" Back in the Old Days"


The Grand Traverse Herald 18 February 1859

As our last mail brought only that which had boon lying over at Manistee a week, our latest dates from the seat of Government are to the 28th of Jan.

Up to that time some eighty or ninety bills, mostly of a Iocal character, and of no interest to our readers here, had passed both houses and become laws. Among them was a bill for the relief of the settlers in Gratiet and Isabella coun­ties. It appropriates $15,000 from the general Fund, to be distributed under the direction of the Governor. It takes immediate effect. Senator Tower, from a select committee, made a report in reference to the cause and existence of distress in Gratiot and Isabella counties. The sufferers, as it appeared by this report, are for the most part, upon graduation lands, who by the construction placed upon the graduation act by Secretary McClelland, were compelled to settle actually upon the lands in order to hold them. Another immediate cause of distress, is the shortness of the crop of last year owing to the wetness of the planting season, the squirrels’ depredation, and other causes. ‘ There are 750 suffering families in Gratiot county not able to get through the winter, and there are not provisions enough in that county, if equally distributed, to last one month. In the county of Isabella the distress is still greater, and the amount of provisions still less.

The bill giving 640 acres of land to Mrs. Sarah P. Rodgers, of Saginaw county, who had four living children at one birth, has passed both houses and become a law. The bill to amend the tax law, providing for showing the State tax in a column by itself, according to Governot Wisner’s recommendation in his message, has passed the Senate 24 to 8—a strict party vote.

The committee on State Affairs in the Senate have reported a bill to provide for the drainage and reclamation of the swamp lands of the State by a system of State Roads, accompanied by an able and lengthy report. The bill provides for the appointment of a Board of Commissioners by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, whose duty it shall be to lay out and establish State roads from Grand Rapids to the bead of Little Traverse Bay, through Newaygo, and thence to the head of Grand Traverse Bay ; a road fom Port Huron to the Muskegon River, throngh Bay City; a road from East Saginaw to the Straits of Mackinac, through Bay City, thence to the River Au Sauble, Presque Isle, Thunder Bay, and Hammond Bay; a road from St Mary’s Falls to tbc Straits of Mackinac; a road from the Strait of Mackinac to the Wisconsin State line, by the way of Marquette, L’Anee Bay and Ontonagoo; aroadfroui Mar quette to or near the mouth of Menoinonee River, by th way of Little Bay Do Nocquetto ; a road from L’Ance to the Wisconsin State line.

For the purpose of laying out these roads, such power are conferred upon the Commissioners to be appointed under the act, as are now exercised by Highway Cornmissioners, three of whom are to be appointed by each road. In order to secure the construction of these, roads an amount of money from the proceeds of the sale of swamp lands, not to exceed the value of four hundred acres, is appropriated, or the land, as the oontractor may choose said lands to be within the counties in which such road: are located. The commissioners are to be allowed three dollars a day, while actively employed, and the expense of the survey is to be paid from the State Treasury, under proper restrictions. The bill to organize the county of Huron has passed both houses.

The Committee of Ways and Means in the House have not yet agreed upon the amount of appropriations they are willing to recommend to the Legislature.

The Lansing correspondent of the Detroit Advertiser under date of Jan. 25th says: A bill was under discussion in the House today, giving forty acres of land to actual settlers on the swamp lands. A motion was made by Mr. Thompson, of Genesee, to increase the quantity to be donated to eighty acres. Mr. Thompson advocated the amendment with considerable warmth, and portrayed the injustice done the northern portion of the State by the Legislature, in sauc indignant language as made one think he was really in earnest. There is undoubtedly room for a wide difference of opinion as to the policy to be pursued in regard to the swamp lands. But it does not fol­low that because there is such a difference between the old counties of the State and those in which these lands lie that therefore there is a deliberate design to swindle the north out of its rights. I hope to see a most liberal policy shown towards the north, not only in regard to the swamp lands, but every other respect. But I think there is a slight tinge of bunkum in these sweeping charges of injustice and fraud on the part of old counties toward the new. Mr. McMabon defended tho policy of the State in regard to these swamp lands, as embodied in the acts passed at the extra session of the last Legislature, in a few pointed remarks, and opposed the principles of the bill giving to actual settlers these lands. Mr. Shaw, the Speaker, ably seconded the proposition of encouraging the settlement and reclamation of the lands, by giving a portion of them to actual settlers, and this proposition seemed to meet with most decided favor in the House, if the clapping of hands and other evidences of satisfaction, were any indication of its temper.

Mr. Bud’s bill to abolish the Grand Jury has passed only three voting against it.


We can glean but little of general interest from the proceedings of Congress. It seems to be ‘ all talk and the no cider.” The Pacific Railroad Bill has occupied most of the time of the Senate. There is no probability, however, of the passage of any bill for the construction of a Railroad to the Pacific at this Session. Mr. Bell, after remarking upon the wide divergencies and contrarieties of opinion which the debate on this measure had brought to light, moved to reconirnit the whole subject to the special committee from which it had been reported, with instructions to report a bill autborizing the Secretary of the Interior to advertise for proposals for the construction of three Railroads to the Pacific —one by the Northen, Central, and Southern routes. Mr. Bell did not propose to provide for the construction of three roads, but merely to procure such authentic information from the capitalists who might submit their propositions as would enable Congress to decide more , intelligently upon the superior advantages of some single route. The substitute of Mr. Bell,, and the original bill as amended, were ordered printed.

The bill making appropriations for invalid pensions for the fiscal year ending 30th June, 1860, was passed.