Michigan Pioneer and Historical  Collection

Vol. 2 1878


Tuscola County



The Pioneer Reunion---A Gathering of Two Thousand People to Revive the Memories of the Early History of Tuscola County.


     The fifth annual meeting of the Tuscola County pioneer Society, which was held at Wahjamega on Thursday, the 15, was one which may be termed the greatest success the society has yet achieved.  The morning dawned bright and clear, indicating a more favorable day for the occasion than it has been the good fortune of the society to appoint for some time.  Arrangements had been previously made with the railroad company to provide a special train for the occasion, which was a luxury not even dreamed of by those who wended their way through the rain to the same grounds last year.  The four special cars were nearly filled on leaving Vassar, and on taking up the Watrousville delegation were crowded to the utmost.   The ride was a short one, and in less than an hour we arrived at the grounds at Wahjamega, where a large number were already assembled.  The grounds are the finest by far that have ever been arranged, Mr. Heartt having spared neither trouble nor expense walking distance of the depot, and had been thoroughly underbrushed and provided with ample table room for each township, a speaker’s stand, two music stands, one on either side, and all tastefully decorated with evergreens and flowers, prominent among which was the word “Welcome,” in large letters in the center.  Noticeable among the many conveniences was a well of good water, in which one of T. Clyne’s chain pumps made itself useful.

     Certainly the pioneer society are under great obligations to Mr. Heartt for the hospitable way in which they were entertained, and there would doubtless have been a hearty demonstration of their appreciation if the approaching storm had not caused the meeting to adjourn so abruptly.

                             THE EXERCISES,

Many interesting features of which we can only note briefly, were as follows:

     Calling to order by the president.

     Singing of a beautiful anthem by the Caro glee club, which was duly appreciated by all and especially the singing of Mrs. West. Prayer by Rev. I. J. B. McKinney.

     Music by the Clio band.

     Reading minutes of the last meeting by the secretary.

     Dinner was the next subject under consideration.  In the disposal of such business as this we don’t know as the pioneers are any more proficient than the multitudes of hungry humanity; but certain it is that they went at it with a vim, and diving into their well-filled baskets they soon produced upon the tables such a quantity of tempting eatables as

                   Twere worth two days of hungry life, One glance at their array.”

     The tables were arranged under the direction of Tiffany Nettleton and lady, who deserve much of the credit for the taste that was shown and the order which prevailed.

     Music by the glee club.

     An admirable paper by Rev. J.O. Bancroft on the “Development of the Religious Interests of the County.”

     Brief remarks by Hon. T. North, Rev. S.N. Hill and Rev. I.J.B. McKinney.

     Music by the glee club and band.

     Opening address by Hon. W.R. Bartlett.  Among other things he held up to view one of the first copies of the “Pioneer,” at that time modest in size, but a living witness to the enterprise and pluck of its founder, Mr. Bartlett, in starting and prepetuatingit through the difficulties he had to encounter at that early day.  He said that as he took the same sheet in his hand, fresh from the press, nearly twenty-one years ago, he little dreamed that it would ever become of age, and paid a handsome compliment to those who have succeeded him in the work.

     Dr. Wm. Johnson then read the following eloquent address:

     PIONEERS AND FRIENDS-Right glad am I to meet so many of you this morning, and extend to you the right hand of fellowship.  It affords me, and I have no doubt all of you, the greatest pleasure to mee the old settlers once more in this pleasant manner- ou who have endurd with me the trials, hardships and privations which are incidental to the first settlers of a new county.  It is also gratifying to see so many present, and to behold the interest you have manifested in the welfare of this social society.  And as some are here who have not had the pleasure of meeting with us on previous occasions of this kind, I will briefly state to you the origin of it:  On the 4th day of December, 1873, a few gentlemen met at the office of Hon. B.W. Huston, pursuant to notice, inviting the early settlers of Tuscola county who had been residents of the county twenty years or more to be present, and consider the propriety of forming a pioneer society.  A committee was appointed on permanent organization, consisting of William H. Harrison, F. Bourns, P. McGlone, Sabin Gibbs, David June and Samuel Atwood; also a committee on by-laws, consisting of W.A.Heart, T. North, D. G. Slafter, L.D.Haines, C.R. Selden, D.P. Hinson.

     The next meeting was held January 15th, 1874 when this society was fully formed and the following officers were elected. Hon. T. North, president, Lovira Hart, vice president; Wm. H. Harrison, treasurer; Wm. Johnson, secretary.

     Our first annual festival was held at Tuscola, the second at Vassar, the third at Watrousville, the fourth at Wahjamega, and owing to the fact that the day was rainy, and much labor and expense had been put on the ground for our comfort by your honored president, we thought best to give him a second benefit.  These annual festivals have been seasons of real pleasure and will long be remembered as bright sunny spots in our pathway of life.**************************************************

    I do want say a few words more.   Many of us pioneers came into this county with little to aid us, but with an indomitable spirit of perseverance, you looked at its rugged features undismayed, and boldly and successfully wrestled through years of toil with all its privations.  You seized “the axe, that like the talisman, transforms deserts to fields and cities.”

     Within the short span of human life, you and I have lived to witness more changes than are often given to man to see.  These forest you entered, some of you in youth, others of middle age, and others still more mature, you have lived to see it not only to “blossom as the rose,” but to bear its mature and ripened fruit.  Thrifty, growing villages have sprung up, blessed with their institutions of religion and learning, where but a few short years ago the dark shades of the forest rested with profound and almost solemn stillness.  But more than this: you have lived to see an extended wilderness converted into fruitful fields, interspersed with comfortable farm buildings, surrounded by all the evidences of unsurpassed prosperity.  I venture to say that few who have founded settlements have lived to see greater changes and consummations; and in view of the great work of civilization and improvements you helped to commence and carry forward, few have been more abundantly blessed.  And as the shades of evening are gathering around many of us, we are forcibly admonished that our time is short; that our work upon earth is nearly done; that before another annual reunion of this society some of us undoubtedly will be called from time to eternity; and when that time shall come, you will leave a rich legacy to you children and children’s children---the fruits of years of your pioneer enterprise, toil, patience, fortitude and perseverance—a more honorable and far richer legacy than honors and titles which kings and princes can bestow.

     Wm. H. Harrison read a paper containing memoirs of three old pioneers who have passed away during the year, Jeremiah Hopkins and Paschal Richardson, of Tuscola, and Nelson Kile, of Juniata.  Sketches of the life and work of each were published in the Pioneer at the time of which renders their republication unnecessary.

     A beautiful poem, entitled “One by One They are Gathering Home,” was recited with much feeling by Dr. Johnson.

     Remarks on the first school organization by Lorira Hart, of Tuscola

     Music by the band.

     Remarks by D.G. Slafter on the superiority of Michigan farms over those of New England, where he has lately visited. He said we would appreciate our farms more if we could view the New England farms that he had.

     Singing, “The Old Checkered Apron my Grandmother Wore,” by Mrs. W.R. Bartlett
    Wm. H. Harrison was now called on, but the ominous appearance of the heavens, the high wind which was rapidly rising, threatening danger as the trees began to snap and fall here and there, caused a general stampede toward the open space. It was a ludicrous sight for those who first reached the cars, to watch the rest “come tumbling after” Large drops of rain began to fall, and many were pretty thoroughly drenched before reaching shelter.  The storm soon abated, and all started on the homeward way well satisfied with the day’s pleasure.  The meeting tis years will be conceded by all to be a perfect success, and we wish many of these enjoyable occasions may be participated in by the pioneers, their children and their children’s children.


                    OBITUARY OF A. K. KING


     Mr. A. K. King, an old and respected pioneer of Tuscola county, died in Kingston-the town was named after him- on the 4th of September,

Wife endured all the privations and hardships to which the early settlers were exposed.  He at one time carried the mail from Vassar to Port Saniliac.  Much of the road over which he traveled was only a trail.  This was an exceedingly difficult, as well as dangerous, undertaking at that early day.  His family were supported principally by what he could bring from Vassar and Wahjamega on his back.  While he was exposed to danger from storms, wild beasts and water, fro streams and swampy places had to be forded, sometimes the water reaching to the waist, his wife (who preceded him in death nearly two years), was left to protect and care for the family.  All the neighbors she had for the first five months after moving to Kinston were the Indians—never seeing the face of a white woman for that length of time.  He leaves a family of seven, all married and settled in comfortable homes.


© 2006  of  transcription and digital photographs by Carol Szelogowski

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