Macomb County MI

PIONEER SOCIETY

From Leeson's History of Macomb County, Michigan 1882 Pg 915

TRANSACTIONS OF THE PIONEER SOCIETY, 1882

The meeting of the pioneers, held in June, 1882, was attended by all those pleasing characteristics which have marked all former re-unions of the old settlers of Macomb. This annual meeting was held in the opera house, Mt. Clemens, June 13, 1882. Owing to the busy season of the year and the soldier's re-union at Detroit, which many were making preparations to attend, the meeting did not attract the numbers expected. About 200 were present, however, and the interest manifested could not have been greater.

The morning session opened at 11 o'clock. The minutes of the preceding meeting were read and approved, and a committee appointed to report officers for the ensuing year. The afternoon session was opened with singing by the choir, led by S. H. Davis, which reminded President Cady that fifty-five years ago he was chorister of a company of singers who were wont to meet on the very site of the opera house.

George H. Cannon, Chairman of the committee appointed to recommend officers, reported in favor of Horace Cady. of Macomb, for President, and J. E. Day, of Armada, for Secretary. Mr. Cady declined the office assigned to him, and, after some debate, the pioneers decided to continue Chauncey G. Cady as President Mr. Cady was averse to accepting, but none the less yielded, and thanked the pioneers for the new honor and past support. J. E. Day was elected Secretary, and George H. Cannon, of Washington; James B. Eldredge, of Mt. Clemens, and George W. Phillips, of Romeo, Executive Committee; John C. Cady was designated as singing master.

G. H. Cannon, in the necessary absence of the author, read Dr. Andrus' paper on the Clinton Canal and Shelby Railroad. This paper we briefly sketch. The Clinton Canal and Shelby Railroad were two of the many remarkable manifestations of the crazy fever of speculation that infatuated the people of Michigan in the period extending from 1833 to 1840/ The State was sparsely settled, but still the need of water and railroad connections was strongly felt. The successful construction of the Erie Canal stimulated Michigan to a like endeavor, and a canal from the Clinton River, Mt. Clemens, to the Kalamazoo River soon took definite form. March 21, 1837, the Legislature authorized Gov. Stephen T. Mason to contract a loan for the construction of several great public works, among which were a canal from Mt. Clemens to Rochester, a railroad from Shelby to Detroit, a railroad from Detroit across the State (the Michigan Central) and a railroad from Port Huron into the interior, to be known as the Port Huron & Grand River road. In the spring of 1838, a Board of Commissioners composed of seven men, was appointed to take in charge the canal work and a survey was ordered. The work began; there was for a time a great excitement among those locally interested in the canal and the wildest hopes were aroused among tho sturdy pioneers of Macomb County and what is now Oakland County. Every year there were changes in the Board of Commissioners, but the subordinate officers, in the main, continued undisturbed in their duties. Among those interested in the work at one time or another were James B. Hunt, William R. Thompson, Levi T. Humphrey, John M. Baird, Alvin Turner, David Shook, Edward Wesalonski and Amanda Davis, who will be remembered by some of our older citizens. A dam was built at Frederick across the Clinton to supply the locks, and. in 1845, boats were running from Utica to Frederick. In that year, the revenue to the State from canal tolls was 846.00; year following, it was $43.44; in 1847, the income was less yet, and, in 1848, the canal was in disuse. At that time the bottom fell out of the vast scheme of improvements inaugurated by the State, and work stopped on the canal as it did on the other works. The effect of the bankruptcy of the State, for such it was. virtually, on the Clinton & Kalamazoo Canal was demoralizing in the extreme. The locks were pillaged and burned, the iron stolen, and, in 1850, hardly one stone remained upon another. Such was the ignominious end of an enterprise that was to span a great State and join the waters of Lake Michigan and St. Clair. Traces of the canal are still plainly discernible along its route and at Utica it has been kept in good repair and is now utilized as a water-power.

The companion project of the canal, the Shelby Railroad, was begun about the same time, and likewise came to naught. Just before the expiration of its charter, wooden rails were laid down, and a hastily contrived car. drawn by horse-power to Detroit. Only one trip was made, but this was sufficient to preserve the charter, and. some years afterward, when the Detroit & Bay City was constructed, the old road-bed came into service here and there.

Excellent singing by the choir reminded President Cady of some happy reminiscences, which he related with zest. Lew M. Miller, of Lansing, read a paper on the Early Banks and Bankers of Macomb County. This paper reminded President Cady that he was a stockholder in the Bank of Macomb County, and didn't lose a cent by it, either, as he hastily sold out. S. H. Ewell, of Romeo, said that he had been held accountable for that failure of the Utica Bank, to which Mr. Miller made reference, as one day he presented §10 in bills for redemption, and it cleaned out the institution. They never redeemed a bill after that. The choir sang again, and this called to the mind of President Cady the fact that some fifty years ago, the Board of Supervisors of Macomb County, then embracing a large part of Eastern Michigan, held its first meeting in Mt. Clemens. The board was composed of six members and met in a store belonging to Mr. Cady. just north of the court house, where Dahm's new block now stands. The board voted to have some whisky, got drunk, stayed up all night and adjourned the next morning without paying for the drink! A temperance sentiment existed among a certain class of people, who would drink nothing but cider, so he mixed five gallons of cider with five gallons of whisky, and it was high fun to see the temperance folks boozy on Cady's cider.

George H. Cannon read a paper on the life of Judge Burt, who died in 1858, one of the most remarkable men of the early Northwest. President Cady was reminded of an election argument that was used against Burt when he ran for the Legislature. The Judge had a new suit of clothes and was so careful of it that he never sat down without putting a piece of clean paper on the chair. Mr. Cady said the argument was used with no inconsiderable effect Orrin Freeman, of Romeo, told tales of pioneer life, and put in a good word for Freeman's great excursions to the West.

Representative Parker was called upon and addressed the meeting briefly. Mr. Parker dwelt respectively upon the history of Chesterfield, and among many facts stated that the first land located in Chesterfield was on the site of the village of New Baltimore, in 1808, being private claim 343, taken up by Pierre Yacques. Mr. Parker was proud of the fine progress of Chesterfield Township and of its people. After the singing of "Northfield," in ye old-fashioned way. the pioneers proceeded to elect Vice Presidents, who were selected as follows:

Romeo — S. H. Ewell.
Armada — Hiram Barrows.
Mt. Clemens — N. L. Miller.
Utica — James Alexander.
Richmond — David Flagler.
Washington — Loren Andrus.

The new Executive Committee- was authorized to settle with the Treasurer, and, after electing several honorary members, among them John Martin, of Oakland County, and L. M. Miller, of Lansing, adjournment was taken until evening.

The evening session began at 8 o'clock, and was devoted wholly to singing and reminiscences of Macomb County's early singers. S. H. Ewell, of Romeo, figured prominently in the entertainment, and read a paper, in which he mentioned many of the pioneer singers. Horace H. Cady followed with an interesting recital of musical experiences forty and fifty years ago. Mr. Cady was then chief fugleman among the singers and came to the front on all public occasions. He sang a French song with amusing effect. S. H. Davis, of Romeo, sang several old songs to the great delight of the audience, and Secretary Day made a few remarks. This last meeting of the pioneers of Macomb adjourned to meet again at Utica.

History of Macomb County, Michigan :
Leeson, M. A. comp. (Michael A.) Chicago: Leeson, 1882.