HISTORY OF TUSCOLA COUNTY

 

The history of Tuscola County is a review of human efforts put forth during nearly half a century, in working out the destiny of a county. The advent of civilization was not preceded by any starting events or mysterious conditions. The trail of the Indian led trough these forests, and his canoe had parted the waters of the Cass, but the traces that he left furnish little more than local incidents.

The first settlers quietly crossed the borders of the county and as quietly dedicated its territory to peaceful pursuits. The story of pioneer life is an interesting one, and there is more to charm and gratify than to amaze in tracing the growth and unfolding of the germ that was timidly planted nearly fifty years ago.

There have been no sudden bursts of activity, no dazzling schemes projected, but the march of progress has been steady and continuous, transforming forests into wheat fields and fashioning the county into one of the jewels of the State.

It is desirable to first know something of the territory, a history of which we are to trace; and this information is furnished by the highest authority in the following article:

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SITUATION AND RESOURCES

By Hon. Townsend North.

 

Tuscola County is bounded on the north by Saginaw Bay, and a portion of Huron County; east by Sanilac County; south by Genesee and Lapeer Counties, and west by Saginaw and Bay Counties. It comprises territory described as follows: Townships 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 north, or ranges 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 east, and fractional township 15 north, or range 8 east.

 

TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES.

 

The townships in range 7, and townships 12, 14 and fractional 15 north, or range 8 east, are quite level, though with descent to the bay sufficient for drainage for most of it, and rich in native soil. All other portions of the county not sloping toward the bay are, or can be, drained into the Cass River or its tributaries, as this river, passing through the county from the northeast to the southwest, dividing it territory into nearly equal parts, not only affords good drainage, but water power and facilities for floating the timber product of the country. Most of ranges 8, 9, 10, and 11 east are quite undulating, and some of the townships may be called hilly, and are well watered by springs and streams that wind their way to the Cass River or Saginaw Bay. The low lands, once termed swamp lands, now being occupied and found to be very productive, are coming to be considered the most valuable lands we have.

 

CHARACTER OF SOIL

 

There is a great variety of soil, and frequently this variety is found to exist in the same section or quarter section of land. Most of the western part of the county may be called a clay loam surface with a stronger clay subsoil, and with drifts or patches of sandy loam or sand and gravel. The eastern portion is more rolling with more gravel and less clay, affording, however, a rich variety of soil.

 

TIMBER

 

Beech, hard and soft maple, white and black ash, a variety of elm, oak, basswood, hickory in small quantities, pine, hemlock, cedar, with a sprinkling of about all the varieties usually found in timbered countries, compose the timber of the county.

 

CROPS

 

The soil of Tuscola County produces all the staple grains, as well as root crops, usually grown in this latitude. The wheat crop may truly be regarded as our chief staple for export. Oats and corn are raised here with good success, oats sometimes yielding as high as one hundred bushels per acre. Most of the soil in this county is very productive for field or garden crops.

 

FRUITS.

 

Here, as well as elsewhere in the State, the apple is the leading staple in fruits. The apple orchards, though most of them quite young, now yield crops of large quantity and fine quality. Pears and cherries are successfully raised. Peaches, except in some of the favored localities, are not a success, though they are cultivated to some profit by the favored few, and being of excellent quality the high price which they command stimulates their culture, though at some risk, on account of an occasional severe winter. The smaller fruits grow in great abundance. The Saginaw Valley cities furnish a good market, though large quantities of blackberries and raspberries are sent to Detroit.

 

UNIMPROVED LANDS

There are some good agricultural lands and most of them timbered, in every town in the county; not in large tracts but conveniently located to schools, settlements and markets. Prices of these lands range from ten to twenty dollars per acre.

There are neither government nor railroad lands left in the county, but there are a few hundred acres of swamp land and about two thousand acres of primary school lands.

There are some stump lands, mostly in towns through which the Cass River and its largest tributaries pass. These lands are now being converted into good producing farms, as most of these lands will produce good clover, and after that grain or root crops can be raised with profit. I am of the opinion that they are best adapted to stock raising and dairying, and particularly well adapted to sheep raising. These lands can be purchased at from five to ten dollars per acre, and can be converted into stock farms at a comparatively small cost.

 

STATE ROADS

 

The State roads passing through the county were a good thing in their day. The first, I believe, was the Goodrich & Lower Saginaw. The Port Huron & Bay City, the Tuscola & Bay, the Cass

 

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River, Unionville & Bay City, with the plank roads from East Saginaw were of great importance in aiding the early settlement of this county.

 

POPULATION

 

The first settlers in the county were mostly from western New York, and a small settlement was made about the year 1835. general development, however, did not commence until 1850, and then the immigration that followed represented various nationalities, but a large representation was from southern Michigan.

The county is now so far developed by railroads, State and town roads that penetrate every township, that the privations endured by the early settlers no longer have to be endured by the new comers, who can now procure a comparatively cheap home and enjoy in part the benefits and privileges unknown to the pioneers who secured these advantages by sacrifice and toil in opening roads, establishing schools, churches and all the local industries. These are yet in their infancy, but the continual infusion of new capital and energy is rapidly building up the social and industrial interests of the county.

 

RAILROADS

 

The county is well served with railroads. The Michigan Central, with its Bay City division to Bay City, passes through the villages of Millington, Vassar and Reese in this county, with branches to East Saginaw and Caro from Vassar. The Port Huron & Northwestern has its main line through this county, passing through the villages of Mayville and Vassar to East Saginaw. The East Saginaw, Tuscola & Huron railroad from East Saginaw passes through the villages of Reese , Fair Grove Center, Unionville and on to Sebewaing, Huron County, it present terminus. There is a railroad now being constructed from Caseville on the bay shore in Huron County, that passes through the eastern part of Tuscola County, through the townships of Koylton, Kingston, Novesta, Elkland and Elmwood, which will make important railroad connections. There is no lack of transportation for the product of forest or field, and as the forest is beat back the rich fields will yield products of still greater value to reward the husbandman and increase the wealth of the county.

2007  of  transcription and digital photographs by Carol Szelogowski

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