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The History of EMMET COUNTY, 1884

Page 132-134



The general settlement of the county and the development of its agricultural resources were delayed by the fact of the lands of the county being held subject to the Indian treaty. In August, 1874, the eastern tier of townships came into market, and April 15, 1875, the remainder of the county was thrown open to actual settlers. At that time the white population of the county was about 150. The Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad had just opened a highway of travel and transportation throughout the county, and the village of Petoskey had just entered upon its career. Upon the date named the books were opened at the U. S. Land Office at Traverse City, and so great was the rush for land that over 800 claims were entered during the first three days. Under an act of Congress soldiers in the late war could homestead 160 acres of land while a citizen could homestead only eighty acres, consequently a greater portion of the land was taken by soldiers who settled upon homesteads of 160 acres. During the summer and fall of 1875 a steady stream of immigration poured into the wilderness of Emmet County, and wilderness it indeed was. There was not a road in any direction in the woods except one state road to Cheboygan. The settlers who came in scattered over the county so that settlement was general, and the woods resounded with the sturdy strokes of the woodman's ax, and log cabins were set in the numerous openings in the wilderness.

This was during the hard times that prevailed throughout the country, and many people were driven to seek homes in a new country where but little capital was required to obtain a start. It is always true that the first settlers in a new country, especially upon government lands, are men with comparatively no means. In this county nearly all who came in were without any more than money enough to get themselves located on their land, and all began the race for a subsistence together. There were no settlers before them who had storehouses from which new comers might borrow. The rush of settlers continued through the summer of 1876, and most of them had no idea of the trials and hardships incident to pioneer life. They supposed they would be able to obtain employment, and could earn enough to support themselves the same as in other localities. But all were consumers, and none had yet come to be producers, and all were too poor to hire work done. The consequence was that early in the winter of 1876-'77 their supplies were exhausted, their money gone, and actual destitution of even the bare necessaries of life prevailed. This fact became known, and measures were taken for the relief of those who were destitute. As early as October, 1876, the Democrat, published at Petoskey, explained the situation, and urged the importance of public action in the matter. The leading men of the county interested themselves, committees were constituted, and supplies were obtained and distributed among the needy homesteaders. The board of supervisors also made provision for rendering aid to those in the several townships, and the appeals on behalf of the destitute met with liberal responses both from abroad and at home. There were some who feared that the reputation of the county would be injured by the fact of such destitution coming, to the knowledge of the outside world, but those fears were groundless as subsequent history proved. The next year people with more or less money began to come in, and an era of prosperity and growth was begun that to the present time has continued without abatement, as the statistics indicate.

Between the years of 1875 and 1880 the population of the county was increased to 6,640, which was divided among the several towns as follows: Bear Creek, 2,763; Bliss, 192; Center, 265; Carp Lake, 109; Cross Village, 452; Friendship, 465; Littlefield, 267; Little Traverse, 1,029; Maple River, 164; Pleasant View, 418; Readmond, 516.

The school census of the year 1882 gave the number of school children in the several towns as follows:

Bear Creek.............896
Carp Lake................32
Cross Village.........118
Little Traverse........92
Maple River............56
Pleasant View.......117

The aggregate valution of real and personal property in 1859 of the three towns was as follows: Little Traverse, $6,697.15; La Croix, $3,631.10; Bear Creek, $5,840.08. Total, $16,168.33.

The amount of state tax apportioned to the county in 1860 was $56.17.

In 1861 the aggregate valuation of the County was $38,461.

In 1876 the valuations of the county by townships were as follows:

                    Acres   Valuation   Personal     Total
Bear Creek         11,582      48,000      6,680   $54,680
Little Traverse    10,385      52,856      7,650    60,506
Cross Village      54,223     200,094     14,858   214,952
Pleasant View       1,440       2,861      1,802     4,663
Friendship          5,786      14,323      1,049    15,372
Maple River        12,179      20,438        560    20,998

Grand Total                                       $371,171
In 1879 the aggregate valuations by townships were as follows:
Bear Creek            $111,202	50
Cross Village          122,064	67
Little Traverse         57,360	00
Littlefield             20,294	00
Center                  17,147	22
Friendship              81,124	00
Readmond               41,600.	00
Bliss                   28,220	58
Maple River             26,513      00
Pleasant View           19,280      92

Total valuation       $474,896 89      
In 1882 the aggregate valuations were as follows:
Bear Creek            22,707   $372,265
Bliss                 14,988     63,770
Carp Lake             27,710    115,462
Center                15,739     63,657
Cross Village         20,445    108,055
Friendship            22,000    100,800
Littlefield           11,798     51,149
Little Traverse       14,750    210,395
Maple River           23,800    951,847
Pleasant View         13,923     59,275
Readmond              20,116     91,290
The following are the valuations for the year 1883:
Bear Creek            23,924.40  $428,480-
Bliss                 15,476.46     72,298
Carp Lake             28,280.46    117,090
Center                19,168.75     96,531
Cross Village         18,236.62    140,607
Friendship            21,891.01    102,350
Littlefield           12,418.22     57,679
Maple River           22,957.00    105,654
Pleasant View         21,117.72     98,974
Readmond              20,845.05     97,325
Little Traverse       16,808.25    258,213
Total                220,624.01 $1,575,206

The following is furnished by Rev. W. S. Potter, of Petoskey, secretary of the County Board of School Examiners:

The success and permanence of our republic are conditioned by the virtue and intelligence of its people. According to the American idea, the source of all authority is the popular will, expressing itself through the ballot. The ideal of excellence in our government will be attained when the exercise of the universal franchise shall be guided by the conscience and wisdom of our citizens. For the establishment and maintenance of virtue we look chiefly to such agencies as the church, the home, the influences of good society, and to that natural sense of honor and love of justice never willingly wanting in the breast of man. In the development and application of this system the success of Michigan has made her conspicuous among her sister states. Among the counties of the peninsular state, Emmet is but a child in age, development and experience. And yet this circumstance is not wholly a disadvantage; for if her progress has not reached as yet the results attained by many older counties, nevertheless it must be conceded that youth is a hopeful period. Our possibilities are not so much behind us as before us. We have a future full of promise.

These observations are unquestionably true when applied to the pubhc scbool system of Emmet County.

It is our purpose to sketch this system in brief, setting forth such points as are most likely to interest your readers in the Grand Traverse Region.

We shall notice first the obstacles which our public schools have encountered in this county.

Among these prominently appear difficulties of a financial character.

A large part of the lands of this county were homestead lands. From the nature of the case such lands are almost always preempted by people of moderate means; by people who, having lost their fortunes elsewhere, have come to the new counts to retrieve them, or by young people just beginning to build up their fortunes. For these very obvious reasons there has been but little money in the county available for school purposes.

It is the misfortune of a new country that many of the financial demands upon its citizens arrive when they are least able to meet them. Forests must be removed, dwelling houses and other farm buildings must be constructed, highways must be laid out, farms must be provided with stock and implements of labor, while the general necessaries of living must also be obtained.

To these expenses must be added the cost of school grounds and buildings, school furniture and books and apparatus, and the continued expense of teachers' wages.

These have been obstacles of no small size and importance. But to the praise of the enterprise and intelligence of our people be it said, these obstacles have been met with courage, patience and success.

Another obstacle has been encountered in the difficulty of securing thoroughly trained and efficient teachers in a new country.

At first there were of course no graded or high schools in the county, where our own sons and daughters could be educated and fitted for teaching. It may therefore be said without reflection on the natural abilities of our teachers, that many of them have undertaken their work without full and adequate preparation. And for financial reasons mentioned above it has been impracticable as yet for our district officers to offer teachers such wages as would enable them to incur much expense in qualifying themselves for teaching.

This county has also suffered from the imperfection of the school laws with regard to the supervision of the schools. As the law has been for many years, and now is, the schools have been supervised by township officers, with the possibility, and in some cases the certainty, of an annual change of officers. It is evident that a new country suffers more than an older one from the evils of such a system of supervision. It seems certain that our schools would be more efficiently superintended by a county officer. There are twelve townships in this county, and it is only a truism to say that it is easier to find one man thoroughly competent and responsible for the work of supervision than it is to find twelve. Under the supervision of one man the school system of the county would be a single unit, whereas it is now twelve units.

Responsibility would then be concentrated upon one man, and the sense of accountability for the faithful performance of duty increased. We venture to say that the present system of county examining boards is a good one, but would be much improved if some one of the board should be made practically a county superintendent.

But notwithstanding these obstacles we are able to report a very gratifying prooress in the public schools of this county.

The period covered by the history of our schools is about ten or twelve years. During this brief period the number of districts has increased from less than six to about sixty. New districts-are constantly forming and old ones being reconstructed to suit new exigencies.

At first the school-houses were almost invariably built of logs; now at least one-third of them are frame buildings, and the old ones are rapidly giving place to new and attractive structures.

As the financial condition of the people improves the fact soon becomes manifest in improved school buildings and better furniture and apparatus. There exists a commendable tendency to curtail expenses in other directions sooner than in the direction of the schools.

A marked improvement has occurred in the selection of superior text books for our schools. The most modern and approved books have been very generally adopted.

The county examiners have strongly u-rged the advisability of uniformity of text books in the schools, and their efforts have been largely successful.

But perhaps the most notable advance is seen in the improvement of the teachers themselves. It has been the policy of the board of county examiners to gradually elevate the standard of teachers' qualifications in their examinations. The results have been most salary. Teachers secure a much better preparation for their work than formerly. Their services command a more liberal remuneration. The schools are much better taught, and as a natural consequence the progress of the scholars is much greater.

The efficiency of our teachers is greatly increased by the system of state institutes under the direction of the state superintendent of public instruction. One of these institutes is held annually in the county, conducted either by the state superintendent or bv competent educators appointed by him.

The purpose of the institute is chiefly to instruct the teachers in the methods of teaching and school management.

The teachers of this county also enjoy the advantages of a flourishing teacbers'association. There are annual and semi-annual meetings of the association, at which papers are presented and discussions occur on topics assigned with special reference to the particular needs and progress of the schools of this county.

There are at present two graded schools crowning the public school system of the county. One of these is located at Petoskey, has a school census of about 800, employs nine teachers, has a high school, has a systematic course of study including several of the languages and a considerable number of the sciences, studies in English literature, etc.

The other graded school is located at Harbor Springs, has a school census of about 850, employs four teachers, and has a systematic course of study. These two schools are doing a good work in preparing young, men and women of our own county for teaching. It is probable that graded schools will be establisbed at no distant day at Cross Village and Pellston.

Under these favorable conditions the improvement of our teachers has been quite marked. Ex-Superintendent Cochran, at a recent institute in this county, paid the teachers the compliment of saying that in personale and intelligence they were equal, and perhaps superior, to the average of the state.

Needs of the schools of Emmet County: It cannot be otherwise than that many needs should exist in the public schools of this county. Their brief history, the newness of the country and the imperfect development of our resources account for the existence of such needs.

We need time for the development of the wealth of the county that more funds may be available for school purposes. Teachers' wages are still comparatively low. The schools are generally deficient in apparatus, such as globes, maps, books of reference, etc. More money for school buildings is needed. The school grounds are generally in need of much improvement.

The continual elevation of the standard of teachers' qualifications will be necessary for some time to come.

The establishment of libraries, and the enlargement of those already established, are improvements greatly to be desired.

The greater dissemination among the teachers of school literature, such as treatises on the methods of reaching, educational journals, etc., is an obvious neecessity.

But the greatest need of all is better supervision of the schools. Nothing could stimulate the teachers more in their work, nothing could improve the methods of teaching and school management more than the frequent, regular and intelligent superintendence of the schools by a thoroughly competent person. The numher of licenced teachers in the county is sixty-five. Number of teachers making teaching a permanent profession estimated at twenty. Number of normal school graduates teaching in the county, three Members of the board of county school commissioners: J. L. Morrice, Harbor Springs, chairman; Rev. W. S. Potter, Petoskey, secretary; A. L. Deuel, Harbor Springs. Number of public examinations of teachers held annually in the county, four, viz: Two regular at Harbor Springs, the county seat, on the last Friday of March and October, respectively; and two special at such points in the county as the board shall determine. Finally, it may be said that there is a progressive spirit in our national affairs among the people of Emmet County. Their zeal is fully commensurate with their ability. They are determined to take high rank among the counties of this great state in the development and success of their educational institutions.

Judge Shurtleff, of Cross Village, taught at the first school in the county, outside the Indian or mission schools.

The total school census for 1883 was 2,548. Per cent of census enrolled in schools, seventy-six; per cent of enrollment in average attendance seventy-five. There are fifty-eight districts in the county, and two graded schools.

The following information relating to school matter is taken from reports of school inspectors for the years of 1878 and 1883.

Bear Creek, year 1878: Five school districts, two frame school-houses, two of log and one shanty. Number of school children, 416. For the year 1883: Nine school districts, nine frame and one log school-houses. Number of school children, 1,035.

Bliss, year 1878: Two school districts, sixteen school children, no school buildings. Year 1883: Three school districts, ninety-five school children, one frame and two log school-houses.

Center, year 1878: Two school districts, seventy-nine school children, no school buildings. Year 1883: Seven school districts, 120 school children, six school buildings.

Pleasant View, year 1878: Five school districts, 100 school children, one school building. Year 1883: Six school districts, 155 school children, six school buildings.

Readmond, year 1878: Two school districts, forty-nine school children, two school-houses of logs. Year 1883: Seven school districts, 187 school children, five school buildings.

Little Traverse, year 1878: Four school districts, 266 school children, three schoolhouses. Year 1883: Four school districts, 468 school children, four school buildings.

Friendship, year 1878: Four school districts, eighty-four school children, one school-house. Year 1883: Six school districts 136 school children, six school-houses.

Cross Village, year 1878: One school district, 148 school children, no school-house. Year 1883: One school district, 152 school children; no school-house.

Carp Lake, year 1883: Two school districts, thirty-seven school children, one schoolhouse.

Littlefield, year 1883: Four school districts, sixty-one school children, four school-houses.

Maple River, year 1883: Four school districts, 102 school children, four school houses.


The first person to locate in Emmet County as now organized for the purpose of practicing law was Charles R. Ford, who removed to Harbor Springs, then Little Traverse, in the fall of 1874, and at the election that fall was elected prosecuting attorney. He was a man of varied pursuits, and left the county suddenly, after a checkered career of about two years. D. R. Joslin came from Cheboygan in the winter of 1875 and located at Petoskey. Soon after C. J. Pailthorp settled in Petoskey, and in the fall of 1875 J. G. Hill located at the same place. The next were Turner and Andrews, A. J. Southard and George W. Stoneburner, who located at Little Traverse. Mr. Joslin remained only a few years and removed from the county. C. J. Pailthorp is now the senior member of the bar.

The bar in 1884 is composed as follows: Petoskey: C. J. Pailthorp, J. G. Hill, Clay E. Call, Jay L. Newberry, M. S. George, Ira G. Mosher, Ezra C. Barnum, H. F. Higgins, David Herron, John Mosher, R. C. Dart, D. C. Paige.

Harbor Springs: Benjamin T. Halstead, Wade B. Smith, George W. Stoneburner, Alphonso J. Southard, Andrew L. Deuel, William Crosby.

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