The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter V
Gaines Township

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton



The history of Gaines Township began later and developed perhaps less rapidly than most of the other townships of the county. This was due partly to the large acreage of dense and heavy timber, the lack of streams large enough for mill purposes, and the situation of the township[ on the western bank of the county. Philander McLain, who moved his family from Oakland county to this township in December, 1838, has stated that the only settlers in the town of that time were Hartford Cargill, the Fletchers and the Darts--probably the Darts had not yet come in.

Hartford Cargill, the first settler of the township, moved in from Bloomfield, Oakland county, in 1836, and settled on section 36. Ephraim Fletcher, from "York state," settled in the same year in the locality known as "Fletcher's Corners." Joshua Dart settled a little to the east of the "Corners," in 1839. As the oldest man in the township at the time of its separate organization, he was given the privilege of naming it, which he did, after an acquaintance of his, General Gaines.


The first township meeting for the election of officers was held in 1842 at the house of Ephraim Fletcher, at which twenty-one votes were polled. The following officers were elected:


William B. Young

Township Clerk 

Martin Dart


Ephraim Fletcher

School Inspectors 

Martin Dart, Marvin Williams and Walter B. Beers

Directors of the Poor 

Martin Dart and Ephraim Fletcher

Commissioners of Highways 

James P. Allen, Lyman Perkins and William Gazlay

Justices of the Peace 

James P. Allen, Philander McLain, Walter B. Beers and Frederick Wilcox


Elisha Martin and Lanman Davis

Overseers of Highways 

William B. Young, Jonathan Yerkes, Marvin Williams, William Gazlay, Walter B. Beers, John Rood, Hartford Cargill, Fred Wilcox and Elijah Lyman.


Owing to the relatively slow development of Gaines township, it was not until 1842 that the number of children warranted the formation of a school district. About 1845 the settlers living in the Van fleet and Cargill neighborhoods hired a teacher and had a school kept in the Cargill place. It is probable that a daughter of Mr. Cargill was the teacher.

It was 1856 before the first settlement was made on the site of the village of Gaines. On the fourth of July in that year the first passenger train over this portion of the Detroit & Milwaukee railroad passed over the site of the village, then in the midst of heavy forest. In that year the first dwelling house was built there by Thurston Simmons, who came in from Livingston county. In the same year came George B. Runyan, who was appointed postmaster at the new "Gaines State Post office." The village was platted in 1859.


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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