LOCATION - BOUNDARIES - TOPOGRAPHY - FIRST SETTLERS-EARLY SKETCHES-INCIDENTS OF PIONEER LIFE-FIRST SAW MILL-FIRST ELECTION AND OFFICERS ELECTED-EARLY INDUSTRIES-NOONEY SIMONDS, JOSEPH SOUTHWORTH, ALVIN DOT,Y, EDMUND HALL AND OTHER PIONEERS-FIRST SCHOOL HOUSE-FIRST CHURCH ORGANIZATION.
This Township, like that of Madison, is six miles square, comprising Township 6 south, range 4 east. It is bounded on the north by the Township of Tecumseh, on the east by the Townships of Ridgeway and Blissfield, on the south by the Township of Palmyra, and on the west by the Township of Adrian and a small portion of the Township of Franklin. The Township is watered by the River Raisin, which is fed by a large number of small tributaries. The River takes its course through sections 3, 10, 15, 22, 21, 20, 29, 30, and 32, and in the northern half of section 3 the water flows into quite a large basin. From this the stream continues its course southerly and leaves the Township on the southwest quarter of section 32. The surface of the country is rolling, but in the valleys and also on the higher lands is found soil that when fully cultivated will produce bountiful crops. It is distinctly an agricultural Township, and derives its name from the River which flows midway through it, as described above. The soil is mostly sandy loam, easily cultivated, and very productive. Those who saw the country in its natural state have left their testimony that it presented to the eye a very beautiful appearance. The northern part was rolling with scattering timber, the ground clear from underbrush, and in the spring covered with flowers in an almost endless variety. The southern part was a majestic forest, standing in all its glory, and as yet the woodman's axe had not been heard. The variety of soil and general appearance of the country offered many inducements to those seeking a home in what was then called the far West. The River Raisin, winding its way through nearly the center of the Township, was recognized by early travelers as a motive power, which in no distant day would be utilized and made to serve the interests of a farming community. Nature had not been sparing in her gifts, and hill, valley, and plain had been waiting for ages for the industry of man to develop them into productive farms.
It is said that Noah Norton settled in "the valley." cleared some land, and built a log cabin in 182,6. He came to Lenawee County with Darius Comstock and his little son Milo, and they settled on the farm where the Valley school was afterward established. About this time there was also a settlement made east of the River in the vicinity of Tecumseh, by William Tilton, Joseph W. Gray, Thomas Sisson, John Lovett, Aaron Comfort, and others.
William Tilton first opened his eyes to the light in the old granite State, in Cheshire County, July 21, 1803. He spent his childhood and youth upon the farm, attending the district schools and becoming familiar with the various enjoyments and employments of country life. After reaching his majority he set out for "himself, and took up a tract of eighty acres in Raisin Township, to which tract lie added until he became the owner of 14o acres. After laboring industriously a number of years, he found himself the owner of one of the most fertile farms in Lenawee County. He put up good buildings, stocked the farm with excellent grades of domestic animals, and supplied himself by degrees with the most approved machinery. About 187o, finding himself in possession bf a competence, and the necessity of his arduous labors having ceased, he rented the farm and moved to Tecumseh, where he spent the remainder of his life, continuing to look after the operation of the farm.
. Joseph W. Gray was a native of Jefferson County, New York, where he spent his boyhood and youth, and where he remained, until migrating to this state, which was then a territory. He was prospered at his labors in tilling the soil, and invested his spare capital in additional land until he became the owner of 560 acres in different tracts. He erected a fine brick residence in 1845, and lived to reach his four-score and two years, passing away at the homestead he had built up, in February, 1885.
John Lovett was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1791. He was a farmer and owned a large farm in Pennsylvania, where he resided until the fall of 1830. In 1829 he came to Lenawee County and located 32o acres of land on section nine in Raisin Township.
Foto by Metter, Ahian
RAISIN TOWNSHIP 281 '
He then returned to Pennsylvania, but in the fall of 1830 he came back with his family, settled on his land, and subsequently added to his original purchase until he owned 1,005 acres. This was the finest purchase, without a doubt, that had been made in Michigan at that time, and there was probably not a better thousand acres of land in the state than was contained in this farm. No prairie in Illinois, Wisconsin, or Iowa, can be any more beautiful than this land is today. With the exception of about ten acres, the entire tract is tillable, without creek, swamp, or broken land, and it presents the appearance of a vast lawn and garden spot. It is now owned by different parties, and many of the finest farm dwelling houses in the County are standing on the land, or adjacent to it, and the entire expanse of country presents a landscape rarely found for natural beauty and productiveness. Mr. Lovett was a man of rare attainments and foresight, and when he first saw this beautiful plateau and beheld its marvelous beauty, at once secured it. He came from Pennsylvania with his own teams, which consisted of three wagons and seven horses. He was six weeks on the road, and passed one night in the mud of the "black swamp" in Ohio. After his arrival here he at once commenced clearing his land and getting out rails and lumber, spending the entire winter at this work. In the spring he fenced 16o acres of land, and put in twenty-five acres of corn, besides some oats, potatoes, and other garden stuff. This was the more easily and speedily accomplished for the reason that the land was what was called "burr-oak openings." That fall he put in fifty acres of wheat. During the spring of 1831 he built a barn, one side of which he used for a dwelling and the other for his horses, and that summer he erected a large frame house. In 1832 he put in 100 acres of wheat, and the following season 150 acres. During the summer of 1834 lie erected a barn with stone foundation and an, underground stable, 50x90 feet. This is said to have been the first barn raised in the County without whiskey. Mr. Lovett lived on this place until 1849, at which time he had improved and cropped 560 acres, and accumulated considerable money, besides increasing largely the value of his land, as well as that of all his neighbors. He was a good citizen, a kind and charitable neighbor, and a consistent member of the Presbyterian church. In the spring of 1849 lie went to California, where lie died Jan. 711850.
In the spring of 1830 Robert Boyd, Fulton Jack, Reuben Satterthwaite, and Thomas Tate; with Gen. Joseph W. Brown as a guide, started from Tecumseh to look at land in this vicinity. Some of the party having heard of the wet prairie in the eastern part of the County, expressed a desire to see it, and accordingly they started, following the section line running east from Holloway's Corners. They found a hard road to travel, and not caring to stay in the woods over night, they returned to Tecumseh without having seen the prairie. Soon afterward Robert Boyd and Fulton Jack located the first land occupied in East Raisin, south of Champlain brook. In fact there were no settlements south of them, nearer than the village of Blissfield. They were both young men and unmarried, full of life and energy, fond of adventure, and ready for any emergency. They built a cabin on the line between their farms and kept bachelor's hall until fall, spending their time in improving their land, hunting and fishing. Game was plentiful, especially deer and wild hogs, and they had no difficulty in supplying their table with meat.
Robert Boyd was born in Dungal, County Antrim, Ireland, Oct. 20, 18o6, and when twelve years old came to America with his parents, who settled on a farm in Livingston County, New York. He was reared a farmer, and after the death of his father, two years after coming to America, he, with his younger brother, James, carried on the farm for nearly ten years. In the fall of 1828 Robert went to Ireland and remained until the following summer when he returned and in the spring of 1830 he came to Michigan, arriving in Tecumseh about the first of May accompanied by Fulton Jack. Mr. Boyd located 32o acres of land on section 10, in Raisin. The land was what was then known as timbered openings, and when he first saw it in the spring of the year, covered with its gayest spring dress of flowers, shrubs and grass, he thought it was the handsomest country he ever beheld and, although the folks "back east" had told him that the land was poor and the country very sickly, he could not help thinking there must he some good in so much beauty, and he decided to locate, believing that if he was careful of his health he would one day see a better country than lie had left in New York. And he not only lived to see a better country, but he was instrumental in making it what it is, and he participated in all movements, enterprises and endeavors, to bring about the present high state of moral and religious civilization, as well as to assist largely in proving to the world that Lenawee County is one of the most productive and beautiful counties in the United States.. Mr. Boyd cleared off about 15o acres of land, erected a good frame house, with large barns, sheds, etc., and he resided there until 1879, when he moved into the village of Tecumseh, where he spent the remainder of his life.
Fulton Jack was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1799, and there he lived until 1822, when he came to America. He worked for General Wadsworth in Genesee, N. Y., for several years, and in the spring of 1830 came to Michigan in company with Robert Bo yd, locating 240 acres of land on section io in Raisin Township. He came here a single man, made quite a start, cleared considerable land and built a house, and then returned to New York, where he was married. He immediately brought his wife to Lenawee County and commenced life in real earnest. He was a soldier in the Black Hawk war, cleared and improved 1oo acres, built good barns, set out orchards, and was one of the sturdy, active, earnest and thriving pioneers of the County, becoming well known as a useful citizen, and the father of a promising family who needed his care and protection. He became the victim of consumption and died July 6, 1843, when in the very, prime of his life and usefulness.
In 1831 another pioneer made his appearance, Deacon O. Rogers, who located the land where he lived the remainder of his life. He came to the wilds of Lenawee County, a strong, active and energetic man, in the prime of life, ready to grapple with any difficulty, and possessing a will that enabled him to overcome any obstacle that came in his way. He and a companion by the name of Fish, who bought the land afterward known as the Spencer farm, built a shanty, spent the summer in clearing land, and returned in the fall to Massachusetts after their families. Fish never returned. Obediah Rogers was born in Dana, Worcester County, Massachusetts, Jan. 26, 1792, and there he resided until he was forty years old, commencing life by renting a farm upon which he lived until the spring of 1831. He then made up his mind that he would come to Michigan, with a view of getting a farm of his own. The land that he located consisted of 16o acres on section 27, in Raisin Township, and 'he made a little improvement the first year, putting in about five acres of wheat. He had his choice of nearly all the land south of Tecumseh, as there were but few settlers then. He made an excellent choice, however, and the farm became one of the most valuable in the Township. His experience during the first year of his settlement here was not the most pleasant. The log house which he erected was burned with all its contents on Feb. 27, 1833. But very few articles and scarcely any of his provisions were saved, but the settlers, and especially Sylvanus Westgate offered every assistance until another house could be erected. After this serious drawback he began to prosper. His family all remained in good health; and with the assistance of his four sons he cleared
MEMOIRS OF LENAWEE COUNTY
up his land and soon became a prosperous farmer. In the spring of 1853 he erected a frame house, previously erecting good barns and sheds. He was an energetic, thrifty farmer, and a good citizen. He was a zealous Christian, and was instrumental in organizing a society and erecting a Congregational church in Raisin Township.
During the summer of 1830 Reuben Satterthwaite settled on the farm afterward occupied by Michael Smeltzer; Daniel. Waring on the farm afterward owned by Horace Brewer, or the Wing Kelley farm, and Jasper Howard on the Libni Kelley farm. Thus began the settlement of East Raisin. But little progress was made the first season. in clearing the land, most of the immigrants being young men, and those who were married having left their families in the East, their sojourn here was simply an experiment. They were not sure that they would like the country well enough to locate permanently. Many went back to their eastern homes in the fall to spend the winter and make preparations to bring their families in the following spring.
In 1831 the tide of emigration again flowed towards Lenawee County, and Raisin Township Having been well reported of by those who had been here during the summer of 183o, received her share of fortune seekers. There began at this time to be some stir in the woods; wagons laden with household goods, women and children might frequently be seen plodding slowly along-not on the road (for roads were unknown then), but wherever they could find a path. Numerous log houses made their appearance and little neighborhoods were formed. The settlers would frequently hear the sound of an axe ringing through the woods, and traveling in the direction of the sound, would find much to their surprise that a family had just arrived and the men were cutting logs with which to build a house. During this year John Cleveland settled on the farm afterward occupied by Horace Holdredge and Gabriel Wells on the farm afterward owned. by Richard Beamish.
John Cleveland was a native of the state of New York. In 1831 he determined to migrate to Michigan territory and try his chances in that more newly settled country, which was even then regarded as a territory destined to become a great state, noted for its varied resources. After coming here he settled in Raisin Township, three miles from Tecumseh, in the green woods, and there he improved a farm, upon which he spent the remainder of his life, dying in 1842.
Benjamin Pattison came all the way from the- state of New York with a span of horses and -wagon, which was no small task in those days, and settled on the farm afterward occupied by Daniel Anthony. Isaiah Colvin settled where George Lyster afterward lived, Reuben Hall on the farm later occupied by Henry Wilson, and Richard S. Horton settled where Joseph Billmyre afterward lived. Mr. Horton spent his life where he first located. The improvements of this year made quite a show, openings were made in the timber, and soon fields of wheat were sown.
Richard S. Horton was a wagon-maker, and a very skillful worker at his trade. He was born and reared in Orange County, New York, and in 1830 came to Lenawee County to purchase some government land for himself, and he was also entrusted with money to make a like purchase for two neighbors. He bought r6o acres for himself on section 13, Raisin Township, and two tracts of the same number of acres for his neighbors in the same Township. He then went back to New York, and in 1831 returned to Lenawee County with his wife and their five children-two daughters and three sons-who had been born to them in their old home. They came via the Erie Canal and Lake to Detroit, where Mr, Horton purchased an ox-team, and with a wagon laden with their household goods proceeded toward their destination. After the first day's journey the oxen were stolen, and others had to be procured before they could complete their journey to Tecumseh, whence they went soon afterward to locate on their land in Raisin towns! lip. Many years afterward Mr. Horton closed a long and useful life on his farm, where he had built a home in the wilderness, his death occurring in January, 1863, at the age of seventy-three years. He was passionately fond of the chase, and had killed as many bears, wolves and deer as any of the settlers who were not professional hunters. He supplied his own table with game, and many a deer and wild fowl that had been brought down by his unerring aim found its way to his neighbors' larders. He was very popular among his fellow citizens and was known far and wide as "Uncle Dick," and he was respected as an honest man wherever known.
The spring of 1832 came and with it came new additions to the little settlement, among whom was Frederick W. Wickwire, who came from Connecticut. On their journey to this state Mr. and Mrs. Wickwire made the first 100 miles by team from their old home to the city of Albany, and from there by canal to Buffalo, thence by the old boat "William Penn" to Detroit, at which place they arrived in the night. The wife was then worn out with illness and fatigue, and they tarried six days for her to recuperate, and upon again setting out she took a stage to Tecumseh. Mr. Wickwire purchased a yoke of oxen in Detroit by which means their personal effects, packed in two casks, were conveyed in a small wagon which they had shipped from their home in Connecticut. They finally landed in Raisin Township, where Mr. Wickwire purchased forty acres of wild land in the woods, and there they began the establishment of the home which they occupied for a period of fifty-six years. The settlers were few and far between, and each man was dependent upon his own resources. There was no dwelling ready for their reception, not even the rudest cabin of those times, and Mr. Wickwire was compelled to put tip their first shelter in the best manner possible, with indifferent tools. This, as may be supposed, was a very rude structure, being simply a hut with a mud and stick chimney. The first year Mrs. Wickwire did her cooking by the side of a stump, and afterward by a fireplace for more than fifteen years. Although there was great difficulty in obtaining bread-stuffs when they first came to this County, they were always supplied with rare wild meats in the shape of deer, turkeys, and other choice game, which roamed unrestrained through the forest. Having made still further headway, in 1838 Mr. Wickwire added to his possessions until he became the owner of 154 acres, ioo of which he put tinder a good state of cultivation. .He continued to live at this homestead until Dec. 23, 1887, when he sank under his burden of four-score years, and was laid to his final rest.
In 1832 Hugh Grey settled on the farm afterward occupied by Ivah Raymond. Lucius Judson bought the farm later owned by .his son, L. W. Judson, and Dr. William Holloway and his sons Edwin, William, Silas and Butler located the farms afterward known as the Holdredge farm, the farm owned by John Proctor and the farm where Butler Holloway long resided. A school house was built this year in the district called the Conkling district, and in the winter of 1832-33 Reuben Hall taught the first school therein.
Lucius Judson was born March 12, 18oo, in Vermont, near Lake Champlain. He learned the trade of brick-making near Rochester, N. Y., and manufactured the first brick in Raisin Township. He held the office of lieutenant and was promoted to captain of the Brighton militia, holding the position four years; was justice of the peace nine years, and supervisor and Township clerk, one term each, in Raisin, where the party he trained with was always in the minority.
Dr. William Holloway was the first physician to locate in Raisin Township, and he, with his four sons, entered a large tract of land on sections 23 and 24. The intersection of the east and west and north and south roads near the old residence, has been known as Holloway's Corners for over seventy years. Sylvanus Westgate settled the same year on the farm afterward occupied by William Westgate, and the Township was christened at a meeting held in his house. William Ash also came, in 1833, and Stephen Mitchell took up his abode far down in the woods on the banks of the swampy Raisin.
William Ash was a native of Yorkshire, England, from whence he emigrated to the United States in 1831, landing in New York City on May 3. Shortly afterward he proceeded to Buffalo, and on to Toledo, Ohio, from which place he walked over the old Indian trail to Ann Arbor, Mich. After a brief stay at that point, which was then but an embryo village, he came to this County, locating first in Adrian Township, near the site of the present city. It then boasted but a few settlers, and Mr. Ash took up his abode with Darius Comstock, not far away, in Raisin Township. A few weeks later, however, he went back east as far as Lockport, N. Y., and entered the employ of an old Quaker, Jesse P. Hems by name, with whom he remained for a year, at the end of which he received $ioo, out of which he was obliged to pay a moderate sum for his washing. He remained in that vicinity until 1833, and then returned to Lenawee County and invested his small capital in a tract of government land on section 34, in Raisin Township. The location which he had chosen proved to be an extremely fortunate one and the soil exceedingly tillable. He retained possession of this, and subsequently extended his landed interests until he became-the owner of 22o acres, the most of which he brought to a high state of cultivation. He also erected a good set of farm buildings and surrounded himself and family with all the comforts of life. His death took place on July 13, 1881. He was recognized in the community where he lived and labored so long as a man of unimpeachable moral character and correct business habits.
The year 1833 was a great year for Raisin Township. A larger addition was made to its population than in any previous year. People in the East had now ascertained that this was really a good country, and that folks could live in it, so they made haste to secure farms.
Daniel Raymond came in this year. He was born in Montgomery County, New York, in April, 1792, and there he resided until about the age of fifteen years, when he moved with his father to Steuben County, in the same state. There his younger brother, Roswell, was drafted, at the age of eighteen years, to -serve in the war of 1812, and Daniel, thinking him too young, volunteered to take his place, and served about three months, until he was discharged from the service near the close of the war. He then continued to live on a farm in Steuben County until May 12, 1833, when lie removed to Lenawee County and settled on section 24, in the Township of Raisin. He used to be called "Uncle Daniel" by everybody. He is said to have been the first man in the settlement of East Raisin who raised a log house without whiskey. When told by his neighbors that he could not raise one without it, he said, "Then I won't raise at all." He tried the experiment and succeeded, giving the men a good supper instead of whisky. Uncle Daniel was noted for his hospitality. One night when his house was filled with travelers looking for land, and he had neither meat nor butter in the house, his wife asked him how she was going to feed so many in the morning. His reply was, "The Lord will provide," and in the morning before breakfast Uncle Daniel killed a fat deer within a few rods of his house. Mr. Raymond died in April, 1845.
Samuel G. Conkling settled in East Raisin in 1833, also Archibald Richard, John Richard, Deacon Josiah Chatfield, James Boyd, Samuel Murdock, Amos Hoag, and Morrison Sackett. These all settled on farms, making a considerable addition to the population. Nearly all the land in that part of the Township was now taken up by actual settlers, men who proposed to make homes for themselves and their families. They -worked with a will and for an object, and their labor began to tell on the forest.
Samuel G. Conkling was born in Orange County, New York, April 11, 1797. He lived with his father on the farm until he was twenty-three years old, when he purchased a farm near the old homestead, and there he remained until the spring of 1833, when he migrated to Michigan and arrived in, Tecumseh on May 23. He immediately took up a quarter section of government land in section ii, Raisin Township. He lived upon this farm for thirty-five years, clearing up 13o acres, and building a good house, barns, sheds, etc., until it became a most productive and desirable home. He left the farm in November, 1867, and for the remainder of his life resided in the village of Tecumseh, resting in his old age upon the results of his early labors. In politics he was formerly a Whig, and naturally became a Republican on the formation of that party.
RAISIN TOWNSHIP, 289
He was elected supervisor of Raisin in 1894, and was twelve years justice of the peace in that Township.
Archibald Richard was born in County Antrim, Ireland, about 1782, his ancestors coming from Scotland. He was a farmer in Ireland, and carried on a large farm in that country. In the spring of 1828 he emigrated from Ireland to America and settled in Genesee, Livingston County, New York, where he purchased a farm and resided until the fall of 1833, when he came to Lenawee County, driving teams through the mud from Detroit to Tecumseh, and arriving in September. He took up the west half of the southwest quarter of section 14, in Raisin Township, and at once settled with his family in the woods, and upon which farm he resided until his death, in 1854. His son, John Richard, was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in November, 18o6. He lived with his father in his native country until the spring of 1825, when he came to America and landed at Baltimore about the first of June. He had commenced to learn the brick and stone mason's trade in Ireland, but business in that line was dull in Baltimore, and he went to New Jersey, where he worked in the iron furnaces until the fall of 1427 and then returned to Ireland. He remained in that country until the following spring, and then persuaded his parents to come with him and try their fortunes in America. He entered the west half of the northwest quarter of section 23, in Raisin Township, and finally became the owner of 100 acres of highly improved land, with good and adequate buildings. He became a prominent man in the Township, and although lie was not on the "winning side" in politics, was twice elected treasurer and twice supervisor of Raisin. He was active in all improvements in the Township, more especially in the welfare of schools and churches. He was an active member of the First Presbyterian church of Raisin and aided largely in the building of a fine church edifice which stood on his farm. He also assisted liberally in building the first two Presbyterian Church edifices in Tecumseh.
Josiah Chatfield was born in Waterbury, Conn., Dec. 10, 1775, and was one of the first settlers in Greene County, New York, where he owned a farm on the Catskill Mountains. He resided there until 1833, when he came to Lenawee County and located 16o acres of land on section 35, in Raisin, and this land he cleared up and made into a desirable farm. He erected a frame house, good barns, etc., and raised a good orchard. He died there in 1849.
In 1833, also began a settlement in the southwestern part of the Township of the followers of William Penn. The pioneers mostly consisted of a few families-Westgate, Haviland, and Bowerman. They came here with the intention of founding a colony of their own religious denomination, and immediately organized a society and held meetings in the house of Sylvanus Westgate until they were able to build a meeting-house. They were always an enterprising people, and the pioneers being now all gone, their descendants are enjoying the fruits of their labors. A saw mill was built this year by Amos Hoag and others, on the farm afterward owned by James Simonds, and this was the first in the Township and a great convenience to the settlers. Nooney Simonds, an enterprising and active man, afterward selected this land with the view of using the water power for manufacturing purposes. He died in the prime of life, however, before he had time to carry out the many-enterprises he had in view.
Nooney Simonds was born in New York in December, 1790. When a- boy he was apprenticed to a woolen manufacturer at Trenton, N. Y., and after working there for several years he moved to York, N. Y., and established a woolen mill of his own, which he run for three years and then sold it. He then went to Wheatland and purchased a farm and water power, and again built a woolen factory on Allen's creek. He lived at Wheatland until the fall of 1835, when he went to' Huron County, Ohio, and purchased 2,000 acres of land from a land agent who did business for a sea captain residing in the city of New York. After hearing of the purchase, the captain repudiated the action of his agent, and Mr. Simonds lost the property but recovered his money. After this transaction he came to Tecumseh the same fall with the intention of purchasing what is now known as the Globe Mills water power, with the farm attached, but he considered the price too high, and finally purchased of Amos Hoag the south half of the west half of the northwest quarter of section 22; also the north half of the west half of the northwest quarter of section 22, of Stephen Titus; also the east half of the northeast quarter of section 22, of Lodema Hoag; also the southwest quarter of section 22, of Israel Hoag; also the west half of the southwest quarter of section 36, of George Cleveland. He at once improved the water power and rebuilt the old saw mill, and run it until his death. His intention was to build a woolen factory when the County improved sufficiently to warrant farmers in raising sheep to furnish wool to work with. He owned a full set of machinery for a factory, and had it stored in the state of New York until it was destroyed by fire in 1841. In September, 1842, he was taken ill with cholera morbus, and after an illness of about six days, he died.
The first Township election was held at the house of Amos Hoag, Apri17, 1834, and the following officers were elected: Gabriel Wells, supervisor; Amos Hoag, clerk; Joseph Southworth, Richard Horton and Reuben Satterthwaite, assessors; Sidney Derbyshire, collector; Darius Comstock and Thomas Sisson, directors of the poor; Ephraim Reelen, J. B. McRay, and Sylvanus Westgate, road commissioners; Sidney Derbyshire, David P. Hannah and William Saxton, constables; Thomas Chandler, Timothy Mitchell, and William Gray, school commissioners.
Joseph Southworth was born in Mansfield, Tolland County, Connecticut, Jan. 30, 1788, but when young removed with his parents to Edmeston, Otsego County, New York. He was reared a farmer and owned a farm in Otsego County, where he resided until 1832. In the spring of r831 he came to Lenawee County and purchased of John Pennington 16o acres of land on section 23, in Raisin Township, and then, returning to Otsego County, he sold his farm there and moved his family to Michigan, settling on his land in the spring of 1832. There was a log house, and small improvements had been made on the farm. His nearest neighbor on the north was Mr. Derbyshire, who lived over a mile distant, and on the south was Darius Comstock, one and one-half miles distant. That fall Mr. Southworth sowed a few acres of wheat, which yielded a good crop the following summer, and furnished food for the family, which otherwise must have suffered. He cleared up the entire 16o acres, and afterward purchased 16o acres more adjoining, and he also cleared tip the most of this tract. He also purchased a farm on section I8, in Raisin Township. He was one of the organizers of the Township, and as noted above was elected one of the first assessors. For many years he was one of the active men of the Township, and performed his share of the work in organizing and establishing schools and churches. He was sociable and genial, a good neighbor and kind friend, and a man of strong character and strict integrity, sagacious, prompt, and ambitious. He was a lifelong Democrat, and assisted in organizing the party in Lenawee County after Michigan was admitted into the Union. He died in Raisin Township, Sept. 14, 1873.
The first brick were made in 1834 by Judson & Wickwire. The first Sunday school was held in May of the same year in a shanty on the farm later occupied by William E. Doty. In 1835 changes of a different kind began to take place. Some of the pioneers became discouraged and returned East, and others, actuated by the same spirit of adventure which brought them to Raisin, sold their land and journeyed farther west, their places being filled by immigrants. Alvan Doty settled this year on the farm where he resided the remainder of his life.
Alvan Doty was a native of Saybrook, Conn., and came of old New England stock, strongly tinctured with Puritanism, as one generation after another had belonged to the Presbyterian church. In 1807 he settled among the rocks of the Catskill Mountains, where he accumulated a good property. He followed farming under many difficulties, and after the birth of nine children, resolving upon a change of location, he set out with his family in 1835 for the Territory of Michigan. They made the journey via the Erie Canal .and Lake to Detroit, thence overland by teams to this County, locating on section 26 in Raisin Township. Upon this place there was .only, a log cabin, off which the family took possession and made themselves as comfortable as possible. Mr. Doty lived to build up a good homestead and to note the development of the country .around him, rejoicing in its prosperity. He became the owner of 100 acres of land, which he brought to a fine state of cultivation, and he departed from the scenes of his earthly labors Dec. 3, 1866, at the age of seventy-eight years. He was a Republican politically, and was quite prominent in Township affairs, serving as treasurer three years and overseer of the poor for a long period, until the office was abolished.
Edmund Hall also took up his abode here in 1835, and made a splendid farm in one of the wettest places in the Township. Mr. Hall was born in Pompey, N. Y., Feb. 20, 1807, and distinguished himself during his early years as a diligent and thoughtful youth, giving early evidence of those principles of high morality which were one of the distinguishing characteristics of his later life. He remained under the parental roof until coming to the West, first in 1834, when he took up zoo acres of wild land on section 25, in Raisin Township. He then returned to his home in. New York State, but came back to the West the following year and began in earnest the establishment of a permanent home. In common with the early settlers, he labored often under great difficulties, with imperfectly constructed farm implements, and the market miles away. He had "come to stay," however, proving himself equal to every emergency, and the result of his plodding industry soon made itself apparent in a good farm with excellent improvements, and consisting of 147 acres, lie having added to his first purchase. He was never very much devoted to style and fashion, but was a simple, honest, and reliable man, who was prompt in meeting his obligations and followed the Christian precept, aiming to do to others as he would have them do to him. This purest of moral principles served him well through the vicissitudes of a long and eventful life, and no man enjoyed in a larger measure the esteem and confidence of his fellow citizens. Mr. Hall was in earlier years a Whig, and identified himself with the Republicans upon the abandonment of the old party. He held the office of justice of the peace eight years and also served as road commissioner. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Libni Kelley came in 1836. Mr. Kelley was a New Englander by birth and parentage, and first opened his eyes to the light, Jan. 27, 1799. He grew to manhood in Kennebec, Me., to which place his parents removed when he was one year old. Upon reaching manhood he removed from Kennebec to western New York, where he followed blacksmithing, a trade he had learned under the instruction of his father. In 1836 he determined upon another removal westward, and gathering together his personal effects, he started with his family for the wilds of Michigan. Their journey was made by teams, and twenty-one days from the time they started they landed in Raisin Township. Mr. Kelley selected a portion of section 23, where he built up a home from the wilderness, in the meantime watching with intense satisfaction the development of the country around him. He took a lively interest in state and national affairs, was a strong advocate of temperance principles, and voted the Prohibition ticket.
In 1837 many came to the Township who had much to do with improving the country and building tip society, among them Felix Holdridge and Eleazer Holdridge, his son. Felix was a sturdy man of the New England type, honest, industrious, and worthy. He was a pioneer in every sense, and did his utmost in the early days of its settlement to develop the country. One of the saddest catastrophes in the settlement of Lenawee County occurred in his family. One day in October, 1839, his wife went into the woods to gather rushes and was never again seen alive. It was soon discovered that she was lost, the alarm was given, and a general and systematic search was made by all the inhabitants far and near. The search was continued for two weeks, but was finally abandoned by all except Mr. Holdridge, who still persisted, and at the end of about six weeks her body was discovered in an Indian hut in the Township of Dundee, Monroe County, about seven miles from her home. Felix Holdridge died in Raisin Township, about 1855.
Eleazer Holdridge was born in Onondaga County, New York, Sept. 14, 1814, and was reared a farmer. Considering the advantages offered in those days, he received a very fair education, to which he added by study after leaving school, thus fitting himself for teaching, which occupation he followed during several winters. The greater portion of his early life was spent in Royalton, Niagara County, whither his parents had removed when he was about six years of age. In the fall of 1837 he came to Michigan and settled in Raisin Township, where he and his father purchased zoo acres of land on sections zz and 23. This entire tract he cleared up, built a large brick house and barn, and planted an orchard. The first purchase was added to until he at one time owned 34o acres of valuable land. Immediately after his settlement in Raisin, he became active and energetic in all public matters. He was largely interested in the growth and progress of the County and lent every energy to its development. Being a man of good intelligence and education, he soon held a prominent position in society, and ip the first year of his settlement was made school inspector. He always took an active part in public meetings and discussed questions with terseness and intelligence. He was quite a politician, and his actions were swayed solely by conviction. He was elected justice of the peace and served several years, and he was the candidate of his party many times for other and more important offices. He resided on his original purchase until 1867, when he removed to the city of Adrian, where he purchased a good home and resided until his death, which occurred on May 4, 1873.
A log school house was built at Holloway's Corners in the spring of 1835, and the first school was taught in it by Mary Ann Simonds. It was a rude structure, with a large fire-place in one end of it. The seats were made of slabs with the flat side tip, supported by legs resting upon the floor, and the few desks it contained were made by driving pins into the logs and laying boards on them. In that uncouth and uncomfortable building many who went from there to other parts of the country secured the rudiments of an education. The First Congregational church of Raisin was founded in March, 1855. The inhabitants of the settlements having provided rude habitations for themselves and their families, began to think of something further. A bond of union had been cemented among, those who together had struggled through the difficulties of pioneer life. They had learned the value of associations in temporal things, and found that united efforts accomplished more than the efforts of single individuals. Reasoning thus in regard to spiritual things, they resolved to organize a church, and thus secure for themselves, their families, and the whole community, the advantages which can be obtained in no other way. The church was organized in the log house of Deacon Rogers, with seventeen members-seven men and ten women. The Rev. Ashbel S. Wells, of Tecumseh, was present at the organization, and two other ministers-Rev. Reuben Armstrong and Rev. J. G. Kanause were also there. Meetings were held every Sabbath in private houses and in the log school house for about ten years, when a brick church was built. The Rev. William Wolcott was the pioneer minister. in this community, being the first who preached regularly in Raisin church. He was a man possessed of strong powers, both of body and mind, and was well fitted to share the hardships and privations of the early settlers, receiving only a mere pittance for his ministerial services. Like Paul, he administered to his necessities and those that were with him.
Many and varied were the scenes through which the fathers passed in their pioneer days, and those who now live in Raisin Township can hardly realize the changes which have taken place during the past three-quarters of a century. The log cabins have been replaced by more comfortable dwellings, and these again in many instances by fine mansions. The log school houses and also the modest frame school houses are gone, and their places are occupied by beautiful and commodious edifices. The inhabitants today are enjoying good homes, surrounded by every advantage necessary to make them comfortable and happy.