Vassar Biographies A - H

Taken from The History of Tuscola County,Biographical Sketches and Illustrations, H. R. Page Co., Chicago, 1883. Transcribed by Bonnie Petee.

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George Andrews, the subject of this notice, was born in Onondaga County, N. Y., in 1816, and there lived forty four years. Coming to Tuscola County, Michigan, he purchased a farm in the township of Vassar, which he cleared up and on which he resided till the fall of 1882, when he moved into the village of Vassar where he expects to pass the remainder of his days. Mr. Andrews has been twice married: first to Miss Mary Cummings, of New Hampshire, and second to Miss Lydia Martin, of London, Ontario.

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John Baker, the subject of this sketch, was born in England, near Dover, in 1822, and came to America in 1836 with his father and sister, locating in Whigville, Genesee County, Mich. He afterward spent two years in Lenawee County, and in 1851 he went to Oregon and engaged in lumbering, remaining on the Pacific slope one year, at the end of which time he was called home on account of sickness in his family. In 1852 he came to Tuscola County and purchased a farm in the township of Denmark, where he remained until 1880, when he came to Vassar, were he now resides. Although Mr. Baker has been an industrious farmer, he has still found time to act as a local preacher on circuit duty, and was well known as such through portions of the State. He married Miss Van Steenbergh, in Oakland County, June 10, 1844. They have had seven children, all of whom are living except one. Mr. and Mrs. Baker were pioneers in the town of Denmark, and their pioneer history constitutes an interesting part of the early history of that town.

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S.  Blackmore, proprietor of the Cenral House, is a Canadian by birth, and first came to Tuscola County in 1872. For three years thereafter he was engaged in railroad bridge building in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. Returning to Vassar in 1875 he has since kept hotel, and in connection has been running a livery and bus line. The Central House has been thoroughly refitted, and is doing a large business.

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J. P.  Blackmore, proprietor of the Jewell House, Vassar, is a native of London, Ont. He came to Lapeer County, Mich., in 1873, and for five months was in the employ of the Detroit & Bay City Railroad. In 1874 he had a timber contract with the F. & P. M. R. R., after which he returned to Canada and aided in the construction of the Great Western car shops at London, Ont., and was also engaged in bridge building in Indiana one summer for the B. & O. R. R., after which he came to Vassar and opened a saloon and billiard hall on the East Side. In company with his brother he purchased the Central House, which he conducted four years, when he sold his interest and engaged in livery business, which he traded for a farm in Tuscola, on which he resided for a time, and also in Juniata on a farm he owned there. He first purchased a one-half interest in the Jewell House and soon there after the remaining one-half, and has greatly improved the property both in building and refurnishing, making it one of the best hostelries in Tuscola County.

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Frederick Bourns is a native of Lincolnshire, England, where he was born April 29, 1819. In 1830 with his father and family he came to the United States and located in Springfield, Otsego County, N. Y., where he remained until the fall of 1834, when he came to Milford, Oakland County, Mich. He was there engaged in mercantile business five years with A. S. Arms, and the following five years, individually. Came to Vassar in 1853 and engaged in selling goods till 1858, when he was appointed deputy county clerk.

At the end of the two years service as deputy he was elected clerk, and held the office for three successive terms, until December 31, 1866. The following spring he was elected justice of the peace and has retained the office to the present time. In addition to his duties as justice of the peace Mr. Bourns does an insurance and real estate business, his sales of real estate in the county aggregate many thousands of acres. Was married in 1841 at Brighton, Livingston County, N. Y., to Miss Hannah M. Andrews, a native of Rochester, N. Y. They have had five children, of whom three are living.

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J.  W.  Briggs, jeweler, is a native of Canandaigua, Ontario County, N. Y., and has been a resident of Vassar since 1877. Established his business on Main Street, opposite his present quarters, January 2, 1878. Mrs. Briggs carries on a millinery and fancy goods department in the same store. Both are carrying a good stock and are receiving the patronage they merit. Mr. Briggs has an army record covering four years and two months. He enlisted at Rockford in the Seventy-fourth Illinois and re-enlisted in the Third Michigan, in which he was a color bearer. He was detailed to the detective service in New Orleans, but spent most of his time in Texas.

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E . A.  Bullard, dealer in drugs, medicines and fancy goods, Main Street, came to Vassar in 1865, after serving two terms in the army, first in the old "fighting Fifth", and second in the lst Michigan Light Artillery. He commenced here the manufacture of pumps, and after two years took in T. Clyne as a partner, to whom he sold out after four years of successful business. In July, 1874, he bought out the drug store of Dr. Davis, this stock inventorying $850. With no experience as a druggist he took hold of the business, and the first year’s sales amounted to less than $2,500. By dint of unceasing energy, and by most persistent and well directed advertising, his business has increased until his sales for 1862 reached $12,000, and his stock of fancy goods is something immense. Since coming here he has built three houses – the last a very handsome one – a pump factory and a store, and has started the town booming at the upper end by platting "Bullard’s Addition to Vassar" and settling a number of residents there, a speculation which netted a handsome profit. He is one of the most ingenious advertisers in the State, and whatever he touches proves a success.- Tuscola County Pioneer.

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J.  W.  Brainerd, harness maker, has been established in business here since 1869, five years on Main street, and nine years in his present quarters. He does a large trade in the manufacture of single and double harness, and keeps a full line of robes, blankets, whips, combs, and other articles belonging to the business. He is a native of Hartland, Livingston County, N. Y., and was a farmer until twenty-tree years of age.

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J. H  Burgess, of the firm of Burgess & Doud, grocers, is a native of Yates County, N. Y., and has been a resident of the county since April, 1857, except the time he spent in the army during the late war. He first engaged in the boot and shoe business, which he continued until March 4th, 1862, when he enlisted in Company K, First Regiment U. S. Sharpshooters, under Col. Bodine, and served three years. Was wounded at Gettysburg, and for eighteen months was an invalid. Coming back to Vassar he again engaged in the boot and shoe business until 1870, when he was appointed postmaster, holding the office six years. He then embarked in the stationery and grocery line, and in 1880 built his present store on Main Street. In July, 1882, Mr. Doud purchased an interest in his business and the firm has since been known as Burgess & Doud. Mr. Burgess has served the township of Vassar three years as clerk.

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P.  M.  Case: Among the many who deserve a notice in the history of Tuscola County may be mentioned Mr. Case, who has been a resident of Vassar since 1860. The following year he was appointed deputy sheriff under Sabin Gibbs, and attended to all the duties of that office for two years, at the end of which time he was elected to the office and served the full term. He was succeeded by Sheriff Richards and again was appointed under sheriff, serving to the end of his term. In 1868 he engaged in the grocery business, which he continued for twelve years. Mr. Case was born in Steuben County, N. Y., in 1815, and in 1828 moved with his parents to Washtenaw County, Mich., where he remained until 1860, when he came to Tuscola County. He was married in 1838 to Miss Catherine North. They have had five children, of whom all are dead except the youngest daughter, who is with her husband - Mr. Orvis - in Italy. The eldest son died in the army, and two daughters and a son in Vassar, of typhoid fever.

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H.  W.  Coffeen, of the firm of Salesbury & Coffeen, brick and tile manufactures, is a native of Hammond, St. Lawrence County, N. Y. His father, Curtis Coffeen, established the business in 1878, and continued it until December, 1880, making the first machine brick manufactured in the county. In December, 1880, H. W. Coffeen purchased the business, and in the spring of 1882 admitted Edward Salesbury as a partner. They have since continued the business, and during the season of 1882 manufactured 1,500,000 brick and 100,000 tile. They have an inexhaustible bank of clay which produces pure white brick and tile. Employ from fifteen to twenty-five hands.

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Charles  Curtis, the subject of this notice, was born in New York in 1820, and four years thereafter with his parents moved to Ohio, covering the distance with an ox team and wagon. His residence continued in Ohio for upward of thirty years, the last ten years in Willoughby, Lake Co., and in May, 1858, he came to Vassar, where he has since resided, and has been engaged in the boot and shoe business. Mr. Curtis was married in the spring of 1845, to Miss Eunice Cottrell, of Ohio, whose parents came from Massachusetts. They have had three children, the only survivor being Clayton C. Curtis, cashier of the Vassar Exchange bank, who was born in Ohio, January 11, 1858, and came with his parents to Vassar the following May.

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Lewis C.  Davis,  M.D., is a native of Amsterdam, Montgomery County, N. Y., and first came to Michigan in 1848 and to Tuscola County in 1864, where he has since practiced his profession. He studied medicine in the University of Michigan and graduated from the University of Louisiana, then known as the New Orleans Medical College. Dr. Davis is a practitioner of the regular school and has built up an extensive and successful practice. In March, 1882, he associated himself with Thomas Allen Cullis, M. D., who graduated from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, in March 1879. Dr. Cullis is a Canadian by birth. After receiving his diploma he located in Millington and there commenced the practice of medicine.

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William Davies was born in Wales, England, in 1844, and came to the United States in 1867. He first settled in Grand Blanc, Genesee County, Mich., where he remained one year, when he moved to Watrousville, Tuscola County. He was married in 1870 to Mrs. Adeline Sturgis, in 1872 to Mrs. Susan Sturgis, and in 1876 to his present wife, Miss Ida E. Lovejoy, by whom he has had two daughters, Aneley and Laura Davies. His present farm of 100 acres is in the township of Vassar, one mile north of the flourishing village of Vassar. Mr. Davies is one of the enterprising farmers of this section, and has one of the best cultivated.

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Edwin G. Doud is one of the pioneers of Vassar, having come here in the spring of 1855, from Ohio – his native place – with his own conveyance – a span of horses and wagon. At that time there were but three houses upon the bluffs, and the total population of the place probably numbered less than fifty souls. The following summer he built a residence on Main Street, and the following winter taught the village school. The next winter he taught at Tuscola, and for five succeeding winters in other schools of the county. Having purchased land in the township of Denmark, he moved on it in the spring of 1857 and commenced his battle with the wilderness, to carve out for himself and family a home. In this he was eminently successful, and when he sold his farm in the spring of 1882, he found he had accumulated enough through his energy and frugality, to build himself a find residence in Vassar on Main Street, where he now resides, and still have a competency remaining. As a public officer Mr. Doud served four terms as treasurer, three terms as clerk, and one term as justice of the peace, for the township of Demark, and in the spring of 1856 was elected justice of the peace for Vassar, and served one year. He married Sarah A. Foley, a native of Philadelphia. They have had two sons, both of whom are in business in Vassar.

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O.  G.  Emerson is a native of Rutland County, Vt. and first came to Vassar in 1857, but did not come permanently till 1871. He first entered the employ of H. Harrington in the capacity of clerk in his store, and a year later purchased an interest and became a partner, which relationship was continued till 1878, when Mr. Emerson became the sole owner and proprietor through the purchase of Mr. Harrington’s interest, and has since continued the business, but in April, 1882, changed his location to his present quarters in Opera Block. It might be added that Mr. Harrington came here in 1857 and established the business - that some years later he formed a partnership with a Mr. Leach, which was dissolved in 1866 by the withdrawal of Mr. Leach, and that Mr. Harrington continued the business individually until 1872, the year of his forming a partnership with Mr. Emerson.

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Chauncey Furman was born in Otsego County, N. Y., in 1811, and when twenty three years of age came to Washtenaw County, Mich. He purchased a farm in the township of Augusta, where he resided several years, but afterward took up his residence in Ypsilanti and engaged in butchering. In 1850 he came to Vassar and has since been a resident of the county. After a period of twelve years spent in Vassar he moved on a farm he had purchased in Tuscola township and there lived six years, when he returned to Vassar and commenced the erection of buildings on land he purchased, where now stands the Michigan central depot. He soon thereafter purchased his present residence, where he has since resided, excepting four years he spent on a farm in the township of Vassar. Mr. Furman kept the Vassar Hotel one year, carried the mail between Vassar and Bridgeport seven years, has been constable and highway commissioner, and was one to let the building of the first bridge at Vassar. He has been thrice married. His present wife was the Widow Low, formerly Miss Mina Irons, of Ypsilanti. Her brother, Chauncey Irons, came to Vassar the same year with Mr. T. North.

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Morgan L. Gage, of the firm of McHose & Gage, merchants, has been a resident of the county since 1862, when he engaged as a clerk in his present store with J. Coleman & Co., remaining with them in that capacity five years; at the end of that time he purchased an interest in the business. Three years later the Coleman interest was purchased by B. F. McHose and since that time the business has been continued under the firm name of McHose & Gage.

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L. C. Hedden, of the firm of Merritt & Hedden, merchants, is a native of Michigan, and was born in Washtenaw County, but for a number of years was a resident of Wayne County, where he was engaged in farming. In the spring of 1863 he enlisted in the Ninth Michigan Infantry, and served to the close of the war. During his time of service he was employed as army mail agent and United States mail messenger between Chattanooga, Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis and other points. He has been a resident of Vassar since April 11, 1882.

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Hon. B.  W.  Huston

The subject of this sketch is the senior member of the Tuscola County bar, and for many years has been a man of prominence in the State.

Mr. Huston was born near Rochester, N. Y., March 5, 831, and came to Ypsilanti, Mich., with his parents when five years of age. He was educated at Ypsilanti; admitted to the bar at Ann Arbor in September, 1854; came to Vassar in March, 1855, and began practice. In July, 1854, he married Nancy Vought. They have two children.

Mr. Huston was a Democrat until the war of the rebellion when he became a Republican, in which political faith he has since continued. In 1858 he was elected prosecuting attorney on the Democratic ticket. In 1867 he was a member of the constitutional convention; a member of the house of representatives of the State in 1869 and 1871, and of the State senate in 1879. He was one of the early postmasters of Vassar; a member of the Republican National Convention in 1872 and again in 1880; a lay minister of the general conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Baltimore, and in 1880 at Cincinnati.

Mr. Huston went into the military service of the United States in 1862 as captain of Company B, Twenty-third Michigan Infantry. He participated in a number of engagements, was promoted major in 1864, and mustered out in January, 1865.

Mr. Huston has been singularly successful both in his profession and as a business man. In boyhood he was deprived of many of the advantages enjoyed by the youth of this country. When he settled in Vassar his only capital consisted of his profession, his good habits, industry and energy. Even at the time of his marriage his entire cash capital would have hardly equaled the usual marriage fee. He has not only accumulated a handsome property, but has contributed largely to the prosperity of Vassar, and to the agricultural beauty of the place. His residence, which is an attractive brick structure, is one of the finest in the village, and his brick block constructed in 1882, is an ornament to the village.

Mr. Huston has borne a prominent part in public affairs, having been identified with all movements in the general interests of the people. As a representative and senator, he has diligently looked after and forwarded the interests of his constituents and of his county and has deserved and received the appreciative thanks of the people.

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May 1998

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