History of Lenawee County, Michigan - Chapter 10, Adrian Township

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CHAPTER X. ADRIAN TOWNSHIP. LOCATION, ORGANIZATION AND BOUNDARIES-NAME CHANGED FROM LOGAN TO ADRIAN-TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES-EARLY HISTORY -FIRST SETTLERS-JAMES WHITNEY, ANSON HOWELL, DAVID WILEY AND OTHER PIONEERS-THE OLD TABOR FARM-FIRST TOWNSHIP MEETING-CENSUS OF 1830-HEADS OF FAMILIES IN 1830 -SCHOOLS. Previous to April 12, 1827, the territory of the County of Lenawee had not been divided into Townships for the convenience of the people in the adjustment of local affairs. On the date above written, however, the Townships of Tecumseh, Logan, and Blissfield, were organized, the boundaries -of the Township of Logan being then determined as follows: "The south half of the surveyed Townships numbered six, in ranges one, two, three, four, and five, and Townships numbered seven, in one, two, and three, in said County, south of .the base line, and east of the principal meridian, be a Township by the name of Logan, and that the first Township meeting be held at the house of Darius Comstock, in said Township." Since that time the County has been variously subdivided in the erection of new Townships, Logan (Adrian) contributing its share to that end.

The town of Logan, as then organized, was comparatively, port lived, as on March 7, 1834, in "An Act to organize certain Townships," provision was made for the organization of five new Townships in Lenawee County, and for the alteration of the boundaries of the Township of Logan-section one of said act being as follows "Section I. Be it enacted by the legislative Council of the Territory of Michigan, That all that part of the County of Lenawee, comprised in surveyed Townships eight, nine, and fractional Townships ten, south, in ranges one, two, and three, east, be a Township by the name of Fairfield, and the first Township meeting be held at the now dwelling house of John H. Carpenter, in said Township, and all that part comprised in surveyed Townships seven south, in ranges one, two, and three east, be a Township by the name of Lenawee, and the first Township meeting be held at the school house one mile east of William Edmonds', in said Township, and all that part comprised in surveyed Township six south, in range four east, be a Township by the name of Raisin, and first Township meeting to be held at the now dwelling house of Amos Hoag, in said Township, and all that part comprised in surveyed Townships seven, eight, and nine, and fractional Township ten south, in range four east, be a Township by the name of Palmyra, and the first Township meeting to be held at the now dwelling house of Cassius G. Robinson, in said Township, and all that part comprised in surveyed Townships five and six south, in range five east, be a Township by the name of Macon, and the first Township meeting to be held at the now dwelling house of Henry Graves, in said Township, and all that part of the Township of Tecumseh, comprised in Township six south, in ranges one, two, and three, east, be attached to, and constituted a part of the Township of Logan." On March 17, 1835, the last Territorial law providing for the organization of Townships in the County of Lenawee was approved, making the last important change in the territory of the Township of Logan. At that time the Townships of Rollin and Rome were created, thus reducing Logan to its present convenient size, and in 1838 the name of the Township of Logan was changed to Adrian by an act of the State legislature. The boundaries of the Township are regular, with the exception of the northwest and southwest corners, where slanting lines appear, the same being made necessary in joining the surveys made at different times by different surveyors. The adjoining Townships are Raisin and a small fraction of Palmyra on the east, Madison and a fraction of Dover on the south, Rome on the west, and Franklin on the north. The topographical features of the Township are not very striking, if to be so comprehends a great variety of natural scenery. The broad and fertile fields, rich and productive, are the principal sources of agricultural wealth. That this particular spot was chosen by some who were among the first settlers of the County, and who had the choice of a vast scope of country from which to select, is evidence sufficient of the productive character of the soil. The first settlers of the Township were of the class of the heroic pioneers who were identified with the settlement of all of this portion of Michigan. They were seeking homes on productive soil, and hence the lands of the Township of Adrian were very generally occupied by actual settlers at an early date in the history of Lenawee County.

The early history of the Township is to a great extent identical with that of the city of Adrian, as most of the early settlers clustered about the then village. However, there were a few exceptions. The first settlement in the Township was made in 1828. In June of that year James Whitney came with his family and located upon a farm which lie had purchased the year before. His farm was bounded on the north by what was later known as the Tabor farm and on the south by the section line running east and west through the center of Adrian College. James Whitney was born in Warwick, Orange County, New York, Feb. 1783, and dwelt there until he was about eighteen years old, when, on foot and alone, he journeyed to Romulus, N. Y., passing through the "beech woods" in the northeast part of Pennsylvania, where there was scarcely a house for forty miles. He was drawn for service in the war of 1812, but it being difficult for him to leave home lie provided a substitute. In 1813 he purchased 20o acres of land from the Holland Land Company, in Shelby, Orleans County, New York, and there he settled with his family in the spring of 1814. While in Shelby he was captain of a military company for several years. In the fall of 1827 lie came to Michigan to look for a new home, and on Oct. 23, bought the south half of section 34, and the east half of the northeast quarter of the same section, all of which, however, is now within the bounds of the city of Adrian. In the spring of 1828 he removed his family to this farm, arriving June 8, and he settled upon the site where was afterward located the residence of H. V. Hart on West Maumee street. After a residence of five years on this farm, Mr. Whitney sold it on June 6, 1833, to James Wheeler, and moved to Ottawa, St. Joseph County. There he purchased Boo acres of land at Sand Lake, where he dwelt until 1839, and then moved to Moulton, Allen County, Ohio, where he died Aug. 11, 1851.

Among the very earliest settlers were Anson Howell, Warner Aylsworth, Walter Whipple, Osmeyer Salsbury, David Wiley, and David Bixby. Anson Howell was born in Suffolk County, New York, April 13, 1786, where lie resided until he was about twenty years old, when he went to western New York and settled in Victor, Ontario County. He was a millwright and carpenter and joiner, and followed his trade until about 1830. In the fall of 1827 he came to Lenawee County and located x6o acres of land on section 28, in Adrian Township, and after letting the job of clearing twenty acres and building a log house, to Burrows Brown and Ashur Stevens, he went back to New York. The following spring he returned and erected a frame house for Darius Comstock on the farm of the latter in the "Valley." About Sept. i, Mr. Howell brought his family, consisting of his wife and eight children, and settled on his farm. During the summer of 1829 he assisted in building the Red Mill, and also built the first frame school house in Adrian, that year, and he worked a short time on the old Michigan Exchange, which was the first hotel built in Adrian.. After the spring of 1830 he turned his attention to farming exclusively, cleared up his farm, and in 1838 erected a large frame house, having built a large barn in 1831. Mr. Howell was a practical, careful, judicious man, but was ever ready to assist his neighbors, or help the settlers in -any way. In 1830 there were not men enough in and about Adrian to lay up more than one log house at a time, and it was necessary to go as far as the "Valley" and notify every man when a house was to be raised. Mr. Howell was always ready to help at these raisings, and his practical knowledge of building was always of great value. He occasionally went as far as Wolf Creek, in 1832-3. He often went out- with newcomers to "look land," and he sometimes kept their families until they could locate. He was a kind hearted, generous man, and a noble pioneer, and many a family has thanked him for his goodness to them while they were struggling for a home in the .wilds of Lenawee County. He died Oct. 8, 1873, in Adrian. His ancestors were English.

The old Tabor farm, on section 27, was the first farm located in the vicinity of the city of Adrian. It was located by Walter Whipple in 18x5, before Darius and Addison J. Comstock came to Michigan. Osmyer Salsbury, "Deacon" Salsbury, as he was commonly spoken of, a native of Orleans County, New York, where he was born April 30, 1804, came to Lenawee County, in 1826. He first located in the village of Adrian, where he remained three years, and then entered eighty acres of land just west of the village. Soon thereafter he located upon another farm in Dover Township, upon which he resided for many years, and then removed to Ann Arbor, where he died June 5, 1879. David Wiley was born in Schoharie County, New York, Sept. 6, 1799. His mother died while he was young, and at the age of eleven years he went to Genesee County and worked on a farm for five or six years, and then went to Rochester and learned the shoemaker's trade, which he followed for many years. He worked in different places, and in the spring of 1826 came to Michigan, arriving in Adrian early in May. He met Darius Comstock in Lockport, N. Y., and came to Michigan in his employ. He first worked one year for Darius on his farm, and then entered the employ of Addison J. Comstock. He was thus employed one year, when he purchased a village lot, and in 1827 built a house on the corner of North Main and Toledo streets, where Dr. Stephenson now resides. On June 8, 1827, he located eighty acres of land on section 33, in Adrian Township, which after making considerable improvement, he sold to Harry Wood, June 6, 1831. He then went about one mile west and located eighty acres on section 32, where he made extensive improvements. After residing there until June 16, 1840, he sold out to Moses L. Pruden, and went to the town of Rome, where he purchased a farm on section 31, of James B. Stinson, living there the remainder of his life. He assisted in building the first house in Adrian, which was constructed of logs, and he erected a log house on each of the three farms owned by him. In 1851 Mr. Wiley went overland to California and remained until 1854, when he returned by the Panama route. He was the last survivor of the first band of pioneers who settled in the village of Adrian and vicinity.

David Bixby was born in Sutton, Mass., in 1783, and for some .years after reaching manhood resided in Chariton, that state, where he was engaged in the mercantile business. In 1815 he removed to the state of New York, where he remained until the fall of 1827, and then took up his residence in Adrian during the period of its early settlement. He purchased of the government a tract of 120 acres of land, where he resided with his family until 1853. He then retired from the active labors of life and took possession of a pleasant home in the city, where he continued to reside until the time of his death, which occurred Jan. 4, 1865. He arrived at the advanced age of eighty-two years, and during the long period of his life be ranked among the highly esteemed and honored men of the community. At the first Township meeting in the Township of Logan, held at the residence of Darius Comstock in accordance with the legislative enactment, May 28, 1827, the following persons were elected for Township officers : Elias Dennis, moderator of the meeting, Addison J. Comstock, Township clerk, Darius Comstock, supervisor, Noah Norton, Warner Aylsworth, Cornelius A. Stout, commissioners of highways; Patrick Hamilton, Milo Comstock, Abram West, assessors; Patrick Hamilton and Abram West, overseers of the poor. At the annual town meeting of 1828, held at the house of Addison J. Comstock; April 7, 1828, the following persons were elected for town officers : David Bixby, moderator of the meeting, Darius Comstock, supervisor; Addison J. Comstock, Township clerk; Patrick Hamilton, Abram West, and Elias Dennis, assessors; Cornelius A. Stout, Warner Aylsworth, and Noah Norton, commissioners of highways; Allen 13. Chaffee, collector, Allen B. Chaffee, constable; Joseph Pratt and Lyman. Peas, overseers of the poor; John Gifford, Nathan Pelton, and Nathan Comstock, fence viewers; David Bixby, overseer of highways for district No. 1 ; Lyman Peas, overseer of district No. 2. Noah Norton and Warner Aylsworth, road commissioners, and Anthony McKey, surveyor, laid out and established about fourteen roads, from Nov. 26,- 1827, to Dec. ii, 1828. At the annual town meeting in 1829, convened at the house of Isaac Deane, April 6, the following persons were chosen for town officers for the ensuing year: Nathan Comstock, supervisor; Addison J. Comstock, Township clerk; Patrick Hamilton, Abram West, and Curran Bradish, assessors; Cornelius A. Stout, collector; Cornelius A. Stout and Nathan Pelton, constables; Warren Aylsworth, Noah Norton, and Nelson Bradish, commissioners of highways; Joseph Pratt and Darius Comstock, overseers of the poor; overseers of highways: district No. 1, Cornelius A. Stout; district No. 2, Isaac Deane; district No. 3, Daniel Walworth ; district No. 4, Milo Comstock. It was voted at this election that the overseers of highways also he fence viewers for the Township. It was also voted that all boars be restrained from running at large in the Township, under a penalty of two dollars. In 1830, the United States census was taken, and the returns showed that the-whole number of inhabitants in the Township of Logan was 5oo. The following is a complete list of the names of heads of families in the Township, which at that time included half of all the congressional Townships numbered six and the present Townships of Hudson, Dover, and Madison: Darius Comstock, Catharine Fay, Alpheus Hill, Cornelius A. Stout, George Scott, Allen Chaffee, Jonathan Harnard, Elijah Brownell, Anson Howell, Samuel Todd, Cary Rogers, James Whitney, John Wood, Pliney Field, Addison J. Comstock, Charles Morris, Hannah Gifford, Robert Smith, Josiah Shumway, Patrick Hamilton, John Walsworth, Daniel Smith, Milo Comstock, D. Torrey, Davis D. Bennett, John Powers, Anson Jackson, Lyman Peas, Silas Simmons, Lewis Nickerson, Nelson Bradisll, William Edmonds, Curran Bradish, Levi Shumway, Daniel Gleason, Samuel Davis, Stephen Fitch, Aaron S. Baker, William Foster, Elias Dennis, Nathan Pelton, Turner Stetson, William Jackson, John Arnold, Nathan Comstock, Betsy bIapes, Joseph Pratt, Abram '"rest, Thomas Sackrider, Daniel Odell, William H. Rowe, Moses Dugbee, Samuel Weldon, Jeremiah Stone, David Wiley, Noah Norton, Ashur Stevens, Samuel Burton, John Comstock, Joseph Beal, John Murphy, Samuel S. L. Maples, David Bixby, Charles Haviland, Benjamin Mather, John Chapman, Jacob Brown, Jacob Jackson, Job S. Comstock, Elijah Johnson, Samuel Carpenter, Cassander Peters, William Brooks, Josiah Baker, Seth Lammon, N. W. Cole, Reuben Davis, John Fitch, Daniel Walworth, Nehemiah Bassett, Ephraim Dunbar, Isaac Dean, C. N. Ormsby. Eighty-three noble men and women, bold adventurers in a new territory, generous-hearted to a fault. To undertake to say which of these performed his or her part best would be a difficult task. It is enough to say that all worked to make it pleasant for each new settler. George Scott, one of these early settlers, was of English nativity, having been born March 12. 1803, in Cumberland County, England. Not satisfied with his prospects in that country, and believing that better opportunities awaited him in the New World, he migrated to America in 1824, landing in New York city. From there he went to Henrietta, N. Y., where he spent one or two years, engaged in such employment as he could find. He had learned the trade of a baker in his native land, but did not follow it in this country. In 1826 he determined to seek his fortune in the far West, and coming to Michigan with his young wife he located near Adrian, where he took up 16o acres of-timber land, on which he built a log cabin, and he lived there until 1857, experiencing all the hardships and drawbacks of pioneer life. Politically, he was a Democrat, being thoroughly persuaded of the soundness 'of the principles advocated by that party. Aaron S. Baker was horn in Palmyra, Wayne County, New York, April 25, 1807. He was brought up a farmer and lived with his father until 1828, when he came to Lenawee County and settled in Logan, now the Township of Adrian. He at once located a farm west of the village, but afterward located several other farms, being quite a trader. He finally settled on a farm in the present town of Fairfield, where he lived until 1847, when he sold out to John Tenbrook, and again went into the woods, in Clinton County, this state, where he purchased 280 acres of land near Maple Rapids. In 1855 he sold this land and returned to Lenawee County and purchased a farm adjoining the one he had sold to Mr. Tenbrook. He soon again became identified with the interests and growth of Leriawee County, and was prominent in all movements that tended to advance the prosperity and welfare of the County. He was a man of unblemished character, of sterling integrity, honorable and kind, with a strong sense of duty and force of character that gave him prominence in the community, and drew to him fast and true friends from the best classes. For some time after his return to Lenawee County he was engaged in the cattle business with Orin Baker and others, and in 1857, while in Buffalo, on his way to New York with cattle, he was drugged with some sort of poison. It was supposed the poison was administered for the purpose of robbing him, as his cattle were in the yards, and during the night several of them were driven out and were never recovered. He arrived home in a very weak condition, and lingered in a continued fever for some time, finally dying Feb. 28, 1858. Moses Bugbee first opened his eyes to the light, June 22, 1787, in Connecticut. Through his own efforts he acquired a fair education and taught school for a time in his own neighborhood. He was married soon after reaching his majority, and with his young wife settled upon a farm in Orleans County, New York, where they became the parents of seven children, all sons. Twenty years later, after his family had grown up around him, he disposed of his interests in the Empire State and came to Michigan while it was as yet a territory, reaching this County in the spring of 1829. In February, 1830, he settled upon a tract of land in section 30, which was afterward included within the limits of Adrian Township, and he was probably the first settler in that vicinity. There was but one house between him and the embryo village, a distance of four miles. He had a thorough contempt for the frivolities and superfluities -of life, and pursued his farming operations with oxen alone, claiming that he could depend upon them and that they were not apt to run away. He was of a contented disposition, and spent the last days of his life upon the homestead which he had labored so industriously to build up, and where he had surrounded himself and his family with many comforts. He looked his last upon the scenes of earth, April 19, 1869. Two years after Mr. Bugbee settled on his farm he went fishing one day, and upon his return home was treed by wolves that surrounded his perch and made themselves merry at his expense until morning. He was afterward very much annoyed by the hungry rascals, which each night for a long time made a path around his sheep pen in the vain endeavor to get at the inmates. Indians also were plentiful in that region then, and one night three of them sought shelter under the hospitable roof of Mr. Bugbee, where they remained all night, using a stick of wood for a pillow. They learned that the white man was their friend and frequently came to the cabin, never making any disturbance. Mr. Bugbee identified himself with the Democratic Party in early manhood, but after the organization of the Republican party changed his views and upheld the latter the remainder of his life. Religiously he was a zealous member of the Baptist church, which he regularly attended with his wife and children.

John Chapman was a brother-in-law of Isaac Dean, lived neighbor to that gentleman in Ontario County, New York, and came to Michigan with him. Mr. Chapman took up eighty acres of land about two and one-half miles west of Adrian, on section 32, and lived there about one year, when he sold out to Erastus Torkey. There was not a house nor a "chopping" west of this place until the Chicago turnpike was reached, Sand there was no road cut out west of James Whitney's house, which then stood where the Hart place was afterward located on West Maumee street, in Adrian. After Mr. Chapman sold to Mr. Torrey he went about, one mile further west and took up the farm afterward owned and occupied by Isaac A. Dean, and in that year, I83o, a road was cut through west along the shore of Devil's Lake to the Chicago turnpike. There was no work done on the road at that time, except simply to cut the small timber and draw away the old logs, so that a wagon could be drawn through. It was some time after that before the road was permanently laid out and straightened. After living on section 31 until 1833 Mr. Chapman sold his farm to Isaac Dean and went to Fulton County, Ohio, where he lived about one year, and then he moved to St. Joseph County, Michigan, and finally he purchased 24o acres of land in Ingham County, where he resided until his death, which occurred in 1846. The Township of Adrian does not differ materially from other Townships of the County in regard to early industries. The pioneer mills, churches, and schools had their existence, and with the exception of the latter have mostly passed away, with the increasing prominence of the city of Adrian as a marketing and trading point, coupled with the superior advantages of the city in a religious and educational way. The principal grain crops are wheat, corn and oats, for the production of which the soil is admirably adapted. Of these, corn is the staple product, and this is largely fed to cattle and hogs, these being the source of a large income. Horses and sheep are also raised with profit on the rich grazing fields afforded on the productive farms, and which are not used at the time for the cultivation of crops.

There are eleven ungraded district schools in the Township of Adrian, exclusive of the city schools, but one of them-district No. 2-includes a portion of the Township of Rome, the school house standing on section 18 in the Township of Adrian. With a carefully, arranged course of study, these schools give the persisting students the advantages of a good common school education, and fit their graduates for the ordinary business of life.

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

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