Harrison Edward Schellhous (1885-1969), grandson of Lorancie's younger brother Cyrus, transcribed the original manuscript. In a correspondence (circa 1963-1965) to the Niendorf family, Harrison Edward Schellhous describes a 24 page manuscript that he received in 1962 from Ellis L. Schellhous, a grandson of Lorancie. The description read... "in long-hand, old, brittle, hard to decipher, with run-on sentences and no capitals...". Harrison then transcribed the manuscript onto type-written pages, double-spaced, and subsequently sent copies to numerous descendants.
By request of my children
|I will try to give a short history sketch of my life. I was born in the state of Vermont and county of Addison, township of Ferrisburgh in A.D. 1793 May the tenth. My father, Martin Schellhous settled in that township soon after the Revolutionary War with Great Britain. He made large improvements before my remembrance, was by trade a tanner and curer. The first of my remembrance to labor was grinding bark with an old fashioned cog wheel, when rolling around and around with a horse which I had to perform the task of following around with a rake, to keep the bark under the wheel. As I grew older I was put to harder work. Sometimes on the farm and in the tan yard, and was brought up to hard labor. My chance for education was quite limited. Our folks often called me an unlucky boy. I had broken one of my legs, a few years after was driving some sheep from the orchard, fell on a sharp stone which cut the flesh from the bone, which laid me up for a long time. The Doctor at one time thought I should have to have it taken off, and it caused me to be lame for a long time. This was just before the war with Great Britain in A.D. 1812. I was at that time nearly eighteen years old. A draft was to take place to raise an army. I was examined by a surgeon of the regiment, and he gave me a certificate pronouncing me not a fit subject for military service, which cleared me from the war. Just before the trouble with Britain my father had bought a tract of land in addition to his farm which involved him in debt, he was dependent on Canada market to sell his leather but the embargo between the U.S. and England stopped all trade.|
Here I must tell a little circumstance which happened before we got to Buffalo. Those of the children that could walk some times went on foot ahead of the others, which I was driving and was close behind. The forward team came to a large mud hole, undertook to shun it, run the wheels on a sidling rock which turned the wagon over in the mud hole, had to pull the little ones out of the puckering string, then there was trouble in good earnest, had to unload, right up the wagon, load up the best we could, started on again. But to Buffalo. There we had the Privilege of seeing Commodore Perry and most of the British Prisoners, was bound about a week, had to leave a part of our goods on the account of bad roads and heavy loads. Father still kept failing yet we keep moving, gained a little every day. Got to Euclid, had a chance to trade one of our horses for a yoke of oxen, then got to Cleveland. There we met our Uncle Stephen Cable, and he helped us to our journey's end. Arrived in Bridgeville (Ridgeville) the 17, day of November and on the 27th day our father died. After attending the funeral services obtained a small log house which answered for a shelter for the family. Then returned to eighteen mile Creek for the goods which we left there. Got back in about two weeks. Now the next thing was to prepare for winter. Provisions were scarce and hard to be got. Got some corn by paying one dollar per bushel, had to husk it ourselves, then take it to mill on horse back about 8 or 10 miles through woods and swamp, which would take two days. Could get but little wheat flour. My uncle was a good hunter and taught me to hunt deer, raccoon, turkey and honey bees, which was plenty. There were also plenty of excellent fish in the river at the mouth of the rivers in the spring. By that means the family were supplied with food.
The next thing was to find a piece of land for a house. Could not get any that was suitable so we stayed in Ridgeville until the next winter. Brother Martin was left behind in Vermont to Settle up the business. He had not yet come to Ohio, yet did not expect him under a year and a half or two years. Mother got quite uneasy about a place for a home. We had heard that there was a good chance to buy land in the Township of Florence about eighteen miles west, farms that some people had left in time of war. Then I got Mr. Cable, my uncle to go with me to see what we could see. We took our rifles and started one morning through the wilderness, with no signs of the Black river and the Vermilion, got through to the settlement that night, found the agent of the land, got a description of a lot, got the papers the next morning. Mother was much pleased with the description. There was on it about ten acres of improvements. It was then about the middle of December, the next winter after we arrived in Ridgeville. At that time the snow was about eight or ten inches deep. We had kept the ox team. Then we had concluded to try the woods, to go around by the way of the lake road. It would be about fifty miles, so I hired a man with his ox team to take a load of our goods, got two young men to go with us to cut a road. We finally got ready, started one morning, got to one branch of the Black river where the city of Elyria now stands, then all wilderness, got across both branches in safety, took a bee line west, got about half way the first day, camped out and the next morning started on again. We got through the same afternoon in time to unload and make preparation for the night. Mother was well pleased with the situation, and felt at home once more. Then I took a job of clearing a piece of land which supplied in part for that winter's provisions.
Brother Martin returned or came to Ohio, stopped in Ridgeville. He married a wife in Vermont after we left that state, and finally he came to Florence to see how the family got along, paid for the land that I had agreed for. He finally concluded to settle in Florence. By that time I concluded to try to do something for myself. I had heard that a man by the name of Parks on the Huron River wanted to hire a hand to work in a tan yard. I went to see him, hired out to him for twenty five dollars per month. After working two or three month's he offered to sell the yard and forty acres of land to me and a man that worked for said Parks, if we would tan 400 hides which he had on hand. The yard was well stocked with tools, a bood bark mill, quite a lot of bark on hand. The man's name was Barker, I finally agreed to go in partnership with him. I was to have one half of the premises. We had quite a large quantity of the hides worked into the bark. I had been some time from home, took a notion to visit a few days in Florence and Ridgeville so I left expecting to return in a few days. I had formed an acquaintance with my first wife when I was in Ridgeville. A young man asked me to take a ride to the P.O. at Dover on the lake shore. I got a horse to take of my Brother Martin, started, got about one and a half miles stopped for a few minutes, then I went to get on my horse as I put my foot in the stirrup, gave a spring to get on, the horse wheeled right towards me (not being on my guard as I ought to have been) and pitched me over the horses' back. I struck on my shoulder, broke my arm above the elbow. I was then in a bad fix. My partner left alone with a double task to perform. I was laid up two or three months. What to do it was hard to tell, as soon as I was able went back to see how my partner got along I found myself so far behind with no means to help. I told him I should be obliged to give up not being able to use my arm. I could not work. Finally we came to a settlement. He turned me out a horse called about $70 and about $60 dollars worth of leather. I sold the horse for shock fed pork, took the leather and pork, went back to Florence where mother lived, went to work and built a small log shop for a shoe shop. I had some experience in shoe making, and went to work that winter. That winter made up my leather for provisions for the family.
That was the end of my first years labor for myself. Martin had lost his wife while in Ridgeville, had moved his goods to Florence, and he told me I had better go to work at tanning. He would let me have sixteen acres of his land where my shop stood, and start a tannery, as there was plenty of hides in the country. After thinking the matter over I made up my mind to do so, accordingly went to work. Martin had brought some tools with him for that purpose from Vermont. He said he would help me start. This I think was in the month of March 1816. Lumber was scarce so I took some large white wood logs, dug them out for vats, then made me a bark wheel full of cogs, got all ready for work. The inhabitants found out what I was doing, brought in all I could ask for, and when the bark would peel I went to Peeling bark, got quite a quantity on hand. The next thing was a housekeeper, then went to Ridgeville, and married my wife, brought her home (if you could call that home) on horse back with all the goods she possessed, we were quite destitute.
The road I had cut through the woods, by this time was quite a traveled road. Martin seeing our situation told me he would lend us bed and bedding until I could furnish myself, also some dishes, so we went to keeping house on that scale. I continued my tanning business through the season. My wife got dissatisfied living away from her friends, which made me somewhat discouraged, provisions scarce, leather not tanned enough to finish off. I finally got quite discouraged, told Martin I should have to go at something that would realize sooner that the business that I was then in. Finally he told me that he would give me (if I was determined to quit) a yoke of steers and a cart, the hind wheels of a wagon and the bed and bedding and what other articles I had borrowed worth in those days, about $125 or $130. Then it was quite late in the season and I had not any preparation for winter. Concluded to accept the offer. I went and fixed a box on my cart, packed our duds on the same, hitched my cattle on, got my wife on top of said treasures, and started back to Ridgeville to my wife's father. Left her there that winter then I went to Medina County to one of our old Vermont neighbors', by the name of Rufus Ferris who was employed to make improvements at the county seat. of that county. Took a job of chopping not much used to chopping, but soon it came handy. I chopped or windrowed twelve acres or about that, bought me a cow and some iron ware and several articles for house-keeping. Returned to where my wife was, much pleased with my winter's work.
Then in the month of April I had an addition to my family. My daughter Martha was born, after I had returned from my winter's work. I and my brother-in-law took a job of chopping one acre of heavy timber where the city of Elyrea stands, had to cut all the stumps level with the ground. I got half a bl. of pork, got some other necessaries, then prepared to go somewhere to find a place to make a home. So I gathered up my whole treasures consisting of my wife, one child, one cow, and one cow yoke of oxen and my cart, started west to the town of Black River was called afterwards Amherst. Contracted a piece of land, got the privilege of staying in a house with a family by the name of Webster until I could build a house. Then I went to work, cut logs, cleared a spot large enough to set my house all alone. We had a good spring of water close by. After working making what improvements I could alone, the next winter I was taken with the rheumatism so bad I could hardly help myself, knees were swelled as large again as usual which continued all winter, in the spring I told my wife I was going to the mouth of Balck (Black) River a fishing. She told me I had better stay at home. I could not fish if I were there. I made up my mind to try it at any rate. All the way I could walk was to place my hands on my legs above me knees and in that situation hobble along. In that situation I got my oxen hitched to my cart, took my lunch and started for the mouth of the river, got there in season to prepare for fishing. I found quite a number of fisherman on the ground; and they seeing my helpless condition, assisted me with torch bark, when it was dark enough we lit up our bark torches. I hobbled into the river or water, spear in one hand, torch in the other, waded around, did not venture into very deep water. The water seemed cold at first. I caught two or three pike, fish came out of the river where we had a nice fire, stood around it, got warm then in the river again, continued all night. I had caught quite a lot of fish that night. In the morning found to my great joy that the swelling of my knees was almost gone. I could stand up quite straight, then loaded up, went home rejoicing. My wife was as much surprised as myself. My health grew better, and I was soon able to work again. I had a great liking for hunting deer. They were plenty so in the first of Oct. I commenced hunting, hunted until the first of January had killed seventy two deer, sold most of the hides. I dressed some having learned the art of indian smoke dress. After dressing some good skins I cut and made me some leather overalls, which answered a good purpose for me. In those days of hard time.
I have not space or patience to tell all the trials we had to pass through; but I must tell a story about snakes on that place was often found rattlesnakes about us. One morning our daughter Martha, about one year and a half old was playing by the side of the house; as I passed by where she sat, I discovered a large yellow rattlesnake not more than three or four feet from her lay couled in a ring I tell you I sprang for the child more scared than hurt. The snake did not live long, I assure you. The neighbors and myself had discovered where they had a den on the banks of a creek nearly half a mile off, so we agreed to visit the place daily by taking turns, one at a time. So the next spring when it became warm they would crawl from the den and lay in the sun to warm themselves. So we commenced our warfare, took our regular turns after the first meeting, only four of five of us agreed to cut a notch on a sapling for every snake we killed. So we continued as long as we could find a snake, came to count up the notches, found it to be sixty odd. Now to tell all the trials we had it would take too long.
I had made quite a good improvement. There was a Railroad layed out through the center of my place, by this time I was to make a payment on the place, money was scarce but kept at work. Several families had moved into the neighborhood with the rest Jesse Webster and family, (this is now my wife). About this time I had another addition to my family. Leonard Schellhous was born. My wife was telling not long since, that she was the one that put on him the first shirt he ever wore. Finally to cut the story short there was an old Quaker came along, offered to buy my place. I thought to better myself, and sold out to him. Then my brother Martin in Florence offered me fifty acres of land joining his with a log house on it and a small clearing. I bought it and had money enough to pay for it. Then once more packed up, and moved back to Florence; then I concluded I had a home of my own. I went to work in earnest. In the meanwhile the road was altered that ran by my house, which left me some ways from the road. After a while I built another quite good log house. Made quite a good many improvements. Built a frame barn, was doing as well as I could. About that time my wife was taken sick with consumption, was not able to do but little, began to feel dissatisfied with living away from all her friends, was anxious to once more return back to Elyria, So I had a chance to sell if I would take my pay in stock. I told him if I could turn the stock to pay for another place, I would trade. Money was scarce, hard to get then. I went to see what I could do. Herman Ely was the owner of the township Elyria, and I soon found a piece of land that suited me. He agreed to take the stock if I would pay it in oxen, one yoke a year. I then sold out on those conditions. Closed both bargains then had to begin on a new farm again, in the woods.
I built another log house, moved back to Elyria, stayed on the place a year or two. My brother-in-law owned a piece of land on the state road. He wanted to trade with me, he had a good log house, and some improvements so I traded with him. I changed places and I was then on the very road that I cut through the wilderness when I first came to Ohio. It had become a state road, from Cleveland to Sandusky. After I had moved, had paid for the land almost, and was trying to live again, the best we could, my wife grew worse, through the winter, and finally died early in the spring. I think in March, her sister Polly had stayed with her through the winter. I broke up housekeeping, for a time, went to work at carpenter work with brother George. Martha went to live with her grandmother; Leonard with his uncle Clark Eldred, worked at the business some time, got uneasy, and concluded to give up that business. I often thought of my home I had left. I had formerly formed the acquaintance of a person by the name of Cynthia Webster, who was one of our neighbors when living in Amherst. She had lost her husband, about four years ago, she had two children named Teresa, Nine years old, and Melissa, five years, after a while I concluded to call on her and make her a visit. I also did so, was received kindly. After talking over our situations, I finally popped the question. She finally accepted and we were married. I then took my family of wife and four children to my place in Elyria. Then concluded to build an addition to our house and barn for the purpose of keeping, Tavern, as there was considerable travel on that road. Finally got ready, put out our shingle. We soon found all the customers we wanted. The next year after we were married we had another addition to our family, our son Loran was born.
Now for Michigan. In the year 1829, brother Roswell left Ohio, moved to Michigan, bought on Nottawa Prairie, built him a small log house with two rooms, extolled the country very highly, which gave our friends the Michigan fever. At that time I had a slight attack, but got over it. When brother Marten and Samuel Noyes and brother George went to see the country, they liked it well. Marten and Samuel Noyes and brother George went and each entered a quarter section, which took all the money that George had. He got a man to enter a fraction of 119 acres where Colon now stands, told me he could redeem it in a year or two. Then he came back to Ohio, told me the situation. I took the fever and agreed to go with him, if I could sell. I soon found a chance to sell, and sold cheap, took the money, and started with them to Michigan.
I paid for the mill site as it was then called, bought a fraction of land where Mr. Scott now lives on Little Prairie. Then I returned home again; this was in the fall of the year 1830. Next thing was to get ready to go to Michigan. Had the winter before us, our mill irons to make, got a blacksmith to make them. Got the irons for a breaking plow, got all things ready to start the last of April. The company that was with us as follows, my family with five children, Loran was the youngest (he was two years old) brother Marten and family; George Brooks and family; in all thirty one souls. Eighteen of us ate together or messed together. I had two wagons, five yoke of oxen, three cows, a noble sow with eight shoats. I finally got started on in good spirits with plenty of provisions. Got along slowly, had no bad luck, roads quite muddy, came to the Maumee Swamp, had a hard time to get through but finally got to Maumee River, crossed it in a ferry boat, then went on to Monrowe, had to camp out a good many nights. If we could find a good place to bait our teams we would stop, sometimes stay all night, start in the morning early. We got to Coldwater Prairie, there was one log shanty in the whole prairie. The man had plowed two or three acres. We found a good place to feed our teams, camped there all night. The next day camped at hog creek, then the next got through to Nottawa prairie where brother Roswell lived; on the 16th day of May 1831. While we were talking and shaking hands our comrade Brooks had unloaded; his bedding and the other articles filed one of the rooms, and had no chance to hardly turn around, finally got straightened around, got some mush and milk for supper, took our wagons for lodgings the best we could. In the morning got some breakfast. My wife said to me, "If we have a place to go to let us go there." "I glory in your spunk," so said I. So I told George our calculations, and got our teams together, loaded up the family. This was Sunday morning, and started, got to the creek about the middle of the afternoon, turned our teams out and drove them to the marsh. There was then good bait for the cattle. Then went to work to fix a tent, went on the creek bottom below where the mill stands, cut some poles and crotches, peeled some bark, barked it up, stuck down the crotches put on the poles, covered the top with bark, hung up some blankets, built a good fire, prepared our supper and got a good nights rest. We felt glad we had got through thus far Monday and got a good night's rest. We commenced cutting house logs, cleared a place to set the house after we had logs cut, commenced hauling placing the foundation, hauling and rolling up with the oxen, continued that way as far as we could without help, then we got our neighbors to help put on the last long, then for the roof, cut down a large tree, and sawed it in blocks, three feet long, then rive it in shingles, then called shakes, covered the house. I took one of my wagon boxes to make a door, built a stick chimney at one end of the side of the house, then placed our long shingles on them, then placed our beds which answered for beds the same week Saturday night we moved into our house, one week from the commencement of building. Then Monday morning went to work to wood our breaking plow. Found a winding tree to make a moldboard, make a complete plow, then went down to Roswell, broke up six acres of prairie, dropped the corn in the edge of the furrow, so the next furrow covered the corn. Before we went to the prairie we tried to plough at home, ploughed about 1/? acre for garden, we did no more to our corn. In the fall and had a nice piece of corn. When we got plowing and planting corn done it was the sixth day of June, 1831. In the meantime we planted our garden, raised a nice lot of vegetables, melons, broom corn, and our stock made us no trouble, came home every night. Great fat hogs lived on shack which laid on the ground all winter.
A little before we moved to Michigan the country had been burnt over The white oak openings was as black as you please, in two or three weeks it changed its appearance and became like a beautiful garden. Then after making all necessary arrangements commenced to begin to make our arrangements cut and hewed some timber. Cut timber for the dam, finally concluded to let it rest until the next spring. It had got too late to put in the dam, so George went back to Ohio, was gone most of the winter. Late in the fall Charles Palmer came to Michigan, moved into our house which was then quite full. He selected the land east of the creek, then moved into it. George got back, then we commenced to build a mill hired a mill wright to make the running gear. Hired several hands to help. Got the dam and the mill frame up and plank for the flume from Hog Creek, Then on the Chicago turnpike called Adams and Kents mill. Finally got the mill a running, then commenced the sickness, all through the country, fever and ague. Out of the thirty-one souls all sick but myself. I cannot tell all the particulars we had.
We sawed about 12,000 ft. By some means the water found a hole under the flume, which tore a hole ten or twelve feet deep under the flume tore out about sixty feet of the dam, then I felt rather down in the mouth but there was no other way but to repair the loss, so went to work again, pried up the mill, got it level again, then cut logs about twelve long, placed them like a log house, notched them as you would to build a log house, commenced on the top of the water site over the hole under the corner of the mill, and flume continued in that way until the crib of logs had settled on the bottom, then filled it full of brush, and gravel then repaired the dam, got the mill almost ready to run again. Previous to this my mother and brother Cyrus and family had moved to Michigan. Cyrus had bought a lot of land where F.O. Vaughn lives. Had built a plank house, had moved into it.
Mother was taken sick with all the family, had to leave our work to care for the sick. Our mother died in that situation. We had neglected the dam, and a small place in the dam was not finished graveling. The water in the pond had raised faster than we were aware of which found a way under the dam, which tore away another part of the dam, about sixty or seventy feet further over. At that time my means were almost exhausted, except my fraction of land on Little Prairie, where Scott now lives. I had to sell that to get means to put in another dam, so I sold it to brother Marten for $1.75 per acre, threw that into the creek with the rest, not quite discouraged yet, built up the dam again (I believe it stands there yet). We had in the meantime quite a lot of saw logs which we had cut on government land up the St. Jo river almost two hundred, got the mill running in good order.
About this time my wife and myself had concluded that partnership was leaky and we thought best at that time to get out of it before it went down, so I told George we had not prospered in our co-partnership I told him I wished to dissolve; told him to make me an offer, what he would give or take. I told him if he would give seven hundred dollars, six in money and one in timber, which he agreed to do, made no writings at all, but took his word; we then dissolved. Brother Cyrus had bought a piece of land where F.O. Vaughn lives, I bought off Cyrus; George was to pay Cyrus for it. We then moved into the plank house, where our mother died on the place. We then thought we had once more got on safe ground. After spending three years of hard toil and sickness was not worth as much as we were before we left Ohio. We had lived on that place but a short time when Ben Stebbens and wife came along on horseback, wanted to buy my place, sold to him; took the money and entered 120 acres, the land I sold afterwards to O.W. Legg and his wife, which was one of our family, after I had bought concluded to make final home, built a frame house built a barn, made quite an improvement, made up our minds to have our son Loren live with us and have the farm. He tried to work but could not stand it. It made him sick to work, was quite weakly. He thought he would rather do some other way, took it into his head to be a clerk in some store so we let him have his own way. When Leonard was 19 years old I gave him his time. Gave him 40 acres of land where Sam Gorton lives. He built the old house Gorton lives in. After our children married off and left us, I will not say any more about them. If you want to know any more about them, you must ask them, they are all of age and at this time all alive and have a care for old, unworthy us. Now I will go back to the beginning of the settlement on Michigan.
The first summer we had no water to use only the creek water. I went in search of a spring of water. I finally found one under the hill close to the lake, it seemed to boil up through the marsh. I cleared away the muck found it to be cold and good. It was marsh all around the place except a small bunch of willows. I then took my team, hauled down a Sycamore tub about five feet long, pressed it over the spring kept digging around it, digging out the inside; working that way until within one foot of the top; then drew gravel and filled all around, packed it until the water ran over the top of the tub, then there was quite a rejoicing in the family, that remains to be seen this day.
All the neighbors we had were living nearly five miles on the west line of the township, Brother Roswell, Marten, M.G. Brooks and Dr. McMellen. That summer we had plenty of Indians passing by on Indian Trail which passed our house. They often passed by sometimes 50 or 60 in drove Indians, Squaws, dogs and ponies, going past to the timber land to hunt.
I must tell a little circumstance that happened. The hog that we drove with us from Ohio, would go to the marsh near the trail, as a large lot of Indians were passing with dogs, I heard the hog squeal. I saw that it was the Indians coming I took my rifle and ran to where the dog was. The dog had the hog by the hind parts and I then shot at the dog. He left the hog and ran after the Indians. I followed as far as I could, got to the creek before the Indians crossed. I had a canoe to cross in and I jumped into it and followed after the dog. I followed after the dog pounded the dog with a paddle until I thought he was dead, then returned to the shore then took up my rifle which laid on the ground turned the breech, raised it up before the big Indian, looked him straight in the eye; I tried to look as savage as I could. The Indian stood, looked amazed, never as much as winked, then I pretend call down pointing to the canoe told them to march across the creek, they passed on and after a few days they returned from their hunt. Every dog had a bridle on their noses tied together. I had no more trouble with dogs that season. After that the Indians were quite friendly, appeared to be glad to meet me and shake hands. Then the Indians were friendly, but when they had whiskey they were troublesome. A man by the name of Hatch had a shanty on or near the river for the purpose of trading with the Indians, kept whiskey for the Indians. I will mention one more circumstance which happened while I was absent from home; one night a parcel of drunken Indians came to our house in the latter part of the night. They came into the house when the family were all in bed, which frightened my wife. She got out of bed, dressed in a hurry, went to where the Indians were. They pretended to warm themselves. She told them as well as she could to clear out but they refused. There was one amongst them that appeared to be more sober than the rest. My wife motioned to him to clear them out. She then took up the fire shovel intending to drive them out, then they began to depart. She gave them a brand of fire, told them to build a fire out of doors. By that time the children were frightened. After reading this to my wife she told me it was not quite right, as she heard the Indians coming sometime before they got to the house. Got Leonard up and tried to fasten the door but could not fasten it before they got in. I shall not say much more about the Indians.
Only a short time after this they killed my breeding sow which I considered worth forty dollars at that time. At that time the government paid the Indians for their reserved claims. I threw in my claim for the hog. I was allowed eighteen dollars for it. Now I will return to some other affairs.
The next season after coming to Michigan we had to go to Coldwater to get blacksmithing done for the mill, there was a blacksmith just moved in on the east end of the prairie by the name of Bingham; to get there had to go to Hog Creek on the Chicago road, then to Coldwater had to go south and an ox team would take two days, to go and back.
About this time there was a great cry about the lauk war. There was a company of militia formed, a draft to be made; it happened that brother George and the mill wright, by the name of Kirke were both drafted. They had to start immediately to meet the Indians that were expected to go through Michigan to destroy all the inhabitants. Those behind thought best to build a fort, we had a meeting, for that purpose, agreed to build a picket fence to be twelve feet about the ground to plough and take the trees to build a breastwork inside breast high. I was chosen to select the pickets and help load, when commenced hauling we worked hard for a few days, I had to leave my family at home. We did not feel much alarmed. Some of the inhabitants of the county left, went to Detroit, after a few days news came that the Indians were stopped, did not come as far as Chicago. Then we gave up building the fort. Then we returned to our business, then in a few years we began to think of building roads, to get out. The inhabitants began to flock in, from all directions. The township was not organized the first few years. The township was combined with Leonidas, did the business as one township.
Now perhaps you would like to know how this town came by the name of Colon. Well I will try to tell; in the first settlement of the county there was a great stir about building cities on paper. George and Hatch took into their heads to lay out a city plot on the land that I then owned finally arrangements were made, got a surveyor, laid it out, into lots when completed, we wished to give a name could not find one to suit. Finally I happened to take up an old dictionary, the first word I put my eyes on was Colon. Looking to see the definition, we will call the name of it Colon, looked up there see the lake and river coming along, that is exactly the definition. Agreed says they, that is the way the name of Colon came. When the township was organized, the name was established by the legislature. That was the end of our city. About this time I had left Colon, went to work building a house myself. I built quite a good house for the times. Had a little blacksmith shop no blacksmith short of White Pigeon. The neighbors wanted some little job done which I could not refuse, so I tinkered on. Started a turning lathe, began to make chairs to supply the inhabitants. After which there were wheels wanted so I made wooden wheels as they were called, and reels, then the little Flax wheel which kept me busy for a long time. After a while I was appointed Postmaster. Had to get the mail from Kent and Adams on the Chicago road, had to get it once a week, had the proceeds of the post office. Letters were then 25 cents each, which was rather small business for me, but I kept on for the benefit for the settlers. The first town meeting was held at my house. After the officers were elected we unanimously agreed to serve the town without charge this continued two or three years, until we were set off as a township by itself from Leonidas. Now I shall go back a ways and tell about roads. We were rather shut off on account of getting out east, George and myself started to try to find a road to the county of Branch County seat. We went east to the foot of Matteson Lake now called, then east as near as we could, to his place Findley, found the place, the people there had commenced some public buildings. They seemed pleased with the idea, concluded to help survey the road, got a survey on our own expense, surveyed the road to our place then some of the inhabitants turned out and cut part of the road through the timber lands of Branch cut it the other which answered several years. A few years after Amos Matteson came to that town the town was named by him called after his name. A. Culver and M. Corsen all had settled on a section line, examined the line for the purpose of getting a road to Coldwater. Found it to be suitable to build a road. Then petitioned the legislature for state road from Coldwater to Centreville, St. Joseph County. I was the one to carry the chain. Cut and stuck and marked every mile from Matteson to Centreville, then I went on the line to Centreville, got up a subscription of nearly two dollars then got what help we could, went to work, cut the road, bridged the streams, made cross-way the town of Matteson, Culver. Matteson and Corsen did their share. It was a hard road at first, but it was tolerable good. Now I must tell about one little circumstance which happened to me about this time of the building the Court house in Centreville.
I was appointed collector to collect the taxes in Colon. I had collected pretty much all except Dr. McMellon's. He stood out would not pay, I told him I should have to take property and sell it. I had only time to advertise told him, turned out some property, he then turned out his old horse to pay his tax which was ten dollars. I advertised the horse the day of the sale came, I could get no bidders. I adjourned the sale, tried again, could not find anyone to bid on the old horse, the law was such I was obliged to make up the money if I could find property, so I bid off the horse myself, after keeping the horse a few weeks, I had a chance to sell the horse just enough to pay the tax and his keeping, then he sued for the horse, had a trial before the justice of the peace. I beat him there, then he appealed to the county court. My lawyer told me I was safe, came to the trial, everything appeared to look well in my favor. Then the judge commenced summing up the matter, as a going lawyer Stewart arose and said: it is a matter of law, would it not be best to further consider the matter? After that it was carried to the Chancery. There it was decided against me. Last and all amounted to over $100. Then some of the Lawyer got up a contribution of $40.00. That was all the law-suits I ever had of any importance.
Now there is so many things I might mention which you are all acquainted with, will forbear only to say most of my time has been occupied in labor building roads, bridges and school houses, meeting houses. Tried to serve the public, postmaster nearly 17 years, had to quit labor to take care of my dear wife who has been blind nearly 12 years. Not been able to earn anything for our support. Have been sustained through the providence of a kind Heavenly Father. I have always tried to keep out of debt, most always had a little means on hand.
Bought wheat we needed and paid down for it did not buy what we did not want. And now being eighty years old lacking a few weeks and my wife a little over eighty years, waiting for our deliverance, trusting in the Lord, thinking it is better to trust in him and keep his commandments, than to follow the traditions of men, finally to heed the instruction of Solomon, hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep his commandments which is the whole duty of man.
Thispage was last modified <Monday, 11-Sep-2006 10:14:55 MDT >
This website is created and copyrighted 2006 by Joel Newport
The content of this page is courtesy of Cheryl Thrams and Dana
Niendorf, direct descendants of Lorancie SCHELLHOUS and Joe
Ganger, President of the Colon Community Historical Society.