The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter V
Genesee Township

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton



Until 1833 no white person resided in the township of Genesee. Then came Luman Beach and Addison Stewart, between whom lies the honor of being the first settler. Beach settled in section 30 and Stewart on section 31. This was the nucleus of the "Cold Water settlement." The name, jokingly conferred by their neighbors, in reality was a tribute to the exemplary habits and irreproachable character of these settlers, who were all total abstainers. Good health gave them good appetites, for which their settlement received the ambiguous compliment of "Hungry Hill." Other than Beach and Stewart, the earliest members of this settlement were Lewis Buckingham, Isaac N. Robinson, John Pratt and Benjamin Pearson.

The intelligence and progressiveness of the pioneers of the "Cold Water settlement" insured the prompt establishment of a school for the education of their children. The first school in the township was kept here at the house of Lewis Buckingham, by Sarah Curtis, as early as 1835-36, with some right or ten pupils. In 1836-37, a schoolhouse was built on section 31, in which the first school was taught by Harriet Hoyes.

Here also was organized the first religious society in the township. The Methodists held meetings in 1836 at the house of Lewis Buckingham, which were addressed by Rev. William Brockway, a missionary and Indian agent, who afterwards stopped there on his way between Detroit and Saginaw. Previous to this, in 1834-35, Elder Gambell, of Grand Blanc, a Baptist minister, held occasional services at the house of John Pratt. A Presbyterian society was organized in May, 1834, by Rev. Mr. McEwin, of Detroit, either at the house of John Pratt or Isaac N. Robinson. The society built a frame church in 1834 or 1835. One article of faith adopted reflects the strong sentiment which gave the settlement its name.

"Article 3. We believe that the manufacture and vending and use of all intoxicating liquors, except for medical and manufacturing purpose, is morally wrong, and consequently do agree to abstain therefrom."

From this beginning settlement extended into others parts of the township. A settlement almost as well known as "Cold Water settlement," was the "Stanley settlement." This was begun in 1835, at the corners of sections 8,9,16 and 17, and 3 was named from its first settler, Sherman Stanley. Mr. Stanley was a very thorough energetic farmer, a man of the strictest integrity and a conscientious member of the Baptist church. He came from Mount Morris, Livingston county, New York. With him came Albert T. Stevens. Both men brought their wives and children, who later married and settled about the old houses. The same year came Cyrenus Lake, with his wife and five children, and Joseph Simons, with his mother, two sisters and three brothers. In 1837 Ezra Stevens and numerous relatives added their fortunes to the colony. The next year came Peter Snyder, Henry D. Hunt, Charles R. Cooley, and an Irishman named Patrick Daly. The whole settlement except three Stevenses and Daly were from Mount Morris, New York. Daly was from Ireland and Cooley from Wayne county, New York.

The lands of the township were rapidly taken up, in 1833, a little more than one thousand two hundred acres; in 1834, a little more than one thousand five hundred acres; in 1835, almost four thousand acres, and in 1836, when the grand rush came and the tide of immigration was at its flood, over fifteen thousand acres were entered.

At this time about a quarter of the township was covered with pine, following generally the course of the river and lying principally on its south bank. The rest was mainly white oak. A number of saw-mills were early built, the first by Mr. Harger, probably in 1834. The power was furnished by Kearsley creek. A second mill was built on the Kearsley in 1836 by the Joneses about a mile above the Harger mill. Another was built there in 1837 by Ogden Clark.

Probably the first white child born in Genesee township was Damon Stewart, a son of Addison and Lucy Stewart, in 1834; this honor is disputed between Mr. Stewart and Edward Beach, son of Luman Beach, who was born in the same month, the exact birthdays being uncertain. Henry Cadwell and Ann M. Stanley were the first persons to be united in the bonds of matrimony, in the fall of 1838. During the same fall occurred the fist death among the settlers, that of Abigail Stevens, the little daughter of Weed H. Stevens. The first death of an adult was that of Eliza Buckingham, wife of Isaac N. Robinson, in February, 1839. In 1840, or 1841, the first burial ground was opened in Genesee, on land purchased by John E. Upton.

Genesee township takes its name from the "Genesee country," New York, from which came many of its early pioneers. It was organized in 1838. 


The first meeting was held in the "Cold Water settlement" at the house of Juba Barrows. The following officers were chosen:


John Pratt

Town Clerk 

Charles N. Beecher


Addison Stewart, Daniel Curtis and A. H. Hart

School Inspectors 

Addison Stewart, Juba Barrows and I. N. Robinson

Commissioners of Highways 

Sherman Stanley, Bushnell Andrews and Alanson Dickinson

Justices of the Peace 

A. H. Hart, Jeremy Hitchcock, C. N. Beecher and Asa Spencer


L. G. Buckingham


L. G. Buckingham, Frederick Walker, Albert T. Stevens and G. L. Jones

Directors of the Poor 

John Martin and Peabody Pratt

Overseers of Highways

Road District No. 1

B. Piersons

Road District No. 2

N. Cone

Road District No. 3

William Thayer

Road District No. 4

Sherman Stanley

Road District No. 5

J. Hitchcock

Road District No. 6

William Tillori

Road District No. 7

Samuel Clark, Jr


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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