Published Under the auspices of Muskegon Board of Trade 1892
In the data for early history the compiler is greatly indebted to ex-Lieut. Governor Holt, of this city, president of the Pioneer and Historical Society. Jean Baptiste Recollect, a French trader, built a cabin near the mouth of Bear Lake in 1812; Pierre Constant located a post at Bluffton a few years later, which he occupied until his death in 1828. This was continued by his daughter Louise until she married Wm. Lasley, who came here in the fall of 1836, and he continued in the trade for many years. In 1830 Joseph Daily built a post near Rodger's foundry site, which he sold in '34 to Louis B. Baddeau. Geo. Campau started the fur trade in 1833 continuing for a couple of years. Mr. Baddeau took out a pre-emption claim in '35 and made a regular entry of his tract in '39, which is to-day in the heart of the city. Joseph Troutier built a trading post in 1835, which he occupied for several years. This was located near the Swan, White & Smith mill site. Martin Ryerson came in May '36, clerked three years for Troutier, then for Theo. Newell, who had come in '36, and in '39 Mr. Ryerson engaged in the Indian trade. Henry Penoyer at the mouth of Muskegon lake in '36; Geo. W. Walton came to Muskegon in '37; J. H. Ford came in '37 and built the mill at the mouth of Bear lake;Thos. W. Dill stopped here for a time in '37, resided at Mill Iron Point in '38, where was born his daughter Minerva, now Mrs. Curry; Isaac D. Merrill, '44; R. W. Morris and A. B. Forman, '45; Jas. E. Graham, '46; Alf A. Maxim came here with wagon and oxen in '43 and engaged in lumbering in this vicinity. The late Major Chauncey Davis came here in 1848 and opened a large general store, also engaging in the shipment of lumber, shingles, etc., and was prominently connected with this place until his death in 1887.
These, so far as we can learn, were all the settlers before 1850, in this immediate vicinity, and as several of the above remained but a short time, it will be seen that the development was small when Muskegon was first platted by Theo. Newell in 1849. Muskegon (as the township was first known) was organized in 1837, comprising the present area of three townships. Township officers were elected in '38, by common consent, and the following year 30 votes were cast in the above area, covering these three townships of the present county.
TOWN AND COUNTY OF MUSKEGON
The Town of Muskegon was originally part of Ottawa County, and comprised 3 townships of land, being 18 miles long and 6 miles wide. The first town meeting was held at the house Newell Wilcox, April 2d, 1838, when the following officers were chosen: Erastus Piper, supervisor; Theo, Newell, town clerk; John Richards, collector; Christopher Fryzine, David Piper and Erastus Wilcox, assessors; Wm. C. Vanosdal, Henry Penoyer and Theo, Newell, commissioners of highways; Lyman Fish and L. B. Baddeau, inspectors of poor; David Piper, Benj. H. Wheelock, Lyman Fish, justices of the peace; John Richards, James Greer, Phelix P. Butterfield, James Stronach, constables. The original records do not show the number of voters at this election, but the following year 30 votes were found in the district.
Muskegon County was taken from Ottawa by an act of Legislature, Feb. 4, 1859. It is 24 miles from north to south, and the average width is about 22 miles.
The first election of county officers was held April 4, 1859. The county officers entering upon their active duties June 1, of that year. The population of the county in 1860 was 3,947; '70 14,894; '80, 26,598; '90, 39,978. Muskegon county is located near the center of the western boundary of the Lower Peninsula, has an area of 332,800 acres, is diversified with small lakes and beautiful scenery along the shore of Lake Michigan. It is the center of the fruit belt and has fairly productive soil, many places being of superior grades. Muskegon and adjoining counties have been stripped of their primitive forests, are rapidly being developed into farms, vineyards, and orchards. Much of the soil is well adapted to corn and the small cereals; potatoes, onions, sugar beets, parsnips and celery. The entire line of vegetables raised here are remarkable for fine quality and with intelligent culture are highly profitable; persons of large experience in sweet potato culture predict that these can be made remunerative, as they can doubtless be grown to perfect maturity throughout the fruit belt. Apples, peaches and plums grow to perfection and hold first grade in all the great friut markets. Grapes, berries, currants, and all the small fruits, either wild of cultivated, are unusually prolific in this soil and climate. Timothy, clover and other grasses appear natural to the soil and respond liberally to cultivation.
County Government.- The Muskegon county court house, which was erected in 1869, at a cost of $68,000, was burned in the great fire of 1891, and the new building, now approaching completion on the same lot on Terrace street, will cost about $100,000. The basement is of Marquette stone and the superstructure of Portage red stone, a handsome clock tower rises 140 feet from the ground and the building throughout is first-class in every particular. During the erection court has been held in the city hall and the county officers have been scattered in various buildings. With its completion commodious offices will be assigned to each of the county officials, and Muskegon can then boast of a court house which will bear favorable comparison with any in the west.
Circuit Judges.- When Muskegon county was organized, Flavius J. Littlejohn, of Allegan, was judge of this judicial district, and continued to officiate until his death. Moses B. Hopkins, of Grand Haven, succeeded in August, '67, and continued through '69. Jabez G. Sutherland held court January, '70, but the April term was opened by Augustus H. Giddings, of Newaygo, who served up to June, '76 and died the following winter. Michael Brown, of Big Rapids, succeeded February, '77, resignig after four years service. Fred J. Russell, of Hart, was appointed to fill the vacancy, and in '81 elected for a six years term.
Hon. Albert Dickerman, who succeeded to the bench January, '88, is a native of Delaware county, N. Y., graduated from the Union Law School of Cleveland in '66, and the same year located in Hillsdale, Mich. He served as circuit court commissioner of Hillsdale County four years, probate judge four years and state senator '81-2, being a member of the judiciary com., and removed to Muskegon n '83. He was elected in '87 for a six years' term as judge of the 14th judicial circuit.
Sheriffs.- At the first election for county officers April 4, 1859, Jas. H. Lobdell was chosen as sheriff, and succeeded by T. S. Davis, '63; S. J. Ackerman, '67; A. M. DeClercq, '69; A. B. Miner, '71; Wm. Ryan, '75; T. F. Waters, '79; Timothy Bresnahan, '83; Nels P. Nelson, '87; Wheeler Hancock, '91.
Wm. H. Smith was appointed under-sheriff by Wheeler Hancock, and when his superior died, August 5, 1891, he succeeded to the office. Mr. Smith has resided in this county since 1883, having been engaged in a flour mill and otherwise at Ravenna prior to his appointment in the sheriff's office.
Sheriff's Residence and Jail.- The new jail and residence for the sheriff, which was completed early this year on Muskegon avenue, near Pine street, is as handsome a building as can be found anywhere for jail purposes. We present photographic cut elsewhere giving one view of this fine structure, although it is difficult to convey correct impressions of residence architecture from a single view. The building is 68x88 feet, two stories in height, solidly constructed of brick, stone and iron. The jail has 29 cells, with room for half as many more. The sheriff's residence is provided with all modern improvements and commodious office apartments, the entire structure costing about $30,000.
Registers.- The first register of this county was C. D. Nelson, succeeded by H. J. Pemberton, '63; D. C. Carpenter, '67, died and David McLaughlin, appointed April, '67, elected for five successive terms; Edw. S. Latimer, '79; Jas. B. Lee, '83; C. S. Dodge, '87, and the present incumbent, '91.
Sanford H. Watson was born at Springwater, N. Y., 1852, and was brought to Muskegon County when three years old, since which time he has always resided in this county. He was engaged in the lumber business for a number of years, but prior to coming to Muskegon in December, '90 was attending to his farm on White River. Miss Kate McShannock has been assistant to the register's office since 1886.
County Clerks.- E. H. Wylie was elected clerk in '59, and was succeeded by Ira O. Smith, '61; H. J. Pemberton, '63; D. C. Carpenter, '67; David McLaughlin, app. and elected in '67; Geo. Wheeler, '77; John Tate, '79; G. S. Lovelave, '89, and the present incumbent, '91.
Tate Starke was born in Richmond, Va., educated in the smeinaries and colleges of his native state. He came to Muskegon in 1879, and was in the railroad offices until he accepted a position as bookkeeper of the Thayer Lumber Co., in '81, and for several years past has officiated as salesman. He served as alderman from the sixth ward for two years, is at present member of the board of public works. Jos. E. Hanna, of Mason Mich., who has for four years past been a law student, officiates as deputy clerk.
County Treasurers.- Jos. D. Davis was succeeded in '63 by T. J. Rand; S. C. Hall, '65; Ezra Stevens, '69; Martin Perley, '71, J. H. Hackley, '78; C. H. Cook, '75; C. T. Hills, '77; R. S. Thompson, '79; H. S. Henderson, '83; C. P. Kingsbury, '85; Martin Walker, '87; S. S. Morris, '89; H. J. Van Zalingen, who has been county treasurer for two years past, is a native of Grand Rapids, in Muskegon from childhood, and in the hardware trade since 1876. He is present manager of the Muskegon Hardware Co.
Prosecuting Attorneys.- Henry H. Holt was first elected as prosecvuting attorney, Edwin Potter succeeding in '63; Duane Thompson, '67; Francis Smith, '73; Andrew McReynolds, '75; Nelson De Long, '77; M. L. Stephens, "79; De Long again, '81; Geo. Cater, '83; H. L. Delano, '85, (he having also served out the last six months of De Long's second term and a part of Cater's term;) J. C. McLaughlin, '87, and W. J. Turner, the present incumbent, entered upon the duties of the office January, '91.
County Coroners.- E. A. Partridge and T. S. Davis were elected coroners in 1859 and were succeeded by A. b. Brooks and J. A. Wheeler in 1861; Horace Jones, R. w. Morris, '63; H. B. Holbrook, John Welsh, '65; G. B. Woodbury, A. B. Firman, '67; E. N. Van Baalen, C. M. Mills, '69; Chas. G. Archer, A. B. Firman, '71; E. N. Van Baalen, John Grossman, '73; Geo Moog, J. D. Vanderwerp, '81; Geo. Moog, C. J. Dove, '83; J. D. Vanderwerp, C. E. Koon, '85; J. D. Vanderwerp, W. B. Nicholson, '87; Henry Hull, E. N. Van Baalen, '89; J. E. Bergeron and W. H. Lobdell, '91.
Probate Judges.- Jesse D. Pullman was elected probate Judge in 1859, and succeeded by W. F. Wood, '65; E. H. Wylie, appointer in '65 and elected for three successive terms; Orrin Whitney succeeded in '85.
Stephen A. Aldrich, a native of Calhoun County, Mich., has resided in this county since 1865, and was in agricultural pursuits prior to his election as probate judge in 1888. Nellie Conklin has been deputy for 10 years past and for 4 years has also been deputy to county clerk.
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