JOHN JOHNSON, merchant, of Vassar, was born in Surrey, England. His family emigrated to the United Sates in 1834, and settled at Pittsford, N.Y., where they remained for ten years, during which time Mr. Johnson received the principal part of his education. From there they removed to Armada, Macomb County, Mich. In 1854 he came to Vassar, of which village he has continued to be a resident until the present. His first employment was transcribing the records for the present. His first employment was transcribing the records for the then new county of Tuscola. In doing so it was necessary to visit the register’s offices at Lapeer and Saginaw City, as the territory of which Tuscola is composed was at one time a part of Lapeer County, and afterward of Saginaw County. In 1857 he succeeded his brother as register of deeds and held the office for four years. He also was county clerk for two years. He was married in 1859, and has a family of seven children.
J. B. W. LEWIS, M. D., is a native of Maravia, Cayuga County, N. Y., where he was born in 1821. At fifteen years of age he moved to Green, Trumbull County, Ohio, with his parents, and remained there three years, at the end of which time he returned to New York, locating at Virgil, Cortland County. In November, 1839, he removed to Marengo, Calhoun County, Mich., and 1847 to Ceresco, where he remained until 1882, when he came to Vassar. Doctor Lewis has been twice married, first to Miss Maria E. Hughes, by whom he had two daughters, both of whom are married; one living in Marshall, Mich., And the other in Joliet, Ill.; second, to the widow of G. S. Harrington. He was born in Green, Trumbull County, Ohio, and died in Vassar, August 7, 1875. It will be remembered that Mr. Harrington had a factory in which he manufactured sash, blinds, doors and furniture, and also kept a furniture store. Mrs. Lewis’ maiden name was Clarissa Ann King, and she was born in Bennington, Genesee County, N. Y., in 1825, but has been a resident of Vassar for the past seventeen years. The doctor is a graduate of the Cleveland Medical College, where he attended in 1847-48, and has since practiced his profession.
MORGAN L. GAGE, of the firm of McHose & Gage merchants, has been a resident of the county since 1862, when he engaged as a clerk in his present store with J. Coleman & Co., remaining with them in that capacity five years; at the end of that time he purchased an interest in the business. Three years later the Coleman interest was purchased by B. F. McHose, and since that time the business has been continued under the firm name of McHose & Gage.
JAMES JOHNSON (deceased) was born in Pittsford, Monroe County, N. Y., September 1, 1834, and in 1844 with his parents and family, moved to Armada, Mich., where he received his education. In 1855 he came to Vassar, and the following year bought out the drug business of Doctor Bissel, which he continued until his death, which occurred March 10, 1879. He had previously provided plans and material for a new drug store which was erected by his executor the summer following his death.---the old building was removed in June and the new building occupied the following December. He married Miss Mary E. North, eldest daughter of Mr. T. North. They had four children—two sons and two daughters all living. Mr. Johnson for several years held the office of treasurer of Vassar and became widely known and universally respected. His death is mourned by a large circle of friends and relatives.
L. C. MERRITT, of the firm of Merritt & Hedden, merchants, is a native of Metamora, Lapeer County, Mich., but has been a resident of Vassar since 1871. He first engaged in mercantile business on the corner of Pine and River Streets, where he continued two and one-half years, when he pulled down the old store and erected a brick store on its site, which was the first of its kind in town. Forming a partnership with Mr. Hedden they built a handsome brick store on the opposite corner of Pine and River Streets, which they have occupied since December 17, 1882. Mr. Merritt is a member of the executive committee of the county agricultural society, and as a public officer has served the township of Vassar five years as treasurer, and since the spring of 1882 as supervisor.
L. C. HEDDEN, of the firm of Merritt & Hedden, merchants, is a native of Michigan, and was born in Washtenaw County, but for a numbers of years was a resident of Wayne County, where he was engaged in farming. In the spring of 1863 he enlisted in the Ninth Michigan Infantry, and served to the close of the war. During his time of service he was employed as army mail agent and United States mail messenger between Chattanooga, Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis and other points. He has been a resident of Vassar since April 11, 1882.
P. M. CASE.---Among the many who deserve a notice in the history of Tuscola County may be mentioned Mr. Case, who has been a resident of Vassar since 1860. The following year he was appointed deputy sheriff under Sabin Gibbs and attended to all the duties of that office for two years, at the end of which time he was elected to the office for two years, at the end of which time he was elected to the office and served the full term. He was succeeded by Sheriff Richards and again was appointed under sheriff, serving to the end of his term. In 1868 he engaged in the grocery business, which he continued for twelve years. Mr. Case was born in Steuben County, N.Y., in 1815, and in 1828 moved with his parents to Washtenaw County, N. Y., in 1815, and in 1828 moved with his parents to Washtenaw County, Mich., where he remained until 1860, when he came to Tuscola County. He was married in 1838 to Miss Catharine North. They have had five children, of whom all are dead except the youngest daughter, who is with her husband—Mr. Orvia—in Italy. The eldest son died in the army, and two daughters and a son in Vassar, of typhoid fever.
EDWIN G. DOUD is one of the pioneers of Vassar, having come here in the spring of 1855, from Ohio—his native place—with his own conveyance—a span of horses and wagon. At that time there were but three houses upon the bluffs, and the total population of the place probably numbered less that fifty souls. The following summer he built a residence on Main Street, and the following winter taught the village school. The next winter he taught at Tuscola and for five succeeding winters in other schools of the county. Having purchased land in the township of Denmark, he moved on it in the spring of 1857 and commenced his battle with the wilderness, to carve out for himself and family a home. In this he was eminently successful, and when he sold his farm in the spring of 1882, he found he had accumulated enough through his energy and frugality to build himself a fine residence in Vassar on Main Street, where he now resides, and still have a competency remaining. As a public officer Mr. Doud served four terms as treasurer, three terms as clerk, and one term as justice of the peace for the township of Denmark, and in the spring of 1856 was elected justice of the peace for Vassar, and served one year. He married Sarah A. Foley, a native of Philadelphia. They have had two sons, both of whom are in business in Vassar.
JAHON BAKER, the subject of this sketch, was born in England, near Dover, in 1822, and come in America in 1836 with his father and sister, locating in Whigville, Genesee County, Mich. He afterward spent two years in Lenawee County, and in 1851 he went to Oregon and engaged in lumbering, remaining on the Pacific slope one year, at the end of which time he was called home on account of sickness in his family. In 1852 he came to Tuscola County and purchased a farm in the township of Denmark, where he remained until 1880, when he came to Vassar, where he now resides. Although Mr. Baker has been an industrious farmer, he has still found time to act as a local preacher on circuit duty, and was well known as such through portions of the State. He married Miss Van Steenbergh, in Oakland County, June 10, 1844. They have had seven children, all of whom are living except one. Mr. And Mrs. Baker were pioneers in the town of Denmark, and their pioneer history constitutes an interesting part of the early history of that town.
TRUMAN H. LAKE was born in the town of Gorham, Ontario County, N.Y., in 1824, and in 1836 moved to Washtenaw County, Mich., where he engaged in farming until the spring of 1850, when he came to Tuscola County and settled on eighty acres of a section of land in Juniata Township, purchased by Levi Rogers, his father-in-law. After remaining on the land nine years he returned to Washtenaw County, which he made his home for eight years, when he came to Vassar, where he has since resided. He married Mis Martha Ann Rogers, who was a native of Ontario County, N. Y. They have had three children, of whom but one son is now living.
E. A. BULLARD, dealer in drugs, medicines and fancy goods, Main street, came to Vassar 1865, after serving two terms in the army, first in the old “fighting Fifth,” and second in the 1st Michigan Light Artillery. He commenced here the manufacture of pumps, and after two years took in T. Clyne as a partner, to whom he sold out after four years of successful business. In July, 1874, he bought out the drug store of Dr. Davis, the stock inventorying $850. With no experience as a druggist he took hold of the business, and the first year’s sales amounted to less then $2,500. By Dint of unceasing energy, and by most persistent and well directed advertising, his business has increased until his sales for 1882 reached $12,000, and his stock of fancy goods in something immense. Since coming here he has uilt three houses—the last a very handsome one—pump factory and a store, and has started the town booming at the upper end by platting “Bullard’s Addition to Vassar” and settling a number of residents there, a speculation which netted a handsome profit. He is one of the most ingenious advertisers in the State, and whatever he touches proves a success—Tuscola County Pioneer.
J. H. BURGESS, of the firm of Burgess & Doud, grocers, is a native of Yates County, N. Y., and has been a resident of the county since April, 1857, except the time he spent in the army during the late war. He first engaged in the boot and shoe business, which he continued until March 4th, 1862, when he enlisted in Company K, First Regiment U. S. Sharpshooters, under Col. Bodine, and served three years. Was wounded at Gettysburg, and for eighteen months was an invalid. Coming back to Vassar he again engaged in the boot and shoe business until 1870, when he was appointed postmaster, holding the office six years. He then embarked in the stationery and grocery line, and in 1880 built his present store on Main Street. In July, 1882, Mr. Doud purchased an interest in his business, and the firm has since been known as Burgess & Doud. Mr. Burgess has served the township three years as clerk.
THOS. H. WILLIAMSON, of the firm of Williamson & Taylor, tanners was born in Surrey, England, and came to America in 1849, stopping three years in New York, then coming to Vassar, where he has since resided. The tannery which they now occupy was built in 1853 by a Mr. Ripley, and was operated by the firm of Barker Ripley & Co., in which Mr. Williamson was a partner. They also manufactured boots and shoes and had a currying establishment at Flint. In 18878 the firm of Williamson & Taylor was organized, and has since been actively engaged in the business. They employ from five to eight men at the tannery and turn out 6,000 sides of leather annually. Mr. Williamson has served the township of Vassar four years as supervisor. He married Miss Emily Taylor, of New York. They have had three children, all of whom are living in Vassar.
J. W. BRAINERD, harness maker, has been established in business here since 1869, five years on Main Street, and nine years in his present quarters. He does a large trade in the manufacture of single and double harness and keeps a full line of robes, blankets, whips combs, and other articles belonging to the business. He is a native of Hartland, Livingston County, N. Y., and was a farmer until twenty-three years of age.
FREDERICK BOURNS is a native of Lincolnshire, England, where he was born April 29, 1819. In 1890 with his father and family he came to the United States and located in Springfield, Otsego County, N. Y., where he remained until the fall of 1884, when he came to Milford, Oakland County, Mich. He was there engaged in mercantile business five years with A.S. Arms, and the following five years, individually. Came to Vassar in 1853 and engaged in selling goods till 1858, when he was appointed deputy county clerk. At the end of two years’ service as deputy he was elected clerk, and held the office for three successive terms, until December 31, 1866. The following spring he was elected justice of the peace and has retained the office to the present time. In addition to his duties as justice of the peace Mr. Bourns does an insurance and real estate business, his sales of real estate in the county aggregate many thousands of acres. Was married in 1841 at Brighton, Livingston County, N. Y., to Miss Hannah M Andrews, a native of Rochester, N. Y. They have had five children, of whom three are living.
O. G. EMERSON is a native of Rutland County, Vt., and first came to Vassar in 1857, but did not come permanently till 1871. He first entered the employ of H. Harrington in the capacity of clerk in his store, and a year later purchased an interest and be came a partner, which relationship was continued till 1878, when Mr. Emerson became sole owner and proprietor through the purchase of Mr. Harrington’s interest, and has since continued the business, but in April, 1882, changed his location to his present quarters in the Opera Block. It might be added that Mr. Harrington came here in 1857 and established the business—that some years later he formed a partnership with a Mr. Leach, which was dissolved in 1866 by the withdrawal of Mr. Leach, and that Mr. Harrington continued the business individually until 1872, the year of forming a partnership with Mr. Emerson.
LEWIS C. DAVIS, M. D., is a native of Amsterdam, Montgomery County, N. Y., and first came to Michigan in 1848 and to Tuscola County in 1864, where he has since practiced his profession. He studied medicine in the University of Michigan and graduated from Medical College. Dr. Davis is a practitioner of the regular school and has built up an extensive and successful practice. In March 1882, he associated himself with Thomas Allen Cullis, M. D., who graduated from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, in March, 1879. Dr. Cullis is a Canadian by birth. After receiving his diploma he located in Millington and there commenced the practice of medicine.
CHAUNCEY FURMAN was born in Otsego County, N. Y., in 1811, and when twenty-three years of age came to Washtenaw County, Mich. He purchased a farm in the township of Augusta, where he resided several years, but afterward took up his residence in Ypsilanti and engaged in butchering. In 1850 he came to Vassar and has since been a resident of the county. After a period of twelve years spent in Vassar he moved on a farm he had purchased in Tuscola Township and there lived six years, when he returned to Vassar and commenced the erection of buildings on land he purchased, where now stands the Michigan Central Depot. He soon thereafter purchased his present residence, where he has since resided, excepting four years he spent on a farm in the township of Vassar. Mr. Furman kept the Vassar Hotel one years, carried the mail between Vassar and Bridgeport seven years, has been constable and highway commissioner, and was one to let the building of the first bridge at Vassar. He has been thrice married. His present wife was the widow Low, formerly Miss Mina Irons of Ypsilanti. Her brother, Chauncey Irons, came to Vassar the same year with Mr. T. North.
J. W. BRIGGS, jeweler, is a native of Canandaigua, Ontario County, N. Y., and has been a resident of Vassar since 1877 Established his business on Main Street, opposite his present quarters, January 2, 1878. Mrs. Briggs carries on a millinery and fancy goods department in the same store. Both are carrying a good stock and are receiving the patronage they merit. Mr. Briggs has an army record covering four years and two months. He enlisted at Rockford in the Seventy-fourth Illinois and reenlisted in the Third Michigan, in which he was color bearer. He was detailed to the detective service in New Orleans, but spent most of his time in Texas.
H. W. COFFEEN, of the firm of Salesbury of Coffeen brick and title manufacturers, is a native of Hammand, St. Lawrence County N. Y. His father Curtis Coffeen, established the business in 1878, and continued it until December, 1880, making the first machine brick manufactured in the county. In December, 1880, H. W. Coffeen purchased the business, and in the spring of 1882 admitted Edward Salesbury as a partner. They have since continued the business, and during the season of 1882 manufactured 1,500,000 brick and 100,000 tile. They have an inexhaustible bank of clay which produces pure white brick and tile. Employ form fifteen to twenty-five hands.
J. P. BLACKMORE, proprietor of the Jewell House, Vassar, is a native of London, Ont. He came to Lapeer County, Mich., in 1873, and for five months was in the employ of the Detroit & Bay City Railroad. In 1874 he had a timber contract with the F. & P. M. R. R., after which he returned to Canada and aided in the construction of the East Side. In company with his brother he purchased the Central House, which he conducted four years, when he sold his interest and engaged in livery business, which he traded for a farm in Tuscola, on which he resided for a time, and also in Juniata on a farm he owned there. He first purchased a one-half interest in the Jewel House and soon thereafter the remaining one-half, and has greatly improved the property both in building and refurnishing, making it one of the best hostelries in Tuscola County.
CHARLES CURTIS, the subject of this notice, was born in New York in 1820, and four years thereafter with his parents moved to Ohio, covering the distance with an ox team and wagon. His residence continued in Ohio for upward of thirty years, the last ten years in Willoughby, Lake Co., and in May, 1858, he came to Vassar, where he has since resided, and has been engaged in the boot and shoe business. Mr. Curtis was married in the spring of 1845, to Miss Eunice Cottrell, of Ohio, whose parents came from Massachusetts. They have had three children, the only survivor being Clayton C. Curtis, cashier of the Vassar Exchange Bank, who was born in Ohio, January 11, 1858, and came with his parents to Vassar the following May.
S. BLACKMORE, proprietor of the Central House, is a Canadian by birth, and first came to Tuscola County in 1872. For three years thereafter he was engaged in railroad bridge building in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Returning to Vassar in 1875 he has since kept hotel, and in connection has been running a livery and bus line. The Central House has been thoroughly refitted, and is doing a large business.
GEORGE ANDREWS, the subject of this notice, was born in Onondaga County, N. Y., in 1816, and there lived forty-four years. Coming to Tuscola County, Michigan, he purchased a farm in the township of Vassar, which he cleared up and on which he resided till the fall of 1882, when he moved into the village of Vassar where he expects to pass the remainder of his days. Mr. Andrews has been twice married; first to Miss Mary Cummings, of New Hampshire, and second to Miss Lydia Martin, of London, Ontario.
ASA WHITE, lumberman, was born at Fletcher, Franklin, County, Vt., in 1832. When about four years of age he moved with his parents to New York, and afterward to Richfield, Genesee County, Mich., in 1849. Mr. White was brought up a farmer and carpenter. In 1862 he came to Tuscola County, and settled in the township of Fremont. In November, 1864, he enlisted in the Fifteenth Michigan Infantry Volunteers. He has been in several prominent battles. At the close of the war he returned home. In 1870 he moved to Vassar and engaged in lumbering and real estate. He was married January 27, 1857, to Marinda Todd, of Genesee, Genesee County, Mich. They have lost four children, three girls, and have one daughter living.
JOHN L. MILLER was born in Oakland County, Mich., in 1835, and in 1840 came to Tuscola County with his parents, who settled in the township of Tuscola, his father purchasing 320 acres of land and clearing it up from what was then a dense wilderness, and in the early years of his settlement has shot deer from his door-step. Mr. Miller has experienced all the hardships of pioneer life, having had to live a week at a time on potatoes and salt, but now owns a fine farm in the township of Vassar, the result of his labors. He was married to Julia Whiteman, a native of New York, and has two children. On account of poor health he has given up farming and is now a resident of Vassar village. His father, who is eighty-eight years of age, is now living in Bay County.
JUSTIN WENTWORTH, the subject of this sketch, is a native e of Hope, Knox County, Me., and was born in 1835. he remained there until twenty-one years of age when he came to Vassar. From Detroit, in company with eight or ten others, he took the old stage route via Flint, Pine Run and Tuscola, stopping at the latter place over night, at a hotel then kept by Dr. Johnson. He first engaged with Merrill & Remick, lumbermen, on Goodwin Creek, and helped to clean out that water course on which they erected two dams. Samuel Sayres was the foreman. After four years service with Merrill & Remick he purchased a farm in the township of Watertown, and engaged in farming, where he remained four years, at the end of which time he removed to Vassar, and a year later purchased his present farm where he has since resided, with the exception of seven months spent in Minnesota. Mr. Wentworth, in connection with D. G. Slafter, Mr. Dacy and Mr. Watrous cleaned out White Creek and built a dam at its head. He has been largely identified with the lumbering interests of the county, and at present is lumbering on Rifle River, Muskegan River and on the Mackinaw Division of the Michigan Central Railroad.
WILLIAM DAVIS was born in Wales, England, in 1844, and came to the United States in 1867. He first settled in Grand Blanc, Genesee County, Mich., where he remained one year, when he moved to Watrousville, Tuscola County. He was married in 1870 to Mrs. Adeline Sturgis, in 1872 to Mrs. Susan Sturgis, and in 1876 to his present wife, Miss Ida E. Lovejoy, by whom he has had two daughters, Aneley and Laura Davies. His present farm of 100 acres is in the township of Vassar, one mile north of the flourishing village of Vassar. Mr. Davies is one of the enterprising farmers of this section, and has one of the best cultivated farms. He is also engaged quite extensively in buying, selling and raising fine horses cattle and hogs.
JOSHUA D. SMITH, one of the pioneers of Tuscola County, died at his residence in Vassar, May 18, 1883. Mr. Smith was born at Sackett’s Harbor, N.Y., February 28, 1821. When four years of age his parents settled in Michigan. About fifty-eight years of his life were of a pioneer character, he having resided in Troy, Farmington, Saginaw and Vassar, when each was new. His last thirty years were spent in Vassar, occupied in locating land, farming, manufacturing, etc. He was twice married; first to Miss Emeline Williams and next to Miss Elizabeth A Gleason, who remains his widow. Mr. Smith was active in promoting the growth of this new region, and was always an honored citizen. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church for twenty-five years, and an elder for nineteen years.