The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter XXVI
Villages of Genesee County
Part I

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton

 

CHAPTER XXVI

Villages of Genesee County.

In speaking of the founders of a commonwealth, we are speaking of brave, unselfish people, who blazed their way through a wilderness fraught with hardships and privations and toil, to a glimpse of future civilization which could only be made possible through sacrifice and years of waiting. The men who settled in Genesee county were the same kind of men who settled all new countries--men who loaded their families and their effects into ox-teams or covered wagons and 'mid tears and farewells, started on he long, tedious journey to the West. Many men who sought new homes in the solitude of the forest and on the banks of virgin streams were men who brought with them the amenities and culture of good society and the wholesome remembrance of family ties.

Men of all nations are inclined to e clannish and many were led to follow the fortunes of supposedly lucky friends of neighbors, who had braved western wilds and sent back cogent messages of promised prosperity that fired the breasts of those left behind with a spirit of adventure and a resolve to follow.

When the pioneer has waited until cities and villages have sprung up; when civilization has expressed itself in great churches and schools and departments of commerce, he may not justly esteem himself entitled to the distinctive place among his neighbors that one accords to the sturdy citizen, whose purpose in life should have incited him to leave the home of his birth and found the early settlements in the Michigan forests.

FENTON.

THE VILLAGE OF Fenton, in the township of the same name, is happily situated in the valley of the Shiawassee River, in a section of the county dotted with small lakes of great beauty.

Early in the year 1834, Clark Dibble was threading his way through a trackless wilderness from Shiawassee to Grand Blanc and by some mistake he struck the White Lake trail. Pushing a little farther on, he crossed the undulating ridge to the south and was so struck with the beautiful location of the spot that he stopped for day to examine the lay of the land. So pleased with his discovery was he that, after his arrival at Grand Blanc, called Grumlaw, he induced his friends, Dustin Cheney, Loren Riggs, and John Galloway, to go with him and form a settlement at this place. Mr. Cheney and his family were the first to go, Mrs. Cheney being the first white woman who ever visited the spot. Mr. Dibble moved his household next, followed by John Galloway and Mr. Riggs, and thus the settlement of Dibbleville, afterwards Fentonville, was effected. These pioneers had first located in Grand Blanc, which they had reached by following the main trail from Detroit to Saginaw.

The vicinity of the many lakes surrounding Fenton was the favorite resort of the red tribes who occupied this region. The hills and forests afforded them hunting grounds for deer, wolves, and bear, and the lakes furnished fish in abundance. In the edge of the township of Mundy dwelt a small tribe whose chief was named "King Fisher," who cultivated a few fields and grew Indian corn. "King Fisher," was later well known throughout this locality. On one occasion he journeyed to the settlement with some of his followers, to hear the music of which he had been told, Mrs. Benjamin Rockwell, a sister of William M. Fenton, having brought the first piano to Fenton. The Indian chief was graciously received by Mrs. Rockwell and Mrs. Fenton and, notwithstanding his kingly dignity, which never forsook him, became transfixed at the sound of the piano, which he said, "Manitou made." This piano, an exquisitely carved harpsichord, is now among the cherished possession of the Hon. Fenton R. McCreery, of Flint, a grandson of Colonel Fenton.

Since 1840 the village has increased in growth until it is now the second center of population in the county. There are two weekly newspapers and two substantial banks, and it now boasts one of the most popular summer resorts in this section of the state, Long lake, which is several miles in length and lies directly to the north of the village, being fringed with several hundred handsome cottages.

Fenton, with an abundance of electric power, is well lighted, a modern system of boulevard lights having recently been installed on the principal business streets. It has many attractive homes, its streets are wide and well shaded, and it lie at the foot of the Tyrone hills, from the top of which maybe obtained a fine view of the surrounding country, the vision covering an area of many miles, in the distance being Holly, Davisburg, and Long Lake.

The town has five churches, handsomely constructed , the Methodist Episcopal, Rev. W. B. Collins, pastor; the Baptist, Rev. Robert Davies, pastor; the Presbyterian, Rev. John McWilliams, pastor; St. Jude's Episcopal, at present without a rector, and St. John's Catholic church, Rev. Fr. D. L. Dillon, priest. In addition to these houses of worship, the Christian Scientists hold regular services, although they are yet without a church edifice.

A woman's civic association was organized in 1910 and has a present membership of about two hundred. It has aided materially in promoting the civic interest of the community and has become an efficient force in the affairs of the municipality. The association has recently purchased a building which is used for auditorium purposes and also as a civic center. The officers are:

President Mrs. T. C. McLeod
Secretary Mrs. R. B. Renwick
Treasurer Mrs. E. C. Foote

Several literary clubs, among which is the Bay View Club and the Entre Nous Club, contribute their part in adding to the educational and social life of the town.

An industry of importance tot he village is the cement works, located on the banks of Silver Lake, the two plants employing several hundred men in the manufacture of a high grade of Portland cement, the marl for the purpose being taken from the bed of the lake near by.

A factory has also recently been organized in Fenton for the manufacture of hydroplanes on a small scale, Long Lake, nearby, proving a practical place for experimental operations.

The Masonic fraternities of the town include Fenton Lodge No, 109, N. H. Chestnut, master; Genesee Chapter No. 29, Royal Arch Masons, A. W. Cinnar, high priest; and Fenton Commandery No. 14, Knights Templar, E. C. Hyatt, eminent commander.

The village also has a first class hotel and is a station on the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee railroad. Its population is two thousand six hundred and thirty-three.

The officers for 1916 were:
President Edwin M. Cole
Clerk Ross McCurdy
Treasurer Floyd L. McCullom
Assessor Arthur W. Crimmer

FLUSHING.

Flushing, the center of a fine agricultural district and in point of population in the county exceeded only by Flint and Fenton, is located on the banks of the Flint river, the whole site being originally covered with a dense growth of heavy timber, of which a large part was pine.

Flushing claims as its first white settler, Rufus Harrison, who took up his abode at that place in 1835. One of the most prominent among the early settlers of this locality was Thomas L. Brent, a Virginia gentleman of wealth, who had been United States charge d'affairs to Portugal. Abbott's history states that Mr. Brent represented his county in Spain. A great deal of interest attaches to the Brent family, which was of much importance during the early days, it appearing unusual that Mr. Brent, a man of cultivated tastes, and his wife, a woman who was connected with a noble family of Spain, together with their son, Henry, and their daughter, Charlotte, both of whom has received expensive educations in Paris, should isolate themselves in a virgin forest away from the luxuries and refinements of the civilized European world to which they had so long been accustomed Mr. Brent built a log house on the banks of the river below Flushing, and when he died his body was carried down a steep ladder from the loft and brought to Flint, where the funeral services were held from the home of Mr. Dewey. Mr. Brent expended his large fortune in buying government lands, at one time paying taxes on seventy thousand acres of Michigan land. In 1836 he built a dam across the Flint river and in the same year erected a saw-mill, but a severe flood in the spring of 1837 washed away the damn and for a time threatened the mill. Nearly every man who located in this section of the country worked at one time or another for Mr. Brent and the hamlet of Brent Creek nearby is named for him. He had fond dreams of building a fine residence on this spot, but he died before his wishes were realized. He had constructed, however, a wine cellar in the face of the bluff near his cabin and in this his choicest brands were kept. After his death his widow carried out his plans for the home and a replica of the large colonial homes of Virginia stood at the head of a long lane on the Brent estate. This house is aid to have contained at this time a small chapel, built after plans of Mrs. Brent, who was a Catholic by faith and had long been denied the privilege of worshipping according to the stately manner in which she had been accustomed in Spain. Mrs. Brent died, however, soon after the house was completed and the property is now owned by Arthur G. Bishop, the president of the Genesee County Savings Bank in Flint.

Flushing has a flourishing business men's association, the chamber of commerce, with a membership of about forty, which contributes to the advancement of mercantile and industrial condition. The officers are:

President Herbert A. Stewart
Secretary Leo Travis

It is the center of a wealthy farming community, which find at Flushing a market for commodities. The village has two banks and a weekly newspaper. There are three churches, the Methodist Episcopal, with Rev. J. E. Lewin, as pastor; the Presbyterian, with Rev. M. G. Pawley, as pastor, and the Baptist church, whose pulpit is now vacant.

Flushing has two Masonic bodies, Flushing Lodge No. 223, Dr. Joseph Scheidler, master, and Flint Rapids Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, Guy Turner, high priest. The Odd Fellows are represented, Rankin Lodge, whose noble grand is William G. Smith, being named for Francis H. Rankin, the former editor of the Wolverine Citizen, in Flint.

There are several clubs in Flushing, one of which, the Flushing Improvement Club, was organized by a number of women interested in the betterment of civic conditions; and two others are the Tuesday Club and the Philomathians.

The present officers of the village are:

President Frank P. Haskall
Clerk Harry L. Mann
Treasurer Edgar F. Boman
Assessor Willis C. Wilcox
Trustees John S. Frawley, Perry Nichols, W. S. Davis, Thomas McKenzie,
M. J. Backofen, Wilfred J. Short

Flushing is situated on the Saginaw division of the Grand Trunk railroad, and has a population of one thousand and seventy-nine. Among its influential citizens are Ira T. and Franklin P. Sayre, H. H. Prosser, F. R. Ottaway and James Greenfield, each of whom has held offices of trust and served the county or state with signal ability and credit.

CLIO.

Clio, the fourth center of population in the county of Genesee, is on the mainline of the Pere Marquette railroad and also on the line of the Saginaw, Bay City & Flint interurban railway. It is twelve miles distant from flint and during the past ten years has received a steady growth, due somewhat to the fact that it is easily accessible from flint and has become the home of many suburbanites desirous o avoiding the high prices of land in the city.

It has three churches, the Methodist Episcopal, the Free Methodist and the Methodist Protestant; also a good graded school, a grange hall, a large elevator and a Masonic temple. It has a paved business district and electric power and lights.

A board of commerce is awake to the possibilities of civic advancement, under the presidency of M. C. Doyle, and there are both Masonic and Odd Fellow lodges. A branch of the Detroit creamery is at present located in Clio and manufacturing condensed milk.

The village officers are:

President Charles Matson
Clerk William G. Goodrich
Treasurer Charles H. Reed
Assessor Glenn Williams

Clio was incorporated as a village in 1873. Its population is nearly one thousand.

DAVISON

The village of Davison, a station on the main line of the Grand Trunk railroad, ten miles east of Flint, was named for Judge Norman Davison, who came from Avon, New York, to this section of the county when it was a dense and almost unknown wilderness. On the banks of Kearsley creek, beneath the shadows of a stately forest, was pitched the family abode, and on the spot where the village now stands a saw-mill was erected in 1833, followed by a grist-mill in 1836, and the early travelers in this region remembered well the long tramps over Indian trails and marked trees to Davison's mills. A post office was here established in 1836 and in 1837 Judge Davison eas appointed postmaster. Prior to 1840 the south half of Davison township was attached to Atlas and the north part to Richfield. During this time when Atlas formed a portion of Lapeer, Judge Davison was one of the judges of the latter county, and he was also a member of the convention that net in Detroit in 1835 to frame the first state constitution.

The wilderness to which Judge Davison came over eighty years ago has now given away to cultivated fields, macadamized roads are substituted for the Indian trails and the hum of the locomotive has taken the place of the warning howls of the wolf.

In the year 1916 Davison furnishes a marketing center for a prosperous rural community; it has four churches, the Catholic, the Methodist Episcopal, the Free Methodist and the Baptist. It has a state bank and Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges. It has several clubs devoted to social and literary pursuits and has recently built a hall for auditorium purposes.

The population in 1916 is seven hundred. The village officers are:

President Anson W. Adams
Clerk Seth McBratney
Treasurer Edmund C. Haynes
Assessor Floyd Pettingill

GRAND BLANC.

Grand Blanc, or Grumlaw, was it was called in the early days, was an old Indian camping ground and was settled by the first white family that ever located in Genesee county, the Stevens, who came from the state of New York to Detroit in 1822, and removed to Grand Blanc in the spring of 1823.

In volume 14 of the "Michigan Historical Collection" an epic of the Saginaw valley country by Judge Albert Miller refers to Jacob Stevens:

Captain Stevens was the first man
Who there a settlement began.
'Tis seven and sixty years or more
Since he that region did explore.
When first he settled there 'twas then
Near twenty miles from more white men.
The name of the place was then "Graw Blaw,"
For as Frenchmen passed the place they saw
A "Big White" man who there resided,
And that circumstance a name provided.
The Frenchmen wrote the name "Grand Blanc,"
It was so pronounced by every Yank.

Grand Blanc was a site on the road from Detroit to Saginaw, and was a rough highway traversed by officer, Indians, traders and settlers of Saginaw. At the time that Mr. Stevens and his wife and seven children arrived, the only people residing in the settlement at flint river were a few families of half-breeds, French and Indians. Mr. Stevens built a log house on the site now occupied by the Sawyer residence. He is said to have been a man of intelligence and of literary taste, and a typical gentleman of the old school, possessing great moral and physical courage.

In 1829 the road to Saginaw was laid our and staked, This highway, which followed the Indian trail, was a rambling road through woods, avoiding hills and swamps, the streams and low places having been bridged some time previously by the United States soldiers stationed in garrison at Saginaw.

The exodus from the northwestern counties of the state of New York tot he new lands of Michigan, during the years from 1836 to 1840 was very great. Entire district of the old state were almost depopulated by the emigration of sturdy pioneers who desired cheap lands and homes of their own. Grand Blanc and adjacent settlements received a due share of these pioneers, but, in spite of the fact that the surrounding country was thickly settled, it has remained a small village. It is unincorporated and is located seven miles southeast of flint, on the line of the Pere Marquette railroad, in the heart of a rich farming district.

It has a grade school, a private bank, flouring-mill, elevator and a creamery. It is electric lighted and has two churches, the Methodist Episcopal and the Congregational. Its population is four hundred.

LINDEN.

Linden, in the township of Fenton, was first settled by two brothers, Richard and Perry Lamb, in the fall of 1835. For a long time the log house of Perry Lamb furnished accommodations for travelers. Mr. and Mrs. Lamb being known far and wide as most hospitable entertainers, the road passing their home being the trail to Dibbleville, via Silver Lake.

The village of Linden dates its origin from 1840, when it was laid out by Consider Warner and Eben Harris, the hostelry known as "Springer's Hotel" being built by them also in that year. The village was incorporated by act of the Legislature in 1871.

The leading industry of Linden is the co-operative creamery, a concern modeled after the plan of similar creameries in Wisconsin and said to be the only one of its kind in Michigan. Its president is W. H. Keddy, of Fenton, and it is owned and controlled by its patrons. Its plan of organization was for the owners of cattle to take as many hares of stock as he had cattle, paying for each share of stock four dollars. This made each cattle owner a stockholder and a patron of the plant. At the organization of the company it started out with seven hundred shares of stock issued and it has proved a success from its inception.

The village has three churches, the Methodist Episcopal, Rev. E. A. Cross, pastor; the Seventh-Day Adventists, Rev. Timothy Somerville, pastor, and the Presbyterian, whose pulpit is now vacant. There are two fraternal bodies, Linden Lodge no 132, Free and Accepted Masons, Corse L. Crandall, master, and Strict Account Lodge No 276, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Harry Stiff, noble grand. It also has a weekly newspaper and one bank. Its population is five hundred fifty. Its village officers are:

President Frank F. Glerum
Clerk Chancy Tamlyn
Treasurer Claude E. Hyatt
Assessor William E. Dooley

 

History of Genesee County, Michigan, Her People, Industries and Institutions
by Edwin O. Wood, LL.D, President Michigan Historical Commission, 1916

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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