Until the month of June, 1866, the territory now included in the township
of Marilla was a dense forest of maple, beech, hemlock and pine, and inhabited
only by birds and beasts. At that time a man by the name of C. CHURCHILL,
who had left the Empire State, with his family, to find a home in the new
West, arrived here and was pleased with the appearance of the country. There
were numerous springs and streams, and the soil promised fruitful returns.
He built a log cabin and in the dense solitude of the forest formed a home.
Shortly after the arrival of Mr. CHURCHILL, two bachelors named LEVER wended
their way thitherward, and made for themselves a home. In the Fall of the
same year S. EVENS and J. RINARD, with their families, came along and settled
about a mile from the LEVER brothers. D. BOYD and family also located in
the same neighborhood, and the work of developing this new and wild country
The new comers were persevering and energetic, and were prepared to battle
with hardships and trials. Through the day the cattle browsed twigs and leaves,
and at night their mangers were filled with moss gathered from trees by the
children. But there were dark days and times that tested their fortitude
and endurance. There were times of sickness and misfortune. Some of the cattle
died, and some had to be sold to meet various wants. Most of their provisions
had to be brought on the shoulders of the men from logging camps, that were
But the dark days passed. The land was cleared, fields cultivated and prosperity
came as the years went on. Other settlers arrived, until in the Fall of 1869
the town of Marilla was erected by the board of supervisors. The town was
set off from the region known as Brown town.
At a special meeting of the supervisors, held in January, 1870, James H.
WINTERS, James B. BOYD and William H. POPE were appointed inspectors of the
first election to be held in April, at the house of John WILSON.
The first town officers elected were as follows: Supervisor, J. D. BOND;
town clerk, J. H. WINTERS; treasurer, G. LEVER; school inspector, O. LACKEY;
justices of the peace, W. POPE and L. F. HALL; highway commissioners, P.
HOWER, B. YATES, J. WILLSON, H. FARNSWORTH.
The first school in the new township was taught by Mrs. Jennie POPE, who
continued to teach for several terms.
As the settlers increased, various school districts were formed and comfortable
buildings erected. Two of the school buildings are especially fine, costing
about $1,000 each. The town has a well filled public library, which speaks
well for the enterprise and intelligence of the people.
There is a very handsome cemetery located near the central part of the town,
which is well fenced and handsomely decorated with trees.
The church societies are a Congregational and Baptist. The former was organized
in 1872, the latter in 1876. The first person baptized by immersion in the
town was Mrs. M. SNYDER. The ordinance was administrated in May, 1876.
The town is located in the eastern part of the county, bordering on the county
line. It embraces thirty-six square miles. The land is generally rolling,
heavily timbered and well watered. The soil is heavy clay loam and sand loam,
and some of the best farms in the county have been made in this section.
The roads are good and the people thrifty, industrious and intelligent.
According to the census of 1874, the population of the township was 133.
There were 16,811.22 acres of taxable land, 456 acres of improved land.
In 1873 there were raised 746 bushels of wheat, 3,327 bushels of other grains,
4,235 bushels of potatoes; 104 tons of hay were cut; 40 pounds of wool sheared;
3,650 pounds of butter, and 2,080 pounds of maple sugar made.
Other statistics are given elsewhere. The present supervisor is Robert KNOWLES.
The township of Onekama was erected in the Fall of 1866, and the first town
meeting was held the following April, at Portage. N. P. PIERCE, H. HILLIARDS,
and J. HILLIARD were inspectors of election.
The first township officers elected were as follows: Supervisor, E. P. BATES;
clerk, Joel GUERNSEY; treasurer, N. P. PIERCE; commissioners, Amos PIERCE,
S. W. PATCH, Josiah HILLIARD; school inspectors, E. P. BATES, J. J. McKNIGHT;
justices of the peace, S. W. PATCH, David GODFREY, Franklin TAYLOR; constables,
Henry WILLSON, John WRIGHT, Oscar HULL, August TOUL.
The early history of this township was sketched in the columns of the Times
and Standard in 1877, from which we quote as follows:
"As early as 1856 a few families found their way into the green old woods,
and began cutting down the stately maples, wide-spreading elms, and their
companions the beeches, pines and hemlocks.
"John WRIGHT, Esq., was the first to seek a home near the shores of Portage
Lake. He was a fisherman, and he no doubt found the finny tribe abundant
enough to suit his most ardent desire. Very soon he was followed by Messrs.
N. P. PIERCE, J. DAILY and P. McCABE and their families.
"It was no easy task to clear away the growth of centuries and make farms
of the land that had so long been occupied by the native Indian as a hunting
ground,and no doubt those old pioneers often remembered the ancient vow made
by the All Father to Adam, when he was turned out of the garden of Eden:
-'By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat thy bread.'
"from the early morn till late at night did they toil, that in a few short
years they might look upon broad fields of waving grain. Daily and hourly
they dreamed dreams, and saw visions of future happiness when they should
sit down beneath their own vine and fig tree, and enjoy the fruits of their
labors, with their sons and daughters settled about them.
"But it was not until 1864-'65 that this section of the country began to
really put on the appearance of becoming a farming district. About this time
there were several sections of government land taken up, and a goodly number
of families emigrated from various states, east and west, to try their fortunes
in the wilderness. Brave hearts and strong wills they brought with them to
assist them in their enterprise."
After the organization of the township, there was a steady increase in
population. The lake shore gave them valuable facilities for making way with
the lumber made at the sawmill, and the old forest trees were soon made useful,
as well as ornamental. They were converted into commodious and comfortable
buildings, and the surplus lumber was exchanged for produce from Milwaukee
There are four school houses in the township, and two post offices, Pierport
Portage Inn, Onekama
Click on image for larger view
Is a thriving little village, charmingly situated on the shore of Lake Michigan,
some sixteen miles north of Manistee. It is surrounded by an excellent
agricultural country. There are already quite a large number of large farms
in the vicinity, the owners of which are in a sure way of becoming well-to-do,
as the soil produces abundantly and an especially good market is offered
for all they may choose to sell. The growth of timber is principally beech,
maple, oak and ash, is particularly large and thrifty, and is being extensively
manufactured at the stave mill of STILLMAN & CALKINS. The supply
of these woods is practically inexhaustible, and the growth of Pierport,
year by year, until it shall become a city of considerable size, is
The place was first called Turnersport, and the name was changed to Pierport
in 1871. The pioneer business man of Pierport is
C. W. PERRY.
He first came here in 1868. The place was then called Turnersport. There
was a pier that had been built by the Turnersport Pier Company in 1866, for
the purpose of getting out wood. The village consisted of three houses or
shanties, one board, one slab, and one log.
Mr. PERRY was born in Vermont, and went to Wisconsin when about nine years
of age. In 1862 he enlisted in the army, and remained in the service
until the close of the war.
In 1871 he finally settled in Pierport, and took possession of the property
of the Turnersport company. In 1873 he built a store. Before that he had
kept a store in a log building at the pier. He went into the general merchandise
and shipping business. In 1879 he built his grist mill. The sawmill was built
by George DWYER in 1876, and bought by Mr. PERRY in 1877.
He was married in October, 1872, at Waukesha, Wis., to Miss Rilla C. GOUGH.
During the last year he has completed one of the finest residences in that
part of the county. It is located upon an elevation commanding a fine
view of the lake, and is in every respect an elegant home. Mr. PERRY does
a large and successful business and is one of the enterprising men of the
county. He assists all enterprises that will be of advantage to the place,
and is well-known as an honorable and energetic business man.
The first postmaster of Pierport was Charles ECKEL, and for the past twelve
years, C. W. PERRY.
The Bear Lake pier was built in 1879, and the school house in 1874.
The first blacksmith shop was built by Charles CONKLING and is still owned
by him. Another blacksmith shop was built in 1879, which was purchased by
Mr. C. W. PERRY last Spring.
There is a stave factory built in 1877 by STEVENS & MISE. It burned a
year or two afterwards, and another was built last year by E. R. STILLMAN.
It is now owned by STILLMAN & CALKINS.
The Lake House was built in 1875 by Hiram PRATT, its present proprietor.
Another hotel, the Commercial House, owned by C. W. PERRY, is kept by Charles
There is a Methodist class, organized in 1876, that holds religious services
in the school house.
Lake Shore Lodge of Good Templars was organized in September, the present
year, with fifty-five charter members. J. E. BODWELL is presiding officer.
A young peoples literary society of forty members is well sustained, and
is one of the institutions of the place.
The citizens of Pierport are enterprising, and all moral and educational
enterprises are liberally supported.
In the Summer of 1877 a contributor to the Manistee Times and Standard
wrote about Pleasanton, as follows:
"In 1863, it was one unbroken wilderness, and the moccasined Indian roamed
through the forest, hunting bear and deer at his own wild will.
Here he constructed his own rude wigwam and bark canoe by the side of
the smooth, glassy lake, or, perchance, by some streamlet, where the
timid animals came for drink, and the finny tribes afforded him a ready
repast when he was too indolent to roam abroad with a hatchet and bow. The
wild flowers grew in beauty or blushed unseen, except by the native inhabitants
of the forest; only an occasional song bird was heard in the great depths
of the wilderness, for birds seem to prefer the haunts of civilized man.
Not far from this time, Rev. George B. PIERCE, a retired clergyman, and B.
SIBLY, sought home and health in this northern climate, and with their axes
felled the huge, high-crowned foresters, and of them built each a cabin,
wherein to find shelter and repose for themselves and families. Soon
after, others seeing the offer of our government to give away large tracts
of land upon certain conditions, came and took up homesteads, built
log cottages, brought down the centurions to the ground by scores and hundreds,
burnt the timber, and in this way laid the foundation of future farms, that,
at some time, would be bought 'with a price'.
"It was hard, unceasing toil; the early settlers were poor in this world's
goods, some of them having spent their last dollar when they landed in Manistee,
then a comparatively small lumbering town.
"Much of the provisions were 'toted' from some of the lake shore settlements,
a distance of ten or twelve miles; and often at the close of a hard day's
work, over paths that were almost invisible, even in the broad daylight,
on account of the low shrub, commonly known as 'ground hemlock,' by
the light of a torch, the marks of an ax called 'blazes,' upon the trees,
were followed by the weary traveler who plodded over bush and brake, logs
and cradle knolls, stumbling here and there with his heavy burden of potatoes
and flour, with a 'pinch' of sugar and tea, his only luxuries. Not unfrequently
did he feel the hair on his head, as one might express it, rise like
corn stalks, upon hearing the creaking of decayed bushes, as some of the
monarchs of the forest dashed past him, and sped away to some not far off
den. There were no well beaten roads; the mail was carried from Manistee
to Benzonia by way of Indian trail, - no doubt a long, winding way.
"In the fall of 1866 there were only three horse teams in the town; these
were owned by B. GALE, Henry ERB, and James M. ALLEN. Very ordinary cows
were held as high as $60 and $70, and these were brought over from Milwaukee.
Good butter was a thing almost unknown. Potatoes of poor, mixed varieties,
were sold at prices from $1.25 upwards, according to the mercy of the producer,
and the depth of the buyer's purse. The potato bugs had not then arrived
on this shore. Flour sold at from $16 to $18 per barrel; pork $22 and $24
per barrel, and groceries in proportion.
"The center of the town was settled almost entirely by professional gentlemen
belonging to the clergy and their families. The rest of the inhabitants
are, for the most part, thorough, go-ahead farmers.
"According to the census of 1874, the inhabitants numbered 419. There were
19,724 acres of taxable land, 1,058 acres improved. In that year there
were 335 acres of wheat put in; 4,465 bushels of potatoes were raised,
and 6,145 bushels of corn, 12,190 pounds of pork marketed; 11,500 pounds
of butter, and 37,105 pounds of maple sugar were made. In 1876
the improvements had increased and, of course, the yield of produce much
"The soil is a light, sandy loam, and easy of cultivation, and can be
made to yield splendidly by applying a top dressing. The timber is beech,
maple, elm, and hemlock. At present writing the town contains two churches,
a Congregational Church, a simple, common place structure, situated in the
centre of the town, and built, we believe, by a few individuals who were
among the first settlers, and who brought with them the old Puritan spirit
of worshiping God according to the dictates of their own conscience. And
no sooner had they provided shelter for their own families, than they began
to cast about them for ways and means wherewith to build a place in which
to worship the great All Father. The building is also used for school purposes,
town business, and Grange Hall.
"The Methodist Church is a good log building, capable of seating a large
"There are two school buildings, one of which is a well built frame house,
and cost in the neighborhood of $800.
"There is one store situated near the beautiful sheet of water known as Bear
Lake, owned by H. COOK. This lake, by the way, belongs largely to the
town of Pleasanton. Its shores contain splendid situations for country villas
and mill privileges, and it only requires a few enterprising men to step
in and make veritable Edens of these localities.
"A good number of frame dwellings, painted white, dot the town in place of
the original log cabins, showing the thrift of the inhabitants or 'moss
"Almost every dwelling in town has an organ or some other musical
"One of the best public libraries in the County of Manistee is to be found
at Pleasanton, and judging from the appearance of the books, it is a reading
community. We do not know of a single family that does not take at least
one of the county papers, and very many take two, besides state and other
papers, and some one of the best periodicals of the day.
"The log house of Mr. PIERCE, at the centre, was the first house built in
Pleasanton, and, what is remarkable, is that the first marriage in the town
took place in this house, and also the first death.
"There is a good cemetery, well fenced, handsomely laid out, and decorated
with young native trees, and though no elegant monuments adorn its peaceful
mounds, we know that our beloved dead will rest quietly beneath the pleasant
shade of waving boughs.
"The town is for the most part well watered, and the forest affords shade
and pasturage for many herds of cattle that now roam at large during the
hot Summer days.
Almost every farmer owns a span of horses, and many of the best improved
farming utensils. A few farmers are stocking their farms with sheep. These
are to be found to be of great service in keeping down the weeds and the
briars, that are such a constant nuisance in a new country.
Some of the resources of wealth are found in maple logs, hemlock, bark and
small fruits. And whoever chronicles the history of Pleasanton ten years
hence, will no doubt inform the world that it is one of the most flourishing
towns in the State of Michigan.
The town is bounded on the north by Benzie County, east by Springdale,
south by Bear Lake and west by Arcadia.
The present supervisor of the town is Myron ARNOLD. For population,
productions, etc., see general statistics of the county.
Springdale Township was erected by the board of supervisors at their meeting
in October, 1870, and so named on account of its numerous ever-flowing
It is known as Town 24, north of Range 14, west, and is bounded as follows:
on the north by Benzie County, east by Cleon Township, south by Maple Grove,
and west by Pleasanton. It contains thirty-six square miles.
The first election was held at the residence of Titus GLOVER, one of the
first settlers of the township, the first Monday in April, 1871. Joseph MARSHALL,
P. B. FISK and T. D. GLOVER were the inspectors of the election.
The first township officers elected were as follows: Supervisor, John W.
COWGILL; clerk, Willson S. REED; treasurer, Titus D. GLOVER; inspectors,
J. MARSHALL and Willson S. REED; directors of the poor, Lewis E. HALE and
William W. BALL; justices of the peace, John W. COWGILL and P. B. FISK;
commissioners of highways, George S. COWGILL, Lewis E. HALE, P. B. FISK;
constable, Augustus C. COWGILL and Robert C. BURLING. There were eight votes
cast, and every elector was elected to some office, a state of things calculated
to excite the envy of the modern politician.
The early history of Springdale is not unlike that of many other localities.
The first settlers came about the year 1866, and began the work of making
homes which they might call their own. These seekers after homes and fortunes
were not wealthy, and the expense of moving, in many instances, nearly exhausted
their slender resources. The first work was to provide shelter and then go
forth to earn bread and raiment. The work of clearing up their land progressed
slowly. Their own improvements were made at intervals when work abroad
could not be had, and then at a great disadvantage. many of these pioneers
had no teams and but a few tools. There were times of sickness and distress
which called for patience and sorely tried their powers of endurance.
In time, other settlers came in and the town was organized, as stated
The land is gently rolling and the soil very rich. The timber consists for
the most part of beech, maple, rock elm, basswood and pine. As a whole, it
is considered one of the best farming townships in the county. The Betsy
River flows through the northern part, and is noted for its rapid current.
Bear Creek also extends through the township. In Sections 33 and 34 is a
beautiful lake with no visible outlet. Thus the town is well supplied with
water for all purposes.
The total population in 1874 was forty-nine, and there were only seventy-four
acres of improved lands. There were in the town 13,582 acres of taxable land.
In 1873 there were raised 127 bushels of wheat, 305 bushels of corn, 100
bushels of other grains; 600 bushels of potatoes and twenty-two tons of hay.
In 1874 there were made 1,034 pounds of maple sugar and 800 pounds of butter.
The present supervisor of the township is H. W. DOWD.
The whole town of Stronach is one of the three original towns into which
the county was divided at the time of its organization in 1855. The record
reads that the inhabitatants of Stronach met pursuant to law at the store
of James STRONACH, April 2, 1855, and organized by choosing the following
persons officers of the day: S. C. BRYANT, moderator; Andrew C. SHERWOOD
and Adam STRONACH, inspectors; Levi A. McKEE and John STRONACH, clerks.
It was voted that a tax of $40 be raised for contingent purposes. The election
of township officers resulted as follows: Supervisor, Andrew C. SHERWOOD;
clerk, John STRONACH; treasurer, Adam STRONACH; justices of the peace, Elden
S. BRYANT and Horace BUTTERS. The total vote was twenty-two. In 1878 the
total vote was ninety-six.
The present officers of the town are as follows: Supervisor, Paul CAMINE;
treasurer, W. R. THORSEN; clerk, Charles A. FISHER; justices of the peace,
Alfred JOHNSON and Peter PAGGEOT.
The principal history of this township has already been given in the general
history, as it was here that the first mill was built,and lumbering operations
first begun. At Old Stronach Town are the mills of Paul CAMINE, elsewhere
Paggeotville, or Stronach Village, as now called, is located at the head
of Lake manistee, and is principally made up of the interests of the STRONACH
The township is the largest in the county, embracing 137 square miles, and
takes in a large part of the pine regions of the county.
The land is mostly sandy loam, and is adapted to fruit-growing. It is well
watered by the Little Manistee River, Pine Creek, and the South Branch River.
Most of the inhabitants of the town live in the west part, near the City