History of Lenawee County, Michigan - Book 2, Page 72



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MEMOIRS OF LENAWEE COUNTY BIOGRAPHICAL - CONTINUED
James B. Thorn was born in Jefferson township, Hillsdale county, Michigan, June 25, 1846. His father, James Henry Thorn, was one of the early settlers of Hillsdale county, and was very influential in shaping its affairs, his ripe judgment and keen intellectual powers making him a leader among men. He was born Jan. 20, 1816, in Dutchess county, New York, and was quite young when his father died, leaving a large family in rather straitened circumstances. He, however, managed to secure a good education, which was useful to him in his busy and honorable career in after life. James Henry Thorn remained in the state of New York until he was eighteen years of age, and then ambitiously decided to go to some western territory and make a home and place for himself in the newly settled country. Actuated by that motive he came to Michigan in 1834 and stopped for a while in Detroit. From that place he went to Ypsilanti, and from there to Farmington, Oakland county, where he taught school. In the spring of that year the school treasury was practically bankrupt, and he was able to collect but $5o of the $ioo that was due him. He then explored Bean Creek valley in search of a suitable location to establish a home, and finally selected the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 13, in what subsequently became Jefferson township, Hillsdale county. The gov-ernment land office, at that time, was located at Monroe, where Mr. Thorn walked and entered his location with the land office. The date of his land entry was May 21, 1835, and he was informed by the agent that he had the entire township to choose a location from as he was the first entrant in that section. After paying the register fee he found himself with but ten cents in money and the prospect of the walk back to his location. Nothing daunted by this lack of funds, his small coin was spent for cheese and crackers, and the walk to Tecumseh was only an incident to one of the conquerors of the wilderness. In the spring of x836 he commenced the improvement of his land by erecting a log cabin for a habitation, and on Oct. 15, of that year, was married to Miss Mary Monroe, who became the mistress of this little home and whose devotion to his interests throughout wedded life was only equalled by the fortitude with which she bore the privations of their pioneer days. In the spring of 1843 the railroad, then called "The Michigan South-ern & -Northern Indiana," was completed as far as Hudson. Renewed efforts on the part of Hillsdale citizens were made and in the autumn of the same year the road was extended sixteen miles to Hillsdale, and the first locomotive began its regular trips. The road as it enters the township of Jefferson cuts the extreme northeast corner of the Thorn farm. In after years Mr. Thorn replaced his log house with a substantial frame dwelling, erected other good frame buildings, cleared his land and added to it by subsequent purchase until he had a fine farm of z6o acres beautifully located near the village of Pittsford. This remained his home until his death, and the farm still remains the property of his family. He was engaged in mercantile pursuits successfully for a number of years, and was the first post master of his locality, then called Sparta, retaining that position for more than seventeen years or until 1861. Mr. Thorn was always a Democrat and was repeatedly called to fill official positions. Ile was supervisor for five years and justice of the peace for thirteen years, and filled other offices with credit and ability. He was very fond of music and his fine tenor voice was listened to with pleasure as he sang the church hymns and tunes he so dearly loved. His death, which occurred April 11, 1885, was felt as a personal loss by every one in the community where he had so long made his home. At the time of his death his wife had been dead many years, her death occurring Feb. 19, 1852. To them were born six children, two of whom, Henry and Mary Malvina; died in infancy; Wray T., who died at Minden, Neb., May 28. 1893, aged fifty-three, years; Eugene W., who died .at Des Moines. Iowa. Aug. IS, 1902, aged sixty years; Josephine E. (Snow), living at Oakland, Cal.; and James B., the subject of this review. He was married a second time to Sarah A. Dillon, who survives him, now eighty-four years of age (1909), and to them were born three children: Henry, of Chicago, Ill.'; Mary, wife of 11. F. Tuck, of Petersburg, Va. ; and Waldo, of Shawnee, Okla. James B. Thorn, the subject of this review, grew to manhood in his native town and there at the district school and later in attendance at a select school in the village of Pittsford, received a substantial education which was further supplemented by a year at Hillsdale College. At the age of eighteen he commenced teaching and taught three terms of winter school in the village of Pittsford. and also three terms of district school. When school was not in session he was engaged as a clerk in a Pittsford store. On Aug. 27. 1871, Mr. Thorn was married to Miss Ellen C. Kilborn. Miss Kilborn was born Feb. 6, 1846, in Concord township, Jackson county, and is the daughter of Luther C. and Chloe P. (Thayer) Kilborn, natives of Vermont. They came to Michigan in 1845 and rented land in Jackson county for a few years, and in 1849 bought a farm in Concord township and there resided till 1859, when they sold and moved to Pittsford. The wife of the subject of this sketch was the eldest of four children-Rosilla A. (Patterson), of Pittsford township; Edgar C., of Seattle, Wash.; Jenette J. (Wilcox), of Pittsford township; and Ellen. After his marriage Mr. Thorn taught school in Pittsford township for one term and then brought his wife to Hudson and made that their home. He bought an insurance agency and in June, 1872, entered the bank of Boies, Rude & Co., as bookkeeper and retained that position for thirteen years, gaining the full trust and confidence of his employers by his faithful devotion to their interests. During that time he retained his insurance business, finally disposing of it in January, x886. He was appointed post master of Hudson by President Cleveland, which position he held for nearly four years and in the discharge of the duties of that office gave general satisfaction to the people of the community. When the private bank of Boles, Eaton & Co., was changed from a partnership to a state bank in 1892, under the name of the Boies State Savings Bank, Mr. Thorn was made vicepresident, which position he held till 1894 and was then made cashier for two years and is now a member of the board -of directors of that institution. Politically Mr. Thorn is a Democrat and was a member of the Democratic State Central Committee for four years. Notwithstanding the fact that Hudson is a town with a large Republican majority, Mr. Thorn stands so high in the regard of his fellow citizens as a man of ability and worth that he has been repeatedly elected to office without regard to his political connections. He was elected township clerk in r882 and was twice re-elected to that position. He was elected a member of the board of trustees of the Hudson Public Schools in 1881, and with the exception of one year has served continuously since, and when his present term expires he will have been a member of that board for twenty-nine years. He has been treasurer of the board for three years and president for seventeen years. Socially he belongs to Lebanon Lodge. . No. 26, Free and Accepted Masons, and Lenadale Lodge, No. 63, Knights of Pythias, and was Grand Master of Exchequer of the latter order for four years. His home, on Grove street, is one of the many fine residences of the city.



John A. Walker, the .popular vice-president of the Maple City Granite Company, was born at Deerfield, Lenawee county. Michigan, July 3r, 1870, the son of Peter and Lucinda (Clement) Walker. The father was born in Baden, Germany, in 1841, and the mother in Rome township, Lenawee county. The father came to the United States alone when but nineteen years of age, and at the breaking out of the Civil war enlisted as a private in Company F. of the Fourth Michigan cavalry. This was the regiment that together with a detachment of the First Wisconsin cavalry captured President Jefferson Davis, of the Confederacy. After the war he settled in Adrian and he and his wife are still living, their home being at 29 Coit street. They had six children born to them. Louis Elmer, the eldest, was drowned in the Raisin river here on April 5, 1885; George H. lives in Chicago; Mrs. W. N. Salton lives in Tacoma, Wash.; William Frederick is a brakeman on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern 'railway; Lawrence L. lives in Adrian. The father is a stanch Reptiblican in his political affiliations and a prominent member of Woodbury Post, No. 45, Grand Army of the Republic. One of the sons, George H., was the chief bugler of the Thirty-first Michigan infantry during the Spanish-American ivar, and as such traveled all over the island of Cuba. John A. Walker, the subject ofthis review, is the second child of his parents and received his educational advantages in the common schools of the county. When he had completed his-scholastic training he learned the trade of granite cutting and for a number of years was engaged in it in this city and elsewhere. In igoo he embarked in the business under his own name, and two years later formed the partnership.with Messrs. Johnson and Anderson, which has been so successful as the Maple City Granite Company, and of which he has been vice-president ever since its inception. There is no detail of the industry which he does not thoroughly know, and his twentyone years of experience-in the business speak well for the standard of work turned out by the company. Fraternally Mr. Walker is identified with the Knights of the Maccabees, is a member of the Modern Woodman of America, and was a corporal in the local command of the Sons of Veterans until they disbanded. On June 25, I9o3, Mr. Walker was united in marriage to Miss Allie May Pixley, a daughter of Dr. G. A. Pixley, of Adrian. Mrs. Walker was born at Petersburg, Monroe county, and was educated in the Adrian schools. They have no children. The Walker home is a fine residence at I4 West Church street.



John M. Vetter, a prominent dealer in wines, liquors and cigars in Adrian, was born in Toledo, Ohio, March 13, 1878, the son of Joseph and Mary (Keip) Vetter. Both parents were born in Germany and are now living at No. 8 Ormsby street, Adrian, the father being engaged as a teamster. Of the eight children born to the parents seven grew to maturity. They are Mary, at home; Josephine, the wife of Henry Payment, who also lives with her parents ; Anna, now Mrs. Louise Meining, of Toledo; Matilda, at home; Louise, the wife of Harry Lees, of Adrian; John M., of this sketch; and Louis, who lives at Muskegon, Mich. All were educated in the German Catholic School of Adrian. When John M. finished his scholastic training he started to learn the machinist's trade, but later engaged in the liquor business, in which he has been occupied now for the past fifteen years. Since 1905 he has conducted a well furnished, modern and orderly sample room at Maumee and Tecumseh streets, and his conscientious attention to business has won him well deserved success. He is independent of political parties, exercising his right of suffrage for the man and measures he believes will do the most good for the community. Fraternally he is identified with the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the German Workingmen's Society, and the St. Joseph's Society. He is also a large policy-holder in the New York Life Insurance Company. Reared as a German Catholic, he is today one of the stanch adherents of that faith. On June 13, 1902, Mr. Vetter was united in marriage to Miss Cynthia May White, a daughter of Elmer White, of Adrian. To this union have been born two childrenUrsil and Walter, now four and three years of age, respectively.



Louis Vogt, a prominent German citizen and an undertaker of Adrian, was born in La Porte, Ind., on July 9, 1868, the son of Valentine and Mary (Sautter) Vogt. The parents were both born in Germany and were married in La Porte, and they celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their wedding on April 16, 1907. They both came to the United States in 1854 and the father found employment at his trade, that of upholsterer, in the shops of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railway at La Porte, Ind. His connection with that corporation continued for forty-six years, part of the time in La Porte, seven years in Chicago, and the balance of the time in Adrian. In 1907 'he retired to enjoy the fruits of a well spent life, and he and his wife are now living quietly in Adrian. Four sons and three daughters were born to the parents, of whom one daughter and three sons are now living. In order of birth the survivors are George, of Chicago; Louis; John,, of Albany, N. Y.; and Mrs. George Ulrich, of Kenton, Ohio. Louis Vogt, to whom this review is dedicated, received his early educational advantages in St. Joseph's German Catholic Parochial School and the local high school, and then learned the upholstering trade of his father. In 1883 he embarked in the business under his own name and conducted it successfully for a number of years. In 1896 he added to his business an undertaking establishment, and his trade in the latter line has become so large within the past few years that he devotes, practically all his time-to it. Mr. Vogt does all the undertaking work for the Germans of the city, and is nicely located in a building which he owns at 8o East Maumee street, where he carries a full and modern line of everything essential to his business. He also has an ambulance and black and white hearses. Although he is rather independent of political parties, he has strong Democratic proclivities. In religious matters he is affiliated with the St. Joseph's German Catholic Church. Fraternally he is allied with the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association, and the German Workingmen's Association. On April 23, 1895, Mr. Vogt married Miss Elizabeth Fisher, a daughter of the late Charles Fisher, of Adrian. They have one daughter-Genevieve N., now , en years of age. Norman B. Washburn is a prominent figure among the enterprising and progressive business men of Adrian. He is a native of Adrian, born Aug. 13, 1849, the thirteenth child' in his father's family. Ills father was Ezra Allen Washburn, of whom a sketch appears elsewhere in this work. Norman B. Washburn received his education in the public schools of his native count), and in -1865 learned telegraphy on the old United States line that ran through Adrian, being instructed by Seymour Murray, but just as he had mastered the art the telegraph lines were consolidated, and he found employment with the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad in the bridge department. For two years Mr. hhashburn remained with the railroad and then resigned to learn the moulder's trade, which he followed for a number of years. In i868 he learned bricklaying, and worked at both until r886, when he gave up moulding altogether and has since been engaged as a contractor. Mr. Washburn has the honor of being the second cement sidewalk builder in Adrian. He began to work with cement in 1887 and now does general cement contracting of all kinds. A ithin recent years he has engaged in the manufacture of cement blocks, which are fast superseding stone for foundation work. He manufactures a block that makes a hollow wall, but the blocks themselves are not hollow. Such. a wall will keep frost from penetrating'any cellar. Many of the foundations in Adrian have been made by Mr. Washburn and he has also built houses of his cement blocks, 'a. notable example being the home of his son, Frederick A., constructed in 1907. Half,the side*alks in the city of Adrian have been laid by Mr. Washburn, who has made a great success in this line of cement construction. In addition to his chief business interests, he is a stockholder in the Page Woven Wire Fence Company and the Lamb Woven Wire Fence Company, both established in Adrian, and is also a'stockholder and a director of the l3ritton Pressed Brick Company, of Britton, Mich., with main offices at Ann Arbor, Mich. Mr. Washburn has strong Democratic proclivities in the matter of politics and is a great admirer of William Jennings Bryan, but is bound by no party. Four years ago he voted for Roosevelt. but in local politics he exercises his right of franchise for the man he believes will best fill the office. He formerly took an active part in the councils of the Democratic party, and in 1887 and 1888 had the honor of representing his district in the state legislature as the candidate of that organization. At present he holds the responsible position of building inspector of Adrian. Fraternally he is prominent in the Masonic order in Adrian, having taken the degree of Knight Templar. On Dec. 24, 1874, Mr. Washburn was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth A. Ashworth, the daughter of Frederick O. Ashworth, of Trenton. N. J., where the marriage was solemnized. For some months before his death Mr. Ashwortli made his home in Adrian with his daughter. Mrs. Washburn's mother still lives with her, and although she has reached the hale old age of eighty-two years, she retains her faculties to a wonderful degree. In 19o8 she took a journey from Adrian to Courtland, N. Y., to visit a son in the latter city. Mrs. Washburn was born in Trenton. N. J., but received her education in Boston, Mass.. where her parents lived for some years. Nine months after her birth, her parents went to England, and upon their return some years later, settled in Boston, where Mrs. Washburn received' the benefits of an exceptional educational training. Four children have been horn to Mr. 'and Mrs. Wasliburn. Ada is now the wife of Ezra D. Beck, the pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church at \ew Comerstown, Ohio; Frederick A. is engaged in the cement business in Adrian, working with his father; Bertha is the wife of Percy Shernian, a bookkeeper of the Adrian Knitting Works ; and Edna is the wife of John Flatt, a printer, of Toledo, Ohio. All the children were born in Adrian, and the three daughters are graduates of the Adrian High School. Mr. and Mrs. Washburn live at 73 Dennis street, where he owns his home, besides which he owns property on College avenue. The first piece of property he ever owned was at 13 Hunt street, and his successful career seems to refute the old superstition that thirteen is an unlucky number.



Ezra Allen Washburn, deceased, was the descendant of a fine old New England stock. He was horn June i, I8o7, at Middlebury, Vt., where his father was a merchant. Later the father moved to Lockport, N. Y. The elder Washburn was a public spirited man and took an active interest in local affairs, being elected justice of the peace in Lockport, in which capacity he served for some time and subsequently had the honor to represent the. Lockport district in the state assembly. When the Erie Canal was built, the father secured some of the contracts for the construction of that very important highway of commerce. Upon the completion of the canal in New York, he went to Pennsylvania and made many canal improvements in that state. Ezra's mother was Clarissa Allen. through wlionl he traces his ancestry directly back to the famous Ethan Allen, the leader of the "Green Mountain Boys" during the A ar of the Revolution, and the leader who captured the forts of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, held by the' British in 1i73. Ezra went to Lockport with his parents and on March 21. 1828, teas united in marriage to Mary L. Hall, the daughter of Nehemiah Hall., a farmer of Monroe county, New York. They became the parents of thirteen children, eight boys aid five girls. Seven of the children are living. Eugenia M. Chase, a widow, resides in Adrian; Mary F. Gifford, a widow, also resides in Adrian: Ezra A.. Jr., of Lansing, Mich. ; Martin E., of Adrian; Mrs. Melvin D. Wood, of Adrian; Lura M. Anderson, a widow, residing in Adrian.; and Forman B., of whom a sketch appears elsewhere .in this work. All but the two eldest brothers, Daniel G. and Roswell A., natives of New York state, were born in Adrian. The two eldest served during those dark days of the Civil war. In 1831 Mr. Washburn determined to take advantage of the greater opportunities offered in the then Territory of Michigan. With his wife and two children he migrated from New York and located in Lenawee county, purchasing a government claim just south of the city of Adrian. After living there some time, he sold the place to Jesse Treadivell. and with the money thus secured. bought_ land from Samuel Maples, about one mile south of the present Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad statioi . Subsequently he disposed of this place with profit and moved to Adrian, where he conducted a meat market for some tine. Having a natural desire for the work, he became I veterinary surgeon, a profession in which he met with marked success: In 1836 hfr. Washbtrn- was appointed sheriff by Stevens T. Mason. acting ,governor of the territory, to fill a acanrv, and held that office for over a year, until Michigan was admitted as a state on Jan. 26, 1837. At the November election of 1836, he became the candidate for sheriff on a split Democratic ticket, but was defeated by J. H. Cleveland. In April, 1858, he was elected alderman of Adrian, and chosen chairman of the committee on streets, where he performed efficient service while the city was building bridges, culverts, and generally improving the thoroughfares. Mr. Washburn was a public spirited man and entered heartily into all suggested improvements of the city and its government. He was the champion of reform, whether local or national, and gained a high place in the esteem of the community by his incorruptibility, impartial judgment and kind heart. He was liberal and willing to help those in need. He died Dec. 26, 1862, and his wife survived him until 1894. Ira Waterman, the secretary and manager of the National Voting Machine Company, was born in Seneca county, New York. flay 13, 1852, being the son of Dennison R. and Sarah A. (Gamber) Waterman. Both parents were born and reared in New York state, where they met and married. Mr. and Mrs. Waterman came to Lenawee county, Michigan, and settled iii the township of Dover in 1853, when Ira was but one year old. The father purchased property one mile west of Dover Center, and there he reared his family of four children, of whom Ira, of this sketch, was the eldest. There were two boys and two girls : Ira, in Adrian-; Mrs. E. R. Barrett, of Jackson, Mich.; John G-_ now a resident of Indianapolis; and Louise, who is the wife of Irving Chase, of Gaylord, Mich. The three 'youngest children were born in Dover township and received their elementary education there. After passing through the graded schools, Ira Waterman attended the high school at Adrian, and subsequently took a course in the state normal school at Ypsilanti. His father died in his eighty-third year, his death occurring in Addison village. The mother died at Jackson some time later, at the age of eighty-two, and the remains of both are interred at Hudson. Mich. After leaving the Ypsilanti Normal, Mr. Waterman taught in the graded schools for ten years, after which he became principal of the schools at Hudson, and held that responsible position for nearly eleven years. It was with great t. egret that the people of Hudson learned that Mr. Waterman was to sever his connection with the schools when he was elected county clerk of Lenawee county, and went to Adrian to live in 1890. Mr. Waterman was elected on a Democratic ticket in a county that is known to have a large Republican majority, and the high esteem in which he is held by the residents of the county, regardless of politics, was established by his election. When he completed his four years' service to the county, Mr. Waterman determined to make his residence in Adrian. He is a, very public spirited roan and is always active in the interests that affect the welfare of the community. He has been one of the trustees of the school board of Adrian for three years and is still active in educational affairs in a'general way. Since 1894 Mr. Waterman has been connected with various commercial enterprises, and is now the secretary and manager of the National Voting Machine Company, which is conducting a large business. Fraternally he is prominently identified with the Masonic order, being a Knight Templar and a member of the Eastern Star. On Dec. 27, 1876, Mr. W aterman was united in marriage with Miss Ellen Bennett, the daughter of John L. Bennett, who belonged to one of the old pioneer families of Rome township. Mr. Bennett passed away in 1899, but his widow is still living and resides with Mr. and Mrs. Waterman. Mrs. Waterman was born in Hudson township and received her early education there. Subsequently she attended the Medina Academy. The Waterman and Bennett families lived within four miles of each other in the country and were well acquainted. In 1861 Mr. Watermail's father sold his farm and bought another in Clayton village, which he had platted as a town and sold about 1875. He then bought land in Raisin township, but subsequently sold that also and moved to Addison, where he lived until the time of his death. Franklin C. Whitmarsh, a progressive farmer of Palmyra township, was born in that township on July 31, 1867. He is the son of Charles C. and Adeline (Mann) Whitmarsh, the former born in Massachusetts in March, 1830, and the latter in Ohio in June, 1837. The father came to this township with his parents in 1834, and settled with them on the farm where he still resides, the property conning into his possession at the time of the grandfather's death. Besides the business of farming, and although eighty years of age, he deals in cyclone and fire insurance throughout the county. The mother is still living also. Four children were born to the parents. Jennie is the wife of Orson Archer, a farmer in Palmyra township; Emma is the wife of James Weter, state senator from Richmond, Mich., and a member of the firm of Wetcr, Fanning & Company, wholesale produce dealers at Richmond; George resided on the old homestead until his death on March 15, 1909; and Franklin C. is the subject of this review. The last named received his educational training in the district schools of Palmyra township. With the exception of one year, when he was with his brother-in-law at Richmond, he remained with his parents until he was seventeen -years of age. When he left farm work he became baggageman at Lenawee junction, in -which position and as extra brakeman on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railway he was employed for two years. During the following four years he was regular baggageman, and while thus employed devoted his extra time to mastering the art of telegraphy. For fourteen years he worked as an operator, eight years of the time as night operator. When he severed his connection with the road he purchased thirty acres of land where he now lives, and has since been successfully engaged in its management, besides operating the farm of his father-in-law. He devotes his attention to the general business of farming, not specializing in any one branch of the science, and today has one of the best equipped and most modern places in the county. His success in life has been largely due to his habits of industry and enterprise and his ability to confine his attention to the business at hand. Fraternally Mr. Whitmarsh is associated with the Masonic order and the Knights of the Maccabees. Although in his political relations he has given staunch support to the men and measures of the Republican party ' he has never been an aspirant for public office. On June 1, 1893, Mr. Whitmarsh was happily married to Miss Gertrude Colvin, born in Palmyra township on March 26, 1865, the daughter of William and Clara (Mitchell) Colvin. Mr. and Mrs. Colvin were natives of the same township, and the former, who was born in 1835, died on April 14, 1907, some years after his wife's demise, which occurred Dec. 25, 1903. Two children have been the issue of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Whitmarsh, namely: William Colvin, born April 2, 1898, and Doris Adeline, born June 8, 1900.

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History of Lenawee County
published by The Western Historical Society in 1909. Book 1
Book 2

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