Macomb County MI


HISTORY
of
SHELBY TOWNSHIP

Contributed by Patti Wulff
From Leeson's History of Macomb County, Michigan, pp.717


Postcard - Shelby, MI (1909) - Contributed by Paul Petosky

The township is well watered, the principal stream being the Clinton River, which enters the township about the center of its western boundary, and traverses the southwest quarter of the township until it enters Sterling. Next in importance as a stream and water-power is the race, which was made out of the old Clinton & Kalamazoo Canal. This canal was projected in 1837, and constructed in 1838. It was the original intention of the constructors to complete it from Mt. Clemens to Kalamazoo, a distance of about 172 miles, but is was never finished further than Rochester, in Oakland County, and never navigated but from Mt. Clemens to Utica, some twelve miles. It has, since its discontinuance as a navigable thoroughfare, been used as a race to supply motive-power to the Utica mills, for which purpose it is practically adapted. The land is level and fertile. In some sections, however, it may be considered slightly undulating and sandy.

The first American settlers of the township were Nathaniel Squier, George Hanscom, Elias Wilcox, Joseph Miller, Ezra Burgess, Elder Abel Warren, Peleg Ewell, Ira Preston, Joseph Lester, the Axfords, Owens and others, whose names are recorded in other pages of this work.

Thomas Squier was the first white inhabitant who died in the town of Shelby. He was a brother of Hiram Squier, by whom he was buried. Joelamy Squier, a half-sister of Thomas Squier, was the first white child born in the township, her birth occurring in July, 1817. She married James Muir at an early day, and is now known as the Widow Muir, of Almont, where she still resides.

The township of Shelby was erected under authority given in the legislative enactment of April 12, 1827, and the first town meeting ordered to be held at the house of Perez Swift, the last Monday in May following. Shelby originally comprised Towns 2 and 3 north, in the twelfth range east.

The first meeting of the inhabitants of Shelby for the purpose of electing town officers was held at the house of Perez Swift. Calvin Davis presided, with Abijah Owen, Clerk. The result of this election was the choice of Joseph Lester, for Supervisor; Abel Warren, Clerk; Solomon Wales, Jedediah Messenger, William A. Davis, Assessors; Eleazer Scott, Amasa Messenger and Russell Andrus, Overseers of the Poor; William Arnold and Isaac Russ, Constables; Nun Moe and Elias Wilcox, Overseers of Highways; Enoch Huntley, Isaac Russ, Elon Dudley, Orison Withey, Road Commissioners; Eleazer Scott and George Hanscom, Pound-keepers; Joseph Lester, Abel Warren, Solomon Wales, William A. Davis and Jedediah Messenger presided as Inspectors of Elections.

The present village of Utica was named Harlow by Joseph Stead. In 1833, a number of Americans who had settled in the neighborhood, assembled at Elias Scott's house to adopt a name for the village, when Gurdon C. Leech proposed the name Utica, which name was adopted. Among the settlers in 1831 were John James, Gurdon C. and Payne K. Leech, William A. Davis and family, William Smith, Ethan Squiers, Elias Scott, Joseph Stead, George E. Adair, E. P. Adair, Lyman Wentworth, ---- Sparks, the Chapel brothers, B.L. Watkins, B. Kittridge, Peter Moe, Lyman T. Jenny, Job Hoxie, Jedediah Messenger, Amasa Messenger, Asa Huntley, Jonathan Allen, Joseph Lester, Luman Squiers and Anthony King. In 1832, a large number located in the neighborhood.

The hamlet of Disco was platted in 1849. The owners intended that the place should become an academical town, and carried out that intention. The men interested in this laudable enterprise set apart ten acres of land and an endowment fund of $1,000. In 1850, the academy building was erected, and Alonzo M. Keeler appointed Principal. Subsequently, the common school of the district was taken under the academical wing, and so the building continued in the service of high and primary education until 1864, when the lower floor was given to the School Trustees and the upper to the religious societies of the neighborhood.

The village is located on the Middle Branch of the Clinton River, fourteen miles northwest of the county seat and four miles north of Utica, its shipping-point. Its population is 110.

The principal industries of the village are comprised in a wooden bowl factory, feed-mill, cider-mill and planing-mill. Among the business and professional men are A.E. Bacon, physician; G.T. Darby, grocer; J.H. Bell, bowl manufacturer; John C. Adams, dealer in produce; George Brown, wagon-maker; James Cole, lumber manufacturer; Cross & Payne, wagon-makers, cider manufacturers and planing-mill operators; M.J. Monfore, agricultural implements; H.N. Orcutt, James Ray and ---- Selfridge, blacksmiths.

The first settlers of Disco were John Keeler, Alonzo M. Keeler, Isaac C. Cross, James B. Fry and Henry Skerritt. John Russell, the temperance lecturer, is named among the first settlers. Mrs. H.J. Salter had charge of the post office until the appointment of Miss Emma A. Keeler.