City of Adrian

Lenawee Co MI

History of Adrian



Main Street - Adrian MI contributed by Paul Petosky<

Early in the fall of 1825, Addison J. Comstock, accompanied by his father, Darius Comstock, started from their home, in Lockport, New York, for the Territory of Michigan. Upon arriving in Detroit they found "Walter Whipple, who was on his way back east. Mr. Whipple had been on an exploring tour and had taken up land. They were old acquaintances in the State of New York, and Mr. Whipple informed his friends of the fine lands and opportunities south of Tecumsch, where he had purchased. The Comstocks took the "Tceumseh trail," and September 7th, 1825, Addison J. Comstock purchased from the government 480 acres of land, on which the greater portion of the city of Adrian now stands. Mr. Comstock was then a "single" man. Immediately returning east, he was married the following February, and that spring, 1826, started for his future home in Michigan. Thus the third settlement of pioneers in Lenawee county was begun.


Adrian, MI (North Main Street in Winter) (1908)- Contributed by Paul Petosky

John Gilford came in Mr. Comstock's employ. Mr. Comstock forthwith gave his attention to building two houses, one for himself, located on the lot now occupied by the street railway company, as a depot, at the east end of Maumec street bridge. Mr. Gifford succeeded in making bis house habitable first, and Mrs. Gilford boasted of being the first white woman to settle in Adrian. Mrs. Comstock, however, was domiciled in her house a few days later. John Gifford was the second man to locate land within the present limits of Adrian.

Elias Dennis was the third, his purchase dating from December 26th, 1826, and comprised a large portion of the southern part of the present city.

On the last day of March, 1828, Addison J. Comstock laid out, platted and recorded the original plan of the village of Adrian. This contained forty-nine lots, commencing at the river bank and running east nearly to what is now Broad street.

Settlers came in rapidly. The village was first called "Logan," but it was decided to change that appellation, and Mrs. Comstock christened it "Adrian," after the noted Roman.

The first public roads were laid out, fourteen in number, by Noah Norton and Warren Avleswortb, Road Commissioners, from November 26th, 1827, to December 11th, 1828.

The first election held for village officers took place in May, 1827- The second election in the township took place on the first Monday of the following November, for choosing members to the legislative council, when 71 votes were cast.

In the summer of 1828, the father of Mrs. Addison J. Comstock. Mr. Isaac Dean, came to Adrian, and soon after commenced the erection of the first hotel, the "Exchange." The building stood on the corner of Maumee and Winter streets. It was a commodious structure for those days, became very popular as a public resort, was the "stage house" for many years, and was removed in 1859 to make room for the large brick hotel now occupying the site. A part of the old building, now known as the "Gibson House," was located a little further down the street.

The second hotel was built by Isaac French, on the northwest corner of Main and Maumee streets, in 1831), and was known as the "Franklin House." It was destroyed by fire in 1846. and a brick hotel was soon after erected on the site.

In 1829 A. J. Comstock and Isaac Dean built a mill, for many years afterwards known as the " Red Mill." At that lime the nearest mill was at Tecumseh.

The first postoffice in Adrian was established in 1829, with A.J. Comstock as postmaster. The first quarter's receipts were nineteen cents.

The hrst school was opened in the village in the winter ot 1828-9, by Miss Dorcas Dean. In 1829, a frame school house was built on the west side of South Main street, at the junction of Winter street. The first dry goods store was opened by E. C. Winter in 1829, on the southwest corner of Maumee and Winter streets. For many years Mr. Winter was a successful Indian trader and dealer in white men's supplies.

The first church edifice to be built in Adrian was in 1832, when the Presbyterian society located their house of worship on Church street, adjoining1 the lot where the principal apparatus of the fire department is now stationed.

The first newspaper in the county was established in Adrian bv R. W. Ingals, October 22, 1834. The paper was first christened The Adrian Gazette and Lenawee County Republican. This was subsequently changed to The Walsh Tozver. Mr. Ingals continued to publish the paper until 1863, when he disposed of it to Larwill, Applegate & Champion. September 11th. 1S65, Gen. William Humphrey purchased the plant, when the name was changed to the Adrian Daily and Weekly Times, which still lives.

The first meetings of the Baptist church of Adrian were held in 1832 in the upper room of the house now occupied by Dr. Jewett Williams, jr., on the north side of East Maumee street, next west of the post office.

The first drug store was opened by Abel Whitney and Asahel Finch, jr., in 1835.

During the summer of 1834 the village was visited by a plague of sickness that carried off many of the most respected and prominent citizens. Scarcely a family escaped.

The greatest event in the history of Adrian occurred November 2d, 1836, being the completion of the Erie & Kalamazoo railroad from Toledo to Adrian. This was the first railroad built west of Schenectady, New York, and was an enterprise of the greatest importance.

It was through the enterprise and untiring efforts of Addison J. Comstock, his father, Darius Comstock, George Crane, Joseph Gibbons and Dr. C. N. Ormsby, of Adrian, and some gentlemen in Toledo, that the work was done.

The first court house and jail was erected in Adrian in 1836-7. The court house was destroyed by fire on the morning of March 14th, 1852. Many valuable records were lost.

The first bank in the county was the "Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad Bank of Adrian," established by PhiloC. Fuller, of Geneseo, N. Y. The bank afterwards went into the possession of John B. and F. W. Macey, of New York. With the Maceys came Carlisle Norwood, who was the first chief engineer of the Adrian fire department.

The Hon. Daniel Webster, of Massachusetts, visited Lenawee County in 1838, remaining over night in Adrian.

The "big gristmill" was erected at Palmyra, six miles east of Adrian, in 1836 7, and for many years was a prominent landmark. In those days it was confidently predicted that Palmyra would outstrip, in size and importance, both Adrian and Tecumseh.

The first Methodist church built in Adrian was on Toledo street, and is now owned and occupied by the Church of Christ.

Adrian was incorporated as a village in March, 1828, and as a city in January, 1853.

Adrian Lodge No. 8. I. O. O. F., was instituted March 6th, 1835, by R. W. P. G., B. F. Hall, and R. W. P. G.t J. H. Mullett, of Michigan Lodge No. 1, when the following officers were installed; Daniel D. Sinclair, N. G.; Sebra Howard, V. G.; Charles Smith, S.; R. W. Ingals, T.

The first brass hand in this place was organized in 1838, by an Englishman named William Tutten, from Utica, New York, and was called the "Adrian Brass Band." This band went to Fort Meigs in 1840, with the Lenawee County delegation, to attend the great Harrison mass meeting. At this time it was led by William C. Hunt, father of W. O. Hunt, of this city. General Joseph W. Brown was in command of the Michigan delegation at this great meeting, and held an umbrella over General Harrison while he was speaking.

Alert Fire Company No. I was officially organized June 19th, 1841. Following are the names of the original members: D. K. Underwood, Joseph H. Wood, Milo Weins. S. V. R. Smart, M. Merrick, W. S. Wilcox, S. W. Van Vosburg, J. J. Newell. Isaac Paulding, R. Smart, A. Barnard. Thomas S. Baker. Samuel Smith, C. R. Watson. Phi. Tabor. T. 1). Ramsdell, Charles Ing.rsoll. R. W. Ingals, James Mills, J. II. Woodbury, E. H. Rico, W. M. Comstock. John Harkness, Charles W. Hunt. The machine was purchased from Lewis Selye, of Rochester, New York, at a cost of $813.

A Hook and Ladder Company was officially organized June 19th, 1841. Following are the names of the original mem ben,; A. W. Budlong, A. S. Berry, L. 6. Berry, J. H. Chittenden, Joel Carpenter, Washington Harwood. Henrv Hart. Horace Mason. N. L. P. Pierce, Charles Philbrook, Clement Smith. Randall W. Smith. March 11th, 1842, the Village Council appropriated the sum of $90 for the purchase of a truck for the use of the company. We also notice on the records that Henry Hart, who was then a trustee, offered a resolution to purchase three axes for the company. The truck was built by William C. Hunt.

The Adrian Guards, the first military company regularly equipped by the state, in Lenawee County, was organized May 10th, 1842, by Daniel Hicks, who was elected captain, which office he held until the year 1847, when he went to Mexico in command of a company. F. J. King was tirst lieutenant, Edwin Comstock, second lieutenant, William Aldrich, ordcrlj- sergeant- In 1S43, George W. Hicks was elected orderly, he being the best drill-master in the company. Charles M. Croswell was elected captain after Captain Hicks, and held the office until the next annual election, when the late Frederick Hart was made captain, which position he held up to April, 1.8M, with the exception of one year, 1855, when Justus H. Bod well was made captain.

Protection Fire Company No. 2 was organized in October, 1845. Perry B. Truax, now of Toledo, was the first foreman, W. Huntington Smith, assistant foreman, and F. C. Beaman, secretary. The engine arrived in December, the same year, and cost $990.

The first Masonic lodge organized in the village was "Adrian Lodge No. 19, on July 28th, 1847, by K. Smith Lee, Grand Master of Michigan at that time. The original officers were: John Barber. W. Master; William Moore, S. W. Warner Comstock. Jun. W. Jonathan Berry. Treasurer; David Horton. Secretary; David Bixhy. Sen. Deacon; William Talford, Jun. Deacon; Samuel Anderson, Tyler.

The Adrian and Bean Creek Plank Road Company was organized on the 4th of May, 1848, with a capital stock of $75,000, divided into 3,000 shares. The original charier was from Adrian to Bean Creek, but an extension was granted, and it was built as far as Gambleville, in Hillsdale county, where it intersected with the Chicago turnpike.

During the year the survey was made, the right of way purchased and the contracts let for lumber and construction. The first plank of the road was laid in Adrian in the spring of 1849. Commencing on Front street, opposite where the Court House now stands, planks were laid up Main street to Maumee, and on Maumee street west to the village of Addison, etc. A. J. Comstock was the first president, Henry Jones, secretary, and K. L. Clark, treasurer.

The Adrian Gas Light Company was chartered by city ordinance. June 18th. 1855. The company consisted of Benijah Baker, H. P. Piatt, George II. Wyman, L. C Thayer. The Common Council that year was as follows: F. J. Buck, mayor; Aldermen L. B. Bowen, R. J. Bradley, E. P. Linnell, J. IT. Cleveland, A. J. Dean, W. E. Kimball, F. R. Stcbbius, W. S. Wilcox.

The steam fire department was organized on Friday, October 11, 1867, consisting of two steamers, with attendant hose carls and one hook and ladder company. R. J. Bradley was appointed chief engineer and James Redmond assistant.

The state fair was held in Adrian in 1865. commencing September 19th and continuing four days. It was also held here the following year.

The corner stone of the Masonic Temple was laid June 24th. 1865, and the building was occupied the following year. The first Lenawee County fair was held in this city in September, 1849.

Source: Illustrated history and biographical record of Lenawee County, Mich. Author: Knapp, John I., 1825-1903

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