The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter IV
Rival Settlements

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton



The earliest rival of Flint as a center of settlement was Grand Blanc. Previous tot he death of Jacob Smith, Grand Blanc received settlers in the persons of Jacob Stevens and his sons, Rufus and Sherman. This was in 1923. They came from western New York, whence came so many of the early pioneers of this country; it is probable that the county was named for Genesee county, in new York, and appropriately, for another reason--the word Je-nis-he-yuh signified in the Seneca tongue, " the beautiful valley." The name of one of the tribes belonging to the Six nations in western New York was Chennussie, probably from the same root as Genesee. In 1826 there were added to this settlement Edmond Perry, Sr., and Rowland B. Perry, from Livingstone county, new York. In 1827-1829 came Edward H. Spencer, from Vermont, William Roberts, George E. Perry (Connecticut), Joseph McFarlan, Ezekiel R. Ewing, Jeremiah Riggs, and family and a number of others. Most of these were from western new York; a few were from New England. By 1830 Flint has quite a respectable rival in village beginnings in the southeastern part of the county, which would tend to intercept settlers moving towards Flint.

In that year, 1830, John Todd, then living at Pontiac in Oakland county, during a prospecting tour visited the Grand Traverse of the Flint and, being pleased with the location, purchased from Edouard Campau a section comprising seven hundred and eighty-five acres for eight hundred dollars. The deed was dated April 1, 1830. Returning to Pontiac, he took his wife, Polly and two young children, Edward and Mary (later Mrs. David Gould, of Owosso), and, cutting the road through the woods, from Grand Blanc to Flint, returned to his new purchase. The journey took three days. In the emigrant train were stock, farm implements and household goods enough to begin pioneer life. To them belongs the distinction of being the first permanent residents on the site of Flint. Mr. Todd at once repaired the Campau cabin, sixteen by eighteen feet in dimensions, and his wife, known then and for years afterward as "Aunt Polly Todd," soon made things comfortable within. In the neighboring Grand Blanc settlement Rufus W. Stevens was just completing a sawmill on the Thread river, and from there Mr. Todd got lumber with which he enlarged these humble quarters and opened, in 1821, the famous inn known as "Todd's Tavern." The hospitality of the host and the good management and energetic labors of "Aunt Polly" made it a popular public resort. It was situated on the site of the Wolverine Citizen office, and some time after its removal was destroyed by fire.

From the time of Mr. Todd's arrival, the Grand Traverse was known as Todd's Ferry. He kept a canoe at the crossing for the accommodation of travelers. Usually he did duty as ferryman himself, but in the absence of himself or the men, the women lent a helping hand. He ferry was almost directly back of the Wolverine Citizen office. The canoe was hollowed from a tree and was about six feet wide and large enough to carry over wagons and sleighs. There was no charge for crossing, but the fame of this convenience doubtless brought a good revenue to the tavern.

Mr. Toss later sold a part of his land to John Clifford and Wait Beach and removed to the present site of the First national Bank, on Saginaw street. he afterwards bought a farm on the Flushing road, where he and his wife lived for many years. later they moved to Owosso, where "Aunt Polly," honored with years, died at the home of her eldest son, ex-Mayor E. A. Todd, in 1868. "Uncle John Todd" died in that city on May 15, 1882, having lived to the ripe old age of eighty-eight years. he was born in Pennsylvania, in the valley of the Susquehanna, March 5, 1784, whence he removed early in life to Palmyra, New York. He was a soldier in the War of 1812 and was in the battle of Fort Erie. He came to Michigan in 1819, crossing Lake Erie on the second trip of the "Walk-in-the-Water," and later, in 1825, was married to Polly smith, who lived near Pontiac.


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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