The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter V
Burton Township

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton



The majority of the early settlers of Burton township came from the towns of Adams and Henderson, in Jefferson county, New York, and their location was known for many years as the "Atherton settlement." In 1835, two brothers, Shubel and Perus Atherton, settled on the Thread river. With them was Pliny a. skinner. They came up from Oakland county. These three families passed the winter alone in the wilderness, but before the lapse of twelve months there was destined to be here a thriving settlement of some thirty families.

Previous to the coming of the Athertons, Levi Gilkey, one of the very earliest pioneers in the vicinity of Flint, came from Genesee county, New York, and for a few years lived on or near the mouth of the small stream which bears his name. The date of his purchase, which was all that part of section 7 remaining outside the reservation, was may 11, 1831. Very little is known about this first settler. Bit in 1834 Reuben Tupper came in from Grand Blanc and located on the Saginaw road near the site of the later Atherton settlement. Mr. Tupper was thus the first permanent white settler in the township.


Among those who settled, mainly at the "Atherton settlement," previous to 1840 were: 

Henry Schram

Capt., Nathaniel Curtis

Adonijah Atherton

Ashael Robinson

Elisha Salisbury, all with their families

Harmon Clark

Barnabus Norton

James Ingalls

Joseph Chambers and sons

John Hiller

William Tilton

Thomas Bownes

William Bendle

Benjamin Boomer

Horace Boomer

Clark Boomer

Cephas Carpenter

Tunis Cole

Adoniram Dan

Daniel Estes

Col. T. Gorton

John L. Gage

Ovid Hemphill

Harris Hibbard

Charles Johnson

John McCormick

Samuel McCormick

Benjamin F. Olmsted

Walter Rall

William Rall

Thomas Sweet

Ephraim Walker

Jesse Whitcomb

Jacob Eldridge

Edward Eldridge

John Clifford

Levi Walker

Benjamin Pearson

Samuel S. Todd

Joel Bardwell Jr.

Jonathan Harrington

Albert G. Gage

Daniel Hiller

Ira Donelson

Timothy B. Tucker

Peter Stiles

Samuel C. Stiles

Abel S. Donelson

George Beckwith

Warren Annable

Oliver Short and a large family of sons

Nathan Lamson

Mark M. Jerome

Andrew Cox


The first years were trying ones to the people in the "Atherton settlement." The removal from New York to Michigan and the purchase of their lands had inmost instances exhausted their means. For a year or two many of them worked for the Atherton brothers, Captain Curtis and Pliny A. Skinner. But soon their resources were gone. Poor crops reduced all to a common poverty. Destitution and privation existed upon all sides. Women, nurtured amid comforts and luxuries of their eastern homes, wept and prayed alternately as their vision took in the dense forests stretching beyond the few acres of stumpy land which had been cleared about their rude cabins. But the band of common suffering only the more firmly kit the ties of friendship and neighborly affection and urged on the strong arms and undaunted hearts that were to wring from the frowning wilderness a competence.

The consolations of religion naturally formed a bulwark of strength among these pioneers. A religious society was early formed. A majority in the "Atherton settlement" were, or became soon after their arrival, members of the Baptist and congregational societies. Shubael Atherton was a deacon of the Baptist church. His brother, Adonijah, was a deacon of the Congregational church. The first religious meeting in the township was held in Shubael Atherton's house some time during the summer of 1836. The following winter a revival took place. Meetings were held in the school house. Baptists, Congregationalists and Methodists joined in the service and, as a result, every man, woman, and child of the thirty families except one family, was converted and baptized.

The first school house was built in the "Atherton settlement" in the summer of 1836. The first teacher was Betsey Atherton, daughter of Adonijah. From 1836 to 1856 the schools and school reports are so interwoven with those of flint township that separate school data for Burton is practically impossible to obtain.


On April 7, 1856, the first township meeting was held at the Atherton schoolhouse, when the following officers were elected:


Harlow Whittlesey

Township Clerk 

Daniel E. Salisbury


Robert Chambers

School Inspector 

Henry D. Frost

Justices of the Peace

 Jacob M. Eldridge, Talman Frost, Nelson Norton and Joel Bardwell

Highway Commissioners Enoch M. Chambers, Abalino Babcock, and Harrison G. Conger
Directors of the Poor  Ira Chase and Salmon Stone
Constables  Edward Eldridge, Lorenzo T. Frost, Charles, Pettis and Perry Judd

Overseers of Highways

District No. 1 William Van Buren

District No. 2

Francis Hitchcock

District No. 3  James Bigelow

District No. 4

Jacob Plass

District No. 5  Richard Bush

District No. 6

Joseph W. Metcalf

District No. 7 Salmon Stone
District No. 8 John F. Alexander
District No. 9 Caleb Gillett

District No. 10

Daniel Jeffers

District No. 11

Ambrose Jones

District No. 12

William L. Van Tuyle

District No. 13 Perus Atherton
District No. 14 Henry F. Franklin

District No. 15

John O'Conor

District No. 16

David Smith

District No. 17 Joel Wardwell

District No. 18

Asa Wolverton

District No. 19 Ira Chase
District No. 20 Wallace W. Gorton
District No. 21 Rufus Chase

District No. 22

Henry F. Hill


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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