VAN BUREN CITIZENS
Louis Albert Bregger
of the progressive farmers of Van Buren county. Slowly but surely
the day of honest success without technical education is ending; as the
fierce competitive spirit waxes more powerful the greatest handicap in
life will be professional ignorance; it will be increasingly difficult
for persons thus cumbered to keep their heads above the mighty waves of
the raging sea of commerce. In no sphere will this struggle be more
relentless than in agriculture. Farmers who can increase cost to
the highest standard and decrease cost to the lowest point will be able
to cope with it, while all others will be failures, or at best mediocre
successes. Mr. Bregger, as an agricultural college graduate, is devoted
to the work in which he is engaged.
Beginning life a Quincy, Illinois, on the 14th day
of October, 1862, Mr. Bregger is a son of Thomas and Magdelena (Barth)
Bregger, both of peasant parentage and natives of Germany.
The father had few educational advantages, being obliged to work at an
early age. He served his apprenticeship of the carpenter trade and
worked as a journeyman carpenter in various parts of Germany and also France.
A sympathizer with the revolutionary movement of 1848, he was dissatisfied
with conditions after the unsuccessful outcome of the Revolution and was
one of the large number of liberty loving Germans who immigrated to the
United States between 1850 and 1860 and gave good account of themselves
in the anti-slavery struggle and the war for the Union. Father Bregger
came over in 1852, going almost immediately to Ohio, where he worked at
his trade. Soon after his arrival in that state he made the acquaintance
of Miss Magdelena Barth, who had immigrated from Germany with her brother
in 1846. The acquaintance ripened into a friendship which culminated
in marriage, and the couple soon moved to Quincy, Illinois, where they
became the parents of five children,-Josephine, wife of George Keller,
of Quincy, Illinois; John, residing at Rock Island, Illinois; Louis Albert;
Gustaf, deceased; and Anna, wife of Adolph Eberhardt, of Quincy, Illinois.
In Quincy, after a few years Mr. Bregger became a carpenter contractor
and builder. His death occurred August 4, 1871, and his wife died
in the year 1902.
When Mr. L. A. Bregger was only nine years
of age his father was summoned to the life eternal, and on the mother devolved
the task of rearing the children. Louis Albert attended the city
graded school until he was fourteen years of age, when, to help support
the family, he began to work in a file shop, and for the ensuing five years
he worked at this industry. Next he entered the drug business, in which
he continued for one year, at the expiration of which time he turned to
farming. Four months of the agricultural life was sufficient to satisfy
him that he had found his vocation, and if he would succeed as a farmer
it was necessary for him to make a study of the work. Through the
influence of his pastor he entered the agricultural college of Michigan,
from which he entered in 1888, on the completion of a four years' course,
which included horticulture as well as the regular agricultural studies.
Upon graduation he accepted a position as assistant in the college greenhouse;
after a half year he went to Grand Rapids and for four months he was connected
with a greenhouse there; from Grand Rapids he went to Chicago to fill the
position of assistant superintendent of the Graceland cemetery, and for
eleven years he successfully performed the duties pertaining to that office.
During most of these years, although Mr. Bregger commanded a good salary,
he looked forward to the farm and farming as his place and his life work.
In 1900 he bought one hundred acres of land in section 20, Arlington township
and took up his residence on the farm where he lives today and proceeded
to put in practice the results of his years experience. He does general
farming, and makes a specialty of raising fruit, especially peaches and
apples. A lover of nature, the farm and rural life and work is more
to him than simply a means of livelihood.
On the 3rd day of May, 1892, Mr. Bregger was united
in marriage to Miss Anna B. Henjes, daughter of Jacob and Bernardina (Ubeck)
Henjes. Miss Bregger, the sixth in a family of seven, lost both parents
when a young girl. She was born in Amsterdam. The parents came
to the United States when she was a year old. Mr. and Mrs. Bregger have
two children, both of whom live at home with their parents.- John Taylor,
born January 14, 1896; and Louis Blake, who birth occurred on the 18th
day of September, 1900. Mrs. Bregger is a cultured woman and she
taught for nine years before her marriage. Husband and wife are interested
in training their boys to be worthy citizens, possessed of principles of
uprightness which tend to right living.
Mr. Bregger's church connection is with the
Unitarians; fraternally he is affiliated with the Grange and with the Royal
League. While his political sympathies and active interest and work
are given to the Republican party, he is by birth and by instinct an earnest
believer and advocate of Fundamental Democracy, of rule, by, and for the
people. He has not sought any public office for himself and asks
only a place the "firing line" regardless of rank or position.
John A. Hunt
is one of the oldest and
most venerable of the farmer-citizens of Covert township, Van Buren county.
He has lived here since youth, is enthusiastically loyal to the section,
has filled himself with its annals and become a living history of its progress.
He has ever been aligned with good, public-spirited causes and is an ardent
supporter of Prohibition. Mr. Hunt shares with so many of those who
reside within the favored boundaries of Van Buren county the distinction
of being a native of New York. He was born in Camillus, Onondaga
county, that state, January 16, 1827, and is the son of Benjamin and Betsy
Elizabeth (Secoy) Hunt, both likewise natives of New York.
The father, who was a farmer, died but two years after the birth
of the subject, in 1829, the mother surviving for many years, or until
1852. They were the parents of a large family of children, as follows:
Jacob, deceased; Stephen, deceased; two who died in infancy; Eliza, Benjamin
Jonas and Rachel, deceased. It will thus be seen that Mr. Hunt is
the only survivor of the number, and in truth he has been allotted more
years that the majority.
When a young man of seventeen years John A. Hunt
severed his home associations in the Empire state and came to Michigan,
locating in Van Buren county. He bought forty acres in section 25,
Covert township, which was the nucleus of a property which at one time
consisted of one hundred and twenty acres. He is a veteran of the
Civil war, having enlisted on September 22, 1864, in Company G, of the
Twenty-eighth Michigan Infantry. He was sent to the front and one
of the most important engagements in which he participated was the battle
of Nashville, on December 15 and 16, 1864, when the Federals under Thomas
gained a victory over the Confederates under Hood, which resulted in the
breaking up of Hood's army as a fighting force. In his military
service Mr. Hunt met with no serious injury and he was mustered out at
Louisville, Kentucky, on May 22, 1865.
After the termination of hostilities Mr. Hunt
returned to Michigan and took up the threads of civilian life. On
November 3, 1852, he had married Miss Lucy Ann Whitcomb, and after many
years of happy married life her demise occurred on February 27, 1888.
This union resulted in the birth of three children. The oldest, Charles
A. Hunt, owns the home place, which is the scene of successful endeavors
in general farming and stock-raising; Frank D., makes his home at Watervliet;
and Nellie A. is the wife of Truman E. Stratton, of Hartford township.
Mr. Hunt was a second time married on December 21, 1890, Miss Jane A. Kelley
becoming his wife, and her death occurred on February 8, 1902. On
September 23, 1907, Mrs. Ellen Heagle, widow of Harvey Heagle, was untied
in marriage to Mr. Hunt. The present Mrs. Hunt is the daughter of William
and Jane (Orr) Stead and by her previous marriage the mother of eight children,
as follows: Albert, of Chicago; Jane, deceased; Emily, wife of Edward Noonan,
of Kansas City, Missouri; Edwin, of Grand Rapids; Colllin, of St. Louis,
Missouri; Mida, wife of Elmer Partington, of Chicago; Sarah, wife of Fred
Fouts, of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Alice, of Chicago.
Mr. Hunt, a mentioned previously, is an adherent
of the cause of Prohibition. He has several times in his career held
office, and has given satisfactory service as township treasurer and justice
of the peace, and he is distinguished for an unblemished record as a man
and as a citizen. He belongs to the Grange and is, in religious conviction,
a valued member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
The subject's eldest son, Charles Hunt, on March 3, 1878,
laid the foundation of a happy household and congenial life companionship
by his union with Helen Winslow, daughter of Lewis and Martha (Gilbert)
Winslow, both of whom were natives of the state of New York. They
removed to Michigan and lived in Antwerp township, Van Buren county.
Mrs. Charles Hunt has the following brothers and sisters: Hardin, of Van
Buren county; Mary, wife of George Hale, of Covert township; and Warren
T., of Rathdrum, Idaho. Mr. and Mrs. Hunt are the parents of two
sons, who have taken their places among the most admirable of the young
citizenship of Van Buren county. Mearl, born July 31, 1879, owns
a farm in Covert township; and Maurice D., born September 15, 1883, resides
at home and gives material assistance to his father in his farm duties.
Mr. Hunt gives heart and hand to the men and measures of the Republican
party and is an attendant of the Methodist church, in which his wife and
father are honored members.
Norris A. Williams
.- Branch county,
Michigan, was the native place of Dr. Williams and he has spent the most
of his fifty odd years in this state, although he is by no means unacquainted
with other places. His father, Alexander Williams, was born in the
state of New York, and his mother, Sophronia (Smith) Williams, was born
in Girard, Branch county, Michigan, where her parents were pioneers.
Alexander Williams came to Michigan when a young man, and he was married
in Branch county and lived there for a quarter of a century or more.
From there they went to Monroe county and then to Berrien county, spending
ten years in the two places. In 1885 they removed to Nebraska and
settled in Nance county, and here the father passed away eight years later.
He was engaged in mercantile business in Girard, but engaged in farming
in Monroe and Berrien counties and in Nebraska. His wife, Sophronia
Williams died in Tacoma, Washington, where her daughter, Mary Williams
Reeves, resides. Another sister, Irene, is deceased, and the two
brothers of Dr. Williams live in Michigan, Frank in Hillsdale county and
Fred in Bangor.
Dr. Williams graduated from the Petersburg
high school and then took up his professional studies in the state university.
He received his degree in 1883 and then went to Kansas to begin his practice.
For three years he worked in the sunflower state, but in the early eighties
the prosperity which now characterizes it had not arrived and Dr. Williams
decided to locate in Nebraska, where his parents were living at the time.
He remained there for seven years and then came to Bangor and for thirteen
years practiced his profession in Van Buren county.
In 1886 Dr. Williams was married to Miss Gretta
Cronk, of Coldwater, Michigan, and their union has been blessed by three
children. These have all received the advantages of the excellent education
which is offered to the present generation and of which the prosperity
of their fathers enables so many to avail themselves. Paul, the eldest,
graduated from the high school of Bangor and then spent two years in the
State University, specializing in chemistry. He is now in Houghton,
Michigan, in the employ of the Houghton Electrical Company. Donald,
the second son, is now attending the University of Wisconsin, at Madison,
having finished the high school of Bangor. Roger, the youngest, is
at home. The mother of this family died in 1906. Dr. Williams
married for his second wife Carrie L. Welch, the widow of I. H. Welch,
of Bangor. Her son, Paul Welch, the only child of her first marriage,
attends the University of Wisconsin.
At present the Doctor has given up his practice
of medicine, which he followed with conspicuous success for nearly a quarter
of a century, to engage in farming. He is farming a tract of three
hundred acres. This is the old Cross farm and is called the Evergreen
Farm. He devotes himself to this work as thoroughly as he did to
his former profession and achieves admirable results.
Dr. Williams is a supporter of the Republican
party, and while the practice of the medical profession does not leave
one much leisure for activity in the field of practical politics, Dr. Williams
has always been a notably public spirited man and while in Bangor was president
of the village school board and president of the village. In the
Masonic fraternity he has long been a prominent figure. He was master
in the Blue Lodge for four years and for two years was high priest of the
Chapter. He is a member of the Malta Commandery of the Knights Templars,
No. 44, at Benton Harbor, and of the Mystic Shrine at Grand Rapids. Other
lodges in which he holds membership are the Woodmen and the Maccabees.
He attends the Congregational church of Bangor and is one of the most loyal
supporters of its activities. Not only by his own studies and interest
in all undertakings for the good of the community does the doctor-farmer
merit a place in the list of Van Buren county's representative citizens,
but by his interest in training his sons to take their places in the ranks
of the enlightened workers of their generation.
.- In naming the representative
citizens of any community the biographer invariably finds that among the
most prominent and successful are men who started in life with little or
no advantages either of an educational or financial nature and have worked
their way to the front through their own industry and perseverance.
While the soil of Van Buren county is very fertile, water plentiful and
easily obtained, and weather conditions nearly ideal, good crops cannot
be raised unless the land is properly and scientifically conditioned, and
the high standard set by agriculturists of the county is therefore of great
credit to them. One of the successful farmers of Van Buren county
who has gained his present position by his own efforts, is Alfred Renfer,
of section 10, Arlington township. Mr. Renfer is a native of Switzerland,
and was born November 4, 1864, a son of John and Elsie Renfer. Mr.
Renfer's parents died in the old country, and of their nine children only
Alfred and three sisters came to the United States.
On first coming to America, in 1883, Alfred Renfer
located in Staten Island, New York, where he continued to reside for one
year, and then removed to Chase county, Kansas, in which locality he worked
on a ranch for nine years. During the ten years that followed he
was a resident of Chicago, and in 1901 he came to Arlington township, Van
Buren county, where he purchased eighty acres of farming land in section
10. He has gradually developed this property into one of the finest
farms of his township, each year adding to the improvements. He has
an excellent set of substantial buildings and a valuable equipment of farm
machinery, his land is well graded, drained and fenced, and the general
neat appearance of the property testifies to excellent management. Mr.
Renfer is a self-made man in every sense of the word, and as such is respected
and esteemed by his fellow townsmen. He carries on general farming,
fruit growing and stock raising, and has been uniformly successful in all
of his ventures.
On April 5, 1902, Mr. Renfer was married to
Miss Elsie Snyder, who was born in Switzerland, where her parents were
life-long residents, and to this union there have been born three children:
Arthur, born January 21, 1904; John, born April 19, 1906; and Alfred, born
November 8, 1907. In his political views Mr. Renfer is independent,
reserving the right to vote for the man whom he calculates is best fitted
for the office, regardless of party lines. He belongs to the Swiss
Club, and holds membership in a life insurance company. Religiously
he and his wife are affiliated with the Lutheran church.
.- It would be impossible
to enumerate all the benefits our cosmopolitan civilization has received
from the German element of our population. In our cities they make
up one of the most law abiding and industrious classes, and ever since
the days when they colonized Pennsylvania they have sent their sons to
fight for the country which they made their own. In our farming communities
their superior methods have taught us to realize a little of the possibilities
of intelligent farming and if we will but take lessons from the older land
in the matter of making two blades of grass- say rather wheat or potatoes-grow
where but one grew before, as we are beginning to do, we shall find our
farm an undreamed of source of wealth. One of Van Buren county's
best managed farms is that of Adam Dillman, who was born in Germany in
1829, but has lived in America since the age of two.
Peter and Elizabeth (Bame) Dillman were both
born in Germany and lived there until some years after their marriage.
They came to America in 1831 and located in Jefferson county, Ohio, making
their home there for eight years and then moving to Hancock county in the
same state. Here they remained and here the father died in 1852.
The mother lived to the age of eighty-eight and a half years and died in
1895. Adam is the eldest of the nine children who constituted the
Dillman family. Anne, the next oldest, is the widow of Augustus Miller,
of Hancock county, Ohio, where Philip also resides. Henry lives in
Bluffton, Ohio, and Barbara, the other sister is the widow of Samuel Huff,
of Hancock county. The four other children are all deceased, two
having died in infancy.
Adam Dillman followed the old-time custom
of giving his time until he was twenty-one to his family. At that
age he took up farming for himself and in 1854 was married and bought eighty
acres of land in Hancock county, which he worked for eight years and then
sold. After disposing of his own place he worked his father-in-law's
farm for five years and then came to Bangor, Michigan. Mr. Dillman
lived in Bangor for two years and then bought a quarter-section in Bangor
township, where he does general farming and stock-raising on one of the
finest farms in the entire county.
Mrs. Dillman was formerly Miss Catherine Smith,
the daughter of John and Wilhelmina Smith, both natives of Germany.
Her marriage to Adam Dillman took place on January 17, 1854. Two
children were born of this union: Peter J., for over twenty years the supervisor
of the township, died in 1907, and Henry, the other son, now lives with
his father and manages the farm. Adam Dillman is a Democrat and has
held minor offices in the township. He and his son Henry both attend
the Congregational church of Bangor. They are in every way valuable
citizens and highly regarded in the county, as was also Peter Dillman,
who spent his life on a farm in the county.
Sarah Funk Dillman, the widow of Peter Dillman,
lives in this township with her six younger children, Mary, Bertha, Sadie,
Frances, Ruby and Juna. Her oldest daughter, Viola, is the wife of
Henry Clinard, of Van Buren county, and Blanche is Mrs. Clifford Davis,
of South Haven. Mrs. Dillman was one of a family of ten children,
four of whom were girls. The parents came to Van Buren county in
1856 and are now both dead. The father, Daniel Funk, was a native
of Germany and the mother, Hester Yeider Funk, of Ohio. Of the children,
the three sisters of Mrs. Dillman, Maria, Elmira and Susan, are deceased.
Henry lives in Van Buren county; Simon, in Bangor; Joseph, in Greene township,
and George and Daniel both live in Van Buren county. Isaac, the other
son, is deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Dillman had been married twenty-nine
years when he was taken from this life, as their union occurred in 1878,
on November 24. Like other members of the family, Mr. Peter Dillman
was a Democrat and attended the Congregational church. Fraternally
he was connected with the lodges of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows
and with the Knights of the Maccabees. He was a man in whom the community
reposed the highest confidence and his long term as supervisor is but one
expression of the esteem with which he was regarded.
, born in the Parish of
Morwinstow, in the county of Cornwall, England, on April 19, 1855, James
Jewell grew up on a farm in the land of his birth. His father, Thomas
Jewel, followed that pursuit all of his life and lived and died in England.
There, too, the five children of his marriage with Ann Hancock were reared,
and Elizabeth and William still reside there. The father and mother
are both dead, as is also the eldest son, Thomas. Daniel, the other child,
lives at Oil Springs, Canada.
James Jewell was but nine years of age when he began
to work on the farm and when he was fourteen he learned the blacksmith
trade and followed it until he was thirty years old. He came to America
when he attained his majority and settled in Pickering township, County
Thomas, Ontario. There he followed the trade which he had learned
in England and in 1881, came to Michigan and remained one year. He
then returned to Canada, remaining over the winter and in the spring came
back to Michigan and purchased fifty acres in Bangor township. He
has added to this until now his estate is one hundred and ninety acres
in extent and all sorts of improvements have been added until the place
is one of the finest in the county. Mr. Jewell has all the Englishman's
love of the soil and all the American enterprise in cultivating it.
Mr. Jewell is a Republican in his political
convictions and, like most persons of his ancestry, is a discerning student
of conditions, without being at all interested in politics as a business.
Fraternally he is affiliated with the Odd Fellows and he and his wife are
valued members of the Methodist church. Mrs. Jewell was formerly
Martha Little, whose father, William Little, was born in Ireland, while
her mother, Ellen Little, was a native of Canada. Martha Little became
Mrs. James Jewell on May 9, 1883. The only child of this marriage
is Elsie, the wife of Guy Hauke, of Van Buren county, and she has two children,
Ronald Jewell and Dorris.
Mr. and Mrs. Jewell have a wide circle of
friends in the county and are esteemed for their many excellent qualities.
Mr. Jewell's skill as an agriculturist has added materially to the prosperity
of the region and has helped to build up the commercial supremacy of Van
Buren county. In their willingness to cooperate with all movements
for the betterment of the community Mr. and Mrs. Jewell have taken their
place among the citizens whom the county is proud to call representative.
.- Among those good citizens
of Van Buren county, Michigan, who have done much to promote the prosperity
of the county and belong to the agricultural class upon which the county
founds its strength, mention must be made of George Hale, whose excellent
farm of one hundred and four acres is devoted to general farming and stock-raising.
He has lived here almost his entire life-time and has not only watched
the advancement of this section, but has borne a part in promoting all
interests and measures which he has believed to be for the public good.
That which may be said of so many representative citizens in this locality
may be said of him-he was born in New York, a statement which is likely
to be met with very frequently in this volume devoted to the men and women
of Van Buren county, Michigan.
The town of Henderson, Jefferson county of
the Empire state, was the birthplace of Mr. Hale and the date of his nativity,
January 1, 1861. His parents were Richard and Melissa (Nutting) Hale,
the father being of Vermont and the mother of Henderson, Jefferson county,
New York. The father early removed from the Green Mountain state
and became a sailor on the Great Lakes.
He came to Michigan in the spring of 1865 and located in Covert
township, in section 36. As he grew older and rough life of the water
began to be distasteful to him and he finally came to the conclusion to
give it up and adopt farming. He secured a fine tract of land in
Covert township, section 36. At that time this section of the country was
heavily timbered and the roads had been cut through but the stumps of the
trees not taken out. On his tract eight acres had been slashed, but
none of it cleared. While sailing the lakes he superintended the
clearing of his land and later bought forty acres across the road in section
31, Bangor township. He was a resident there until his death. His
useful life was terminated on June 23, 1891, but his wife survives and
makes her home with her son, the subject. Mr. Hale had two brothers,
Winfield and William W., both of whom are now deceased.
Behind a desk in the district school-room Mr. Hale
received his first introduction to Minerva, goddess of wisdom. He
did not stop with such advantages as were offered by the public schools,
however, but matriculated in the Normal school and Business College at
Valparaiso, Indiana, from which institution he was graduated in 1881.
He was fitted for teaching and was engaged in pedagogical activities for
seven years in this county with satisfaction to all concerned, for his
methods in training the youthful mind were conscientious and enlightened.
About the year 1888 he made a radical change by abandoning teaching and
taking up railroad work, which he followed for seven years. Perhaps
from his father he had inherited the lure of the sea, for he abandoned
the railroad service and for twelve years occupied the position of purser
on the steamers plying between South Haven and Chicago. At the end
of that period he swore allegiance to the great basic industry of
agriculture, and has ever since followed that vocation and intends
to continue permanently identified with this wholesome and independent
calling, in which, as in no other, a man is his own master. He owns
one hundred and four acres and engages in general farming and stock-raising.
On February 11, 1882, Mr. Hale took as his wife
Mary E. Winslow, daughter of Lewis and Martha (Gilbert) Winslow, Mrs. Hale
being one of a family of four children, namely: Hardin L., of Antwerp township;
Helen I., wife of Charles Hunt, of Covert township: and Warren T., of Rathdrum,
Idaho. Mr. and Mrs. Hale have reared three daughters and one son,
whose presence adds greatly to the cheer and attractiveness of their pleasant
home. The eldest, Nevada E., is married and is the wife of C. R.
Graves, of Charlevoix, Michigan; Valda A., now lives in Chicago, and Martha
M. and Myra I. are at home.
In political matters Mr. Hale is be to found
aligned with the Republican party and he has been called upon to fill several
public offices, such as township clerk and supervisor for three years.
Fraternally he is a member of the Masonic brotherhood. He and his
family are affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal church.
George N. Hale
.- Associated with extensive
business operations since boyhood, George N. Hale, South Haven's leading
merchant has had excellent training for the enterprises he is carrying
on with great success, and a sweep of vision, comprehensive enough to take
in more if favorable opportunities should present themselves.
From the time he left school he has constantly
been connected with mercantile life, so that merchandising has become second
nature with him. He attends to the management of his business with
an ease that comes from mastery of all details and a thorough system in
every particular of his work.
George Nathan Hale was born in Oswego, New York,
March 13, 1842. His father Marshal Hale came from sturdy Vermont stock
and his mother, Caroline Meach Hale was one of the descendants of the Knickerbockers
of New York. Marshal Hale came to South Haven in the early fifties.
His was a mind large enterprise and he engaged in lumbering, milling, canal-boat
building and merchandising. It was in the last named business that
he made his greatest success, being at the time of his death interested
in six large department stores. He was a remarkably able merchant
and his mantle has fallen, not on one, but on all of his seven sons, who
have in turn all become successful merchants.
George N. Hale is the oldest one of this family
of merchants. He left home when a lad of fourteen to visit A. V.
Pantland, railroad agent at Lawton, Michigan, where he soon learned telegraphy
and accepted the position as telegraph operator at that station. About
a year of this was sufficient to convince the young man that telegraphy
was not his field, and went to work for a short time in a dry goods store
at Lawton. He next held the position as clerk in a hotel in Paw Paw
but from this position he was immediately removed by his father and sent
to Elmira, New York, to finish his education. After completing his school
work he went to Chicago, where he found employment in the wholesale grocery
store of Durand, Powers & Briggs, with whom he remained about two years.
He then became bookkeeper for Thomas R. Wood & Sons, a paint and oil
house, and was impelled by his surroundings and what he had heard about
the oil business to go to the oil fields of Pennsylvania and try his luck
at boring for the unctuous fluid that was making many men rich in a single
night or day. But this line of endeavor was not to his taste and
he did not linger long at it. He returned to Michigan and took up
his residence in Schoolcraft, where he engaged in merchandising in groceries
and boots and shoes for at time. He then sold this business to Barnhart
& Scott and moved to South Haven. Here he took up the business
his father had established under the name and style of M. Hale & Company,
and this he is still conducting. The name has been over the store
fronts in either New York, Wisconsin or Michigan since 1839, and is one
of the best known mercantile business in San Diego, California, under the
name of George N. Hale & Company, which he kept in operation six years.
At the end of that period he sold it that he might concentrate his efforts
and capital in his South Haven store, which had been destroyed by fire.
There he has lived ever since and been occupied in merchandising on a large
scale, handling dry goods, groceries and general merchandise. He
owns the finest business block in the city, and as he is one of its leading
merchants, so is he, also one of its most prominent and influential citizens,
and most active forces in all matters of public improvement.
He was one of the directors of the Kalamazoo
Branch of the Michigan Central Railroad, and it was mainly through his
efforts the Citizens State Bank of South Haven was organized and he was
its first president. He was part owner of the first steamboat owned
here, the Steamer Huron. He was also instrumental in starting the
South Haven Club known first as the Enterprise Club and also the Driving
He has served as a member of the city council and the
board of public works. In politics he is a Democrat, and true to
his party, but does not allow partisan considerations to govern him in
reference to local affairs, the good city being always being his first
care. He was opposed to slavery when it existed in this country,
and this led him to cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln for president.
He was living in Chicago at the time, and state pride made the feeling
in that city strong for the great Emancipator, but Mr. Hale supported him
because of the issues involved in the memorable campaign.
Mr. Hale's military career has been somewhat
limited, though through no fault of his own. When the war broke out
he was a member of the Southern Tier Rifle Company of Elmira, New York
Militia. The entire company was preparing to go to the front, but
Mr. Hale was compelled to withdraw as he was not of age and could not obtain
permission from his parents. Later on, when he became of age he enlisted
in Chicago, but was so unfortunate as to break an arm and was given an
Mr. Hale has been a devoted member of
the Masonic order in several branches. He was made a Freemason in W. B.
Warren Lodge in Chicago in 1863. When Star of the Lake Lodge of South
Haven was forming he demitted from his lodge and became a member of the
new one in his present home. He is also a member of the South Haven
Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, South Haven Council of Royal and Select Masters,
Peninsula Commandery, Knights Templar, in Kalamazoo, and Saladin Temple,
Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, in Grand Rapids.
On May 19, 1869, Mr. Hale was joined in marriage
with Miss Mary A. Orr, a native of Ogdensburg, New York. Five children
were born of this union, three of whom are living: Marshall A.and Lawrence
G., who are associated with their father in business; and Georgia C., Channing
W., the oldest son died in 1910. He also was connected with the business.
The mother of these children died May 3, 1902, and on February 18, 1909,
the father contracted a second marriage in which he was untied with Mrs.
Minnie Manette Goodman, his present wife.
Everett A. Fisher
.- Among the prominent
agriculturists of Keeler township, Van Buren county, none is more deserving
of mention than Everett A. Fisher, who is a worthy member of one of the
pioneer families of this section. When the family first settled here bears,
deer and wolves still roamed the forests, and almost the entire country
was yet in its primitive condition. Bears were often seen even on
the farm and on occasion would attack and carry off the domestic animals.
In those days not only the men but the women assisted in the clearing,
and many were the hardships and privations endured by the early settlers
before they had hewn for themselves a comfortable home from the dense forest.
Everett A. Fisher was born in Berrien county, Michigan, March 9, 1861,
the youngest of three children born to Wanzer and Elzia J. (Mattock) Fisher,
and he now has one sister living: Evaline, a widow residing in Benton Harbor,
Wanzer Fisher was born in Ohio in 1834, and
died April 8, 1875, in Keeler township. He was reared to the life
of an agriculturist and educated in the common schools, and came by wagon
to Berrien county, Michigan, with his parents. There the little band
of pioneers settled in a primitive log cabin, and Mr. Fisher assisted his
father and brothers in clearing the land to develop a farm. He was married
in Berrien county to Miss Eliza Mattock, and they began their married life
in very humble circumstances, settling on a forty-acre tract of wild land,
for which they went into debt, but eventually cleared the property and
paid dollar for dollar for every acre of it. In 1866 they came to Keeler
township, purchasing eighty acres of land, about one acre of which was
cleared, and on this had been built a small house, which would now be considered
little more than a shanty. Nevertheless, it was home to his young
couple, who proceeded to work steadfastly and industriously, and after
years of hard and incessant toil succeeded in cultivating the land and
made their property the equal of its size in their part of the township.
Wanzer Fisher was a stanch Democrat in politics and was a great friend
of the cause of education. Both he and his wife were faithful members
of the Christian church. Mr. Fisher died in Keeler township, and
was buried in the cemetery here, a beautiful stone being erected in his
memory. Mrs. Fisher, who survives her husband and makes her home
with her son, was born in Ohio, June 30, 1839. She did much towards
helping her husband during the pioneer days, and her many lovable traits
of character have endeared her to all who know her.
Everett Fisher was six years of age when the family came
to Keeler township, and he received his education in the common schools.
On May 17, 1888, he was married to Miss Lillian Klett, and two children
have been born to this union: Bessie L., who finished the eighth grade
in the public schools, was given a musical education, and then became a
saleslady in the general store of A. O. Duncombe, at Keeler, and Floyd
E., a graduate of the public schools and now a member of the class of 1912
in the Hartford High School. Mrs. Fisher is a native of Van Buren
county and was born July 19, 1870, the fourth of a family of seven children,
one of whom is now deceased, while four live in Van Buren county and two
in Berrien county. Both of Mrs. Fisher's parents reside in Keeler
township, her father being a veteran of the Civil war, in which he served
for three years. He is a Republican in politics and a member of the
G. A. R., while his wife is a devout member of the Evangelical church
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Fisher settled
down to the old Fisher homestead, which is known as "The Maples," and is
devoted to general farming and stock raising. Mr. Fisher is a Democrat
in his political affiliations, and both he and his wife are great friends
of education, Mr. Fisher having served for six years as treasurer of his
school district. They are worthy children of pioneer fathers who
hewed out homes in the midst of the forest and from a start of nothing
secured a comfortable property by years of patient toil.
Henry E. Gibney
attributes his success
in life's undertakings to the quality of close application, persevering
devotion to the task in hand, and an honest intention to perform every
task in the day's work with one's whole soul and best energy. The
man who really lives with hard work as the key note of is life is bound
to accomplish things. Henry E. Gibney, who now has retired from active
participation in the management of his farm and makes his pleasant home
in Hartford, Michigan, was born in Genesee county, New York, the date of
his nativity being May 23, 1840. He is the son of Thomas and Elizabeth
(Munger) Gibney. Thomas Gibney was a native born son of Ireland who
immigrated to the United States when he was a lad of fifteen years, choosing
to try the broader opportunities of the western world. Elizabeth
Munger, who afterwards became the mother of Henry E. Gibney, the immediate
subject of this review, was born in the state of Connecticut and married
her husband in New York state, coming with him some time in the fifties
to Berrien county, where they made their permanent home. She passed
to her eternal reward in 1877, and was followed by her husband thirteen
years later. They were the parents of eleven children, seven of whom
are living at this date, 1911. Henry E. and one sister now live in
Van Buren county.
Henry E. Gibney was twelve years old at the
time of his parents removal from New York state, and he remained at the
parental home in Berrien county, Michigan, until he reached his majority.
On August 9, 1862, he enlisted in Company "M", Fourth Michigan cavalry,
and followed the starry ensign of the Union until the close of the war,
serving in many notable engagements, including the battle of Stone River.
When the conflict was over, and the blue and the gray were no longer the
emblems of a divided nation, Mr. Gibney returned to Michigan, and was united
in marriage to Miss Florence Wheeler, by whom he had one daughter, Edah,
now the wife of George Mutchler, of Hartford, Michigan.
On May 31, 1880, was solemnized the marriage
of Henry E. Gibney to Anna C. Kemp, who was born in Van Buren county in
July 1852. She was the daughter of William Kemp, a native of England,
who was born in the mother country in 1818. He immigrated to this country
and was married in New York to Miss Philena Potter, a native of that state.
They came after their marriage to Michigan and Mr. Kemp was here engaged
in agricultural pursuits until his death, in 1904. His wife followed him
to the other land in 1911. Their daughter, Mrs. Henry E. Gibney,
is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Although always a stanch supporter of the principles
and policies of the Republican party, Mr. Gibney has never had time for
the honors and emoluments of public office and has manifested his interest
in the welfare of the community in the quieter but none the less expressive
medium, the polls.
In 1899 Mr. and Mrs. Gibney left their farms,
located on sections 27 and 30 of Bangor township, and they have since enjoyed
the fruits of their past years of wise management and unfailing industry
at their pleasant and hospitable home in Hartford.
Robert H. Tripp
.- One of the native
sons of Covert township, of the type in which it has every reason to take
pride, is Robert H. Tripp, foreman of the great fruit farm of C. J. Monroe,
and the owner of a fine ten-acre fruit farm. He is one of the most
successful of Michigan horticulturists. Mr. Tripp is of that type
of citizen who inspires and retains the confidence of his fellow men and
he has with great satisfaction to all concerned held the important offices
of the township treasurer and highway commissioner.
Mr. Tripp was born in this township, October
17, 1870, the son of James W. and Emily (Beebe) Tripp, who came here from
the state of New York. Both are now deceased. These good citizens
became the parents of the following ten children: Effie, the wife of William
Frary, of Covert; Lillian, wife of Joseph Turner, of Covert; Nellie, who
married Charles Goodrich, and resides in Waukegan, Illinois; William, of
East Lake, Michigan; Charles, of Mason, Michigan; Lester, of Lake City,
Michigan; Roy, of South Haven; Robert H.; Nancy, wife of Frank Williams,
of Owosso, Michigan; and Newton, of Hartford.
Mr. Tripp acquired his education in the public schools
and early began his career as an agriculturist. In fact, his practical
experience began a the age of fourteen years and in a short time he was
initiated into the many mysteries of seed-time and harvest. Fourteen
years ago Mr. C. J. Monroe, proprietor of the well-known and very extensive
Monroe fruit farm, proffered the subject the position of manager and superintendent
of the same, and he has ever since fulfilled its responsibilities in the
most satisfactory and successful manner. His own ten acre fruit farm
is a model of its kind and shows the results of those scientific investigations
made in recent years in the fields of agriculture and horticulture.
On July 15, 1890, Mr. Tripp laid the foundation
of a happy household and congenial life companionship by his union with
Susan Bender, daughter of Frederick and Sarah (Echingbeer) Bender, the
former of whom was a native of Germany and the latter of Pennsylvania.
To Mr. and Mrs. Bender were born the following six children: George, of
Covert township; Mary, the wife of John Bender, of Indiana; Minnie, wife
of Oscar Farrer, of Covert; Frank, of Chicago; Susan, Mrs. Tripp; and Christie,
wife of Charles Cole, of Covert. Mr. and Mrs. Tripp share their delightful
home with one son, Max L., born September 29, 1891.
Mr. Tripp is a Republican in political conviction
and has been found marching beneath the standard of the "Grand Old Party"
since his earliest voting days. His public offices have been mentioned
in a preceding paragraph. Mr. and Mrs. Tripp attend the Congregational
Herbert F. Balfour
.- Both of the
parents of Herbert Balfour were born in the British Isles. His mother
was a native of Weymouth, England, and his father of Ireland. This
mixed ancestry produced a type which combined the genius of the Scotch
with the more practical bent of the English and one which has given to
the world some of its best statesmen and hundreds of useful citizens.
There were ten children in the family of Captain Harrison and Ann (Lawrence)
Balfour, only one of whom, Ransley J., of Bangor township, is now living.
Captain Harrison Balfour and his sons James, Harrison and John all served
in the Union Army in the Civil war. James was killed at the battle
of Corinth and Harrison also died in the service.
Herbert Balfour spent his boyhood in the usual
fashion of the children of the settlers in this comparatively new state.
He had the benefit of such schooling as the place offered, which, if not
of the modern sort, was yet sufficient to train those who took to its habits
of thoroughness and of
self-reliance. On March 16, 1885, Mr. Balfour was married to
Miss Vannie Miles, the daughter of Honorable Fabius Miles. This distinguished
gentleman was born in Jefferson county, New York, on the last day of December
of the year 1814. He attended the Watertown Academy and taught school
for a number of years. During the winters he studied French under
a French tutor who was a lieutenant under Napoleon during the campaign
In 1838 Mr. Miles established the Watertown
Norman School, which he conducted until 1844. Among the numerous
patrons of his establishment was Madame De Lafold, the former wife of Count
Joseph Bonaparte. This lady was an American by birth, who after her
removal to Paris married a silk merchant, Monsieur De Lafold. When
Mr. Miles gave up his school in New York he removed to Michigan and the
events of his career in this state are well known, to those who are familiar
with the early history of the state. He was married in Watertown,
New York, to Miss Betheah Mantel, also a native of Watertown, and Mrs.
Balfour is one of the seven children of this union. Only one other
sister is now living, Lydia, the widow of Marshall Worthington, of South
Haven. She now resides in Tennessee. Mrs. Balfour's maternal grandparents
were Edmund and Dolly (Richardson) Mantel, and her great-grandfather was
Captain Tilly Richardson, a native of Massachusetts and a soldier of the
In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Balfour were
five children: Marion A., Harrison L., Grover M., Leland S. and Arthur
Herbert. Their father died in January 1899, and his death not only deprived
his family of its head but took from the county one of its citizens who
had made his life felt as an uplifting influence and whose sincere devotion
to the common good won for him the regard of all who came into contact
with him. He was a Democrat in this political views and was fraternally
affiliated with the Modern Woodmen.
William H. Chapman
, who owns and
occupies "The Maples," a fine farm in Arlington township, was born and
reared in Van Buren county, and is descended from New England ancestry.
His parents, Alvin and Laura (Wright) Chapman, both natives of the town
of Westhash, Middlesex county, Connecticut, left their old home in the
east and came west to Michigan in 1856. On section 17, Arlington
township, Van Buren county, the father bought two hundred acres of land
and settled down to farming and stock raising, and here he spent the rest
of his life. His wife died in 1878, and his death occurred on the
14th of February 1909. Of their family of seven children, the first
two died in infancy; the next in order of birth, Flora, is the wife of
Theodore Reynolds, of Arlington township, Van Buren county; Eva and May
are deceased; next in order of birth was William H., the subject of this
sketch; and the youngest, Abby, is the wife of Edward Fox, of Mr. Pleasant,
Pennsylvania. Alvin Chapman was a great traveler and made a fine
curio collection, among which are many interesting war relics. During
the Civil war he enlisted, September 28, 1864, as a member of Company I,
Thirteenth Michigan Infantry, and joined Sherman's forces in the South.
Among the engagements in which he participated were the battle of Shiloh
and the siege of Corinth. He was detailed in the "Pioneer Corps,"
with which he went from Goldsboro to Washington D. C., and his honorable
discharge from the service bears the date of September 14, 1865, at Detroit,
Michigan. Previous to his going to the front he was commander of
the post at home. William Chapman, grandfather of William H., had
served in the Revolutionary war.
William H. Chapman was born on his father's
farm in Arlington township, January 4, 1861, and passed his boyhood days
not unlike other farmer boys, attending district school in winter and in
summer assisting with the farm work. He now owns two hundred and
forty acres of choice land, called "The Maples," where he is successfully
engaged in general farming and stock raising.
On December 31, 1884, Mr. Chapman and Miss
Bessie Herrick were united in marriage, and they are the parents of four
children, namely: Helen, born August 3, 1888; Bya, January 26, 1893; William
A., May 20, 1895, and Myra, April 6, 1901. Mrs. Chapman is a daughter of
David and Betsy (Shaw) Herrick, of Twinsburg, Ohio, and was fifth in order
of birth in a family of seven children, record of whom is as follows: Elbridge,
of Colorado; Calsina, deceased; Helen, deceased; Charles, of Idaho; Bessie;
Myra, wife of Schulyler Atwater of Minnesota; and Bela, of Colorado.
Politically Mr. Chapman is a Republican; religiously,
a Congregationalist. His lodges are the Grange and the Masons.
Also he is identified with the Order of the Eastern Star, in which Mrs.
Chapman, too, has membership. As a representative citizen, interested
in all that tends to a betterment of affairs in his locality, Mr. Chapman
is held in high esteem.
Wallace W. Crandall
and unostentatiously but effectively and profitably engaged in general
farming and raising live stock for the markets for nearly fifty years in
this county, the late Wallace W. Crandall, of Paw Paw township, acquired
the ownership of one hundred and fifty-five acres of excellent land in
the way of worldly possessions, together with some additional property,
as a sterling, upright, progressive and useful citizen and estimable man
in every relation in life.
Mr. Crandall was a native of the state of
New York, born in Orleans county on September 13, 1834, and a son of John
L. and Hannah (Brown) Crandall, also natives of that state and the parents
of nine children: Daniel B., Wallace W., Albert W., and Lewis, all are
now deceased; Sarah, also deceased, formerly the wife of a Mr. Burnett;
Mary, deceased, formerly the wife of Henry Beardsley, of Orleans county,
New York; John B., of Albion, Orleans county, New York; Ray L., deceased,
formerly the wife of Frank Prussia, of New York; and Alcetta, the wife
of Byron Densmore, of New York, where she has long had her home.
When he was twenty-five years of age Wallace
W. Crandall left his parental home and started out to make his own way
in the world. He had obtained a district school education and acquired
a thorough knowledge of farming under the direction of his father, as the
industry was conducted then, and felt prepared for whatever duty might
fall to his lot and equal to the task of working out his own advancement
in any situation. He worked at whatever he found to do for two years
in his native state, and then harkened to the voice of the awakening West
for volunteers in her great army conquest, development and progressive
In 1861 he came to Michigan in response to
the persuasive force of that voice and located in Van Buren county.
He bought farm land in Antwerp township, which he owned and cultivated
for a time, then sold it and bought sixty acres in Paw Paw township, on
which he lived and labored to the end of his days. By subsequent
purchases he increased this to one hundred and fifty-five acres, which
he owned at the time of his death, on March 4, 1909. On this land
he carried on a general farming industry with energy and profit, and also
raised and fed live stock extensively for the markets. He was successful
in both line of his business, for he conducted both with skill and ability,
and gave every feature of each the most careful and intelligent attention.
On December 24, 1856, Mr. Crandall was united
in marriage with Miss Elmira M. Pitcher, a daughter of Burnett and Mary
(Brown) Pitcher, both born in the state of New York, and reared and married
there. They came to Michigan in 1864 and located in Porter township,
Van Buren county. The father passed the whole of his life on farms,
and never followed any other vocation than farming. He died on October
6, 1878, and the mother passed away on May 5, 1910, spending her last years
on the farm she and her husband had improved and cultivated together from
the time of their arrival in the county until his death, and afterward
superintending its operations herself and maintaining the same standard
of excellence in the work that he kept up while he was in charge of the
place. They had four children: Selina E., deceased, formerly the
wife of Able Brown, of New York state; Elmira M., now the widow of Mr.
Crandall; George F., a resident of Porter township, this county; and Nathan
V., who was born in 1836 and died in 1858. The children acquired
habits of useful industry from the tuition and examples given them by their
parents, and through all their subsequent lives followed the teachings
of the parental fireside with profit to themselves and benefit to all communities
in which they lived, as those of them who are still living continue to
do. They were also well instructed as to the value of uprightness
in manhood and womanhood and the fundamental duties of good citizenship,
and these lessons also found an abiding place with them and serviceable
expression in their daily conduct.
Mr. Crandall was an ardent Democrat in his political
faith and a loyal and effective worker for the success of his political
party. He gave the people good service in several township offices
to which they elected him from time to time, and could always be counted
on to aid in any worthy undertaking for the advancement or improvement
of his township and county. In fraternal circles he was a Freemason
of the Royal Arch degree, and in church affiliation a Baptist.
.- Eminently deserving
of mention in this biographical volume is Franklin Cooley, a prosperous
farmer and respected citizen of Bloomingdale township, Van Buren county,
and a veteran of the Civil war. He was born December 4, 1843, in
Sweden township, Monroe county, New York, a son of Charles Cooley.
His grandfather, Stephen Cooley, who spent all of the later years of his
life in Jefferson county, New York, was, doubtless, a native of Massachusetts,
his immediate ancestors having been of New England birth and breeding.
Charles Cooley was born, it is supposed, in
Jefferson county, New York, but as a young man he settled in Sweden township,
Monroe county, which was his home for a number of years. In 1851, accompanied
by his wife and three children, he started for the western frontier, journeying
by way of the Erie Canal to Buffalo, thence by lake boat to Detroit, then
by rail to Lawton, Michigan. Proceeding then with teams, he blazed
his way through the woods to Allegan county, which was then heavily timbered,
the land, which was owned by the government, being for sale at one dollar
and twenty-five cents an acre. Locating in Cheshire township, he
purchased a tract of land lying on the border line of section thirty-three,
and immediately assumed possession of the rude log cabin that had been
erected in a small clearing. Lawton was then the nearest railway
station and the depot for all supplies, as well as the principle marketing
point. Clearing a large portion of his land, he was there engaged
in farming until his death. He received injuries from a falling tree,
which rendered him a cripple for the remainder of his life. He died
while yet in the full vigor of a sturdy manhood, being then but forty-eight
years of age. He married Rhoda Cooley, who was born in Monroe county,
New York, a daughter of Jacob and Lavina (Alverson) Cooley, pioneer settlers
of Sweden township, that county. She survived him, living to the
advanced age of eighty-nine years. Five children were born of their
union, as follows: Fidelia; Franklin; Heman B.; Levi J.; and Jane, who
lived but six years.
Brought up on the farm in Allegan county,
Michigan, Franklin Cooley obtained a practical education in the district
schools, a the time becoming well aquatinted with the different branches
of farming. In 1861 he went to New York state, and there, on August
7, 1862, he enlisted in Company A, One Hundred and Fortieth New York Volunteer
Infantry, which was assigned to the Army of the Potomac. With his
regiment he participated in many engagements of note, including those at
Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and the Wilderness.
During the latter siege Mr. Cooley was wounded and sent to the hospital.
As soon as his recovery was assured he was transferred to the First Battalion
Reserve Corps, in which he served until the close of the war, when he was
honorably discharged from the army.
Returned then to Michigan, Mr. Cooley was
for a while engaged in tilling the soil. Losing his eye sight, he then
went to Rochester, New York, for treatment. At the end of a year,
the sight of one eye being restored, he located at Grand Rapids, Michigan,
where he was for four years engaged in business. He subsequently bought
land in Ottawa county, Michigan, where he was a resident until 1884.
Coming then to Bloomingdale township, Van Buren county, Mr. Cooley bought
his present property, which is located in section four, just across the
road from his father's old homestead. Here he has since carried on
general farming and dairying with excellent success, finding both pleasure
and profit in his labors.
Mr. Cooley married, on the 2nd of August,
1865, Electa Case, who was born in Laporte, Indiana, being a daughter of
Luther and Electa (Shumway) Case, who reared four children, Nelson, Ara,
Electa and Betsey. Her father was a native of New England, as was
also her mother. They lived in Indiana for a time, returning then
to the east and settling in Sweden, Monroe county, New York, where they
spent the remainder of their days. Mr. and Mrs. Cooley have
two children, Eber F. and Lula. Eber F. is a farmer in Bloomingdale township,
married Jennie Hewitt, and they have two children, Vinton E. and Edna V.
Lula M., married Roy Grannis, and has one child, Frankin Grannis.
Mr. Cooley is a member of the Ed. Colwell Post, Grand Army of the Republic,
and takes an active interest in the organization. He is a Republican,
and served as justice of the peace in Ottawa county and is now serving
his second term in Van Buren county.
Don F. Gregory
.- The subject
of this sketch is a representative of one of the oldest families in Keeler
township. His forefathers entered the land upon which he resides
from the government and ever since the family has been identified with
the history of Van Buren county. Don Gregory was born in 1876, on
December 6, and is the eldest of two children born to Albert and Cora E.
(Force) Gregory. The sister is Mrs. Marion Gilchrist, of Des Moines,
where her husband practices his profession of civil engineering.
Albert Gregory was born in New York state
in 1836. Farming was his life long occupation and he followed it
in his native state until 1846, doing the "chores" which fell to the lot
of the small boy, and then came with his parents to Michigan. The
journey was made in pioneer style by wagon and took some weeks to accomplish.
Arrived in Van Buren county, the father, our subject's grandfather, entered
one thousand five hundred acres from the government and the deed for this
is still in the possession of Mr. Don Gregory and is a valuable document.
The first home of the settlers was the primitive log cabin of the earliest
days. Those were the times when deer were to be shot in the front
yards and wild turkeys were somewhat commoner than tame ones are now.
Another feature of pioneering days, not quite so alluring, was the plenitude
of Indians about. Roads were almost unknown and the inhabitants found
the way by blazed trails. The nearest market was at Niles a trip
thither was a real undertaking. This was the environment in which
the father of our subject grew up.
The Scotch ancestry of the Gregorys had endowed
the race with the firmness and the patriotism which characterize that race.
The elder brothers of Albert Gregory were in the war and one was taken
prisoner and afterwards released. Returning to the front, he was
seriously wounded and during his convalescence was cared for by the Catholic
sisters and was converted to the Catholic religion. Albert Gregory
was an old-line Whig and later a Republican. He was not a man who sought
public office, though he took a keen interest in public affairs and was
unswerving in his loyalty to what he considered his duty. Upon his
father's death he fell heir to three hundred and twenty acres of the family
estate and his son Don now resides upon this same tract. All the
improvements were put on the place by Albert Gregory. For one year
he conducted a store in Dowagiac. Before his death he acquired valuable
property in South Haven, Berrien Springs and other places. The Scotch
liking for learning was also his, and, though his education was mostly
self acquired, he was a successful teacher in Berrien county for several
terms. His death removed from the county one of its most enlightened
and public-spirited citizens. He passed away in 1910 and is buried
in the Keeler cemetery.
The wife of Albert Gregory was born in Anderson, Indiana,
in 1854. Her father, Rev. F. P. Force, was a clergyman in the Methodist
church at Benton Harbor. She resides at Dowagiac at present.
Don Gregory received his education in the county, graduating
from the Dowagiac high school. He spent time in the employ of a clothing
house, but he intends to devote the rest of his life to the honored pursuit
of agriculture. Ten years ago, on November 28, 1901, he was united
in marriage to a young lady who like himself, is a native of the county
and has been educated in its schools, Miss Nellie McMillian. Their
union has been blessed with one daughter, Catherine. Mrs. Gregory
is a lady of gracious manner and kindly heart and in all ways a charming
mistress of their charming home.
Mr. Gregory is a progressive Republican and
is a keen student of the present conditions and interests in the public
welfare. He is a member of the township board and a justice of the
peace. In the fraternal orders he belongs to the Modern Woodmen and
to the Odd Fellows lodge at Mercedes. In this latter he is a charter
member and has passed all the chairs. The home of the Gregory family
on the banks of the lake is one of the pleasantest in the county as its
owners are among the most highly regarded citizens. They belong to
families who have long been prominent in the county and they are worthy
representatives of their admirable kindred.
G. W. Arnold
.- A larger proportion
of the successful agriculturists of Van Buren county are men who have had
to make their own way in the world and trust to their own perseverance,
industry and inherent ability to aid them in taking their places among
those who were more fortunate in having advantages during their youth.
One of these successful self-made men is found in the person of G. W. Arnold,
the owner of a seventy-five-acre tract of good land located in Bangor township
and who also gives a great deal of attention to the fishing business.
He was born January 22, 1852, in Jackson county, Michigan, and is a son
of Steven V. and Mary (Buss) Arnold, natives of Vermont whence Mr. Arnold's
parental grandfather came from Scotland, while his maternal ancestor was
a native of Spain.
Steven V. Arnold, who was a soldier during the war of
1812, in the service of the United States, came to Jackson county, Michigan,
during the early forties, and in 1854 removed to Van Buren county, the
government having ceded one hundred and sixty acres of land in section
7, Bangor township, but at the time of his death he left only seventy-seven
acres, the remainder having been sold. Mr. Arnold passed away June
31, 1881, and his widow survived him until April 19, 1898. They had
four children, as follows: Sarah, the wife of John Smith, of Bangor; G.
W.; James, residing in Van Buren county; and Chloe, who married Sebastian
Michaels, of South Haven.
When he was only ten years of age G. W. Arnold
started making his own way in the world, and took up fishing on the Great
Lakes, an occupation which he has followed off and on for forty years.
During the proper season he has always operated a threshing machine, with
which he has had unqualified success, and at the time of his father's death
he inherited a part of his land, later buying out all the other heirs.
At the present he still carries on fishing in conjunction with his agricultural
operations. Mr. Arnold is versatile in his abilities and is as good
a farmer as he is a fisherman. He stands equally high in the opinion
of his fellow townsmen as a citizen, and the support which he gives to
all movements of a nature calculated to be of benefit to his community
testifies to his civic pride. He has made the most of his business
opportunities, and has a handsome residence on Covert Rural Route No. 2,
and a competency that assures his future comfort.
In June, 1886, Mr. Arnold was married (first)
to Miss Nettie Gillard, who died in April, 1889, leaving two children,
namely: Mary, who married A. Cornell, a resident of the state of
Washington; and Kate, who is married and resides in Colorado. On
July 6, 1898, Mr. Arnold was married to Miss Eva Nanson, and they have
had four children: Claude, Lucille, Glenn and Esther, all living at home.
Politically Mr. Arnold is independent, preferring to vote rather for the
man whom he deems best fitted for the office than to be bound down by party
ties, and his fellow citizens have expressed their confidence in his official
ability by electing him to the office of highway overseer. Socially
he is a popular member of the U. S. Fish Club, of Chicago.
James M. Longwell
.- Having come
to Paw Paw in the very early days of its history, when only a few rude
tenements, standing on the sight of the present city and widely scattered
through the surrounding country, proclaimed the arrival of the pioneers
of civilization and marked its first footprints in the wilderness of the
section, the late James M. Longwell saw the beginning of the domination
of mind over matter in the region. Having departed this life on September
16, 1907, at the age of eighty years, when there had arisen in the almost
trackless waste of his earlier days a thriving city of several thousand
people, in which the seat of government for a highly developed and rapidly
progressive county was located, he witnessed before he went hence what
the daring and unconquerable spirit of American enterprise had accomplished
in but little more that a generation of human life. He was devoted
in his loyalty to the locality to and throughout his days of activity wrought
faithfully in the van of the army of conquest and improvement, doing what
he could to keep it moving forward and magnify its achievements.
His life was in its essence and its expression an epitome of American history
itself which, although varying in features according to circumstances,
is the same in trend and tendency everywhere, ever onward toward broader,
higher and better conditions for the advantage of its own immediate beneficiaries,
and through them that of all mankind.
Mr. Longwell was born in the state of New York in
1839, the son of Seleck and Mary Longwell, also natives of that state,
and the parents of six children. Their son James was a druggist and
the pioneer of his business in Paw Paw. He adhered faithfully to
his mortar and pestle until the dread summons of sectional strife called
him from them to the field of carnage to aid in saving the Union he loved
from being torn asunder in the Civil war. He enlisted in the beginning
of the conflict in Company C of the Michigan Volunteer Infantry, in what
was formerly the "Old Lafayette's Life Guard," which soon came under command
of General Daniel E. Sickles. When he was discharged he was captain
of his company, a rank to which he rose by meritorious service in the camp,
on the march and where "Red Battle stamped his foot and nations felt the
On December 5, 1851, Mr. Longwell was united
in marriage with Miss Phoebe Ann Hawkins, a daughter of William Reynolds
and Eliza (Morehouse) Hawkins, both natives of Ithaca, New York.
They came to Michigan in 1836 and located in the wilds near what is now
the village of Mattawan, where they built a primitive log house and began
to hew a farm out of the wilderness. After devoting five years to
this arduous undertaking, however, they sold their home and moved to Paw
Paw. Here the father opened a store and became one of the pioneer
merchants of the region. He kept the store several years, then retired
from mercantile life to devote his attention to his extensive acreage of
land and to this he gave all his time to the end of his earthly career,
which came in February 1895. He and his wife were the parents of
seven children, only three of whom are living: Phoebe Ann, Seward and Levi,
the last named being a resident of Los Angeles, California. The children
deceased were Silvia, Mary Ann, Henry and Guy.
Mr. and Mrs. James Longwell were the parents
of four children. The eldest, Eva, is now Mrs. Frank D. Kelly and
is the mother of three children, Fay, who married Dr. Percy Glass, of Saginaw,
Michigan; Dr. Boyd Kelly, of Norway, Michigan; and Florence. William
H., who was born in Paw Paw, December 5, 1859, was educated in the common
schools and was employed in a number of different kinds of business until
1886, when he entered the First National Bank as a bookkeeper and rose
to a position as assistant cashier, which position he still holds, having
now (in 1911) been twenty-six years connected with this institution.
He married in 1898 Minnie McGuire, of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Fred W.
resides in Schoolcraft, Michigan, and Daisy is the wife of Edward L. Goodale.
The late Mr. Longwell was a Democrat in political
faith and allegiance; a Freemason in fraternal relations and a Methodist
in religious connection. He was one of the leaders of the community
in his day and was everywhere known as an excellent citizen.
George W. Schoolcraft
on his pleasant homestead in Pine Grove township, George W. Schoolcraft
is numbered among the successful agriculturists of Van Buren county, where
for many years he has been employed as a tiller of the soil, finding both
profit and pleasure in his independent calling. A son of Elijah Schoolcraft,
he was born May 16, 1825, in Stanbridge, province of Quebec, Canada, of
honored New England ancestry. His grandfather Schoolcraft migrated
from Massachusetts to Stanbridge, Canada, and having purchased land was
there engaged in farming during the remainder of his life.
One of a family of four sons and two daughters,
Elijah Schoolcraft was born in Massachusetts, and as a youth went with
is parents to Canada. Securing work as a sawyer, he was employed
in saw mills in different capacities, and on one occasion, while rafting
logs down the Pike river, was carried over a dam and crippled for life.
Removing from Canada, he lived for a time in Essex county, New York, for
there coming to Van Buren county, Michigan, and spending the remainder
of his days in Pine Grove township, his death occurring here at the venerable
age of eighty-two years. The maiden name of his wife was Sarah Diamond.
She was born in Canada, where her father, George Diamond, settled on immigrating
to America from England. Subsequently making his way to the wilds of Michigan,
Mr. Diamond bought one hundred and sixty acres of land in Cooper township,
Kalamazoo county, and there lived until his death. In the meantime
he saw wonderful
giving way to well cultivated fields rich with grain, and small hamlets
growing into thriving villages and populous cities. When he first
arrived in Cooper township a large tract of land now included in the heart
of the business portion of Kalamazoo was offered to him for a pair of horses,
but he refused the offer, the horses being of much more value to him than
land. Elijah Schoolcraft lived to nearly ninety years old, and his
wife attained venerable years. They reared nine children, as follows:
George W., the special subject of this sketch; James; Freeman; Maria; William;
Juliet; Sarah; Melissa; and Guy.
Beginning his school life in Canada, George
W. Schoolcraft was twelve years old when his parents moved to New York
state, where he completed his early education. There, while yet in
his teens, he began earning money by chopping wood at forty cents a cord,
after which he was engaged in freighting by boat on Lake Champlain.
In 1851 he followed the trail of the pioneer to Michigan, coming as far
as Kalamazoo, then a small village with one hotel, by rail, and from there
with teams to Allegan county. Buying forty acres of heavily timbered
land in Trowbridge township, Mr. Schoolcraft erected a log house, his first
home in this state. His brother James, who accompanied him to Trowbridge,
bought forty acres of adjoining land, and the two worked together, clearing
and improving their property. Mr. Schoolcraft was an expert hunter
and trapper, and he spent much time in those pursuits, leaving his brother
to work on the land, dividing the proceeds received from the game that
he killed or trapped. Deer, wild turkeys and other game were very
plentiful, and on one occasion Mr. Schoolcraft killed four large bucks
in one day, while oftentimes he killed as many as three on one expedition.
Large flocks of wild pigeons often flew across the country, and mink were
abundant and profitable game, their skins selling at ten shillings a piece.
For twenty-five years Mr. Schoolcraft trapped and hunted winters and farmed
summers, continuing to live on his original farm until 1867. Coming
then to Van Buren county, he purchased, in section twenty-seven, Pine Grove
township, the farm which he now owns and occupies. Twenty acres only
were cleared when he made the purchase, and he has now seventy-five acres
under cultivation, and in addition owns a few acres of swamp and wood land.
Mr. Schoolcraft first married Julia Loomis, who
was born in the state of New York. Her father, Wareham Loomis, immigrated
to New York from England and settled in Essex county. He was by trade
a carpenter and sawyer, and for a few years worked in different mills in
New York state. Coming with his family to Michigan in 1853, he improved
a farm in Trowbridge township, Allegan county, and there resided many years.
When nearly eighty years of age he returned to New York state to visit
friends and relatives, and was there taken ill and died. His wife,
whose maiden name was Joanna Dean, was born in New England, and died at
the home of her daughter, Mrs. Schoolcraft, at the age of seventy-five
years. She reared a large family of children, as follows: Lucretia,
Daphne, John, Sylvia, Thomas, Julia, Jane, Richard, Charles and Harriet.
Mrs. Loomis died, leaving four daughters:
Lucina, the first born, married Martin Hulett, and she died in California,
leaving one son, named Alvah P. Amanda married George Heald, and
she died leaving one son, Fred. Ora married Marb Thayer and has one
son, Jay. Lillie married John Bowles. In October 1864, Mr.
Schoolcraft married Harriet Loomis, a sister of his first wife and who
was born in Essex county, New York.
Nine children have been born of the union
of Mr. and Mrs. Schoolcraft, four of whom are living, Elmer, Albert, Fred
and Mabel. Elmer married Eliza Hunt, who died in early life, leaving
one child, Ethel. Albert married Jennie McElroy, and they have five
children, Bertha, Bessie, Glen, Blanche and Bernice. Fred married
Almira Ward and they have one child, Colia. Mabel wife of Phil Sunlin,
has four children, Ruth, Grace, Clyde and Fred. Two of Mr. Schoolcraft's
grandchildren are married, Ethel, who married Warren Minor, having three
children, Ralph, Mary and Ora, while Bertha wife of Leon Shirley has one
child, Doris Shirley. The five deceased children of Mr. and Mrs.
Schoolcraft were: Freeman, the fourth child born, who died at the age of
two years and eight months; Charlie, the fifth child, died aged sixteen
months; Clyde, the seventh, died aged seventeen months; Claude, the eighth,
died aged three months; and Millie, the ninth, died, aged three years.
Ralph E. Jennings
,- It is to such
men as Ralph E. Jennings that this part of Michigan owes its reputation
for fine cattle and live stock. He is, in fact, one of the most important
and successful Jersey cattle breeders, all of his cattle being registered.
He owns one hundred and thirty-eight of the best acres in Waverly and Almena
townships and is known not only as a successful man but as a good citizen.
He is the scion of one of the old Waverly township families, his birth
having occurred on the very farm upon which he now resides, on April 8,
1872. He is the son of Henry H. and Leonie A. (Hopkins) Jennings,
and the grandson of Ephraim and Clarissa (Davis) Jennings. Ephraim
Jennings was born in Vermont in 1816 and at the age of four years came
with his parents to western New York. They were poor people and they
brought all thier belongings in a little express wagon, which they pulled
by hand. At the age of eight years Ephraim was bound out until he
should reach the age of twenty-one, but at the age of eleven he ran away
and secured work on a farm to pay for his "board and keep." When
he was older he helped to build the Erie Canal. He was married in
1839 and in 1840 came to Paw Paw and later purchased a farm in Waverly
township. For four years after he arrived in the state he was employed
by one Isaac Willard, with the exception of a short period when he returned
to the Empire state. Since 1850, when he bought his farm, the property
has been in the Jennings name. This fine old homestead is located
in section 13. There Ephraim Jennings resided until his death, on January
9, 1908, at a very advanced age. He and his wife celebrated their golden
wedding in 1889. When he bought his farm it was all dense woods, but he
courageously attacked the Herculean task of bringing it to a state of cultivation
and habitableness, and with true pioneer philosophy met the many hardships
of his lot. Two sons were born to him and his wife, namely: Henry
H., the father of the immediate subject of this review, and Frank, who
died at the age of nine years.
Henry H. Jennings was born September 14, 1840, in
the state of New York. He was brought here an infant in arms, was
reared amid the rural surroundings of his father's farm; received his education
in the Paw Paw schools; became a teacher and taught in the schools of Van
Buren county. He continued his pedagogical services for twenty-five
years in connection with his farming. For a time he acted as township
school inspector. He was married November 11, 1863. At the
time of the Civil war, in the prime of young manhood, he enlisted in Company
G, of the First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics and was in active service
until the close of the war, having a record as a brave and gallant
soldier of the Union. He was a loyal member of the Grand Army of
the Republic and was affiliated with the Waverly Free Baptist church, helping
greatly in its organization and the building of the church edifice.
The demise of this honest and good man occurred on December 5, 1903, but
his memory will long remain green in this section.
Three children were born to the union of Mr.
and Mrs. Henry Jennings. Lillie E, a graduate of the Paw Paw high
school of the class of 1886, became a teacher and is now the wife of William
L. Nelson, of Lawton, Michigan, a prominent ice dealer and fruit grower.
Ralph E. is next in order of birth; and Lottie M., a graduate of the Paw
Paw high school (class of 1897), is the wife of H. B. Buck, a printer,
living in Kalamazoo.
The old Jennings homestead was the scene of the
birth of the subject and upon ti he remained until the age of ten years,
when his parents removed to Antwerp township, where he attended the Paw
Paw high school and was graduated with the class of 1889. In the
fall of that year he entered the philosophical and musical department of
Hillsdale college and was a student there for four years, during the last
two being employed as tutor in the musical department. He possesses
musical ability of high order and did some concert work after his education
was concluded. Following that he sold pianos and organs on various
sections of Michigan and then began to devote his energies to farming and
stock-raising, in which field he has encountered success and prosperity.
For more than ten years he has been associated with the loaning department
of the Michigan Mutual Life Insurance Company of Detroit and the Michigan
Trust Company of Grand Rapids and has engaged extensively in negotiating
farm loans. In his political allegiance Mr. Jenning's is found marching
under the standard of the "Grand Old Party," to which he has given all
his loyalty since his earliest voting days. He is secretary of the
South-West Michigan Pedigreed Stock Association, and secretary of the Michigan
Jersey Cattle Club as well. He and his wife are zealous members of
the Baptist church, attending at Waverly and the subject is secretary and
field worker of the Sunday-school Association. Mrs. Jennings is a
member of the Paw Paw Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star.
On December 16, 1897, Mr. Jennings was united
in marriage to Jennie Beistle, who was born in Berrien Springs, Michigan,
April 4, 1876, the daughter of John W. and Phoebe (Long) Beistle.
The father was a native of Pennsylvania and came west when a young man.
He had learned the profession of a dentist and when he reached Niles he
had but one dollar in money. He had brought with him his dentist's
chair and that dollar he was obliged to pay to a farmer for taking the
chair to Berrien Springs, where he located, this leaving him with no money
whatever. But he determined to succeed and started at once to practice
and so successful was the that he continued with unabated success for over
a quarter of a century and retired from his profession with a competence.
He subsequently removed to Buchanan, Michigan, and is now vice-president
of the First National Bank and one of the prominent men of that town.
Mrs. Jennings is one of a family of three children, Elmer I., is a graduate
of the dental department of the University of Michigan and is practicing
at South Bend, Indiana. Clayton W. is a dentist and lives at Schoolcraft,
Michigan. Jennie E. graduated from the Buchanan high school in 1894.
When she was but three and a half years old Mrs. Jennings had the misfortune
to lose her mother. The subject and his admirable wife have been
born two sons:- John Maxwell, on October 10, 1902, and Howard H., on December
17, 1907, promising little lads who will doubtless assist in making the
future history of Van Buren county.
Russell F. Loomis
.- A well-known
and highly respected resident of Bloomingdale township, Van Buren county,
Russell F. Loomis is a prosperous member of the farming community.
Coming from substantial New England ancestry, he was born, November 20,
1835, in Mantua, Portage county, Ohio, a son of Russell Loomis.
His paternal grandfather, Wareham Loomis,
was born, bred and educated in New England. Ambitious and enterprising,
he determined to try his fortune on the frontier, and, accompanied by his
wife and children, migrated to Portage county, Ohio, where he bought timbered
land, from which he cleared and improved a farm, on which he spent the
remainder of his days.
One of a family of seven children, Russell
Loomis was born on the parental homestead in Portage county, Ohio.
He began life for himself as a farmer in his native county, but in 1837
removed to Lorain county, Ohio, locating in Eaton township. Buying
forty acres of standing timber, he cleared a space in which he erected
a log cabin, and then began the improvements needed on a farm. In
1849, having nearly all of the land cleared, he sold out for $400 in silver,
two teams and a wagon, and journeyed with teams across the country to Illinois.
He bought one hundred and twenty acres of prairie land in Marion county,
nine miles from Salem. Twenty acres of the land were then cleared,
and two log houses had been built. He set out two orchards, placed
a goodly part of the land under cultivation, and lived there four years.
Selling out in 1853, he became a pioneer settler of Cheshire township,
Allegan county, where he first bought eighty acres of land, and later purchased
another tract of forty acres. Deer and other wild animals were then
plentiful and Lawton was the nearest railway station, and the principle
marketing point. He improved a food farm, and there continued a resident
until his death in 1866.
The maiden name of the wife of Russell Loomis
was Rebecca Cooley. She was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her
father, Chesley Cooley, was a native of Massachusetts, as was his father,
Timothy Cooley. Timothy Cooley followed the trade of shoemaker at a time
when all shoes were custom made, and for many years conducted a business
in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he resided until his death.
He married Rebecca Smith, who was born in that city, of Scotch parents.
She survived him, and spent her last days in Ohio, dying, at the venerable
age of ninety-six years, at the home of her son Timothy, in Eaton township,
Lorain county. Chesley Cooley was reared and educated in the old Bay state,
where his natural mechanical talent and ability were well developed.
As a young man he worked in different places in New York state, from there
going to North Eaton, Lorain county, Ohio, where he established a wagon
factory, which he operated until 1853. Migrating then to Van Buren
county, Michigan, he resided in Bloomingdale township until his death,
in 1857, at the age of sixty-eight years.
The maiden name of the wife of Chesley Cooley was
Azubah Johnson. She was born in Bridgewater, Plymouth county, Massachusetts,
a daughter of Nathan and Polly Johnson, who were born in the same county,
of English ancestry. She died in 1869, at an advanced age.
Mr. and Mrs. Russell Loomis reared eight children, as follows: Russell
F., Freelove, Henrietta, Marinda, Louisa, Jackson, Cynthia and William
First attending school in Lorain county, Ohio, Russell
F. Loomis subsequently continued his studies in the rural schools of Illinois
and Michigan, in the meantime being trained in agricultural pursuits on
the home farm. After his marriage he settled on the farm of his father-in-law,
in Cheshire township, Allegan county, later building on that part which
came to his wife by inheritance. In 1864 Mr. Loomis enlisted in Company
G, Ninth Michigan Volunteer Infantry, and went with his regiment to Georgia.
In the fall he back-tracked to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he spent the
winter, and in the spring of 1865, with his regiment, was honorably discharged
from the service. Returning home, he resumed farming. In 1872
Mr. Loomis disposed of his farm, and, accompanied by his son and two cousins
from Nebraska City, started across the country for Red Willow county, Nebraska,
making the trip in a wagon drawn by a pair of oxen and four cows which
had been broken to the yoke. At that time much of Nebraska was unsettled,
and large herds of antelope and buffalo were frequently seen. Arriving
in Red Willow county, Mr. Loomis selected a tract of unsurveyed land, which
he entered as a homestead. This, when surveyed, became school land, but
the public officials at the Land Office assured him that he could homestead
it. He accordingly built on the land, set out fruit and shade trees,
and fenced the entire one hundred and sixty acres. When, at the end
of seven years, Mr. Loomis went to secure the title he was blandly informed
that the land belonged to the state of Nebraska, and that the United States
Government could not give title to it. The matter was then taken
to the State Legislature, and later to the United States Congress.
The following clipping from the Omaha
Bee explains the matter up to the time Congress took action: " After just
a third of a century Russell F. Loomis of Red Willow county, Nebraska,
practically has won his right against the technique of federal legality.
It has required thirty-three years for this hard working farmer to perfect
his claim to a certain piece of land, part of the public grant from the
government in Red Willow county, on which he settled May 28, 1872, and
he has not absolutely consummated his deal yet.
"This remarkable incident is recalled by the passage
the other day by the United States senate of a bill introduced by Senator
Dietrich authorizing the secretary of the interior to accept from the state
of Nebraska a conveyance of the northeast quarter of section 36, in township
4, north, in range 29, west, sixth principal meridian, in Red Willow county,
to enable Mr. Loomis to perfect his entry and title to this land under
the homestead laws of the United States.
" This bill was introduced by Senator Dietrich
in anticipation of a bill pending before the Legislature of Nebraska authorizing
the governor to execute a deed of relinquishment to the federal government
of this land. It is generally accepted that this bill will pass the
legislature. A counterpart of the bill was introduced four years
ago, passed and went to the governor, but it did not become law.
In 1903 the same bill was again introduced and killed. Representative
Hathorn of Red Willow was the author of both these bills and made valiant
fights for them. This session Representative Gliem, who succeeds
Dr. Hathorn, introduced the bill and it is now in the hands of the claims
"Russell F. Loomis settled on this land before
it was surveyed and platted. He made his entry under the homestead
laws of the United States, but because his settlement rights conflicted
with the acts of Congress by which the Nebraska Constitution was enacted,
he was never able to perfect his claim. During all of these years Mr. Loomis
continued to resided on this land. He has made it his home continually,
has invested his money in improvements on the land and has done everything
to the end of establishing and maintaining a permanent home there.
In the bill which Dr. Hathorn two years ago pushed with such unceasing
zeal and industry it was stated that at that time he had one hundred and
forty acres under cultivation and improvements to the value of $3000.
The fight was a strenuous one. Able legislators had extreme difficulty
in convincing their colleagues that the state should step in and secure
to this pioneer the land which he was unable to claim under a perfect title,
and for a long time--entirely too long for the mental comfort of Mr. Loomis
and his earnest friends--it seemed as if, despite his long years of toil
and hardship, despite the fact of his blazing the way of civilization in
Red Willow county, and despite his untiring efforts to secure for himself
and family this home they had earned--it seemed after all these privations
and hardships that Mr. Loomis would not get the land. The Dietrich
bill providing for the acceptance by the government of the relinquishment
has been passed and not doubts are entertained but that the Gliem bill,
providing the relinquishment by the state, will pass."
The State Legislature did pass the bill
accepting the offer of the United States government, but the governor vetoed
the bill. Mr. Loomis, therefore, finding that after thirty-four years'
residence on the land he could not get a title to it, sold his improvements
for whatever he could get, and returned to Michigan. Locating in
Bloomingdale township, Van Buren county, he purchased the estate which
he now owns and occupies, and is here enjoying life.
Mr. Loomis married first, in 1856, Mary Fidelia Cooley,
who was born in Jefferson county, New York, a daughter of Charles and Rhoda
Cooley, natives of the Empire state, and pioneers of Cheshire township,
Allegan county, Michigan. She passed to the life beyond in 1904, leaving
eight children, namely: Myron, Franklin, Mary, Maynard, George, Effie,
Alvira and Jennie. Mr. Loomis married for his second wife Mrs. Alpheus
Beals, whose maiden name was Corintha Bell. She was born in Jefferson
county, Iowa, a daughter of Eli and Margaret Bell, and married first Alpheus
Beals, Sr., father of Alpheus Beals, of whom a brief sketch may be found
elsewhere in this work.
Mr. Loomis was quite active in public affairs in
Nebraska, upon the organization of Red Willow county serving as its first
justice of the peace in this precinct, and being the first school director
of his district, and also county treasurer. He is a member of the
A. Calvin Post, No. 59, Grand Army of the Republic, and both he and his
wife are members of the Christian church.
James L. Clement
.- An eminently useful
and esteemed citizen of Van Buren county, James L. Clement, of Gobleville,
is man of good business ability and judgment, and for many years has been
prominently associated with the development and growth in lumber interests
of the state. He was born March 3, 1830, in Fulton county, New York,
which was likewise the birthplace of his father, William B. Clement.
His grandfather Clement, who was of Holland descent was, as far as known,
a life-long resident of the Empire state.
As a young man William B. Clement learned
the blacksmith's trade, in which he acquired great proficiency. In
1835, foreseeing the wonderful development of the then far West, he came
with his family to Michigan, which had not then donned the grab of statehood,
traveling by way of the Erie Canal to Buffalo, thence by Lake Erie to Detroit,
from there preceding to Marshall, Calhoun county, with teams. There
were no railways in the country, and the greater part of Michigan was a
howling wilderness owned by the Government and for sale at one dollar and
twenty-five cents an acre. Selecting a timbered tract of land two
miles from Marshall, he walked to Kalamazoo to enter it at the land office,
and when he returned hewed the timber with which he erected a house in
the woods. Deer, wild turkeys and game of all kinds abounded, while
the dusky savages still had their happy hunting grounds in the surrounding
forests. Marshall, the nearest marketing point, contained among its
other industrial plants a flour mill, its production being sold in Detroit.
In common with his neighbors, William B. Clement did all of his work at
first with oxen, but later he went to Ohio, and having there bought a pair
of good horses, was for awhile engaged in teaming between Marshall and
Detroit, and moved several families from that locality to Grand Rapids.
He built a smithy on his land, and for many years did general blacksmithing
in connection with farming. Locating in Pine Grove township, Van
Buren county, in 1851, he purchased a tract of wooded land on section twenty,
and after putting up a substantial residence erected a saw mill, which
he operated successfully for upwards of twenty years. Buying land
then in Oshtemo township, Kalamazoo county, he farmed for a time, and then
moved back to Kalamazoo , where he lived retired until his death, in the
eighty-first year of his age. He married Sybil Peters, who was born
in Fulton county, New York, a daughter of James Peters. She died at the
age of sixty-five years, leaving nine children, as follows: Margaret, James
L., Charles, Timothy, Seth, William, George, Mary and Jennie.
No schools had been established in or near
Marshall when as a boy of five years, James L. Clement came with his parents
to the territory of Michigan. Five years later, in 1840, he attended
one of the pioneer schools of Marshall, where the laws demanded there should
be two terms, of three months each every year, one in summer and one in
winter. Still later a school was established in his district, the
school house being a mile from his home, and there he concluded his early
studies. As a young man Mr. Clement assisted his father on the farm,
and later became associated with him in the lumber business in Gobleville,
where the family settled when the county roundabout was very thinly populated,
all of the territory in and around Pine Grove township having been covered
with a thick growth of timber.
In 1856 Mr. Clement bought land in Bloomingdale
township, Van Buren county, and was there engaged in general farming for
eighteen years, in the meantime having built a saw mill at Gobleville.
Disposing of his farm, he migrated to Barton county, Kansas, where he purchased
land, and was employed in tilling the soil for three years. Not meeting
with the success which he had anticipated in that newer country, Mr. Clement
returned to Van Buren county, and having assumed possession of his Gobleville
property, has since been here actively and successfully employed in the
lumber business, being one of the leaders in this line of industry.
Mr. Clement has been twice married.
He married first, in 1855, Sarah Baxter, who was born either in Pennsylvania
or Ohio, a daughter of James Baxter, a pioneer settler of Bloomingdale,
Michigan. She died in 1886, leaving three children, namely: John
J., who married Stella Brown, and is the father of three children, Mabel,
Leo and Ora; Martin W., married Carrie Smith, and they have three children,
Frank, Carrie and Lysle; and Edwin, who married Jennie Herron, and has
two children living, Bertha and Marie. Their only son Clark, died at the
age of sixteen years. Mabel Cement, John J. Clement's oldest child,
married George Pomery, and has one child, Clement Pomery. Frank Clement,
a son of Martin W. Clement, married Frances Weaver, and they are the parents
of two children, Helen and Harold.
Mr. Clement married for his second wife, in 1890,
Mrs. Mary (Knapp) Dilworth, who was born in Hamlin, Monroe county, New
York, a daughter of Jonas Knapp and granddaughter of Silkman Knapp, a life-long
resident of New York state. Her father was engaged in agricultural
pursuits in Hamlin, New York, for many years, residing there until his
death, which was the result of a railroad accident. The maiden name
of Jonas Knapp's wife was Polly Sigler. She was born in New Jersey,
a daughter of James D. and Betsey (Taylor) Sigler, natives, respectively,
of New Jersey and New York. She lived until seventy years of age,
and reared nine children, as follows: Mary, now Mrs. Clement; Hannah; James;
Catherine; John; Louisa; George; Urias; and Betsey. At the age of sixteen
years Mary Knapp began teaching school, and was quite successful in her
chosen work. When twenty-four years old she was united in marriage
with William Dilworth, who was born in the province of Ontario, Canada,
but subsequently located in Hamlin, Monroe county, New York, where he was
engaged in farming until his death, at the age of forty-two years
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