HISTORY OF TUSCOLA COUNTY
PERIODS OF HISTORY
The settlement of the county began in the latter part of the year 1835, in the present townshp of Tuscola, and the first actual settler in the county was Ebenezer Davis. The number of settlers was slightly increased during the years 1836 and 1837, but from that time until 1850, the immigration was small.
The period of general development began about the year 1850, when Messrs. North and Edmunds commenced operation at Vassar, and opened the cannels for immigration. From that time onward settlers came in more rapidly, and planted homes in the forests. In 1850 the county was organized and its civil history began.
About the year 1865 an era of general improvement began. The war ended, and hope revived. Surviving soldiers returned to pursuits of peace, and the energies of the people were once more directed to to channels of industry. The farmers of the county began to test improved methods of agriculture; farm machinery was introduced, and the click of reapers and mowers was heard in the harvest fields. An agricultural society was organized and successfully maintained.
THE LUMBER OPERATIONS
The Cass River empties into the Saginaw, and for many years was one of the great highways for logs. Down this river floated millions upon millions of feet of log annually until the supply of pine along its course became exhausted. The cork pine of the Cass River was noted in all markets for its superior excellence, and was much sought after. The lumbering in this county was principally confined to logging operations, and the manufacture of lumber cannot be said to have ever constituted a particular epoch of history.
The first mill in the county was built on Perry Creek, in the present township of Tuscola, but general lumbering operations did not begin until about ten years later. There are, however, no statistics of lumbering operations on the Cass River prior to 1864, when the Huron Boom Company was organized. That year the company run out 40,000,000 feet of logs. The quantity increased each year until 1873, when it reached 100, 458,140. Since then the supply has been diminishing. In 1879 the crop was about 7,000,000 feet and now operations have practically ceased.
The county, however, has been a lumber county, and is now a farming county, and in this change has furnished an answer to the question: "After lumber, what then?" After lumber came wheat, corn, oats, grasses, the dairy, stock, the garden, the delight and attractions of rural pursuits and rural homes.
April 1, 1840, an act of legislature was approved, section 30 of which provided as follows: "That portion of the present county of Sanilac, embraced in the north half of town 10 north, and in towns 11, 12, 13, and 14 north, of ranges 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 east, and in fractional town 15 north, or ranges 7 and 8 east, shall be laid off as a separate county, to be known and designated as the county of Tuscola."
The county was attached to Saginaw County for judicial and representative purposes, until 1850, when it was organized.
March 2, 1850, an act of legislature was approved which provided for the organization of Tuscola County, as follows:
"SECTION 2. That all suits, prosecutions and other matters now pending before any court of record in Saginaw County, or before any justice of the peace in said county, or that shall be pending at the time of the taking effect of this act, shall be prosecuted to final judgment and execution, and all taxes heretofore levied, and now due, shall be collected as though the county of Tuscola had not been organized.
"SECTION 3. There shall be elected in said county of Tuscola, on the first Tuesday of November, the year 1850, all the several county officers to which by law the said county is entitled; and said election shall in all respects be conducted and held in the manner prescribed by law for holding elections for county and State officers. Provided, That until such county officers are elected and qualified, the proper county officers of the county officers are elected and qualified, the proper county officers of the county of Saginaw shall perform all the duties appertaining to the said county of Tuscola in the same manner as though this act had not passed. And provided further, That the county officers so to be elected, shall be qualified and enter upon the duties of their respective offices on the first Monday in January, the year 1851, and no county buildings shall be erected at the expense of the county until after the county seat shall have been permanently located, as provided for in this act.
"SECTION 4. The board of canvassers in said county, under this act, shall consist of the presiding inspectors of elections for each township therein, and said inspectors shall meet at the county seat of said county, at the time appointed by law for the ocutny canvass, and immediately after the election authorized in the third section of this act, and organize by appointing one of their number chairman and another secretary of said board, and shall thereupon
Proceed to discharge all the duties of a board of county canvassers as in ordinary cases of election for county and State officers.
"SECTION 5. The circuit court for the county of Saginaw shall have the same jurisdiction over said county of Tuscola that it would have, if this act had not passed, until otherwise provided by law.
"SECTION 6. That it shall be the duty of the sheriff of said county of Tuscola to provide some suitable place for holding courts in said county, at the county seat thereof, until public buildings shall be erected.
"SECTION 7. That the county seat of said county of Tuscola be, and the same is, hereby fixed ad established on the northwest fractional quarter of section 7, in township number 11 north, of range number 8 east, until the year 1860, and until the same shall be permanently located, as hereinafter provided; and the supervisors elected for the year 1860, in said county, shall have the power and it shall be their duty permanently to locate the county seat of said county."
The presidential campaign of 1840 was a memorable one in the history of American politics, and the ringing echoes of its battle cry resounded through the forests of Tuscola. The first general election in the county occurred that Fall. The polls were kept open three days, and seven votes were safely deposited in the ballot box. The poll list showed that Dennis Harrison, Samuel H. Downs, Lovira Hart and Martin L Miller, were Whigs; and Ebenezer Davis, Edwin Ellis and Jarvis Freeman, Democrats. James H. Davis, a resident of Tuscola and a Democrat, voted in Saginaw County, otherwise there would have been a tie vote.
The first general election after the organization of the county was held November 5, 1850.
The first board of county canvassers consisted of John H. Richardson, who was chosen secretary and chairman of the board. Eighty-three votes were cast at this election for representative in the State legislature, of which Alanson Calkins received forty-six, and Paschal Richardson, thirty-seven. At this time Tuscola was the only organized township in the county. The question on Negro suffrage was voted upon at this election. The whole number of votes cast was forty-four; eighteen for, and twenty-six against. The county officers elected, were as follows: Clerk, William Harrison: treasurer E. W. Perry; register of deeds, Townsend North; county judge, Lovira Hart; second judge, Calvin Lee; probate judge, Calvin Lee; sheriff, Leander W. VanKleeck; prosecuting attorney, Hiram Penoyer; surveyor, Joshua D. Smith; coroners, Silas S. Bliss and Chancey Firman.
FIRST COUNTY LEGISLATION
The journal of supervisors' proceedings records that according to notice the first meeting of the board of supervisors was held at Vassar, January 24, 1851. John H. Richardson being the only acting supervisor in the county, constituted the board, and conducted its proceeding harmoniously. The only business transacted was the adoption of a resolution offering a bounty of $8 for the scalps of full grown wolves, thus furnishing an additional incentive to this industry of the early days.
The next meeting was held June 9, 1851, when Lovira Hart was chairman. The business of this meeting was equalizing valuations and adjusting a few accounts. The townships of Vassar, Tuscola, Arbela and Rogers were represented respectively by Townsend North, Lovira Hart, S. Newton and E. Smith.
At the October meeting George W. Richardson presented a bill amounting to $5 for two and one-half days' services, in bringing prisoners from Saginaw to Vassar. The board evidently frowned upon such intolerable greed of gain, and deducted one-half, allowing the bill at $2.50. Four wolf certificates were presented and allowed at $8 each. A resolution detaching certain described territory for the township of Tuscola, and attachig it to Vassar was adopted.
TOWNS OF THE PAST
By the provisions of an act of legislature approved February 12, 1853, the town of Auchville was organized from a portion of Huron County and attached to Tuscola County for judicial and representative purposes, until the organization of Huron County. By act of legislature in 1857 its name was changed to Sebewaing. Three years later, in consequence of the complete organization of Huron County it was detached from Tuscola County and attached thereto.
The town of Geneva was organized in 1860 by the board of supervisors, and comprised the territory of fractional township 15 north, of range 8 east. In 1879 it was disorganized by act of legislature. Section 36 was attached to Columbia and the remainder of the township to Akron.
CHANGE OF BOUNDARIES
For some unexplained reason, the line dividing Tuscola and Lapeer Counties was originally so placed as to run through the center of the present towns of Millington and Watertown in Tuscola County, and the town of Rich in Lapeer County. By the act of legislature under which Millington was organized in 1855, this was remedied, and the south-half of township 10 north, of ranges 8 and 9 east, was detached from Lapeer and attached to Tuscola; and the north-half of township 10 north, of ranges 10 and 11, was detached from Tuscola and attached to Lapeer.