Early Settlement

The first actual settler in this township -- or the first permanent settler -- was probably Reuben R. Bullen, * from Wayne Co., N. Y., who came to Michigan, with his wife, in November, 1836, and stopped at Mason. In January, 1837, having build a house in Aurelius, on the farm where his son, James T. Bullen, now resides, he moved into it. He had purchased the land from government when he first came (November, 1836). A man named Wilson had moved to the township, and located east of the latter's place, on the farm now owned by Mrs. Hascall. He intended to become a permanent resident of the town, but a sever felon on his finger caused him to return, in the spring of 1837, to Ann Arbor, from which place he come. Mr. Bullen is yet living in town, as are four of his sons, -- Richard J., James T., Joseph and John. The farm originally located by Mr. Bullen is located on section 4.

Lewis Butler settled east of Mr. Bullen early in 1837, and lived in the township until the fall of the same year, when he removed to the village of Jefferson, in Alaiedon township. He sold his place to James Turner, and after a time it becaue the property of Abram Wilson. James and Richard Turner and Mr. Wilson were early settlers.

John and Ezekiel Niles were also among the early arrivals, John first stopping on the Butler place mentioned above. The families of the Messrs. Niles are all gone from the township. Squire Moon arrived considerably later, settling in the neighborhood about 1850. John Wright, from near Syracuse, Onondga Co., N. Y., settled in Aurelius in 1841, and is still a resident of the township. Michael Matteson, still living in town, was an early settler, as was John Cook, whose sons -- Matthew and Thomas -- are now numbered among its citizens.

The Indians were accustomed to come in considerable numbers to Aurelius to pick huckleberries in a marsh in the northeast part of town. The berries were sold in Mason or trade for flour, with which they made "pudding" and considered themselves living in the greatest style. They had also numerous places for making maple syrup sugar, and it is related that in the manufacture of the latter article they were not excessively neat, although occasionally very good sugar was brought in by them. It is even said that they would cook their meat in the sap, and then skim it and boil it down and sell it as though nothing were wrong! The Indian sugar made in portions of the State at much more recent date is probably a fair sample of that manufactured in "auld lang syne," and its quality is certainly not of the first-class.

George B. Webb, from Syracuse, Onondaga Co., N. Y., came to Ingham County in the fall of 1836, and in February or March, 1837, settled on section 9 in Aurelius, whre he now resides. He built his cabin -- twelve by fourteen feet -- against three trees, which fortunately stood in the right position, setting a post for the fourth corner. The load of household goods was tipped over and somewhat damages when bing brought to the place. When Mr. Webb first came into the county (via Dexter) he cut his road for twelve miles. In 1837 he sowed a small piece of wheat at the west line of Aurelius, about where the village of Columbia was platted, and in the same year raised oats in what is not the central part of the city of Mason, which place when he first saw it was of little importance. Mr. Webb was accompanied to his new home by his wife and son, John H. Webb, the latter living on section 4. He was but three years of age when brought to the township. George Webb's father, William Webb, settled on section 9 about 1841, and died finally in the township of Delhi. Mrs. George Webb died in 1847. Their sons, John H. and William H., both reside near the old home.

Abner Potter, from the State of New York, settled in Ingham township with his family in 1839. Hi son, Allen Potter, now living on section 9 in Aurelius, has been a resident of the latter township over twenty years, the farm occupied by him being that formerly owned by William Webb, Sr. Mr. Potter's parents are both deceased.

About 1836-37 the proprietors of the village plat of Mason laid out a town on Grand River at the county-line in Aurelius township, and gave it the name of Columbia. A saw-mill was built at nearly the same time with the one at Mason, and was operated for a time, but had little custom and was finally abandoned. Another was afterwards erected by a man named Norton, and a blacksmith-shop was also built. This was all the village every amounted to, notwithstanding its patriotic name and the hopes of its projectors. The village plat was not even recorded, at least in Ingham County.

The first settler in the southeast part of the township was John Barnes, from Cayuga Co, N. Y., who purchased land in September, 1836, on sections 23 and 26, and settled with his family in June, 1837, half a mile east of what is now Aurelius Centre. He was among the most prominent citizens in the township, and his sons, Orlando M., Zaccheus, and John A., have also become worthy and respectred citizens. O. M. Barnes is well known throughout the State, and is now one of the most eminent lawyers of the country, and numbered among its wealthiest men. John Barnes is now deceased. Orlando M. resides in Lansing, an Zaccheus and John A. at Mason.

Robert G. Hayword, with his brother, Franklin Hayward, and the former's three sons, Robert, Abner, and Henry, moved Aurelius in May, 1837, from Monroe Co., Mich., the family hving come from Providence, R. I., in May, 1830. Arriving in Aurelius they settled on Montgomery Plains, in the southwest part of the town. Robert G. Hayward dies in 1866, but his brother, Franklin Hayward, still resides in the township. Henry Hayward is deceased, and Abner lives at Mount Clemens, where he is engaged in the practice of medicine, which he began before leaving Aurelius. Robert Hayward remove to Aurelius Centre in 1856, where he now resided, and where for a few years he was engaged in the boot and shoe business.

Following is a list of resident taxpayers in the township of Aurelius in 1844:

John Barnes L. Miles R. R. Bullen
J. G. Bump William L. P. Hazelton E. Ranney
L. A. Heath H. H. Freeman R. G. Hayward
Ransom Hazelton J. H. Hendee F. Hayward
D. H. Wightman S. Bond J. C. Stedman
B. B. Robinson D. Oaks John M. French
L. Pratt J. S. Covert D. Southworth
O. C. Robinson Henry Kennedy John Montgomery
J. Willoughby P. Whitford Joseph L. Huntington
William Potter M. Vaughan A. B. Amesbury
John Cook Willam Witter John Bunker
M. Matteson John Wright John Bunker, Jr.
J. Matteson Joseph Bullen M. McRobert
William Isham Dunn & Holly R. B. Ames
A. Waggoner William Webb D. M. Irons
Z. Barnes George B. Webb T. Strong
J. F. Freeman Winslow Turner William Arthur
J. Robinson J. Snyder George Wilcox
B. Hazelton, Jr. John Niles E. Wilcox
E. S. Howe A. Wilson L. H. Fowler
J. E. Hunt William Webb Jr. Jonathon Fowler

From the records of the Ingham County Pioneer Society are taken the following items:
Joseph Wilson, born in Yorkshire, England, came to Michign, May 20, 1837, and in October, 1840, settled in the township of Aurelius. His wife, who accompanied him, was a native of Rutland Co., Vt.

Johm M. French, born in Essex Co., N. J., in 1798, settled on section 31, in the township of Aurelius, April 29, 1838. During the first ten years of their residence in the county Mr. and Mrs. French lost three of their children.

Joseph L. Huntington, whose death occured at Mason, March, 19, 1874, was born at Hinesburg, Vt., Nov. 16, 1800. His father, Deacon Jonathon Huntington, died at St. Albans, Vt., in 1856, aged seventy-eight years. Mr. Huntington, who was tanner by trade, removed to Ludlowville, Tompkins Co., N. Y., in 1832, and in the spring of 1838 "he removed to Aurelius, Ingham Co., and engaged in the business of a tanner, in connection with that of shoemaking, which he followed for about five years, when he entered upon the business of clearing up and improving a new farm in the same town. In 1846 he was elected to the office of sheriff of this county, and, being re-elected in 1848, he removed to Mason, and became the keeper of the first jail built in the county."*
Mr. Huntington's son, Collins D. Huntingson, now of Mason, slept in the jail for three weeks, in December, 1848, and kept a fire to dry the walls, in order that the family might sooner move in.

After the location of the capital at Lansing, Mr. Huntington was appointed one of three commissioners to appraise and fix the minimum prices of the lots on section 16, whre the city of Lansing had been platted. After removing to Mason, Mr. Huntington was identified with its business interests for thirty-six years. His wife died at Mason in 1862, and he afterwards 91863) married Miss Caroline Royce, who died in 1870. Several of his children are at present residing in Mason. George M. Huntington is the present judge of the Circuit Court; Charles G. Huntington is engaged in mercantile business: and Collins D. Huntington has been for years engaged in various manufactured enterprises.

Alfred Parker, a native of Wyoming Co., N. Y., located at Leoni Jackson Co., Mich., in May, 1837, and the same year purchased land near the site of Lansing. In May, 1847, he removed to Ingham County, and settled in the township of Aurelius. Some time in the same year his wife made a trip through the woods with an ox-team, via Lansing, to a place in Clinton County, thirty-five miles away. Mr. Parker says: " My first labor in this State was holding plow drawn by seven yokes of oxen, and camping in the woods nights and building smudges to keep off mosquitos. Hunted deer and wild turkeys: also turned out and searched for the lost boy, Ami Filley, in 1837, in the town of Leoni, Jackson Co."

Taken from:
"History of Ingham and Eaton Counties Michigan, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Their Prominent Men and Pioneers", by Samuel W. Durant.
Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., 1880.
Page 220 - 221

Sondra Higbee

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