TOPOGRAPHY-ORGANIZATION-FIRST ELECTION AND OFFICERS ELECTED-JOSEPH BEAL, DEACON' MATTHEwr BENNETT, JOHN R. HAWKINS, LEVI JENNINGS AND OTHER PIONEERS-FIRST DEATH, BIRTH AND MARRIAGE-FIRST RELIGIOUS SERVICES-VILLAGE OF ROLLIN -FIRST STORE-FIRST RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS-FIRST PUBLIC SCHOOL-"WILD-CAT" MONEY-FINE MILL SITE.
This is one of the Townships that, territorially, corresponds with a Congressional Township, only ten of such being among the Townships of Lenawee County. It occupies a portion of the farmed Bean Creek Valley. The surface is generally rolling, and several streams of running water and numerous springs contribute to the fertility of the soil, and form an abundant supply for stock and living purposes, and the Township is admirably adapted to all classes of diversified agriculture. The principal stream is Bean creek or Tiffin river, which drains the Township from the northwest portion to the southward, and the other streams contribute to the facilities for grazing, an industry which is-well represented in connection with general farming and fruit growing. Mill creek empties into Devil's Lake in the northern part of the Township, and in addition there are Posey and Round lakes, and several small streams in the eastern and southern portions.
The Township is, of course, rectangular in shape, bounded on the north by Woodstock, on the east by Rome, on the south by Hudson, and on the west by the County of Hillsdale. Like all other territory in the County, the system of Congressional survey is regular, the land being described by the section and quarter section system, and the Township contains thirty-six sections, comprising 23,040 acres. The territory was originally covered with an abundant growth of excellent timber, and these desirable features early attracted crowds of immigrants, who had followed the original pioneers into the new country.
Rollin was organized as a separate Township on March 17, 1835, from territory originally included in the Township of Logan (Adrian), and the definite boundaries then provided by the territorial legislature have never been modified or changed. The first election for Township officers was held at the dwelling house of Joseph Beal on April 6, 1835, with Matthew Bennett as moderator and William Beal as clerk, and resulted in the selection of the following named persons: Matthew Bennett, supervisor; William Beal, clerk; David Steer, James Bacon and Joseph Beal, assessors;. Elijah C. Bennett, collector; David Steer and John T. Comstock, directors of the poor; Warner Aylesworth, Asa R. Bacon and Joseph C. Beal, commissioners of highways; Elijah A. Bennett, con-, stable; Joseph Gibbons, Orson Green, and Joseph Steer, commissioners of common schools; Joseph Gibbons, Orson Green, Joseph Steer, Elijah C. Bennett and James Boodry, "school inspectors of common schools." It was voted that "our cattle, hogs, and sheep run at large the ensuing year," and "our pathmasters be fence-viewers." The record does not state the number of votes polled at the Township meeting, but at the general election, held Oct. 5 and 6, 1835, there were fifteen votes polled for governor, three votes for lieutenant governor, nine votes for senator, fifteen votes for representative in Congress, and three votes were given for "Representative of Michigan." Of the votes given for governor, Stevens T. Mason received three and John Biddle received twelve; Edward Mundy received the three votes for lieutenant governor; Olmsted Hough, Edward D. Ellis and Laurent Durocher each received three votes for senator; William Woodbridge received thirteen votes for representative in Congress and Isaac E. Crary received three votes; Allen Hutchins, Hiram Dodge, James Wheeler and Darius Mead each received three votes for "Representative of Michigan." There were also twelve votes cast against the ratification of the constitution of Michigan, and one for its ratification. The reader will notice, perhaps, a discrepancy between the statement of the whole number of votes given for the office of representative in Congress and the aggregate of votes stated to be given to the two candidates. Fifteen is said to be the whole number given for the office, while Woodbridge is said to have received thirteen and Crary, three. From a careful review of the vote it seems plain that Woodbridge received only twelve votes. The reader will also have noticed, perhaps, that at the Township meeting no justices of the peace were elected. That meeting was held under the Territorial laws, and by these laws justices were appointed by the Legislative Council. That position was held, no doubt, by Joseph Beal, whose name appears as one of the inspectors of the election.
Joseph Beal was born in Cummington, Mass., April 15, 1778, and resided there until he was seventeen. In the year 1795 he went to Macedon, Wayne County, New York, where his brother, Bernard, then lived and owned a farm. He lived with his brother until he was twenty-one, and assisted him in clearing tip a new farm. About the year 1800 he purchased a new farm in Perinton, and this he cleared up and resided upon until he came to Michigan in the spring of 183o. He came to this County because his oldest son, William, had settled in Adrian Township. In 1833 Joseph Beal located forty acres on section 15, in Rollin, and ever after resided in the Township. At that time there were but two families living within the present limits of Rollin. These families were Levi Thompson, who lived on section 4, and Erastus Aldrich, who lived on section 9. At that time, at certain seasons of the year, numbers of Indians camped around Devil's and Round lakes, and they would often make friendly calls upon Mr. Beal and ask for something to eat. They invariably asked for bread, which they seemed to relish more than any other kind of food. Joseph Beal died in Rollin, Jan. 22, 1877.
Deacon Matthew Bennett was born in Orange County, New York, in 1778. In 1792 he removed with his parents to Wilkesbarre, Pa., where he resided until 1805, when he returned to his native state and purchased a new farm in Tioga County. Not being quite satisfied there, in 1816 he removed to Shelby, Orleans County, and again purchased a new farm, but subsequently settled at Alabama, in Genesee County. One of his sons, Davis D., came to Michigan in 1828, and lived in Adrian until the next year, when he returned to the old home in New York with such glowing tales of-the beauties and the opportunities in Michigan that his father disposed of his property in Genesee County and came to Adrian in 1834, at which place his son, Davis D., who had married and returned, was then a pioneer in good standing. Deacon Bennett located 480 acres of government land in Rollin, where he resided until the last few years of his life. He was the third man to build a house in Rollin Township. He died in Fairfield in October, 1863. The Township was named by Deacon Matthew Bennett, in honor of the Rev. David Rollin, who was his intimate and esteemed friend.
When the first white man visited the Township of Rollin it was an unbroken wilderness, inhabited only by the red men and their dusky families. The only roads were the trails made by the Indians in going from lake to lake, and around their borders. These trails in many places were a foot in depth, and not much more than a foot in width. The only houses were their wigwams, built on the banks of the beautiful lakes in summer, and in the thick wood in winter, and thus the inmates were protected from the cold. On the north and east side of Round Lake, Meteau and his tribe built their wigwams, and also on the east side of Posey Lake, and up. at the head of Devil's Lake, north of Round Lake, were their council grounds. In the year 1835 a grand council was held there.
A few inhabitants had moved into the Township of Adrian previous to the year 1830, but they had paid but little attention to the lands west. The first piece of land bought of the government was the west half of the northwest quarter of section 20, by Ira Alma, of Seneca County, New York, June 4, 1831. The next tract was taken up by Addison J. Comstock, of Adrian, on May 10, 1833, and was that upon which Rollin village and mills are located. In the spring of 1833 the whole country thereabouts was thoroughly explored. Joseph Beal and William, his son, and others, started from the vicinity of Adrian, by a southwest direction, to the section of the country where Morenci is now located. Following Bean creek up to near where Hudson is built, not knowing where they were, they found a section corner, set their compass and started for Round Lake. They were gone from home about a week, and in their long tramp not a house nor a white man were seen. The same spring Orson Green and Joseph Beal came out to the Bean creek country to find homes for themselves and friends. The night of April 10, 1833, they slept on the bank of Devil's Lake, on the morning of the 11th they caught a mess of fish and had a fine breakfast. On June 1, 1833, David Steer, of Belmont County, Ohio, took up the first land for farm purposes-the northwest quarter of section 4. In the same month the first family settled in the Township on land located by Stephen Lapham, east one-half of the southwest quarter of section 4, and Levi Thompson and family were thus the first pioneers. There must have been many a sad and lonesome hour passed by the family; not a house within a dozen miles, not a man to say "good morning" to-a pioneer alone with his wife and three little children. But Mr. Thompson was not long to remain alone in the wild woods of Rollin. In August Erastus Aldrich and family settled on section 9, and in October Joseph Beal and his son, Porter, settled on the west half of the southwest quarter of section 1o. They first put up a little shanty, large enough for the two to live in till they could build a house.
This they accomplished without help. They cut Logs and hewed them square, and in this way succeeded in building one of the nicest log houses there was in the woods for a long time. Early in January, 1834, William Beal settled on section 8, and up to March there were but four settlers in the Township. But from that time to July the number largely increased. Among the settlers that moved into the Township in 1834 were David Steer, on section .5; John T. Comstock, on section 7; Warner Aylesworth, section 28; John Upton, on section 29; Matthew Bennett, on section 24; Salem Vosburg, on section "22; James Macon, on section 27; Roswell Lamb, on section 29; Joseph S. Allen, on section 27; John R. Hawkins, on section 2o; Levi Jennings; Orson Green and Jonathan Ball.
John R. Hawkins was born in the city of Oxford, England, in 18og, and came to America when a young man twenty-one years old. In 1834 he sought the wilds of southern Michigan and took up a quarter section of land in Rollin Township. After clearing and preparing the soil for cultivation he added to his real estate until he became the possessor of 250 acres. He was a man of fair education, 'and had occupied the position of clerk in a hardware store in his native town before crossing the Atlantic. He died at the old homestead about 1882, when seventy-three years of age.
Levi Jennings was born in Milton, Saratoga County, New York, April 2, i8o8. He was a lad of six years when his father died, and was then cared for by James Shucraft the following year, when he was taken into the home of an uncle, with whom he remained until he was sixteen years of age. He then returned to his mother's farm, where he operated with his two brothers for five years. He then purchased a small farm near by, and lived there until 1834, when he sold out and cast his lot with the pioneers of Rollin Township. He landed in Ypsilanti on May 8, and there he left his family until he could determine upon a location. He looked around in Washtenaw County for a day or two, but not being pleased with the appearance of the land in that locality he came over into Lenawee and prospected along the creek in the western portion. He finally located eighty acres on section 22, in Rollin Township, and from that day until his death he called it home. There were then only four families in the Township, and his first business was the erection of a log cabin for the shelter of his family. In 1835 provisions were scarce and flour was worth fifteen dollars per barrel at Toledo, and this article could not be procured at any price in Adrian. Mr. Jennings finally managed to borrow thirty pounds from one of his far-away neighbors, and this, by strict economy, was made to last the family until after harvest. In his early experience in Lenawee County Mr. Jennings passed through the trials common to his neighbors, but these pioneers were men strong of muscle, and they had "come to stay." They were accordingly prepared to meet every emergency except direct starvation, and from this danger they were comparatively free. Some of them, it is true lived on bran bread, which was rather light food with which to furnish muscle for chopping wood and clearing land, but they ate the oftener and pulled safely through. Mr. Jennings assisted in cutting the first roads through the forests, building the first bridges, organizing the Township, and establishing the first schools and churches. For a long period he was regarded as a leader in the enterprises which materialized, one by one, and which a section of country steadily increasing in population forced upon the people, who cheerfully accepted the burden. He served as justice of the peace, Township clerk, and highway commissioner, and lived to see the wilderness transformed into smiling fields and busy villages.
Ephraim Sloan moved into the Township with William Beal. He was born in Pawlet, Rutland County, Vermont, April 28, i8o6. He lived with his parents until he was fourteen years old, when he went to Palmyra, N. Y., and lived with his uncle until he was twenty-one. In r827 he went to Williamson, Wayne County, New York, where he purchased a farm and resided three years. He then sold out and went to Macedon, residing there until 1833, when he came to Michigan, and in the spring of 1834 located land on section 8, in Rollin, where he resided the remainder of his life. When a young man, he followed carpentering, and assisted in building all the first mills on Bean creek, in Rollin. He also assisted in building a large number of the first houses and barns in the Township. He was young when he came to Lenawee County, having everything to gain, and he took considerable interest in the topography of the surrounding country. He sent to Daniel B. Miller, land commissioner at Monroe, and made an arrangement by which he got a plat of the Townships of Rollin and Wheatland (the latter in Hillsdale County), each month, showing the land still untaken. These plats afforded him an advantage that no one else enjoyed, and his services as "land looker" were in constant demand by the new-comers during the year 1834. He enjoyed his- pioneer life here, and never met with any serious accident or misfortune. He always had enough to eat and wear, and to visit with the neighboring settlers, to hear the trees fall, and see the light from the burning log heaps and brush piles at night were great enjoyment to him. He then knew every person for ten miles around, and all was as one family in sickness, trouble or want.
James Sloan settled on section 7, the place afterward known as the Patterson Landing. When he raised his house in the early spring of 1834 every man in town was present-nine in number coming from all directions with guns in hand, with the firm step of men that felt they had something to do, to commence on new land covered with heavy timber, but they were equal to the great work before them. In June of this year the first death in the Township occurred-the wife of John Upton. The funeral was held at the house of the deceased, and she was buried on the farm. The first white child born in the Township was Mary Vosburg, Aug. 27, 1834, daughter of Salem and Lydia Vosburg. The first marriage in the Township took place this year at the house of William Beal-Hiram Aldrich to Eliza Titus. They were married by job Comstock, justice of the peace of the Township of Adrian. As near as can be ascertained there were about twenty-three settlers in the Township in the year 1834, each one feeling the need of constant effort to make themselves and families comfortable. The ground for their cabins had to be cleared and their cabins built, provisions to be brought from a distance, and a number of the settlers were with scanty means. The gun and fishing rod were sometimes brought into requisition to supply food for the family. But corn and potatoes were a necessity, food must be raised, for it could not be bought. The axe, the only necessary tool of the pioneer, was in constant use, its sound could be heard from early dawn till dewy eve; every day the little clearing would be wider, and the early settler would look over the work done through the day with pride.
The winter of 1834-35 was very mild, but little snow, giving a fine
opportunity for the settlers to chop fallow, build fences, and make their houses more comfortable. Of this work they took hold with alacrity, and the sound of the axe was heard early and late. The spring showed many fine fallows ready for the fire; five, ten and twenty acres had been chopped around the log houses, and many showed comfort and convenience.
The principles of religion, morals and temperance were warmly advocated. It is thought that religious meetings were held in the early part of 1835, at the house of Salem Vosburg, and other places. In April of this year a commencement was made on the saw mill at Rollin. Addison J. Comstock gave the management of the building to William Beal, and for this purpose he left his farm. About this time he sold the land on section 8 and bought the northeast quarter of section 2o and the east half of the southwest quarter of the same section, upon which he built a house and immediately occupied it. Mr. Beal employed Ephraim Sloan, Hosiner Clark and others to assist.in the work.
In June of this year John Foster settled on the west half of the southeast quarter of section 27. Mr. Foster was born in County Derry, Ireland, March 21, 1807, and lived with his parents until he was twenty-five years old. In April, 1832, he started for America landing in New York June 8. The cholera broke out in the city a .short time after his arrival, and he went to Farmington, Ontario County, where he worked for a farmer until the spring of 1835. That spring he came to Michigan, landing in Adrian on May 15. He immediately commenced looking for land, and on June 1 he located the west half of the southeast quarter of section 27, the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 34, and the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section 34, in Rollin, where he resided-the remainder of his life. He cleared 11o acres, built a good house, barns, sheds, etc. In the winter of 1835-36, with one of his neighbors, he went to Adrian to the old Red mill. They went with an ox-team, being compelled to go by the way of Devil's Lake and thence through Rome Center. They were two days on the road, and then waited three days in Adrian for their "grist." Their money gave out on Sunday morning, and they were obliged to eat parched corn and drink river water for breakfast. Their grist was to be ground that morning, but just before their turn came the mill-dam gave way, and they were obliged to go home without their flour.
Barnabus Bonney settled on the southeast quarter of section 13. Samuel Comstock purchased a one-half interest in the lands of the Rollin mill property, put up a log house, and moved into it in July. John Haskins and his sons, William and Luther, settled on sections 24 and 26. John Haskins is thought to have been born in Taunton, Mass., Jan. 8, 1785, and there he resided until 1834, with the exception of about four years, when he lived in Maine. He was a carpenter and joiner, but owned a small farm in Taunton. In the fall of 1834 four families, Sylvester Boodry, wife and five children; William Haskins, wife and one child; John Haskins, wife and nine children, and Luther Haskins and wife, twenty-three in all, came to Lenawee County and all settled on adjoining farms in Rollin. John Haskins located 28o acres on sections 24 and 25, in Rollin, and 1g, in Rome. He improved considerable land, built very good buildings, and became a. thrifty farmer. He never did much at his trade after he came to Lenawee County, except to erect his own buildings and the Rollin town house. He died June 20, 1851.
Luther Haskins was born in Augusta, Me., Aug. 30, I8oS. He came to Lenawee County with his father in 1834 and located a farm on section 26, in Rollin, where he resided the remainder of his life. When he was a young man he worked in a machine shop and cotton factory in Taunton, Mass., but afterward learned the carpenter trade with his father. He never followed his trade much after he came to Lenawee County. He built his own house and barns and assisted other settlers more or less, but he paid most of his attention to farming. In 1835 he was warned out to go to the Toledo war, and reported for duty at Tecumseh. He went all through the "war" without a scratch, and returned home after an absence of a week.
Sylvester Boodry was born in Massachusetts, May 23, 1787, and there he resided and owned a farm in Taunton until 1834, when he came to Michigan and located land on section 25, in Rollin. He was the first man to settle on section 25, and there was at that time but five or six families in the entire area that now comprises the Township of Rollin. He cut a road through the woods for a distance of a mile and a half to get to his land, and afterward assisted in opening and cutting out nearly all the first roads in Rollin. He cleared fifty acres of land, built a good frame house and barn, and was one of the prominent and thrifty men of the Township. He died of apoplexy, Feb. 23, 1841.
In May, 1835, Dr. Leonard G. Hall settled in the Township; also, Daniel Rhoads and his son, William, settled on the west half of the southwest quarter of section 21. When the Rhoads family became settled, Dr. Hall made his home with them. The Doctor had many trials to encounter in ministering to the sick and afflicted no roads nor bridges but those made by the settlers for their convenience. He soon married and settled on the farm afterward owned by the Cook brothers; later moved from that farm to the village of Rollin, where he lived a short time, and then to Hudson, where he resided the remainder of his life. In the summer of this year William Beal was appointed postmaster and Porter Real mail carrier. Previous to the appointment of William Beal as postmaster all the mail for this section of country was distributed at Adrian. This was very inconvenient for settlers who had to go a distance of eighteen miles for their letters and papers. This change was received with much pleasure, and the pioneers began to feel that they were not to be deprived of all the advantages they had left in their old homes. The spring of this year was quite favorable for the burning of brush and log piles, and nearly every settler had a little piece of land cleared for corn and potatoes, and a little garden. Provisions had to be brought from a distance-sometimes from Monroe or Toledo hence they were high and somewhat scarce. This gave the settlers a strong desire to raise all they could. New settlers were coming in, and all that could be raised would he needed. Teams were scarce, hence some did not clear the land of logs, but would simply burn the piles of brush and then plant corn and potatoes among the logs; in this way fine crops were raised. In the fall of 1835 the saw mill was raised. The raising of this building required considerable help; all within three or four miles were invited, and they came from all directions. The mill was started in November, giving the settlers the convenience of obtaining lumber without traveling so great a distance. They highly appreciated this advantage, as lumber was very much needed to rake their cabins comfortable. Many very good floors had been made by splitting small logs that had been cut the right length, and then hewing the split pieces on one side. But this mode of making floors was very expensive.
But two houses were built in the village of Rollin in 1835, and preparations for the building of the grist mill were being made. Only three or four additional settlers moved into the Township in the fall of the year. Bishop Van Wert settled on the east half of the southeast quarter of section 27, and Jacob Foster on the northwest quarter of section 22. In the fall of this year there must have been thirty-five or forty settlers scattered over the Township. A more determined, active, resolute set of men could scarcely be found. There were no laggards here and no idlers, as it was no place for such. The first law suit was caused by an effort to sell whisky, by a man named Thomson, who had established a little trade south of the lake. He was notified to appear at Adrian, and this was the last effort to sell whisky for some time. There was considerable sickness this fall-mostly fever and ague-but as a general rule the people of the Township were quite healthy. The winter of 1835-36 was more severe than the winter of 1834-35 more snow and colder-and this gave the settlers an opportunity to haul logs, of which they made good use. The saw mill was kept very busy, and large choppings were made. John Tingley, then living with his brother, north of Adrian, hired forty acres chopped and cleared that season, and in the fall of 1836 he removed to Rollin.
The early home of John H. Tingley was not far from the Atlantic coast, in Sussex County, New Jersey, where his birth took place on Dec. 25, 1810. Upon coming to Michigan he first located in Adrian Township, in 1833, entering 24o acres of government land. This he sold a year later and purchased another tract on section ii, upon which he labored two or three years, then turned it over to his father and brother, and coming into Rollin Township purchased 18o acres of wild land. Upon this he resided the remainder of his life. He tilled the soil to good advantage and gathered around him all the accessories of a comfortable and convenient home, including a commodious residence, a good barn, stables, sheds, and all other necessary out-buildings, and he stocked the farm with good grades of domestic animals.
William Hathaway settled in the Township in 1836, but had been among the earliest landholders. The axe had been kept very busy, and the crash of falling timber was heard early and late. The election this year was held at the house of Jacob Foster, who lived at the center of the Township, and the Township officers elected were nearly the same as the year before. Justices of the peace and constables were for the first time elected, and they were Matthew Bennett, Orson Green, Leonard G. Hall, and Brayton Brown, justices of the peace, and William Hathaway, Ephraim Sloan, Elijah C. Bennett, and Joseph Allen, constables. Levi Sherman settled on the farm afterward owned by Merritt Sherman, and Josiah Ball on the east half of the southeast quarter of section 28. Beal Sloan settled on the farm where he lived the remainder of his life.
The spring of 1836 gave promise of more than usual interest to the settlers of the Township. The Erie & Kalamazoo railroad was in course of construction, with the expectation that the village of Rollin would be one of the points made on its western route. The line for the road was surveyed, but that was all, and Hudson finally obtained this favored boon, in the building of the Michigan Southern road through that place. Preparations for building the grist mill moved forward with activity. A grist mill was one of the greatest needs of the community. There was no mill nearer than Adrian or Tecumseh and there were but very few horse teams in the country. Ox teams were mostly used, and to go a distance of eighteen or twenty miles with an ox team was in those days quite an undertaking. But they had only to wait a short time for the new mill to start, and then they were saved much hard toil and exposure.
The first store in the village of Rollin was started by Azel Hooker and was managed by a man by the name of Allen. The building used was the log house built by William Beal. Mr. Hooker, the proprietor, was a resident of Petersburg, Monroe County, to which place he had migrated from Penn Yan, N. Y., in 1832, when about thirty years old. He was a merchant and a Whig, and represented Monroe County in the state legislature in 1839. He was also a justice of the peace for several years. In 1840 he moved to Buffalo, N. Y., where he engaged in the transportation business, and nothing further is known of him.
Preparatory to the admission of Michigan as a state in the Union a census was taken, and Ephraim Sloan was appointed to perform that duty in Rollin Township. He was engaged but one day in the work and what the number of inhabitants was cannot be ascertained, but at the time of taking the first state census, in October, 1837, there was a population of 508, with two saw mills, one grist mill, and two merchants within the confines of the Township. A number of inhabitants settled in the village in 1836, but their names are not remembered. William Beal having moved onto his farm, Samuel Comstock was appointed postmaster, and in this year Ephraim Sloan took the contract for carrying the mail.
In the spring of 1836 the first religious organization was established by the Baptists, the meeting being held at the house of Matthew Bennett. The Methodists held meetings at the house of William Rhoades, and at the house of Dobson Page. A man by the name of Jackson was the first pioneer preacher, and he was a man much devoted to his calling. These meetings were generally held week-day evenings, and once in two weeks.
Dobson Page was born on a farm near New London, Conn., in the year 1780, and when seventeen years of age removed with his father and family to the town of Columbus, Chenango County, New York, where he resided until reaching his majority.. He then left those frosty hills, where the pioneer had to struggle so hard to secure -sufficient food to make life enjoyable, and went to New York City, where he engaged in boating on the Hudson River, between New York and Albany. He removed to the west in the fall of 1823, and after locating on several farms in the western part of New York state, he made up his mind to migrate to the Territory of Michigan-a bold move, but one that proved a success. On June 7, 1834, with his wife and two sons- Nicholas A., aged seventeen years, and John Olson, aged fifteen-he started for his new home. In October, 1835, he located in Rollin Township, on the west half of the northeast quarter of section 28, and there he lived until his death, June 5, 1847.
The first public school was kept by William Rhoades, at his house, in the winter of 1836-37. It is thought a private school was kept in, the summer of 1836, at the house of John T. Comstock, by Lucretia Beal. The first school house was built on the corner of the southwest quarter of section 22, but this house was burned a year or so afterward. In the winter of 1836-37 the Rollin grist mill was started. The starting of this mill was an event of great importance, not only to the Township of Rollin, but to the western part of Lenawee and the eastern part of Hillsdale counties. For some years this was the only grist mill in this section, and it was kept running almost night and day.
The spring of 1837 gave promise of continued prosperity to the new settlement. This was the fourth year after the first settlement of the Township. No serious drawback had been felt, the progress was onward, and if a few years more of comparative prosperity could have been secured, the early settlement of this section would have been more easy than the early settlement of most new countries. , But there was a dark cloud hanging over the country that was soon to burst. The country had been flooded with paper money, under the wild-cat system of banking. This money had passed current in all exchanges, but in this year it was doomed to smash, and for a few years the greatest inconvenience was experienced with this useless money. To add to the hard times, provisions were very scarce and high in price. Wheat was worth three dollars per bushel, corn two and a half to three, and other classes of farm produce in proportion, making it very difficult for those who had to buy, and particularly for those that depended on their
labor to earn money to support a family. Eastern money was the principal medium of exchange in use, and the people were very shy in taking even this. The state issued state scrip, but in a short time it was worth only fifty or sixty cents on the dollar. In 1842-43 wheat had become quite plentiful, but very low in price, forty to fifty cents per bushel being all it would bring in Hudson and Adrian, and part of the time only half cash at that. These were very close times, so close that some men were under the necessity of cutting green timber, burning it to ashes, and selling the ashes for six cents a bushel to get money to pay their taxes. At what time the Friends held their first meeting in the township is unknown, but probably as early as 1836-37. Their first house of worship was built about one mile east of Addison, and a place for burial was established there at an early day.
Rollin possesses one of the finest mill privileges there is on Bean creek. It is seldom the water is so low that grinding cannot he done, and if circumstances had been more favorable for a village, it would undoubtedly have proved a healthy and beautiful one, the land being light and rolling, with a good farming country around it. Mr. Beal, as soon as he had completed the Rollin mills, made preparations to build the Quaker mills. The saw mill was built in 1837-38; and the grist mill a short time afterward.
The Township of Rollin is one of the best agricultural districts in Lenawee County, and the thrifty farmers are profitably engaged in all classes of diversified farming. Considerable attention is given to the raising of fine stock, and some are buyers and shippers of the same. A very large portion of the grain raised is fed to stock on the farms. There are many fine homes in the Township, an evidence of thrift and prosperity, and the great change has been brought about in the seventy-six years since the first log cabin was built-the first move from savage to civilized life. The log cabins have gone and beautiful structures have taken their places.