VAN BUREN CITIZENS
.- Distinguished not
only as the descendant of an honored pioneer settler of Van Buren county,
but as a fine representative of the native born citizens of Bloomingdale
township, Alpheus Beals has for many years been actively associated with
the advancement of the agricultural interests of this part of Michigan,
and as a general farmer has met with well deserved success. He was
born on the farm where he now resides, March 2, 1866, and is the third
in direct line to bear the name Alpheus, his grandfather having been Alpheus
Beals, the first, and his father Alpheus Beals, the second.
Born in or near Springfield, Massachusetts,
July 10, 1800, Alpheus Beals, the first, grew to manhood in his native
state, where he began life for himself as a stage driver. Subsequently
starting westward, he was for awhile engaged in agricultural pursuits at
Farmington, Ontario county, New York, bur was not quite satisfied with
the financial results of his labors. Continuing, therefore, his journey
westward, he made his way to Van Buren county, Michigan, which seemed to
him an ideal place for one willing to begin at the very foundation as a
farm builder. Locating in the western part of Bloomingdale township,
he purchased a tract of land, a very small part of which had been cleared,
the remainder being covered with standing timber. Continuing the
improvements already inaugurated, he was there prosperously engaged in
tilling the soil until his death, October 6, 1865. His wife, whose
maiden name was Hannah P. Turner, was born in Cummington, Massachusetts,
and died, in 1876, in Bloomingdale township, Michigan.
One of a family of eight children, Alpheus Beals,
the second, was born June 16, 1841, during the residence of his parents
in Farmington, New York. A young man when he came with the family
to Bloomingdale township, he soon began farming on his own account, and
continued until forced by ill health to retire from active pursuits.
He died at his home in Bloomingdale township, in 1900. He married
Corintha Bell, who was born in Jefferson county, Iowa, a daughter to Eli
Eli Bell was born and bred in Springfield,
Massachusetts, coming from substantial New England stock. Moving
in early manhood to Ohio, he lived there a short time, and then followed
the march of civilization to Michigan, locating at White Pigeon. Another
migration toward the setting sun took him to the territory of Iowa, where
he became one of the first settlers of Jefferson county. Returning
to Ohio three years later, he made the removal with teams, going eastward
in the same manner that he made his previous journeys, and arriving in
Lorain county located in Eaton township. In 1849, being again seized with
the wanderlust, he came with his family to Van Buren county, Michigan,
and arriving at Bloomingdale township, his point of destination, after
nightfall spent his first night in his new home in the wagon in which he
and his family had crossed the country. Buying a tract of land in
section eight, he erected a log cabin in the wilderness, and at once began
to clear and improve a homestead. He met with good success in his
pioneer task, and during the many years he occupied the farm made improvements
of value, including the erection of a good set of frame buildings.
When well advanced in years he purchased a pleasant home in the village
of Bloomingdale, and there resided until his death, at the age of seventy-one
years. The maiden name of the wife of Eli Bell was Margaret Corning.
She was born in Massachusetts, the native state of her parents, Ephraim
and Margaret (Cooley) Corning, who moved from Massachusetts to New York
state, thence to Bloomingdale township, Van Buren county, Michigan, where
they spent the remainder of their lives. Mrs. Bell died at the age
of sixty-two years. Mrs. Corintha (Bell) Beals survived her first
husband and married again, in 1904, Russell Loomis, of whom a brief sketch
appears on another page of this work. By her marriage with her first
husband she had four children, namely: Alpheus, better known as Allie,
being the special subject of this brief biographical record; Edwin E.;
Bertha; and Ada.
Growing to man's estate on the parental homestead,
Alpheus Beals obtained a practical common school education, and at the
age of sixteen years, on account of the ill health of his father, assumed
the management of the home farm. At the father's death in 1900, Mr.
Beals and his brother succeeded to the ownership of the home estate, which
under their care is now one of the best improved in the community.
Mr. Beals married in May of 1887, Mary Allen,
who was born in Pennsylvania, a daughter of Joseph and Laura (Warren) Allen,
natives of the Keystone state. Six children have been born to Mr.
and Mrs. Beals, namely: Jay, John, Josie, Vera, Laura and Mary. Religiously
Mr. and Mrs. Beals are faithful members of the Christian church.
John A. Robinson
.- Little success
will be attained by the farmer who by persistent, exhaustive cropping endeavors
to get all he can from the soil and to put as little as possible back again-his
is destructive, not constructive, farming. Farming is labor of the
hand, it is true, but it is also labor of the mind, and the agriculturist
who would get the best from his property must study the soil conditions
and by learning just what constitutes the best crops treat his land so
as to produce them. The farmers of Van Buren county are now using
scientific methods, taught by years of experience, and prominent among
them may be mentioned John A. Robinson, of Porter township, who specializes
in grape growing and the manufacture of peppermint oil. Mr. Robinson
was born in Porter township, January 1, 1864, and is a son of James and
Mary Ann (Stephenson) Robinson, natives of Ireland (of Scotch ancestry),
who came to America in 1846, and first settled in Canada.
The Robinson family was founded in Michigan
in December 1862, when James and Mary Ann Robinson located near Lawton
and purchased forty acres of land in sections 6 and 8, Porter township.
Here they spent the rest of their lives engage in agricultural pursuits,
Mr. Robinson dying March 26, 1906, and his wife May 1, 1897. They
were the parents of eleven children, of whom six survive: Sarah, the widow
of Eugene Harris, of Lawrence; Amelia, the wife of Eugene Drake, of Arlington
township; Alice Ann, wife of Samuel M. Armstrong, of Ashland, Wisconsin;
Thomas, who is engaged in farming in partnership with his brother; Mary
E., the wife of Edwin R. Miller, of Otsego, Michigan; and John A.
John A. Robinson first engaged in farming
at the age of twenty-two years, and he has always remained on the home
farm. At present he is associated with his brother, Thomas, and they
have one hundred and sixty acres under cultivation. They also carry
on a peppermint still, for the manufacture of mint oil, and this year will
have between six and seven hundred pounds of this product. In addition
they carry on general farming and grape raising and are very successful
in all of their ventures.
On February 6, 1886, John A. Robinson was married
to Miss Martha J. Delamater, and she died April 13, 1898, having been the
mother of five children: Pearl Ione, born February 18, 1888, is the wife
of G. W. Fisk of Townsend, Montana, and has one daughter, named Almeda,
born December 17, 1911; James Arthur, born June 7, 1889, and residing in
Lawton, married May L. Harris and has one son, Byron J., born September
27, 1910; Howard Leroy, born November 10, 1891, is at home; and Hazel May,
born January 12, 1894, and Gladys, born August 5, 1895, are also at home.
Mr. Robinson was married (second) to Cora B. (Summers) Etter, the widow
of Miles Etter, who had one child by her first marriage, John D. Etter,
who was born December 21, 1896. Mr. Robinson is a Republican, and
served his township as constable. His fraternal connections are with
the Maccabees and the Knights of Phythias, and with his wife he attends
the Methodist church. Successful in his business ventures, pubic-spirited
to a high degree, progressive and enterprising in all things and the happy
possessor of many warm personal friends, Mr. Robinson can truthfully be
said to be one of Van Buren county's representative citizens.
Elver E. Waldron
, one of the prominent
and prosperous farmers of Porter township, is the proprietor of one hundred
acres of valuable land, upon which is erected a large farm dwelling, a
good barn and all other buildings necessary to a first-class modern homestead.
The fields are finely laid off for fruit-growing and general farming,
and for pasturage; the fences are substantially built and kept in good
repair, and the property is fully equipped with the most highly improved
machinery. Mr. Waldron, who is now serving as supervisor of Porter
township, was born in Van Buren county, Michigan, May 23, 1855, and is
a son of L. M. and Clarissa (Bugbee) Waldron, the former a native of Ohio
and the latter of New York.
During the early 'fifties the Waldron family was
founded in Michigan by Mr. Waldron's parents, who settled on a farm north
of the town of Lawton. In 1873 L. M. Waldron purchased a farm of
sixty acres in Porter township, section 14, and there he was engaged in
agricultural pursuits until his retirement, since which time he and his
wife have resided in their comfortable residence situated in Lawton.
They have been the parents of three children, namely: Ida M., the widow
of W. E. Kinney, of Kalamazoo county, Michigan; Elver E., of this sketch;
and Jessie M., who is deceased.
Elver M. Waldron attended the public
schools of his native vicinity, and as a youth also attended the school
of hard work, learning early that the only way to succeed in life was through
hard, persistent effort directed along the lines of honesty of purpose
and integrity and fair dealing in all things. By the time he was
sixteen years of age he had mastered all the details of farming and fruit-growing,
and when he had reached his majority he began working for wages, although
he continued at home. In 1891 he had accumulated enough to engage
in farming on his own account, and in that year purchased the forty-acre
tract adjoining the old homestead in Porter township, adding to it some
time later the sixty acres originally bought by his father. He now
operates the entire one hundred acres and carries on general farming, specializing
in fruit. His operations are extensive, and he finds a ready market
for his product in the large cities.
On November 6, 1874, Mr. Waldron was married
to Miss Adella Campbell, daughter of W. W. and Thankful (Halstead) Campbell,
natives of Ohio. Mrs. Waldron has one sister, Lottie, who is the
widow of I. E. Powell, of Van Buren county. Four children have been
born to Mr. and Mrs. Waldron, namely: Minne, who married Stephen Frank,
of Kalamazoo county; William Hugh, who married Grace Cooley and helps to
cultivate the home property; Harry, who resides at home; and Blanche, who
married James D. McMahon, an attorney of Hammond, Indiana.
Politically a Republican, Mr. Waldron has
been active in the ranks of his party in Van Buren county, and has been
elected to the offices of township clerk and supervisor, in which latter
capacity he is at present serving. He has proven himself as able
an official as agriculturist, and deserves the confidence and esteem in
which he is held by the people of Porter township. He is a leading
member of the Gleaners, and a consistent attendant and liberal supporter
of the Methodist church, of which Mrs. Waldron is also a member.
.- The average Michigan
farmer, be he enterprising and progressive, is usually loath to give up
his operations, even when he has reached years that to men in different
lines of employment would seem advanced, but when he does turn over his
operations and retires from activities he can look back over the years
that have passed with a satisfied sense that he has accomplished much in
the development of his section. Darwin McKee, of Decatur township,
a widely known farmer and stockraiser who is now leading a retired life,
was for many years engaged in tilling the soil of Van Buren county, and
assisted materially in bringing about the changes that have made the once
wild country into a land of prosperity and plenty. He was born in
Niagara county, New York, August 8, 1828, a son of Chauncy and Lucy (Loomis)
McKee, the former a native of Connecticut and the latter of Vermont.
Chauncy McKee, who was a farmer all of his life, died August 26, 1875,
and his wife passed away in 1845. They had three children: Edwin,
who is deceased; Darwin and Delose, who is deceased.
Darwin McKee was seventeen years of age when his
mother died, and he remained on the home farm until his marriage, at the
age to twenty-five years, when he began running a boat on the Erie Canal.
After three years spent in this occupation he returned to farming in New
York, continuing until 1865. In that year he came to Van Buren county,
and on March 28th of the same year located in Decatur township. Purchasing
eighty acres, he began the clearing of this land, and eventually erected
substantial buildings and good fencing, and made it into a well improved
farm. He has resided here continuously since. Later, however,
he bought one hundred and fifty-three acres in section 12, on which his
sons have engaged in farming and stock-raising. Mr. McKee was greatly
interested in breeding draft horses, and did a large business in this line.
He was, and is still, considered an excellent judge of live stock, and
he raised some of the finest animals that Van Buren county has yet produced.
His opinion was often consulted on the stock market, while buyers from
all over the state preferred to deal with him than with others. Mr.
McKee has been a witness of wonderful changes, and it is due to the efforts
of just such industrious, hard-working agriculturists as he that these
changes have come about.
Darwin McKee was married in 1853 to Miss Adelia
Andrus, daughter of Abel B. and Sophia (St. Clair) Andrus, natives of Vermont.
Six children have been born to this union: Benjamin H., of Decatur; Leonard
C., residing in Decatur township; Darwin Jr., also of Decatur township;
Hattie, the wife of Allison Ives; Ella Dell, who is deceased; and Elinor,
who married Cass Rosewan, of Portland, Oregon, and she is now deceased.
Mr. McKee is a stanch Republican in political matters, and although he
has never cared for public office for himself he has always wielded a strong
influence in matters which have affected the welfare of his township.
The family home is situated on Decatur Rural Route No. 2.
.- Agricultural conditions
in Van Buren county have changed to such an extent during the past several
decades that the enterprising farmer has been compelled to change, to a
large degree, his methods of treating the soil. New discoveries have
been made, powerful machinery invented and new innovations introduced,
and he who reap the most beneficial results from his property must keep
himself conversant with the changes of the times. One of the up-to-date
farmers of Van Buren county, who is now engaged in fruit and grain raising
on a well cultivated tract of thirty acres situated in Decatur township,
is Edward McAdams, a native of Genesee county, New York, who was born December
9, 1856, a son of William and Betsy (Ray) McAdams.
Mr. McAdams' parents were natives of Ireland,
of Scotch ancestry, and came to the United States shortly after their marriage,
settling in Genesee county, New York, from whence they came to Michigan
in 1857. Here in Decatur township William McAdams bought twenty-five acres
of wild land, and after he had cleared and cultivated it he added another
forty acres, which he also put in a state of cultivation. Here he and his
wife spent the remainder of their lives, both dying in 1897. They
were the parents of ten children: John, who is deceased; Mary, the widow
of Leonard Hurlburt, of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Susan, the wife of Adelbert
Howland, of Cass county; Betsy, who married Charles Earl, a resident of
Decatur; Jennie, who married William Stewart, of Grand Rapids; Edward;
George, living in the state of Minnesota; Joseph J., of Decatur; Eliza,
the wife of Frank Jones, of Grand Rapids; and Frank, who is deceased.
Edward McAdams was about one year old when
brought to Michigan, and his education was secured in the district schools
of Decatur township, which he attended until he was sixteen years old.
He then began farming, and continued as an agriculturist for five years,
but on attaining his majority he went to northern Michigan and for nine
years was a member of a lumber camp crew. Next he spent one year
and six months in a Wisconsin lumber mill, but on account of failing health
he returned to Michigan and settled on his present thirty-acre farm in
Decatur township, where he is engaged in raising fruit and grain.
His operations have been uniformly successful, and he is considered one
of the substantial men of his township. On December 3, 1877, Mr.
McAdams was married to Miss Winnie Roberts, daughter of Thomas and Lydia
(Carpenter) Roberts, and two children have been born to this union: Leslie,
who resides in Decatur, and Herbert, now in the employ of the Grand Trunk
Railroad Company. In his political views Mr. McAdams is a Republican
and his religious connection is with the Presbyterian church.
.- Farming has drawn
out the best efforts of some of the leading men of Van Buren county and
developed their abilities. Through their endeavors in an agricultural
line they have become well-to-do and prominent in their communities.
Such a man is Leslie McAdams, of Decatur township, who is well and favorably
known in his neighborhood as an exponent of scientific farming. Mr.
McAdams has intimate knowledge of the soil of this section, as this, with
the exception of one year, has been his home all of his life. He
was born on his father's farm in Decatur township, August 24, 1878, a son
of Edward and Winnie (Roberts) McAdams, natives of New York and now residents
of Decatur township. A sketch of their lives appears preceding this.
Leslie McAdams remained on the home farm until
he attained his majority, at which time he went to the lumber woods of
Wisconsin and there spent one year. On his return he took up farming
as an occupation, and this he followed with much success to the present
time. Mr. McAdams' farming operations have kept him so busy that
he has not found the time to engage actively in politics, but he is a stanch
supporter of Republican principles and no movement for the betterment of
his township fails to receive this support. He is popular fraternally
as a member of the Masons, the Eastern Star and the Gleaners, and his religious
affiliation is with the Presbyterian church, which he and Mrs. McAdams
attend. Mr. McAdams has a comfortable residence situated on Decatur
Rural Route No. 2, and he has also erected substantial barns and outbuildings
and put up neat, durable fencing and made numerous other improvements.
On September 17, 1903, Mr. McAdams was united
in marriage with Miss Jennie Gates, the estimable daughter of Michael and
Edna (Campbell) Gates. Mr. Gates died in May 1908, and the widow
is now residing in Decatur. Mrs. McAdams was the youngest of four
children, her brothers and sisters being: Elmer, who lives in Lawton; Allie,
a resident of the village of Decatur; and Lillie, the wife of Frank Silkworth,
of Lawton. Mr. and Mrs. McAdams have had three children, born as
follows: Madge, in March 1904; Leo, in November 1906; and Irene, in November
.- It very frequently
happens that the men in a family will show an inclination towards a certain
profession or line of work, and especially is this true with regard to
men who make a business of farming. There are often generation after
generation of farmers in a family, the sons inheriting their skill and
inclination from their fathers. However, the agriculturist of today
faces an entirely different proposition from that of a quarter of a century
ago. Each year brings some new discovery, some improved methods,
some newly invented machinery, so that the agriculturist of today, although
better fitted to cultivate his land, must also keep abreast of the times
in order that he may cope with his fellows. Charles Lytle, a farmer
of Porter township, Van Buren county, no doubt owes much of his skill as
an agriculturist to his father, D. W. C. Lytle, who for a number of years
carried on farming in this township.
D. W. C. Lytle was a native of New York, and
came from that state to Michigan during the 'fifties, engaging in agricultural
work, which he followed throughout his life, and he died on his home farm
June 22, 1894. He was married in Michigan to Mary J. Wilcox, a native
of this state, and she died on the 24th of February 1904, having been the
mother of six children, as follows: Charles, David, who is a farmer in
Antwerp township; John, engaged in farming in Porter township; Wilber B.,
a resident of Lawton; Nancy V., the wife of W. B. Shafer, of Paw Paw; and
Robert B., also an agriculturist of Porter township.
Charles Lytle was born on the home farm in
Porter township, April 17, 1859, and remained on the home farm until his
marriage, at which time he rented one hundred and twenty acres of his father's,
falling heir to this land at the time of his father's death. He has
put his property in an excellent state of cultivation, and devotes twenty-three
acres to grapes, having upwards of eleven thousand vines. It is only
natural that a man of Mr. Lytle's training and natural abilities should
succeed and that he should make a success of his operations. No man
stands higher in the community that he, and he is recognized as a sound,
reliable man, a good farmer and honorable business citizen.
Mr. Lytle was united in marriage, December 8, 1886,
with Miss Estella A. Birdsell, daughter of George M. and Amelia (Quick)
Birdsell. Mr. and Mrs. Birdsell had six children, namely: Estella
A., who married Mr. Lytle; Clara E., the wife of C. E. Lewis, editor of
the Lawton Leader; Georgianna, the wife of W. K. Lane, of Van Buren county;
Grace, who married D. H. Palmer, of Avilla, Pennsylvania; Cora, a trained
nurse of Denver, Colorado; and one child which died in infancy. Mr.
and Mrs.Lytle have had four children, namely: Anna, Homer B., Arthur C.
and G. Wilber, who live with their parents. Mr. Lytle is a Republican
in political matters, and has served very acceptably as a member of the
township board. He and Mrs. Lytle attend the Baptist church, and
have been liberal contributors to movements of religious and charitable
nature. He is popular in fraternal circles and holds membership in the
Masons and the Woodmen. Mrs. Lytle and daughter are members of the
Eastern Star, and the son, Homer is also a member of the Masonic fraternity.
Byron M. Poorman
.- This progressive,
enterprising and prosperous farmer and live stock man, although not a native
of Van Buren county, has lived within its boundaries and taken part in
its industrial life for thirteen years, and mingled with the people of
the locality in which he resides from his childhood. He is, therefore,
not lacking in knowledge of the needs of his township or the desires and
aspirations of its people, and he has been so closely associated with them
that he is practically one of them in spirit and community of feeling,
as well as in effort for the advancement and improvement of the country
around him in his present abiding place.
Mr. Poorman was born in the adjoining county of
Cass on July 11, 1875, his parents, John and Maria Theresa (Carpenter)
Poorman, being at that time residents of that county. The father
was born and reared in Pennsylvania and the mother in this state.
When he attained his majority and had the world to choose from for a place
in which to employ his energies for his advancement in life, the father
came to Michigan and located in St. Joseph county. There he bought
eighty acres of land, which he lived on and cultivated for some years.
He then moved to Cass county, where he passed the remainder of his days,
dying in August 1895. The mother is still living and has her home
in Marcellus, Cass county.
They were the parents of six children, all
of whom are living. Byron M. was the fourth in order of birth.
He has one brother, Charles, who resides in Cass county, and four sisters:
Eva, the wife of Robert Whitenight, of Cass county; Minnie, the widow of
the late Joseph Rediker; the wife of Dr. Howard Bee, of Summit Station,
Byron M. Poorman grew to manhood on his father's
farm, acquiring a good fundamental knowledge of practical farming under
the instruction of his parent, attending the district school in the neighborhood
when he could be spared from the exacting duties which often required all
the force the family could muster for their performance, and gaining social
attainments and imbibing the principles which prevailed in the community
from association with its people. At the age of twenty he was a man
in stature, in strength, in self-reliance and in ambition to make his own
way in the world. At that age he was married and began farming on
his own account, renting the home place for three years.
In 1898 he bought eighty acres of land in
Porter township, this county, in section 27, and at once located on it
and began farming it vigorously, but with a judgment which ripened with
years and experience, and a progress that has kept pace with the development
and discovery in the science of agriculture. He has remained on this
farm until the present time (1911), carrying on a general farming and live
stock industry, which has increased in magnitude as his facilities have
been enlarged and his resources made more abundant until he is now one
of the leading farmers of the township for the extent of his acreage, and
one of the most enterprising.
Mr. Poorman's marriage, already alluded to,
occurred on December 19, 1895, and united him with Miss Eliza Smith, a
daughter of Charles and Ida (Wilsey) Smith, natives of Michigan and the
parents of five children: Ora, who married Fred Reynolds and lives in Preston,
Kansas; Eliza, now Mrs. Poorman; Carrie May, who has her home in Grand
Rapids, Michigan; Willard, who lives in Porter township, this county; and
Leroy, the third child, who has been dead a number of years. Their
father has been a farmer from his youth and is still actively engaged in
the business of tilling the soil. His wife died in April 1898.
Mr. and Mrs. Poorman have had three children:
Ida May, who was born on March 17, 1897, and died on December 25 of the
same year; Ethel Merle, who was born on October 28, 1900, and died on April
7, 1901; and Howard Milton, whose life began on August 31, 1905, and ended
on January 15, 1906. Mr. Poorman is a Republican in his political
affiliation, and although he has no ambition for public prominence or official
station he is loyal to his party from conviction and one of its zealous
supporters. Fraternally he is a Freemason, and takes a cordial and
helpful interest in the affairs of his lodge. He stands well in the
regard of the people of his township, and everywhere he is recognized as
a man of worth and a citizen of high class, whether viewed form the standpoint
of his interest in the welfare of his township and county, or his uprightness
and integrity in all the dealings he has with his fellow men and in all
the relations of life.
David P. Hall
.- Although in his youth
and young manhood something of a wanderer, seeking an advance in his fortune
in three states of the Union, but always in the occupation of farming,
to which he was reared, David P. Hall, of Porter township in this county,
has been a constant resident of the locality in which he now lives during
the last twenty-six years, and all the time a substantial and valued contributor
to its advancement in all lines of wholesome progress and improvement in
every activity that ministers to the enduring welfare of its people and
their convenience and comfort in life.
Although he has sought profitable employment
and good opportunities for his benefit in two other states, Mr. Hall is
a good native of Michigan. His life began in Jonesville, Hillsdale
county, on November 24, 1856. His parents were Amos and Eunice (Brown)
Hall, the former a native of Steuben county, New York, and the latter born
and reared in Michigan. The father came to this state in 1847 and
located for a time in Hillsdale county. When his son David was a
year old he moved his family to Van Buren county and bought one hundred
and thirteen acres of land in Porter township, section 21, on which he
carried on general farming operations and live stock raising until his
death, which occurred in September 1888. The mother preceded him
to the life beyond twenty-three years, dying August 1865.
Their son David was the second born of their seven
children, and he and his sister Ursula, who is the wife of John Hoetop,
of Kalamazoo, are the only ones now living. Those who have died were:
William H., Sally Jane, Cassius M., Helen, and one who passed away in infancy.
By the death of his mother when he was but nine years of age David was
thrown on his own resources at an early age, but he showed that he was
capable of taking care of himself, and gave a signal proof of that fact
when he was but sixteen.
At that age, in 1872, he went to Nebraska and bought
one hundred and sixty acres of land, which he lived on and farmed for three
years. But the conditions were not agreeable to him, and at the end
of the time mentioned he returned to his father's home, was then in this
county and comprised the farm on which he now lives. He remained
at home three years, assisting his father in the cultivation of the land.
Then the roving spirit seized him again, and he went to Missouri, where
he remained seven years, engaged in farming and raising stock.
Missouri did not prove much more attractive
to him than Nebraska, and one more he returned to the parental homestead,
and here he has lived and prospered ever since. He sold a portion
of the homestead, but retained ninety-five acres for his own use, and he
has cultivated his farm with such industry and skill that he has made every
acre of it yield him first-rate returns for the labor and care he has bestowed
upon it. He does general farming and continues to raise live stock
with good results.
Mr. Hall takes an active interest in local public
affairs, and in his political faith and work he is a loyal member of the
Republican party. But he has not been zealous in its behalf through
desire for any office it could bestow upon him. His activity has
been inspired by his strong faith in the principles of the party and his
desire to promote the general welfare of the people, which he is always
ready to do by any means at his command. The same desire has made
him an ardent supporter of all forms and means of public improvement in
his township and county. In religious faith and connection he is
united with the Methodist Protestant church, and is one of the energetic
workers in the congregation in which he holds his membership. He
is universally regarded as an upright man and an excellent citizen wherever
he is known, and that is in all parts of the county.
Joseph K. Shanahan
among the old and honored residents of Decatur townships may be mentioned
Joseph K. Shanahan, who has been a resident of Michigan for nearly eighty
years, and is now the owner of a magnificent tract of farming land.
He has been witness of and a participant in the wonderful changes that
have taken place in this region, and during his residence here has built
up a reputation for honesty, integrity and fair dealing that makes him
one of the most highly esteemed men of his township and a model of public-spirited
citizenship. Mr. Shanahan is a native of the state of Delaware, and
was born October 6, 1829, a son of Edward and Rebecca (Kimmey) Shanahan,
both born in that state.
In 1832 Edward Shanahan, who had been a farmer
in Delaware, brought his family to Michigan, and on June 5th of that year
settled in Cass county. He purchased land and began farming, and added
to his holdings from time to time until when he died he was the owner of
one thousand four hundred acres of land. Successful in his own affairs,
Mr. Shanahan was on numerous occasions called upon by his fellow townsmen
to manage the affairs of his county and township, and from 1860 to 1862
he was a member of the State Legislature. Few men of his time were
better or more favorably known, either in farming or stockraising circles
or in public life, and he reared a family that was a credit to him in every
respect. He and his wife had the following children: Joseph K., William,
Sarah, Peter and James, who are deceased; Alexander, who lost his life
while serving in a Michigan regiment during the Civil war; Clifford, who
is living in Wisconsin; Henry, deceased, who was in the Fourth Michigan
Cavalry during the Civil war and assisted in the capture of Jefferson Davis,
president of the Confederacy, and received seven hundred and sixty dollars
as his share of the money offered for the capture; Elizabeth and Louisa,
who are deceased; Edward, residing in Wisconsin; Judson, a resident of
South Bend, Indiana; and Kimmey, who lives at Edwardsburg, Michigan.
Another child died in infancy.
Joseph K. Shanahan received his education in the
public and high schools of Edwardsburg, Michigan. In 1853 he came
to Porter township, Van Buren county, and bought one hundred and fifteen
acres in section 19, and forty acres in section 24, Decatur township. To
this he has added fifty-seven acres in Porter township, and he now devotes
the whole property to farming and stock-raising. He has registered
Durham stock, as well as fine Holstein cattle, and there is not a better
judge of animals in the township. His place is finely improved, having
a handsome residence, large barns and granaries, and numerous outbuildings
for the shelter of his stock and implements. Mr. Shanahan is modern
and progressive in his ideas, and believes firmly in the use of power farm
machinery. Always a hard worker, intelligent applying a training
of a lifetime to his calling, Mr. Shanahan has developed a magnificent
property, and has something to show for his efforts. He has also
gained and retained the friendship and esteem of his neighbors and business
On January 1, 1863, Mr. Shanahan was married
to Miss Etta M. Maffitt, daughter of Calvin and Lucy (Owen) Maffitt, natives
of Vermont, who came to Michigan at an early day and settled near Paw Paw.
Mr. and Mrs. Maffitt reared seven children, as follows: Sarah, the wife
of D. C. Coleman, of Lawton; Andrew and George, who are deceased; Eretta,
who is the widow of John Pierson, of Fort Wayne; Alonzo and Melissa, who
are deceased; and Etta M., who married Mr. Shanahan. Mrs. Shanahan
died in 1879, having had two children: Edward M., who is now engaged in
farming with his father; and Louis, who is deceased. In 1883 Mr.
Shanahan was married (second) to Elinda Sherburn, and they had two children:
Louise, the wife of Henry J. Barton, of Battle Creek, Michigan; and James
K., who lives in Lawton.
Mr. Shanahan is a Republican, and has held various
school offices and acted in the capacity of highway commissioner.
In religious belief he is a Baptist. Few men can look with more pride
upon a career filled with such good deeds, with care for others and devotion
to public trust. His parents were upright, God-fearing people and
he has reared to follow in their faith and footsteps. Such men as
Joseph K. Shanahan are the best citizens any community can desire.
Rev. James Henry Hammond
.- In March
1910, in Van Buren county, Michigan, the inevitable shaft of death ended
the life of one of the most highly esteemed and widely known men of our
time, not only in this county but in many places in several of the other
great states of the American Union. This was the late Rev. James
Henry Hammond, at one time state evangelist of Michigan for the Christian
church, to which he devoted his energies during the greater art of his
highly commendable and extensively useful life. His services to humanity
and in behalf of the betterment of mankind were not, however, confined
to this state, nor to the Christian ministry. On many fields of action
and in many parts of the country he was in the front rank in the performance
of duty, and in the benefits he conferred on his fellow men.
New York, the state of his birth; Kentucky, from
one of whose theological institutions he was graduated as a preacher of
the gospel; and Iowa and Illinois, in each of which he held pastorates
at various times, knew him well, esteemed him highly in life and now venerate
his memory. Lines of light and hope and comfort for the sons of men
radiated from his progress in every path of duty and made life better and
happier for all on whom they rested, no matter whether they were of his
faith and sect or not.
Mr. Hammond was born in Greene county, New York,
on April 1, 1847. He was of English ancestry, his grandfather, Jonathan
Hammond, having come to America from England and settled in eastern New
York. There his son Nathaniel, father of James Henry, was born on
October 15, 1815. He followed the cabinet maker's trade, and in early life
wedded Miss Caroline Sears, also a native of the Empire state. He
died at the early age of forty-one, in 1856, when his son James Henry was
only nine years old. After his death the mother removed to Delaware
county, New York, and there her life ended in 1883.
James Henry Hammond received a common school
education, and on February 8, 1864, when he was but seventeen years of
age, he enlisted in Company M, Fifteenth New York Heavy Artillery, for
defense of the Union during the Civil war. He remained in the army
until after the close of the terrible and sanguinary conflict, and was
honorably discharged on August 22, 1865. When his regiment was enlisted,
although the Confederacy was manifestly approaching its end, some of the
hardest fighting of the war remained yet to be done, and he did not escape
a serious mark of its fury. The regiment was sent to join General
Grant in his pending campaign, and was consequently in the thickest of
the fray. In the capture of the Weldon Railroad, on August 18, 1864,
he was injured by a minie ball, which passed through his right side.
He was then sent to the hospital at City Point, Virginia, and afterward
to Lincoln Hospital in Washington. There the surgeon who attended
his wound said that if the ball had been one-sixteenth of an inch farther
in it would have caused his death. As it was, he never fully recovered
from the wound. But while it caused him suffering at times, he was
proud of having received it, always regarding it as a mark of honorable
After the close of the war and his release
from the army, Mr. Hammond resumed his educational course, entering Stamford
Seminary to prepare himself for useful work as a teacher. He followed
this profession for a number of years in various places, with a trend toward
the West. For awhile he lived in Ogle county, Illinois, and later he taught
school in Rock Island county in that state. While residing in the
latter place he united with the Christian church, and his religious zeal
soon became such that he resolved to devote the remainder of his life to
the Christian ministry
With this object in view he pursued a course
of instruction in theology in the Bible College connected with the State
University at Lexington, Kentucky, a school conducted under the auspices
of the Christian church. His course in this institution was interrupted
by his acceptance of a call to the pastorate of the Christian church in
Dubuque, Iowa, which he occupied for one year. He then returned to
the college, and was graduated from it, with the second honors of his class,
on June 14, 1877.
After his graduation his active work began, and
it never ceased, even for a short period, until failing health compelled
him to give it up. His first call was to Midway, Kentucky, where
he remained one year. From there he went to Pompey Hill, New York,
and after a term of appreciated service in that place, again turned his
face in the direction of the setting sun and came to Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Here he remained four years, then went to Painesville, Ohio, for one year,
at the end of which he accepted the position of state evangelist of Michigan
for his denomination. It was while occupying this position that he
was united in marriage with Miss Mary Grace Anderson, the nuptials being
solemnized on January 1, 1883.
Mrs. Hammond was born in Van Buren county, Michigan,
a daughter of Le Grand Redmond and Susanna (Morris) Anderson. Her
paternal grandfather, Le Grand Anderson, was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia,
on February 11, 1795, and was a son of Cornelius and Anna (Redmond) Anderson,
the former a nativeof England and the latter of France. They were
the parents of seven children: Catherine, who became the wife of John Gassaway,
of Chillicothe, Ohio; Miriam, who became the wife of Elijah Anderson, of
Dayton, Ohio; Anna, who married with Cornelius Simpson, of Winchester,
Virginia; Mary, who died unmarried; Phebe, who became the wife of George
McCormick, of Woodward county, Virginia; Cornelius, who first wedded Miss
Sarah Thompson, and following her demise was united in a second marriage
with Miss Mary Wright. He was again bereft of his companion and married
for the third time, choosing on this occasion Mrs. Margaret (Johnson) Charles,
a cousin of the wife of John Quincy Adams. The seventh child of this
household was Le Grand Anderson, the grandfather of Mrs. Hammond.
Cornelius Anderson immigrated with his family from Virginia to Ohio about
1810. Sometime before leaving his native state he had bought from
a slave ship two colored men and a woman, whom he owned for two or three
years and found to be good, faithful workers. But when he was ready to
leave Virginia he felt it would not be right to take these into a free
state. So he found them good homes with families in Virginia and
gave them their freedom, and felt great satisfaction in doing it.
Le Grand Anderson received his early education in
Virginia, and was about fifteen years of age when he removed with his parents
to Pikewood Prairie, Ross county, Ohio. He enlisted for service in
the second war with Great Britain in 1812, and remained in the army until
he close of the war. Then, in common with his comrades in the service,
he was offered land grants by the government. These, however, he
refused, saying his service had been given to the country through patriotism
and not through any desire for reward. After the close of the war
the returned to Ohio, and on February 18, 1817, he was united in marriage
with Miss Catherine Shaw, a daughter of William and Lydia (Baughman) Shaw.
She was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on October 3, 1795, and was taken
to Ross county, Ohio, by her parents about the time of the migration of
the Anderson family to that locality. Her parents were Quakers, while
her husband was of the Baptist faith, and had entered the ministry of that
denomination. To the union of Mr. and Mrs. Le Grand Anderson ten
children were born. Their names and order of birth were as follows:
Cornelius, Anna, Lydia, William, Mary, George R., John, Eliza, Harriet,
Le Grand R., the father of Mrs. Hammond, and Jane. They have all
died but Mary, who is the widow of the late Benjamin A. Murdock, of Paw
Paw, and Jane, who is the wife of a Mr. Dewey, also a resident of Van Buren
As his family increased Mr. Anderson felt
the need of acquiring larger holdings of land in order to provide for his
children, and to the end of securing the same he made a three trips into
the West on tours of investigation, his first trip being to the vicinity
of what was then Fort Dearborn, but is now Chicago. On this trip,
which was made by horseback, he was accompanied by Martin Baer, one of
his neighbors in Ohio. His next trip was to Missouri. But he
evidently did not find that country to his liking, for the next year he
made a third trip, this time coming to Young's Prairie, Michigan, and from
there to Prairie Ronde, in 1823. Here he bought land from the government,
and from this time on he would come to that part of Michigan every year,
accompanied by a hired man, put in a crop, and return to Ohio for the winter.
He followed this practice until 1832, when, having built a comfortable
residence and other necessary improvements on his land, and with his granaries
well stocked from the crops of previous years, he brought his family from
Ohio to Michigan as their future home. He passed the remainder of
his days in this Michigan home, where his life ended on July 31, 1869,
twenty-six years after the death of his wife, which occurred on September
Le Grand Redmond Anderson was married at an
early age, on February 26, 1860, to Miss Susanna Morris, and by this union
became the father of three children: Mary Grace, the widow of Rev. Mr.
Hammond; Clara S., the widow of Rev, James H. Rennie, a sketch of whose
life will be found in this volume; and Le Grand, who died at the age of
nine years. Rev. James Henry and Mrs. Hammond were the parents of
three children: Mary Grace, who birth occurred on February 27, 1887, and
who is now the wife of Orville Abbott, of Porter township, this county;
Clara Susanne, who was born January 21, 1889, and is now the wife of Herbert
Abbott, also a resident of Porter township; and Le Grand Anderson Hammond,
who life began on April 6, 1891, and who is now a student at the university
in Notre Dame, Indiana, preparing for the legal profession. The two daughters
are graduates of the State Normal University at Kalamazoo, Michigan, and
also attended the Lake Erie College, of Painesville, near Cleveland, Ohio.
Soon after his marriage Mr. Hammond filled
the pulpit of the Christian church at Bangor for several months and held
a number of revival meetings. He then accepted the pastorate of the church
of South Bend, Indiana, where he remained about two years. From there
he went to Mount Ayr, Iowa, and there he preached the gospel and performed
excellent and appreciated pastoral services for one year. In July
1890 he was called to fill the pulpit of the church at Decatur, this county,
a new organization with about one hundred members. He labored zealously
in his efforts to win souls to Christ, and was successful in building up
a strong congregation. In later years, however, his health failed,
so that for some time prior to his death he lived retired.
Orley Mason Vaughan, M. D
., was born
in Glens Falls, New York, September 21, 1853, being a son of Robert W.
and Eliza Jane (Hatch) Vaughan, natives respectively of Fort Ann, New York,
and of Garrettsville, Ohio. Of the five children born to this couple
three grew to maturity, the subject of this article being the eldest; Emily
C. is now residing at Hartford, Michigan; and Ella C. is Mrs. Thomas Carter
and a resident of San Jose, California. Dr. Vaughan
received his early education in the public schools and at Kalamazoo College.
He was assistant postmaster in Paw Paw, Michigan, in 1874-1875. He
then taught school for a year, and later matriculated in the Northern University
Medical School, which institution conferred upon him the degree of Doctor
of Medicine in 1881. He began the practice of his profession in Bangor,
Michigan, in 1881, from which place he moved to Covert in July 1883, where
he has since resided.
Dr. Vaughan was married in the spring of 1883
to Miss Mary Pitts, a daughter of Samuel and Julia (Oliver) Pitts and who
was born in Pontiac, Michigan, October 6, 1851. They are the parents
of three children: Dr. Orley Mason, Jr., born May 15, 1884, who graduated
from the Northwestern University Medical school in 1911, and is now in
the Madison General Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin; Willard Robert,
born July 14, 1887, who is a member of the senior class in the medical
department of the University of Illinois; and Lepha Bell, born March 15,
1889, a recent graduate from the Western State Normal School at Kalamazoo,
Michigan, and is now at home.
In politics Dr. Vaughan is a Democrat, and
he served as postmaster at Covert during both of Cleveland's administrations.
He is a member of the lodge of Master Masons, located at Bangor, of the
Royal Arch, Council and Eastern Star, at South Haven, of the Knights Templar
at Kalamazoo and of the Mystic Shrine, of Grand Rapids. He is also
a member of the different lodges of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows,
and is a member of the Kalamazoo Academy of Medicine, of the Michigan State
Medical Society and of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Vaughan takes an interest in school work
and was for twenty-one years a member of the Covert School Board.
As health officer for the past twenty-eight years he has looked after the
health and sanitary conditions of Covert village and township, and as one
of the superintendents of the poor for Van Buren county for the past fifteen
years he has ministered to the wants of the unfortunate and dependent poor.
In a business way he has dealt largely in real estate in Van Buren county
and in Chicago, Illinois, and is a stockholder and director in several
banks, public utility and industrial corporations.
The devotional part of Dr. Vaughan's home
life is looked after largely by his good wife, who is a member of the Covert
Congregational church and an active worker in the W. C. T. U.
Both she and her daughter, Lepha, are interested in lodge work and both
are members of the Eastern Star at South Haven and of the Rebekah lodge
.- Owning and cultivating
the farm in Porter township, this county, on which he was born January
24, 1859, and on which he became an orphan at the age of six months by
the death of his father; having lived in the neighborhood of that farm
all his life to this time (1911), and on it since 1880, and having prospered
and grown strong in worldly wealth and the regard and good will of the
people around him by his operations of it and his fidelity to the interests
of the locality, George Turner's course in life has been like that of the
skylark, which aspires to "Soar but never roam, true to the kindred points
of Heaven and home."
Mr. Turner is the son and only child of John
and Margery (Hayne) Turner, natives of Cornwall, England, who came to the
United States and Michigan in 1857, and lived in Detroit nearly two years,
then moved to Van Buren county, where the father bought eighty acres of
land in Porter township. He died in July 1859, and the mother some
time afterward married again, uniting herself with George Weldin, of Lawton,
in these nuptials. A sketch of John Merritt Weldin, her son by her
second marriage, will be found in this volume. Her life ended in
George Turner remained with his mother until
he reached the age of twenty-one, when he inherited his father's farm and
at once took charge of it. He soon afterward doubled its size by
purchasing an additional eighty acres, and he has ever since been industriously
and profitably engaged in the skillful and progressive cultivation of the
whole tract. Like many other studious and wide-awake farmers in the
township, Mr. Turner has learned that his land is well adapted to grape-growing,
and he has devoted a large portion of his farm to cultivation of the vine,
and by his intelligent attention to the business he has built up a fine
vineyard in which he produces grapes of superior quality in large quantities
for extensive shipment to many parts of the country.
Mr. Turner was married on January 22, 1880,
to Miss Ida Maxwell, a daughter of John and Belle (Morehead) Maxwell and
the fifth born of their seven children. They were natives and life-long
residents of New York state. Mrs. Turner has two brothers and one
sister living: Thomas, who is a resident of Antwerp township, this county;
Ira, whose home is in Jackson, Michigan; and Belle, the wife of Henry Joslyn,
of Genesee county, New York. The deceased children of the family
were: William, Mary, and Maggie. Seven children have been born also
in the Turner household: John and Lewis, who are residents of the same
township as their father; and Homer, Margery, George Jr., Oscar and Dea
H., all of whom are still living at home with their parents. The
father is a Republican in his political allegiance and has been active
in the service of his party from the dawn of his manhood. The people
have found him will fitted by intelligence and character for important
public trusts, and have elected him successively justice of the peace,
highway commissioner and school treasurer and director.
Mr. Turner's ideal of citizenship is a lofty
one and it has led him faithful service in every position he has held,
and to great enterprise in behalf of the development and improvement of
his township and county. He is always counted on for effective aid
in behalf of any undertaking for the good of his community and its people,
and is never found shirking any of his share of the work and responsibility
involved. In reference to such matters his counsel is as wise as
his action is vigorous and helpful. He is regarded throughout the
county as one of the best citizens it has.
Julius M. Kern
.- Born and reared in
this county, and in Porter township, where he now lives; educated in the
schools of the township, and during nearly the whole of his youth and manhood
connected with its industrial activities in an energetic and helpful way;
taking his place and doing his part in helping to conduct the public affairs
of the locality, and through every avenue open to him manifesting his deep
and abiding interest in the welfare of its people, Julius M. Kern has been
closely connected with the history of his home region all his life to this
time, and has shown himself to be one of its genuine products and true
Mr. Kern's life began on June 10, 1853, on
the farm which he now occupies and cultivates with so much success, and
he is a son of Manassa and Caroline (Harlan) Kern, the former a native
of Lehigh county, Pennsylvania, and the latter of Germany. The father came
to Michigan about 1836, and resided several years in Detroit. While
a resident there he bought one hundred and sixty acres of land in Porter
township, and in 1846 came to the township and settled on his land.
By subsequent purchases he added to this until he became the owner of three
hundred and twenty acres. His death occurred in 1892, after which
the mother purchased 40 acres more. She died on June 20, 1909.
Their offspring numbered six, of whom the second and fifth died in infancy,
and the other four are living. They are: Frances, the widow of John
W. Alexander, of Sterling, Illinois; Mary, who is living with her brother
Julius on the home farm; Clara, the widow of Alfred Bayliss, for a long
time one of the professors in the University of Illinois, and the late
president of the Normal School at Macomb in that state, who was killed
by having his horse fall on him on the 26th of August 1911; and Julius
M., the last born of the family and the subject of this memoir.
The last named obtained a common school education,
and some little time after leaving school engaged in the furniture business
for three years at Marcellus in this county. But mercantile life
of that kind was not to his taste, and after making the experiment in it
noted above he gave up the enterprise and returned to the farm. His
mother was still living, but he took charge of the farm, and he has ever
since carried on its cultivation and the live stock business which he conducts
in connection with his farming. He operates both on a large scale,
and, as he is studious and careful with reference to every detail in each,
he has been very successful in both. His land has been made highly
productive and is cultivated in a way to make it yield the largest possible
returns for the attention and labor bestowed upon it, and the live stock
industry is a leader in its line in the township, where there are many
men engaged in the business.
Mr. Kern has been married twice, and his two
wives were sisters. The first Mrs. Kern was Margia Young, with whom
he was united on the 24th of December 1877, and who died on June 6, 1881.
She was a daughter of James and Mary (Hooper) Young, the father a native
of Ohio and the mother of England, and the first born of their nine children.
The others are: Mary, who has been dead some years; Fannie, the wife of
James McManigal, of Marcellus, this county; Sarah, the present wife of
Mr. Kern; William, who resides in the state of Washington; Lizzie, who
is the wife of Edward Carpenter, of Schoolcraft, Michigan; Ellsworth, whose
home is at Marcellus; Clarence, who lives in Lawton; and Edith, who is
the wife of John Horton and has her home in Porter township, this county.
By his first marriage Mr. Kern became the father of one child, his daughter
Iva, who is now the wife of Rush Fellows, of Schoolcraft, Michigan.
The second marriage of Mr. Kern, which was with Miss Sarah Young, as sister
of his first wife, as has been stated, occurred on the 5th of October,
1884, and of this union the following children have been born: Lena, who
married Ray Hurley and now lives in La Porte, Indiana; Cleta, the wife
of Arthur Gillette, of Kalamazoo county, in this state; Harlan, who married
Madge Kellogg; Mildred and Clifford J., who are still living at home with
their parents; and Clayton J., who died at the age of eleven months.
Mr. Kern is active in his citizenship and performs
all his duties with intelligence and close attention to results.
His political faith and allegiance are given to the Republican party, and
he is one of the earnest workers for its success in his township.
He has for some years been doing good work for the people as a justice
of the peace, and his services in this capacity are highly appreciated.
Fraternally he belongs to the Order of Gleaners, and is one of its energetic
and forceful members in his locality. Throughout the county he is
highly esteemed for his worth as a man, his usefulness as a citizen and
all the elements of high character, business capacity and genial nature
which he embodies.
A. Hamilton & Sons
.- The firm A.
Hamilton & Sons is widely known, and it is the proud privilege of Horace
and William Hamilton not only to carry on the business which their father's
enterprise created and made to flourish, but to have received from him
a heritage beyond price in the memory of his spotless and kindly life and
the influence of his nobility of character.
Alexander Hamilton was the second son of James
and Rebecca (Lawrence) Hamilton, both of whom belonged to prominent families
in Ireland and England, respectively, the former to the Scotch Irish branch
of the Hamilton family, of whom the Duke of Abercorn is the head as far
as titles and dignities are concerned, while the latter was the youngest
daughter of Captain Richard Lawrence, related to the Lawrence-Townley-Widdrington
families of England. Mr. Hamilton's grandfather above named was a
United Empire Loyalist, which gave to him the same standing in Canada and
England that our revolutionary sires have in this country; and the sons
and daughters of the U. E. L. are as proud of their lineage as are the
S. A. R. and D. A. R. of America.
James Hamilton, the father of Alexander, was
born in county Tyrone, near Strabane, Ireland, and came to Canada in 1828.
Shortly after immigrating he was married to Rebecca Lawrence. In
Ireland he had been engaged in linen weaving, but immediately on coming
to Canada took up farming and later went into the real estate business.
He was successful in both these ventures, and might have become a wealthy
man if he had not placed too much confidence in his friends and wreaked
his own fortune by going security for others. At his death there
was nothing left for his wife and family of seven children, all of whom
were under age.
It was in this crisis that Alexander Hamilton's
sterling character made itself evident. Though but eighteen years
old, he assumed the care of the family and until the day of his death none
of them ever went to him in vain for assistance of any sort. His
devotion to his mother was particularly beautiful, and even when the others
were able to contribute to her comfort he never yielded his privilege of
being the first to bear burdens in her behalf; and this even when hard
times often made it difficult to provide for his own family as he wished.
Mr. Hamilton was twenty-seven when he first
came to Michigan in the spring of 1864, as he was born October 3, 1836,
in Halton county, Ontario. Within a week of their arrival he and
a friend (Lewis Williams) prepared to plant an orchard and nursery on a
twenty-acre plot of ground where the city of Benton Harbor now stands;
but the price of land rose with remarkable rapidity, going from eighty
to two hundred and fifty dollars per acre in a few months, so Mr. Hamilton
decided to sell here and look elsewhere for a home and a suitable place
for his proposed industry.
In December 1865 he went to Missouri but no
liking that country soon returned to Michigan and in the spring of 1866
commenced in a small way the nursery and fruit growing business in western
Allegan county. The demand for trees by local planters rapidly increased,
and in order to supply his growing trade Mr. Hamilton established branch
nurseries at Hart, Grand Rapids, Schoolcraft and Kent City. In 1896,
to be near a good shipping point, he moved to Van Buren county and settled
just outside the corporation of Bangor. Here he developed the extensive
business which was operated at the time of his death under the firm name
of A. Hamilton & Sons. During the period of his business career
Mr. Hamilton was instrumental in helping to organize the Saugatuck and
Ganges Pomological Society and was also for years an active worker in the
Western Michigan Horticultural Society. He had early realized the
possibilities of the fruit industry in his section of the state, and devoted
himself to the development of the country, not merely to promote his own
profit, but with the broad-minded intention of improving general conditions.
It was in 1866 that Mr. Hamilton made the acquaintance
of the young lady who on May 26, 1868, became his wife. This was
Miss Sophia C. Ensign, the daughter of a prosperous farmer living near
Bryan, Ohio, and at whose home the wedding was celebrated. The children
of their union were Blanche A., Cecelia M., Alice R., Horace E. and William
L., all of whom are living except Cecelia, who died in infancy.
It was Mr. Hamilton's privilege to successfully
work out the plan of his life, but the competence he acquired for himself
resulted in material prosperity for many others. It is a question,
however, if even the impetus he gave to the valuable industry of fruit
growers in this region can compare with the good he did by merely being
what he was; a man with absolute integrity of soul, indomitable will, high
courage and great patience, tempered by tenderness and humor; a man who
exemplified the Golden Rule and made his life one lone "confession of faith."
Since Mr. Hamilton's death, which occurred
October 11, 1910, the business of the nurseries has been carried on by
his two sons, under the same firm name, Mrs. Hamilton now owning her husband's
share. They cultivate two hundred and twenty-five acres of land on
which are located, besides the nursery stock, extensive orchards and two
substantial country homes, Mrs. Hamilton owning one and her sons the other,
which is occupied by William L. and his family, consisting of a wife and
one child, William K.
Horace E., the older son, more commonly known as
Harry, has never married, and with his mother lives on the "old farm,"
his sister, Mrs. Blanche A. Robinson (widow of Albert G. Robinson), making
her home with them, while the other sister, Mrs. M. J. Hunziker resides
in Kent City, Michigan. Harry is a great worker in Grange circles,
and also belongs to the Odd Fellows and other fraternal and social organizations.
His inclination for work has always been along the same line as his father's,
and, in fact, those who know best say the resemblance in character does
not by any means end here. He was born in Saugatuck, Allegan county,
Michigan, November 21, 1876, and acquired his education in the district
school, supplemented later with study at the Ferris Institute, Big Rapids,
the M. A. C. at Lansing and the Northern Indiana College at Valparaiso.
When about twenty-four, arrangements were made whereby he became a business
partner of his father's, and to him belongs a fair share of credit for
the progress made by this company, as with advancing years and failing
health Mr. Hamilton, Sr., relied more and more on the help of his son,
especially when to the growing and marketing of the nursery stock.
William L., the other member of the company, who
was born in Ganges, Allegan county, Michigan, July 20, 1879, originally
planned to follow (and has to a certain extent) another line of business,
his ambition favoring a mechanical course in college. After graduating
from the Bangor High School he continued study at the University of Michigan
at Ann Arbor, and later taught Manual Training for three years in the Chicago
University and one year in the Illinois State Normal School at De Kalb.
About this time, however, the company, which was then A. Hamilton &
Son, decided to offer William L. an interest in their growing business,
which was accepted. More land was bought, more attention given to
fruit raising (especially the apple) and the firm name again changed to
include the new partner. William L. brought a great deal of enthusiasm
into the orcharding proposition, and has patented several inventions, some
with direct bearing on this portion of their business, and it looks as
if he and his brother were in every way fitted to carry on the work with
credit and honor to the name of him who first planned and developed the
interests of "The Peach Belt Nurseries" of A. Hamilton and Sons.
is a well-known figure in Decatur
township, and one cannot think of him without at the same time calling
to mind an enterprising farmer. Not only has he been engaged in agricultural
pursuits his entire life, but his father was a farmer. The people
of Van Buren county feel that they have a proprietary interest in Mr. High,
as he was born here and spent most of his life here. He has gradually
developed from being his father's son to a man who has made his own name,
not being content to live on the reputation of his father, exalted though
On the 9th of July, 1871, the birth of Leon
High occurred in Decatur township, Van Buren county. His father,
Alfred High, who died January 10, 1903, was for many years a familiar figure
in this section of the country. The nativity of Alfred High took
place in Wyandotte county, Ohio, May 14, 1842, and his parents, James and
Matilda (Sargeant) High, were both natives of Pennsylvania. Alfred High
was one of a family of ten children, whose names are as follows,- Jacob,
deceased; Margaret (Mrs. Graves), residing in Chicago, Illinois; Hetty
Ann, deceased; William, deceased; Alfred; Lydia, deceased; Javanomus, living
in California; Oliver, of Hartford, Michigan; and two babies who did not
survive infancy. When Alfred High was twenty-one years of age he
left the parental roof, and with no other capital than a horse he commenced
his independent career. He gained employment with a neighbor in Ohio,
and for four years he was in the service of this farmer. At the expiration
of that time Mr. High had saved nine hundred dollars, almost all of his
wages; he came to Michigan, bought fifty acres of land in section 33, Decatur
township, and started to farm his own land. He later added eighty
acres to his original purchase, and another tract of sixty-four acres,
all in the neighborhood of Decatur. He did general farming and also
raised stock. In 1866 on the 15th day of November, Mr. High married
Miss Mary Vought, one of the nine children of Abram and Mary (Cass) Vought,
both natives of New York. The names of Mrs. High's brothers and sisters
are,- James, John, Samuel, Thomas A. (all deceased), Francis, living in
Missouri; Jeremiah, residing at Wolverine, Michigan; Philip, now in Kansas;
and Clarena, who maintains her home in Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Alfred
High had three sons, Leon, who name initiates this biography; Charles and
Burget, who reside in Cass county. Father High was a Democrat in
his political views, was the incumbent of various offices in the township,
and had a high reputation for uprightness in the community. In a
religious way he was a member of the Christian church, and was ever active
in its work. It is eight years since this good man passed away, but
his memory is still green, not only in the hearts of his family, but he
is not forgotten by his fellow citizens.
Leon High gained his educational training
at the Decatur school, and remained at home with his parents until he was
twenty-four years of age; he then went to Cass county, where he farmed
for a couple years, at the termination of which time he returned to Van
Buren county, settled on the eighty acre tract, in section 33, Decatur
township, which his father had purchased soon after he came to Michigan,
and there Leon High has remained, occupied in cultivating his land, and
gaining for himself friends and reputation.
In December 1896, Mr. High married Miss Mary
Roth, a daughter of Michael and Anna B. Roth. Mr. and Mrs. Roth had
seven children.- Joseph, Louis, Kate (Mrs. Clarence Haffner) and Maggie
(married to William Andrews) all residing in Cass county, while John and
Mary (Mrs. High) lived in Van Buren county. John still maintains
his home there, but Mrs. High died February 14, 1911. She had two
children,- Ellen, whose birth and death occurred on the fourth of July
1906; and Allene, born October 31, 1903, who is at home with her father.
He lives a quiet, simple life, interested in the activities of the Christian
church, of which he is a deacon, in the fulfillment of his daily duties
and in the intercourse with is friends and neighbors, who respect and esteem
.- Southern Michigan
was largely settled and opened to civilization by daring emigrants from
the state of New York, and its population has been increased, as the years
have passed, by thousands of new arrivals, from that state. The restless
energy of its people drove many beyond its borders in search of new conquests
in the farther wilderness, even long before its own western wilds were
tamed to the service of civilized man, and the tide of the conquering host,
having once settled set in this direction has continued ever since.
Thus while increasing multitudes were peopling it own domain many of its
more adventurous spirits were creating a new state of magnificent proportions
and almost boundless resources to shine, a star of the first magnitude,
in the galaxy of American commonwealths. What the founders started
their followers continued, and what Michigan is today they, and others
like them from other states have made it.
William Beach, one of the enterprising and
progressive farmers of Porter township, Van Buren county, modest and unpretentious
as he is, is one of the contributions of New York to the forces that have
developed, built up and so highly improved the Wolverine state. He
was born in Monroe county, New York, on October 31, 1839, and is a son
of Spencer and Sally Jane (Dusenbury) Breach, also natives of that state,
and the first born of their twelve children, eight of whom are living,
the other seven being: James, a resident of Oregon; Albert, whose home
is in Arkansas; Harriet, the wife of William Farman; Jane, the wife of
Charles Hooper; Molly, the wife of Peter Barker; Frank, who lives in Waverly
township; Harriet, Jane and Molly live in Porter township; and Levi, Ella,
Charles and Timothy, the other children of the household, have died.
William Beach came to Michigan in 1852 and
bought sixty acres of wild land, which he cleared, improved with good buildings
and brought to some considerable degree of productiveness in the twenty
years during which he owned and worked on it. At the end of that time he
sold it and moved to Nebraska. There he bought one hundred and sixty
acres of unimproved expanse, and this he soon afterward traded for forty
acres under cultivation in Porter township, this county, which is a part
of the farm he now owns and tills. He has one hundred and twenty
acres at this time, however, having added eighty acres to his original
forty by a subsequent purchase. He does general farming and makes
a specialty of fruit, which he produces in fine quality and considerable
quantities, having established in many of the leading markets of the country
a high reputation for the excellence of his products in this line.
On October 31, 1876, Mr. Beach united himself with
Miss Mary E. Bentley in marriage. She is a native of Almena township,
Van Buren county, and a daughter of William Augustus and Emma (Taylor)
Bentley, natives of Lincolnshire and Chambridgeshire, England. Both
were reared in their native land and came to America, she at the age of
seventeen and he when about twenty-one. Mr. and Mrs. Beach have reared
five children, and all of them are living. They are: Sherman, a prosperous
farmer and live stock man; Edward, who is a general farmer; Grace, the
wife of Claude Reynolds; Ray Walter, who is now managing his father's farm;
and Isa, the wife of Roy Sage, of Waverly. They are all residents
of this county, and all valuable additions to its citizenship and industrial
Mr. Beach, the father, is a stanch and zealous working
Republican in his political activity. He has sought no prominence
in his party or the official life of the township or county, but has held
several local offices at the solicitation of the people, has filled them
greatly to the advantage of the township. Fraternally he has been
a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows for many years, and in
church relations he is a Methodist. His interest in this lodge and
his church has always been earnest, and has carried with it a cheerful
readiness to render either any service in this power at any time.
Ray Walter Beach
, the fourth child and
youngest son of William and Mary E. (Bentley) Beach, was born on April
7, 1885. He was reared on this father's farm and educated in the
district school in its vicinity. Since leaving school he has worked
on the farm, and during the last few years has had charge of it.
While he cultivates it under the direction of his father, he makes a study
of the business and shows a commendable spirit of progressiveness in his
operations. He is a young man of good social qualities, earnestly
interested in the progress and development of his township, attentive to
his duties as a citizen, and the people esteem him highly as one of their
most estimable and promising citizens.
He was married on November 25, 1904, to Miss
Minnie Sherburn, and by this union became the father of two children: Deo,
who was born on October 12, 1905, and died in August, 1906; and Eva, whose
life began on December 24, 1907, and ended in January, 1908. Like
his father, Mr. Beach is a Republican in his political faith, and he is
also earnest and energetic in the service of his party. He takes
a cordial interest in all efforts made for the progress and improvement
of his locality, and never withholds his active and practical aid from
any that he deems worthy.
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