Mecosta County MI

City of Morley
Aetna Township

Morley, MI (North Cass Street) (1910) - Contributed by Paul Petosky

Aetna Township, occupying the southwest corner of Mecosta County, is numbered thirteen north, range ten west. Congressional survey, and bounded on the north by Mecosta Township, on the east by Deerfield Township, on the south by Montcalm County, and on the west by Newaygo County.

It is watered by both the Muskegon, which crosses the northwest corner, and Little Muskegon, crossing the southeastern corner. It contains also Ryerson Creek and Brockway Creek, flowing into the Muskegon, and Big Creek, with its tributaries. West Branch and Clear Creek, flowing into the Little Muskegon. The township contains several small lakes, among which are Davis Lake, Briar Patch Lake and Brady Lake. The greater part of the village of Motley lies in Aetna Township. The Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad runs through sections thirteen, twenty-four, twenty, five and thirty-six. Aetna was the eighth township organized in Mecosta County, its first election occurring Oct. 10, 1865 Its first Supervisor was Frederick R. Luther. The first white settler was William Brockway, who located on section twenty-nine. The first birth was that of Ira P. Mitchell, son of William G. and Mary A. Mitchell. The first death was that of Piatt Mitchell, in April, 1855. The first couple married were Fred Matthews and Mary Howe, by Clark T. Green, Justice of the Peace, in June, 1864. The first frame building was a dwelling creeled by Clark D. Green in 1868. The first mill was a portable saw-mill put up by A. B. Bunn, in 1869. The first school-house was a log building erected on section ten, in i860. The first school was taught by Rachel Whitzel, in 1861. The first store was opened by John Butler, in 1869. The first post-office, Morley, was established in 1869.

Aetna Township shows remarkably steady and rapid increase of population. In 1870, at the first census after its organization, Aetna had already a population of 385. The State census of 1874 gave 557, and the last census, in 1880, showed a total of 894. In 1874, it had 722 acres of improved land, and in 1881 in had 1,221 acres. In 1866 the equalized valuation of its real and personal estate was $27,078. Its present valuation is $192,480. The total vote in November, 1882, was 231.


The village of Morley owes its existence to the construction of the G. R. & I. railroad. The first settlers on the village plat were Charles Lawson, Nelson Pike, M. Swanger, George H. Ward, Hiram Bryant, Allen Chapin, Rodney Elmer and Harvey Winas, all of whom came in the summer or fall of i860. The post-oftice was established the same fall, and Frank P. Bodwell was appointed the first Postmaster. The present Postmaster is D. C. King. The population of the village increased very fast, and in one year had become 328, by the actual count of M. Swanger, who took a census in the fall of 1870. This showed a sufficient population to warrant the incorporation of the village, which was ordered by the County Board of Supervisors the same fall. The first officers elected were: Michael Swanger, President; A. Chapin, Clerk; H. Daniels, Treasurer. In 1883 Morley was incoporated by the Legislature, and the following officers were chosen: George H. Ward, President; W. H. Richmond, Clerk; George H. Force, John Pierdon, William Hugh, Sen., M. T. Ncthaway. William T. Jones and John Hanson, Trustees.

The population of the village is now between 500 and 600. The following is the list of business men and firms now in Morley:

Beard, F. C, grocery.
Carr, J. M., lumber and shingles.
Chapin, Allen, general store.
Culler, J. F- & Co., hardware store.
Dickerson, Isaiah, livery stable.
Davy & Flock, wagon shop and blacksmith.
Higbee & Hugh, lumber and lath.
Hill, William, restaurant.
Force, George H., general store.
Hanson Bros., grocery.
Hicks, W. H.. drug-store.
Hanson, M., notions.
Jones, W. T., shingles.
Jones, Wellington, crockery.
Jones & Hugh, grist-mill.
Lake, W. O., stationery.
Loshbongb, G. B., wagon-shop and black smithing.
Lawson, Charles, boot and shoe store.
Morgan Bros., furniture store.
Mickins, Spencer, barber shop.
Pelton, Lon. A., hardware store.
Pike, Nelson, drug store.
Pike, Mrs. A., millinery shop.
Pierdon & Sanegar, tannery.
Reynier, Julius, hotel and saloon.
Rockwell, Mrs. Wm., millinery shop.
Richmond, W. H., jewelry store.
Smith, O. W.photograph gallery-
Swanger. M., bakery and restaurant.
Thurkow, John E., general store.
Trask, R. S., saloon.
Wiley, N. W., shingles.
Ward, Mis. G. H., millinery.
Wagner & Foolmer. shingles.
Whitbeck, L. I., meal market.
Woolworth, B. F., harness shop.

The medical profession is represented by Drs. B. F. Brown, B. H. McMullen and J. B. Cook; and the legal by D. C. Moshier.

M. I,. Jones is the station agent on the G. R. 5: I. Railroad.

The Morley Advance is a five-column folio, printed at Mecosta, of which about three columns are items pertaining to Morley. H. O. Lake is the Morley editor. H. M. Trussell is the proprietor and publisher. The first issue of the Advance appeared April 13, 1883.

General Wool Post, No. 164. G. A. R.,was mustered Aug. 2, 1883, with the following officers: Charles Reed. Com. Orwell Ball, S. V. C; M. T. Nethaway, J. V. C; D. C. King, Q. M.; William Rockwell. Chap.; Sanford Reed, O. D.; Orrio I. Hill. O. G. ; William H. Hicks, Surgeon; Clark Van Wig, Adj. The post numbers 24 members.

The only church in Morley is that of the Methodist Episcopal denomination,organized in the fall of 1870. For some years, until able to build a church, the society held its services in the school-house. They have now a commodious church edifice, seating between 300 and 400, and which cost $1,500. Services are held at least once every Sunday, and twice every alternate Sunday. The present pastor is Rev. C. W. Smith, who commenced his duties in September, 1883.

The school building at Morley was erected in 1871-2, at a cost of $2,500. Additional sums have been spent on the building at different times—$1,000 in 1883. The Principal of the school is Frank O. Wicleham, and he is assisted by Miss Gertrude Grover. The Morley Academy is a private school taught by Clark Van Wie, and was opened in July, 1883. It has a model department for preparing teachers. The attendance varies from 30 to 40. The institution is supported by a stock company, which has raised $1,500 in shares of $25 each.

A driving park has just been purchased west of the village, and a track laid out and graded. The park contains 20 acres. The President of the association is John Bell; Secretary, D. W. Stewart. Morley has been a severe sufferer from fire, on two occasions. The first was Oct. 6, 1876, when the National Hotel, the Central House, and the Commercial House, and all south of them to the river were burned. A woman and child, living near Rustford, were consumed in this blaze. The fire is supposed to have originated in a lamp explosion. Feb. 17, 1880, the business block from Second to Third streets was consumed. These two conflagrations swept away nearly the whole of the village, though, Phcenix-like, Morley is now more of a place than ever. The second fire is supposed to be due to incendiarism. Albert Fairchild was tried for the crime of arson, convicted, and sentenced to the State Penitentiary for life, but through a technical error obtained a second trial and was acquitted.

Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Prominent ... History of Mecosta County 1883