History of Lenawee County, Michigan - Chapter 14, Madison Township

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CHAPTER XIV. MADISON TOWNSHIP. BOUNDARIES-TOPOGRAPHY-SOIL AND DRAINAGE - RAILROADS-AGRICULTURAL INTERESTS-EARLY SETTLERS-TOWNSHIP ORGANIZATION-FIRST ELECTION AND OFFICERS-FIRST SAW MILL--FIRST SCHOOL HOUSE-FIRST LOG CABIN-FIRST WHITE CHILD BORN. This is one of the two most centrally located Townships in Lenawee County, the Township of Adrian being the other. Madison, or Lenawee, as it was originally named, is one of the five new Townships that were organized in consequence of a legislative enactment of March 7, 1834, and the date of its organization is April 7, of the same year. Its boundaries are four straight lines, with the exception of a short slanting line at the northwest corner caused by connecting two different surveys. Territorially, it is an exact Congressional Township and contains thirty-sections of land. The land is comparatively level and as fertile perhaps as any other portion of the County, being generally very productive. It was originally a fair alternation of openings and heavy timber, and the soil is sandy. The valleys of the small streams in the Township are not wide, hence the general topography of the Township might be described as level or gently undulating. There is some excellent land, with fine farms and improvements, and it can be said that Madison is a specially rich and valuable territory. ' A branch of the River Raisin, sometimes called Sand Creek, is the principal stream, and this divides the Township into nearly equal parts, following from southwest to northeast, and depositing its water into the main channel of the Raisin. In the pioneer days this stream was considered of sufficient magnitude to afford water power for the early mills, and it derives its name of Sand Creek from the nature of the soil through which it flows. There are a number of spring brooks which are tributaries to this stream, and these afford the drainage and water supply of the Township. Three railroads the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, the Wabash, and the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton-traverse Madison, and beside the stations at the city of Adrian, there are the villages of Madison and Sand Creek. Ample shipping facilities are thus afforded, and the railroad accommodations are superior to most other rural districts in the County. The country is traversed by well kept roads, which add to the comfort and convenience of interior travel. The village of Sand Creek is a shipping and trading point of importance and convenience to a large farming community.

The agricultural interests of the Township are varied and extensive, stock raising and fruit culture being profitable accessories to the raising of grain and vegetables. Much land is devoted to grazing purposes, to which it is admirably adapted, by reason of the abundance of pure water, and successful growing of all kinds of grasses. In an early day this locality was especially valued as a hunting ground, game of all kinds being found there in great abundance. The first settlers of this Township were Nelson and Curran Bradish, who came in 1827. Nelson Bradish was a native of Wayne County, New York, and was born in 1803. Upon coming here in 1827 he took up a quarter section of land in Madison Township, and the year following put up a log house on section 16. After establishing himself and his young wife comfortably, he proceeded with the cultivation of the land, and remained there until the spring of 186o, when he retired from active labor and repaired to a snug home near the outskirts of Adrian, where he spent his declining years. He died on May 6, 1875. The Messrs. Bradish were soon followed by Samuel Carpenter, who located 32o acres of land in one body, and cleared and improved nearly the whole' of it, erecting good buildings, setting out an orchard, etc. It was on Sunday, July 22, 1828, that Mr. Carpenter came into the little hamlet of Logan (now city of Adrian) with two wagons drawn by oxen, with his family, consisting of his wife and eleven children, and a valuable and favorite dog under one of the wagons. At that time the village consisted of Addison J. Comstock's house, a log one, which stood on the east side of the River, where the terminal station of the electric railway is now located; Noah Norton's residence, which stood a little east and north, it being constructed of slabs split out of logs, standing one end upon the ground and the other against a pole which was held tip by two crotches. Capt. James Whitney and family resided on the west side of the River. Mr. Carpenter drove directly to Captain Whitney's house, they having been old friends and neighbors in the state of New York. Mr. Whitney and family received the new-comers gladly, and cared for them cheerfully and kindly for one week. Mr. Whitney's house was a log structure, 16x20, but during that week it sheltered and protected the two families, consisting of twenty-four persons. Mr. Whitney and his sons turned out and assisted Mr. Carpenter in putting up his house during this time. Mr. Carpenter was a thrifty, enterprising, well-to-do farmer in New York, and having been a pioneer in Orleans. County, he was conversant with all the phases of life in a new country; hence he was a valuable acquisition to the new settlement here. His wide experience gave him confidence in himself, and established him firmly in his new home at once. He soon became known to all the settlers, and was of great assistance to many who came in from time to time. All newcomers who applied to him for assistance were kindly received and helped in their efforts to locate and become comfortable. He resided on his farm, which was finally set off into the Township of Madison, until his death, which occurred Oct. 3, 1871. He was born in Orange County, New York, Feb. 28, 1779, and was the son of Joshua Carpenter, who was a soldier in the Revolution. He, himself, was a soldier in the war of 1812, and drew a pension for many years. One day some Indians stopped at Mr. Carpenter's house to beg, and one of their dogs stole two hams which he was smoking in a barrel. Mordecai, one of Mr. Carpenter's sons, declared he could cure the dog of stealing, and at once filled a goose-quill with powder and plugged it with punk. When the Indians came along again Mordecai took a piece of pork, crowded the loaded quill into the meat and lighted the punk. Then putting another piece of the punk over the one he had fired to protect the fuse, he threw the morsel down, and it was soon swallowed by the dog. Within the next half hour there was an explosion, and then a dead dog. The incident caused great consternation among the Indians, but they soon buried their favorite canine in a hillside near by, and never passed there afterward without visiting the grave. Mr. Carpenter's oldest son, John R., was something of a wag. After his marriage he lived on a farm north of his father's. On a wash day in the spring, when he was very busy plowing, his wife discovered that she was out of indigo, and hustled hint off "to town" to get some, telling him to get four ounces. He started off immediately, going to E. C. Winter's store, the only one in town, and. ordered four pounds of indigo. Mr. Winter told him there must be some mistake about it, that it must be four ounces that he wanted, instead of four pounds. But John R. insisted on four pounds, and got that amount. It took nearly all there was in the store, and, as the article was then worth thirty cents per ounce, and business was done on credit, Mr. Winter knew he would soon return. His wife sent him back immediately, and he took the four ounces home.

Among the other early settlers may be mentioned Nehemiah Bassett, J. L. Edmunds, William Brooks, Stephen and Cassander Peters, Elijah Johnson, Reuben Mallory, Samuel and Reuben Davis, John and Joel Fitch, Levi and Josiah Shumway, Nathaniel Cole, Aaron S. Baker, Lewis Nickerson, Calvin Bradish, and many others. Levi Shumway was born in Belcher, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, June 11, 1788. He lived with his parents until he was about sixteen years old, when he went to Wayne County, New York, where he worked by the month on a farm until he earned enough money to buy a piece of land on the "Gorham tract." He added to his first purchase until he owned 100 acres, and he was a thrifty and successful farmer there. He lived there until the spring of 1829, when, after having cleared up his farm and put it under good cultivation, building a good frame house and a large barn, he sold out and migrated to Michigan, where he again commenced life as a pioneer. He came to Lenawee County in June, 1829, and located 40o acres of land on section 35, in Madison. He immediately returned to Wayne County, New York, and brought his family on, arriving in Adrian the latter part of September, that year. The family lived with some of the other settlers for a month or so, or until he could build a log house on his land. He used his wagon box to make a door to his house, to keep out wolves and other wild animals. In 1832 he built a barn, getting his lumber in Adrian, the same being sawed from trees which stood within the then village limits. If this was not the first barn built in Madison, it was the first in that part of the Township, and all the settlers in that vicinity brought their wheat there to thresh upon the floor. Mr. Shumway was fatally injured while assisting in raising a barn for Thomas Hagaman, in Fairfield Township, July 27, 1834, and he died Aug. 3, following.

Lewis Nickerson was one of the honored pioneers of Lenawee County, coming to Michigan while it was yet in its infancy, and before the march of civilization had given any intimation of the proud position which it has since attained among the states of the Union. He was a native of Massachusetts, but early in life he settled near Ticonderoga, N. Y., and later removed to Wayne County, in the same state. There he resided some years, learned the trade of a tanner and currier, and gave some attention to that business, but he devoted the major part of his time to agricultural pursuits. Not being quite satisfied with his location, nor with the results of his hard toil, he removed with his young family to Michigan, in 1830, and settled in Madison Township, where he died six years later, followed by his widow in 1846. Calvin Bradish was a native of Massachusetts, but in early life settled in Wayne County, New York, where he lived quite a number of years. In June, 1831, he moved with his family to Lenawee County and settled in Madison Township on section 23. Three years prior to this time he had bought from the government a tract of 240 acres of land, and he afterward became possessor of r,6oo acres in Lenawee and Hillsdale counties. He became actively engaged in farming, and also took a prominent part in aiding the future growth-and prosperity of the Township and County. Realizing that railways form one of the most important factors in the building up of new countries, and are most potential in the advancement of our civilization, he ardently advocated the building of the Erie & Kalamazoo railway, and contributed $1,000 to further the enterprise. This road now forms a part of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railway. In 1834 Mr. Bradish erected substantial farm buildings, and at the old homestead in Madison Township he and his good wife passed their declining years, her death occurring-in 1839, and his on Sept. 17, 1851. They left behind them an honorable record of good deeds, and their admirable traits of character still endure in their posterity. Mr. Bradish was justice of the peace in Madison Township for several years.

The Township was organized April 7, 1834, and at that time was called Lenawee, but in 1838 the name changed to Madison, owing to the fact that very many of her citizens came from Madison, in the state of New York. The first election was held on the date above given, at the school house one mile east of William Edmunds, in said Township. Calvin Bradish was moderator, and N. D. Skeels was clerk of the election. Officers were elected as follows: Supervisor, Garrett Tenbrooke; Township clerk, Isaac A. Colvin; assessors, John Hutchens, Patrick Hamilton, and Levi Shurnway; collector, Ezra Allen Washburn; overseers of the poor, Nehemiah Bassett and Elijah Johnson; commissioners of highways, Jacob Jackson, Samuel Bayles, and Moses C. Baker; constable, Ezra Allen Washburn ; commissioners of schools, Lyman Pease, Isaiah Sabens, and John Power; school inspectors, Curran Bradish, Thomas F. Dodge, William Edmunds, and Isaac. A. Colvin. The Township meeting voted to pay three dollars for every wolf slain within the Township, and one dollar and fifty cents for each wolf whelp. During the year Bart White was paid bounty on six wolves, and William Winslow a bounty on one wolf. Isaac A. Colvin, who was honored by election as the first clerk of Madison Township, migrated from Palmyra, N. Y., to this County, settling first in Madison Township. Thence he removed to Hillsdale County about 1837, and in 1847 he returned to this County and located on a tract of land in Palmyra Township, where he remained until 1851 engaged in milling. Then, being quite well advanced in years, he abandoned active labor and took tip his residence in Adrian, where he lived for a time. In 1852 he left Adrian for the West, and after crossing the Mississippi was never again heard from. It is believed that he was foully dealt with, and the most diligent search failed to discover what had become of him.

Samuel Bayles, one of the first commissioners of highways in Madison Township, was born in the town of Rye, Westchester County, New York, Nov. 22, 1796. When he was about nine years old he moved with his parents to the city of New York, where he lived about ten years, and then returned with the family to Westchester County. He again removed to New York city in the spring of 1824 and engaged in the grocery business, remaining there and so engaged, until the spring of 1832, when he migrated to Lenawee County and "took up" 32o acres of government land, the same lying in the present Townships of Dover and Madison. At that time, however, Madison, or Lenawee, as it was then called, comprised all of. the Townships of Madison, Dover, and Hudson. On the day on which Mr. Bayles arrived in Adrian, the soldiers, then enlisted in this locality for the Black Hawk war, were standing in line upon the street, waiting for orders to march "to the front." The land that Mr. Bayles entered had never been improved at all; he cleared and fenced it, erected the buildings, and lived upon it more than thirty years. In 1865 he sold his farm and took up his residence in the city of Adrian, where he resided the remainder of his life. The various industries of commerce and manufacture were early established, and prosecuted with intelligence and success. The first saw mill was built by Calvin Bradish. Many of the present day citizens and men of affairs are the sons of the early pioneer settlers, who have left their impress upon the succeeding generations, and the people are generally well-to-do and progressive.

The first school house was a log one, built in what was afterward called Madison Center, and Ebenezer S. Carpenter was the first to teach in it, though Miss Emeline Bixby was the pioneer teacher of the Township, teaching at the private house of Cassander Peters. At present the district schools of the Township are in keeping with the high standard of excellence maintained throughout the County. Myron, son of Nelson Bradish, was the first white child born in Madison Township, the event occurring April 20, 1830. It may also be added, although readily inferred from the personal mention given on a foregoing page that Nelson Bradish built the first log house, and his wife was the first white Woman in the Township. Norman F. Bradish, son of Calvin Bradish, who is given mention on a preceding page, is now one of the venerable and honored residents of Madison Township. He was born in Wayne County, New York, Aug. 25, 1822, was nine years of age when he came with his parents to Lenawee County, in 1831, and he has since lived in the vicinity of his present home. He was reared on the home farm, and there received the benefits of a practical instruction in all things pertaining to farm life. Most of his life has been spent in farming, and in connection with this occupation he operated a threshing-machine during the summer and fall months for a period of sixteen years. He is now the proprietor of 230 acres of valuable land on section'23, upon which he has erected ample and convenient buildings. He has held the office of highway commissioner, and has also served the County as deputy sheriff. William Crane is another of the old settlers of Madison Township who survives, linking the present with the days of the pioneer. He was born in Macedon, Wayne County, 'New York, Sept. 4, 1831, and came to Michigan with his parents in 1833. His father, Turner Crane, came to Lenawee County in company with his brother, George Crane, and he settled on section 13, in Madison. There he cleared up his land, made a comfortable home, and enjoyed the results of his hard labor for only ten years, dying from a sudden illness, July, 23, 1843. William Crane was less than two years old when he came to Lenawee County, and since that event he has resided on the farm his father entered from the government, over seventy-five years ago. He has always followed farming, and was educated in the district schools of his neighborhood. He has grown with the County, and has witnessed a great transformation in his lifetime, having seen the primitive forest, inhabited by wild beasts and peopled with Indians, disappear before the approach and settlement of the Anglo-Saxon. With the exception of Norman F. Bradish, he is the oldest resident of Madison Township. In times past, no hunting party was complete without "Bill" Crane. He has served his Township as justice of the peace and was highway commissioner for many years.

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

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