History of Lenawee County, Michigan - Chapter 12, Franklin Township

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CHAPTER X11. FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP. LOCATION AND BOUNDARIES-SURFACE, DRAINAGE AND SOIL-THE EARLY SETTLERS - TOWNSHIP ORGANIZATION-CHURCHES-POSTOFFICE-SOLDIERS' MONUMENT. Congressional Township 5 south, range 3 east, is what is known as the Township of Franklin. It is bounded on the north by Washtenaw County, on the east by the Townships of Clinton, Tecumseh, and a narrow strip of Raisin, on the south by the Township of Adrian, and on the west by the Township of Cambridge. The surface in some parts of the Township, particularly in the northern, is undulating, while in others it is generally level. The Township is watered by Evans creek and other small streams which eventually find their way to the River Raisin, and it has a number of beautiful lakes, which are becoming quite famous as places of resort during the summer. Originally there was a large amount of timber distributed over the surface of this Township. Among the early settlers were the Rev. Henry Tripp, Franklin Osborn, Joseph and William Camburn, James B. Wells, William Bradley, David Edwards, Eli Whelan, Joseph Slater and Samuel Hubbard. Horace Case, it is said, made the first improvement. The Township was named after the eminent American philosopher and patriot, Benjamin Franklin.

Rev. Henry Tripp was born on the other side of the Atlantic, in Bristol, England, NOV. 28, 1825, and was of pure English ancestry. When a lad of fourteen years he went aboard a man-of-war as a sailor, and during the period of his seven years of sea life, crossed the Atlantic nineteen times. His vessel was commanded by Commodore Decatur, with whom he sailed to Tripoli, and after his return from that voyage he refused to make another and thus escaped being blown up with the vessel, which was soon afterward destroyed. Upon resuming the life of a landsman he repaired to his native city and turned his attention to religious matters. His zeal and piety served to make him a highly valued member of the Baptist church, and possessing much natural talent as a speaker and writer, he was ordained as a minister, and sent by The church at Bristol to the Island of Jamaica, as a missionary, and there he served eight years. This was his initial work in the ministry, and volunteering his services at a time when the church experienced great difficulty in obtaining men courageous enough to deal with the natives, lie labored carefully and conscientiously. He subsequently returned to England and remained on his native soil until June, 1831, when he sailed with his family for the United States. It will be borne in mind that Michigan at that time was a Territory in its undeveloped state, but notwithstanding this, upon his arrival in New York City, Rev. Tripp proceeded directly westward and pitched his, tent in the unbroken wilds of what subsequently became Cambridge Township, this County. He selected his location near the body of water which is now familiarly known as Sand Lake, taking up a tract of government land and, improving a farm of 16o acres. He was present at the meeting, called to organize Franklin Township, and he it was .who suggested its present name, .after Benjamin Franklin, and this name was given in accordance with his request. He subsequently removed from Cambridge to Franklin Township, where he spent his declining years, and where his death took place July 1g, 1863, after he had summed up his fourscore years. He did -not lay aside his pious zeal upon coming to this new country, but was mainly instrumental in the organization of the Baptist church, of Franklin Township. He cherished strong convictions upon the question of African slavery, to which he was bitterly opposed, and he cast the first Abolition vote in Franklin Township. Upon the organization of the Republican party he became.one of its most earnest supporters, and kept himself well posted upon state and national affairs until the day of his death. Franklin_ Osborn, a representative of the well known family of that , name in this County, for many years carried on farming successfully in Franklin Township, and was numbered among its most reliable and substantial citizens. He was, a native of Ovid, Seneca County, New York, where his birth took place Aug. 16, 182o. He was reared to farming pursuits, and remained a resident of his native state until after his marriage. Then with his wife .he migrated to Michigan in the spring of 1845, taking_ up his residence in Franklin Township about the middle of April. There he carried on farming and lived until the winter of x876, when, in the, month of December, he set out on a journey to New York, and was one of the victims in the terrible railroad disaster near Ashtabula, Ohio, when a train of eleven cars went through a bridge, and a large number of people were either killed outright or met their death by burning. The body of Richard Osborn, a brother, was never recovered, and is supposed to have been entirely destroyed. Franklin Osborn just escaped with his life, being terribly mangled, and he received such a shock to his system that he never fully recovered, and died Feb. 6, 1881.

Joseph Camburn was born in Barnegat, N. J., March 23, 1796, and he lived with his father, who was a Methodist minister, until he was twenty-three years old. What little schooling he received was in Macedon, Wayne County, New York, where the father and family removed in 1804. In 1818 Joseph Camburn rented a farm in Macedon and carried it on until 1827, when he made tip his mind that he would go to Michigan, where he could then purchase the best of land for $1.25 per acre. In the spring of 1828, he started for Tecumseh with his wife and four children. He came up the lake from Buffalo to Detroit. At Detroit he purchased a yoke of oxen, loaded what few things he had upon a wagon he brought with him, and after nearly three days' travel he arrived in Tecumseh, himself, wife, and children, having walked the entire distance. All the money he possessed when he reached' Tecumseh was six dollars, and he was among strangers with six in his family. He settled on eighty acres of land belonging to his father-in-law, Abram Shadduck, and after living on it two years, improving it and building a house, he finally bought it, taking a deed and giving a mortgage for $4.00. Before the end of another year he sold out for $700, paid up the mortgage, and purchased 16o acres of land on section 22 in Franklin, where he resided the remainder of his life. This was in 132, and Franklin then comprised all the territory in the present Townships of Franklin, Cambridge, and Woodstock, and there were not men enough in this scope of country to fill the offices. In 1832-3; Mr. Camburn assisted in surveying and cutting through the La Plaisance Bay Turnpike, from Tecumseh to the Chicago Turnpike. He was instrumental in building the first school house in the present town of Franklin, in the fall of 1833. He also was the prime mover in the erection of the Methodist church at Franklin Center, or Tipton, as it is more commonly called. William Camburn was a native of New Jersey, born not far from Barnegat Bay, and was reared in Lockport, N. Y. He was a soldier in the war of ISI2, did service as a private, and was also on guard duty on the frontier at Niagara. He came to Michigan by the Lake route in 1831, then obtaining an ox-team at Detroit, he drove across the country to Tecumseh, where lie located near the village, but not liking the situation, he sold and came into Franklin Township, where he purchased the southwest quarter of section 21. This was on the line of the old La Plaisance Bay Turnpike, which was then being laid out and built, and on this road, which passed diagonally through his farm, a great deal of the travel of the state was conducted. There he built a double-log cabin and conducted a tavern or public house for some years. He came here before the Township was, organized, and was elected one of the first justices of the peace, and he was also made postmaster at Tipton, which office he held for about thirty-six years. He held the office of justice of the peace till his death, April 7, 1872, at seventy-nine years of age. He was a Republican from the beginning of the party, in 1856. He was a successful man and practical farmer, and was prominent in the affairs of the community.

James B. Wells was born in Rutland County, Vermont, Sept. 21, 1798, and when a young man removed with his father's family to Ontario County, New York, where he was married and lived for a number of years. He landed with his family in this County in the spring of 1835, and took tip a tract mostly of wild land in Franklin Township. He labored after the fashion of the people of those days, putting forth his most strenuous efforts in order to cultivate the soil and build up a comfortable homestead. He was a man of excellent judgment and forethought, and was greatly prospered in his labors. As time passed on he invested his surplus capital in land until he became the owner of 6oo acres lying in one body in Franklin and Tecumseh Townships. There lie continued until he rested from his earthly labors, Dec. 16, 1864. He was reared in the faith of the old-school Presbyterian Church, but some years before his death identified himself with the Congregationalists. The stern and sturdy traits of his New England ancestry had been transmitted to him in a marked degree, and he reared his children in a manner strongly similar to the stern precepts of the old Puritans. He adhered strictly to temperance principles, and ever advocated that high morality which is the basis of all true citizenship, and without which the fabric of a community is liable at any time to degenerate into something more unworthy. Politically, he was in early life a Whig, but upon the abandonment of the old party allied himself with the Republicans, whose principles he advocated and supported with all the strength of his convictions. He took considerable interest in local politics and was a man whose opinion was generally respected. He officiated as Deacon in his church and was numbered among its most cheerful and liberal supporters. Joseph Slater was born in New Jersey, Oct. 2, 1804, the son of William Slater, whom he was destined never to see, however, as the latter left his home and family when Joseph was very young, and was never heard of again. At the age of eight years Joseph was bound out to a farmer until he was twenty-one. Bound boys in those days were treated about the same as slaves, and were compelled to work early and late, good weather and bad, and under all circumstances. No attention was paid to his education, and he was sent to school only enough to learn to write his name and read a little. He was at that place thirteen years, in which time he never received one cent of money, except when he gathered chestnuts in the fall of the year, and sold them. When he was twenty-one he commenced work on the Morris Canal in New Jersey, and remained thus employed until September of the following year. In the fall of 1826 he went to Seneca County, New York, where he followed farming until the fall of 1831, when lie came to Lenawee County and located the southwest quarter of section 25, in Franklin Township, where he resided the remainder of his life. He added to his first purchase until he owned 320 acres in one body. He erected a large brick house, with sufficient out-buildings. He was always a useful, honorable, hard-working man in the Township, and did a great deal toward transforming Franklin into the productive and beautiful Township that it now is.

The Township of Franklin was organized at a meeting held the first Monday in April, 1833, at the house of Hiram Reynolds, but as to who the gentlemen were that were honored by being elected to office, the writer has been unable to learn, with the one exception of William Camburn, who was chosen as one of the justices of the peace. In the year 1850 the Methodist church of Franklin was formally organized, and at the annual session of the conference in September of that year it was made a regular appointment on the Tecumseh circuit; but this organization has long since been dissolved. At present there is an active Methodist Episcopal organization in the little village of Tipton, of which the Rev. G. W. Hoffman is the pastor. The Tipton Congregational Church Society was the second of that denomination to be established in the County, having been organized in 1837. The Rev. W. E. Grove is the present pastor, receiving his call to the pastorate in 1907.

What is known as Tipton post office was established in 1836, William Camburn being appointed postmaster, and he kept the office at his house, on the mail route from Tecumseh westward. Pentecost and Putnam are the names of two other trading points in the Township, the last named being especially lively during the outing season, when the campers make their annual pilgrimage to Sand Lake. At Tipton is located the Soldier's Monument, erected by the unanimous contributions of the residents of the Township, and dedicated July 4, 1866. It is thirty-three feet in height and is intended to be a tribute of honor to the heroes who fell in attempting to stem the tide of civil war; but it also reflects credit upon the patriotism of the people of Franklin. If not the first, this was among the first of the soldiers monuments erected after the close of the great sectional strife.

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

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