VAN BUREN CITIZENS
Andrew M. Cochran
.- Among the prosperous
agriculturists of Arlington township none is more worthy of mention than
Andrew M. Cochran, an honored veteran of the great Civil war and the owner
of one hundred and sixty acres of farm land in sections 4, 9 and 10.
During a long and honorable career Mr. Cochran has always displayed traits
of honest and upright living, and he stands high in the esteem of his fellow
men, who have elected him to various township offices of honor and trust.
Andrew M. Cochran, born February 12, 1844, was the first white child born
in Arlington township, Van Buren county, Michigan, and is the son of James
G. and Sarah (Watson) Cochran, natives of Batavia, New York, and New Hampshire,
respectively. The maternal grandfather of Andrew M. Cochran was Samuel
Watson, who came to Van Buren county in 1835 with his own and six other
homeseeking families. They were as follows: Amos Brown, Silas Breed,
J. N. Hinckley, Will Taylor, Jonathan Howard and a Mr. Babbitt. They
were the first settlers of Columbia township. Samuel Watson secured
a tract of land, upon which he built a log cabin and began to work his
farm. In 1837 he was a visitor to Paw Paw, a nearby town, and on his way
home he was seized with sudden illness and died by the way-side.
His body was found in a sitting posture at the foot of an immense tree
about a mile and a half form his home. His name and the date of his
death were cut in the bark of the tree, which stood as a monument to his
memory for a number of years. His daughter, Sarah Watson, was about
thirteen years of age at the time she came with her family to Van Buren
county, and she had the distinction of teaching the first school in Columbia
township shortly after her family settled there.
James G. Cochran came to Van Buren county two years
after the Watson family and their little colony of friends and acquaintances
settled there and organized Columbia township. He came by steamer
from Buffalo to Toledo, and thence by stage and afoot to Van Buren county,
where he purchased a tract of timber land and built a log cabin.
It was a very crude affair, this little home of his in the wilderness,
but it sufficed. The chimney was of earth and sticks, cleverly combined
with the skill of the man who has no better material to his hand, and the
floor was a puncheon affair, more remarkable for its solidity than its
elegance. To this little home in the wilderness James Cochran
took his bride, Sarah Watson, and in this cabin, which sheltered the first
couple to be married in Columbia township, was born the first white child,
as mentioned in a previous paragraph, Andrew M. Cochran. The small
tract of land originally purchased by James G. Cochran formed the nucleus
of the magnificent farm of two hundred and fifty-seven acres developed
by him during his life time, but at the time of his death, which occurred
May 20, 1896, he had practically retired from farming activities, and owned
only twenty acres in section 9, which he then occupied. His wife
passed away in 1883, having been the mother of four children: Andrew M.,
Malvina, Emery J. and Almena. The only surviving is Andrew M.
He received a district school education, and when he was nineteen years
of age contracted for forty acres of farming land. During the year
of his purchase he continued to work on the newly acquired land, but on
February 29, 1864, he enlisted for service in the Union army during the
Civil war, becoming a private in Company C, Third Michigan Cavalry, under
Captain O. W. Rowland. After a brave and faithful service of two
years Mr. Cochran was honorably discharged on February 12, 1866, at San
Antonio, Texas, and he immediately returned to the farm which he had purchased
just prior to going to war. He added to his original purchase from
time to time, and continued carrying on agricultural pursuits there, finally
accumulating one hundred and sixty acres of fine farm land. In 1902 he
went to North Dakota, where he filed on a homestead of one hundred and
sixty acres, the patent papers for which were signed by ex-president Roosevelt,
and he remained in that state until 1908, when he returned to his Michigan
home, although he still retains the ownership of the North Dakota property.
In addition to engaging in general farming, Mr. Cochran is well and favorably
known as a mechanic, showing a marked versatility in his accomplishments
and abilities. He has been very successful in his efforts, and has
earned a competency that insures his comfort in the evening of his life,
and likewise assures the future welfare of his family. The family
spends the summer months in a residence at Scott Lake, in Arlington township,
owned by Mr. Cochran.
On January 6, 1867, Mr. Cochran was married to Miss
Sophronia Beckler, a daughter of Peter and Selina (Monroe) Beckler, natives
of New York state, who came to Michigan in 1855 and settled in Arlington
township. Mr. Becker, who was a farmer in all the years of his life,
died here March 29, 1888, his wife having preceded him on April 27, 1875.
They were the parents of six children: John, who died in infancy; Daniel,
a resident of Detroit, Michigan; Wallace, a member of Captain Rowland's
Company C, Third Michigan Cavalry, the same company in which Mr. Cochran
served, was captured by the Confederates in November 1863, and died in
Andersonville prison in August 1864; Helen, who is deceased; Marinda, the
wife of George Wilmot, of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Sophronia, who became
the wife of Mr. Cochran. Mr. and Mrs. Cochran were the parents of
four children: Myron Wallace, living in Alberta, Canada; Fannie Alida,
a graduate of the Deaf Mute College at Flint, Michigan, she having lost
her hearing as a result of a protracted illness, and she is the wife of
Claude Carleton, who is a graduate of the same institution; Sarah Selina,
who died in infancy; and George Levi, who lives on the old homestead in
In political matters Mr. Cochran takes an
independent stand, voting rather for the man than the party, and using
his own judgment as to whom he deems best to fill the office in question.
His popularity among the citizens of his community and the confidence and
esteem in which he is held have been demonstrated by his election to various
township offices. Mr. Cochran is a popular comrade of the A. Lincoln
post of the G. A. R. and the Masonic fraternity, and he and his wife are
attendants of the Methodist church.
Mitchell H. Hogmire
, one of the
old and honorable residents of Arlington township, Van Buren county, has
been identified with the agricultural, public, fraternal and military interests
of this part of Michigan for many years. Mr. Hogmire, who has been
known as the "Peppermint King," is the owner of seven hundred and sixty-five
acres of valuable farming land in Arlington township, and has the distinction
of being the great-grandson of; Jonal Hogmire, of Washington county, a
Maryland planter who was known as the richest man in his state and the
owner of three hundred and fifty slaves. On one of the plantations
of this progenitor the great battle of Antietam was fought during the Civil
war, and he also owned a great deal of property, all of which was ceded
to him for work he had done for the United States Government as a civil
engineer and surveyor, professions which he had learned in his native country,
Mitchell H. Hogmire was born October 10, 1838,
in Livingston county, New York, and was brought to Michigan in 1840 by
his parents, Conrad and Sarah S. (Richardson) Hogmire, the former a native
of Maryland and the latter of New York. Conrad Hogmire took eighty
acres of land in the southwest quarter of section 8, Arlington township,
but later sold this and purchased forty acres in section 9, where his death
occurred, February 24, 1847. He and his wife had three children,
namely: Mitchell H.; Edwin S., of Breedsville, Michigan; and William, who
died in infancy. Mrs. Hogmire took for her second husband, D. D.
Briggs, and they had one child, Victoria, the wife of Professor Lindsay
Webb, a school teacher for thirty-nine years and now a resident of California.
Mrs. Briggs died June 23, 1886.
For two years after the death of his father Mitchell
H. Hogmire was employed at various operations, and he then went to live
with his uncle, with whom he continued to work until he was twenty-two
years old. At that time he was married and went to Burr Oak, St.
Joseph county, Michigan, where for one year he was engaged in the nursery
business, and in 1862 he returned to Arlington township and during the
spring and early summer planted ninety-thousand grafts. On August
14th of that year he enlisted for service in the Union army, becoming a
private of Company C, Third Michigan Cavalry, with which organization he
served until May 20, 1865. He participated in many hard-fought battles,
and at Mobile, Alabama, escorted General Kirby when he dictated the terms
of surrender to General R. E. Taylor. When he mustered out of the service,
June 2, 1865, at the expiration of his term of service, at Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, Mr. Hogmire held the rank of sergeant of his company under Captain
O. W. Rowland. During the war Mr. Hogmire had purchased fifty acres
of land in Arlington township, and on his return he took up general farming
thereon, making a specialty of apple growing, and earning the title of
"Peppermint King" through his extensive operations in growing peppermint.
He is now the owner of seven hundred and sixty-five acres of fine land,
and although he has practically retired from activities he still takes
a keen interest in matters that affect agricultural conditions here.
On March 19, 1861, Mr. Hogmire was married
to Miss Jane R. Hogmire, daughter of Andrew and Mary (Whitney) Hogmire,
now deceased, who were natives of New York. Eight children were born
to them: Mary, born February 16, 1837, the wife of Daniel Heinbaugh of
Burr Oak, Michigan; Henry H., born July 15, 1840, who died January 24,
1857; Margery, born March 8, 1842, who died May 15, 1856; Jane R., wife
of Mr. Hogmire, born November 17, 1844; John Edmund, born September 29,
1846, who was murdered in Missouri in 1868; Ruth C., born October 13, 1847,
who married John Miller, of Riverside, Chaffee county, Colorado; Robert
W., born August 21, 1851, now residing in North Dakota; and Ernest A.,
born August 18, 1853, and now living in Burr Oak.
Mitchell H. and Jane R. Hogmire have had eight children;
Gertrude, born April 8, 1862, who married Albert Wilcox, of Bangor; Byron
D., born August 18, 1866, living in Bangor; Eugene H., born July 29, 1868,
who died February 13, 1873; Elroy S., born June 19, 1870, who died November
26, 1871; Franklin E., born February 13, 1874, residing in Arlington township;
Henry M., born June 24, 1876, who is now at home assisting his father;
Rose F., born September 16, 1880, the wife of Arthur Huff, of Lawrence
township; and one child who died in infancy.
Mr. Hogmire has been a Republican all of his
life, and the various offices to which he has been elected have testified
to the respect and confidence in which he is held by his fellow townsmen
and to his ability as a public official. He has been township treasurer
for ten years, supervisor for one year and district school treasurer for
twenty-three years. He and his family are affiliated with the Christian
church. For many years he has been one of the most prominent Masons
in this part of the state, and on his retirement from office in that order
was presented by his fellow Masons with a beautiful watch as a mark of
their friendship and esteem. He belonged to all branches of Masonry,
and his work in behalf of that fraternity was widely appreciated by Masons
throughout this section.
Mr. Hogmire has lived to see marvelous changes
take place in Van Buren county, from the time when his father was given
one hundred dollars for cutting a road through seven and one-half miles
of solid timber and rolling the logs out by hand to the day of asphalted
roads and organized road commissions; from the time of one-story log cabins
with puncheon floors and wooden chimneys to the day of magnificent residences
and imposing business structures; from the time of hand plows and ox-teams
to the day of wonderful power farm machinery, and from the time of swamp,
brush and prairie land to the day of smiling, well watered, prosperous
farming communities which do their part in supplying the markets of the
world. Mr. Hogmire has borne his share of the hard work which has
been necessary to bring the marvelous changes about and, while he has been
successful to a high degree in his private ventures, he has ever
been ready to put aside his personal interests to serve his country, his
county and township. A tried and true soldier during the Civil war,
faithful to every trust, he has been tried and not found wanting in the
battles of peace, and has proved just as faithful in every trust that goes
with governing the land in more quiet days.
.- The Sweet family
is intimately connected with the pioneer history of Van Buren county, and
its representatives are deserving of much credit for the part they have
borne in the development and improvement of this section of the state.
One of the best known members of the family is William Sweet, a successful
agriculturist of Arlington township, who is devoting his attention to farming
and stock raising on a tract of one hundred and forty acres located in
section 25. Mr. Sweet was born in Lawrence, Michigan, and is a son
of T. Oscar and Hallett J. (Fish) Sweet, natives of New York.
T. Oscar Sweet came to Michigan when he was
about twelve years old, in 1850, the family first settling at Nauvoo, where
he learned the trade of a blacksmith. As a youth his wages went to
the family exchequer, to assist his parents in purchasing stock and implements
for the home farm, and throughout his life he displayed the traits of industry
and economy which his early training had instilled in him. He became
a well known and successful citizen, and retired on a competence some years
prior to his death, which occurred on August 1, 1911, his wife having passed
away May 9, 1883. They had a family of five children: Eva, the wife
of C. C. Marshall, of Cleveland, Ohio; Frank, who resides at Lawrence,
Michigan; William; Burr, also a resident of Lawrence; and Ora, the wife
of G. M. Gardner, of Kalamazoo, Michigan.
William Sweet began farming in Lawrence township
at the age of sixteen years, and continued to reside there until 1906,
in which year he came to Arlington township and settled on the Hicks homestead,
where he now resides, a tract of finely cultivated land in section 25.
General farming and stock raising have occupied his attention, and he has
displayed marked ability as an agriculturist, operating his land so as
to get the best possible results from his labor. His reputation as
a citizen is equally high and in his business transactions he has always
been fair and above-board. His many friends in this section testify
to his popularity, and should he desire to enter public life there is no
doubt that political preferment would be his.
Mr. Sweet was married to Miss Helen Hicks, a daughter
of Barney and Francelia (Crowell) Hicks, the former a native of Michigan
and the latter of New York. They were early settlers of Antwerp township,
developing a farm from the wild land, and later settled in Arlington township,
where Mr. Hicks at one time owned one hundred and eighty acres of land.
Mr. Hicks died October 23, 1906, and his wife died August 10, 1909.
Mrs. Sweet was their only child. Politically Mr. Sweet is a Democrat.
The pleasant and comfortable family residence is situated in Arlington
township, on Lawrence Rural Route No. 2.
Charles E. Monroe
, deceased, was
born in South Dansville, Steuben county, New York, June 24, 1842, and died
in Arlington township, Van Buren county, Michigan, where he was a
well-known and highly respected citizen. Mr. Monroe's
parents, Zebulan and Cinthia (Townsend) Monroe, natives respectively of
Connecticut and New York, came to Michigan in 1863 and made settlement
in Van Buren county. Here Zebulan Monroe bought one hundred and sixty
acres of land in section 15, Arlington township, upon which he established
his home and where he spent the rest of his life, engaged in general farming
and stock raising. Here he died, December 29, 1880. His good
wife had died on December 27, 1879. Of their nine children the record
is as follows: Lyman, deceased; Emily, widow of Caleb Lincoln, of Saginaw,
Michigan; Orinda, Julia A. and Margaret, deceased; George W., of Arlington
township; Benjamin B. of Hopkins, Michigan; Charles E. and Sarah A., deceased.
Charles E. Monroe in his youth attended the district school
near his home in New York and assisted his father with the farm work.
He accompanied the family on their removal to Michigan, and remained with
the father, managing the farm, until his father's death, after which he
continued farming the rest of his life, in which he met with a fair degree
On November 17, 1869, Charles E. Monroe and
Hattie E. Palmer were united in marriage, and to them were given nine children,
namely: Myrtle A., wife of F. W. Robbins, of Greenwood, Michigan; Effie
J., wife of Hiram F. Crawford, on the home place with her mother; Homer
A. and Murry A., twins, both of Arlington township; the fifth child died
in infancy, and the next three, Ida B., Erma and Lura R., are deceased;
the youngest, Pearl, married Louis C. Miller and lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Mrs. Hattie E. Monroe is the daughter of Jared and Adeline (Whitman) Palmer,
natives of New York state. Her father, by trade a miller and carpenter,
was for years engaged in mercantile life in Paw Paw and Dowagiac.
He died January 18, 1869. Her mother had died February 1, 1846, when
Mrs. Monroe was only ten months old. In the Palmer family were six
children: Alfred B., now a resident of Bangor, Michigan; William W., deceased,
was lost at sea; Richard O.and Estella J., both deceased; Martin W. and
Mrs. Monroe is identified with the Methodist
Episcopal church. Fraternally Mr. Monroe affiliated with the Grangers
and the Patriarchs, and politically, he was a Republican. For a number
of years he filled the office of highway commissioner, and he also served
as township treasurer.
.- The real history
of the Civil war is written most deeply on the hearts of those who participated
in that mighty conflict. The sacrifices of the volunteers did not
cease when peace was declared, for none of them came out of the war as
they entered it. If a few were fortunate enough to escape bullet,
shell and imprisonment, there still remained seeds of disease, shattered
nerves and other ailments which will cling to many as long as life lasts.
For this and many other reasons the survivors of the Civil war are regarded
with such veneration and given the honored respect of the nation they helped
to save. One of the youngest soldiers of the Civil war was Andrew
Donovan, now a prosperous and well known farmer of Bangor township, and
the owner of four hundred and fifty-three acres of excellent land.
Mr. Donovan was born in county Cork, Ireland, November 1, 1837, and is
a son of John and Mary (Trenny) Donovan, natives of the Emerald Isle.
The parents of Mr. Donovan left their native
country for America in 1851, and first settled in New York for four years,
later going west, and eventually locating in Arlington township in 1856.
After coming to Van Buren county, John Donovan followed the vocation of
farming for the rest of his life, and here he died an honored and respected
citizen. He and his wife had a family of ten children, of whom three
daughters died in Ireland, while those who came to this country were: Andrew;
Barth, residing in Arlington township; John, who is deceased; Jewel, the
wife of Nelson Laduke, of Arlington township; Nora, the wife of Jerry Donovan,
of Arlington; Johanna, the wife of John Dougherty, of Hartford; and Larry,
who resides in Arlington. Andrew Donovan was a
lad of eighteen years when he left his home in New York and came to Michigan
in 1856, and here he enlisted five years later in Captain Hudson's Company
C, Third Michigan Cavalry, for service in the Civil war. He saw four
years of desperate fighting, and established a war record of which any
man might be proud. With his regiment he participated in the following
battles: New Madrid, Island No. 10, Farmington, Corinth, Shanghai's Mills,
Bay Springs, Iuka, Second Corinth, Hatchie, Holly Springs, Hudsonville,
Lumpkins Mills, Coffeeville, Barnesville, Clifton, Tanola, Grenada, Byhala,
Wyatts, Fort Ripley (when Mr. Donovan had a horse shot under him); Aregala,
Elliston and Jacks Creek. The regiment marched ten thousand eight
hundred miles and captured ten thousand prisoners. Returning home
after his brave career as a soldier, Mr. Donovan located in Van Buren county,
where he purchased one hundred acres of land, and added thereto from time
to time until he now has four hundred and fifty-three acres, all in an
excellent state of cultivation. Farming and stock raising have occupied
his attention, and whenever he has taken anything up he has carried it
through to its conclusion. This persistency is always bound to make for
success, and in Mr. Donovan's case there has been no exception to this
rule. He is an active in the Catholic church, of which he has been
a life-long member, and also in the A. Lincoln G. A. R. Post. Politically
a Democrat, he takes a keen and active interest in matters that are liable
to be of benefit to his community, and he has served very acceptably as
pathmaster. This sturdy, successful, patriotic soldier-citizen is
one of the leading men of his township and deserves every good thing that
has come to him.
In 1869 Mr. Donovan was married to Ellen Collenan,
and they have had five children, namely: Mary, the wife of Dennis Coughlin,
of Hartford township; John, who lives in Bangor; Kate, the wife of Herbert
Stanley, of St. Joseph, Michigan; Bath, who lives at home in Bangor; and
Andrew, a Chicago attorney.
, the owner of
a well-cultivated tract of forty acres of farming land located in Arlington
township, is now engaged in operating his property as a fruit farm, and
has met with uniform success. He has been an agriculturist all of
his life, and when he had attained his majority he located in Van Buren
county, more than thirty-seven years ago. Long years of experience
have make him familiar with every branch of agricultural work, and he is
also well informed on soil conditions in other parts of the country, much
of his time having been spent in the state of Illinois and Indiana.
Mr. Starbuck was born in Randolph county, Indiana, March 4, 1853, and is
a son of William and Susan (Leslie) Starbuck, farming people of Indiana,
both of whom are deceased. William Starbuck was the only child of
his parents, and after his mother's death his father was married (second)
to Levisa Davis, who is also now deceased and by whom he had six more children:
Martha, who is now the wife of Alfred Conyars, of Randolph county, Indiana;
Nelson, who lives in the state of Minnesota; Isam and Beulah, both of whom
are deceased; Columbus, who makes his home in Marion, Iowa; and Thomas,
residing in Davenport, Iowa. William Starbuck was
reared and educated in Indiana, and up to the time he was twenty-one years
of age he assisted his father on the Indiana homestead. In 1877 he
purchased a forty-acre tract in Van Buren county, which he eventually sold
and moved to Illinois, in which state he carried on farming on rented land
for twenty years. On his return to Michigan, in 1900, he bought his
present forty-acres tract, in which he has carried on fruit farming with
much success. Mr. Starbuck is up-to-date in his views and progressive
in his methods, and from a property that was only fairly productive he
has developed a tract that compares favorably with any of its size in the
township. His land has been improved with good, substantial farm
buildings and neat fencing, and is well drained and tiled.
On November 15, 1873, Mr. Starbuck was married
to Eliza Jane Robbins, daughter of Thomas and Grace (Rogers) Robbins, natives
of Cornwall, England, both of whom are now deceased. Mr.and Mrs.
Robbins have nine children, as follows: Margaret, who is deceased; John,
living in Arlington; Elizabeth, who lives in Elgin, Illinois; Helen, the
wife of Mace Meatham, living in Arlington; Margaret, who is deceased; William,
a resident of Arlington; Charles, of Bangor; and William, who is deceased.
Mr. and Mrs. Starbuck have had eight children: Charles,
of Arlington; Nora, who is deceased; Freeman, who lives in Roselle, Du
Page county, Illinois; Myrtle, who married John Harington, of Arlington;
Rollo, who lives in Arlington; Bessie and Cleo, who are living at home;
and Clifford, who is deceased. In political matters Mr. Starbuck
is a Republican, and he and his wife are consistent members of the Methodist
church. He has been the architect of his own fortunes, and the success
he has attained has been but the just reward of sustained and well-directed
Jacob Ferguson Banks
.- Worthy of special
mention in this biographical volume is Jacob Ferguson Banks, a veteran
of the Civil war and one of the more highly respected members of the agricultural
community of Bloomingdale township, Van Buren county. He was born
in Sugar Creek township, Wayne county, Ohio, February 14, 1835, a son of
William Hughes Banks. His paternal grandfather, Francis Banks, was
born in England, of English and Scotch-Irish ancestry. An iron worker
by trade, he emigrated from England to Ireland when young, and found employment
in a foundry near the city of Belfast. About 1790 he came to America,
settling in Baltimore, Maryland, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits.
Enlisting as a soldier in the war of 1812, he was killed on the battlefield.
He married Mary Jane Ferguson, who was born in Scotland, and was of honored
ancestry, having been a lineal descendant of Sir John Ferguson, who figures
conspicuously in the early history of Scotland. She survived him
a few years, dying in Baltimore, Maryland. Three sons and two daughters
were born of their union, a follows: William Hughes, Thomas, Francis, Sarah
J. and Emma.
Born at the Old Forge, near Belfast, Ireland,
William Hughes Banks was but a child when he crossed the ocean with his
parents. He learned ship carpentry in Baltimore, and in 1828 moved
to Ohio, becoming a pioneer settler of Wayne county. Buying one hundred
and sixty acres of timbered land in Sugar Creek township, he erected a
log cabin in the forest, and began to clear the land, at the same time
working at the carpenter's trade as he had opportunity. Subsequently
moving to Massillon, Ohio, he built boats for the Whitewater Canal, and
assisted in building the canal locks. While employed in the latter
he was hit by a falling plank, and died from the injuries thus received
when but forty-four years of age. His wife, whose maiden name was
Rebecca Snyder was born in Pennsylvania, a daughter of Jacob Snyder, who
was of German ancestry. She survived him, and married for her second
husband Daniel Dresler, and spent her last years in Elkhart, Indiana, dying
there at the age of four score and four years. She reared a large family
of children, the following having been by her first marriage: Thomas Francis,
Elizabeth, Jacob Ferguson, William H.S., Cinderella, Salina, Ella, Lucy
and Emma. The two children by her second marriage were George Dresler
and Catherine Dresler.
After the untimely death of his father, Jacob Ferguson
Banks, who acquired a good education in the public schools, was bound out
to learn the tanner's trade, and served an apprenticeship of four years,
receiving in addition to his board and three months' schooling each winter
thirty-six dollars the first year, forty dollars the second year, fifty
dollars the third year and sixty the fourth year. Going then to Gaston,
Indiana, he worked as a journeyman tanner for four years. In 1852
Mr. Banks came to Van Buren county, Michigan, a large part of which was
then in its primitive wildness, deer, bears and other wild game roaming
at will through the dense forests. Taking up land, he began the pioneer
task of hewing out a farm from the wilderness. When the tocsin of
war rang throughout the land, Mr. Banks enlisted in Company E, Thirteenth
Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and with his regiment went South. At
the battle of Summersville, Virginia, he was wounded, and being subsequently
captured was confined at Libby prison and at Belle Isle and Salisbury,
North Carolina, for eight months. On being exchanged he rejoined his regiment,
and on account of physical disability was honorably discharged from service.
Mr. Banks immediately returned to Michigan, and in the summer of 1863 enlisted
in Company E, Ninth Michigan Cavalry, with which he again went South.
Joining Sherman's Army, he marched with him to Atlanta, thence on to the
Sea, and with his comrades participated in the Grand Review of that brave
General's army at Savannah, Georgia. Receiving his honorable discharge
with his regiment in 1865, Mr. Banks returned to Michigan, and a few years
later bought the land now included in the farm which he owns and occupies,
it being a well improved estate, with good buildings.
Mr. Banks married in 1871, Nancy Beck, who was born
in Allen county, Indiana, a daughter of Richard and Sarah (Lambert) Beck,
native respectively of Pennsylvania and Virginia. Mr. and Mrs. Banks
have three children, namely: Jay, Nora and Maude. Religiously Mr.
and Mrs. Banks are members of the Baptist church. Mr. Banks is a
member of the May Post, Grand Army of the
Republic, and takes an active interest in its work.
Ransom T. Pierce
.- Beginning life
for himself as a soldier in the Union army at the age of sixteen, when
the Civil war was nearing its close, and since then occupied in various
productive and serviceable enterprises, Ransom T. Pierce, of South Haven,
has shown himself to be master of his situation and surroundings and dependent
on his own resources at all stages of his career. He was a faithful and
valiant soldier as a youth, and he has been a good and profitable worker
in his other occupations as a man.
Mr. Pierce is a native of Saint Johnsbury,
Vermont, born on September 17, 1848, and the son of Charles and Sarah (Barker)
Pierce, the former born in Montreal, Canada, in 1818, and the latter of
the same nativity as her son Ransom. The father died at the age of
seventy and the mother when Ransom was but five years old. They were
the parents of five children, three of whom are living: Ransom T., the
immediate subject of this memoir; his older sister Sarah, who is the wife
of George Underwood, of Shadeland, Tennessee, and his younger brother Frank,
who resides at Boston, Massachusetts. After the death of his first
wife the father married her sister, Miss Mary Barker, and by this marriage
became the father of two children: Josie, who is the wife of Everett Sisson,
of Chicago, and George, who lives at Paw Paw, Michigan. The father
came to Vermont when he was a young man and learned the trade of metal
founder. He wrought at his trade in Vermont until 1856, then moved
to Young America, Illinois, which is now called Kirkwood. There he
was the first agent of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, and
served in that capacity until 1860.
In that year he moved his family to Saint
Joseph, Michigan, where he engaged in farming and fruit growing, being
one of the pioneers in the fruit growing industry in that part of the state.
After living in or near Saint Joseph about ten years he moved to Florida
and located in Jacksonville. In the vicinity of that city he raised
oranges extensively for the northern markets until his death. He
was a Freemason for many years, having joined the fraternity during his
residence in Vermont.
Ransom T. Pierce obtained a district school
education, which he began in Illinois and completed at a school in Berrien
county located at Benton Harbor. At the age of sixteen he tried to
enlist in the Union army but was a first rejected on account of his youth.
But in the fall of 1864 he ambition to serve the country in its great crisis
of the Civil war was gratified, he being accepted as a volunteer in a new
company then forming in Chicago. He remained in the army until September
1865, when he was discharged.
After his return home he engaged in the hardware
trade in Benton Harbor until 1876, and during this period he was also agent
for the American Express Company at that point. In the year last
mentioned he turned his attention to the manufacture of packings or cases
for fruit, carrying on this business in Benton Harbor until 1881, when
he moved his enterprise to South Haven. In that city he is still
conducting this plant, and he also has one of far greater capacity at Jonesboro,
Other institutions of the good of the community
and the accommodation of the public also enlist his interest and secure
his aid. He is vice president of the Citizens Bank and a stockholder in
the First State Bank, both of South Haven. In addition, he takes
a very cordial and serviceable interest in the fraternal life of the community,
being a member of Star of the Lake Masonic Lodge, No. 158; South Haven
Council, No. 45, Royal and Select Masters; Malta Commandery, Knights Templars,
at Benton Harbor; and Saladin Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, in Grand
He has been constant and energetic in his attention
to the claims of the city and county of his home in his citizenship, and
has given the people of South Haven excellent service in two terms as mayor,
as well as in many other ways. His political faith is lodged in the
Republican party and all his political service in the campaigns are in
behalf of that organization. But he never allows partisan considerations
to overbear the good of the community, as that he always regards as having
the first claim on him.
Mr. Pierce was married on August 5, 1880,
to Miss Carrie Adams. She was born in Niles, Michigan, and is a daughter
of John and Helen (Cruik) Adams, both born near Kingston, New York, and
both now deceased, the father having died at the age of seventy-eight and
the mother when ninety-three. The father was a farmer and became
a resident of this state at an early date, fixing his residence at Niles,
where he was one of the pioneers of the locality and all of Berrien county.
Some years before his death he retired from active pursuits and moved to
South Haven, where his last days and those of his widow were passed.
Both endeared themselves to the people of this portion of the state and
were highly deserving of the great and general esteem in which they were
was born in Lenawee county,
Michigan, on October 12, 1853. His father, Joshua Drake, was a native
of the Province of Ontario, Canada, who came to Michigan in 1839 and settled
in Lenawee county, where he lived until 1872. At that date he came
to Van Buren county and bought forty acres of land in Bangor township.
Here he passed the remainder of his life, dying in 1907, a the age of ninety-three
years. His wife, Elizabeth (Little) Drake, was a New Yorker by birth,
who passed away in 1878. Eleven children were born of their union
as follows: Alvin, who served in the Union army, is now deceased; John,
of Lenawee county, also served in the Union army; Thomas, who served in
the Union army, died in the service; Joshua also died in the service; James,
a resident of Lenawee county, also served in the Union army; Paulina, who
died in childhood; Edway, of Van Buren county; Lawrence, of this sketch;
Elsie, the widow of Henry Goss of Van Buren county; Mary, the widow of
Moses Folk of Allegan county; and George, deceased.
At the age of sixteen Lawrence went to Toledo,
Ohio, and learned the carpenter's trade. After one year in that city,
he sailed the lakes for twelve months and then returned to Lenawee county.
In 1872 he came to Van Buren county, and in 1878 settled on the farm where
he now resides, in section 28, Bangor township. Since that time he
has bought eighty-three acres in sections 20 and 21, and now farms two
hundred and forty-three acres, a part of this (one hundred and sixty acres)
being the Ripley homestead. General farming and dairying are the
pursuits to which he devotes his attention, with admirable results in both.
On February 7, 1877, occurred the marriage
of Lawrence Drake and Harriet Ripley, the daughter of Sterne and Mary C.
(Steadman) Ripley. Both Mr. and Mrs. Ripley were natives of New York,
and came to Michigan in 1847. They settled in Bangor township and
cleared from the wilderness the farm where their daughter now resides.
The father died in 1863 and the mother in 1900. Mrs. Drake's father
enlisted in the Third Michigan Artillery, under Captain Dee, and went to
the front at the time of the Civil war. He was taken sick while in
service and sent home, but did not live to see his family again, as he
died in St. Louis and was buried there. Mrs. Drake is the only child
of the dead soldier.
The union of Mr.and Mrs. Drake has been
blessed with nine children, three of whom, Curtis, Linnie and James, are
at home at present. Winnie, the eldest is dead, as are also Pearl,
the third child, Effie, the seventh, who died aged three years, and the
eighth died in infancy. Frances is the wife of Ervin Shugars, of
Bangor township, and Georgie is the wife of Clyde Drake, of Benton Harbor.
Mr. Drake is a Democrat and a man who is always
ready to do his part in any undertaking for the public good. Five
of his brothers served in the Civil war, and though he was too young to
do more than remember the great conflict, he could not fail to draw in
with his very breath the sentiments of lofty patriotism which have found
expression in his life of good citizenship and zeal in the arts of peach.
He has witnessed a marvelous development in the county. He broke the land
of his first farm with an ox team and now, but a quarter of a century later,
steam and electricity have found their way even to the fields of the farm.
The estate of Mr. Drake on Van Auken lake has been built up with cottages,
besides having an orchard planted upon it, and it is growing in popularity
as a summer resort.
.- Franklin Kennedy,
the father of the subject of this review, was born in New Hampshire and
later moved to New York, where he was married to Rosena Frost. He
became interested in western lands and bought a quarter section in Bangor
township, Van Buren county, Michigan, then an entirely underdeveloped region.
In 1849 he and his family came to the state where they had invested in
Bangor township land and bought another one hundred and sixty acres in
Keeler township. Here they lived for ten years and here in 1859, on October
27, Almus Kennedy was born. There were seven other children in the
family. The eldest died in infancy; Samantha, who married Thomas
Conklin, is also dead; Russell died at the age of two years; Ellis and
Franklin are residents of Bangor, as is also Jane, the youngest, now the
wife of Madison Keith. The other daughter, Florence, is now Mrs.
Charles Kyes, of Benton Harbor.
Almus Kennedy lived at home and helped on
the home place until he established his own home at the age of twenty.
His father had sold his place in Keeler township and moved to the one in
Bangor, and it was upon this that Almus grew up. At his marriage he bought
forty acres in Bangor township and farmed it until 1909, the year after
his father's death. He then succeeded to the ownership of the home
place and here he carries on general farming and stock raising. Since
buying this place Mr. Kennedy has put out a thousand peach trees and he
has a fine apple orchard. The ever increasing demand for fruit and the
dying out of so many of the older orchards in different parts of the country
make this an especially prudent investment. Michigan fruit is of
national reputation and its production is one of the greatest sources of
On Christmas eve of the year 1879 Mr. Kennedy
was united in marriage to Miss Minerva Burger, the daughter of Francis
Burger, a well known resident of this county, whose life history appears
elsewhere in this work. A son, Orville, of Bangor township, and a
daughter, Nora, were born of this union. Nora is now Mrs. William
Grinnell, of Cass county.
Mr. Kennedy is a Democrat and has been called
upon to fill several of the township offices, in which he has performed
the duties in a manner characteristic of the man. He is known as
one of the county's most substantial and progressive farmers and he does
much to promote agriculture to the place of a science instead of a pursuit
whose results are largely due to chance. Our modern age has multiplied
appliances of life a hundred times. To provide these, factories have
sprung up everywhere and great mercantile concerns to market them.
But unless the wealth is produced from the soil and the farms yield their
abundant harvests the whole complicated fabric of our economic life is
disturbed and the factories cease, the mercantile houses close their doors.
So the diligent farmer is the basis of all our present system and our debt
to those who successfully ply this occupation is hard to estimate.
This county is proud to claim so many men who engage in that work in the
efficient manner which not only secures their own prosperity, but is an
essential element in the welfare of the whole nation.
.- Among the leading
farmers and stock raisers of Arlington township, Van Buren county, Michigan,
Elias Hutchins is a substantial and well known and representative, he having
been a land owner here since 1883.
Mr. Hutchins is an Englishman. He was born
August 25, 1854, a son of George and Jane (Hoyle) Hutchins, both natives
of Devonshire, England, and there spent the first seventeen years of life.
Then he came to America and direct to Michigan, where, in Paw Paw township,
Van Buren county, he engaged in farm work, a first as an employee, which
he continued for several years, during which time he gained a knowledge
of the methods used in conducting farming operations in this country. In
1883 he purchased forty acres of land in Arlington township, to which he
added by subsequent purchase until he now has one hundred and twenty acres,
in section 26, not far from Lawrence, on Rural Route No. 2, and here he
is successfully carrying on general farming and stock raising. In
1881 his parents and other members of the family came to this country and
established their home in Arlington township, and here his father died
in January 1895, his mother dying in February 1899. Of their six children
all are living in Michigan except Ann, the third born, who is deceased,
the other being: Richard, of Arlington; George, of Lawrence township, Van
Buren county; Elias, the special subject of this review; Thomas, of Paw
Paw township, Van Buren county, and Mary, wife of Moses Hether.
On August 17, 1884, Elias Hutchins married Edna
Kidder, and to them have been given three children, namely: Bertha J.,
Guy and Nellie. Mrs. Hutchins is a daughter of
James F. and Jane (Sheldon) Kidder, natives of New York state, who came
to Michigan in 1848 and settled at Gliddenberg. Her mother is still
living, and at this writing is eighty years of age; her father died in
May 1905. Of their three children the eldest, Melissa, and the youngest,
Charlie, are deceased. James F. Kidder was a son of Lynn and Abigail
(Brink) Kidder, and one of a family of two sons and two daughters, only
one of them is now living. His grandfather Kidder was a Revolutionary
soldier, and following in the footsteps of his worthy sire James F. Kidder
was not slow to offer his service when his country was in need. He
went to the front during the Civil war as a member of Company K, Thirteenth
Michigan Infantry, and was in active service three years, being mustered
out at Detroit in 1865. Nearly two years of this time he was an independent
scout, guarding trains and being detailed on other special duties.
He was a member of the Wadsworth Post, No. 49, G. A. R., at awrence, and
Mrs. Kidder has membership in the Wadsworth W. R. C., No. 178.
Mr. Hutchins supports the Republican ticket,
and is a member of the Masonic Order. He and his family are Baptists.
Henry H. Danneffel
is the eldest
of a family of seven children who comprised the family of John Danneffel
and his wife, Hannah Green Danneffel. The fatherwas a native of Germany,
who came to America when a young man, in company with his brother.
They made the voyage in a sailing vessel and landed in New York, with less
than five dollars. John came at once to Michigan and secured work
at the munificent salary of five dollars a month, at farm labor.
As he was thrifty and knew what he wished to accomplish, he managed to
save a little from the first and by the time he was married was able to
pay a part of the purchase price on the farm which is now owned by his
son Henry. The first home which he built was an unpretentious frame
house but in time he was able by strict economy and hard work to add the
comforts and even the luxuries of life to his scheme of living. He
identified himself with all the interests of the county and did everything
in his power to improve conditions in it. He was a Republican in politics
and had been baptized in the Catholic church. He attained material
prosperity and the respect of all his acquaintances. His death occurred
in 1899 at Benton Harbor, Benton Harbor township on July 26, when he was
sixty-four years of age. The wife of John Danneffel was born in Van
Buren county December 7, 1845. Her present residence is at Benton Harbor,
although she spends a great deal of time with her children, three of whom
are now living. These are Mrs. George Yerrington, of Keeler township,
where her husband is owner of a fine farm; Mrs. Omer White, who also resides
in Keeler township, and Henry, our subject. Hannah Green Danneffel
has been a devoted mother and is known far and wide for her kindness to
the needy. The poor have an unfailing friend in her.
Henry Danneffel was born December 9, 1865,
in this county and received his education in its schools. Until he
was twenty-one he worked for his father on the farm and then started out
as a wage earner. He continued to work for others until his marriage
to Miss Etta M. Elgas, on the last day of December 1889, when he had passed
his twenty-fourth birthday. He and his wife began their married life
as renters, but after some time they purchased forty acres of partly improved
land. This they later sold and bought another tract of the same extent.
They followed the same plan with this and when they had bought the third
forty kept it and added seventy acres to it. On their present farm of one
hundred and ten acres they do general farming, stock raising and fruit
culture. In 1895 they replaced their original dwelling house by a
handsome two story one, which is as tasteful and comfortable in its interior
as it is beautiful in its exterior.
Clara H. Danneffel, the daughter of Henry
and Etta Danneffel is a graduate of the eighth grade and of the class of
1911 in the Hartford high school. She has studied music and will
continue to take higher instruction in this branch. The two boys,
Jed and Elga J., are in school, the elder in the eighth grade and the younger
in the seventh.
Mrs. Danneffel is a native of Bainbridge,
Michigan, and was born April 13, 1870. She is the youngest of a family
of eight children whose parents are Wendel and Clara Von Deschwanden Elgas.
One of the household is dead; of the others, two, Frank and Wendel, are
farmers in Bainbridge. The former is married, but not the latter.
Joseph and John are both married and both pursue the occupation of agriculture,
Joseph at Cadillac and John at Benton Harbor. Dr. A. Elgas is a veterinary
surgeon at Hartford, Michigan. He is a graduate of the Valparaiso
Normal and also of the Toronto, Canada, Veterinary Institute. He,
too, is married. Charles Elgas lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, where
he is one of the most successful business men, being at the head of the
Aetna Insurance Company. At the time of the earthquake in San Francisco
he was one of the adjusters. He is a self made man and has made good
at his work. His education was acquired at night school. The
youngest of this enterprising family, Mrs. Danneffel, is no whit behind
her brothers in native talent and she has found ample scope for it in assisting
her husband and in bringing up her family.
Father Elgas came to America from Germany
in a sailing vessel, spending ninety days on the water. He was without
funds when he arrived and he first settled in New York state. Here
he married and shortly afterwards moved to Michigan. In addition to farming
he was also a miller. He owned a farm of ninety acres of fine land
at the time of his death and was prominent in the district, having served
as treasurer of the township for many years. Politically he favored
the policies of the Republican party. His wife died at Bainbridge
on December 8, 1874 and is buried at her husband's side, their resting
places being marked by beautiful monuments, not to perpetuate their memory,
for that is not necessary to their children, but as an expression of the
love and respect of their family.
Mr. Danneffel has been for years a school
district director and has the welfare of that greatest of our institutions
at heart. Politically he is a Republican. He holds membership
in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and in the Knights of the Tented
Maccabees, his tent being No. 623, at Keeler. Mrs. Danneffel belongs
to the Ladies of the Maccabees, Bainbridge Hive, No. 660. Their beautiful
home, " Lawn Hill Farm," is situated three miles from Keeler and seven
miles from Hartford. It is a thoroughly modern estate in all respects and
is worthy of the pride of its owners, who have acquired it by their own
work. They are eminently fitted to preside over so hospitable a domain,
being in all ways representatives of the most progressive and substantial
of our citizens.
Andrew J. Watkins
.- Thomas Watkins,
the father of Andrew J., is of German descent and his wife, Malvina Watkins,
of Scotch ancestry. They came to Michigan in 1846 and settled in
Bangor, which was not then in existence as a village. The nearest post
office was a Breedsville and life was what we term primitive, by which
we mean that the people lived in crude houses and were without a number
of material comforts which have come to be regarded as necessities.
But things of any sort do not make life and the men who read by tallow
candles and lived in log cabins had as keen a grasp of public affairs and
as intelligent an interest in the advancement of the community as a later
and more affluent generation. They had less to work with, but if we accomplish
as much with our tools we shall have done our part in passing the torch
The father of Andrew Watkins died in 1873
and the mother in 1887, on the fourth of July. Andrew was but thirteen
when he lost his father, as he was born on April 7, 1860. The other
children of the family are: Mart, now living in Bangor; Frances, deceased;
Jane, wife of Hosea Willis, of Goblesville; Charles, deceased; and Henry,
also dead. There were four half-brothers, too, as the father had
been married before. These were William, John, James and Levi.
At the age of twenty Andrew took up farming
as his occupation and has followed it ever since. In 1881 he bought
fifty-five acres and after keeping it ten years and improving it in the
interval he sold it and bought the place of one hundred acres which he
now own in Bangor township. General farming and stock raising are
his pursuits and he is one of the successful agriculturists of the county.
On New Year's day of the year 1879 Mr. Watkins
was united in marriage to Miss Lizzie Findley. She died in 1888,
leaving three children. Of these only Ethel is now living. She is
the wife of Albert English, of Greely, Colorado. Mr. Watkins second
marriage occurred on February 17, 1895, when he was united with Miss Estella
Godfrey. There have been five children born of that union. One, Andrew,
the next to the youngest, is dead; the others, Ada, Otto, Henry and Dewey,
are at home and attending school.
Mr. Watkins is Independent in politics.
He has been chosen to fill several township offices, as he is a man who
had the public confidence and who does not fail to do his part in the administration
of the public business. He belongs to the society of the Gleaners.
John J. Nichols
.-The name of Nichols
is well known in Van Buren county, where the family has resided for half
a century, during which time it has been identified with the agricultural
prosperity of Van Buren county. Probably the cause of Mr. Nichols'
success as a farmer is attributable to the fact that he has always used
both muscles and brains in the management of his farm, has carefully planned
before executing, and not left things to adjust themselves in a haphazard
Mr. Nichols was born in the town of Galen, Wayne
county, New York, November 1, 1845. He is a son of James A. and Amelia
(Angus) Nichols, both natives of New York state, where they spent youth
and the early years of their wedded life. Father Nichols was a blacksmith
by trade, and in 1853 he came to Michigan; he was one of the pioneer settlers
in the vicinity of Kalamazoo, where he took up his residence and plied
his trade and also engaged in farming. In 1862 he came to Arlington
township, bought one hundred and sixty acres of land and commenced to farm.
For the ensuing eleven years he cultivated the soil and in 1873 he died;
his widow survived him eight years, as her demise occurred in 1881.
Six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Nichols, Sr., the first born died
in infancy and John J., the subject of this sketch, is the only one living
today. The names of the other members of the family are,-Ellen, who
died in 1879; Mary A., whose death occurred in the year 1902; George, who
was summoned to his last rest in 1898; and Charles, who died in 1905.
The first eight years of the life of John
J. Nichols were spent in his native state, then he accompanied his parents
to Michigan and attended the district school near Kalamazoo. When he was
seventeen years old the family moved to the farm in Arlington township
above mentioned, and he assisted his father in the work of cultivating
the land, remaining at home until he was twenty-two years of age.
He then commenced to farm independently on a one hundred and forty acre
tract of land which for two years he rented. At the expiration of the second
year he had been so successful that he was enabled to purchase one hundred
and forty-two acres of land in section 31 of Arlington township, where
he may be found at the present time. During the years of his residence
here he has made many improvements, has built a comfortable home and erected
commodious sheds and barns. He does general farming and also stock-raising.
When he was twenty years old Mr. Nichols married
Miss Zovicie Northrup, the ceremony having occurred March 20, 1866.
The young couple commenced their wedded life in the home of Father and
Mother Nichols, and when they had been married two years John J. Nichols
took his wife to the farm which he rented in Arlington township.
Mrs. Nichols is the second of the four children of Perrin and Abbie (Briggs)
Northrup, of New York state; they came to Michigan in 1837 and settled
in Bangor township, where in 1842 Mr. Northrup built the first grain barn
ever erected in the township. Mrs. Nichols' elder sister, Ellen,
is making her home with the Nichols family; the brother resides in Janesville,
Wisconsin; and the youngest child, Mary, died at the age of thirteen years.
Mr. and Mrs. Nichols adopted a little girl, Lizzie, and reared her with
all the tenderness and care that they would have bestowed on their own
children, if such had been granted them. The adopted daughter repaid
the devotion of her parents by growing to maturity a credit to her training;
she is now married to Frank Cleveland, of Arlington township.
In politics Mr. Nichols is a Republican and
in fraternal connection he has been a member of the Masonic order for forty-four
years. He has many friends not only in the township which he honors
by his presence, but in the neighboring country.
Samuel J. Austin
.- Van Buren county
has its full quota of manufacturers, financiers, professional and business
men and statesmen, but particularly is it noted for the high standard set
by its agriculturists who have done so much during the past few years toward
making this county one of the garden spots of Michigan. Many of its
best farmers are men who have come here from other states, with years of
experience in agriculture as a valuable asset. One of these farmers
is Samuel J. Austin, of Arlington township, who since his residence here
has proved himself a useful and public-spirited citizen. Born on
Preble county, Ohio, Mr. Austin is a son of James and Anna (Alexander)
Austin, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Ohio.
During the early years of his life, James
Austin acted as a minister of the Christian church, but on removing to
Indiana he took up farming and followed that vocation during the remainder
of his life. He and his wife both died in Indiana, having reared
a family of six children: Gelettia, Gertrude, Allie and Augustus, all of
whom are now deceased; Samuel J.; and Virginia, who is the wife of Charles
Doan, of Columbus, Ohio.
Samuel J. Austin was born December 7,
1844, and remained on the Indiana farm until he was twenty-three years
of age, at which time he entered the agricultural field on his own account
and for twelve years rented a tract of one hundred and twenty acres in
the Hoosier State. In 1876, having heard of the great opportunities
offered by the practically new Van Buren county soil, he located in Arlington
township, purchasing twenty acres of land in section 9. Later he added
twenty-two and one-half acres, and he is now engaged in farming the whole
tract. While general farming has occupied the major part of his time and
attention, he has also specialized in the raising of good stock, and has
turned out some of the finest Norman draft horses that Van Buren county
has produced. Mr. Austin has always been an industrious hard-working
farmer, and the success which has attended his efforts is but the natural
result of well expended effort. He stands high in the esteem of the
people of his community, who recognize his as a man who has been the architect
of his own fortune and respect him accordingly.
On July 8, 1866, Mr. Austin was united in
marriage with Miss Matilda Owens, who died March 4, 1882, having been the
mother of four children, namely: Lula, who is deceased; Frank, living in
Galesburg, Michigan; John, a resident of Arlington township; and Wilson,
who is at home assisting his father in the work of the farm. Wilson
Austin was married August 5, 1899, to Miss Bertha Counterman, and one child
has been born to them: Virginia, born February 25, 1908. Samuel J. Austin
is a stanch supporter of the Republican principles, but his business interests
have kept him so busy that he has never engaged actively in public life,
although he is always ready to lend his aid and give his financial support
to those movements which show themselves to be of benefit to the community.
He is a consistent member of the Christian church, to the members of which
he is well and favorably known.
William S. Charles
.- Ireland has
furnished the United States with many of its representative men, and they
are to be found in every rank and walk of life. The sons of Erin
possess those qualities which make for success and bring them into favorable
notice, so that they are welcomed in any community. A notable example
of the self-made man of Irish birth is to be found in the person of William
S. Charles, of Bangor, now living retired after many years spent in agricultural
pursuits, and is a veteran of the Civil war whose record is one that is
a credit to himself and his countrymen. Mr. Charles was born in the
north of Ireland, June 28, 1839, a son of John and Jane (Kinnen) Charles,
originally of Scotland. The Charles family came
to the United States in 1850, locating first in Allegany county, New York.
John Charles had been the owner of flax and grist mills and quarries in
Ireland, but on locating in the country he took up farming in New York
state, where he died at the age of seventy-six years, his wife passing
away when she was seventy-two. They had a family of thirteen children,
as follows: One who died in infancy; Esther, who is deceased; David, residing
in Bangor; John, Eliza and Thomas, who are deceased; William S.; Mary,
Anna and Margaret, the latter of whom is deceased; Robert, who enlisted
in the Civil war at the age of fourteen years, served three years in the
Union army, and died in Van Buren county; Andrew, who is now residing in
Nebraska; and Richard, who is deceased.
William S. Charles left home at the age of
sixteen years and came to Michigan, settling in Van Buren county, where
for something over four years he worked at lumbering and as a farm hand.
In 1860 he purchased forty acres of land in Bangor township, and he was
engaged in clearing this property for cultivation when, in the fall of
1861, President Lincoln issued a call for additional volunteers to suppress
the growing rebellion in the Southern states. Mr. Charles was among
the first to respond, enlisting from Van Buren county, and going to Grand
Rapids, where on October 14, 1861, he was assigned as private to the Second
Michigan (or Ross) Battery, which was afterward changed to the Battery
B, First Michigan Light Artillery. The new recruits were transported
to the scene of conflict in a very short time, drills were instituted and
organization perfected, and in January 1862, Mr. Charles was promoted to
the rank of corporal at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, having command
of a detachment of men and duties as a soldier. His first engagements
were at Pittsburg Landing and Shiloh, on April 6 and 7, 1862, and in the
latter struggle he worked a twelve-pound Howitzer almost the entirely alone.
When it would recoil he would pick up the trail by lunett and run it ahead
alone, continuing this action until the ammunition belonging to two guns
was all gone. He pulled the lanyard that fired the last shot that
was fired out of the battery before it was taken, and when the ammunition
was all spent he was too exhausted to join the straggling retreat of the
Union soldiers. After limbering up his piece he sat down to recover
his breath and sufficient energy to carry him so safety when he did make
the start to rejoin his command; otherwise he would doubtless have fallen
by the wayside and have become a Confederate prisoner. It was at
the close of this engagement that General Sidney E. Johnson, of the Confederate
forces, was killed.
Shortly after the battle of Shiloh Mr.
Charles was transferred to Battery D, First Missouri Light Artillery, in
which organization as corporal he had charge of a line of caissons in the
siege of Corinth, Mississippi, which lasted from May 10 to May 31, 1862.
On the 31st of July, of that year he was promoted to the rank of duty sergeant
and early in August he was detached to recruiting service. This work being
completed by the latter part of November, he returned south and rejoined
Battery B, First Michigan Light Artillery, at Columbus, Kentucky.
He there learned that the substitute who had taken his place while he was
engaged in recruiting service had been killed by being struck by a cannon
ball. At Columbus Mr. Charles had charge of a small fort and magazine,
twenty men and eight siege guns for three days, as the Confederates were
expected to attack at any time. When the battery got its guns at
Corinth, in January 1863, Mr. Charles was placed in charge of a gun and
detachment of men. On April 10, 1864, he was promoted to the rank of first
sergeant, at Pulaski, Tennessee, and while serving in that capacity took
part in many engagements and skirmishes, among which may be mentioned those
of Resaca, Georgia, on May 9, 1864; Lays Ferry, Georgia, May 14, 1864;
Calhoun Ferry, Georgia, May 15, 1864; and Rome Cross Roads, May 16, 1864.
While engaged in a skirmish at the latter place a comrade, Lieutenant Wright,
while engaged in adjusting the sight of his gun, was struck in the shoulder
by a minie bullet, disabling him so that Mr. Charles had to take command
of his section. Arising to the emergency of the occasion, he limbered up
the ten-pound Parrott gun alone, picked up the trail and drew it down a
hill about six rods, and its own momentum was such that it would have crushed
him had he not been lucky enough to have struck the lunett on the pindle
hook, as the barrel of this gun weighed one thousand one hundred and sixty
pounds, to say nothing of its setting. This incident of a lone soldier
limbering up a ten-pound Parrot gun by himself is mentioned in Grant's
History of the Civil War, although the name of the soldier is not there
given. As it was, Mr. Charles saved the gun from falling in the hands of
After the engagement at Rome Cross Roads,
came the battles at Cove Springs, Georgia, October 13, 1864, and Turkey
Ridge, Alabama, October 26, 1864. After the latter engagement Mr. Charles
was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant, the language of the commission
reading: "Knew ye that reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism,
valor, ability and fidelity of William S. Charles, in the name of and by
the authority of the people of the State of Michigan, I do hereby appoint
him Second Lieutenant, Battery B, First Regiment Michigan Light Artillery
Volunteers, to rank as such from the 28th day of October 1864. (Signed)
Henry H. Crapo, Governor." After his appointment to the rank of second
lieutenant Mr. Charles participated in the engagements at Griswold, Georgia,
November 22, 1864; Ogechee river, Georgia, December 18, 1864; and Savannah,
Georgia, December 11 to 20, 1864. At Kelly's Creek, South Carolina,
while in charge of a foraging expedition, his company drove Wheeler's Cavalry,
killing and wounding a number of them. No report of it was made,
as there was no organization there. Other engagements followed this,
notably that of Salkehatchie River, South Carolina, February 6, 1865; Columbia,
South Carolina, February 15, 1865; Cox Bridge, North Carolina, March 20,
1865; and Bentonville, North Carolina, March 21 and 22, 1865. In
all these engagements Mr. Charles participated, at all times having charge
of a line of caissons if nothing more important was required, and between
engagements he was out with his forage party much of the time. Five
miles north of Sharon, South Carolina, he, in company with four men, went
in pursuit of some Confederates they knew to be hiding in the neighborhood.
At Grant's Mills they came to a place where a boat had rubbed on the shore
and some trees, and leaving one man in charge of their horses they strapped
revolvers around their necks and struck boldly into the water, which was
more than waist deep. They followed the trail of the boat rubbing
on the trees for about three-quarters of a mile, when they came to a small
house built on stumps, with the cane brakes thick all around, and they
captured nine Rebel prisoners. On the afternoon of the same day Mr.
Charles personally took five prisoners one and one-half miles from the
pond. He turned them over to division headquarters, General Davis
commanding. Mr. Charles was mustered out of the service at Detroit,
Michigan, June 14, 1865, a the close of the war.
On his return from the army he again took up the
occupation of an agriculturist, settling on the land which he had purchased
before going to the war, and to this he added from time to time, being
wonderfully successful and accumulating six hundred acres in Bangor township
and one hundred and twenty acres in Waverly township. He continued
to do general farming, stock-raising and peppermint growing until his retirement
from the active life in 1879.
On October 9, 1865, Mr. Charles was married
to Miss Mary Jane Cramer, daughter of Abraham and Mary (Sterling) Cramer,
natives of New York, and she died, leaving four children: Frank Lee, living
in Bangor township; Carrie Belle, who married Charles L. Barker, a well-known
Chicago attorney; and Frederick Grant and Fred Lee, both deceased.
Mr. Charles is independent in politics, and has served Bangor township
as treasurer. He is a popular comrade of the Grand Old Army of the
Republic, a consistent member of the Episcopal church, and a prominent
Mason, having attained to all the degrees except the thirty-third.
Just as he proved himself a brave and faithful
soldier during the dark days of the Civil war, so has Mr. Charles fulfilled
his duties as a citizen in times of peace, and he has ever been known as
a progressive and public-spirited citizen, and one who was always ready
to assist in forwarding measures for the benefit of his community.
He has an enviable reputation as an agriculturist, taking the premium for
apples at the Centennial in 1876, and raising the first full car of onions
that was shipped out of the states of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin,
this car going to Chicago. During the year 1881 he raised ten thousand
bushels of onions on ten acres of land.
Wesley E. Nicholas
.- It is due
to the efforts of the energetic, progressive and intelligent farmers that
agricultural conditions in Van Buren county are in such healthy condition
today. Intelligent working of the soil, recognition of the value
of crop rotation, and the use of modern power machinery have improved conditions
wonderfully during the past several decades, and one of those modern farmers
who have assisted materially in bringing about present conditions is Wesley
E. Nicholas, of Arlington township, Van Buren county, Michigan, and is
the son of Phillip and Hannah (Payne) Nicholas, natives of England.
On coming to the United States, Mr. Nicholas'
parents settled first in Pennsylvania, but after a year or so removed to
Ohio, and about 1840 came to Michigan and settled in Van Buren county.
The father, who is now living a retired life at Lawrence, was at one time
the owner of two hundred and twenty acres of valuable land in Van Buren
county. His wife died in 1900, having been the mother of nine children,
as follows: George, residing at Lawrence; Ellen and Ann, who are deceased;
Wesley E.; Herbert, who is deceased; Mary, the wife of John Allen, of Indiana;
Sherman and Alfred, agriculturists of Arlington township; and Ellsworth,
who carries on operations in Lawrence township.
Wesley E. Nicholas was reared to manhood on
his father's farm, and at the age of twenty-three years began farming forty
acres of land belonging to his father in section 9. After one year
he purchased this land, and subsequently added forty acres more to his
farm, and he now has one of the finest properties in the township.
He is a believer in the use of modern machinery, and has a complete equipment
of farm accessories. His residence is large and of modern construction,
and his barns, granary, silo and outbuildings are substantially made and
well kept. The whole appearance of the place testifies to able management,
while the sleek, healthy cattle show that Mr. Nicholas stands high as a
breeder of stock.
On May 22, 1881, Mr. Nicholas was married to Miss
Minnie Moses, daughter of Judson J. and Sophia (Prater) Moses, and three
children have been born to this union: Roy E., of Bangor; Verne, the wife
of Leslie DeHaven; and Marene, living at home. Mr. Nicholas is a
Democrat in politics, and fraternally he is connected with the Brotherhood
Frank G. Cleveland
is a cultured
farmer residing in Arlington township. At one time that adjective
as applied to a farmer would have seemed out of place, but the personnel
of the farmer has changed, and hence ideas in regard to his character have
become modified. If there is one occupation more than another where
there is room for the exercises of a man's intelligence it is in the pursuit
of agriculture. People at one time thought that it did not take a man of
great ability to farm, but now they have come to the conclusion that if
a man is to get out of the soil all that it is capable of producing he
must use his head as well as his muscles. This fact can readily be proven
by considering the cases of two farmers who own the same amount of land,
with the same climatic and other conditions. The one will produce
nearly twice as much as the other, and yet both put the same amount of
labor on the land. The difference exits in the fact that the one
brings his gray matter to bear on the subject, while the other expects
his muscles to accomplish everything. Mr. Cleveland is a farmer who
uses both brains and brawn, the result being that he has a farm that is
productive to its fullest capacity.
On the 23rd day of March, 1864, Mr. Cleveland began life
in Arlington township, Michigan. His parents, Peter and Clarissa
(Drake) Cleveland, were both natives of New York state, who came to Michigan
soon after they were married. They passed most of their wedded life
in this state, engaged in taking care of their farm and in bringing up
their children. They had a family of seven; the first born did not survive
infancy; John resides at Lawrence, Michigan; Walter maintains his home
at Hartford, Michigan; Jennie is the wife of Charles Mellen, of Lawrence,
Michigan; Frank mentioned more at length below; Amelia, the sixth child
died in infancy; and Eva, the youngest, was summoned to the life eternal
in the year 1902. In 1869, when some of the children were very young,
the husband and father died. Mrs. Clarissa Cleveland later married
George Knapp, of Coldwater, Michigan, and became the mother of three more
children,- Clarence, living at Grand Rapids; Cora, the wife of Charles
Segur, of Lansing, Michigan; and William, who resides in Grand Rapids.
In 1898 the mother's demise occurred.
Frank G. Cleveland was only five years of
age when his father died, and he remained with his mother until he attained
the age of fourteen. At that time he had completed the grammar school
course and he went to live with a physician at Lawrence, and while residing
in his house the lad attended high school, from which he graduated in 1884.
He then taught school for one winter and for the ensuing four years he
worked in various lines, but after trying different occupations he made
up his mind that his abilities lay in the direction of teaching.
For eleven years he was known as a successful teacher, old-fashioned in
his thoroughness and up-to-date in his modern methods of imparting knowledge.
After the death of his mother he determined to abandon the pedagogical
field and give his attention to agriculture. Returning to the farm
in Arlington township where he was born, he devoted himself to the cultivation
of the soil with as much zeal as he had used in his efforts to impart knowledge
to his pupils. He now owns ninety-five acres of land in section 29,
On October 17, 1889, Mr. Cleveland was married to
Miss Lizzie Nichols, daughter of John and Lovicie (Northrup) Nichols.
Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland have two sons and a daughter,- John, Earl and Edna-
and they also lost one little one in infancy. In politics Mr. Cleveland
is a Republican and his superior abilities are recognized by his fellow
citizens, who have elected him to various responsible positions in the
township. He has served as supervisor, as township treasurer and
as school director, his year of experience as an educator having rendered
him qualified to offer suggestions of a most valuable nature in regard
to school matters. His fraternal affiliation is with the Masonic
Order. A man who is a prosperous farmer, a holder of public offices
of trust, a loyal citizen, a good neighbor and friend, is worthy of the
regard which Mr. Cleveland enjoys in the community.
Seth L. Wakeman
, who has been engaged
in fruit raising in Arlington township since 1898, has one of the finest
orchards in Van Buren county. Mr. Wakeman makes a specialty of apples
and his fruit always meets with a ready sale in the markets of the big
cities, his experience having taught him just what the public wishes in
this line. He is a native of Genesee county, New York, and was born
October 22, 1858, a son of George W. and Eliza (Hamm) Wakeman, natives
of the Empire state. George W. Wakeman was a school teacher in his
younger days, but later took up farming, and he was thus engaged at the
time of his death, which occurred in New York in 1891. His widow
survived him ten years. Mr. and Mrs. Wakeman had four children, namely:
George, who is deceased; John P., living in Genesee county, New York; Seth
L.; and Henry T. of Niagara county, New York.
Seth L. Wakeman remained on his father's farm until
he reached the age of nineteen years, a which time he took up farming in
his own account, renting a farm of sixty-seven acres, which he worked for
five years. He then purchased eighty acres of land, but after five
years sold it and moved to Geneva, Illinois, where for ten years he was
engaged in farming a rented tract of one hundred and sixty acres.
In 1898 Mr. Wakeman came to Van Buren county, buying forty acres of land
in section 10, Arlington township, erecting here one of the finest homes
in this part of the state, a commodious frame house which is equipped with
all modern conveniences and appliances. Mr. Wakeman has found his
greatest profit in fruit raising, and has become one of Michigan's largest
shippers of apples. He has two hundred and fifty fruit bearing apple
trees and one thousand one hundred and fifty young trees, in addition to
one hundred young pear trees and twenty-five plum trees. He sell
nothing but the best grade of fruit, and those who have done business with
him have learned that his word is as good as his bond, and that his product
will reach the market exactly as is stipulated in the agreement.
Naturally, such business integrity makes his standing in his community
high and no doubt were he to enter the political field he would be placed
in high positions of trust, but he has found no time to work for political
honors, although he has filled the office of school director. Years
of experience and study have made him an expert in fruit raising, and he
is an excellent business man.
Mr. Wakeman was married April 4, 1883, to
Miss Bertie A. Simmons, daughter of Theodore B. and Roby (Cain) Simmons,
who had five other children, as follows: Charles, who is deceased; George
and Arthur, living in Illinois; Ray, of Geneva township, Van Buren county;
and Mabel, the wife of William Ward, of California. Mr. and Mrs. Wakeman
had the following four children: Arthur W., Pearl E., Winnie R. and Harry
S., all of whom live at home. Politically Mr. Wakeman is a stalwart
Republican, and his religious views are those of the Christian church,
of which he and his wife are consistent members and liberal supporters.
to Van Buren Home Page