Livingston County Michigan

Cohoctah Township



When the rigor of the winter of 1832-33 had been subdued by the ever higher mounting sun of spring, and the soft-falling rains and balmy southern breezes began to wake to renewed life the long dormant energies of Nature, an adventurous pioneer, - one of those genuine videttes of an advancing host, whose energetic, restless, impatient nature forced him to the front in anything he was led to undertake, - made his appearance in that part of the country now known as the township of Cohoctah.  That man was an Indian trader, named Gilbert W. Prentiss, and he was the first settler in this township. In the entering of his land he was preceded three days by Lyman Boughton, who made his entry by the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter and northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 34, on the 6th day of April, while Prentiss made his on the 9th, and  a second entry on the 15th.  His first entry was 40 acres, - the southwest quarter of the north east quarter of section 22, and his second was of 80 acres, it being the east half of the same quarter section.

At that time the whole extent of the territory now comprising the town of Cohoctah was an unbroken wilderness, a wild of low-lying marshes, dark gloomy tamarack swamps, sunny plains, and beautiful openings, with a boarding of heavier timber, reaching almost entirely around its outskirts. The foot of the wandering Indian hunter, the white hunter, trapper, and trader, the government surveyor, and perhaps, a few land-lookers, had alone trod the mazes of its forest, and forded its water-courses. The wild game wandered at pleasure beneath the inviting shade of its spreading oaks, or fearlessly quenched their thirst from the sparkling waters of its meandering streams, not yet having learned to fear the presence of man, as the death-dealing rifles of the pioneers soon taught them to do when the settlement began.

Township 4 north, of range 4 east, as this town was designated by the United States survey, comprises a territory nearly six miles wide from east to west, and a little over six and three-eights miles long from north to south, containing an area of 24,538 acres. It is the west central town on the north line of the  county, and centrally distant eight and three quarters miles from the county-seat. The town of Burns, Shiawassee Co., adjoins it on the north, the town of Deerfield on the east, the town of Howell on the south and the town of Conway on the west.  Its surface is generally quite level, lightly rolling in some parts, and was originally badly cut up of numerous swamps and marshes, many of which have, by the clearing up of the county and the improvements made in the drainage system of the town, been reclaimed and made tillable and productive. Probably from one-seventh to one-twelfth of the township was originally covered with these marshes and swamps. At present the largest marshes are in the south part of section 33, along the course of the outlet of Cook's Lake, and along Teller's Creek in section 21.

The soil is varied, following very closely the lines that marked the boundaries of the different kinds of lands. In the central part, where were the plains, it is of a very light sandy nature; towards the north line, where were mixed timbered lands and timbered openings, the soil is of a heavier nature, a sort of clayey loam; in the eastern part it is made up of mingled sand ridges, and marshes or swamps; in the southeast corner, where the timber on the openings was very heavy, the soil is also heavier and tempered with some clay; along the south line this continues with intervening swamps, till in the southwest part comes a more elevated surface, which was originally timbered opening, and where the soil is light, and yet strong and fertile; and along the west line of the town, where were mixed marshes and openings, the soil is corresponding varied. The soil is well adapted to the cultivation of general crops, and the real agricultural worth of the township has not been fully developed.

The lakes of Cohoctah number but seven, and are none of them of any considerable size. The largest of them, on section 32, from the peculiar formation of its bottom, is named Sand-Bottom Lake. It is connected with Cooks' Lake, which lies south from it, and which is of nearly the same size. It however, unlike the former, has a muddy bottom, and a good deal of marsh about its shores. The outlet of both joins the Shiawassee River, on section 34. Another lake of nearly the same size lies on section 19, and is called Devil's Lake. It is surrounded by wide marshes and has a muddy bottom. Its outlet is Sprague's Creek. Lime Lake is a small body of water lying on section 14. It derives its name from the fact that its shore and bottom is composed of a kind of marl that, by burning , can be converted into a indifferent sort of lime. It has a bolder shore than any of the other lakes. Its outlet connects it with Mud Lake, lying a few rods south on the same section. This lake has a muddy bottom, a marshy shore, and its waters have a peculiar turbid look, which gives the lake its name. Its outlet enters the Shiawassee, near the southwest corner of the section. Thatcher's Lake is a small body of water on section 4. It covers an area of about four acres, and was named after Michael Thatcher, who settled near it at an early day.; Its outlet runs southward into another smaller lake, lying across the south line of the section, which is called Crawford's Lake. It then continues south till it joins Sprague's Creek. There is also one artificial point at Chemungville, on section 36, covering several acres, and affording a fine water-power.

The principal stream is the south branch of the Shiawassee River, which enters the town from Howell, about fifty rods east of the southwest corner of section 34, and runs northerly through wide-spreading marshes on sections 34, 27, and the south half of 28, where its banks rise abruptly to a considerable height above the stream and so continues along its course until it reaches the quarter line of section 21, and again finds a marshy bed, which continues throughout its onward course through the town into Deerfield. Its current in this town is quite sluggish, and its entire course quite tortuous and some nine miles in extent. Its principal tributary is the second stream in importance in the town. It is commonly called "Bogue" Creek, a corruption of the Indian name "Bo-bish-e-nung." As to the significance of the name we are not able to speak. It enters this town near the southeast corner, and runs a northerly course of about three miles till it joins the river, in the north part of section 4. At Chemungville it affords a fine water-power. Sprague's Creek, the third stream in importance, is made up of two branches, the principal one being the outlet of Devil's Lake; the united streams flow in a variable southeast and east course through section 9, 10, and 15, and empty into the Shiawassee in section 22. Teller's creek, on section 21, the outlets of Cook's and Mud Lakes, and a tributary of the "Bogue," on section 25, constitute the remainder of the streams of Cohoctah.

Township Information

Lyman Boughton Settlement
David Guile Birth, Marriage, Death
Justus Boyd Bridge built
Alva Preston Resident Physician
Michael Thatcher Public House
Jared Cook Farming
Isaac V. D. Cook  
Land Purchase - multiple sections History of Aboriginal Occupation
Land Purchase - single section Gilbert W. Prentiss, Indian Trader
Township Organization District 1-5
Civil List District 6-10
1837 Tax payers District 11-13
1840 Tax Payers  
Audit of accounts MILITARY
  Civil War Support
Oak Grove Methodist Episcopal Church Boutell Cemetery
The Green Class Sanford Cemetery
Protestant Methodists  
First Church of the Evangelical Association TRANSPORTATION
First Church of the United Brethren in Christ Early Trails
Cohoctah Sabbath-School Association Highways
  Ezra Frisbee
  Sanford Family
  Crawford Family

To all the kind friends who have assisted the writer in his effort to get a correct history of the town, and who did so much to render pleasant his brief sojourn amongst them, he returns his most heartfelt thanks; and only hops this imperfect sketch will meet with as warm a welcome and as considerate treatment as was extended to him.

History of Livingston Ellis, Franklin, 1828-1885.,
Everts & Abbott. 1880 Philadelphia: Everts & Abbott, 1880.


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