History of Lenawee County, Michigan - Chapter 11, Blissfield Township



CHAPTER XI. BLISSFIELD TOWNSHIP. LOCATION-RIVER RAISIN AND OTHER STREAMS-FIRST PERMANENT IMPROVEMENT-HARVEY BLISS, AND OTHER EARLY SETTLERS-ORGANIZATION FIRST ELECTION, AND OFFICERS CHOSEN - WILD GAME-FIRST MINISTER, HOTEL AND SCHOOL HOUSE-PIONEERS PREVIOUS TO 1836-VILLAGE OF BLISSFIELD - RAILROADS - RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS AND SCHOOLS-FERTILITY OF SOIL. The territory embraced within this Township as originally organized included the surveyed Townships numbered seven, in ranges four and five, and Townships numbered eight and nine, in ranges one, two, three, four, and five, in 'Lenawee County. The organization of Blissfield dates from 1827. It is one of the three original Townships which were carved from the County of Lenawee, but it has been materially reduced in size during the various sub-dividing in erecting new Townships. On March 7, 1834, the territory comprised' in the present Townships of Medina, Seneca, and. Fairfield, was erected into a Township by the name of Fairfield; and the territory comprised in the present Townships of Palmyra and Ogden was organized as Palmyra Township. This left Blissfield occupying the territory embraced in Townships seven, eight, and nine, in range five east. In 1843, town eight and fractional town nine, south, of range five, east, was organized, as Potsdam, which was 'changed in 189.4 to Riga; and in 1867, out of the southeastern portion of Ridgeway, and the eastern and northeastern portions of Blissfield, there was carved out the Township of Deerfield. Prior to this last enactment, however, on March 28, 1850, sections 31. 32, 33, 34, 35, and 36, of the Township of Ridgeway, had been taken from that Township and annexed to the Township of Blissfield, so that upon the organization of Ridgeway Township, Blissfield was left with the same territorial identity that it presents today. It is not only one of the most fertile and wealthy Townships of the County, but it is also one of the most picturesquely' beautiful, historically interesting in the details of its civil existence, and prosperous in its material development. Raisin River passes northeasterly through the south central portion of the Township, and is its most striking topographical feature. The river enters the Township near the southwest corner and leaves it at the northwest quarter section 22. The river is fed by many small streams which enter into and help swell the volume of water. The smaller streams are made up from the many clear and sparkling springs that exist in various parts of the surrounding country. The splendid water power that the River Raisin affords was utilized in a very early day. The first permanent improvement which was made in the Township of Blissfield is credited to Harvey Bliss, who located there in December, 1824. He came from Monroe County, made his purchase June Ig, 1824, on sections 29 and 30, moved his family into the town in' December of the same year, and was the first inhabitant. It was this circumstance that gave the name to the Township and village. Gideon West, also from Monroe County, made his purchase on June 28, 1824, on section 2g, and moved on "with his family in January, 1825, being for a time the only neighbor to Mr. Bliss, nearer than ten miles. George Giles purchased his farm on Feb. 23, 1825, but did not move his family on until the spring of 1826, when he located on section 31. Almond Harrison, from Berkshire, Mass., made his purchase Sept. 17, 1825, on section 30, and began immediately to chop and clear, preparatory to building a log house, in which to put a young wife from his native state. Samuel Buck, a young man, late of Ohio, purchased a farm on section 29, Oct. 29, 1825, and beheving the injunction that "it is not good that man should be alone," chose a helpmate in the person of Miss Margaret Frary (step-daughter of Gideon West), and was married Nov. 23, 1826. This was the first wedding, but at a later hour of the same day George Stout was married to Miss Delight Bliss. There was no one authorized to perform. the marriage ceremony nearer than Monroe, and therefore they had to send a messenger to that place, a distance of thirty miles, on foot, expressly to call Loren Marsh, a justice of the peace in and for that County, it being taken for granted that he could officiate in the unorganized counties of the Territory. Gideon West died on his farm in Blissfield, June 29, 1837. It was nearly eighteen months after Mr. Bliss and NIT. West located on their land before the next settler made his appearance as a permanent settler. George Giles had been a neighbor of Mr. Bliss and Mr. West in Raisinville, Monroe County, and after coming to Blissfield he located land on the east side of the river and opened a hotel. He laid out a village there and called it Lyons. There were large numbers of otter in the river at that time, and an old settler says that he has seen quite large trees come down the river during the spring floods, the trees having been felled by beavers. During the first few years the settlers came in very slowly, most of the pioneers going further on to the "openings"-land around Tecumseh and Adrian. It was a "little dismal," as the land was low and the timber almost impenetrable throughout Blissfield Township, and in fact all along the river region. It was not until after 1832 that Blissfield Township began to be settled up very rapidly, but from that time on the community has grown and been improved beyond the possible imagination of those who looked upon it then for the first time. Late in the fall of 1826, and early in the spring of 1827, however, quite an immigration came into the Township, namely: Jonas Ray and Benjamin Tibbitts, in the north part, and Isaac and Samuel Randall, Morris Burch, Ebenezer Gilbert, Edward Calkins, Jacob and John Lane, and John Preston, in the south part. Isaac Randall was born near the city of Portland, Maine, April 18, 1787. When of proper age he commenced learning the trade of bridge building and carpentry, working with his father for that purpose, but he did not perfect his trade by reason of near-sightedness. In the autumn of r8oS he and his young wife emigrated to the state of New York and settled in the Township of Clarkston, Monroe County, three miles directly north from Clarkston village, where he, like many others, bought land. from what was then known as the "Holland Purchase Company." With plenty of ambition and energy, he immediately began the laborious work of making for himself and family a home on land thickly covered with a large growth of beech, maple, oak, hickory, and occasionally hemlock timber. The war of 1812 breaking out about this time, together with his neighbors he was called out upon a draft of the United States, tinder orders to rendezvous at Buffalo, where he, with many others, volunteered to go into Canada with General Brown, for the purpose of giving our English cousins a chance to fight, providing they were so disposed. A few days after their arrival in Canada the battle of Fort Erie took place, when Mr. Randall and many of his comrades were made prisoners of war. The next day, under a strong guard of British regulars, the prisoners were started on a march for the head of the St. Lawrence River, where they were placed in open boats and sent down the river to the city of Quebec. During this journey, wherever night overtook them, they stopped, and in many places took whatever rest could be obtained in the open fields, with only a scant supply of blankets and rations, suffering greatly. At Quebec they were put on board transports and sent to Halifax, where they were kept-in a large stone prison (not altogether unlike Libby prison, of Civil war fame) until the close of the war, when they were exchanged for British soldiers, who had been taken prisoners by the Americans. Isaac Randall returned to his family (wife and one child) and his farm in Clarkston, where he remained until the fall of 1826, having in the meantime chopped, cleared, and fenced fifty acres of heavily-timbered land, and erected a good, substantial frame house and barn. Having heard very flattering accounts of the Territory of Michigan, early in August, 1826, he landed at Monroe. He traveled on foot along the River Raisin until he arrived at the new settlement of Blissfield, of which he had been told at Monroe. After looking around the neighborhood a day or two, and being much pleased with the large growth of corn, potatoes, and other vegetables, which he saw growing in the small fields which had been cleared by the first pioneers, viz.: Gideon West and Harvey Bliss, on the north side of the river, and Almond Harrison and George Giles Ľon the south side, with their respective famihes, he returned to Monroe and purchased at the United States land office, the east one-half of the southeast quarter of section 29, in the present Township of Blissfield. Returning to Clarkston he began making preparations to move his family to his new purchase in the wilds of Michigan. Early in November, following, he, with his wife and four children, together with his brother Samuel, and his wife and four children, bade their friends in Clarkston adieu and started via the Erie Canal and Lake Erie for Michigan. Reaching Buffalo in due time, they took passage on the schooner Amaranth, Captain Ransom, master, bound for Monroe. Owing to a severe storm which came on soon after leaving Buffalo, the vessel could not make the port of Monroe, as was intended, but was forced to go on to Detroit, which place was reached after a stormy passage of four days. At Detroit the two famihes were detained more than a week, and while there occupied a part of the officer's quarters in an old fort, which had been used and occupied by American soldiers in the war of 1812. By his contract, Captain Ransom was bound to carry the two famihes to Monroe, or rather to the pier in La Plaisance Bay, as at that time it was the only safe landing place for Monroe, but not wishing to go himself, Ransom engaged the owner of a small sloop to perform this part of the contract. The famihes and goods were put on board the sloop, and in a few hours they were unloaded upon the pier, four miles from Monroe, where they remained until one of the brothers could go to that village and get teams to transport them to the residence of Robert G. Clark, an old acquaintance. They remained two or three days, until an ox team could be purchased and the wagon they had brought with them could be fitted up. When all was ready, the two famihes and a limited supply of provisions were loaded upon the wagon, and soon these sturdy pioneers were on the march toward their future home in the then dense forest of Blissfield. It being rather late in the morning when they left Monroe, and their wagon being heavily loaded, their march was necessarily slow. The going down of the sun found them at the house of Isaac Farewell, eight miles from Monroe. Mr. Farewell was an old acquaintance of theirs from "York State," and his was now the last house for many miles on their journey. They stayed with him until the next morning, when, after a good night's rest and a "hearty" breakfast, they again started on their way westward, which now lay through oak openings, to the house of Richard Peters, which was located on the site of the present village of Petersburg, and there they put up for the night. Early next morning they were again on the road (which was an Indian trail and very crooked) and soon entered the dense forest, which at that time covered a large part of Lenawee County. The ground in this forest was soft and yielding, making their march slow and toilsome, yet all went well until they arrived at what was then known as Floodwood creek, which was a water course with a channel eighteen or twenty feet wide, and, at that time contained running water eight or ten inches in depth. After fording this creek and reaching the opposite bank, the wagon stuck fast, and with the united strength of two stout men and a good pair of oxen it could not be forced to roll one inch farther, and the more the oxen "pulled and tugged" the more the wagon settled down into the soft black mud. By this time the 'sun had gone down behind a curtain of black clouds. Meantime, Samuel Randall had started to go to the house of Almond Harrison, three miles distant, for the purpose of getting a light, as their flint and steel could not be found, and as yet matches had not been invented. Soon after he started a thick darkness overspread the forest and Samuel was obliged to feel his way along the trail to Harrison's. Having procured a torch, made of hickory bark, he soon returned to the creek, where his friends were patiently awaiting his coming. A large fire was soon blazing on the creek bank, and when the wagon was unloaded its forward axle was found to be fast against the stump of a small tree, just at the water's edge. The wagon was soon placed on terra firma, re-loaded, and again the toilsome march for Harrison's was taken up. With the aid of the hickory torch to light their way they arrived at that destination all well, but very tired. The Harrison's received our pioneers very kindly, and soon set before them a good, warm supper, of which the newcomers partook with a hearty relish. The supper things were then set away, beds were made upon the floor, and all hands retired to rest the remaining part of the night. The next day Samuel Randall moved his family effects across the river to the house of Harvey Bliss, there to remain until a cabin could be provided for his brother Isaac and another for himself. Isaac Randall moved his family and effects into a shanty one and a half miles down the river, which shanty had been built and occupied the previous winter by lumbermen, from Monroe, and there he remained until he could build a cabin for himself upon his own land. Assisted by his brother, the walls of a log house were soon erected and covered with shakes, which were held in place by weight-poles instead of nails, and on Dec. 1826, his family was moved into the house, which was without doors, windows or floors. This much accomplished, Isaac, in turn, helped to build his brother's house, and meantime his wife and children gathered moss and "chinked" the cracks in the walls of their house to keep out the wind, while blankets were placed over the openings for doors and windows. Hickory bedsteads were made in the usual style and filled with cords made from basswood bark. The lower floors were made by cutting logs of a suitable length, and thirteen to fifteen inches in diameter. They were then split in halves, and with a common axe their split sides were hewn to an even surface, reducing their ends to a proper thickness to be laid on sleepers. When this work was well done a good, "substantial" floor was produced, although it was not so smooth as if planed and matched, but it answered a good purpose. The upper floors were made of oak shakes, three feet long, four to eight inches wide, and one and one-fourth inches thick. For his house Isaac Randall made one outside door, and a small table was procured by using the boards which had served as a temporary box on his wagon when the trip was made from Monroe. He also made a door for the back side of his house by hewing, with a narrow axe, inch boards from basswood logs about sixteen or eighteen inches in. diameter, and nailing these boards to battens, which also served for a hinge on which the door turned. The latches were of wood, and were raised with a buckskin string. Three or four evenings after moving into this new house, a visit was received from an Indian chief named Whisnev, whose son, eighteen or twenty years old, accompanied him. They brought with them a ham, taken from a deer, and wanted salt in exchange for it. These were the first "children of the forest" the Randalls had seen since arriving. They appeared very friendly, and for many years thereafter they often called to barter venison or wild honey for salt, corn meal, flour, and sometimes cow's milk, and tobacco. The winter of 1826-27 was remarkably mild and pleasant, but little snow falling during this and several succeeding winters. In the autumns of 1826-27-28 cattle were driven to Blissfield from Monroe, and passed the winter without feeding, there being on the river flats a sort of wild rye and wild onions, etc., on which the cattle fed, coming through the winter in good condition. Having finished their log cabins, each Randall brother began chopping and clearing off the timber from his land, in order that a quantity of corn, potatoes and other vegetables might be planted when the proper time arrived. By the first of May, besides making two journeys to Monroe for the purpose of getting home a part of their goods which could not be carried at the time they moved for want of sufficient conveyance, each had about four and one-half acres of land ready for planting. This was no small job for two men, without pecuniary assistance, to perform. During the summer and autumn a fair crop of corn and potatoes had been grown and harvested, and this was at least a great help toward the coming year's sustenance. These pioneers now considered themselves pretty well established in their new homes. Wild turkeys, deer and raccoon were very plentiful in the forests. The deer and turkey were often killed, and they made quite an item in the meat line of provisions, while the raccoon proved very annoying and destructive in corn fields, often destroying one-tenth of the crop before it could be harvested, thus entailing quite a serious loss to the pioneer. Suffice it to say, these pioneers endured all the privations and hardships which in those days were the common lot of all who made their homes in the then western country. On April 7, 1828, Isaac Randall was elected a commissioner of highways and assisted in laying out and establishing many new roads throughout the Township, which at that time comprised the south one-third of Lenawee County. He was elected school inspector, April 5, 1830, and was again elected and served as highway commissioner from April 1, 1832, to April 4, 1836, when he was elected a justice of the peace for the term of four years, and he filled that position with credit to himself and to the entire satisfaction of all doing business with him. He had cleared up his farm and erected good frame buildings thereon, when, after a short illness, his wife died, April 25, 1842. In 1849 he sold his farm to Richard McFarlane, and going into the town of Raisin, he bought a small place a little north of Holloway's Corners, where he died Oct. 8, 1852. As a citizen he was unobtrusive and quiet, obliging as a neighbor, and honest and just in his dealings. Jacob Lane was a native of New Jersey, born Oct. I, 1798, and there he grew to manhood on a farm. He learned the blacksmith trade in his native state, and came to Michigan in 1825, first setling in Monroe County. He worked at his trade there until 1826, when he came to Lenawee County and settled in Blissfield. He entered land on section 31, where he built a log house and a blacksmith shop. For three- or four years he did what work came to him, and also did what he could in clearing land. He then went to Monroe, working at his' trade until his health failed, when he returned to Blissfield and began keeping hotel. In 1836 his wife died, and he then abandoned the hotel and went to Philadelphia, where he worked at the machinist trade for three years. He then returned West, worked in Detroit and Monroe, and at the latter place he was killed by the cars, Nov. 9, 1846. George Lane, his oldest son, and who was the, first white child born in Blissfield, and among the very first born in Lenawee County, is still a resident of the village, at the advanced age of eighty-two years. The wife of Jacob Lane was Miss Eliza Giles, daughter of George Giles, who was the first settler on the east side of the river. The pioneer residence of the Giles family was a' log house on what is now Irving Bliss' farm. The house stood on the opposite side of the road from the present brick dwelling house, and was quite close to the river. In those days Indians frequently visited the woods town and one of their favorite camping places was in Mr. Giles' sugar-brush, near where the beet-sugar factory's pump is now located. Blissfield's first hotel occupied the same location as does the present well and favorably known "Coon's Tavern." Not quite so imposing in structure, however, was this first little wayside inn a blockhouse in the beginning, and later a frame addition was built. Many years after the original structure had gone the way of most buildings, the frame was converted into an addition to a larger hotel, and was eventually destroyed in the conflagration which visited Blissfield in the '7os. As is well known to all of the older citizens of the County, Blissfield formerly was almost entirely situated on the west side of the river, the depot originally standing on the spot now occupied by the Furman brick building. When the railroad company decided to erect a new station a difference in opinion between the company and the land-owners on the west side caused the former to build the new station and lay out the depot grounds on the east side of the river, and this had great influence in building up the east side to the corresponding detriment of the west. The first store in Blissfield was a general store, and was located where the restaurant now stands. It was owned and conducted by Almond Harrison, who also owned a sawmill and grist mill on the site of the present Blissfield water mill. Blissfield Township was organized May 28, 11827, nearly ten years before Michigan was admitted to the Union as a state. The Township then included Palmyra, Medina, Senaca, Fairfield, Ogden, Riga, and the greater part of the present Townships of Blissfield and Deerfield. Those that stood first around the ballot box were Harvey Bliss, William Kedzie, Almond Harrison, Benjamin Clark, Anthony McKey, Ezra W. Goff, Jacob Lane, Gideon West, John Lane, George Giles, Isaac Randall, Moses Valentine, and Samuel Randall-thirteen in all-and there were twenty offices to fill, so that every voter was destined to fill some office and some were elected to two or three. William Kedzie was chosen supervisor; Ezra W. Goff, Township clerk; Anthony McKey, Jacob Lane and Moses Valentine, assessors; Almond Harrison, John Lane and Anthony McKey, commissioners of highways; Samuel Randall, constable and collector; Gideon West and George Giles, overseers of the poor; William Kedzie, Isaac Randall, and Samuel Randall, fence viewers; Harvey Bliss and George Giles, pound masters; William Kedzie, Harvey Bliss, George Giles and Benjamin Clark, pathmasters._ This little band of pioneers who then laid the foundation of the Township, have all long since passed away. The first State or Territorial election was held July ii, 118311, when twentynine votes were given for delegate to Congress. Austin E.. Wing received fourteen votes, Samuel W. Dexter nine, and John R. Williams six. The first minister to hold religious services in the Township was Rev. J. A. Baughman. He organized the society of the Blissfield Methodist Episcopal church, in 1827. The first hotel in the Township, as has been stated, was kept by George Giles, the first postmaster was Harvey Bliss, who also served as a justice of the peace for a number of years. The first school house in the town-. 254. NNEMOIRS OF LENAWEE COUNTY ship was built of logs in the summer of 1827, and stood on what is now the northeast corner of Adrian and Monroe streets. The following are the names of some of the early pioneers, in addition to those already mentioned, that came before 1836: Ezra Newton, Solomon Harrison, Ralph Baily, A. J. McWilliams, Charles Miller, Stephen Frary, John M. Haywood, William Tenant, William C. Clark, Samuel Bliven, Darius Mead, George Stout, George McWilliams, Stephen Clark, John C. Giles, Jared Pratt, Philander Munson, Ruel Payne, Sr., John Payne, Charles H. Gilmore, Horace Pierce, O. A. Sackett, George M. Hubbard, Avery Pool, John Eddy, Nathan Austin, John Sherwin, Norman Torrey, Samuel Stewart, James Fowle, Thomas F. Dodge, and Caleb Wheeler. -Stephen Frary was born in Huron, Huron County, Ohio, Sept. ii, 1815. He'came to Lenawee County with his mother and step-father, Gideon West, in January, 1825, and spent, the greater part of his life on the farm that was first taken up on section 29, a half mile northeast of Blissfield village. He saw the country when it was in its primitive state, when it was occupied by its original inhabitants-Indians, wolves, bear, deer, turkey, rattle-snakes, and all the other denizens of the forest. Samuel Bliven was born in Westerly, R. I., Feb. 28, 1792. When a boy, thirteen or fourteen years old, he went to sea in the sloop "Benjamin," on a fishing expedition to the Straits of Belle Isle, on the northern coast of Newfoundland. Afterward he shipped on board a merchant vessel, and went to England, France, and many of the southern ports in this country. He made one voyage from New York to the Russian ports in the Baltic Sea, and spent in all about ten years of his life upon the ocean. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, in a Connecticut regiment of minute men. About 1819 he went to Stonington, Conn., where he lived about one year, and then went to Berkshire County, Massachusetts, where he followed farming for about six years. In 1827 he migrated to Cleveland, Ohio, and purchased a farm within the present limits of the city. He lived there about seven years, and in 1833 came to Michigan and purchased 125 acres of land on sections 2o and 21, in Blissfield Township, where he spent the remainder of his life. He was always an active man, and bought and sold several pieces of land, both in this and Monroe County. He always enjoyed remarkably good health, and until after he was sixty years of age never was ill enough to keep him from his labor, excepting while he had his regular spells of ague, during the first few years of his residence in this County. John Eddy was born in Massachusetts, but grew to manhood in New York State, whither his parents moved when he was quite young. Upon reaching manhood he bought timber lands, which he cleared and reduced to cultivation, and he resided in New York until 1832, when he disposed of his farm and started for the Territory of Michigan, coming by the way of the Erie Canal and the Lakes to Monroe, and then overland to Lenawee County. He joined friends in Fairfield Township and remained with them until he- selected a location. He soon bought 110 acres of land on section 31, in Blissfield Township, of which about eight acres were cleared and contained a log house and a log barn. He removed his family there in 1832, and there he continued to live until April, 1849, when he died, in his fifty-first year. The log cabin had a large open fireplace, in which all the cooking was done for years, as in those days on the frontier stoves were unknown. Norman Torrey was born in Williamstown, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, June 24, 1807. He spent his boyhood days on a farm, and what education he had was obtained in the common schools of those days. He remained with his parents until he had grown to manhood, and then for two seasons he worked away from home, by the month. On Sept. 21, 1830, he was married to Ann Kriger, and the next day after his marriage they started for their farm, which he had purchased the year before when on a visit to Michigan. They came by the way of the Erie Canal to Buffalo, and then by the Lakes to Monroe, where a team was engaged to convey them to their future home. Mr. Torrey at once set to work building a log house, in which he and his wife began housekeeping before either door, windows or chimneys were built. He made what was then known as puncheon floor and covered the house with shakes, and as they had no stove they baked by the fireplace for years. The nearest mill was then located at Monroe. At that time deer were plenty, as were also wild turkeys, bears, and other game. Mr. and Mrs. Torrey endured all the privations and hardships that were entailed upon the pioneer settlers of Lenawee County, as they were surrounded by a veritable howling wilderness, the forests being dense and inhabited by the wild beasts of various species. In those days the forests were as thickly populated with game as the barnyards are now with domestic fowls. James Fowle was born in Monroe County, New York, in 1807. In I83I he came to Michigan, settling in Blissfield, but in 1835 removed to-Camden, Hillsdale County. There he was the first postmaster, from 1837 to 1844, the first supervisor of Camden township, and he held that position and justice several terms. He was a volunteer in the Black Hawk and Toledo wars, and served as a representative in the state legislature from Hillsdale County in 1850, and 1861-62--63-64. He died May r8, 1865. A little boy by the name of Tubbs was stolen by the Indians from the Blissfield colony in 1829, and he remained with his captors for many years before he returned to the home of his early childhood and civilized life. The village of Blissfield, which had a precarious existence for the first years of its life, gradually assumed the proportions of a thrifty center of population. Prior to the construction of the Erie & Kalamazoo railroad to that point it was scarcely a business center, and had a small population, though there were successful business enterprises located in the village. But with the building of the railroad, and the establishment of a station there, the village began to take on life, and in 1875 it was incorporated. It is supported by a rich agricultural district, remote from formidable towns, and is an extensive shipping point, being probably the largest shipping point for fat live stock on the line of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad, between Chicago and Toledo. The business men of the place are-a class of progressive and enterprising people, who command ample capital and first-class facilities for the transaction of the large volume of business. Though it has not made rapid strides in growth, its population is mainly of that solid, permanent character which adds financial strength and stability. According to the state census of 19o4 the population is 1,425. The village has well built residences and business blocks, and good educational advantages and church facilities. The Methodist Episcopal and the Presbyterian denominations were the pioneer religious organizations in the Township of Blissfield. As early as 1827, itinerant ministers of these sects held religious services in the settlers cabins, and invaded the school houses for the same purpose as soon as they were established. In 1829, Alanson Darwin, one of the early Presbyterian ministers in the County, established a church organization at the village of Blissfield. A class was organized under the leadership of Harvey Bliss, Timothy Goff, and Nathan Gibbs, the class consisting of themselves and wives, and a few others. The congregation at first worshiped in the dwellings of the members and in the old log school house, which had' been constructed in the summer of 1827, and the first church edifice was erected in the summer of 1849. The Methodist Episcopal conference had sent ministers to Blissfield since the time the village was laid out, the first meetings being held by the Rev. John A. Baughman. The church was not assigned a conference pastor until 1857, when Rev. Edwin H. Brockway regularly occupied the pulpit. A German Lutheran society has also been organized in the village and contributes to the spiritual welfare of the people. Blissfield Township is well supplied with district schools now, in striking contrast with the log houses and antiquated means of instruction of former days. Among the early teachers in the Township were Chester Stuart, of Monroe, who taught at a salary of thirteen dollars per month and "board around," Thomas F. Dodge, and George W. Ketcham -all sturdy "wielders of the birch." Reference has been made to the first school house, from which arose one of the prosperous religious organizations of the village of Blissfield. But that was not its only mission, nor in fact the principal one. While serving in the capacity of town hall, a voting place, a general receptacle for itinerant shows, and all classes of public meetings, it was also the birthplace of educational ambitions, which culminated in some of the colleges of the day. The old school house has been superseded by fine structures, with a systematic arrangement for the instruction of pupils in all grades of advancement, each of the various departments being in charge of a teacher especially adapted to the class of instruction required, and the whole under the direct supervision of an educator of known ability and success. The schools of Blissfield are second to none of like grade in the County, and they reflect, in a marked degree, the intelligent and public-spirited enterprise of those who sustain them. The soil of the Township of Blissfield is generally fertile and well adapted to the raising of all kinds of grains, grasses and fruits. The valleys of the River Raisin and its various branches are especially rich and productive, while the upland is not so desirable for farming purposes, yet the soil there is of better quality than much of the land of similar character in other localities. The territory was originally covered with a fine growth of timber, in which the hardwood varieties predominated. There is much valuable timber still in the Township.



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

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