David H. Jerome
Governor (1881 - 1883)

 David H. Jerome, Governor of Michigan from Jan. 1, 1881 to Jan. 1, 1883, was born at Detroit, Mich., Nov. 17, 1829. His parents emigrated to Michigan from Trumansburg, Tompkins Co., N. Y., in 1828, locating at Detroit. His father died March 30, 1831, leaving nine children. He had been twice married, and four of his children living at the time of his death were grown up sons, the off-spring of his first union.  Of the five children by his second marriage, David H. was the youngest. Shortly after Mr. Jerome's death, his widow moved back to New York and settled in Onondaga County near Syracuse, where they remained until the fall of 1834, the four sons by the first wife continuing their residence in Michigan. In the fall of 1834, Mrs. Jerome came once more to Michigan, locating on a farm in St. Clair county. Here the Governor formed those habits of industry and sterling integrity that have been so characteristic of the man in the active duties of life. He was sent to the district school, and in the acquisition of the fundamental branches of learning he displayed a precocity and an application which won for him the admiration of his teachers, and always placed him at the head of his classes. In the meantime, he did chores on the farm, and was always ready with a cheerful heart and willing hand to assist his widowed mother. The heavy labor of the farm was carried on by his two older brothers, Timothy and George, and when 13 years of age, David received his mother's permission to attend school at the St. Clair Academy. While attending their he lived with Marcus H. Miles, now deceased, doing chores for his board, and the following winter performed the same service for James Ogden, also deceased. The next summer Mrs. Jerome moved into the village of St. Clair, for the purpose of continuing her son in school. While attending said academy one of his associate students was Senator Thomas W. Palmer, of Detroit; a rival candidate before the gubernatorial convention in 1880. He completed his education in the fall of his 16th year, and the following winter assisted his brother Timothy in hauling logs in the pine woods. The next summer he rafted logs down the St. Clair river to Algonac.

1847 M. H. Miles being Clerk in St. Clair County, and Volney A. Ripley, Register of Deeds, David H. Jerome was appointed Deputy to each, remaining as such during 1848-49, and receiving much praise from his employers and the people in general for the ability displayed in the discharge of his duties. He spent his summer vacation at clerical work on board the lake vessels.

In 1849-50, he abandoned office work, and for the proper development of his physical system spent several months hauling logs. In the spring of 1850 his brother, "Tiff" and himself chartered the steamer "Chautauqua" and "Young Dave" became her master. A portion of the season the boat was engaged in the passenger and freight traffic between Port Huron and Detroit, but during the latter part was used as a tow boat. At that time, there was a serious obstruction to navigation known as the "St. Clair Flats" between Lakes Huron and Erie, over which vessels could carry only about 10,000 bushels of grain. Mr. Jerome conceived the idea of towing vessels from one lake to the other, and put his plan into operation.  Through the influence of practical men, -- among them the subject of this sketch,--congress removed the obstruction above referred to, and now vessels can pass them laden with 60,000 or 80,000 bushels of grain.

During the season, the two brothers succeeded in making a neat little sum of money by the summer's work, but subsequently lost it all on a contract to raise the "Gen. Scott," a vessel that had sunk in Lake St. Clair. In the spring of 1851, he was clerk and acting master of the steamers "Franklin Moore" and "Ruby," plying between Detroit and Port Huron and Gooderich. The following year he was clerk on the propeller "Princeton" running between Detroit and Buffalo.

In January, 1853, Mr. Jerome went to California, by way of the Isthmus, and enjoyed the extraordinary success in selling goods in a new place of his selection, among the mountains near Marysville. He remained there during the summer , and located the Live Yankee Tunnel Mine, which has since yielded millions to its owners, and is still a playing investment. He planned and put a tunnel 600 feet into the mine, but when the water supply began to fail with the dry season, sold out his interest. He left in the fall of 1853, and in December sailed from San Francisco to New York, arriving at his home in St. Clair County, about a year after his departure. During his absence his brother "Tiff" had located to Saginaw, and in 1854 Mr. Jerome joined him in his lumber operations in the valley. In 1855 the brothers bought Blackmer & Eaton's hardware and general supply store at Saginaw, and David H. assumed the management of the business. From 1855 to 1873 he was also extensively engaged in lumbering operations.

Soon after location at Saginaw, he was nominated for Alderman against Stewart B. Williams, a rising young man, of strong Democratic principals. The ward was largely Democratic, but Mr. Jerome was elected by a handsome majority. When the Republican party was born in Jackson, Mich., David H. Jerome was, though not a delegate to the convention, one of its "charter members." In 1862, he was commissioned by Gov. Austin Blair to raise one of the six regiments apportioned to the State of Michigan. Mr. Jerome immediately went to work and held meetings at various points. The zeal and enthusiasm displayed by this advocate of the Union awakened a feeling of patriotic interest in the breasts of many brave men, and in a short space of time the 23d Regiment of Michigan Volunteer Infantry was placed in the field, and subsequently gained for itself a brilliant record.

In the fall of 1862, Mr. Jerome was nominated by the Republican party for State Senator from the 26th district, Appleton Stevens, of Bay City being his opponent. The contest was very exciting, and resulted in the triumphant election of Mr. Jerome. He was twice re-nominated and elected both times by increased majorities, defeating George Lord, of Bay City, and Dr. Cheseman, of Gratiot County.  On taking his seat in the Senate, he was appointed Chairman of the Committee on State Affairs, and was active in raising means and troops to carry on the war. He held the same position during his three terms of service, and introduced the bill creating the Soldiers' Home at Harper Hospital, Detroit.

He was selected by Gov. Crapo as a military aid, and in 1865 was appointed a member of the State Military Board, and served as its President for eight consecutive years. In 1873, he was appointed by Gov. Bagley a member of the convention to prepare a new State Constitution, and was Chairman of the Committee on Finance.

In 1875, Mr. Jerome was appointed a member of the board of Indian commissioners. In 1876 he was Chairman of a commission to visit Chief Joseph, the Nez Perce Indian, to arrange an amicable settlement of all existing difficulties. The commission went to Portland, Oregon, thence to the Blue Hills, in Idaho, a distance of 600 miles up the Columbia River.

At the Republican State Convention, convened at Jackson in August, 1880, Mr. Jerome was placed in the field for nomination, and on the 5th day of the month received the highest honor the convention could confer on any one. His opponent was Frederick H. Holloway of Hillsdale County, who was supported by the Democratic and Greenback parties. The State was thoroughly canvassed by both parties, and when the polls were closed on the evening of election day, it was found that David H. Jerome had been selected by the voters of the Wolverine State to occupy the highest position with their gift.

1892 Portraits & Biographical Genesee, Lapeer & Tuscola Counties Pg 165


Saginaw, Mich., April 24 -- A telegram was received this morning stating that Hon. David H. Jerome, ex-governor of Michigan, had died last night at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) sanitarium after an illness of over eighteen months' duration.  He has shown phenomenal recuperative power, bearing his sufferings with the greatest patience, the progress of his malady being watched by many sympathizing friends.  A few days ago word came that he was gradually failing. The remains will reach this city tomorrow noon and the funeral will be held from St. John's Episcopal church Monday afternoon. A year ago last January Mr. Jerome left Saginaw for the Bermudas and since that time he has not been in the city. He was at the sea shore last summer and in September went to the sanitarium at Watkins Glen, N.Y.

David H. Jerome was born at Detroit November 17, 1829, his parents emigrating to Michigan from Trumansburg, Tompkins Co., N.Y. in 1828. His father died March 30, 1831, leaving a family of nine children, of whom he was the youngest. Shortly after his father's death his mother moved back to New York state, but returned to Michigan in the fall of 1834, locating in St. Clair county. Here he formed habits of industry and sterling integrity which were characteristic of the man in after years. He attended the district school and, besides finding enough time for study to be at the head of his classes, was always ready with a cheerful heart and willing hand to assist his widowed mother. When 13 years of age he entered the St. Clair academy, doing chores one winter for his board. at the St. Clair academy ex-Senator Thomas W. Palmer was one of his classmates. In the fall of his 16th year he completed his school education and the next winter and summer hauled logs in the pine woods with his brother Timothy and rafted logs on the St. Clair river. In 1847 he was connected with the county offices of St. Clair county as deputy, displaying much ability and receiving much praise for his work. In the spring of 1850 with his brother Timothy, he chartered the steamer Chautauqua. The boat was first used for carrying passengers and freight and later as a tow boat, Mr. Jerome being the first person to tow vessels over the St. Clair Flats. He spent several seasons on the lakes, and in 1853 went to California, where he made considerable money selling goods in the mountains near Marysville. He located the Live Yankee Tunnel mine, which has since yielded millions to its owners. when the water supply began to fall short with the dry season he sold out and returned to St. Clair. In 1854 he joined his brother Timothy in lumbering operations in the Saginaw valley. In 1862 he was one of the most earnest workers in the organization of the Twenty-third Regiment of Michigan Volunteer Infantry. In the fall of the same year he was elected state senator, serving three terms.

In 1873 Mr. Jerome was appointed a member of the board of Indian commissioners, and in 1876 was chairman of a commission to visit Chief Joseph, the Nez Perce Indian to arrange for a settlement of all difficulties.

The people of the state of Michigan chose him as governor in 1880, in which capacity he served from January 1, 1881, to January 1, 1883.

In June 1859 Mr. Jerome was married to Miss Lucy Peck, of Pontiac, who survives him and was at his bedside throughout his last illness. Three children were born to them, only one of whom is living, Thomas Spencer Jerome, a prominent attorney and member of the firm of Cowles & Jerome, of Detroit.  a sister, Mrs. Helen Goodman, and a brother, George Jerome, both of Detroit, also survive him.

Mr. Jerome was a member of St. John's episcopal church for many years, a member of the vestry from the time of its organization and for many years its senior warden.

Mr. Jerome was kind and genial in his social nature and well calculated to exercise a powerful and good influence over the popular mind. He was every day the same courteous and cultivated gentleman. He was ever keenly alive to every scheme aiming at the moral intellectual and material advancement of his fellows.

Upon the arrival of the remains in this city they will be taken to his late residence on Van Buren street which was his home for thirty-four years.

published in The Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) 25 Apr 1896


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