Jackson County Michigan

History of
Springport Twp.

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Biographical Sketches
First Settlers of Springport Township
By Ben A Joy, September 1910 Pioneer History of Springport Twp.,
Pub by the Springport Signal, Springport, MI
Included in Opers Corners to Springport
A Nostalgic Journey, complied & written by Schremser & Dobbyn 1976

Contributed by Deb Hayes-Wolfe

John S Comstock
John Scott Comstock, was born in the town of Montville, New London County, Connecticut, February 20, 1801, where his boyhood was passed, and until the spring of 1819, when he went to Newport, New Hampshire, and afterwards to New Haven, Connecticut, where he resided two and one-half years; thence removing to Philadelphia, where he worked at comb making. He taught several terms of school until the fall of 1830, when he came to Michigan, settling in Lima, Washtenaw County. In November 1833 he married Miss Ruth Eastman, who then resided in Lima. Four children were born to them; Rhoda, now Mrs. O.V. Hammond, Maria J., now Mrs. J. Whitman; and two boys who died young. Mrs. Comstock died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Hammond, December 26, 1886, full of years and much respected by all who knew her. Mr. Comstock died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. O.V. Hammond, February 16, 1891.

James Preston
The second settler of Springport was born in Poultney, Rutland County, Vermont, June 9, 1790. In early life he moved to Volney, Oswego County, New York, where he married, and early in the thirties came to Michigan, locating at Lima, Washtenaw County. In 1835, with his family, he accompanied Mr. J.S. Comstock to the then unbroken wilderness of Springport. Mr. Preston made his location on a part of the Comstock tract, one-fourth mile east of the Landon schoolhouse. In the fall of 1857, he built the frame house yet standing. In October 1864, he sold his place and resided with his children until his death, which occurred at the home of his son, James, at Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, November 19, 1876. His wife passed away, as she had predicted, in the harness, at her old home, October 18, 1864.

Ebenezer Brown
The third settler of Springport was born in the town of Dryden, Tompkins County, New York in 1788. He lived near Ithaca and at the Ludlowville, where he worked at his trade-blacksmithing. He came to Springport in the summer of 1835 and built a shanty near the farm residence of Mr. B.G. Brown, section 34, where he lived about six months and then sold his lands to Herman Landon. He passed away in Spring Arbor, August 16, 1853.

Rev. Marcus Harrison
Was born in Connecticut in 1795. He was a graduate of Yale and Andover Theological Seminary. He filled many pulpits in New England. Coming to Michigan in 1830 was the fourth location here. In the late summer or early fall of 1835, he selected lands on sections 26 and 27, built a log house in the road just in front of the present house of Ward S Brown, on section 27. In the fall and winter of 1836-37, he exchanged farms with Bostwick and Michael S Brown, he moving to the one exchanged for, one mile east of the Wright school house in Parma Township. He died at Decatur in 1874 being 79 years of age.

Herman Landon
The fifth settler here was born in the state of Connecticut, January 23, 1799. While a child his parents moved to Scipio, Cayuga County, New York where he grew to manhood. In September 1835, he came to Springport and purchased the farms of Ebenezer Brown, sections 33-34, to which he added a considerable tract. He played an important part in the organization of the township. He passed away September 14, 1852. March 20, 1828 he married Miss Betsey Cranson. Their children were—Lucinda, Mrs. William Brown, born February 20, 1829; George born April 1830, died June 9, 1885; William born January 5, 1832, died September 25, 1833; John born November 9, 1833, died March 13, 1871. Of Springport’s many citizens, living or dead, for good examples of life, none have been more esteemed than John and George Landon whose untimely deaths were generally mourned. The township could ill spare such as they.

Jonathan A Hammond
Was born in Providence, Rhode Island, August 14, 1800. He came to Springport in the autumn of 1835, locating lands on sections 32 and 33. He built the first frame house in that vicinity. During the time of building his first residence, he resided with a Mr. Smith who had a residence on section 31 near the White schoolhouse. Mr. Hammond was married to Miss Esther Turnblott who was born in Providence, May 3, 1799. She was the great granddaughter of the renowned Roger Williams. He died September 3, 1867.

Simon Barrett
Came to Springport from Summit County, Ohio in the fall of 1835. Located on section 25, where he built a shanty and shortly after a log house, remnant of which is still standing. His family consisted of his wife, four girls and three boys. He died in 1837.

James Jameson
Came from the state of New York. Arrived in Springport, December 31, 1835 and soon after located the east half of section 13. In the spring of 1836, he erected a log house, which was occupied by John E Barton and family the first summer. Mr. Jameson taught school during the winter season until 1841, in the spring of which year he married Miss Loretta Townley of Tompkins, moving immediately on his farm, which he continued to improve making it one of the best in Springport. He passed away in Jackson, September 13, 1886.

Augustus F Gaylord
Was born in Aurora, Cayuga County, New York, June 11, 1806, where he resided until 1830, when he moved to the west part of the city where he owned a nursery farm. Mr. Gaylord was one of the voters at the first town meeting held here in the spring of 1838. The first religious meetings within the village boundaries wee held at his house weekly in 1836-37. He assisted in erecting the first school house in the district about one mile south of the corners, also the old red school building that stood where the Oyer house now stands. Mr. Gaylord was a man of integrity and purity of character. His death occurred in Eaton Rapids, July 14, 1888.

William Jennings
Came to Springport, February 1, 1836, locating the south one-half of the south-east one-fourth of section 25, which he improved and where he resided until February 1870, when he removed to Kansas. Mr. Jennings is remembered as an honorable Christian gentleman and one of the founders and pillars of the Presbyterian church of Tompkins and Springport. He died at his home in Kansas in 1883.

Archibald Dixon
Was born near Bennington, Vermont, July 1786. When about ten years old, his parents moved to Chenange County, New York. He resided there until this twenty-third year when he removed to Courtlandville, Courtland County, New York. In the spring or early summer of 1836, he came to Springport locating on the south-west corner of the north-west one-fourth section 27, where he built a house (known after as the tamarack house), and there resided one year. He then moved to section nine, building a log house near where his son, Joseph W., later resided. Mr. Dixon was a constant Christian and member of the Baptist church. He died August 10, 1847.

John E Barton
Was born in Putnam County, New York, June 14, 1813. In 1828, his father removed to Lyons, Wayne County, New York, where he passed the next seven years. In the fall of 1835, he married Miss Elizabeth Barton and in May following they started for Michigan, with a view of making a home in the west. They came by canal and steamboat to Detroit, and from there to Springport, living until December following, in the new log house of James M. Jameson, Mr. Barton worked by the month for David Adams of Tompkins. In December, he erected a dwelling near where his present residence now stands, section 13. Mr. Barton has a fine farm of 320 acres, most of which is under a good state of cultivation. Mr. Barton died February 12, 1890.

Edmund Ferris
Was born in Genoa, New York, December 23, 1805. He came to Springport in 1836, settling on section 20, he built a log house on the ground on which Mrs. Janette Fitz-Gerald’s home now stands. He soon after exchanged the lands now lying on the south side of Main Street, for the farm on the north east one-fourth of section 20, now owned by L.D. Markle; built the house and improved the large and valuable farm, which he owned at the time of his death. He assisted in the organization of the township and held nearly all of the offices in the township government. He died at the old home October 10, 1885.

John Oyer
John Oyer was born in the city of Easton, Pennsylvania, January 9, 1819. While a child his parents removed to the town of Genoa, Cayuga County, New York, where he resided until the autumn of 1836, when he came to Springport where he resided until his death, January 20, 1889. He was one who helped to organize the township government, being one of the voters at the first township meetings. The greater part of the present improvements of this village are due to the public spirit and enterprise of Mr. Oyer.

Samuel Inman
Purchased the place of Andrew Smith on north-east one-fourth of section 31, when he soon after started an iron foundry, using charcoal for the heat purpose utilized by a large bellows run by hand power. A superior article of castings are said to have been produced by this crude furnace. Nathaniel Hicks, a later resident here, was the helper in the foundry.

Josiah Whitman
Was a Canadian by birth, which occurred in November 1777. With his three sons, Clark R., John M., and Josiah Jr., came to Springport in 1837, living with his son Clark on land in section 9, which they improved and made comfortable homes and upon which Mr. Whitman lived to the age of 94 years, until he died December 25, 1871. He was instrumental in organizing our township government, being elected the first supervisor in April 1838. He was a member of the fraternal order of Masons for many years.

David D Gillett
Was born in Allegany County, New York, August 1793, where he spent his early years. He later engaged in a woolen mill, which being on a stream, was twice destroyed by freshets*, not rebuilding after the second experience, and soon after moving to Michigan, settling on section 33, Springport, where he engaged in farming. At one time he made a specialty of raising peppermint, erecting a still for extracting the oil, on the present farm of Mrs. George Bois, and just east of the residence of Arthur L. Landon. About the year of 1845, Mr. Gillett sold and moved to section 24, where he cleared a farm which he owned at the time of his death which occurred while on a visit to friends in Leoni, October 23, 1868. (*From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia freshet :A flood resulting from heavy rain or a spring thaw. Whereas heavy rain often causes a flash flood, a spring thaw event is generally a more incremental process, depending upon local climate and topography. The term freshet is most commonly used to describe a spring thaw resulting from snow and ice melt in rivers located in the northern latitudes of North America, particularly Canada, where rivers are frozen each winter and thaw during the spring. A spring freshet can sometimes last several weeks on large river systems, resulting in significant inundation of flood plains as the snow pack melts in the river's watershed. Spring freshets associated with thaw events are sometimes accompanied by ice jams which can cause flash floods)

Josiah Whitman Jr.
Located a valuable farm on section 29 in 1837. He was born in Ontario, Canada, July 17, 1807. He married Miss Keziah Drake, March 1, 1829. Mr. Whitman was a man of fine character and did well his part in the work of township and organization, holding many important offices during his life. He passed away at his old home November 3, 1859. His wife survived him many years, passing away May 1, 1896.

John E Dey
Who located on section 28, assisted in building the first frame structures in the township, afterwards moving to Parma Township, his wife, Mrs. Maria Dey, teaching the first school in this town in 1838.

Henry and Rhoda Pope
Came to Michigan from Wayne County, New York in 1838. They settled on section 24, on a part of the farm now owned by Mrs. J.S. Pope. Later their son Christopher came and located lands adjoining his father. They had the hard experience of the earlier pioneers, but their industry and firm quality made a comfortable home. They were among the charter members of the church of their name across in Tompkins, and were leaders of the church work there until their death. The mother, Rhoda, passing away May 2, 1847, aged 62 years. Mr. Pope followed January 23, 1853, aged 69 years.

Daniel Griffith
The ancestors of this family from Wales came at an early period of our Colonial history, and settled in Rhode Island. Later members of the family moved to Danby, Vermont, where Daniel Griffith was born in 1803. In 1837, he decided to cast his lot with the people of the then-new state of Michigan coming overland to Buffalo, then by steamboat to Detroit, thence by team and wagon to section 2, Springport, where he located a fine large farm which he proceeded to improve under difficulties incident to pioneer life. Mr. Griffith transported his first wheat crop to Ann Arbor, 60 miles from his farm. He was a man of upright character, one of the founders and a life long member of the Methodist Church that bears his name, near the old home. In politics, Mr. Griffith was a Whig and after the dissolution of that party became one of the charter members of the Republican party. His five sons, Hosia W., George T., Phing W., Marshall and Henry D., were all substantial citizens, who lived and died honored and respected in the vicinity of their father’s homestead. Mr. Griffith died in March of 1878.

Luther Landon
Was born in Connecticut in 1789, married Miss Clarissa Tracy of Scipio, New York about 1830. Came to Springport in the spring of 1837, locating the farm, at present owned by Lewis E Landon on Section 19, built a log house just west of the horse barn now on the farm, and began clearing and otherwise improving the large and valuable farm now owned by Mr. L.E. Landon. Mr. Landon was prominent in the organization of the township government and held several of the offices of the town. His family consisted of his wife and three children-Sarah, Ezekiel A., and Martha. The latter being the only survivor of the family. Mr. Landon died in August 1855, his wife following August 9, 1878.

Stephen H. Ludlow
Stephen H. Ludlow located on sections 26 and 27 in the autumn of 1837. Mr. Ludlow was prominent in township affairs holding offices nearly the whole time to his death, April 19, 1896.

Joseph Dennis
In the year 1838, Joseph Dennis with his brother Corneilius, and family came to Springport, locating the north-east one-fourth and the east one-half of the west one-half of section one. Together they built a log house, clearing and cultivating the soil for crops. In 1840, Corneilius located land on the north-east one-fourth of section 12, now owned by E.O. Price. Joseph Dennis was a millright, working at his trade in Jackson, Homer and neighboring villages. In the spring of 1840, he returned to the farm and kept batchelors half full till the following fall, when he married Miss Mary Evans, with whom he had become acquainted while working at Homer, and whose parents were English and came to this state in 1838, with her sister, Mrs. Warren Sheldon, who located on section 5 in Parma. Mrs. Dennis used often to relate in after years their experiences with bears and wolves while living in Parma. Mr. Dennis died in 1847 during an epidemic of erysipelas. Sickness was no uncommon thing those days, but the early settlers were generous and kind, the sick being provided with an abundance of kind hearted sympathetic attendance. Besides his wife, Mr. Dennis left two little daughters to mourn his loss. Lydia, born in 1843, and Sarah Amanda, born in 1845. Lydia yet surviving. Sarah having died in 1859. Five years after her first husband’s death, Mrs. Dennis married Francis Bodine. In the following summer they built the upright and wing of the present home of Elmer D. Fuller, Section one. Mr. Bodine died September 24, 1857, the widow and daughters letting the farm to be tilled, but continuing their residence there till the fall of 1865 when Lydia married Mr. Warren Fuller. The mother then went to live with her sister, Mrs. Sheldon, in Parma. In 1874, she returned and built the house just west of Otter Creek, where she lived until her death January 24, 1879. Her remains lie beside her first husband in the adjoining burial ground, the land for which was set off by Joseph Dennis and Daniel Griffith. Mr. & Mrs. Fuller yet reside on the old homestead, where they are enjoying the afternoon of their active lives surrounded by all the conveniences of modern times which their labors have justly earned. Their son, Elmer D., has charge of the well improved and productive farm.

Stephen B. Crawford
Stephen B Crawford located lands on section 4 in the fall of 1836 where he partly completed a dwelling. Winter closing in he went to Adrian, again returning in the spring of 1837 to find his dwelling in ashes. He rebuilt the following year and began housekeeping February 14, 1839. Mr. Crawford was one of Springport’s prominent citizens and did much in the development of her resources. He died at the old farm in 1891.

Comfort Joy
The second son of Daniel Joy, who was a Revolutionary soldier under General Washington, was born in Guilford, Vermont, April 23, 1787, with his father’s family moved to Fabius, Onondaga County, NY in February 1800. December 27, 1810 he married Mary Breiner of Westonburgh, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He lived at Ridgeway, Yates and Evans, New York, at which places he worked as a miller, moving to Springport from the latter place in June 1839, with his family and settling on the east one-half of the north-east one-fourth of section 34, having made a visit here the preceding April accompanied by his son, David C., and daughter Harriet, and her husband, Luther H. Ludlow. His wife died March 28, 1844 being the first to be buried in the Presbyterian cemetery in Tompkins. The year following, he married Mrs. Cynthia Thorndike, and lived on her farm near Galesburgh, Kalamazoo County until his death, August 9, 1869. He was an active member of the Presbyterian Church, being one of the founders of the old church of that faith in Tompkins Township.

Luther H Ludlow
Was born in the village of Ludlowville, Tompkins County, New York, July 10, 1814. His grandfather, Thomas Ludlow, after whom the village was named, settled there in 1793. John and Rebecca Townley Ludlow were his parents. The first 18 years of his life were spent in his native town where he attended school. He learned the saddle and harness making trade, which he pursued in Evans, NY from 1835 to 1838. On December 6, 1838 he married Miss Harriet D. Joy, and the following April of 1839, with his wife, father-in-law and brother-in-law, D.C. Joy, came to Springport settling on the north-west one-fourth of the north-east one-fourth of section 34, which he improved and made his home until his removal to Jackson, January 1, 1861 to assume the duties of county register, to which office he had been elected in November preceding, on the ticket headed by Abraham Lincoln as President. He taught the winter term of 1839-40 of school district No. 1, the Landon, having about 70 pupils, all those within a radius of several miles, receiving the princely sum of $16.00 per month and boarding himself. He held the office of Justice and Supervisor for several years prior to moving from the township. In the election of 1868, he was chosen county treasurer; in 1872 county clerk; and in 1876 to the state legislature. In the session of the legislature of 1881, he served as postmaster at the Capitol and soon after the close of session was appointed postmaster of Parma. He was an early member of Parma Lodge No 183 F & AM., Jackson Chapter No 3 and Jackson Commandry No (. Mr. & Mrs. Ludlow were parents to two sons, Theodore F., who died of consumption in East Lansing, NY, July 4 1853, aged 12 years and Charles D., who accidentally shot himself on the Landon farm, August 24, 1860, age 16 years. Mr. Ludlow died at his home in Parma Village, December 29, 1888, his wife following May 2, 1902.

Jermiah Fitzgerald
Was born in Orange County, New York, July 4, 1789. He received a common school education, such as was offered to farmers’ sons in those days. At the age of 21 joined the New York Volunteers and served as an officer during the War of 1812 at Sacket Harbor. He was united in marriage to Sylvia Strickland, of Pittsford, Vermont, December 1, 1812, living on a farm near Jordon, New York, until late in the fall of 1832, when they moved to Ohio, going on the canal boat to Buffalo. In the fall of 1835 Jermiah FitzGerald and his oldest son Harrison, started on foot from Burling Heights, Ohio, passing through Perrysburg, Tecumseh, Manchester, Napoleon and Jackson to Spring Arbor, where they rested a day or two, then with others resumed their journey to the north-west corner of Jackson County, Michigan, now known as Springport. After looking about for some days, they decided to take up 80 acres in section 29, the farm now owned by Jacob Heiler, south-east of the village of Springport, paying $1.25 per acre. Mr. FitzGerald bought 160 acres for $2.50 per acre on section 17 where Jermiah FitzGerald lived for 35 years. The east 80 acres is now owned by “Grandma” Wiselogel. The west 80 belongs to the L. Ferris estate. Returning to Ohio, Mr. FitzGerald began the preparations for moving his family, consisting of a wife, six sons and two daughters, to their new home. They started in mid winter so that they could cross the Maume Swamp and river, bring three yoke of oxen and three covered wagons, filled with the family household goods and provisions. It may be of interest to know the price of provision at the time. The man who supplied Mr. FitzGerald with a years provision said his prices were as follows and he would not throw off a cent: Large cabbage heads, one cent each; potatoes, six cents per bushel; cider, 50 cents per barrel; apples for picking and wild pork, one dollar a hundred. The wages paid to a good strong man, per day (from daylight to dark) 18 cents. They erected a house of logs with “shake” for roofing, and began their life in the new country with new hopes and aspirations. In this little log house was held the first wedding in Springport. The older daughter, Matilda FitzGerald, to Lewis Pike, November 1, 1838. During the first year of the residence in this house, wolves came so close to the door that they tipped over a jar of soft soap and tracked it all over the door stop. About 1840, the log house which is still standing on the Wiselogel farm, was built. In this house Mrs. FitzGerald died, February 7, 1861, and May 20, 1870 Jermiah FitzGerald died, having shared life’s joys and sorrows together for 49 years. To them were born eight children, six sons and two daughters. Lydia A., the only survivor of this family has always made her home in Springport, teaching school from the time she was 15 years old until her marriage with Edward Saxton, March 25, 1863. They lived on the FitzGerald homestead for some years, finally selling it to Mr. Sawyer and moving to the village of Springport, where they have lived for 30 years.

In the few years following, the township settled up quite rapidly and here they lived, and nearly all of them have been laid to rest beneath the soil which has yielded so abundantly to their labors.

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