History of St. Clair County, Michigan
by A.T. Andreas
History of St. Clair County
 This was among the first townships of St. Clair to be peopled by the whites. Previous to 1796, several squatters had possession of lands here, and when, in 1808-12, the United States Government sought to establish such squatters in their possessions, evidence was tendered to show that, for years previous to 1796, improvements were effected by the original white settlers, as named in the chapter on French Pioneers.
The township is rich in its agricultural wealth. Its proximity to railroad and river travel renders every acre valuable. The equalized valuation in 1882 was $440,670; the number of acres of land, 20,955; and the population 1,628, being an increase of 758 since 1845. The St. Clair Railroad passes through the northern sections. Belle River flows southeast through the township, enters East China in its course to the St. Clair.
 At a meeting of the County Pioneer Society, held at St. Clair, November 25, a paper, written by Samuel Carleton, on the Pioneers of China was read. The following is Mr. Carleton's account of the settlement of this township:
On the 21st day of October, 1830, I landed near the mouth of Pine River, from the old schooner Forester, after a two days' trip from Detroit. I was one of a band of sixteen from old New England. Even in those early days the West offered great attractions for the rising generation, and in February, 1828, at the age of twenty-nine years, I left my native town - Bath, New Hampshire - and started westward. After a stay of nearly three years in the town of Stillwater, N.Y., I pushed still further West, and, with the band before mentioned, arrived at St. Clair, when the prosperous city was yet in its infancy.
What now constitutes the beautiful town of China, was at that time part of the town of St. Clair, and, to the best of my recollection, contained the following settlements: At Belle River Mills, William Gallagher had built a saw mill, grist mill and dwelling house; James R. Wolverton lived on the place known as the Rankin farm, and Michael Duchene on the Balfour farm. I know of no other settlement west from there this side of Romeo, then called the "Hocksie Settlement." Below the mills, John Robertson was clearing a farm. On the south side of Belle River, Daniel McQueen and Mr. Fargo owned farms.
In 1832, a man by the name of Amos Wheeler purchased a tract of land on Pine River, and built a house near the mouth of Cook Creek. The following year it was purchased by Henry Cook. The house is still standing, and I think I can safely say it is the oldest dwelling house in the town. It is now owned and occupied by a man who bears the same name, although not a relative of its original owner. About the same time, John M. Oakes and his father bought the adjoining tract of land up the river, and erected a house. David K. Oakes, a son of John Oakes, owns and resides on the place at the present time. The same year, Peter Carleton, and his son Edmund, settled on the farm now occupied by Edmund Stewart, and a little later William H. Carleton located on the place where William Parsons now resides. James Weeks settled on the farm now in the hands of Mr. Griffith, and Thomas Dart near Belle River, on what is now known as the Barger place.
In 1833, I built a house on the farm where I now reside, and moved there the following year. A little later, Peter Chamberlain located on the place where he now lives, and Mr. Hextell, Henry Hammond, Mr. Latham, F. S. Douglass and Clark Worden in the vicinity of Belle River. Myron Williams lived in the Gallagher place several years in the early days, and owned a carding machine.
The Hart brothers, David and Silas, located in the northwestern part of the town. David is living on his farm. At the decease of his brother, his farm passed into the hands of his sons. John Conwell settled on the place now owned by John McMichael, John St. Clair on the place where his widow now lives, and James Low where his son Thomas lives. John Stewart lived several years in this vicinity, and Jacob McQueen located permanently in the same neighborhood. Richard Arlington settled further up the river. Near this period, Adolphus Smith moved to the place where he still lives, and Squire Gillam on to the farm now owned by Mr. Hewitt. Later, Parker Webster went on to his farm, and Samuel Webster purchased his place of Mr. Morris. Francis Duchene and one of the Minnes had settled previously near the center of the town.
In 1836, or 1837, China became an organized township. The town meetings were held in different places, sometimes in one part of the town and sometimes in another, till the erection of a red schoolhouse, near Belle River Mills, when the town furnished $50 building funds for the privilege of holding elections there. The meetings were held there till the erection of the town hall a few years ago.
It would be impossible for me to give a personal sketch of each of these first settlers, therefore I have given merely their names and where they located. I think a majority of them were from the Eastern and Middle States.
 EARLY LAND BUYERS.
Among the patentees of United States lands in this township, previous to January, 1837, were James Fulton, Section 1; William G. Hathaway, L. J. C. Chatterton, George Smith, T. D. Babcock, Samuel Gardner, Richard Nelson, Thomas Palmer, D. F. Kimball, Lot Clark, S. Warren, J. M. Soverhill, M. Healy, B. B. Kercheval, Stephen Cornwall, David Hart, Richard Allington, Mary Hart, Silas S. Hart, Henry Baird, Andrew Westbrook, M. H. Sibley, J. W. Throop, Daniel Lockwood, James McClenan, Jacob Sims, Barzilla Wheeler, John Beach, Daniel McQueen, Jr., Joseph Pitcairn, Bowen Whiting, John Stewart, Chester Baxter, William Steele, William Sweat, Henry Hammond, Franklin Moore, Zachariah Chandler, T. L. Latham, Asahel Northway, Reuben Moore, Samuel Carleton, Edward C. Carleton, W. H. Carleton, Ebenezer Cole, Amos Wheeler, Clark Worden, P. Merrill, George Palmer, Matthias Rikert, Moore R. Barron, William Kingsbery, Mary M. Wheeler, Squire Gillam, Richard Gordon Morris, Henry B. Turner, Trumbul Granger, John Clark, Henry Agens, Joseph Boyton, Samuel Leonard, Miles V. Rood, Almeria Tuttle, Charles Hawkins, Porter Chamberlain, Cornelius Sullivan, Thomas Green, David Robertson, William Gallagher, Samuel Ward, Edward Axtell, Michael Delhene, Charles Cauchois, James H. Woods, W. Willson, Thomas Fargo, William Gallagher, Abram Bush, James Rooney, Charles Bovert, John Franz, Joseph Engert, F. G. Frank, Alexander Cummings, Nathan Clark, J. L. Atkins, C. H. Atkins, Joseph Wakerman, W. Franz, George Kraft, Godfrey Dien, Otto Dien, Joseph Noblet, B. W. Sharp, W. B. Wells, Perrine, Helm, John C. Wheeler, Jacob Warner, James Edwards, J. P. Delentash, Peter M. Dox, Adolph Coburn, Hugh Robinson, Josiah Snow, Benjamin Hager, L. Goddard, A. G. Peir, Jonas C. Brigham, Marcus H. Miles, Valten Sauer, Jonathan Kearsley. The private claims patented were Nos. 302, 303, 304, 306, 310, 358, and 243. - See general history for early sketch of these claims.
What was there in this isolated region to justify such toil and sacrifice? Why have men come from pleasant homes in the States - from gay circles which they enlivened and adorned - to contribute, perhaps, like the coral insect to its jeweled reef, their very lives in the splendid new civilization slowly building here? Ah, there was incentive! The stories of the woods had reached the ears of the restless and ambitious. The souls tormented with the perplexing problem of daily bread, and anxious to get on faster in the world, had heard of the rich forests. Poor, selfish human nature bowed to the god that all worship, and came to find his throne. The love of venture and the hope of gain - the old debated problem among the schoolboys, enjoyment of possession and pursuit - started the tide of emigration. Following the vanguard of prospectors to the new paradise, where, after all, fortunes are to be made only by toil, there is found a Columbus in civilization, tracking the wilderness, as the great discoverer did the sea to discover a new world. He finds, and tells the public; others come in and possess the land. They who bought the pineries and manipulated their properties, have grown rich, and gained lives not been a failure, seeing their results, and reflecting that history is impartial. And who knows by that land where every deed and thought is weighed, and all that each has stiven to do considered, a tardy recognition may not come to the patient prospector, and his be rich dividends, without assessment, through an unending term?
Peter Carleton, 1835-36; Thomas Dart, 1837; Commissioners' Board, 1838-41; David Hart, 1842; Samuel Carleton, 1843; Alfred Weeks, 1844; Lemuel Palmerlee, 1845; John M. Oakes, 1846; John Clark, 1847-48; David Hart, 1849-50; John Clark, 1851, David Hart, 1852; C. Lindsay, 1853, T. C. Owen, 1854, C. Lindsay, 1855; Richard Kirk, 1856; William Butlin, 1857; C. Lindsay, 1858-60; E. E. Carleton, 1861; J. A. Hoffmire, 1862; J. O. Robinson, 1863-64; J. A. Hoffmire, 1865; Chester Rankin, 1866-67; Frederick Lindon, 1868; Chester Rankin, 1869-71; M. F. Carleton, 1872; M. Haulpin, 1873; Chester Rankin, 1874; James Pourie, 1875-76; John Chamberlin, 1877; Frederick Lindow, 1878-82.
 JUSTICES OF THE PEACE.
James B. Wolverton, 1838; Silas S. Hart, 1838; Samuel F. Hopkins, 1839; Edmund E. Carleton, 1840; Seldom Freeman, 1841; L. B. Wolverton, 1842; Lemuel Palmerlee, 1843; William Fenton, 1843; C. Lindsay, 1844; Moses R. Carleton, 1844; William Fenton, 1845; C. Lindsay, 1846; Samuel F. Hopkins, 1847; William Cook, 1849; John Baird, 1849; George Clarke, 1850; Lambert Record, 1850; James T. Clark, 1850; Dolphus Smith, 1851; James S. Clark, 1851-53; Tubal C. Owen, 1853; George Clarke; 1854; Cortland Lindsay, 1856-57; Jonathan Whitcomb, 1857; Silas S. Hart, 1858; James O. Roberson, 1859; Porter Chamberlain, 1860; C. Lindsay, 1861; Dolphus Smith, 1861; J. O. Roberson, 1862; John Byrne, 1862; Peter Wood, 1863; John Byrne, 1864; Chester Rankin, 1865; J. O. Roberson, 1866; Thomas Trevis, 1867; David K. Oakes, 1868; Thomas Trevis, 1869; J. O. Roberson, 1870; A. W. Griffith, 1872-76; C. Chamberlin, 1873; J. M. Richards, 1874-77; Peter Wood, 1874; J. Riley Worden, 1874; N. Westrick, 1875; M. Schriner, 1875; L. R. Robbins, 1879; A. W. Griffith, 1880; F. Osborn, 1880; L. Chamberlin, 1881; Peter Wood, 1882; Jacob Westrick, 1882.
In China, two tickets were run in 1882. The following were elected: Supervisor, Frederick Lindow; Clerk, Peter Wood; Treasurer, William Duchane; Justices, Peter Wood, Jacob Westrick; School Inspectors, Nicholas Westrick, George Schriner; Highway Commissioner, Fletcher Osborne; Drain Commissioner, Thomas Wood.
China, in East China Township, was once a Post Office village. It is only three miles below St. Clair.
The Farmers' Protection Society, of China, was organized in February, 1874, with W. A. Tripp, Dolphus Smith, John N. Kemp, J. McMichael, Calvin Chamberlin, Andrew Husel and Clement Duchane original stockholders. This society appears to have been re-organized May 9, 1874, with fifty-one shareholders.