The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter V
Atlas Township

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton



Atlas township was originally a part of Lapeer county, being detached from Lapeer and added to Genesee county in 1843. It was organized in 1836, and was one of the earliest townships in this region to receive settlers. The first settler was Asa Farrar, who, in September, 1839, purchased land on section 18 and built a log house upon it the same year. He was a brother of Pearson Farrar, who settled the same year in Grand Blanc upon an adjacent section. They came from Monroe county, New York. The first birth and the first marriage in Atlas township occurred in Asa Farrar's family, respectively, in 1833 and 1834.

The second settlement, as well as land purchase, was made by Judge Norman Davison in 1831 on the banks of Kearsley creek in section 8. Mr. Davison and family were from Avon, Livingston county, New York. Soon after his settlement he built a two-story frame house from lumber obtained from Rowland B. Perry's mill. This was the nucleus of Davisonville, originally known as Atlas Postoffice. Here was situated the first postoffice, merchants, mills, workshops and school. The saw-mill was built in 1833 and the grist-mill in 1836. Mr. Davison was the first postmaster Elias Rockafellow established here the first blacksmith shop in 1837, and in 1838 Fitch R. Track opened the firt store. In 1840 William Thomas opened a tavern, and in the next year Oliver Palmer first begun wood-carding and stock-dressing. The first school in the township was taught here by Sarah Barnes, in a lean-to adjoining Davison's home, as early as 1836, the earliest religious services in the township. Judge Davison was a member of the first constitutional convention of 1835, the first supervisor of the old town of Grand Blanc in 1833, and while Atlas was still attached to Lapeer county he was one of the judges of that county. He held various other offices and in the discharge of his official duties gave general satisfaction, securing the respect and esteem of a wide circle of friends.

In 1833 also came John and Aaron Brigham, brothers, from Lewis county, New York, settling upon section 5; but in 1836 they removed to Hadley. Nehemiah S. Burpee and Samuel Lason settled in 1834. In 1835 came Alexander and James Lobban, James McCraith and two sons, Ezra K. Paschall, Noah and William Owen, Joseph R. Johnson and son, James G. Horton, Talford and Daniel Powell and Lewis Mentor.

In September, 1835, was founded the nucleus of the village of Goodrich. In that month Moses and Enos Goodrich, brothers, from Clarence, Erie county, New York, purchased more than one thousand acres on sections near the center of the township. After building a log house on section 20, they returned to Clarence, and in the following year brought out a number of relatives to the new home. The father, Levi H. Goodrich, a native of Hampshire county, Massachusetts, joined the family here in the fall of the same year. From this time the name of Goodrich has been intimately connected with all the social, commercial and political history of Atlas township. Shortly after the father's arrival a frame house was built on the corner of what were later Main and Clarence streets, directly east from the later Bushaw Hotel. Here was kept a general store and the "Goodrich Bank." A saw-mill was put in operation in April, 1837. The Goodrich mill, built and equipped by the Goodrich brothers at a cost of eight thousand five hundred dollars,. Began merchant work in 1845. The first frame dwelling was built in 1838 by Enos Goodrich, which later became part of the house of William H. Putnam. Hon. E. H. Thomson, the first attorney and later a prominent lawyer in Flint, first settled here in 1837. For many years Moses Goodrich continued to reside upon the fine farm, which was included in the purchase of 1835, surrounded by an affectionate family and all the comforts which are the reward of an honorable and industrious life.

During the year 1836 many families took up their residence in Atlas township. Among these were Daniel and Manley Swears (brothers), Hiram Fillmore, (a cousin of President Fillmore), Albert Demaree and his sons, David, Cornelia, Jacob and Garrett, Daniel Swears, Sr., James Black, James Kipp, Peter Lane, John Mancour, James Burden, Jacob and Thomas Vantine, John Hosler, William Carpenter, Joseph Russell, Hiram Husted, John L. McNiel, Jacob Thomas, Levi Preston and Lewis Cummings. In 1837 Dr. Cyrus Baldwin, the first resident physician, Lewis Van Cleve, his son, Lewis, Jr., Samuel Winship, Elias Rockafellow, the first blacksmith, and iron founder in the township; Fitch R. Tracy, the first merchant; Samuel Walker, John K. Pearsons, William Goodrich, Moses Wisner and Michael Bowers.


Other settlers who became residents in the early period were:

Bradley Cartwright

Freeman Coolage

John Vantine

Julius Barnes

Amos H. Fisk

Stephen Horton

William Surryhne

Moses Frost

William Roberts

Joseph Tyler

Edward Fortune

Albert Vantine

Charles Vantine

Jonathan Frost

Ephraim S. Frost

Ralph C. Atkins

Albert J. Bates

Ira G. Hooton

Peter Vantine

Paul Liscomb

James Vantine

John Perritt

Mathew P. Thomas

Jacob H. Howe

Isaac Carmer

Elijah Carmer

Oliver Palmer

Nathaniel Fairchild

Clark Hutchins

Hiram Maxfield

Marlin Davison

Thomas P. Wood



The first town-meeting was held in Atlas on April 4, 1836, at "Davison's Mills." Twenty-two voters were present, and the result of the election of officers was as follows:


Ezra K. Parshall

Township Clerk

Norman Davison


John Brigham, Asa Farrar and James G. Horton


James Lobban

Directors of the Poor

Moses Goodrich and Aaron Brigham

Commissioners of Highways

Moses Goodrich, Paul G. Davison and Asa Farrar


James Lobban

School Commissioners for three years

Oliver P. Davison, Levi W. Goodrich and Ezra K. Parshall

Justices of the Peace

Norman Davison, Ezra K. Parshall, Moses Goodrich and Alexander Lobban


Moses Goodrich, Oliver P. Davison, Alexander Lobban and Samuel Lason

Pound Keeper

Norman Davison


Road District No. 1

Oliver P. Davison

Road District No 2

John Brigham

Road District No. 3

Samuel Lason

Road District No. 4

Moses Goodrich

School Inspectors

Ezra K. Parshall, Oliver P. Davison, James G. Horton, Paul G. Davison and Levi W. Goodrich


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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