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Forestville Bicentennial History Page 8

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land which lay between Forestville and Minden, some remaining in Detroit; but original settlers, increased by friends and relatives from Germany, cleared their lands and produced valuable farms and formed a fine, successful community. (This was taken from Michigan Historical Society, Vol. 28 p. 87 -1944). The next Michigan Commissioner of Emigration and the first to be sent to Germany was Max H> Allardt of Saginaw. Selected for this position in 1869, Allardt set up an office in Hamburg where, among his other service activities, he published Der Michigan Wegwiser (The Michigan Guide), an eight page magazine which gave Germans fresh data about the state. (Settling Germans the great lakes Frontier: Immigration to Michigan 1837—1924 by C Warren Vander Hill-p. 20).


In September of 1873 the first installment –thirty families –of a large colony from Saxony disembarked on Green’s dock with their wooden chest of house hold goods, their musical instruments, tools, and carpetbags. They were entered on Ward land, 40 acres to the family. The colony was officially put on land plats as, "Colonie Saxonia ". Prices paid for land varied somewhat with the conduction and location, but ran about $7 to $8 per acre. Much of Ward’s land 49 bought up by Buel, who also offered farms to settlers. We find that he, too ask $8 for good cut over- land. (J. Buel to Hirtzel, 1873, 40 acres, sec. 12- $320.) This represented a very good profit for land that cost no more then $1.25 per acre. By 1880 the asking price for good, local wild land was $10 per acre. When the first boatload of colonist arrived on the "M. D. Ward" the natives congregated at the dock a half a block north of Cedar Avenue and gaped with curiosity at the throng of foreigners, loaded with baggage, gabbling in high German, some smoking long porcelain pipes, others leading little children by the hand as they straggled off the docks and up the steep dirt road to Lake street. They proceeded up Cedar Ave. past Green store followed a wooden sidewalk past the Forest House and Canhams store and gather at the new schoolhouse above Fourth, where many were quartered for the night. Others stayed with townspeople who were willing to take in temporary boarders. Some houses were later rented in Cato. Some of the newcomers were a little disappointed with the tiny wooden hamlet of 140 souls, so highly advertised as a coming metropolis. It was not to be compared with the neat swept streets. Here were a only false front frame shops and some small, unpainted homes. A few teams of horses and oxen’s were tied to hitching post and stood ankle deep in muddy puddles in the dirt and sawdust street, which was liberally strewn with manure. This inrush of new settlers soon revived the town and laid the foundation for years of good times to come. It would be impossible to name all of the scores of Saxons, and Germans from other provinces; the Austrains and Tyroleans who came in during the next 5 or 6 years. A few of those who settled near the village were the R ideals, Rudels, Koltezes, Schaafs, Goetzes, Schmidts, Webers, Reiches, Ullmans, Popps, Graischens, Hirtzels, Geyer and Jacobs. Others are mentioned in connection with their businesses, and dozens of families are no longer represented or are entirely forgotten in the area. The Italians "Tyrolers" included the Matadis, Dimatios, Cazettis, Pomella and Phillipis. Only the last two stayed to become successful farmers; the rest left for sunnier climes. Among the Autrains from the province of Bohemie were the Petitls Patzes, Jahnisches, Hillers, Schafflers, Pachls, and my own granduncle John Wahla and a bit later my parental grandfather, Franz Wahla, and his wife and 9 children. The farms bought by the colonist were covered with a tangle of half burned dead trees. Blackened stumps and fast growing brush. But the soil was good and charred logs provided house building material. At first only a few of them could afford horses or oxen and farm machinery was a thing of the future. Some, like Fred Starkey who owned a team of horses, did custom plowing for the less fortunate. The new land was cleared by hand, slowly and much more carefully then usual with settlers who were willing to around a few stumps. Roads were slow coming and even in 1878 we read that many had no roads connecting with main "highway" and practically no quarter section lines and been cleared to accommodate the forty race farms located mid-section. Many such cabins were abandoned in later years. Winter was dreaded by the early settlers. They had little cleared land and merge crops with little in reserve. When navigation ended in December the settlements were left to their own resources. Supplies dwindled rapidly in the local stores: and the merchants’ face grew longer and longer as their shelves became empty. The householder with the little reserve food had to keep tightening his belt( or her corset) and get along on corn meal, and if credit was available, salt fish . Coffee tea sugar kerosene and tobacco. Some continued raising tobacco well into the 1900s. When at long last, word came by western Union that the first boat-load of supplies had cleared Port Huron the grins of the merchants were said to have extended from ear to ear"

 Page 8

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