VAN BUREN CITIZENS
Oliver P. Ketchum.- The birthplace
of Oliver P. Ketchum was in New England, the cradle of so much of our national
history, but in Michigan he has made his home since the age of one year
and he is very loyal to the section. The estate of this prominent
farmer and good citizen consists of two hundred acres, advantageously situated
in sections sixteen and ten, and his operations in the great basic industry
have proved the very successful character. He has played a useful
part in township affairs and has the distinction of being a veteran of
the Civil war, having worn the blue during the conflict between the states.
His military record is indeed gallant and interesting.
This citizen of Almena township was born in
Berkshire county, Massachusetts, on January 4, 1844, and is the son of
Elihu and Abigail (Darling) Ketchum. Elihu was also born in the Bay
state and there was reared, educated and married. There he and his
worthy wife spent their younger days and all but one of their children
were born in Massachusetts, where the head of the house was a farmer.
Of their children, five are now living, as follows: A. J., who makes his
home in Mason county, Mi chigan; Harriet, who married J. H. Stevens, of
North Dakota, now deceased; Ann married Allen Gorman and is also a widow;
Helen became the wife of Mr. Patterson and makes her home in the Bay state.
The newly opened northwest appealed to the
parents of Oliver P. Ketchum as presenting greater opportunities for their
sons and daughters and accordingly, when the subject was an infant, they
severed the old associations and brought goods and chattels to Michigan.
They chose Van Buren county as a location and possessed themselves of land
which was new and uncleared. Their farm consisted of one hundred
and sixty acres and a great part of it was covered with timber, vast labor
being entailed in bringing it to a state of cultivation. Of the original
tract Mr. Ketchum now owns eighty acres. There the father and mother
spent the residue of their lives, the mother dying when Oliver was a lad
of seven years. In course of time the father again married Casdania
Clark, also of Massachusetts, becoming the second wife. The father
survived until 1864.
Mr. Ketchum remained beneath the parental
roof-tree until 1861, when the long gathering Civil war broke in all its
fury and the young men of the nation were called to risk and sacrifice
their lives upon the battlefield. He enlisted soon after the firing
of the first guns at Sumter, as a member of Company K, Thirteenth Michigan
Volunteer Infantry, and saw almost four years of service. Throughout
almost all of this period he was with "Uncle Billy" Sherman and was with
that gallant commander on the famous march to sea. He experienced
many hardships and saw much fighting. When the war was over Mr. Ketchum
returned to Michigan and on July 14, 1866, was united in marriage to Clara
Story, daughter of Thomas Story, of Pine Grove. No children have
been born to this union, but in the kindness of their hearts Mr. and Mrs.
Ketchum have reared a boy from babyhood and he is as their own son.
This admirable young man, Mark E. Ketchum, married Laura Emmons and they
have three children, all living, who bear the names of Thomas E, Oliver
R., and Mark J.
Mr. Ketchum is a Mason and exemplifies in his own
life those ideals of moral and social justice and brotherly love for which
the order stands. His membership is with Gobleville Lodge, No. 325.
He is a tried and true Republican, and cast his maiden vote for Abraham
Lincoln. He belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic of Gobleville,
Michigan. He has held public office with the utmost acceptability,
having been at one time highway commissioner and having given service in
other capacity. In short Mr. and Mrs. Ketchum are popular and highly esteemed
citizens of the community in which for so many years their interests have
.- One of Almena township,
Van Buren county's, highly respected citizens and representative farmers
and fruit growers is George Langdon, who, although not a native son of
the Wolverine state, has resided within its boundaries since youth.
His eyes first opened to the light of day in Wayne county, New York, April
23, 1855. He is the son of Henry and Phoebe (Smith) Langdon and the
grandson of Ananias Langdon. Henry Langdon was also a native of the
Empire state, where he was reared and married, and where he resided until
summoned to the Great Beyond. He and his wife were the parents of
four children, only one of whom is now living, namely: the subject.
George Langdon was about fifteen years of
age when his father died and he came to Michigan with his mother, who with
her own home broken up had accepted her sister's invitation to make her
home with her. They remained permanently in the state, eventually
having a home of their own and beneath its roof the subject remained until
his marriage. He laid the foundations of an independent household
when on November 5, 1882, he was united in matrimony to Phoebe French,
daughter of Warren and Sarah (Eager) French. Sarah Eager's father,
Benjamin Eager, came to Michigan when it was a territory, and was one of
its early pioneers and followed farming all his life. He and his
wife were the parents of thirteen children. The mother dying when
the youngest was a baby. The care of the family fell upon the shoulders
of the older children, of whom Mrs. Langdon's mother, Sarah, was one, making
her life one of extreme and severe toil and responsibility. She and
her husband, Warren Eager, lived together for many years, the husband being
one year the older and his death proved so great a shock to his widow that
she only survived one week. Mrs. Langdon's father was a native of
Vermont and remained in the Green Mountain state until his marriage, when
he and his wife took up their residence in the state of New York and later
moved to Michigan and settled in Almena, where he followed farming some
forty years, up to the time of his death, which occurred when he was over
eighty years. He was a Democrat in politics and always took an active
part in town affairs, holding a number of town offices, among them being
that of supervisor, which office he filled for many years. Both he
and his wife claimed St. Albans, Vermont, as their birth place. Nine
children were born to them, of which number six are now living, namely:
Mary J., wife of Levi Brown; Henry French; Ella, wife of Wells Edgerley;
Walter; Phoebe, wife of the immediate subject of review; and Hiram T.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Langdon
located on the farm upon which they have ever since resided. This
consists of ninety-four acres of excellent land, located in Almena township,
and here Mr. Langdon has engaged successfully in fruit growing and general
farming. Here nine sons and daughters have been born to bless the
home, seven of the number now surviving. Claude is an employee in
a factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan; Ralph, now at home, was engaged in farming
in Idaho for five years; Ray is employed in a drug store in Grand Rapids;
Frank is employed in a factory in Grand Rapids; Charlie is a student in
the Paw Paw high school, and Reo and Lettie are in attendance at the country
Although inclined towards the men and measures
of the Republican party, Mr. Langdon is liberal in his political views,
casting his vote for whomever he believes to be the best man, regardless
of mere partisanship. Both he and his excellent wife are members
of the Maccabees at Almena and the family enjoy high standing in the community
in which they are best known. Mr. Langdon's brother James wore the
Union blue at the time of the Civil war.
Mrs. Syrena B. Hall
.- It will not
be gainsaid that one of the most highly revered and best beloved of the
good people of Almena township is Mrs. Syrena B. Hall, who, crowned with
years and honor, is a representative of the noble womanhood of Van Buren
county. Mrs. Hall has been granted more extended life than the majority
of mankind and has long passed the psalmist's allotment, being now in her
ninetieth year. In her long and useful life she has indeed been proved
"A noble woman, nobly planned,
To warn, to comfort and command."
Mrs. Hall, who is the widow of Freeman Hall, is a native of the state
of New York, her birth having occurred in Otsego county on August 8, 1822.
Her husband, who was the son of Joseph Hall, was born in Massachusetts.
Her maiden name was Syrena Bonfoey and she was the daughter of Horace and
Susanna (Smith) Bonfoey, the former the scion of one of the old families
of New England, that cradle of so much of our national history. His
eyes first opened to the light of the day at Haddam, Middlesex county,
Connecticut. His father was Benanual Bonfoey.
When Mrs. Hall was a young girl thirteen years
of age she came to Michigan with her parents, who had become impressed
with the rich resources and opportunity of the northwest. The country
was little developed then-in 1835-in fact Horace Bonfoey was one of the
first settlers in Almena township, and here he and his family met the joys
and sorrows peculiar to the lot of the pioneer, conquering the wild young
virgin country and cutting new paths, laying them straight and clean.
Mrs. Hall vividly remembers the Indians and bears and wolves which inhabited
the region with abundance. Their first home was a cabin in the woods,
a mere rough shanty, in truth, but they lived in it but a short time, and
then built a log cabin of more comfortable sort. Subsequently the
father built a house in which the family lived for many years and in which
George Brooks makes his home at the present time. The father resided
in this house until his summons to the "Undiscovered County" a good many
years ago. Eight children were born into the household of Horace
Bonfoey and his good wife, but Mrs. Hall is the only one who survives.
She was the third in order of birth.
When a young maiden of twenty she was united
in marriage to one of the young men of Almena township,-Freeman Hall, their
union being celebrated on November 9, 1842. After their marriage
they came to the house on which Mrs. Hall still makes her home and beneath
its roof they lived together for nearly fifty years. Mr. Hall dying in
1891. Their long companionship was of the happiest and most congenial
sort and although no children were born to them, they reared a number of
boys and girls who might otherwise have been homeless. One of these
was the son of Mrs. Hall's brother, who took the name of Frederick Hall.
This estimable citizen now lives across the road from his aunt and foster-mother.
Mrs. Hall has been a member of the Methodist
Episcopal church since her twentieth year and still retains her membership,
although the weight of years precludes the possibility of her being as
active as formerly. Her influence is and long has been a real factor
of good, for she has lived a Christian life in the truest sense of the
word, and respect and high standing are hers. She owns two hundred
and twenty acres of land, whose management she has given into other hands.
John C. Kennedy
.- Prominent among
the honored and substantial citizenship of Almena township, Van Buren county,
Michigan, is John C. Kennedy, an extensive farmer and fruit grower.
Mr. Kennedy is one of those native sons of Almena township who have paid
the section the highest compliment within its power by electing to remain
permanently within its borders. The date of his birth was February
17, 1857, and his is the son of Newton and Mary (Williams) Kennedy.
The father's birthplace was Bradford county, Pennsylvania, and he was the
son of David Kennedy, probably also a native of the Keystone state.
The subject's father was young man twenty-one years of age when he came
to Michigan, and he first located at Stevens' Corners, in Almena township.
At that time this section was practically a wilderness and Mr. Kennedy
remembers as a child listening to his father's tales of the days when wolves
roamed this part of the country. His memory of his father's return
with venison from hunting its equally vivid. The original homestead
was all forest and it was his father's monumental task to clear this and
begin farming. He spent the entire remainder of his life here with
the exception of one year which he and his family spent in the state of
Iowa. He was not satisfied with the land there and , the old associates
remaining dear to him, he came back to Michigan. He died in 1872
and his wife survived him for a number of years, her demise occurring in
1897. Five children were born to them, and of the number three are
living at the present time. Albert makes his home at Pine Grove village
in Van Buren county; Martin is a Kalamazoo county farmer and John C. is
the subject of this review.
John C. Kennedy received such limited education
as it was his portion to secure behind a desk in the district school of
Almena township. He assisted his father with the work of the farm
and resided beneath the home roof until 1872. In that year he established
himself upon an independent footing and took up the carpenter trade, which
he followed for the space of twenty years, five years of which were passed
in Gobleville. Following this he sold out his business and bought
a farm in Almena township. He remained engaged in the great basic
industry of agriculture until 1905, when he retired from the more active
labors of life and removed to Armstrong's Corners, where he purchased a
very pretty home and where he now resides, secure in the possession of
hosts of friends.
An August 25, 1880, Mr. Kennedy laid
the foundation of a happy household by his union with Ida Covey, daughter
of Luther and Phoebe (Strong) Covey, the father a native of the Empire
State and the mother of Michigan. Covey Hill, of some renown in Waverly
township, was the place where Mrs. Kennedy's grandfather Covey first located,
and a large tract of the surrounding country was in his possession.
Fraternally Mr. Kennedy is a Mason, who exemplifies
the noble principles of the order in his own living. He is also affiliated
with the Knights of Pythias at Gobleville and with the Grangers and Gleaners,
insurance orders. In politics he is a Republican and in evidence
of the confidence in which he is held in the community is the fact that
for a number of terms he has held the offices of supervisor and township
treasurer (the latter for two years) with credit to himself and honor to
his constituents. His tenure of the above offices covers a period
of seven consecutive years. Mr. Kennedy owns one hundred and thirty
acres of Almena township's most desirable land. He is widely known
and it may almost be said that his circle of acquaintances is co-incident
with that of his friends.
Merle H. Young
.- Energetic and enterprising
in everything he undertakes, and well prepared for the duties of life by
natural ability well developed and trained in both academic and professional
lines, Merle H. Young, present supervisor of the town of Paw Paw and one
of the younger lawyers of Van Buren county, living in Paw Paw, is on of
the most promising members of his profession in this part of the state,
and ranks high in the estimation of the people as one of their brightest,
best and most capable citizens. He has been at the bar only five
years, but even in that short period has made his mark in his profession
and won general commendations for the ability he has shown and his high
character and general worth as a man.
Mr. Young is a native of Paw Paw, and therefore
has a special interest in its growth and development and the substantial
and enduring welfare of its people. He seeks to promote these by
every means at his command, applying both intelligence and energy to all
public affairs, and stimulating other citizens to activity by his own.
He was born on May 25, 1884, and is a son of Charles Wesley and Anna (Vanauken)
Young, the former a native of Ohio and the latter of Michigan. The
father came to this state and county in 1849 and took up his residence
in Paw Paw township, where he has lived ever since and been engaged in
business as a farmer, fruit grower and dealer in farming implements.
He was connected officially with the State Agricultural Society for twenty-two
years and its treasurer for fifteen. He has also served a number
of years as supervisor and has done excellent work for his township and
the county in many other ways. He is now living quietly in Paw Paw
at the age of sixty-eight, in the full enjoyment of his "green old age,"
the fruits of his many years of useful industry and the universal regard
and good will of all classes of the inhabitants of the county which has
had the benefits of his enterprise in business, his fidelity and ability
in the public service and the stimulus of his fine example as a man and
Merle H. Young is one of the two children
and sons born to his parents, their offspring comprising only himself and
his older brother, Dr. George F. Young, a prominent physician in active
general practice at South Haven, the beautiful lake city of this county.
Merle was graduated from the Paw Paw High School at the age of eighteen,
then entered the law department of the State University at Ann Arbor, from
which he received his degree of LL. B. in 1906. He was at once admitted
to the bar and took charge of his father's business as legal counselor
and manager, and is still looking after it in that dual capacity, and also
engaging his professional work by extending his general practice in the
On April 4, 1911, he was united in marriage
with Miss Elizabeth Whitman, one of the four daughters of Irving A. and
Caroline (Stainton) Whitman. Their other children are: Bertha, the
wife of Charles Batchelder, who resides in Detroit, Michigan; Anna, who
is living at home with her parents; and Sarah, the wife of Charles N. Hathaway,
whose home is in Seattle, Washington. All are doing well in their
own several localities and exemplifying in their daily lives the lessons
acquired from the teaching and examples of their parents around the family
Mr. Young is a Republican in his political
faith and allegiance, and an ardent supporter of the principles and candidates
of his party in all campaigns. His fraternal affiliations are with
the Masonic Order in which he is a senior warden, and the Order of the
Eastern Star. Mrs. Young is also a member of the latter order.
In Freemasonry he has taken all the degrees in Lodge, Chapter and Council,
and is an earnest worker in each. His religious connection is with
the Presbyterian church, and his wife is a Christian Scientist.
.- Farming, the oldest of
the industries, has a successful and well and favorably known representative
in Waverly township in the person of Adam Beach, who engages in general
farming and stock-raising, his land being located in sections 16 and 21,
forty acres being in the former and twenty in the latter. Mr. Beach
was born in Hancock county, Ohio, on October 6, 1867, and is the son of
Tobias and Eliza (Blame) Beach. He is of German descent, his father
having been born in the Fatherland in February 1837. He came to the
conclusion to seek the wider opportunity presented by the new world and
crossed the Atlantic when but eighteen years of age. In course of
time he found his way to Hancock county, Ohio, where he located.
His wife was a native of Springfield, Ohio. In 1878 the elder Mr.
and Mrs. Beach came with their family to Michigan, where they encountered
good fortunes and where they are now living, their residence being maintained
in Waverly township, where they enjoy general esteem. They became
the parents of a family of seven children, all of whom are living (in 1911);
Catherine is the wife of James Steinman, of Bloomingdale township; John
W., who married Amanda Wolford, resides in Bloomingdale village; Adam is
the next in order of birth; Anna is the wife of Volney Robinson; Louisa
is the wife of Bert Blackman, of Allegan county, Michigan; Conrad, who
married Mabel Ashbrook, makes his home in Bloomingdale village; Jacob took
as his wife Mabel Howard, and they make their home in the state of Washington.
Adam Beach spent his earlier boyhood and school
days in the Buckeye state and was eleven years of age when he came with
his parents too Van Buren county, Michigan. He pursued his studies
in the public schools of this section and did not conclude his educational
discipline until about sixteen years of age. At that early age he
embarked upon his career as a farmer and has ever since continued thus
engaged, employing the most enlightened methods in his agricultural endeavors.
He has brought his land to a high state of improvement and his stock is
known for its high quality.
Mr. Beach laid the foundation of an independent
household when, in 1895, he was united in marriage to Rena Hollister, of
Waverly township, born in Paw Paw township on May 24, 1879. She is
the daughter of Cyrus L. and Clara E. (Richmond) Hollister and received
her education in the common schools. Mr. and Mrs. Beach share their
pleasant home with three children: Claris E., aged thirteen; Mildred, aged
eight; and Lawrence W., aged four. Mrs. Beach is a member of the
Methodist Episcopal church at Glendale, as is also her eldest daughter.
The subject is a popular member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows
and the Modern Woodmen of America. He is in harmony with the men
and measures of the Democratic party, but has never taken an active part
in political affairs, his agricultural duties leaving him little time for
Charles R. Avery
.- Starting in life
as a clerk and salesman in a general dry goods store, and acquiring a fondness
for the business, Charles R. Avery, now one of the leading merchants of
Paw Paw, has adhered to it ever since, and although he has suffered some
severe losses he has on the whole made steady advances to his present high
standing in business circles, and shown at all times a spirit of determination
to win his way in spite of every obstacle and over every difficulty.
Mr. Avery is a native of Paw Paw, and was
born on September 10, 1842. He is a son of Richardson and Sarah A.
(Lumbard) Avery, the former born in Jefferson county, New York, and the
latter on Pawlet, Rutland county, Vermont. The father came to Michigan
in 1840 and located in Paw Paw after a short residence in Detroit, during
which he faced all the horrors of the great epidemic of cholera of the
early days in that city that was fatal to so many persons but left him
unharmed. He was a carpenter and joiner, and wrought at his trade
until his death, which occurred in Paw Paw in 1875. The mother lived
to be eighty-three years of age, surviving her husband a long time.
They had four children, of whom Charles R. is the only one living.
The third and fourth in the order of birth passed away in infancy.
The second son, Fred E., grew to manhood and was in business as a merchant
for some years in Paw Paw. He died some years ago, generally esteemed
for his excellent business traits and his general worth as a man and citizen.
Charles R. Avery obtained a high school education
in Paw Paw. He left school in 1859, and in 1860 entered the employ
of E. Smith and Company, a general dry goods firm in Paw Paw, with whom
he remained ten years, by his capacity and faithful attention to duty acquiring
an interest in the business, which covered the last few years of his connection
with the house. But he was eager to have an establishment of his
own, or a larger interest in one than he possessed in that of Mr. Smith.
Accordingly, in 1870 he formed a partnership
with his brother Fred, and together they opened a general merchandising
store, which they conducted under the firm name of C. R. and F. E. Avery
until 1877. In that year C. R. sold his interest in the business
to his brother and started a new store of his own, of which he is still
in charge. He started his separate store in a building which he rented
for that purpose, and in 1880 had his stock of goods entirely destroyed
by a disastrous fire.
Not disheartened by this calamity, he kept
on trading, and in 1890, or soon afterward, bought the commodious and substantial
building of brick in which his new store is now located, and in which it
has ever since been carried on. His business ability and studious
attention to the wants of the community brought him prosperity, increased
his popularity as a merchant and strengthened his hold on the confidence
and esteem of the people. In addition to his store building and stock
of merchandise he owns an attractive and valuable residence and other property.
On June 12, 1865, Mr. Avery was married at
Jackson, Michigan, to Miss Flora A. Kemble, a daughter of A. C. and Emeline
Kemble, of that city. Three children have been born of this union:
Nettie, who died in infancy; Bernetta, who died at the age of eleven years;
and Frank, who is associated in business with his father. The father
is a Democrat in his political faith and allegiance, and while not strictly
an active partisan, has always been loyal to his party and zealous in its
service. He has taken a cordial interest in the affairs of the village,
too, independently of political considerations, serving it well and wisely
as president, trustee, and treasurer. His fraternal connection is
with the Knights of the Maccabees, and his religious affiliation with the
Presbyterian church. These organizations enlist his hearty support,
and all their affairs receive his energetic and helpful attention. He is
ardent also in his zeal in behalf of all worthy undertakings for the good
of the people and all the mental and moral agencies at work among them.
George W. Davis
.- A well known farmer
of Waverly township is George W. Davis, who in addition to his agricultural
activities gives no small amount of interest to several other institutions,
among these being the Republican party and the Independent Order of Odd
Fellows. In the councils of the former he is indeed influential and
he can ever be depended upon to give his support to all measures likely
to prove of general benefit. His forty acres of land are located
in section 16. What may be said of a goodly proportion of the prominent
citizens of the community---that they were born in the state of New York---may
be said of him, his first appearance on this mundane sphere having been
made in Oneida county, New York, September 15, 1845. His parents
were Delatrius and Harriet (Collins) Davis, and both of the older people
lived in New York until the demise of the mother, when the father went
to Michigan to make his home with the subject. They were farmers
and they reared a family of four children, all of whom have passed on the
"Undiscovered Country" with the exception of he whose name inaugurates
Mr. Davis was educated in the common schools
of his locality and subsequently entered the high school of Wilson, Niagara
county, New York, from which institution he was graduated. When it
came to a time when he must decide in his vocation in life he chose agriculture,
to which his fathers had devoted their energies and in whose wholesome
independence he found content. Many New Yorkers had preceded him
to Van Buren county, Michigan, a section of great resource and natural
wealth, and he came to the conclusion to cast his fortunes with it also.
He came in February 1876, and was so well suited with it that he has ever
since remained here and here he has played a manly and conscientious part
in the many-sided life.
In 1864, when a very young man, Mr. Davis married,
the young woman to become his wife being Juliana Deland Carter, of New
York, and a native of Canada. To this union were born three children:
William D., who resides at Waverly and who has been three times married,
his present wife having been a Miss Coulson; Harriet M., the wife of Clinton
Hungerford, of South Bend, Indiana; and Elmer G., of this township, and
who married Lislia Davis. The first wife of the subject passed away
on March 17, 1885, and on April 14, 1888, he was a second time married
to Mayette Bradley, of this county. They maintain a hospitable home
and both are highly esteemed in the community.
As previously mentioned, Mr. Davis is an enthusiastic
Odd Fellow, holding membership in Glendale Lodge and holding the offices
of gate keeper on the Inside of the lodge. He gives heart and hand
to the men and measures of the Republican party and has held a number of
public offices with great faithfulness and efficiency, having been highway
commissioner and for twenty-four years justice of the peace of the township,
during which time he has married twenty-four couples.
Dr. Robert R. Lawrence
the most useful, and certainly the most comforting to mankind, of all the
professions among men is the science of medicine and surgery, and its practitioners
deserve, and usually secure, the universal regard and good will of the
people among whom they labor. They are called upon for service at
any hour of the day and night, in any rigor of the seasons, and under any
pressure or other engagements; and as a rule they respond to all calls
as promptly as possible; no matter what the personal sacrifice or inconvenience,
or even hardship to themselves. They devote their lives and engergies
to the welfare of their fellow mane, and the rewards for their fidelity
are seldom commensurate with the value of their services in a material
way. But the people who are their beneficiaries always hold them in high
esteem, and in many cases give them great and lasting popularity.
Dr. Robert R. Lawrence, of Hartford, furnishes
in his useful career an impressive illustration of these facts. He
has lived in Hartford thirty years and during the whole of that period
has been actively engaged in an extensive and very exacting practice of
his profession. The people have found him capable and skillful, attentive
to their needs in his line of work, abreast with his calling in knowledge
of his teachings and very judicious in the practical applications of that
knowledge; and they have bestowed on him the full measure of their approval
and popular esteem.
The Doctor was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on
July 28, 1851, and is a son of Daniel T. and Jane (Crawford) Lawrence,
the former a native of Canada and the latter of Warren county, Ohio.
The father was captain of a river boat on the Ohio river and became acquainted
with the lady whom he made his wife in Cincinnati. It seems to have
been a case of love at first sight, for they were married after a short
companionship, and a little later located in Jennings county, Indiana.
From there they moved to Berrien county, Michigan, settling on a farm on
which they passed the remainder of their lives. That of the mother
ended in 1883, and that of the father in 1886, each having reached a good
They were devoted to their home and its duties,
and gave the greater part of their attention to the rearing and education
of their children, nine being born to them, four of whom are living: Judith,
who is the wife of John Osborne, of Benton Harbor, this state; John C.,
who is also a resident of that city; Hadassah, now the wife of John Withey
and a resident of Los Gatos, California; and the doctor. The father
was a man of fine education and excellent business capacity. He was
also a man to the strictest moral rectitude, and was impelled in everything
he did by a strong sense of duty. This made him industrious in his
affairs, and his careful management of them enabled him to accumulate a
competence for the benefit of his offspring, as well as for the enjoyment
of himself and his wife in their declining years.
Dr. Lawrence was reared on the farm in Berrien
county, and began his education in the Union school in Benton Harbor.
Having completed its full course of instruction, he entered the University
of Michigan in 1871, becoming a student in the medical department and,
in due course received his degree of M. D., in 1875. He at once located
at Watervliet, Michigan, and for six years was engaged in an active practice
as a physician and surgeon at that place. In 1881 he came to Hartford
as surgeon for the Chicago & West Michigan Railroad Company, and in
that capacity he is now serving that highway of travel and great public
convenience, the Pere Marquette. He has not, however, confined his
professional work to the requirements of the railroad, but has been occupied
in a large general practice throughout the county of Van Buren and portions
of those who adjoin it. He has been successful in a material way
as well as in his profession, being interested in farming, a stockholder
in one of the banks of the city, and the owner of other property of value.
Dr. Lawrence was married on March 24, 1876,
to Miss Carrie B. Merrifield, of Coloma, Berrien county, where she was
born and reared. She is a highly accomplished and cultivated lady,
well versed in literature, with fine natural ability well developed by
the most careful training. Although she and the Doctor have no children,
Mrs. Lawrence is devoted to her home, and takes delight in making it an
agreeable resort for her own and the Doctor's numerous friends and acquaintances.
The Doctor is a member of Florada Masonic
Lodge, No. 309, at Hartford, and also takes great interest in the organizations
formed in and devoted to the welfare of his profession. He was formerly
vice president of the International Association of Railroad Surgeons, and
is an active and serviceable member of the American medical Association.
He has written for publication several brochures and a number of articles
on medicine and surgery, which have been received with high approval.
His political faith and services are given to the Republican party, to
which he is earnestly devoted, but the only political, or semi-political,
office he has ever held is that of secretary of the local pension board,
which he is now filling and has filled for many years.
Ed. M. Bailey
, one of the leading business
men of Paw Paw, and the junior member of the firm Decker & Bailey,
druggists, has passed the whole of his life to this time (1911) in Michigan,
and during all the years of his maturity has contributed substantially
and valuably to the mercantile and social influence of the state and the
direction of its public affairs through his influence and activity in the
locality of his home. His partner in his present business enterprise
is M. L. Decker, a sketch of whose life will be found in this volume.
Mr. Bailey was born in Hastings, Barry county,
on October 6, 1868, and is a son of Norman and Rachel (Aldrich) Bailey,
the former born in Cayuga county, New York, and the latter in Michigan.
The father came to Michigan in 1845 and located in Grand Rapids.
During the Civil war he was provost marshall and served the government
faithfully and effectively until the close of the momentous conflict.
In 1866 he moved to Hastings, and there he was engaged in merchandising
until his death, which occurred when he was seventy-six years of age.
The mother is still living and has her home in Grand Rapids. They
were the parents of three children: Emma, who was the wife of Daniel Donohue,
of Hastings, but is now deceased; Ernest A., who resides in Grand Rapids;
and Ed M.
The last named, who is the immediate subject
of these paragraphs, was graduated from the high school at Hastings in
1886 and after a course of two years' instruction at Ann Arbor College,
received his diploma in 1890. After leaving school he became connected
with the drug business in Otsego, and was engaged in it in that city for
two and a half. From Otsego he moved to Michigan City, where he carried
on the same line of trade for three years. He next passed twelve
years as the leading druggist and general merchant of Gobleville, and in
addition to this he was engaged in the manufacture of lumber and in the
buying and shipping of live stock. He was later at Mattawan and Bradley,
having drug stores at both places. In 1908 he moved to Paw Paw, and
directly after his arrival and location in the city, formed a partnership
with M. L. Decker for conducting a real estate and drug business.
In these enterprises he is still actively and profitably engaged, and,
although he has resided in the city but three years, he has fully won the
confidence and esteem of the people as a business man and citizen, and
holds a high rank in mercantile circles throughout Van Buren county and
a large extent of the surrounding country.
On June 21, 1893, Mr. Bailey was united in
marriage with Miss Nellie Bush, a daughter of George A. and Lucy (Palmer)
Bush, and a native of Gobleville. Of the seven children born of this
union six are living: Cyril E., George A., Norman, Carl, Rachel L., and
Gertrude. The last born of the seven, Joy Valentine, died at the
age of one year. Otherwise the family circle is unbroken, and all
the living children are still members of it, and add life and light to
their parental home.
Mr. Bailey is a Republican in political belief
and adherence, and has never wavered in his loyalty to his party, or withheld
any service he has been able to render it. He is a member of the
Masonic fraternity, the Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the
Knights of the Maccabees, the Woodmen and the Order of Elks. He and
his wife divide their religious affiliation between the Baptist and the
Episcopal churches, he belonging to one and she to the other, and both
are true to their church duties, as they are to every interest of their
community, and helpful to all good agencies at work among its people.
.- When George Hood became
a resident of Van Buren county in 1887 he added to its active and productive
forces something of the spirit of the "bright little, tight little islands"
of England and Scotland across the sea, the spirit that has made the British
empire the great civilizing force of modern times, and one of the greatest
agencies of progress the world has ever known. He was born in England
on February 14, 1866, and is a son of Samuel and Rachel (Butcher) Hood,
natives of that country, who passed their lives within its borders and
died on the soil that had been hallowed by their labors and which now piously
covers their remains. The father passed away in 1906 and the mother
in 1907, leaving four of their five children to mourn their death.
The children who survive them are: Frederick, who lives in England; Charles,
who lives in Van Buren county; Alice, who is the wife of Frederick Whissel
and also has her home in England; and George, the subject of this brief
review. Lucy the fifth child in order of birth, died a number of
George remained in his native land until he
reached the age of twenty-one, and then came to the United States.
He did not linger on the Atlantic seaboard, but came at once to Michigan
and located in Van Buren county, where he engaged in farming for a number
of years, on rented land. He then bought forty acres in Decatur township,
which he owned and cultivated six years. At the end of that period
he sold the forty acres and bought eighty in section 34, Paw Paw township,
on which he is still living and conducting an industry in general farming.
In addition to this he has an interest with his wife in sixty-four acres
adjoining his eighty, and forty acres of timber land, and in connection
with his farming operations he raises and feeds cattle for the general
market on a considerable scale.
On November 27, 1891, Mr. Hood united himself
in marriage with Miss Mary Burnett, a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Watton)
Burnett, natives of England, who came to Michigan in 1852 and took up their
residence in Paw Paw, where they died many years ago. They had three
children, Mrs. Hood and her sisters Annie and Kittie, both of whom are
deceased, leaving her the only living representative of the family.
Mr. and Mrs. Hood have had one child, their son Carl, who was born June
9, 1893, and died on June 23, 1893. Kitty, a sister of Mrs. Hood,
married George Andrews and they had one child, Lillian, born May 18, 1899.
Her mother died when she was ten days old and since that time she has been
a member of the household of Mr. and Mrs. Hood, who are greatly attached
to her and have given her all the care of a daughter. Mr. Hood is a Democrat
in reference to national political affairs, and true to his party in all
campaigns. Locally he looks only to the substantial and enduring
welfare of the people, and exerts his influence to promote that.
He is now the treasurer of the township school board, and has been a member
of the board for several years. In fraternal life he is a member
of the Order of Gleaners, and in church connection both he and his wife
are Methodists. The people of Van Buren county esteem him highly
and he is entitled to the regard in which they hold him, for he is a citizen
deeply interested in the enduring welfare of the township and county of
his home, and a man exemplifies in his daily life the best attributes of
Lewis E. Willis
.- Many of the progressive
young agriculturists of Van Buren county are operating farms that were
originally settled by their fathers, who developed them from the raw timber
and brush land. Profiting by the years of experience gained by their
fathers, reared themselves to the life and work of the farm, and having
the advantage of modern machinery and scientific methods, they are obtaining
excellent results, and the enthusiasm and enterprise of youth are assisting
them to make this section one of the garden spots of the state. Lewis
E. Willis, a successful young farmer and stock-raiser of Bangor township,
was born on the Willis homestead in section 9 which he is now conducting,
November 9, 1881, and is a son of Isaac W. and Ellen (Quick) Willis, the
former a native of Indiana and the latter of Canada.
Isaac W. Willis came to Michigan in 1864, and settled
in Bangor township, where, after renting for a few years, he purchased
eighty acres of land, but later sold five acres of this, the remainder
being the farm now operated by his son, Lewis E., although it is still
owned by the father, who now rents a tract of seventy-five acres in section
17. He and his wife, who also survives, have had six children: Rester,
who is deceased; Lewis E.; Melvina, the wife of Clifton Pierce, of Geneva
township; and Arthur, Chester and Glenn, all deceased.
The youth of Lewis E. Willis was spent on
his father's farm, and his early educational training was secured in the
district schools. Later he attended the Bangor high school for three
years, and then took up farming. >From 1903 until 1912 he conducted
the old homestead, where he carried on general farming and stock-raising,
and the application of modern methods brought him fair success in his operations.
He is a popular member of the Gleaners, and in politics is a Republican,
having always been a stanch supporter of the principles of the Republican
party and is now serving in the office of constable. Mrs. Willis
is a member of the Congregational church.
On April 2, 1902, Mr. Willis was married to Miss Ella
Pierce, a daughter of Irving and Melissa (Morse) Pierce, natives of Michigan
and early settlers of Geneva township. Mr. and Mrs. Pierce were the
parents of four children: Myrtle, who is the wife of Charles Hammond, of
Hartford, Michigan; Orion, who is deceased; Ella, who married Mr. Willis;
and Clifton, who resides in Geneva township. Three children have
been born to Mr. and Mrs. Willis, namely: Donald, Marguerite, and Irving
Frank E. Stephens
, whose death
occurred February 16, 1903, on the family homestead near Mattawan, Van
Buren county, was one of the skilled agriculturists of his locality, and
during many years spent in operations in this township displayed traits
of character that stamped him as a good citizen and enterprising workman.
Born on the farm which he was operating at the time of his death, July
10, 1857, Mr. Stephens was a son of Orange and Mary Ann (Armstrong) Stephens,
natives of Vermont. Mr. Stephens' mother was for some years a school
teacher in Van Buren county, her father being on the early hotel keepers
of Lawton. After coming to Michigan, Orange Stephens traveled west
to California, where he worked for wages until he had sent back enough
to purchase two hundred and forty acres, which became the family homestead.
Three children were born to Orange and Mary Ann (Armstrong) Stephens, namely:
Ranson E., deceased; Mary Jane, who died in infancy; and Frank E.
Frank E. Stephens attended the public schools
of his native locality and always remained on the home farm, which he operated
as a stock farm, breeding thoroughbred cattle and Shropshire sheep.
He was considered one of the best judges of live stock in his part of the
county, and his advice was often sought in matters pertaining to the raising
of sheep and cattle. Mr. Stephens did not confine his interests to
his own personal affairs, for he was ever found ready and willing to lend
his aid to whatever promised to work out for the ultimate good of the community,
and by his own example did much to advance and improve the standard of
agricultural work throughout Van Buren county. He was a Republican
in politics, and although he never cared for public office for himself,
was always a hard worker in the ranks of the party. Fraternally he
was connected with the Masonic order. He was a Universalist in his
religious belief, as is his widow, who survives him and lives in the comfortable
family residence on Mattawan Rural Route No. 2.
Mr. Stephens was married on December 3, 1878,
to Miss Amanda Beardsley, daughter of Ranson and Susanna (Wood) Beardsley,
whose other four children were: Capitola, who is deceased; Lorene, who
married Isaac Scott, of Mattawan; Fred R., who is deceased; and Lincoln
E., residing in Mattawan. Mr. Beardsley died November 29, 1909, his
wife having passed away February 21, 1905. Mr. and Mrs. Stephens
had a family of three children: Elsie, the wife of Walter Hunt, living
on the old Stephens homestead; Gladys, the wife of Philbrook Munson, of
Kalamazoo county, Michigan; and Orange R., born February 12, 1893, and
now making his home with his mother.
M. L. Decker
.- In the forty-nine years
of his life M. L. Decker, of Paw Paw, has dwelt and been in business in
three states of the American Union and the city of Quebec, Canada.
He has been occupied in several lines of trade, filled a number of public
offices and suffered some reverses in his undertakings. His experience
has therefore been extensive and varied, and a character to broaden and
develop him in capacity, make him firm in fiber and flexible in function,
and give him an excellent and useful knowledge of human nature, evolving
him into the intelligent, influential and serviceable citizen he is and
has long been known to be. He has traveled extensively, has made
ten trips across the continent to California and on these trips has covered
most to the western states in the interest of fruit growers, but after
an extended investigation he returned to his home county firmly convinced
that the richest and most adaptable land for fruit culture anywhere in
the United States was located in Van Buren County.
Mr. Decker is a native of Ohio and was born on August
28, 1862. His parents were Absalom and Sarah (Rees) Decker, the former
born in Pennsylvania and the latter in Wales. The father was a wagon
maker and blacksmith for a number of years, then turned his attention to
farming, in which he was engaged to the end of his life, which came when
he was about fifty-eight years old. The mother died at the age of
thirty-seven. They prospered in life, and when the father died he
owned a fine farm of one hundred and sixty acres, which showed by its improved
condition and high state of cultivation that he had been attentive to his
work and performed it with energy, skill and intelligence, according to
the most approved methods of the time.
They had eight children, of whom but two are living,
M. L. and his older brother Elmer W., who is a resident of Grand Rapids
in this state. The children who have died were: Mary, wife of E.
A. Whitney, of Tacoma, Washington; Wilber, who lived Rapids; Naomi, wife
of William Long, of Coldwater, Michigan; Horace, whose home was at Grand
Rapids; Leora, wife of M. M. Marshall, of Bowling Green, Ohio; and Alice,
wife of G. A. Bates, of Denver, Colorado.
At the age of eighteen M. L. Decker started
in business as a grocer at Deshler, Ohio, where he did a very successful
business. He was later engaged for a time in buying lumber in Quebec,
Canada, for parties residing at Deshler. He followed the insurance
business for two years in Iowa. At the end of that period he moved to Michigan,
locating in Bloomingdale, this county, where he was in the drug trade six
years. The taste he had of the West gave him an appetite for more
of it and a region father removed from his boyhood's home, and to gratify
this desire he moved to Colorado. He was engaged in merchandising
in that state for a year, and then he returned to Bloomingdale. But
at the end of another year he changed his residence to Lacota, Van Buren
county, where he was destined to remain for a time.
Soon after his removal to Lacota he was appointed
postmaster of the village, a position which he held for nine years, conducting
the office in a drug store which he owned and managed. He rose to
prominence among the people of the township and was chosen to serve them
as township clerk six years and as supervisor three years. He was a member
of the county board of supervisors when the court house was built in Paw
Paw. He was also a member of the Republican County Committee for
nine years. He was elected register of deeds in 1902, being the first
to occupy this office in the new court house, and then moved to Paw Paw.
In the second year o his residence here he was chosen president of the
Within the year of his removal to Paw Paw
he bought the general merchandising store of Longwell Brothers, which he
afterwards sold to A. C. Martin. But he bought it back again, and then
sold all of the goods but those in the drug department, with which he started
an independent drug business, and this he is still carrying on in connection
with his partner, E. M. Bailey, who has been associated with him three
years, and a sketch of whom will be found in this work. The firm
is widely known as one of the most reliable in the county, handling only
the best and purest drugs, compounding them with the utmost care and skill,
dealing squarely with all the patrons, and representing the most desirable
traits of first rate business men and the most modern methods of doing
business. In addition to the drug business, Mr. Decker also carries
on a real estate business.
In December 1887, Mr. Decker was married to
Miss Mina Eaton, a daughter of Hon. R. C. Eaton. Mrs. Decker's father
was a member of the state legislature for a number of years. She
and her husband have two children: Royal E., who completed his education
with a two years' course in college, and is now deputy county clerk; and
Verne C., who is still living at home with his parents.
The father is a Republican in his political
faith and allegiance, and has always been loyal to his party and done all
that good citizenship required for its advancement in progress and success
in its campaigns. In fraternal circles he is connected with the Independent
Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Knights of Macabees.
His religious affiliation is with the Baptist church, in which he takes
an active and serviceable interest at all times. He has always been
earnest and zealous in behalf of all public improvements for the city and
county of his home, and has applied his efforts with intelligence and good
judgment. Van Buren county had no better citizen, none more enterprising
and public spirited, and none whom the people hold in higher esteem.
Mr. Decker says that although he has traveled extensively, on no place
did he find more congenial people than in the village of Paw Paw.
.- A volunteer
in the defense of the Union at the age of eighteen, and remaining in the
service of his country until the Civil war was ended and for a half a year
longer; then a merchant, afterward an insurance agent for some years, and
since 1896 a public official standing high in the appreciation and esteem
of the people to whom he is giving faithful service, William Killefer,
of Paw Paw, has tried his hand at general occupations and found it skillful
and ready for any duty in them all.
Mr. Killefer was born at Richfield, Ohio, on August
5, 1846, and is the only son of one of the two children of Henry and Abigail
(Coolman) Killefer, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter
of Connecticut. He therefore unites in his inherited traits the sturdy
industry, perseverance and frugality of the true Pennsylvanian with the
shrewdness, resourcefulness and self-reliance of the New Englander, and
in his career he has exemplified the most sterling attributes of each.
The father came to Michigan and Van Buren
county in 1857, and located in Bloomingdale, where he was engaged in general
merchandising until his death, which occurred on November 23, 1872.
The mother died in April 1864. They were the parents of son and a
daughter, William and his sister Mary, the latter being now a resident
of Los Angeles, California. Their mother was their father's second
wife. His first was Jane Ann Curtis, and of their union three children
were born: John, who resides in Los Angeles, California; and Henry and
Elizabeth, both of whom have been dead a number of years, leaving three
of the five born in the two families to represent them and perpetuate the
virtues and practice the teachings of the parents.
William Killefer was practically but a schoolboy
when his patriotism led him into the military service to aid in saving
the American Union from being torn asunder in sectional strife. He
enlisted in 1864 in Battery C, First Michigan Light Artillery, and in this
battery he served until October 27, 1865, when he was mustered out at Detroit.
On his return to his home in this county he became a part of his father's
mercantile establishment in Bloomingdale, and continued as such until 1888,
then moved to Paw Paw, where he was in the insurance business for five
In 1896 he was appointed postmaster of Paw
Paw, and he held the office for a full term of four years. Since
retiring from that position he has been a justice of the peace, and has
also carried on an insurance business in addition to his judicial duties.
But he gives the duties of his office his first consideration, and does
not allow any other claim on his time or attention to interfere with them
under any circumstances. He is energetic and resourceful, however,
in pushing the insurance end of his activity, making use of all he power
to render his days of usefulness profitable to himself and serviceable
to the community.
Mr. Killefer was married on June 3, 1880,
to Miss Emma Ferguson, and they have four children: Carl, who was born
on June 23, 1881, and was accidentally killed on October 13, 1895, while
hunting; Ola, whose life began on October 10, 1883, and who is still living
with her parents; Wade, who was born on April 13, 1885, and is now a professional
base ball player on the team at Minneapolis, Minnesota; William M., who
came into being on October 10, 1887, and is also a professional base ball
player, formerly a member of the team at Buffalo, New York, and now with
the Philadelphia National team.
The father is a Republican in politics and
one of the wheelhorses of his party in the county. He serves its
best interests with judgment and energy at all times, and his counsel is
always appreciated by both the leaders and the rank and file as worthy
of weight. He has held the township offices of every grade, some
of them for lengthy periods. He was supervisor five years in Bloomingdale
and five in Paw Paw. In fraternal circles he is also prominent in
the Masonic order and the Order of Odd Fellows, taking an earnest and serviceable
interest in affairs of his lodge in each. His church affiliation
it with the Baptists, and among them, too, his interest is strong, as he
is helpful in all the work of the congregation in which he holds his membership
and true to the Christian teachings of the sect in all the relations of
life. As a citizen, as a business man and as a public official he
meets all the requirements of uprightness, integrity and enterprise, and
his loyalty to these requirements has not only given him force and influence
with the people of the city and county, but has won for him their enduring
confidence and regard.
Donald F. Cochrane
.- As editor
and publisher of the Hartford Day Spring and clerk of the village
of Hartford, Donald F. Cochrane is in close touch with public sentiment
in his locality and a leading man in giving it trend and expression.
He is also directly connected with the financial interests of the community
and its people, and has excellent opportunities to aid in caring for them
in an intellegent and forceful way. It must be said, greatly to his credit
but in perfect candor,that in both capacities he is faithful to his trust,
and his services are rendered in an upright, conscientious and able manner,
which makes them satisfactory to the public, and enables him to maintain
the hold on its confidence and regard which he long ago won.
Mr. Cochrane is a native of the state, though not
of Van Buren county. He was born in York, Washtenaw county, on May 21,
1881. He is the son of Rev. Henry F.and Coral M. (Wray) Cochrane,
the former a native of the state of Massachusetts and the latter of Illinois.The
father was a clergyman of the Baptist denomination, and was nationally
prominent in the councils of his church. While living in Michigan
he was sectretary of the state organization of the sect, and his fidelity
to duty andronounced ablility in this position were matters of general
commendation. He received an excellent education, being graduated
from Union College in Schenectady, New York, and receiving the degree
of LL. D. in a post graduate course at Yale University. His theological
teaching and training for the ministry was secured at the Rochester (New
York) Theological Seminary, and he served for some years as pastor of the
leading Baptist church in that city. In the year 1879 he moved to
this state and located in Detroit, subsequently holding pastorates at Ypsilanti,
Centerville, St. Joseph county, and at Adrian, and in 1887 he moved his
family to Van Buren county. Here he passed the remainder of his days,
dying in 1895. At the time of his death he was the owner and editor
of the Hartford DaySpring, having purchased it in 1898 in association with
his son Donald. He was a Royal Arch degree Freemason and very devoted
to the fraternity, active in its meetings and zealously and effectively
serviceable in its behalf from his young manhood.
Rev. Mr. Cochrane and his wife were the parents
of six children, all of whom are living: Frederick, who is an extensive
fruit grower in Florida; Grace, who is the wife of Rev. Mr. Clark and resides
with him in Chelsea,Massachusetts; RobertW., who is in the drug business
in Kalamazoo; Donald F., who succeeded the father as the owner and editor
of the Hartford Day Spring; Beatrice F., who has for some years been
principal of a high school in Lansing; and Everett W., who is at this time(1911)
sporting editor of the Kansas City (Missouri) Journel.
Donald F. Cochrane was six years old when his parents
located in Van Buren county. He began his education in the public
school at Bloomingdale, continued it at the Grand Rapids High School and
completed it at Ferris College in Mecosta county. While attending the institution
last named he also did editorial work in Big Rapids with his father, he
purchased the newspaper he now owns and publishes. This publication
is an ernest advocate and defender of the principles of the Republican
party, of which Mr. Cochrane is a true and loyal member, and in whose behalf
he is an energetic and effective worker. But above all and before
all else, the paper and its editor are ardently devoted to the welfare
and improvement of Hartford township and Van Buren county. As a justice
of the peace Mr. Cochrane is also able to aid in promoting the interests
of his locality, and he does it with firmness and intelligence. He
is a member of Florada Lodge, No. 309, in the Masonic order and zealous
in the service of the fraternity.
On October 12, 1902, Mr. Cochrane was married to
Miss Stowe, of Bangor, Michigan. She is a graduate of the Hartford
High school, and before her marriage was a teacher of considerable local
celebrity. They have one child, their son Donald S., who was born
on March 4, 1904. The lives of his parents have been devoted to pursuits
which are educational in character, and they feel a deep interest in the
intellectual improvement of the people, especially those of the rising
generation. They are cordial supporters of the public school system,
and make their interest in it effective by active efforts for its betterment
and increased usefulness. They also stand by and befriend every agency
working in the community for the moral and material good is its residentsand
their social enjoyment. Their citizenship is highly valued
throughout the county, and in every relation of life they have shown themselves
altogether worthy of the hearty regard and good will the people generally
have for them.
John T. Clapp
.- The late John T. Clapp,
of Paw Paw, who died on November 17, 1891, on the verge of seventy years
of age, was at the time of his demise one of the most prominent and substantial
citizens of Van Buren county. He had accumulated the greater part
of his estate by industry and ability in the county, and he had therefore
a particularly cordial interest in its welfare and the advancement of its
people, as they had a warm admiration and a high regard for him.
For, although he looked after his own interests with the utmost care and
diligence, he never neglected those of the county, and was an ardent practical
supporter of all worthy undertakings designed to promote them without reference
to any personal advantage for himself, but wholly with a view to the public
good and general well being.
Mr. Clapp was a native of the state of New
York, and his life began in one of its most enterprising and interesting
cities. He was born on March 12, 1823, in Rochester, where the tides
of industrial, mercantile and commercial life flow in strong and steady
progress, and never seem to ebb. He came to Michigan and located
in Van Buren county, and all his subsequent years of activity were devoted
to farming and buying and selling wool, in which he was an extensive dealer.
He also dealt with some energy and considerable success in real estate,
especially farming lands, and made a widely extended reputation for his
judgment of land and its value.
Mr. Clapp did not, however, let everything go by
him in his transactions. He began as a farmer on a small scale, but
added to this possessions until at one time he owned and farmed four hundred
and sixty acres of excellent land. To this he applied his industry,
with such skill and judgment that every acre was made to yield it full
recompense for the care and labor bestowed upon it, and thus strengthen
his hands for more extended operations. He also owned several houses
in Paw Paw, and as he kept them in good order he always secured the full
measure of revenue from them that he had a right to expect.
These facts prove that Mr. Clapp was an excellent
business man and made the most of his opportunities. But his record
also includes a long course of first-rate and upright progressive citizenship,
and the people esteemed him highly and revere his memory for that.
Some years prior to his death, desiring to enjoy the remainder of his days
in quiet, freedom from care and the rest he had so richly earned, he sold
all his farms and moved to Paw Paw. He was a Democrat in his political
faith and allegiance and always gave his party energetic and effective
service during his period of active life. The party rewarded his
zeal and efficiency by nominating him for several township offices in turn,
and the people of the township eagerly embraced the opportunity thus afforded
them to secure service of high character in connection with their local
affairs by electing him to each. He was affiliated in religion with
the Presbyterian church, and was an active worker in his congregation.
Mr. Clapp was married three times.
His first union was with a Miss Rickerd. They had two children, both of
whom died in infancy. The second was with Miss Eliza Rickerd, a sister
of the first wife, and the fruits of it were seven children: Julius,
whom home is in Ithaca, New York; Willis, who is a resident of Paw Paw;
Eva, the wife of Charles Bailey, of Boston, Massachusetts; Frank, who lives
in Portland, Oregon; Ida, who married Samuel Mawrey, of Three Rivers, Illinois;
John, who dwells in Bay City, Michigan; and Nellie, the wife of Frank Francisco,
whose home is at Chicago, Illinois.
Mr. Clapp's third marriage took place on November
6, 1883, and united him with Miss Sarah A. Thorndike, a daughter of Captain
David W. and Betsy Jane (Hilt) Thorndike, members of the old New England
families, and born and reared on the coast of Maine. The salient
points in the life of Captain Thorndike are given in a sketch of Sylvester
H. Jones, deceased, the husband of his other living child, Mrs. Mary Adelia
Jones, which will be found on another page of this work. Mrs. Clapp
is still living in Paw Paw, and is always numbered among its best and most
admirable matrons. Her home is a center of gracious hospitality,
and a popular resort for the numerous friends of the family, who always
find the time passed there agreeable, and the influences emanating therefrom
stimulating and helpful.
escaped being a
native of Van Buren county by the distance of a half a mile and began his
life in Oshtemo township, Kalamazoo county, on May 4, 1870. His father
D. O. Coleman, was born in Kalamazoo county in 1943, in the town ship of
Oshtemo. D. O. Coleman was married to Mary E. Sheldon, a native of
Washington D. C. Besides Sheldon, there was one boy and four
girls in the Coleman family: Cora, the oldest, is Mr.s W. W. Brown, of
Kalamazoo; Allie is Mrs. S. C. Gibbs, of Kalamazoo township; Kate, Mrs.
Lee Gibbs, resides in Kalamazoo; Pearl is the wife of Claude Weed, of Texas
township; and the other son is Owen, of Oshtemo, living with his father.
All live in Kalamazoo county, and all but Pearl and Owen in Kalamazoo township.
After completing the course of the common
schools, Sheldon Coleman taught for three years. He then decided
to study pharmacy and attended the State University at Ann Arbor.
In two years he completed the course in pharmacy and began to manage a
drug store. After some years he came to Lawton and in 1894 went into
the drug store. Six years later he and Mr. Showers bought the present
store and organized the Coleman Drug Company. The partnership continued
for nine years and then Mr. Coleman bought out his partner. Since
1909 he has been sole proprietor and has the best drug store in Lawton,
conducting the same with much success.
On October 23, 1895, Mr. Coleman was married
to Miss Isa Harwick. She is a native of this state and her parents,
Allen and Mertice E. (Bowen) Harwick, were also born in the state.
The mother is still living in this township, but the father died in 1900.
Mrs. Coleman's sister, Grace, is a teacher in Idaho and her brother Frank
lives in Antwerp township. Another sister, Minnie, died in childhood.
Mrs. Coleman has been the mother of four children, but only the two sons,
David Allen and Richard H., are now living. Mildred, the eldest of
the family, died at six years, and another child, just older than Richard,
died in childhood.
Mr. Coleman is now serving his fifth term
as supervisor of the township. He has held all the village offices
except that of president of the village. His politics are Republican
and he is influential in his party, of which he is regarded as one of the
most valuable members in Lawton. Fraternally Mr. Coleman is affiliated
with the Masons, the Knights of Pythias, the Maccabees, the Mystic Workers
and the Woodmen. His wife is a member of the Congregational church
at Mattawan. One of the foremost of Lawton's business men, Mr. Coleman
is also one of its most popular citizens and one most genuinely interested
in all civic matters.
Sylvester H. Jones
.- The untimely
death of the late Sylvester H. Jones, of Paw Paw, on January 22, 1887,
at the early age of fifty-seven years and in the prime of his manhood and
fulness of his usefulness, enshrouded the whole community in grief and
gloom. He had been a resident of Van Buren county twenty-one years,
and during one-third of this period had lived and been in business in Paw
Paw. His worth as a man, his business ability, his public spirit
and enterprise as a citizen, and his genial and companionable nature and
given him a high place in the regard of the people and greatly endeared
him to all who knew him intimately, and each felt a sense of personal loss
in his death, which was universally lamented.
Mr. Jones was a native of Maine, and was born
at Camden in that state on July 21, 1830. He was a son of Johnson
Jones of that place, whose wife died when her son Sylvester was but two
years old, and as all members of the family have passed away her maiden
name cannot now be given. There were four children in the family,
of whom Sylvester was the second in the order of birth. The place
and circumstances of his nativity determined his first pursuit in life,
and might have been expected to give him more robust health than he had.
For Camden, Maine, is on the coast of the Atlantic, and its air is supposed
to be full of life-giving elements.
Mr. Jones grew to manhood and obtained his
education in is native town, and as soon as he left school he began work
in its principle industry, shipbuilding. He wrought in this industry,
at first for others and later for himself, until he reached the age of
thirty-six years. Then, in 1866, he came to Michigan and Van Buren
county, and took up his residence at Glendale. There he owned a steam
saw mill, where he sawed large quantities of butternut and ash lumber,
which he sold to be used in the building of churches and other fine buildings
in Paw Paw, where he was well and favorably known among the contractors.
This mill had long been a landmark in the locality and is familiarly spoken
of as "the Old Pioneer Mill" through all the country around, the name indicating
not only something of the age of the structure, but also some measure of
the attachment the people have for it and its interesting history.
Mr. Jones moved to Paw Paw in 1880 and started
an enterprise in the furniture trade. He conducted the business for
a few years, then sold it, owing to his failing health, but retained the
ownership of the building in which it was carried on. But he did
not live long to enjoy the rest he had promised himself. On January
22, 1887, as has been noted, he passed away. He was married on December
2, 1858, to Miss Mary Adelia Thorndike, a daughter of David W. and Betsy
Jane (Hilt) Thorndike. They were born and reared on the coast of Maine
also, and the father became a sea captain.
When the Civil war began he offered his services
to the government in defense of the Union, and was soon in the midst of
active naval operations. In the course of the conflict his ship was
blockaded in the port of Cienfuegos, Cuba, by the confederate terror of
the sea, the Alabama. The climate was so hot and enervating during
the period of the blockade that the whole ship's crew and all the officers
contracted ship's fever, and many of them died of it. The Captain
passed through this ordeal safely, but in the subsequent exposure incurred
the illness of which he died, not many months later, as scarcely and constitution
could have resisted the extreme heat to which he was subjected and the
great change he suddenly encountered in a debilitated and wasted condition.
He and his wife were the parents of five children:
Mary Adelia, the widow of Mr. Jones; Sarah, the wife of John T. Clapp,
of Paw Paw; and Washburn W. and Francella, both of whom have been dead
for a number of years. Emma, the last born of the family, is also
deceased, leaving Mrs. Jones and her sister, Mrs. Clapp, the only living
representatives of the family. But they do it credit in their worthy
aspirations and the elevated American womanhood with which they work toward
them in their daily lives.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones had two children, both
sons and both living. Winfield Scott, who was born in 1862, is now
a resident of South Bend, Indiana; and Ralph Sylvester, who was born in
1876, has his home at present in Chicago. The father was a loyal
and devoted member of the Republican party in politics, and always energetic
and effective in the service of its principles and candidates. His
religious faith was expressed by active and serviceable attendance in the
Congregational church. In business, in relations to public affairs and
the welfare of his community and in private life he was true to every claim
of duty, and the citizenship of the county found him worthy of its highest
esteem from every point of view and freely bestowed this upon him.
Charles A. Finch
, farmer and owner
of the creamery at Almena in Almena township, was born in this same township
on October 25, 1877. He is the son of George A. and Sarah Rhodes
Finch, the former a native of Oswego county, New York. His father
Chauncey P. Finch, was a New Englander of the state of New Hampshire.
He grew up there but when a young man went to Oswego county, New York,
where he was married and where all the family were born. Five children
were born to him, but only three lived to grow up and the father of Charles
of this sketch was the middle one of the three. He was but eight
years of age when the family came to Michigan in 1854. Edward Finch
was a veteran of the Civil war. He belonged to the Michigan cavalry
and served throughout the entire period of the war. His death occurred
in 1903. The other of the three children of Chauncey Finch, Mrs.
Helen Finch Daily, died in 1910. Her husband, Walter Daily, died
in 1904, at Mattawan. The Finches first settled in Pine Grove township
of this county, and for over half a century they have lived there and in
George Finch grew up in the county and was
married to Sarah Rhodes. She died in 1886, when Charles was not ten
years old, leaving two little children. A few years later the father
married Miss Georgia Thomas, and they are still living at Mattawan, Mr.
George Finch being agent for the Fruit Belt Line in that place.
Charles A. Finch lived at home until he was
fourteen years old and then began to make his own way by hiring out in
the summers. He continued to go to school in the winter until he
was seventeen. At that age he finished the district school course,
and then worked for wages for another year. At eighteen he purchased
forty acres of land and kept bachelor's hall on it until he was married,
on March 17, 1896. Mrs. Charles Finch was Miss Hettie Palmer before
her marriage, the daughter of George Palmer, of Almena township.
Her mother died when she was four days old and her father now resides in
Nebraska, where he is telegraph operator for the Northern Railroad.
The mother of Mr. George Palmer was Selina Downing. She was born
in Cayuga county, New York, April 29, 1828. Her father, Isaiah Smith
Downing, was born in New York state and came to Van Buren county, Michigan,
and settled in Almena in 1836, at the present home of his daughter, Mrs.
Palmer. This county was then nearly an unbroken wilderness and Mrs.
Palmer, now in her eighty-third year, vividly remembers the events of those
pioneer days when the wolves and bears were often the unwelcome intruders
into the small brood of chickens, or occasionally the sheepfold, and when
the Indians were far more numerous than the white neighbors. Mrs.
Palmer's mother was Hannah Barnum, also born in Cayuga county, New York.
She had three children, but Decatur and Eliza are both deceased, Mrs. Palmer
being the youngest. The mother died at sixty years of age.
Mrs. Palmer has spent her entire life since eight years old in the town
of Almena where she received her education in the district schools and
in Paw Paw, and at the age of sixteen, in 1844, she began teaching, which
she continued for seven terms, two in Almena, and one in Lawrence and the
other four in nearby towns. In 1850 she married Chauncey B. Palmer,
who was born in New York state, and as a young man came to Almena, where
he followed agricultural pursuits all his life and died in 1900.
She is the mother of four children: George, mention above; Chauncey; Flora,
residing with her mother on the farm; and Hannah, now deceased.
Lois, the only child of the union of Charles and
Hettie Finch, was born in December 19, 1898, and is now attending school
in Almena. Mr. Finch holds membership in several of the best known
fraternal orders. He is a Mason in lodge No. 268 at Mattawan.
In Almena he is affiliated with the Modern Woodmen, No. 9333, and the A.
O. of G., in both of which he carries insurance. Mrs. Finch is a
member of the Methodist church and in politics Mr. Finch holds with the
After his marriage, Mr. Finch bought forty
acres of land adjoining the forty he already owned. Two years later
he sold the eighty and them came to Almena and started in the grocery business.
At the end of one year he sold out and went into the creamery business,
where he learned the butter-makers trade. Not content with the knowledge
he acquired from conducting the business for some time, Mr. Finch went
to the Agricultural College at Lansing and finished a course in butter
making. He received his diploma and then returned to the creamery
business, being associated with the Worden Co-Operative Creamery, near
Detroit. He spent three years with this concern and them went into
business for himself at Lake Odessa, Michigan, where he stayed for six
months. He desired to learn another branch of the milk business,
so he sold out and went into a condensed milk factory and learned that
trade. Upon leaving the factory where he had been employed he bought
the plant at Almena and since February, 1905, he has been in business in
this county. In addition to his creamery Mr. Finch owns one hundred
and forty acres of land in sections 33 and 34 and he building a ten-room
house in the village of Almena. The thorough preparation and the
practical experience have but Mr. Finch in the ranks of the foremost men
of his trade and his plant is one of the best assets of the county from
a business standpoint.
Garrie W. Hunt
.- The late Garrie W.
Hunt, of Paw Paw, whose untimely death on December 17, 1891, at the early
age of forty-six years and nine months, was universally regretted, was
in his young manhood a storekeeper and in his later years an extensive
buyer and shipper of live stock. He was recognized in all parts of
Van Buren county as an excellent business man, and upright and progressive
citizen, and an exemplar of the best attributes of American manhood of
the most sturdy and sterling kind.
He was born in Antwerp township, Van Buren
county, Michigan, on March 3, 1845, and was a son of John and Eliza (King)
Hunt. They had nine children: Laurentio, who is now a resident of
Antwerp township, this county: Sarah, who has been dead a number of years;
Harty, deceased, the former wife of J. J. Woodward, of Van Buren
county; Nathaniel K., who resides in St. Cloud, Minnesota; Lydia, the wife
of W. W. Dole, of Kalamazoo, Michigan; Garrie W., the lamented subject
of this brief memoir; Eliza, the wife of Edward Stevens, of Spokane, Washington;
John, whose home is at Mattawan, Michigan; and Simeon, who died a number
of years ago.
On June 7, 1883, Mr. Hunt was joined in marriage with
Miss Adeline Palmer, who was born at Lyme, Connecticut, on October 15,
1845, and is a daughter and the only child of Elisha C. and Eliza H. (Fowler)
Palmer, the former a native of Connecticut, who came to Paw Paw in 1856,
and the latter a native of New York. Mrs. Hunt's father was a contractor
and prominent in his business. He died at the home of his daughter
on February 23, 1878. Her mother died on April 4, 1895. Mr.
and Mrs. Hunt became the parents of one child, their daughter Ruth A.,
who was born October 3, 1885 and died on March 27, 1886. Mr. Hunt
was married twice, and by his first marriage became the father of one child,
his son J. W. Hunt, who is now a resident of Aurora, Illinois.
Mr. Hunt was a Republican in politics and
loyally devoted to the principles and theories of his party. He rendered
it effective service at all times, and was regarded as a man of importance
in its councils. But he had no aspiration to public office, either
by appointment or election, and never sought a political position.
His standing in his community, however, was such, and the general esteem
in which he was held was so high, that it is probable the would have been
compelled to yield to the importunities of the people and accept a position
in their service if he had lived a few years longer, for they recognized
his ability for official duties and his high character as a man as the
best qualifications for effective and acceptable public service, and in
time would have demanded that he employ whose qualifications for the public
good in the most practical way.
He took a great interest in the Order of Patrons
of Husbandry (the Grange) and was prominent and influential in its organization.
In church relations he was what is known as a Presbyterian Baptist.
His consideration for the welfare of the community was shown in many ways,
particularly by his warm and helpful interest in public improvements, his
ardent support of public education and all other beneficial and elevating
institutions, mental, moral, civil and social, and his wisdom and energy
in what he did to keep the shining wheels of progress in motion toward
desirable ends. No man stood higher in his township and none better
deserved the rank he occupied. For he was true to every claim of
duty and every requirement of citizenship.
Charles B. Allerton
.- To plant
one's feet in the wilderness, amid the unpruned growth of ages, with the
wild life of man and beast indigenous to the soil still prevalent in full
vigor and unrestrained freedom in the region, is an experience no longer
possible in the country, and the few remaining men and women who have had
it are always interesting in themselves and their history. To his
steadily diminishing number belong Andrew J. and Martha J. (Babcock) Allerton,
of Van Buren county, the parents of Charles B. Allerton, one of the enterprising
and prosperous farmers of Keeler township. When
they located in this county in 1865 there were only two small stores in
the village of Hartford, and there was not a railroad anywhere in this
part of the state. They saw the country in its primeval wildness,
became familiar with the sight of its untamed denizens of the forest, savage
beasts and still more savage men, and they have witnessed and contributed
to its progress from that condition to its present high state of development
and advanced improvement.
This interesting couple were born and reared
in Ohio, the father in Stark county, where his life began on May 21, 1831,
and the mother in Wood county, where she came into being on April 6, 1841.
She was the daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth (Roberts) Babcock, and had
four brothers, being herself the only girl in the family. She and
her husband made the trip overland from their native state to Michigan
and Van Buren county nearly fifty years ago, and on their arrival in this
locality they bought twenty acres of land in Keeler township, for which
the purchase price was three hundred dollars. On this day they built
a log cabin, which was called "the Bass Wood Cabin," as it was constructed
of split bass wood logs, with the smooth side inside the dwelling as a
finish, and humble and unpretentious as the cabin would look now, it was
a habitation of more than ordinary consequence when it was put up.
A few years later they sold their farm of twenty acres and made other purchases,
adding to their acreage as time passed until they were the owners of a
considerable quantity of good land. They helped to lay the foundations
of the township in its civil government, aided in the erection of the little
log schoolhouse in which their children began their education, and bore
their full part of the labor and responsibility incident to speaking a
new region into being as a civilized community, and starting it on its
career of progress and development.
This gentleman and his wife were distinguished
in their ancestry as well in their own achievements. Mr. Allerton's
grandfather was a soldier in the Revolutionary war and connected with the
immediate command of General Washington. The Allerton's came to this
country in the Mayflower and from the time of the arrival of the first
of the name members of the family have been prominent in American history.
They have dignified and adorned every worthy walk in public and private
life, and the same is true of the forefathers of Mrs. Allerton. Their
children and their children's children are entitled to honorary membership
in their societies of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution.
They are themselves the parents of three sons and one daughter, all of
whom are living: Curtis O., the first born, is a contractor and builder
in Battle Creek, Michigan. He completed his education in the high
school in Hartford, is married and has an attractive residence in the city
of his home. Ella E., the second child, married Henry Harmon, a prosperous
barber who now lives at New Buffalo, Berrien county, Michigan. Charles
B., is the third child in the order of birth, and the fourth is William
F., who is also married and carries on extensively as a contractor and
builder in the state of Florida, where he has lived for a number of years.
Charles B. Allerton was born in Van Buren county,
Michigan, on October 5, 1867. He was reared on his father's farm,
attended the common school in his vicinity and completed his education
in the high school in Hartford. He also pursued a two years' course
of instruction in the literary business departments of the Mount Union
College in Ohio, being graduated in the business department. While
attending this institution he paid his own way out of money he had earned
After leaving the college he located
in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he did office work for a time. From
there he moved to Chicago and accepted a position as shipping clerk in
the employ of T. A. Shaw & Company, dry goods commission merchants.
At the end of a year sickness compelled him to give up his position, ad
his next engagement was as city bill clerk for Kelly, Maus & Company,
hardware merchants on Lake street, Chicago. He was with his company
during the World's Fair of 1893, and afterward became a traveling salesman
for the Tack and Nail Company, of Grand Crossing, Illinois.
On December 28, 1892, Mr. Allerton was married
to Miss Jennie I. Gould, who was born in Van Buren county on August 2,
1870, and is the daughter of Gilbert and Mary (Garrett) Gould, prominent
residents of Keeler township. She was educated in the public schools
and at the Collegiate Institute in Benton Harbor, and after completing
her education was one of the successful and popular teachers of the county
for three years. Mrs. Allerton is a lady of unusual sunniness and
cheerfulness of disposition and makes her home one of the most popular
resorts in the township of its location.
After his marriage Mr. Allerton took a position
with the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company at Dixon, Illinois, to which he rendered
valuable service as a salesman for two years. He then became the
superintendent of the shipping department of the Reynolds Wire Company,
of Dixon , Illinois, but at the end of one year in that responsible position
he found himself weary of business and determined to turn his attention
and devote his engergies to farming. With this end in view, he bought
forty acres of land, which is part of his present farm, and two years later
he added twenty acres of timber and pasture land. In 1910 he purchased
one hundred and twenty acres of choice land in Berrien county, and he also
owns a valuable piece of property, one hundred and sixty-four by one hundred
and thirty-seven feet in size, on Broadway in Benton Harbor, which is steadily
increasing in desirability and value.
Mr. Allerton began the battle life for himself
before he went to college. He paid his own way through that and has
been steadily progressing ever since. He now owns one hundred and
eighty acres of fine, productive land, which he has enriched with good
buildings and other improvements, and of which he is making model farms.
He does general farming and raises live stock. He was the first farmer
in Keeler township to raise alfalfa, the production of which he started
as an experiment on nine acres of land. In 1911 he cut three crops
from his tract and secured an average of four tons to the acre.
In politics Mr. Allerton is independent.
He has no time or desire for public office himself, and will not allow
himself to be bound by party ties, but bestows his suffrage on the candidates
he deems best fitted for the offices sought and most likely to promote
the general welfare of the township, county or state. At this time (1911)
his father and mother are among the oldest living residents of Van Buren
county who came here as pioneers, and he is one of the county's most wide-awake,
intelligent, enterprising and progressive farmers, as well as one of its
most esteemed and influential and useful citizens. His beautiful
farm is on the line between Keeler and Hartford townships, five miles distant
from Hartford, Keeler and Watervliet, and has many advantages in its location.
Mr. and Mrs. Allerton have five children,
two sons and three daughters, but only two are living. Their daughter
Helen is in the third grade in school and is making a record in her studies
of which her parents are proud. The other child is their daughter
Marian M., who is not yet old enough to go to school. Their home is a social
center and one of the popular resorts of the county, throughout which it
is renowned for its intellectual atmosphere, many artistic attractions
and genuine hospitality. It is like its occupants, full of life's
brightness and cheer, and a source of betterment and refined enjoyment
for all who come within its influence.
.- Merchant, mill
man and banker, Alonzo Sherman, until 1887 one of the leading forces
in the business life of Paw Paw, and whose useful career was then ended
by death, gave to the people of this community a fine example of enterprise
and progressiveness in mercantile and commercial life and in elevated and
serviceable citizenship, and in his career illustrated what can be accomplished
in this land of boundless resources and almost boundless opportunity by
industry, thrift, business capacity and good management. He was a
resident of Paw Paw for forty-four years, and during that long period his
life was an open book before the people of the city and county, and they
never saw a blot on any page of it.
Mr. Sherman was a native of Massachusetts,
born in Conway, Franklin county, on May 8, 1811. He was a son of
John and Mary (Warren) Sherman, New Englanders by nativity and rearing,
and thoroughly imbued with the spirit and aspirations of the people of
the portion of the country which their home from birth to death, and had
been the home of their ancestors for generations before them.
Their son, Alonzo Sherman, grew to manhood
and obtained his education in his native place. After leaving school
he learned the trade of a shoemaker. He went to York, Genesee county,
New York, in search of better opportunities in life than his native town
seemed ever likely to afford him, and there he worked at his trade two
years. But the work he had to do was journeyman work only, and his
ambitions soul longed for something better. He therefore opened a
shoe factory at Leroy in Genesee county, in the same state, and carried
it on for ten years. To dispose of the output he opened a boot and
shoe store of his own, and this he also conducted with success and general
approval for ten years, and in addition to this he owned a farm.
By the end of that period the Western fever had secured a firm hold on
him and he could no longer resist its demands. In the spring of 1844
he traded his business and farm in Leroy for a half interest in a store
in Paw Paw, forming a partnership with E. J. House to conduct a general
merchandising business. The firm as originally organized lasted two years.
Then H. L. Dickenson was taken in as a member of it, and two years later
its numbers were increased and its forces augmented by the addition of
Joseph Sherman, a brother of Alonzo. In 1848 Thomas L. Stevens was
taken into the firm, and this continued until 1849. When Joseph Sherman
died, the other partners continuing until 1866, when a fire destroyed the
store. But it was rebuilt and the business continued up to 1868,
in which year Mr. Sherman sold the store to his partner but was obliged
to repurchase it , and operated it alone until 1870, when he sold it to
Mr. Thomas Ross. The home was popular, and its trade was large and active.
But its affairs were not sufficient to fully occupy Mr. Sherman's energetic,
resourceful and versatile mind. He therefore, in company with T.
L. Stevens, bought the Paw Paw Mill Company in 1849, and this he conducted
and managed until 1868. In that year Mr. Ross purchased Mr. Sherman's
share of the mill property and rented Mr. Sherman's share, and this continued
until 1870, when the mill was sold to Mr. Anderson. In 1873 Mr. Sherman
again repurchased his half of the mill and continued to operate it up to
1880, when he deeded it to his son John D.
In 1864, in connection with Thomas L. Stevens,
he founded the First National Bank of Paw Paw, he being elected its president.
From this position he retired in 1886, and on December 21, 1887, his useful
and instructive life ended, at the age of seventy-six years and seven months.
His death was a great loss to the community, as he was a man of fine public
spirit and had been one of the potential factors in building up and improving
Paw Paw and Van Buren county, and promoting the substantial welfare of
their people in every way available to him.
Mr. Sherman was united in marriage with Miss
Lucy Ann Dickenson, who died in 1883, at sixty-five years of age.
By this marriage he became the father of five children: Charles, John D.,
(a sketch of whom is to be found in this work). Delia P., who died in 1873,
Frank and George W. The mother died and the father took to himself
another wife in the person of Miss Elizabeth Boyington. She died
and contracted a third marriage, uniting himself on this occasion with
Miss Eugenia T. Easterbrook, a daughter of Dr. Joseph H. Easterbrook, of
The third Mrs. Sherman is one of a family
of nineteen children, fourteen of whom grew to maturity. She and
her husband became the parents of one child, their son Joseph Hubbard Sherman,
who was born on July 13, 1869, obtained a high school education, and has
been engaged in mercantile business ever since leaving school. He owns
and occupies the old homestead in Paw Paw and has a large block of stock
in the First National Bank. In politics he is independent; an Odd
Fellow and a Knight of Pythias in fraternal life; and a Baptist in religious
faith and church connection.
John D. Sherman
.- Having passed sixty-seven
of the seventy-four years of his life in Paw Paw with but one interval
of two years, during which he was in business in another county, and having
been in the mercantile and industrial life among this people from the very
dawn of his manhood, and in one line of trade throughout the last twenty-three
years, the life of John D. Sherman is well known to the residents of Van
Buren county, and in its long course of active and general usefulness he
has given them many proofs of his business capacity, his high character
as man and his public spirit and progressiveness as a citizen.
Mr. Sherman's life began in Genesee county,
New York, on June 14, 1837, where he lived until he was seven years of
age. He is a son of Alonzo and Lucy Ann (Dickenson) Sherman, a sketch
of whose lives will be found elsewhere in this volume. They had five
children, of whom John D. and his brother George of Topeka, Kansas, are
living. The latter is superintendent of The Dining Car Service of
the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad Company; Charles, Delia P., and Frank
have passed away.
Mr. Sherman started in business when he was
but twenty years old, and almost immediately after completing his education.
His first venture was in the hardware trade, in which he was engaged three
years. He then started an exchange office in Paw Paw, which he conducted
for two years, at the end of that period turned his attention to the grocery
business. This occupied his attention and held his interest from
1861 to 1868, when he sold his own store and took a hand in helping carry
on that of his father, which he did during all of the next two years.
He was eager during this period, however,
to be again in business for himself, and as soon as he saw an opening gratified
his desire. He went to Coloma in Berrien county and remained two
years keeping a general store. In 1873 he returned to Paw Paw and
bought an interest in a flour mill, which he was connected as a member
of the firm for seven years. At the beginning of the eighth year
he bought the whole outfit, and from 1880 to 1888 conducted the mill altogether
on his own account. Since 1888 he had been continuously engaged in
the sale of seed on a large scale, and also carries general produce.
On June 14, 1860, Mr. Sherman was united in
marriage with Miss Helen A. Belfy, a daughter of Henry and Catherine H.
(Pease) Belfy of western New York. Two children have been born of
the union, both whom are living. They are Henry Ellsworth and Lulu
May. In his political faith the father is a pronounced Democrat and
a loyal member of his party. He has served faithfully as one of its
rank and file for many years, and he has also represented it in several
township offices, in each having carefully looked after the interests of
the township and its people. In religious belief and alliance he
is a Spiritualist, firm in his faith and consistent in his actions in connection
with it at all times.
Silas N. Barner
.- Perhaps no part
of Van Buren county has more comfortable old homes or a more prosperous
class of citizens than has Paw Paw township, and the farm of Silas N. Barner,
in section 13, offers proof of the statement. Mr. Barner was born
in Schoharie county, New York, March 25, 1833, and is a son of Silas and
Nancy (Shaffer) Barner, natives of New York and descendants of German ancestry.
Silas Barner was a farmer and preacher of the Methodist faith, and his
death occurred in 1886. His wife died at the birth of their only
child, Silas N., and Mr. Barner was married then to Sally Barton, who bore
him two children: Brad, of Brooklyn, New York; and Eli, who is deceased.
Silas N. Barner went to Pennsylvania at the
age of sixteen years, and there purchased twenty acres of farming land,
which he operated for fourteen years, becoming a prominent agriculturist
and filling positions of political importance in his community. Going
to Kansas at that time, Mr. Barner was for one year engaged in the lumber
and sawmill business, and he then returned to Pennsylvania, remaining on
the homestead for about ten years. He subsequently located in Longview,
Texas, where he conducted a grist, saw and planing mill for five years,
after which he purchased a tract of one hundred and thirty-five acres of
farming land in Scotland county, Missouri, and in connection with cultivating
this property conducted a sawmill and milling business and a blacksmith
and machine shop for twenty years. In 1901 Mr. Barner come to Paw
Paw township, purchasing one hundred and eight acres of land in section
13, and here he has since been engaged in general farming and fruit raising.
He is a successful agriculturist, progressive and enterprising, and is
recognized as one of Paw Paw township's public spirited citizens, always
ready to encourage and assist every movement for the improvement and advancement
of his section.
On November 25, 1852, Mr. Barner was married
to Miss Helen Parker, daughter of Isaac and Margery (Smith) Parker, the
latter a native of Holland and the former of New York state. Mrs.
Barner died in 1886. Mr. and Mrs. Barner had four children, namely:
Menzo, who met an accidental death in 1910, when the team of horses he
was driving ran away with the binder; Minnie N., who is deceased;
Hattie N., the wife of Ivan B. Shull, who is assisting his father-in-law
on the Barner homestead; and Ola Lapette, the wife of Hiram L. Fickel,
chief deputy sheriff of Polk county, Iowa, and a resident of Des Moines.
In his political views Mr. Barner is a Republican,
and he always takes an interest in public matters, although he has never
found time to hold public office since leaving Pennsylvania. His
fraternal connection is with the Masons, and Mrs. Barner was a consistent
member of the Methodist church.
.- Among the prominent
business men of Hartford, and highly respected as a citizen who has always
shown an interest in whatever has been advanced to increase the general
welfare of the county, is Roy Hinckley, the proprietor of a thriving livery
business. He was born in Paw Paw township, Van Buren county, on May
3, 1876, the son of J. Henry and Harriet (Webb) Hinckley. J. Henry
was the son of Asa G. Hinckley, who was of direct English descent.
Roy Hinckley was one in a family of ten children, five sons and five daughters.
He was reared on the farm until he was eighteen, and was educated in the
district schools and in the Paw Paw high school. He was variously
employed up to 1908. In that year, at the outbreak of the Spanish-American
war, he enlisted with the Second Regiment of Michigan Volunteer Infantry
at Battle Creek, Michigan. He went with the regiment to Cuba, and
was present in the engagement at Santiago. He was on the island from
June until August, and was then mustered out at Anniston, Alabama, receiving
a pension of six dollars per month. He returned to Paw Paw.
In 1899 he came to Harvard and embarked in the livery business.
On March 27, 1901, Mr. Hinckley was united in marriage
to Mrs. Nina Hewitt, who was born in Hartford, Michigan, January 21, 1873,
the daughter of A. E. and Julia (Olds) Reynolds. A. E. Reynolds was
born in the Dominion of Canada on August 8, 1826 and came with his parents
to Ypsilanti, Michigan, when he was twelve years old, later coming to Hartford
when it was still a patch of woodland. He took up farming, but later
rented his farm and established himself in a general store, one of the
first enterprises of the sort in the town. It was he who built the Reynolds
Block, in which the first opera house was located. He was a public
spirited man and did much to promote the growth and prosperity of Hartford.
He died in June, 1910, and his wife passed away in 1896. He and his
wife were the parents of six children, of whom five are still living in
1911: Emma, who is now the wife of Dan Hubbard and lives in Chicago, Illinois;
Clara, who is now Mrs. Henry Nichols, of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Otta Reynolds,
who lives in Chicago; William Reynolds; and Nina, the wife if Roy Hinckley,
was educated in the public schools of Hartford and in the Catholic school
at Logansport, Indiana. Mrs. Hinckley was first married to Mr. Hewitt,
and by him had one son, Harry Hewitt, eighteen years old, who is a graduate
of the Hartford high school and is now in his second year at the University
of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Mr. Hinckley is a stanch Republican and is
the constable of the township. He owns the fine modern home on Maple
street which he and his wife have made so popular by their pleasant hospitality.
Corrections submitted by Rick Ferris firstname.lastname@example.org
1. On the seventh line from the top, 1908 should
2. On the eleventh line from the top, Harvard should
3. On the sixth line from the bottom, Otta should
be Otto Reynolds.
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