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

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton

 

MONTROSE.

Montrose, located near the old reservations of Pewanigawink, is the most northern of the villages on the route to Saginaw by the river trail of the Indians. Its first white resident was Seymour W. ensign, a native of New York State who had emigrated to Saginaw. In 1842 Mr. ensign, having purchased of the Brent estate forty acres in Montrose township, tied two canoes together and built a platform upon them, and, with family, goods and stores, towed his primitive craft fifty-five miles by river to his home in the wilderness. At that time there was not a white person living in the township, neither were there roads or clearings.

Montrose has two churches, the Methodist Episcopal and the Baptist. It has one weekly newspaper and Masonic and Odd fellows lodges. It is centrally located in the midst of a good agricultural district. It was incorporated as a village in 1899. Its populationis four hundred fifty. The village officers are:

President L. M. Jennings
Clerk A. J. Eckles
Treasurer E. B. Fuller
Assessor M. S. Russell

GAINES.

The village of Gaines, in the western portion of Genesee county, was once covered with a dense growth of heavy timber and was threaded by a branch of the Swartz Creek. Along the banks of the latter in early years were extensive groves of maple and a trail reached from Flint, which was used by the Indians, who made large quantities of maple sugar. This has disappeared, although there are still living in this vicinity several families, descendants of the aborigines who inhabited this region.

Gaines has one bank and two churches, the Methodist Church, with the Rev. Mr. Barton as pastor, and the Catholic church, Rev. Fr. F. J. Burke, priest. It was incorporated as a village in 1875. Its population is two hundred seventy-five. The officers for 1916 are:

President George W. Chase, Jr.
Clerk Harry G. Baxter
Treasurer William P. Cozadd
Assessor R. J. Jones

MT. MORRIS.

THE VILLAGE OF Mt. Morris, six and one-half miles north of flint, on the lines of the Pere Marquette railroad and the Bay City, Saginaw & Flint interurban railway, was known in early days as the "Coldwater Settlement," its pioneers being opposed to the use and abuse of intoxicants. It is generally conceded that Benjamin Pearson was the pioneer of Mt. Morris. With other settlers who emigrated to the West from Livingston County, New York, he has come to Flint river in 1833 and devoted some weeks to "land-looking." After selecting land in this locality and purchasing it form the government, Mr. Pearson erected the first dwelling every built in Mt. Morris township. During the succeeding year he was joined by other arrivals and a settlement was effected, a school was opened, a society of Presbyterians organized and the "Coldwater settlement," as it was known, disseminated and practiced in their midst the principles of temperance. Later the settlement was named Mt. Morris, deriving its name from the early home of many of the settlers, Mr. Morris, Livingston county, New York.

However, there was nothing to indicate this settlement as a village until 1857, when the Flint & Pere Marquette line had been surveyed and active operations commenced, when quite a number of families settled upon the site of the prospective village.

The following item appeared in the Wolverine Citizen of Flint on January 25, 1862: "The Flint & Pere Marquette railway was regularly opened for passengers and freight traffic in connection with Boss, Burrell & Company's line of stage coaches on Monday last. The railway is now completed from East Saginaw as far as Mt. Morris station, with six miles of Flint. The company has iron on hand to continue the track to Flint as soon as the season opens." In 1867 an act incorporating the village passed the state legislative body.

Mt. Morris in the year of 1916 has a good business district of well built, up-to-date stores, a private bank, and three churches, the Methodist Episcopal, the Baptist and St. Mary's Catholic church, with Rev. Fr. Thomas Luby as priest. The Mt. Morris consolidated schools, under the management of William J. Maginn, rank among the best of the village schools in the state. Mt. Morris also has a large elevator and a number of attractive residences, and is a progressive village, with a population of seven hundred and eighty.

SWARTZ CREEK.

Swartz Creek is an unincorporated village in the township of Mundy, and is the site of what, in the pioneer days, was the division between the heavy timber and the "oak openings." Regarding the first early white settler in what is now the township of Mundy, there is some dispute, but it has been generally accepted that Morgan Baldwin and George Judson were the first resident of this locality.

During the early days of the settlement persons coming from the direction of Flint spoke of going "up the Swartz," though it was only a branch of the main stream, and in time the settlement was named Swartz Creek. Adam Miller was one of the first resident of this locality, who, assisted by several members of his family, chopped a road through from his land to Flint river, which afterwards became known as the "Miller road" and is now one of the finest highways in the county.

Swartz Creek has a large elevator, three beet weighing stations, the sugar beet industry being carried on extensively in this locality; a good graded school, a private bank, which is one of the chain of private banks operated under the management of Ira T. Sayre, of Flushing, and a number of stores. It has also two churches, the Catholic church and the Methodist Episcopal. Its population is six hundred and fifty.

GOODRICH.

In September, 1835, Moses and Enos Goodrich came to Atlas township and purchased from the government over one thousand acres of land. From the period of their settlement in this locality the name of Goodrich has been interwoven with all social, commercial and political history of the township. They founded mills, a village store, and opened to cultivation fields of the best land to be found in this section of Michigan. These two brothers were joined by others of their family, among them Aaron Goodrich, who had been admitted to the bar of Tennessee and in 1849 was appointed by President Taylor as chief justice of Minnesota. He was also a delegate to the Republican national convention at Chicago in1860, which resulted in the nomination of Abraham Lincoln.

A post office was established on the site of the village in 1846, with Enos Goodrich, postmaster, it being known at that time as Atlas post office, but was changed to its present title in 1849. The village of Goodrich is on the direct line of the Detroit united Interurban railroad and is surrounded by a farming district of good resources.

Goodrich has two churches, the Baptist and the Methodist Episcopal. It has also a high school of ten grades, a private bank, a number of stores and a good hotel. In 1916, through the efforts of Dr. a. Wheelock, a small but very complete hospital was built, fully equipped, and planned on very up-to-date principles. Goodrich has also a growing dairy concern. The village has a population of four hundred.

OTISVILLE.

The village of Otisville, in Forest township, was built about the site of the Hayes saw-mill, in 1851. There was quite a settlement here at this time, the mill company building a few small houses for themselves and a boarding house for their employees. It was platted in 1863 by William F. Otis and T. D. Crocker and named Otisville. There were several members of the Otis family who settled in this locality, Francis W. Otis, of Cleveland, being the owner of the large saw-mill which was placed in position and operated under the supervision of John Hamilton, father or William Hamilton, of Flint. In Otisville and vicinity from 1860 to 1870 there were twelve large saw-mills in operation.

Otisville in 1916 has two churches, the Methodist Episcopal and the Free Methodist, and a graded school of twelve grades, a state bank and a creamery. The president of the village is Paul J. Laing. The population is three hundred and seventy-five.

ATLAS.

The village of Atlas, from point of location, is one of the most attractive of the hamlets of the county, Kearsley Creek affording excellent water power privileges.

Among the prominent pioneers of this locality were the Carpenters, who came from Dutchess county, New York, William Carpenter, in company with Levi Preston, coming on foot from Niagara county, New York, through Canada to Detroit, and thence by the old Saginaw road to Atlas, where they selected land, purchased it from the government and built log houses and put in a few crops. They then returned to New York state and, with their families, again started for the new home in the western wilderness. They were thirty days by ox-team on the journey, but arrived safely at their destination. The Carpenter family have been most prominent in the growth and development of this part of the county, and members of the family are still residents of this locality, William Carpenter, of Goodrich, being one of the best known men in Genesee county.

Atlas in 1916 has a population of one hundred and seventy-five, its residents being chiefly retired farmers. There is one flouring mill, the Hastings Mill, a school, a general store and post office, and one church, the Presbyterian. It is a station on the Detroit United Interurban railway.

GENESEEVILLE.

The village of Geneseeville was an important settlement in the early days of the county and a number of saw-mills were built along the banks of the Kearsley Creek and the Flint river by the pioneers of this locality. The first saw-mill was built in 1834, Kearsley Creek being dammed for that purpose about one hundred rods above its junction with the river. Benjamin Pearson was interested in this mill, which was built by a Mr. Harger. The mill was not very large, but it furnished lumber for many of the pioneer homes in this part of the county. A second mill was built on the Kearsley in 1836, known as the Jones mill, and was built about one mile above the first mill. The third was built in 1837 by Ogden Clarke, and the fourth on the flint river at Geneseeville. This last named mill was afterward owned by Reuben McCreery, who in 1853, also built another mill in this locality.

In the early days there were no bridges across the streams and it was not until 1843 that a bridge was built, the location of this being at the mouth of the Kearsley creek. In 1860 the "Fay Bridge," was built,. At a crossing which is the site of a bridge at the present time. The flint river and the Kearsley creek were much larger streams during the early days, owing to the heavy growth of timber which lined their banks. The first white person born in the town of Genesee was Damon Stewart, whose widow, who was Miss Francis McQuigg, is now residing in Flint.

The village of Geneseeville was platted in 1858 by Reuben McCreery, and Simon King, and a post office was established in 1859. Geneseeville in 1916 has one church, the Methodist Episcopal, and a few stores. An old grist-mill, which was originally built by Reuben McCreery, in 1849, and transferred eventually to Isaac O. Rogers in 1875, is still operated by members of the Rogers family. The population of Geneseeville is about one hundred.

THETFORD CENTER.

The township of Thetford was named by one of its early resident, Nahum N. Wilson, for the town of Thetford in Orange county, Vermont and Thetford Center takes its name from the township. The village is now only a four corners with the usual few stores and residences.

PINE RUN.

On the site of what is now Pine run in early days was located the famous tavern of Corydon E. Fay, who for a number of years was one of the most prominent resident of this locality. He came to Genesee county from Avon, Livingston county, New York, in 1837, and secured employment on the farm of Benjamin Pearson, afterward purchasing land for himself. In 1850 travel on the Saginaw turnpike came to assume proportions which called for houses of entertainment for travelers along its route, and Mr. Fay built a large frame building and opened the first inn on the road between Flint River and Saginaw. It was called the Fay House and for many years was a famous hostelry in this part of the state, but was discontinued as a tavern in 1867.

Pine Run in 1916 has one church and a few stores. Its population is about one hundred and fifty.

ARGENTINE.

The village of Argentine is on the township of that name, which at first included what is now Fenton. It is surrounded by a number of lakes, among which are Lobdell lake, named after a settler on its shores; Murray lake, named after the first settler in the township; McKane, McCaslin and Bass lakes, It is said that wolves and bears in large numbers were seen in this locality in the days of the first settlements.

James H. Murray, who had come to the west from Rochester, New York, settled in Argentine in 1835, and in 1836 built the dam in the village, later erecting a saw-mill. William Lobdell, for whom Lobdell lake was named, settled near Argentine in 1836. He had come to Detroit from Auburn, New York, and, being the owner of a wagon and three horses, found employment in transporting pioneer families and their effects through to Grand River. On one of these trips he found the land upon which he afterward settled.,

A post office was established at the village at an early date, and called Booton, but was later change to Argentine, mail being carried on horseback over a route which extended from Pontiac to Ionia. The village has a few stores, hotel and a population of about one hundred and fifty.

WHIGVILLE.

Whigville also known as Gibsonville, is situated one and one-half miles northeast of Grand Blanc and five miles from Flint. Here are located a Baptist church, a school and a few stores. The first saw-mill in the county was built here in 1828 by Rowland B. Perry and at one period considerable business was transacted here. It undoubtedly would have become a flourishing village, but the Flint & Pere Marquette railroad surveyed its road through Grand Blanc, which was an inducement for many of the earlier residents to remove to that village. The old Gibson homestead, one of the landmarks on the old state road, and formerly the home of C. D. Gibson, is still occupied by members of the Gibson family. Gibsonville has a few stores and a population of about one hundred.

CRAPO FARM.

Crapo Farm is a station on the main line of the Grand Trunk railroad, named for the eleven-hundred-acre farm of Governor Henry H. Crapo. This tract of land was originally a swamp which Governor Crapo reclaimed and made extensive improvements thereon, until today, under the ownership of Hon. W. W. Crapo, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, it is one of the finest farms in this section of Michigan. Governor Crapo was highly interested in the development of this land, and gave it his close attention. At one time he was a regular contributor on agricultural topics to the Albany County Gentleman. Among the interesting persons who might be mentioned in connection with the Crapo farm is Henry M. Flagler, the multi-millionaire who has built the chain of great hotels along the Florida coast, and who, while he was still a young boy, found employment on this farm, and lived here for a number of years.

Crapo Farm is only a small four corners, with a population of about fifty inhabitants.

BRENT CREEK.

Brent Creek, a small hamlet on the River road from Flushing to Saginaw, was named for Thomas L. L. Brent. It has a few stores and population of about one hundred.

RANKIN POST OFFICE.

Rankin post office is a small four corners in Mundy township, with one church, the Methodist Episcopal, a grange hall, one general store and a few houses. It was formerly known as Mundy Centre.

OTTERBURN.

Otterburn is a small hamlet on the main line of the Grand Trunk railroad between Durand and Flint. Its population is one hundred and fifty.

BELSAY.

Belsay is a station on the Grand Trunk railroad near the division of the main line and the belt line, and is a freight and shipping point for growers of sugar beets,. who market their crops from this station. There are only a few houses and no stores.

RICHFIELD CENTRE.

Richfield Centre is a small hamlet in Richfield township, on the site of the old Maxfield saw-mill, which was built in 1855. In the old days there was also a tavern at this place, but for many years it has been occupied as a residence. There is one church, the Methodist Episcopal, and a few stores.

 

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

HTML by Deb

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