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Report of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan Vol. 3, 1881- Washtenaw Co., MI

The Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan met yearly to present reports of historical interest from “County, Town and District Pioneer Societies.”  These notes were complied yearly and yield interesting stories of Michigan’s early years.

MEMORIAL REPORT

BY E.D. LAY, VICE PRESIDENT FOR WASHTENAW COUNTY.

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Deaths of pioneer settlers of Washtenaw 1877-1880.

Abiel Hawkins died in Ypsilanti, February 8, 1878, aged eighty-one years. He came to Detroit in the summer of 1818, remained there a few months and returned to western New York, and remained there until 1834, when he again returned to Michigan, and settled in Ypsilanti in 1835, and for the most part of the time until his death was the proprietor of the Ypsilanti house, afterwards called the Hawkins house.

Mrs. Mary A. Slingerland, an early resident of Ann Arbor, died January, 1878, aged seventy-three years.

Chester F. Parsons, a resident of Ann Arbor for twenty-five years, died December 26, 1877, aged sixty-five years, one month and thirteen days. Mr. Parsons removed to Ann Arbor from Moravia, New York.

Aaron B. Vannata died December 27, 1877, in Northfield, Washtenaw county, aged seventy-three years. He came to that town forty-five years ago, and selected the farm that he resided on at the time of his death.

Mrs. Nancy Conlin died in the township of Webster, Washtenaw county, January 10, 1878, aged seventy years. She removed to Webster from Ireland, forty-five years ago.

David Coon died September 12, 1877, at Buck's station, Fairfax county, Virginia, aged seventy-two years. He was born in Livingston County, New York, and was a resident of Ypsilanti for over forty years. He was the leading cabinet dealer and undertaker in the city for a number of years.

Mrs. Sabrina Wescott died in Ypsilanti, December 13, 1877, aged seventy-six years. She was born in Rome, Oneida county, New York, and came to Plymouth, Wayne County, in 1836, and has resided in Ypsilanti for the last seventeen years.

Peter Davidson died in Pittsfield, Washtenaw county, February 9, 1878, aged seventy-eight years. He came to Michigan in 1837, and settled in Calhoun county, and remained there until 1862, when he removed to Pittsfield, where he spent the remained of his life.

Joseph Wycoff died in Superior, Washtenaw county in 1878, aged eighty-five years. He settled in Superior over fifty years ago.

Mrs. Solon Cook died in Ann Arbor in 1878, where she had resided since 1831.

Deacon Alvah Pratt died in Ann Arbor, November, 1878, aged seventy-eight years. He came from Paulet, Vermont, in 1832, and settled in Pittsfield, Washtenaw county, where he resided until three years ago he removed to Ann Arbor where he died.

Calvin T. Fillmore, brother of the late President Fillmore, died January 14, 1879, at his home in Scio, Washtenaw county, of which township he had been a resident for the past forty-two years. Mr. Fillmore was born July 9, 1810, in the town of Sempronius, Cayuga County, N. Y., and was therefore in his sixty-ninth year.

Wm. E. Anderson of Pittsfield, Washtenaw county, for forty-six years a resident, died in 1879, aged sixty-one years.

James Wicks died in Ann Arbor the 11th day of February, 1878, in the seventy-ninth year of his age. He was born at Rouse Point, New York, and emigrated to Ann Arbor in the spring of 1829, and resided upon the same place where he died, with the exception of one year.

Charles Tripp died in Ann Arbor, January 16, 1878, aged sixty-five years. He was born in Epson, New Hampshire, and settled in Ann Arbor in 1843, when he formed a partnership with Volney Chapin in the foundry business, and continued in that business until the time of his death. He has held the offices of supervisor, alderman, member of the school board, chairman of the republican county committee, and State senator in 1854. At the time of his death he was president of the Ann Arbor gas company, trustee of the Congregational church, an director of the national bank of Ann Arbor.

Lewis Barr died in September, 1878 in the town of Pittsfield Washtenaw county, aged eighty-seven years. He had resided in Pittsfield fifty-two years.

Charles H. Crane, a member of the State Pioneer Society, died in Ypsilanti, washtenaw county, October 25, 1878, aged fifty-nine years and eleven months. He was born in Penn Yan, Yates County, New York, November 26, 1818, and had been a resident of Ypsilanti over forty years.

Watson Gillett, a member of the State Pioneer Society, died December 11, 1878, in Ypsilanti, Washtenaw county, aged seventy years. He was born in Seneca, New York, May 24, 1808, and settled in Saline, in October, 1829.

Dr. Bennett F. Root died in Manchester, Washtenaw county, January 16, 1879, aged seventy-five years. He had been a resident of Manchester for over forty years.

Mrs. Sophia J. Sears, widow of the late Dr. Thomas Sears, died on the 16th of January, 1879, at the residence of her son, Thomas S. Sears, in the township of Lima, Washtenaw county, aged eighty-seven years. She was born in Goshen, Massachusetts, November 18, 1791.

Sylvester D. Noble died in Ann Arbor, January 28, 1879, aged seventy-four years, ten months and four days. He had been a resident of Ann Arbor nearly forty-five years.

Hon. Andrew Robison died in the township of Sharon, Washtenaw county, January 27, 1879, aged seventy-six years. He had been a resident of that town over twenty-five years, had served as supervisor of that town several terms and was a member of the Legislature in 1859.

Wm. A. Jones (a member of this society), died about the 21st of March, 1879, in the township of Dexter, Washtenaw county. Mr. Jones was born in New Lisbon, Otsego county, N. Y., October 2, 1811, and removed with his parents from Monroe County, New York, in the spring of 1933 to Michigan, and during the summer following settled upon the farm on which he died, in Dexter township, Washtenaw county. At the age of twenty-five years he married Elizabeth Skidmore and soon after succeeded to the title of the farm where the labors incident to pioneer life, together with that of raising a family, were such as to occupy the time of himself and wife until the death of the latter, which occurred in 1858. About the years 1843 or '44 he was elected supervisor of the township - an office which he held for thirteen years, and nine years in succession. He was once elected State senator, and was seldom free from the duties of some township office until failing health obliged him to resign. Mr. Jones had a great love for reading, together with a remarkably retentive memory, which enabled him to acquire a fund of general information possessed by few. Only a few hours before his death he sat in his chair and read his favorite paper, the Free Press, - a paper he had taken every year since its first publication in 1834. He could also give from memory the names of the opposing candidates for president of the United States, and those for governors of Michigan and State of New York from the foundation of the government to the time of his death; also the several platforms of the political parties for the same time. His health gradually declined until during the last two years of his life, when he suffered at times intensely. the disease that terminated in his death was consumption.

Lemuel Clark died January 22, 1880, in Pittsfield, Washtenaw county, on the farm he settled on in 1836. Mr. Clark was one of those persons of a quiet retiring disposition, seldom from home unless business called him away, attending always to his own affairs, beloved and respected by his neighbors and all who know him. His age was about seventy-seven years.

Lyman Graves died in the township of Ypsilanti, January 30, 1880, aged eighty-five years and seven months. Mr. Graves was a native of Massachusetts, from which State he emigrated with his family to Michigan in the spring of 1825, and purchased of the government 160 acres of land in the township of Ypsilanti, where he spent the remainder of his life. Having lived upon the same farm for over fifty-four years, together with his campanion who survives him, they endured the hardships of a pioneer life in improving the land and raising a family of children who are all well settled in life. He died as he lived, respected by all who knew him.

Hiram Arnold died at his residence in Scio, Washtenaw county, on the 21st of January, 1880. He was born in Ontario county, New York, in 1799, and came to Washtenaw county in 1825, where he purchased government lands in Scio. Two years later he removed his family to that township, and has ever since been engaged in farming and business. Some thirty years ago he built planing mills at Dundee, and many years he was a director of the First National bank in Ann Arbor, which position he held until a short time since, when sickness prevented him from attending to the duties of the place. Mr. Arnold was well known through the county. He has always been a prosperous and successful business man, and had a large circle of friends. He left two children, Eugene B. Arnold and Mrs. Byron Green, to whom his large estate will pass. It is said that he left, in manuscript form, his early remembrances of his pioneer life in Michigan, and that they will be presented to the pioneer society of Washtenaw county.

Mrs. Aurilla S. Goodell died in the township of Superior, Washtenaw county, on the 25th of January, 1880, in the seventy-eighth year of her age. Mrs. Goodell was born in Sangersfield, New York, August 14, 1802, being the eldest of a family of twelve children, all of whom, save one, a brother, have crossed the river before her. In 1825 her father moved to Ypsilanti, and a year later she was a party in a double wedding, one of the first marriages ever held at Woodruff's Grove, now Ypsilanti. With her husband, Gotham Goodell, who died some nine years since, she went upon a farm where was spent the remainder of her life. Nothing of the land was cleared up save a place large enough for a house, and together the industrious pair made the wilderness a garden. To them were born nine children, of whom seven are now living; one in Missouri, the remainder living in the vicinity where she died.

Hon. A. M. Clark (a member of this society) died in Saline, Washtenaw county, December 21, 1879, aged sixty-nine years. He leaves a wife and four children, - two sons and two daughters, - to mourn his loss. Mr. Clark was born in New Jersey, November 1, 1819, and removed to the State of New York in his boyhood and resided there until April, 1837, when he removed on to a farm in Saline, Washtenaw county, and by his industry accumulated a large property. He was a man respected by all who knew him, and at various times held offices of trust both in the town and church to which he belonged. He was a member of the legislature in 1875, where he gained the esteem and respect of all his fellow members.

Memorial of Albert Mitchell Clark, by his son:
Father was born November 1, 1810, in Jersey City, State of New Jersey, and moved to the town of Tyre, Seneca county, New York, at the age of six years. His opportunities for obtaining an education were very limited. He was obliged to labor to help support the family during the summer, and to support himself while at school winters by doing chores wherever he could find such opportunities. The poor health of his father and the large family of ten to provide for made it necessary for him to render what assistance he could for their support. Thus the avails of his labor went to his father until he was eighteen years of age, when he was "bound out", or apprenticed to learn the trade of carpenter and joiner. Twenty-five dollars a year were given to my father out of his earnings, with which to cloth himself. At the end of the three years' apprenticeship he had good clothing, quite a sum of money earned over and above his allowance of twenty-five dollars. This he earned by working over time, making chests, cupboards, etc., evenings and odd hours. These found ready sale, because in those days there were no trunks and few pantries, and because whatever father did was well done.

His father being at this time over sixty years of age, and poor in health and in this world's goods, my father felt it to be his duty to provide a home for his parents in their declining years, in which they could spend the remainder of their days in comfort and peace, and this he did with his first earnings.

He then turned his attention to obtaining a competency for himself, and with that in view came west. On his first trip he located lands near Lake Michigan, and worked at his trade in what are now the city of Grand Rapids and the village of Kalamazoo. He then returned to Seneca county, New York, his home, married Martha Stevenson (whom he leaves to mourn his loss) on the 9th of November, 1836, and immediately returned to Michigan, purchased 120 acres of the farm, (added to by subsequent purchases) which he has owned and where he has made his home up to the time of building the residence which he occupied at the time of his death.

He made a profession of religion in his early youth, and united with the Presbyterian church in the village of Saline on the 4th of June, 1840. On the same day his wife united on the profession of her faith in Christ. He always had in view one distinct and well-defined object, that of honesty, steadily and with a consistency of purpose seldom equaled, to live in the fear of his God, and to obtain an honorable competency for himself and family. Whatever property he had acquired was entirely the result of his own labor and industry. He never sought to increase his wealth by speculation. The following, though by no means an isolated case, will illustrate the energy which characterized his whole life:

On his arrival in Saline in the spring of 1837, he had no cellar under his house. He took a job to build a house for a neighbor. At this he would labor during daylight, and dug the cellar under his own home nights. He cleared much of his land by moonlight and the light of fires kindled by burning brush and log heaps. It was not an uncommon thing for him to travel six or eight miles on foot to do a day's work at his trade.

By precept and example has he ever striven to teach his children to be industrious, true and honest, and faithful to every trust. He has bequeathed to them an inheritance better than that of silver and gold - that of a good name and an unblemished character.

Mr. Clark was elected to the State Legislature in the fall of 1874; performed the duties of his office with credit to himself and with satisfaction to his constituents. He has also honorably filled other offices of trust and responsibility. He was naturally conservative, cautious, prudent and energetic. A friend of peace and unity, he always sought to promote the public welfare. The poor and needy found in him an ardent friend, and never went from his door unaided. The sick and sorrowing found him ever ready to minister to their necessities and sympathize in their sorrows. He was an advocate and supporter of all public enterprises. The cause of education and of evangelical religion lay very near his heart.

Toward the close of his life his suffering was a times intense; but no murmuring word ever fell from his lips. He waited patiently the Master's summons. At nine o'clock on Sabbath morning he passed into the heavens. Of him it may truthfully be said "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth, yea, saith the Spirit, that they may cease from their labors and their works do follow them."

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A special 'thank you' to Bonnie Petee for transcribing and submitting this historical data.

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