that attended school during the year, 228.
Census of 1860: Population, 208; families, 45; dwellings, 46; number of farms, 33; number of acres improved, 833; number of horses, 5; number of oxen, 45; bushels of wheat raised, 852; bushels of rye, 80; bushels of corn, 1,808; bushels of oats, 444; bushels of potatoes, 1,425; pounds of butter made, 4,200; tons of hay cut, 9.
Census of 1864: Population 322; number of acres of taxable land, 5,656; number of acres improved, 877; bushels of corn preceding year, 1,543; bushels of wheat preceding year, 1,101; bushels of potatoes, 1,721; tons of hay, 290; pounds of wool sheared, 422; pounds of butter made, 6,850.
Census of 1870: Population, 684; families, 138; dwellings, 140; farms, 103; voters, 130; number of acres of improved land, 2,972; bushels of wheat, 9, 192; bushels of corn, 6,549; bushels of oats, 4,982; bushels of potatoes, 6,882; tons of hay, 720; sawmills, 2; feet of lumber cut, 500,000.
Census of 1874: Population, 804; number of horses, 54; number of cows, 304; bushels of wheat raised, 9,682; bushels of corn, 8,682; bushels of potatoes, 6,988; tons of hay, 940.
Population in 1880, 1,094. Total equalized valuation in 1882, $410,795; number of farms in 1881, 108; acres of improved land, 5,450; bushels of wheat raised in 1880, 29,995; of carn, 39,364; tons of hay, 708.
This is a business center at the terminus of the railroad, and is located on sections 25,26,35 and 36. The beginning was made by Thomas Foster, who carried on extensive lumbering operations, and subsequently farming. His farm, containing 320 acres,, is becoming one of the finest in the county. A fine view of it is given in this work. The postoffice and village takes its name from him.
THOMAS DUNCAN was born in Ireland in July, 1828, and came to Canada in 1846; thence to Watertown in 1855, and settled on section 8, where he has since resided, having a good farm of 240 acres, 150 acres of which is improved. Since coming to Michigan he has been engaged in farming and lumbering. When he first came to Watertown there were no roads in the township; has helped to cut roads, clear up the country, and is an enterprising citizen. He has held the offices of supervisor nine years, justice of the peace twenty-two years, commissioner of highways several years, and is the present county superintendent of poor. In 1853 he married Miss Jane Hamilton, and has two sons and four daughters.
S. H. DWELLEY was born in 1841 in Machias, Maine, and came to Saginaw in October, 1864, were he was engaged in lumbering till 1867. He then purchased a farm on section 15 in Watertown, and in 1871 removed to his present home on section 21, being engaged in farming and lumbering. In 1862 he enlisted in the Twenty-eighth Maine Infantry, and served in the Western army under General Banks. Was discharged in 1863. In 1866 was married to Miss Betsey Harris, and has two children.
FRANKLIN WRIGHT was born in Erie County, N. Y., in 1832, and moved with his parents to Ohio in 1835. In 1852 he came to Watertown and settled on section 4, where he remained till 1856, when he removed to white Lake, Oakland County. He remained there until 1875, when he returned to Watertown and purchased a farm on section 16, where he has since resided. He helped to cut the road through Millington to his farm, making eight miles of new road he helped to open.. He married Miss Louise Hall, of Springfield, Oakland County, in 1855, and his second wife (Erzilla Parish), October 15, 1863, by whom he had two sons and two daughters. His third and present wife was Miss Mary E. Hall, to whom he was married January, 1878, by whom he has had one child. The present Mrs. Wright tended the first postoffice, kept the first store, and built the first hotel in the township.
JACOB W. BROWN was born in 1807 in East Nottingham, Maryland, and came to Michigan in 1834, while it was yet a territory. In 1835 he removed to Ohio, where he remained until 1854, when he came to the township of Watertown and settled on section 13, where he has since resided. He helped to cut the timber to make the roads in the township, and with the help of his sons has cleared up a fine farm. He was married in 1835 to Miss Harriet M. Hyde, who died in 1853, leaving five children. Mr. Brown enlisted in November, 1861, in the Third Ohio Cavalry, and served in the Army of the Cumberland. Was discharged for disability in 1862.
JOSEPH H. BROWN was born in Ohio in 1842, and came to Watertown with his parents in 1854. He returned to Ohio in 1858, and remained there until 1862, since which time he has been a resident of Watertown, his farm being located on section 13. He was married in 1866 to Miss Harriet M. Kincade, and has three children.
THOMAS FOSTER was born in Canada June 24, 1827. He came to Saginaw, Mich., in 1858, and lumbered on Sucker Creek, Tuscola County till 1862. since he came to the State he has lumbered in Tuscola, Genesee and Lapeer Counties, and put into the Flint River during the winter of 1882-83 upwards of 12, 000,000 feet of pine logs. His residence is in the city of Flint, but he owns and pine logs. His residence is in the city of Flint, but he owns and manages a large farm at Fostoria in the township of Watertown. He is an extensive breeder of thoroughbred stock, and has a fine herd of Herefords, from which he ships large numbers yearly to Kansas, Nebraska, Montana and Colorado. During the season of
1882 he sold seventy head of cattle for $8,000. He is also breeding largely of Mambrino and Hambletonian horses, Cotswold, Southdown and Shropshiredown sheep and Berkshire hogs. Mr. Foster was married to Miss Mary Ann Conklin, and has one adopted son.
THOMAS W. BRIGGS was born in Junius, Seneca County, N. Y., in 1827, moved with his parents to Ohio in 1834, and came to the township of Watertown in 1857, and settled on section 14. At that time there were no roads cut within nine miles of his home. During his residence in the township his occupation has been that of a farmer and merchant,. He was married in 1848 to Miss Rebecca Kent, who died in 1860, and they had one child. His second marriage to Miss Imogene Frost was in 1864, and they have two children. Mr. Briggs has held the offices of supervisor and treasurer several years, and is the present postmaster at Fostoria.
JOHN MYERS was born in Lyons, Wayne County, N. Y., in 1830. Came to Redford, Wayne County, Mich., with his parents in 1832, and removed to Marathon, Lapeer county in 1854. The roads wre that bad, that it took him two days with an ox team to go three miles, and return with a load of lumber to build his house. In 1863 he came to Watertown and located on section 34, but afterwards changed to section 34, but afterwards changed to section 14, where he now resides. He was married in 1857 to Miss Roxie Merrill, and has six children.
GEORGE W. JEWELL was born in Painesville, Lake County, Ohio, January 18,m 1833. Came to Watertown in 1864, and purchased a farm on section 10, which was at that time a perfect wilderness; but which he has cleared and improved, and upon which he has erected fine buildings. He enlisted in 1862 in the One Hundred and fifth Ohio Infantry, and served under Generals Rosecrans and Sherman in the Army of the Cumberland; was wounded Oct. 8, 1862, in the battle of Perryville, Kentucky, and was discharged in August, 1863, being unfit for duty, in consequence of his wound. He was married in 1858 to Sarah Mitchell, and has one son. Mr. Jewell is at present commissioner of highways.
ALMON MCNINCH was born in Conesus, Livingston County, N Y., in 1843. He learned the trade of a painter at Smithtown, N.Y. He followed his trade until 1862, when he enlisted in the One Hundred and Eighth New York Infantry. He served with that regiment until he was taken prisoner at Fredericksburg, Va. He was paroled and came North. Worked at his trade in Hamilton, Ont., from 1864 till 1866. In that year he bought sixty acres of land in Tuscola County, in section 2, township of Watertown, where he farm it and also follows his trade. He was married in 1865 to Miss Elizabeth Colling, a native of Holton County, Canada. They have had six children, four sons and two daughters. The eldest, a son, was killed in 1881, by a log rolling upon him.
N. M. BERRY was born May 27, 1817, in Niagara County, N. Y.; came to Genesee County, Mich., in 1840 and to the township of Watertown in September, 1854. He took up a farm on section 26, which he cleared and lived upon until the spring of 1882, when he sold out, and purchased his present farm on section 5. Mr. Berry was the first settler in the township and helped to cut the first road. In 1862 he enlisted in the Tenth Michigan Infantry and served one year, when he was discharged for disability. His eldest son was killed in battle near the James River in Virginia. On November 10, 1839, he was married to Miss Margaret Updegraff, by whom he had five children, and his second marriage was to Miss Mary Jane Howland, June 7 1855, and by whom he had two sons. Mr. Berry was the first justice of the peace in the township, and held the office for several years.
The following review was furnished the publishers of this history by Mr. Goodrich with the request that they select from it some of the leading points and write a brief sketch. The review, however, containing many interesting items of pioneer life in different places, the publishers have taken the liberty of inserting it in his own words.
I was born in the town of Sempronius, county of
Cayuga and State of New York, at a place called Owosco Flats, on the 11th day of
August, 1813. In the month of February, 1815, and before my recollection,
my parents removed to the town of Clarence, in the county of Erie in same State.
The country was then very wild and as our advent into it was succeeded by two or
three of the frostiest seasons of the present century, there was a good deal of
suffering and destitution among the early inhabitants, but as the settlers then
had no rich country to back them, as had those of Kansas in grasshopper times
and our burnt districts in the time of the great forest fires, the settlers of
the Niagara Frontier, as the region was then called, were compelled to make the
best of their own resources. My father built an ashery and by converting
the heavy forest around him into pot and pearl ashes was enabled to keep famine
from his own door and that of a large circle of neighbors by whom we were
surrounded. I learned to wield the ax and the rifle at an early day.
The first rifle of my experience was an old United States musket.
Our opportunities of education were very limited, and but for the fact that father and mother had both been school teachers would have been still more so. But appreciating the value of education they spared no opportunity of instructing their children at home. The first day's schooling I had was in a log house, where my father was the teacher. The scholars sat on benches made of split logs set on two-inch poles like sled stakes, for legs. No desks were seen or thought of in that school. It was in the dead of winter and many of the scholars went with their feet wrapped in rags for shoes. But I could then "read in readings," having been taught by my parents at home. My first book was called the New York Reader. How old I was then I can't tell, but for a few years I attended school by spells, as my time could be spared from home duties. At fourteen I was taken from school and set to driving an ox team, hauling logs to the mills. The oxen seemed like elephants-- each one must have weighed a ton, but they were kind and gentle. One month's schooling, a few years after, was all I had, but it was worth more to me than any four months previous, for I began to know the value of time. My constitution was strong and I learned to love work. From eighteen to twenty years of age I weighed something over 190 pounds, and my breast girth was forty-two inches. Arriving at my mojority in August, 1834, I remained home until the fall's work was done, and then went to the prairies of Illinois, where I spent the winter twenty-two miles beyond Chicago, at a place called Meacham's Grove. One clear, frosty, moonlight night I was traveling on foot from what little there then was of Chicago to Des Plaines River. It was a sea of dead prairie grass covered with sparkling frost; no houses in sight, and the road only a track in the grass. It branched and I took the wrong track which led me up the south branch of the Chicago River, among the lime quarries. I could not well afford to retrace my steps and so struck off across the trackless prairie where for many miles I had no guide but the polar star. I had always been kept close to home, and as I was groping over the prairie at dead of night and wolves howling in the distance, I felt as if I was a good ways from my mother. The night was far spent when I reached Walker's Bridge, on the Des Plaines River. I was then half way to Meacham's Grove, and was bound to go through, which I did with but a short halt. Spring came. I had made a claim and cut and hauled timber to fence a field. Like Lincoln, I split my own rails, but before I could lay them up I was taken with fever. I was then boarding with Dr. Silas Meacham. He soon
broke up my fever. I went six miles to Dunckley's Grove to hire a cross
cut saw to make "shakes" to cover a house. I waded Salt Creek twice and
brought back the fever. I had intended to return home at the East in the
spring, so as soon as my health would admit I started, leaving Meacham's Grove
May 27, 1835. From Chicago ten days on board the schooner "Austerlitz,"
(Captain Robinson) took me to Detroit, and two days by steamer thence to
Buffalo. Arriving home my parents, having a large family, had decided to
sell out their Holland purchase claim and go West in a body rather than see the
family divided. In September, 1835, my oldest brother, Moses, and myself
were sent out to hunt a home for the family, and purchased about 1,200 acres of
land in the township afterward named Atlas, then in Lapeer but now in Genesee
County. The grounds comprised the present site of the village of Goodrich,
and farms still occupied by several members of the family. Moses and
another brother, Levi, came through Canada with a team in February of that same
winter of 1836, the family following by steamer across Lake Erie, reaching our
new home on May 20, of that year. It was a wild country, and the work was
great, but at the end of the second summer we had 150 acres under the plow, the
land being plains and timbered openings. While we were making these
improvements everything was high, but when settlers began to have something to
sell prices became ruinously low.
We needed mills and a market. The Goodrich saw-mill had been built and started in April, 1837. In 1845 my brother, Reuben, and myself built the Goodrich flouring-mill. I had built an ashery and now followed copper shops, tannery, shoe shop, tin shop and countless other enterprises, which, with several farms, made us a busy life.
I was elected to the house of representatives in 1846 and at the ensuing session of 1847, was deeply interested in the removal of the capital to Lansing, and as one of a special committee of five to whom the subject was referred, submitted a report which will be found in the house journal of that year. After the first new capitol was built I was elected over a strong Whig majority to the senate of 1853, where I served as chairman of the committee on incorporations, with Fielder S. Snow, of Lenawee, and Henry Fralick, of Wayne, as my colleagues. I found the legislature the best school I ever attended in my life, and formed many pleasing acquaintances.
While we were building up the town of Goodrich our work was very hard. Out in the morning packing flour at two or three o'clock, curing the day everywhere, and at night posting books from nine to eleven. It was thus that my brother and I had accumulated a fortune of a hundred thousand dollars, all to be swept away by the crisis of 1857. it was this which took Reuben to Traverse City and brought me to Watertown. Here I found a rich soil, stately timber and congenial employment. I have cleared three hundred acres of heavy timbered land, built a saw-mill in 1867, had it burned in April, 1873, involving a loss of some six thousand dollars, rebuilt the following autumn, and after running five years sold out. it would be impossible to compute the work done by the mills in the ten years of their running, but fifteen million feet of lumber and six million shingles would be a fair estimate. For the last five years farming and stock raising have been my employment.
In reviewing my past life I desire to say by way of conclusion that the most laborious period was while we were building up the little town which bears our family name. During that period I was in the prime of life, and the guiding star of hope was bright before us. The most wretched period was the few years succeeding our failure in business. It was not the loss of property, for I could laugh over that while health and energy remained; but it was that others, among whom were confidential friends, were liable to be involved with us in our misfortunes. The earnest wish and prayer that life might be spared until they were protected was substantially answered. The most tranquil period of my life is that which I have spent in the wilds of Tuscola County. Perhaps this tranquility of mind may, in some degree, be owing to the tempering influences of time, experience and adversity. The experiences of my life have been such as to call into action all the limited stock of philosophy I could call to my aid, and without such aid I have many times felt that life would not be worth enjoying. It is that which gilds the darkest clouds of life and makes its "Indian summer" more tranquil and pleasing than the meridian of its noonday splendor.