This town belongs to the west tier of townships in the county, and is bounded on the north by Denmark and Vassar, east by Vassar, south by Arbela and west by the county line.

     The Cass River extends through the township in a southwesterly direction.  The southern portion of the township is also drained by two small creeks which empty into the Cass.

     The surface of the township is generally undulating and in some portions quite broken.

     There is considerable poor land in the township, but some portions are exceptionally fine and these are covered with rich and beautiful farms that are not surpassed in the West.  One of the best of these is that of Lovira Hart, a little distance from Tuscola village.  Nearly half a century ago Mr. Hart settled upon this land then covered as was all of Tuscola County with wilderness.  Though now an old man he still lives to look upon the results of his labors, in fields as rich and beautiful as ever delighted the eye of an agriculturist.  In the same vicinity are many others rich in soil and attractive in appearance.



     The town of Tuscola was organized under an act of legislature passed in the winter of 1840 and comprised the territory of Tuscola County which was at the same time set off from Sanilac County, but was not organized until ten years later.  The territory is described in the civil history of the county.

     The records state that the first town meeting was appointed at the house of E. W. Perry, on Cass River, but not being held on the day specified, it was called on the 15th day of April, 1840, by a notice of Dennis Harrison, John Murray and E. W. Perry.  In pursuance of this notice the meeting was held the Dennis Harrison chosen moderator, Martin L. Miller clerk, and Lovira Hart and E. W. Perry, inspectors.  The number of voters was twelve.  Dennis Harrison was elected supervisor, treasurer and highway commissioner; Martin L. Miller was elected clerk and school inspector; Lovira Hart was elected highway commissioner, justice of the peace and assessor; Ebenezer W. Davis was elected highway commissioner, justice and assessor; Cornelius B. Leonard, school inspector; Samuel H. Downs, constable and collector, and John Miller and Jarvis Freeman, directors of the poor.

     The names of the voters were as follow:  Lovira Hart, E. W. Perry, Dennis Harrison, S. H. Downs, Martin L. Miller, C. B. Leonard, J. Murray, Ebenezer Davis, J. Freeman, Edwin Ellis, John Miller and J. H. Davis.

     The general election in the fall of 1840 is mentioned in the early history of the county.

     At the annual meeting in 1843 twenty-six votes were cast.  The whole number cast at the general election in 1880 was two hundred and eighty-three, of which one hundred and eighty were Republican, ninety-one Democratic and twelve Green back.


     Tuscola is the mother of all the towns in Tuscola County, and with respect to age outranks the county by ten years.

     Turning backward to December, 1835, we find Michigan just entering the sisterhood of States.  Saginaw City was but a ragged speck, and only a few Indian traders occupied the site of Bay City.  The territory now included in Tuscola County formed a part of Sanilac County, and the shadow of dense forest was upon all this area.  The opening chapter of Tuscola’s history begins at the time above mentioned.  Back of that time are no oracles except the section posts and lines, and the grave mounds of the Indians.  The latter are scattered all along the Cass River, and in some places are very numerous.  This once formed a part of the favorite hunting grounds of the Chippewas, and the plow of the husbandman has oftimes upturned evidences of sanguinary conflict.



SECTION 1       Abram Warren, October 3, 1849
                        Leonard C. Mills, October, 1849
                        Cumming & Carson, November 23, 1850
                        Ebenezer Morse, May 2, 1850
                        Wing R. Bartlett, November 10, 1852

SECTION 2       Louis Hundermark, August 15, 1851
                        E. Van Valkenburgh, April 30, 1852
                        Jacob Wyckoff, May 30, 1852
                        Jerusha S. White, September 1, 1854
                        Edward W. White, April 8, 1854
                        James M. Foster, September 20, 1854
                        Uzziel Burnett, September 20, 1854.

SECTION 3       George O. Vail, August 31, 1853
                        George O. Vail, October 7, 1853
                        Charles H. Abbott, September 4, 1851
                        George O. Vail, September 28, 1852
                        Alfred M. Hoyt, February 13, 1850George

SECTION 4       George O. Vail, October 7, 1853
                        William Wilson, Jr., March 18, 1851 
                        Seivers & Crimer, March 15, 1849
                        John H. Griscom, November 28, 1849
                        John H. Griscom, January 30, 1850

SECTION 5       Seivers & Crimer, March 15, 1849
                        Leopold Helbronner, November 26, 1849
                        John H. Griscom, November 26, 1849
                        Darwin A. Pettibone and David G. Slafter, July 11, 1856.

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SECTION 6       George F. Van Fleet, November 26, 1849.
                        Charles P. Degrick, November 26, 1849
                        Charles Thayer, December 29, 1849
                        Charles H. Abbott, December 16, 1851

SECTION 7       James Hirst, April 16, 1855
                        George F. Van Fleet, November 26, 1849
                        Charles P. Degrick, November 26, 1849
                        Salmon C. Hall, November 20, 1849

SECTION 8       William Wilson, Jr., June 10, 1851
                        George F. Van Fleet, November 26, 1849
                        Leopold Helbronner, November 26, 1849
                        John H. Griscom, November 26, 1849
                        Nahum N. Wilson,  June 23, 1853

SECTION 9       Albert Collins, June 7, 1837
                        Alfred M. Hoyt, January 30, 1850
                        Alfred M. Hoyt, February 13, 1850
                        Charles Thayer, December 28, 1849

SECTION 10     Alfred M. Hoyt, January 30, 1850

SECTION 11     Lucius Preston, November 26, 1850
                        Albert C. Smith, January 1, 1851
                        Nathan Smith, May 7, 1852
                        Horace Hews, March 13, 1853
                        Jabez Fairbanks, July 30, 1851
                        Nathan Smith, October 21, 1853
                        George W. Wyckoff, November 28, 1854
                        Henry Bartlett, November 30, 1854

SECTION 12     Paschal Richardson, November 2, 1848
                        Paschal Richardson, October 18, 1850
                        Cumming & Carson, November 23, 1850
                        Albert C. Smith, December 13, 1850

SECTION 13     Douglass Houghton, April 26, 1836
                        Reuben A. Miller, February 12, 1853
                        John G. Briter, December 1, 1854

SECTION 14     C. H. & W. T. Carroll, June 28, 1836
                        Joshua D. Smith, April 3, 1850
                        Silvester Black, July 17, 1850
                        Silvester Black, May 5, 1851
                        Mehitable Black, May 5, 1851
                        George W. Wyckoff, November 28, 1854
                        Henry Bartlett, November 30, 1854

SECTION 15     C. H. W. T. Carroll, June 28, 1856
                        Alfred M. Hoyton, January 30, 1850

SECTION 16     John H. Richardson, January 16, 1865
                        Peter Raymer, February 8, 1866
                        David G. Slafter, March 26, 1866
                        Thomas Lewis, May 1, 1869.
                        J. B. Taylor, May 1, 1869
                        Seth Coats, May 1, 1869
                        John Miller, October 25, 1854
                        A. C. Chapman, November 23, 1854
                        E. M. Slafter, March 13, 1855
                        E. M. Slafter, April 4, 1855
                        Alfred J. Waters, July 26, 1855

SECTION 17     Daniel Miller, October 11, 1836
                        George F. Van Fleet, November 26, 1849
                        Leopold Helbronner, November 26, 1849
                        John H. Griscom, November 26, 1849

SECTION 18     John L. Ray, May 5, 1854
Jonathan G. Hunter, June 17, 1854
James Carey, September 13, 1854
James Lacy, September 13, 1854
Robert Carey, September 13, 1854
John L. Rae, April 16, 1855
James Hirst, April 16, 1855
George F. Van Fleet, November 26, 1849     

SECTION 19     Dennison Spooner, December 2, 1850
George S. Devose, February 1, 1851
Jonathan Taylor, January 4, 1854
Silas S. Lee, April 17, 1854
Jonathan Taylor, June 16, 1854
Jonathan Taylor, September 2, 1854
Amos Chaffee, July 5, 1836

SECTION 20     Lyman Abbey, June 2, 1836

SECTION 21     Amos Chaffee, July 5, 1836
Samuel Vance, October 11, 1836
Simon Scott, Jr., October 11, 1836
Kneeland Townsend, March 10, 1837

SECTION 22     Abel Millington, October 20, 1835
Seth C. Huston, June 22, 1836
Robert A. Quartermass, January 31, 1837
Cumming & Carson, November 23, 1850
Reuben A. Miller, March 11, 1851
Lucius Preston September 16, 1851
Lucius Preston, September 22, 1852
Adoniram J. Slafter, January 9, 1855

SECTION 23     Douglass Houghton, April 26, 1836
Seth C. Huston, June 22, 1836
Reuben A. Miller, February 12, 1853
Reuben A. Miller, August 26, 1853
Marshall S. Samson, November 28, 1854

SECTION 24     Douglass Houghton, April 26, 1836
Isaac Miller, March 11, 1851
Henry Engel, June 14, 1851
Isaac Roe, January 29, 1852
William Dalley, January 29, 1852
James Cooper, January 29, 1852
Silas Fox, January 29, 1852
Isaac Miller, August 15, 1853
William Ellsworth, December 12, 1853
Reuben Miller, November 7, 1854
Milo Curtis, December 1, 1854

SECTION 25     David A. Pettibone and David G. Slafter, July 11, 1856
L. G. Andrews and J. Langdon, February 12, 1851
L. G. Andrews and J. Langdon, February 27, 1851
Oliver P. Toby, March 18, 1851
Nahum N. Wilson, March 18, 1851
Oliver H. P. Green, August 25, 1851
Darvin A. Pettibone, February 10, 1857
Jeremiah Devoe, March 27, 1852
Zephaniah Shaw, November 28, 1854

SECTION 26     Jairus Kibbe, June 22, 1836
Kellogg Sexton, June 22, 1836
Seth C. Huston, June 22, 1836
Volney Curtis, December 1, 1852
James W. Shuler, November 28, 1854

SECTION 27     Abel Millington, October 20, 1835
Seth C. Huston, June 22, 1836

SECTION 28     Abel Millington, October 20, 1835
Peter  A. McCowdrey, October 24, 1835
Dennis Harrison, October 30, 1835
Robert Leonard Hurd, March 24, 1836
Asahel Newcomb, May 21, 1836
Charles A. Bogart, July 9, 1836

SECTION 29     Dennis Harrison, October 30, 1835
Daniel H. Haynes, December 29, 1835
Martin S. Miller, December 29, 1835
Martin S. Miller, February 1, 1836
Stephen I. Miller, July 5, 1836
Amos Chaffee, July 5, 1836

SECTION 30     Russell G. Hurd, April 5, 1836
Ebenezer Davis, May 21, 1836
James H. Davis, November 10,1843
Silas Bliss, September 1, 1845
Silas Lee, September 1, 1845
Silas Bliss, October 29, 1846
John A. Randle, October 19, 1850
Silas L. Lee, September 9, 1848

SECTION 31     Douglass Houghton, April 26, 1836
Joshua Davis, March 10, 1837
James Fraser and Sidney Campbell, March 13, 1837

SECTION 32     Asahel Colt, October 30, 1835
Daniel H. Haynes, December 29, 1835
Douglass Houghton, April 26, 1836
William Miller, July 9, 1836
William Miller, July 15, 1836
Carlton Bartlett, July 15, 1836
John Curry, February 3, 1853
Richard B. Chapin, November 4, 1854

SECTION 33     Dennis Harrison, October 30, 1835
Samuel H. Downs, May 21, 1836
Alfred Tivy, July 9, 1836
Charles A. Bogart, July 9, 1836
Levi Bond, October 28, 1836
Asahel Newcomb, Jr,. October 28, 1836

SECTION 34     Alfred Tivy, July 9, 1836
Luther Dickinson, September 24, 1836
Alonzo W. Davis, September 2, 1851
James Wean, October 13, 1851
James D. Camp, November 1, 1851
Jacob Hauser, September 15, 1851
Daniel F. Brown, September 15, 1851

SECTION 35     Noah Graves, June 22, 1836
Asahel Newcomb, October 27, 1836
Owen Pierce, June 17, 1851
John B. Smith, October 30, 1851
Owen Pierce, November 10, 1852
Alonzo W. Davis, December 27, 1852
John Curry, November 28, 1853
John Hooper, October 10, 1848
William Hooper, October 10, 1848
Jarvis Freeman, November 25, 1854

SECTION 36     Edwin Ellis, October 27, 1836
Daniel Ellis, October 27, 1836
Asahel Newcomb October 28, 1836
Daniel Libbey, October 28, 1836
Daniel D. Dewey, November 10, 1852
Zephaniah Shaw, August 7, 1854
Chauncey Lewis, December 5, 1854

EARLY HISTORY                                                                                                                                                  

    The first purchase of land in Tuscola County, for the purpose of immediate improvement , was made by Dennis Harrison, of Lewiston, New York, in October, 1835.    A company, consisting of R. S. Hurd, E. W. Perry, and Dennis Harrison, of Lewiston, New York, was organized for the purpose of pioneering. The articles of co-partnership are dated November 17, 1835, and state that each partner contributed the sum of four hundred and fifty dollars to the capital stock.  This amount was subsequently increased.

     December 14th, following R. S. Hurd, accompanied by Edwin Ellis and Charles Hayes, arrived at the Cass River, having made the journey with an ox team and lumber wagon.

    In an old account book, kept by Mr. Perry, is an entry of “tavern expenses of Edwin Ellis and oxen to Tuscola, $36.88.”  In the same book is a statement that Mr. Perry left Lewiston for Tuscola, November 24, 1835.  He remained, however, but a short time, when he returned to Lewiston, and did not come back until the following year.  He was back and forth several times, and settled here permanently, late in 1837.

     Upon arriving at the Cass River, the party made a shelter of boughs, which was their habitation until a log house could be built.  Mrs. R. S. Hurd was the first white woman that come into the county anticipating a permanent home.  Her husband and herself became disheartened and returned home the following year.

     Mr. Hayes afterward went to sea, and all trace of him has been lost.  Mr. Ellis went away in 1837, but returned about two years later and settled permanently.

     When Messrs. Hurd, Ellis and Hayes arrived here the country was then covered with a forest which they immediately attacked with their axes, and in a short time had made considerable of a clearing.  There were plenty of Indians then who roamed over the country in undisturbed freedom, and but little less wild than the wolves whose howlings made the welkin nightly ring, yet they were civil and peaceable and never made the citizens trouble.  The three lived while getting out timber for a saw-mill.  They also cleared up the land in the little “chopping” they had made, and planted it with corn, potatoes and other vegetables.  While these were growing they were obliged to go to Saginaw City for their provisions, bringing them back in little canoes, which often took them several days.  During the night they were obliged to camp out on the banks of Cass River, but between the howlings of the wolves and the depredations of the mosquitoes they obtained but little rest.  The wolves were very numerous and ravenous, as may be seen from the following incidents:  During the winter of 1835 as Mr. Charles Hayes was returning home from Bridgeport, toward evening, he was pursued by a pack of howling wolves.  He was all alone and unarmed, and his condition was a fearful one, as his bloodthirsty foes were rapidly approaching.  To attempt to escape by running would be folly, so he took to a tree, and had but just time to reach a high limb, when they appeared at the foot of the tree, no doubt much disappointed in not obtaining a warm meal.  He remained in the tree until the enemy retreated, when he descended and made for home.

     Upon another occasion as Mr. Hayes was on his way from Bridgeport he got lost, and having a piece of pork with him, the smell of it attracted the attention of wolves.  For three days he wandered about at the mercy of these animals, and the no less bloodthirsty mosquitoes, when he at last succeeded in reaching his home.

     Such incidents as the above were not of infrequent occurrence in this section, at the time of which we write, yet the hardy pioneers were not to be intimidated and to-day the country is reaping where these men sowed.

     In December, 1835,  Martin L. Miller came to locate land, and went away again, but subsequently returned, and became a resident. 

       In 1836 and 1837 came with their families, Ebenezer Davis, Thomas Cavil, Dennis Harrison, Nathaiel Moss, Lovira Hart, Jarvis Freeman, John Miller, Samuel H Downs, Calvin Lee, Alfred

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Tivy, with perhaps a few others, the rank and file of the early pioneers.


     Local tradition awards to Edwin Ellis the honor of being the first settler In Tuscola.  This honor is of too doubtful importance to warrant any controversy, and yet if the distinction is worthy of any consideration, it is deserving of accuracy.  If the title to the honor of being the first permanent settler in this county is closely analyzed it will be found to belong to the late Ebenezer Davis.   Mr. Ellis came, as already stated, in December, 1835, and remained until the summer of 1837, when he went to Saginaw and did not again take up his residence in Tuscola until 1840.

     Ebenezer Davis and family arrived in Tuscola in June, 1836, and remained here until his death.  About the time of Mr. Davis’ arrival the people who were here left, and during the following three months Mr. Davis’ family were the only white people in the county.  Mr. James H. Davis, a son of Ebenezer Davis, who came with his parents, is still a resident of Tuscola.  We give herewith short biographical sketches of these men, as follows:

     Ebenezer Davis departed this life, at his residence in Tuscola, March 13, 1880.  Mr. Davis was born November 6, 1797.  He settled in Tuscola, in June, 1836, his family at that time comprised his wife and eleven children.  He was the first postmaster in the county, and his son James H. Davis, was the first mail carrier, the route being from Bridgeport to Tuscola.  Mr. Davis was largely instrumental in getting this county detached from Lapeer County and attached to Saginaw County for judicial and representative purposes.  Mr. Davis spent more than half his days in the town of Tuscola.  Mrs. Phoebe M. Davis, his wife, who died in May, 1871.  She was born in the 1800.

    James H. Davis, son of Ebenezer Davis, was born in Westerlo, Albany County, N. Y., in 1817, and in 1836, with his parents, moved to Niagara County, where they remained until June, 1836, when they came to Tuscola.  The family consisted of father, mother and eleven children.  Mr. Davis had the first contract for carrying the mail from Bridgeport to his father’s house, one and one-fourth mile west of Tuscola, his father being the postmaster, and the first one in the county.  Dennis Harrison at Tuscola village, succeeded him as postmaster, and removed the office there and when the route was continued to Vassar, three months later Mr. Davis resigned, and Chancey Firman succeeded him as carrier.  His present place, on section 30, was purchased of the government in 1836, and he has since resided there.

     Edwin Ellis, deceased, was born in Vermont, in 1811.  From Vermont he went to New York, and in 1835 to Tuscola County, being one of the first comers to this county.  He felled the first tree on the north line of the section 33, in the town of Tuscola.

    In the summer of 1837 Mr. Ellis went to Saginaw, and did not again take up his residence in Tuscola County until 1840, when he settled on the farm where his widow now lives.  In 1844 he married his second wife, Miss Mary Hunter, a native of Vermont, who moved from that State to Ohio, and came to this county in 1811, from Pine Run, Genesee County, where she had resided eight or nine years.

     Mr. Ellis at on time was so hard pressed for provisions that three men dined off one pigeon, which was warmed up for a stranger.

     Mr. Ellis and Ebenezer Davis went down to Saginaw after supplies, and on coming back the canoe was tipped over, and the bag of flour dropped into the river.  It was rescued, dried and the bag scraped.  In coming through to Tuscola County from the East, Mr. Ellis drove an ox team across Canada.


     Mr. Dennis Harrison had visited the Cass River region for the purpose of learning something of the country and had been persuaded by Saginaw men that a fortune could be made at lumbering. It was therefore the main object of the company formed at Lewiston to build a mill and engage in lumbering.  The time between December, 1835, and the summer of 1836, was spent in chopping and getting ready, and late in 1836 the mill was finished.  It was located on Perry Creek a short distance from the Cass River and was the first saw-mill in Tuscola County.  After operating it a short time it was purchased by Mr. Perry. Some portion of this mill is still standing upon its original site.


     Dennis Harrison died at his home in the village of Tuscola, September 4, 1880, in the eighty-seventh year of his age.  Mr. Harrison was a native of Connecticut and of Scotch descent.  He married Sarah M. Van Kleeck, of Rensselaerville, N. Y., in the year 1818.  About this time they settled at Lewiston, N. Y., where they resided until removing to Tuscola County.  In September, 1837, Mr. Harrison became an actual resident of Tuscola where he lived until the time of his death.  He was a man of strong constitution and maintained his vigor in a remarkable degree until a few days before his death.    He was a man of great will-power and his life was exemplary in every respect.  The children at the time of his death were: Sarah, wife of Nelson Hurd; John V.; William H.; Electus B., who died in 1881; Daniel W., and Elizabeth, wife of Dr. William Johnson, of Vassar.  Mary Adaline, youngest daughter died.

William H. Harrison was born at Lewiston, N. Y., September 1, 1823.  With the exception of about four years he lived at home and in 1837 emigrated to Tuscola with his parents.  At the age of twenty years his father gave him his time and he engaged in making shingles at Pine Run and afterward worked at a job on the road.  He then went to Lewiston, N. Y., and attended the academy at that place.  Afterward he attended school at Romeo, Mich.  He then returned to Tuscola and lived at home one season, working at shingle-making a part of the time.  The following winter he taught school at Pine Run.   May 11, 1848, he married Miss Harriet N. Miller at Lewiston N. Y.  The two years following he had charge of his father’s farm, and then began the mercantile business in a small way, as related elsewhere, being the first to engage in that business in Tuscola.  He continued the mercantile business until 1878 when he retired from active business and was succeeded by his son, John F. H. Harrison.  They have four children living: John F. H., the merchant; Benjamin D., a druggist at Sand Beach; Mattie A., and Cora, both of whom are married and living in Dakota.  Mr. Harrison entered openly upon Christian work and living about the year 1854, and since that time has been a devoted student of the Bible and zealously engaged in religious work.  About the year 1879 he was licensed to preach, and in 1883 is building a chapel for religious worship in the town of Arbela.  This he is doing at his own expense, and it is his practice to preach every Sabbath, which is a gratuitous service.  His religious creed is of the broad and liberal kind and his chapel is to be dedicated to non-sectarian worship.  Mr. Harrison is a man of great benevolence and endeavors to employ his time and means in ways that will benefit the world.  He has large real estate interests which occupy a portion of his attention.  Portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison and views of his property are given in this work.

     D. W. HARRISON, is a native of Niagara County, N. Y., where he was born in 1827.  Came to Tuscola in 1837 with his parents and has occupied his farm in section 28 since 1854.  In company

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with his brother, William H., he built a saw-mill at Tuscola, which was completed December 4, 1868, and was engaged in the lumber business for a number of years, but finally sold his interest to his brother, William H.  Mr. Harrison succeeded himself as township treasurer at the last election and received the unanimous vote of both parties.  He was married June 7, 1854, to Miss Emeline Hopkins, who came to Tuscola with her father from Allegany County, N. Y., September 29, 1850.  They have three children- Horace E., Merta A. and Libbie M.

     Mrs. Harrison taught the Tuscola school in 1850, which was then the only school in the county, but the following year a school house was built in Vassar, in which Augusta M. Slafter taught the first school.

     John V. Harrison was born in Niagara County, N. Y., October 24, 1821, and lived there until 1837, when, in company with his parents, he came to Tuscola and in 1843 commenced work on his present farm which lies opposite the Tuscola sash and blind factory, which at one time (the land) belonged to and was a part of the farm.  The farm was purchased by his father, Dennis Harrison, in 1836.

     Mr. Harrison was in the employ of William H. Harrison in the capacity of clerk for eighteen years.  In 1869 he and Sylvester Detriech engaged in mercantile business at Tuscola, which they continued two years.  He was married in 1846 to Jerusha Ann Lee, a native of Niagara County, N. Y., and they have three sons.  Her father was Calvin Lee, who came to Tuscola from Lewiston, Niagara Co., N. Y., in 1842.  Mrs. Harrison taught the second school in the county and her brother Silas was the first married.  In the early time when provisions were not procured with the same ease as at present, Mr. Harrison and his brother, William H., brought a barrel of flour from Pine Run on a hand sled and at other ties had to go to Fentonville with an ox team to mill.

     The Harrisons were a pioneer family in every sense.  When they arrived here in the fall of 1837, there were two log houses in the vicinity of what is now Tuscola village.   Mrs. Dennis Harrison and one child came about four weeks after the others and were brought from Pine Run on an ox sled.  They lived in a log house next to the mill about a year and then moved into a log house which Mr. Harrison had built.  About 1846 they moved into a frame house still standing on the corner of Saginaw and Bridge Streets.  When they moved in their household goods were transported from Bridgeport up the river in a canoe.

     At one time the supply of provisions was nearly exhausted and there were many mouths to feed.  Something must be done to replenish the larder.  It was winter and Mr. Harrison constructed a sled to which William and John wee harnessed, and they went to Mount Morris, a distance of twelve miles, loaded on a cargo of flour and pork, which they drew home, arriving just in time to furnish material for a meal shortly due.  When the first school-house was built they brought the nails and glass on their backs from Pine Run, a distance of about twelve miles.  The load for each was about fifty pounds.

     About the time they settled here pork cost forty dollars per barrel in Detroit, lard twenty dollars per hundred pounds, and salt ten dollars per barrel.  The latter item shows that the salt and potato diet of early days was not as inexpensive as would appear to people who are in the habit of paying ninety cents per barrel for salt.

     The first cow purchased by the Harrisons was in 1839.  They needed a cow, but had no money with which to make the purchase.  It occurred to William that by catching wolves he might get bounty money enough to pay for a cow.  He set his traps, secured the wolf scalps, and with a lunch and twenty-five cent in money started for Lapeer in company with a brother to draw the bounty.  He got an order for twenty dollars, which he discounted four dollars in order to get the money.  Before he found a cow he had spent a dollar, and the price of the cow was seventeen dollars.  While studying out a way to bridge the chasm he picked up a two dollar bill from the ground, and the cow was bought.


     Lovira Hart is one of the veritable pioneers of Tuscola County and is well deserving of a notice in this work.  He came to Tuscola in 1836 and settled on sections 20 and 29, where he has transformed by pis perseverance and industry into well tilled fields which provide all the creature comforts and well tilled fields which provide all the creature comforts and well repay him for the years of unceasing labor he spent in developing and improving this now productive soil.  For some time after his arrival in the county his nearest postoffice was Bridgeport and trading points were Saginaw and Flint, and he experienced many of the trials and hardships incident to pioneer life.  He has filled many of the township offices and is now the president of the County Pioneer Society.  He has in his possession a remarkable curiosity, or it might be termed a reminiscence of his pioneer experience, which is interesting and worthy of notice.  Late in the Fall of 1838 his brother, Orlando Hart, of Mt. Morris, Livingston county, N. Y., came to make him a visit, bringing with him a wolf trap of his own make, thinking it would be of use in the wilderness of Tuscola.  During the two following winters Mr. Hart and Eben Morse, a young man living with him, caught several wolves with it; but in the spring of 1841 the trap disappeared from near the stake between sections 20 and 29 and was not again heard from until the winter of 1878-79, when a Mr. Thompson, while cutting wood on Chris. Hughes’ farm in Genesee county, felled a beech tree, in the top of which he found a steel trap.  He cut out a section of the timber to which the trap was attached and carried it to Mt. Morris, where Orlando Hart, the maker, saw and recognized it.  The trap was afterward taken to Flint, Mich., and sold to a Mr. Crocker, who intended to place it on exhibition in the Crystal Palace, London, but was finally persuaded to sell it to Lovira Hart, who has since retained it.  Whatever animal it was that carried it must have ascended the tree thirty-five or thirty-six feet high, passed through a crotch or fork and around the body, and being unable to extricate itself perished.  There is a small tuft of fur in the jaws of the trap supposed to be from a lynx or wild cat.  There is now a solid ridge of wood over the chain, which, by cutting a mortise, discloses thirty-six courses of wood.

     Mr. Hart has been connected with most of the important events of the county, and was one of the most active of the pioneers. He lives yet upon the land he first cleared and has one of the finest farms in the county, a view of which is given in the work.

     There are few men living in the county who have had a greater variety of pioneer experience than Mr. Hart.  The first wheat that he raised was threshed with a flail.  The crop amounted to 150 bushels.  He took it to Pontiac and sold it for fifty cents a bushel in order to get money which he was obliged to realize.

     Going to mill was one of the hardships of those days, and sometimes it was necessary to make a journey to Flushing.  Arriving there it would sometimes be impossible to get hotel accommodations, and wrapping himself in a blanket he would lie all night under his wagon.  Other incidents are mentioned in other connections.

     Mr. Hart is president of the Pioneer Society and takes a lively interest in it welfare.

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     The first permanent settler was Ebenezer Davis, who arrived in June 1836.

     The first birth was that of Ellen, daughter of Ebenezer Daivs.

     The first death, that of Adaline, daughter of Dennis Harrison.

     The first marriage, Sarah, daughter of Dennis Harrison, to Nelson Hurd, of Pine Run.  The ceremony was solemnized by Lovira Hart, Esq.

     The first school was taught by R. L Hurd.  The first school district was organized in 1839.  To effect this Lovira Hart walked to Lapeer and back, a distance of about seventy miles, following an Indian trail.  The first school-house was built that year by Dennis Harrison, and a school taught by Jerusha Harrison, then Lee.  The old school-house is still standing on the bank of the river at the lower end of the village.

     The first sermon was preached at the house of Dennis Harrison in 1839, by Rev. Mr. Whitwan, an Englishman and a brick mason by trade.  He traveled on foot and always carried a gun.

     The first physician in the county who regularly attended upon a patient was Dr. Fish, of Flint.  The first resident physician in Tuscola was Dr. Wm. Johnson, now of Vassar.

The first lawsuit was tried before Lovira Hart.

The first grist-mill in the county was built about 1841 on Perry Creek by Alfred Holmes.

The first fanning-mills were brought from the State of New York by Lovira Hart, about the year 1840.  They were brought from Bridgeport in skiff, one at a time.

     The first postmaster was Ebenezer Davis and his son James H. Davis was the first mail carrier, the route being from Bridgeport to Tuscola.  This was in 1846 or 1847.

The first frame dwelling was erected by R. C. Ripley in the year 1842, and is still standing.

The first tannery was built by R. C. Ripley, in 1842’-43, where the woolen-mill now stands in the village of Tuscola.  He also built the first saw-mill on Cass River.

The first frame barn in the county was built in the year 1840, by Dennis Harrison, and is now the property of William Harrison, in the village of Tuscola.

 The only citizens of Tuscola who went to Lapeer to vote were Lovira Hart, Dennis Harrison, E. W. Perry and S. H. Downs.

The first mail ever brought into the county was in December, 1835.  Edwin Ellis, R. L. Hurd and Charles Hayes had just arrived, and Martin L. Miller had come out to look at land.  They wanted their mail, and Mr. Miller said that if they would furnish him a pair of skates, he would go to Saginaw and bring it.  They got the skates and Mr. Miller made the journey on the ice, and brought up the desired letters.

From a memorandum in E. W. Perry’s old account book, it would seem that Charles Hayes was the first tailor in the county.  The memorandum, made in 836, reads as follows:  “Charles Hayes lost one day, while making his pantaloons.”


     The first event which had a bearing upon the future destiny of Tuscola County was the clearing of the Cass River, thereby opening its channel for the logging operations of subsequent years.  The flood-wood in the river had collected into five formidable dams, which completely obstructed passage.  The early settlers were subjected to great hardship on account of these, as at each one the canoe would have to be unloaded, and both canoe and cargo transported over the flood-wood.  These obstructions had been increasing in magnitude for years, and perhaps centuries.  The legislature of the State had offered to pay the sum of $1,000 for clearing the river, but no one would undertake it.  After Mr. E. W. Perry purchased the interests of his partners in the saw-mill, he determined to open a channel to float his lumber down the river.  Considering the extent of his means, it was a gigantic undertaking, but about the year 1839, he succeeded in clearing the channel of the river, having expended about $1,500.  The importance of this enterprise has never been fully realized.  In pine regions lumbering always precedes agriculture.  The Cass River was skirted with the finest cork pine in the world, and, until it was lumbered, there would be no general progress in agriculture.  There could be no lumbering until the obstructions in the Cass River were removed.  In doing this, Mr. Perry achieved the first great triumph for progress in agriculture.  There could be no lumbering until the obstructions in the Cass River were removed.  In doing this, Mr. Perry achieved the first great triumph for progress in the county, and made it possible for North & Edmunds, to inaugurate an era of general development ten years later.  Mr. Perry never received but a small portion of the amount he expended in this enterprise.  It has, however, connected his name with the growth and prosperity of the county.

Ebenezer W. Perry was born in Smithfield, Chenango County, N.Y., and was a carpenter by trade.  The facts of his partnership in the company that made the first opening in Tuscola County, have already been mentioned.  He lived in Tuscola until 1867 and then removed to Saginaw, where he remained three years, and then came back to Tuscola and stayed two years.  Returning to Saginaw he remained a short time, when he again took up his residence in Tuscola, where he died, April 1, 1875. He was about sixty-eight years of age at the time of his death.  He was twice married and left a wife and seven children, three of whom now live in Tuscola.

     The first permanent bride across the river at Tuscola, was built mainly by his energy and enterprise.  In many ways he rendered service to this region of country that should not be undervalued.


     The period between the years of 1837 and 1848 was a silent one.  The ten or eleven families who had settled in Tuscola were the sole inhabitants of the county.  This period began in the time of “wild cat money” and continued through the demoralization and prostration.  In 1848 the Richardsons came, followed soon by the Slafters; the operations of North & Edmunds, at Vassar, started the tide of immigration, and an epoch of general development began.