City of Monroe



Monroe County
Michigan

EVENTS in MONROE 1825 - 1834
Submitted by Veneta McKinney
History of Michigan By Talcott E. Wing, Editor. ; New York: Munsell & Company, Publishers. 1890.

In the year 1825 Edward D. Ellis established the Michigan Sentinel, the first paper published in Southern Michigan, and published it until 1836, when he sold the press and office to Abner Morton and son. Mr. Ellis, though quite young when he came to Monroe, took an active part and great interest in the prosperity not only of the then small but growing village, but also of the entire Territory of Michigan. He became a leading man in the village and county, frequently holding offices of responsibility and trust; was one of the delegates chosen to form the State constitution, and was one of the first State Senators from the county of Monroe.

A very important service was rendered by him in the constitutional convention to the people of the State of Michigan. When an enactment was under discussion for establishing libraries in all the townships in the State, without any provision either to receive books or sustain the libraries, it was Mr. Ellis who proposed and carried through the idea that all fines imposed for the violation of the penal laws through the State, and all sums assessed for the non-performance of military duty, should be set aside as a fund for the support of said libraries. The idea was original with him, and has frequently been mentioned to his credit. He died in Detroit May 15,1848.

On the first of June, 1825, Governor Cass passed through Monroe on his return from the Indian council at Wapakoneta, Ohio. The object of the council was to purchase the reservations in the State of Ohio and to induce the Indians to join their red brethren west of the Mississippi. It was convened at the request of the Cherokees and some of the Shawnees, who were anxious that all the Indians east of the Mississippi should be removed to the country west of that river. But the Indians in Ohio were not prepared for such a measure. Many of them were respectable farmers and lived comfortably; were indisposed to remove among the remote western Indians, with some of whom they had carried on hereditary hostilities for ages. But when compact white settlements surrounded the reservations, the Indians receded as they have always done before the advancing tide of civilized population, and sought refuge in the ocean of desert stretching along the bed of the Rocky Mountains.

During one day in the third week of June, 1825, the sales at the land office in Monroe amounted to $2,300 — a large amount for those early days. The purchasers were from the State of New York.

During the same week Monroe Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was constituted, and the officers installed by A. Gr. Whitney, Grand Master, by the authority of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. The installations and constitution took place at the courthouse, where an appropriate address was delivered by the Grand Master to an audience of ladies and gentlemen. The proceedings were preceded and closed with prayer by the Rev. Noah H. Wells. The following officers were installed: Seneca Allen, Master; Hiram Brown, Senior Warden ; Harry Conant (father of our present Secretary of State), Junior Warden ; John Anderson, Treasurer; Charles Noble, Secretary; together with subordinate officers. The members of the lodge, together with a number of the fraternity from the adjoining counties, after the installation partook of an excellent dinner, prepared by Alcott C. Chapman of the Mansion House, then located where the banking office of B. Dansard & Son now stands.

On the 22d of July, 1825, a bateau arrived at our wharf from the River Thames, T. J. C, with one hundred and fifty bushels of wheat for grinding, having come a distance of one hundred and eighty miles in consequence of the scarcity of water in that vicinity. This may be considered a striking evidence of the singular changes which are sometimes effected by time. The depredations of our enemies twelve years previous had caused flight from their friends in the depth of winter to save their lives and those of their families; now, in the enjoyment of independence and comfort, happy were they for the opportunity of rendering to their former enemies good for evil, not forgetting to take a reasonable amount of toll for the grists.

September 16, 1825, there arrived at the port of Monroe a pine pump log seventy feet in length from the River St. Clair for James Hale, who was then building a distillery in the present first ward, It was drawn from the River Raisin wharf by six yoke of oxen.

January 26, 1826, the River Raisin was covered with very thick ice, and colder weather had not been experienced for a number of years. Most business men were compelled to suspend operations in consequence. In the printing office of Edward D. Ellis, boiling water congealed instantly on being applied to the type.

February 17, 1826, the trial of Na-a-ga-bo or Jock-nes-brow, an Indian of the Ottawa tribe, for the murder of Ambegnaw, a squaw of the Pottawatomie nation, on the evening of the 6th of January, 1826, at Swan Creek, came on in the Circuit Court for Monroe county, Hon. Solomon Sibley presiding. The prosecution was managed on behalf of the Government by Charles Noble, district attorney, and A. M. Robertson, Esq. The prisoner was defended by Messrs. Wolcott Lawrence and Whitney, who were assigned him by the court. It was proven that the accused committed the murder, but drunkenness was pleaded as an excuse. The jury brought in a verdict of not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter. The sentence of the court was declared, that the prisoner be confined at hard labor in the county prison for one year and pay a fine of one hundred dollars, together with the costs of prosecution.

The change during the winter of 1826 in the mode of carrying the mails through this part of the country from the back of a French pony to the inside of a substantial covered wagon, and an additional trip in the week, proved a great public convenience, and was the first line of stages established in Michigan. There were, however, some old fogies who thought it a useless expense to have a mail as often as twice a week.

March 1, 1826, a two-mile race on the lake at the mouth of the River Raisin, was run by the celebrated horse, White Stocking, owned by Isadore Navarre, and one owned by Stephen Duval. White Stocking, whose owner the year before challenged the world to run against him, and which was prior to that time deemed the swiftest horse in North America, came out several rods in the rear.

During this year (1826) the population increased more than one-third.

A settlement on Stony Creek, four miles north of Monroe, was commenced four miles from its mouth, and in 1826 consisted of fourteen families, which was making rapid improvements. The inhabitants thereof then supplied Monroe with many of the necessaries of life. An extensive mill and other establishments were in operation at the mouth of Stony Creek previous to the War of 1812, but were destroyed by fire by Colonel Proctor and the forces under his command. It was during this year the United States road between Monroe and Otter Creek, five miles south, was completed.

The Chapman House, the site of which was the corner of Washington and Front street, where B. Dansard & Son's bank now is, forty-six feet front and three stories high, was completed this year — the highest building occupied as a hotel at that time in the State of Michigan.

The assessors of Monroe county completed their assessments for the year 1826 in June of that year. The total amount of property assessed was $1,328.33, an increase from the previous year of $363.35. The assessors made it a part of their duty to take a census of the inhabitants, and the following was the result:

Monroe County.

Number of white males 1,436
Number of white females 1,182
Total inhabitants 2,618
Lenawee County (attached to Monroe).
Number of white males 144
Number of white females 123
Total inhabitants 267

The result of the census in 1820 exhibited a population in the same district of country of 1,851.

The officers of the Second Regiment of Michigan Militia, under command of Colonel Oliver Johnson, were engaged in military drill and maneuvering through the streets of Monroe the 16th, 17th and 18th of August, 1826. A twenty-dollar sword carried by Lieutenant Colonel Briggs (father of Perry Briggs, of this city), a general supply of muskets, together with the music, formed their equipment. Military affairs received but little attention for the two previous years, but the sound of music, though consisting of fife and drum, was perfectly exhilarating.

On the first of September, 1826, Colonel Francis Navarre, the first white settler of Monroe, departed this life. He located here by the invitation of the Indians, the then sole owners of the soil, who granted him a tract of 1,200 or 1,500 acres of land, comprising the portion of the city of Monroe east of Scott street, extending from the River Raisin south to the farms laid out on Otter Creek. He retained at the time of his death about five hundred acres of great value, which he willed to his children. Was the first person who attempted the establishment of military discipline and introduced the forms of civil government in this county; was first appointed captain, afterwards colonel, in the first regiment formed in the county. He held at different times and for long periods distinguished civil offices. He maintained during his whole life great influence over the Indians; was conversant with and spoke fluently the language of many of the Indian tribes; was distinguished for his energy in aiding to accomplish the celebrated Indian treaty concluded at Greenville, Ohio, under the direction of General Wayne, by which the United States became possessed of an immense body of land, and secured the right of constructing roads through a valuable portion of the State of Michigan. He witnessed the first commencement of a fine settlement here; saw the same destroyed, the houses of the inhabitants sacked and burned upon the battlefield, and lived to see the remaining inhabitants recover from the shock occasioned by the war, settled anew in comparative affluence, and build up a flourishing village within a few- rods of his own door. He was remarkable for his habits of temperance, industry and frugality," hospitable to new-comers, and was noted for the strictest honesty and uprightness in all his intercourse with mankind. February 11, 1827, at a meeting held at the court-house a petition was adopted to be presented to the legislative council, praying for an act of incorporation. Our citizens were somewhat divided in opinion, and two parties sprang up. The majority were, however, decidedly in favor of being incorporated. The vote stood 43 for and 19 against.

March 17, 1827, Mr. Price and Mr. Allen, from Virginia, seized a colored man at Waterloo, one mile west of Monroe, as a slave of whom they claimed to be owners. Mr. Allen was committed by Peter P. Ferry, a justice of the peace, and held a number of months in the Monroe county jail, under the care of Captain Thorpe, of Swan Creek, a deputy sheriff. The examination resulted in their commitment under bonds of $250 each to appear at the next term of the county court. Mr. Price produced on the examination a power of attorney, the genuineness of which was very questionable, from the owner of the slave in question, certified by the proper officers of the State of Virginia.

The first annual township election for the town of Monroe was held May 2,1827. Samuel Choate was elected supervisor by a vote of 49; Edward D. Ellis, township clerk; assessors, Samuel Stone, jr., Joseph G. Navarre, Jeremiah Lawrence; commissioners of highways, Daniel Mulhollen, Hiram Brown and Samuel W. Gale; overseers of the poor, William W. . Gale and George Alfred; constables, James McManus and Ethel Burch; collector, James McManus; poundmaster, Waterbury Gray; fence viewers, William Page, Francis Robert, Aiken Duval, David Barker.

May 12, 1827, the first village election took place, resulting in the election of John Anderson, president; trustees, Hiram Brown, Ezekiel A. Peltier, Edward D. Ellis, Peter P. Ferry, Anthony L. Briggs ; treasurer, Thomas Wilson; marshal, Otia Stowell.

May 30, 1827, the annual meeting of the LaPlaisance Bay Harbor Company was held. Alcott C. Chapman, Charles Noble, Levi S. Humphrey, John Anderson and Harry Conant were chosen directors for the ensuing year. John Anderson, Levi S. Humphrey, Oliver Johnson, were chosen to superintend the next annual election. The directors chose Levi S. Humphrey president; Edward D. Ellis, secretary; and Oliver Johnson, treasurer.

On the 23d of June, 1827, Messrs. Miller and Germain shipped from LaPlaisanee Bay harbor for the city of New York, two hundred barrels of flour, manufactured at the mills in the village of Monroe. It is believed to be the first flour exported from Michigan, and passed in New York market for superfine.

A distressing calamity, one of which the history of this county affords no parallel, occurred January 27, 1828. On the evening of that day, the wife and five children of John St. Couture, who resided on the beach of Lake Erie, on the south side of Otter Creek, in the township of Lasselle (now Erie), were awakened by the beating of the ice against the little dwelling, occasioned by the rising of the waters of the lake during a heavy storm of wind. They resolved on making their way to a neighboring house in the hope of finding shelter. Mrs. Couture took two of the children upon her back, the hired girl took two, and the oldest, a little boy eleven years old, endeavored to make his way on foot. They had not advanced far through water and ice, waist deep, before Mrs. Couture lost her two children. The idea of leaving them to perish was insupportable. She endeavored in vain to find them, when the little boy requested his mother to leave him behind, in the hope of rescuing himself and comrades. Mrs. Couture advanced as far as a fence against which the ice appeared to beat without extending beyond. She was found Sunday morning with her foot caught in the fence; her children were found some rods distant, but the affectionate little boy was not found until the next day. The hired girl, finding she could be of no assistance, went to the house for which they had all started; it was deserted, surrounded by water, and the door fastened. She placed the two children on a ladder to which they clung, while she was endeavoring to gain entrance; they clung for a few moments, but benumbed by cold, fell into the water and perished. Finding herself alone, she sought safety by climbing1 on the top of an outside oven, where she remained until morning, when she was taken from her perilous situation, where she could not, thinly clad, have long survived. Mr. Couture was absent on a visit to the only surviving child, who was attending school at Bay Settlement, now Erie.

Major John Whipple, of Detroit, was this year (1830) appointed keeper of the light-house a short time before erected in the vicinity of La Plaisance Bay harbor on Lake Erie.

On the 22d of January, 1832, a very revolting spectacle was witnessed by the citizens of Monroe — the whipping of Edward Dillon with fifteen lashes on the bare back, a custom which yet prevails in New Jersey. It was, however, an efficient mode, as those subjected to public whipping were so thoroughly disgraced that they were seldom in those days seen twenty-four hours after punishment. It was often adopted as a mode of punishment for theft. The whipping always took place on the public square in Monroe.

Alcott C. Chapman removed to Monroe from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, soon after the close of the War of 1812, when the prospects of this section of country were at the lowest ebb. He continued to reside here from that time to the date of his death, April 22, 1831, aged thirty-eight years. Mr. Chapman was uniformly one of its most public-spirited citizens, and to his exertions more than to any other single individual was the village of Monroe indebted for its then flourishing prospects. He erected the largest hotel in the State, and even up to the time of his last sickness his enterprise was not in the least abated, as he was then engaged in erecting another splendid building on Monroe street.

The River Raisin toll bridge on the 6th of March, 1832, left its long established foundation and departed in solemn majesty down stream. This event, from a considerable rise of water and the heavy masses of ice that were floating with great force at the time, was looked for with a great degree of certainty by a concourse of the citizens, who had assembled to witness. The exit of the rotten skeleton that had so long overshadowed our river. Several individuals who had posted themselves on the bridge narrowly escaped a similar fate. The loss to the owners, Messrs. Henry Disbrow and John St. Russeau, was severely felt by them, as they had purchased the charter but a short time previous. Some of our older citizens well remember the old toll bridge. Since its day and before the day of iron bridges they have seen many a wooden structure sent cavorting down stream by the spring freshets, but the day for that kind of entertainment is now happily past.

Township election for Monroe resulted April 14, 1832, in the election of Luther Harvey, supervisor; Peter P. Ferry, township clerk; Levi S. Humphrey, Nathan Hubbell and Ezekiel A. Peltier, assessors; Samuel H. Gale, David M. Jacobs and Stephen Duval, commissioners; Edward D. Ellis, director of the poor; John Mulhollen, collector; James H. Miller, John Mulhollen, Louis E. Bailey, constables: Daniel S. Bacon, Phanuel W. Warriner and Harry Conant, school inspectors; Waterbury Gray, Harry Conant, pound masters; W. W. Gale, David M. Jacobs, Robert F. Navarre, fence viewers.

Village election occurred June 4, 1832, and the following persons were elected: President, John Anderson; trustees, Harry Conant, Timothy H. Lindsley, Samuel P. Munger, Harry Y. Mann, Thomas G. Cole; treasurer, Edward D. Ellis; marshal, Lewis E. Bailey; assessors, Levi S. Humphrey, Nathan Hubbell; school commissioners, Warner Wing, James Q. Adams, Wolcott Lawrence; supervisor of highways, Joseph Wood.

Jeremiah Lawrence came to Monroe August 5 1817 — was a native of Connecticut. Took an active part in the cause of his country during the Revolutionary War: was for many years a civil magistrate in Massachusetts, and during the most of his residence here acted in a similar capacity, besides filling a variety of public trusts in the village and township. He died at the residence of his son-in-law, Joseph C. Garwood, on the 5th of August, 1833. Township election in Monroe April, 1834,resulted in the election of Edward D. Ellis, supervisor; Peter P. Ferry, town clerk; Joseph Wood, James H. Miller, Lewis E. Bailey, constables; Seneca Allen, Issachar Frost, Nathan Hubbell, assessors; David M. Jacobs, Norman D. Curtis, Stephen Duval, commissioners of highways; Thomas Wilson, Henry S. Piatt, directors of the poor; Wolcott Lawrence, Harry Conant, Isaac P. Skinner, school commissioners; James Q. Adams, Daniel S. Bacon, Timothy H. Lindsley, Harry Y. Mann and John H. Converse, school inspectors