Taken from The History of Tuscola County, Biographical Sketches and Illustrations, H. R. Page Co., Chicago, 1883. Thanks to Bonnie Petee.
TOWN OF ELMWOOD
|The territory comprised in the town of Elmwood is, by
government survey, designated as township 14 north, of range 10 east.
The surface of the country is generally rolling, some portions, however, especially in the western part being level. The soil is a clay loam, a portion gravelly. Maple, beech, and hemlock are the prevailing natural growth, the last named predominating in the western sections of the town.
Among the earlier settlers were Joseph White, George H. Wilcox and sons, Amos Predmore, John C. Laing and Warren Weydemeyer. The earliest settlement dates from June 4, 1855; when Joseph White, his wife and five children, settled on section 33. Mr. White was a native of Chemango County, N. Y., and at the time of coming thus to make for himself a new home in the wilderness of the West, was already an old man, being about sixty-four years. They came by boat from Detroit to Saginaw, thence by steam to Elmwood. The journey from Saginaw took two days' time. The only road for the last eleven miles was a "tote" of lumberman's, which, however serviceable when snow is on the ground, and thus "the rough places made smooth," are but a poor apology for a road in June. The last mile and a half they had to cut out themselves. It was well for them that they were strong for labor and hardy of heart and will as well as of farm, for they had their full measure of the toils, privation and discouragements inevitable in the life of a pioneer in the woods. Sometimes they could get neither flour nor pork nearer than Saginaw, and the supply often ran low. The nearest sore and mill was Aaron Watrous', of Watrousville.
It took five days for a trip to Saginaw and return with supplies.
Flour cost $10 a barrel in Saginaw and pork $20, and it cost $2 a barrel for
Mr. White died in 1880, aged eighty-nine years and four months. His widow is living with her daughter in Juniata at the age of eighty-five. Of the children who came with them, Elijah S. lives on the old homestead; Mrs. James King resides in Juniata, Mrs. Frederick Rayner lives in Reed City; Andres died in the army, and Caroline, wife of Amasa Faulkner, died in Caro. Another son, Inman, is living in the State of New York.
The first marriage in the town was solemnized at the house of Joseph White in March, 1856, Rev. I. J. B. McKenney officiating. The contracting parties were Frederick Rayner and Robie White.
In 1857 B. F. and Tiffany Nettleton put up on Joseph White's place a frame barn, being the first frame building in the county above Caro, the lumber being brought from Wahjamega.
The first child born in the town was Anna Powell, in September, 1857.
The first Fourth of July celebration in the town was held in 1860, near where now is Elmwood post office. Rev. A. N. Warren was chaplain; John C. Laing, reader; Andrew O. McDonald, orator; and Simeon Botsford, marshal. There were about one hundred persons present.
Mail facilities until 1862 were anything but facile. A club was formed of the families in the neighborhood and a formal agreement entered into by which every man was to take his turn in going to Watrousville and subsequently to Wahjamega for the mail, and of course this trip was made an occasion for shopping and the transaction of business. This continued until 1862, when a mail route was established from Watrousville vi Wahjamega to Forestville. Dick Patty, of Watrousville, was the contractor. The mail was carried once a week, on horseback usually, sometimes on foot. The establishment of this mail route was as great an event to the people along its line is now the completion of the first railroad. The post office was established at J. C. Laing's house, and Mr. Laing was appointed postmaster. The office was subsequently removed to Elmwood village, or, as it has been nicknamed, "the shebang" where it is now located.
The first sermon preached in the town was by the Rev. George Graham at the house of Joseph White in the year 1862, and the first church was organized by Rev. X. O. Smith in the winter of 1864, the church being of the Methodist Protestant denomination.
The first school was taught by Lydia White in the first schoolhouse built in the town, in section 35.
The first lawsuit was before Joseph Gage, justice of the peace, in the year 1864, John McGee being plaintiff and Simon Campbell, defendant.
The first death was of Theodore B. Myers, which occurred in March, 1865.
The town of Elmwood suffered severely in the forest fires of 1871 and 1881, yet to a much less extent than many other towns. The fire had not gained the intensity and rush which it attained as it advanced farther east. In 1871 the fire had burned for about three weeks, when on the 9th of October a hurricane came on, blew down the timber which had been undermined, and carried the fire into the clearings.
In 1881 the destruction of property was greater, from the fact of so much down and dead timber being left by the previous fire to furnish fuel for the dead timber being left by the previous fire to furnish fuel for the flames. The worst of the fire was in the western part of the town, where the hemlock and other resinous woods were in greater abundance. The following is a list of losses:
Charles Andrews, house and contents; Joe
Vallad, hay, straw, and stable; Nelson Barse,
oats, orchard; Robert Blouk, wheat; Daniel
Evans, fodder, orchard; William Fournier,
horse, harness, William Ware, hay, straw, stable, shed, orchard,
lumber; J. B. Nicholson, hay, straw, fences, oats, furniture; Richard
Pardo, fences, buckwheat; S. B. Bourn, barn, hay,
grain, straw; Frank Seeley, fodder, wood; Al Freeman,
wheat, clothing; W. H. Mills, clothing, bedding; John
Benedict, wheat, oats, tools; David Baucus,
buckwheat, plow, wagon. The fire had one good result, that it helped to clear and to bring
under cultivation lands which were considered almost worthless, but are now found to be
among the best in the town. There is still a large area of good land awaiting settlement,
and offered for sale at reasonable prices.
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