City of Greenville
City of Greenville
By Edgar O. Wagner
The city of Greenville, the chief commercial emporium of the county of Montcalm, and until the year 1860 its seat of justice, is located in Eureka, which township lies in the southwest corner of the county. The city is built upon both banks of the Flat River, which stream pursues a circuitous course within its limits, entering at the northwest boundary on section 9 and flowing south, then east, and, veering again to the southeast, finally makes its exit from section 15.
During the early settlement of the locality the stream was on one side covered by forests of pine, while on the opposite shore was a stretch of level land, varied by an occasional growth of oak. A most valuable water-power was afforded within the present corporate limits which led speedily to the development of milling enterprises, and very early two dams were erected – one on the north side, where the stream begins its winding course, and another to the south, both of which are the centre of extensive manufacturing interests. With the improvement of this water privilege very soon disappeared every vestige of timber, and a thriving village superseded the vast expanse of plain and forest. As early as the year 1854, upon the upper dam, were erected a flouring-mill, saw-mill, tannery, chair factory, foundry, and a shop for various kinds of woodturning, while upon the lower dam a saw-mill and a sash-, door-, blind-, and lath-factory were built. This water-power has been since greatly developed and improved, and now forms the nucleus around which cluster the most extensive business interests of the county.
In the southwest portion of the corporation lies Baldwin Lake, a picturesque body of water whose attractions have been greatly enhanced by the completion of a wide and carefully maintained boulevard along its borders. [Adjoining it are Como and Fatal Lakes, less expansive, but equally beautiful in their natural charms.]
The Detroit, Lansing and Northern Railroad passes through Greenville, thus making it easily accessible to all portions of the State, while affording an outlet for the produce of the adjacent country. The Grand Rapids, Greenville and Bay City Railroad, now in process of completion, will afford it additional facilities.
The extensive area of timbered land adjacent to Greenville made it years since a favorable point for a growing lumber interest. Mills were early built and the business carried on to a greater or less extent, but lumber was dull and little profit was enjoyed by those who first embarked in the enterprise. Much of it was sold at the-mills at from two dollars and fifty cents to five dollars per thousand, and country produce was frequently a legal tender in payment of the purchase.
Lumber that did not find a ready market at the mills was made into rafts and floated down the Flat and Grand Rivers to Grand Haven, where it was shipped by lake to the Chicago market, the annual spring freshets greatly assisting the owners of-mills in the sale of their surplus stock. With the close of the war a stimulus was given to this interest, and the extensive pine-lands of the county were rapidly enhanced in value, thereby stimulating the milling business and creating an active demand for what was before but a drug in the market. Two of the heaviest operators cut and floated down the Flat River thirty-five million feet of logs during the winter of 1865-1866, which, under the judicious management of one of these gentlemen, himself a lumberman of experience, safely reached their destination.
The success of this enterprise affected materially the sale of pine-lands, especially those immediately adjacent to large streams. These lands were eagerly sought by mill-owners at Grand Haven and other points, and log-running, as a consequence, became an established institution.
In 1867 the Flat River Booming Company was organized, with H. M. Fuller as president and C. J. Church as secretary and treasurer, both residents of Greenville. In 1874 the Grand River and Greenville Log-Running Company was formed, as opposed to the former organization, with a capital of fifteen thousand dollars. This company is composed of log-owners who transport their own property down the rivers, and, as a consequence, the two companies became antagonistic. After much hostility and litigation the matter was compromised.Most of the timber thus floated down the Flat and Grand Rivers finds its ultimate destination at either Grand Rapids or Grand Haven. The average amount of lumber run down the streams per season by the latter company is one hundred million feet. Ten per cent, of this is absorbed by the mills along the Flat River, the same quantity is detained at Grand Rapids, and the remainder finds its way to Grand Haven. The annual cost of transporting this amount of lumber is fifty thousand dollars, or fifty cents per thousand feet, the officers of the company being Sherman H. Boyce (president), James L. White (vice-president), Rufus F. Sprague (secretary and treasurer), Hunter Savidge, and Thomas Friant.
The corporate limits of the city of Greenville embrace four sections (9, 10, 15, and 16), and thus form a perfect square. Its lands were originally entered from the government or purchased of the State by the following individuals:
Section 9 – From the government: 41.75 acres, by Wis-to-gan and Pan-de-gar-cow-an, January 11, 1840. From the State: 160 acres, by Ethan Satterlee, May 15, 1844; 48.61 acres, by Josiah Russell and others, December 11, 1844; 87 acres, by S. Demarest and others, November 25, 1844; 23.25 acres, by the same, July 12, 1844; 116.25 acres, by Demarest, Green, and others, June 13, 1844; 115.15 acres, by Ira Porter, May 20, 1844.
Section 10 – From the government: 71.15 acres, by Charles S. Harroun, August 9, 1839. From the State: 40 acres, by Henry M. Moore, April 3, 1849; 36.85 acres, by George Van Ness, February 17, 1846; 117.80 acres, by Jacob W. Petty, August 12, 1847; 40 acres, by George Holmden, September 15, 1846; 80 acres, by Charles Seymour, October 30, 1848; 80 acres, by James Grant, February 6, 1846; 48.71 acres, by A. H. Russell and Alexander N. Loomis, January 8, 1846; 62.40 acres, by Ira Porter, August 8, 1845; 49.95 acres, 49.95 acres, June 4, 1844.
Section 15 – From the State: 160 acres, by Ira Porter, September 17, 1845; 79.65 acres, by Ira Porter, May 26, 1845; 68.35 acres, by Ira Porter, January 7, 1845; 60.50 acres, by Ira Porter, August 8, 1845; 42.55 acres, by Thomas Green, February 17, 1846; 41.65 acres, by Evan Williams, September 23, 1845; 80 acres, by Daniel W. Tomlinson, February 25, 1846; 160 acres, by Joseph C. Bailey, December 21, 1849.
Section 16 – From the State: 40 acres, by John Loucks, March 1, 1848; 40 acres, by Henry M. Moore, May 26, 1848; 40 acres, by Thomas Green, September 21, 1847; 80 acres, by Smith & Moore, March 9, 1850; 40 acres, by James B. Chamberlain, March 26, 1850; 40 acres, by Lewis E. Smith, April 19, 1850; 40 acres, by Enos T. Peck, same date; 40 acres, by Samuel B. Peck, September 19, 1857; 40 acres, by Manning Rutan, December 8, 1864; 40 acres, by George and Erastus Fisher, August 22, 1854; 42.37 acres, by Samuel B. Peck, April 7, 1855; 48.31 acres, by James B. Chamberlain, July 14, 1858; 40 acres, by L. B. Conant and A. S. Watson, July 5, 1865.
First and Other Early Settlements
Until the year 1844 the ground now covered by the busy city of Greenville was a vast plain diversified by an occasional oak, untenanted by the white man, and in sole possession of wandering tribes of the Blacksmith and Wabesis Indians, who pitched their tents on the sloping banks of the Flat River and devoted themselves to the pursuit of fish and game. [A tradition exists that one David Baldwin, of Ionia County, made a pre-emption claim in 1837. He plowed a considerable tract to substantiate this claim, and may have been the first white man on the ground, but cannot be regarded as an actual settler.]
During that year John Green emigrated from Fulton Co., N. Y., to the State, traveling by canal a portion of the way, by cars as far as Jackson, down the Grand River by boat, and by wagon to Otisco, in Ionia County. In June of the same year he entered, in connection with other parties, lands on section 9 of the township of Eureka – now a portion of Greenville – upon which he erected a shanty for the convenience of his family, and to which Mr. and Mrs. Green, with four children, soon after removed. The site of this primitive abode is now occupied by a barn belonging to what is known as the Hart-mills. Not a white inhabitant was to be seen, and a pilgrimage of six miles was necessary to find a neighbor. Mr. Green the same year built a saw-mill upon the upper dam, on the location of the present Hart Mill, which was the property of a company embracing John Green, Samuel Demarest, and his two sons, Clark and Samuel, and, subsequently, Josiah Russell.
The following year Mr. Green began clearing his land, and also turned his attention to farming pursuits. His partners in the milling enterprise – the Demarest’s – did not build, but remained in Otisco, and found a home with the Green family during their visits, at brief intervals. Mr. Green in 1849 sold the mill to Nelson Robinson and engaged in mercantile pursuits, his feeble health precluding severe manual labor. He survived until 1855, and was buried in the city which he founded, and which now does honor to his memory in the name it bears. Having been not only the earliest pioneer, but a man of means, he was an important factor in the development of the business interests of the place. Mrs. Green still resides in Greenville, and recalls with pleasure the experiences of the early years of her emigration.
Josiah Russell, the second pioneer in point of arrival, came in November of 1844, and found a temporary home with Mr. Green until the following fall, when his family arrived and removed to the shanty owned by the former, he having meanwhile transferred his quarters to a more pretentious log cabin. Mr. Russell – more familiarly known as Judge Russell – later purchased a tract of land and became a comparatively large landholder. This was partially embraced within the present city limits, and was by him cultivated for a short period, but later sold. He also engaged in milling, and was the earliest presiding judge of the County Court, its first sessions having been held in Shearer’s Hotel.
Judge Russell early held the position of deputy postmaster of Greenville, probably under Abel French, the office having been kept in his house on the bank of the river. On one occasion, when called upon for the mail, he was seated at breakfast with his family. One of his sons having asked for more cakes, he took from between his knees a pan filled with the morning repast and dealt the boy his share.
Abel French was the first postmaster, his commission bearing date January 20, 1848. His wife a portion of the time managed the details of the office. The second commission was held by Stephen Rossman, and dated January 3, 1851. He was succeeded by John Green, who was commissioned April 14, 1854, and transferred the office to Dr. Chamberlain. It was popularly known as the dead-letter office, because half an hour or more was required for the distribution of the mail. Judge Russell subsequently removed to Pentwater, Mich., where his death occurred.
Soon after the advent of Judge Russell occurred that of Thomas Myers, in 1845. He was by trade a millwright, and, in connection with Russell, built a saw-mill, now known as the Wright Mill, on the Flat River, at the lower dam. He managed this enterprise for a brief time, but, becoming dissatisfied with his prospects, removed from the locality. Daniel Ball also came the same fall and assisted Mr. Green in the mill and otherwise. The following year (1846) occurred the death of his wife, the earliest in the primitive settlement.
George Van Ness removed from Fulton Co., N. Y., in 1845, and located upon ten acres of land purchased of Mr. Green on the bank of the river. He was a carpenter by trade, and soon found employment about the mill and in the erection of houses for the settlers as they arrived.
Small as was the population of the little hamlet at this early date, the malarial fevers incident to the upturning of the soil made the presence of a physician indispensable. Dr. Thomas Green, brother of the earliest pioneer, arrived in 1845 and established himself in his profession, having left his former home in Chautauqua Co., N. Y., for this purpose. He erected a shanty, to which he removed, but the doctor himself fell an easy victim to the prevailing scourge, the ague, and after the lapse of a very few years returned again to the Empire State.
John Loucks came from the Mohawk Valley, New York, the same year, built a shanty, and engaged in employment in the saw-mill.
George Loucks, also originally from the Mohawk Valley, but later from Oakland County, arrived at the same period, and engaged in farming and lumbering adjacent to the village. In 1847 he removed to Greenville and embarked in mercantile pursuits. Lumber at this date was not readily disposed of at four dollars per thousand, and shingles made by hand and with much labor brought but six shillings per thousand. Mr. Loucks in 1857 removed with his family to Rockford, Ill., and later to Missouri, where an accident ended his life.
Abram Roosa was the earliest blacksmith in the settlement. He built a shop and established himself in his trade, and the same year (1845) was married to Miss Deborah, daughter of John Green. This was the first marriage ceremony performed in Greenville. In the family of Mr. Green also occurred the earliest birth, that of his daughter Josephine – now Mrs. D. A. Starkweather, and still a resident of her native place – in 1845.
William Weed removed from Oakland County in the fall of 1845 and located in Greenville, where he was employed in the saw-mill. During the winter he built a log house, in which he established his family. After a brief residence he went to the township of Fair Plains, and later to Ionia County. His son, Sylvanus, is still a resident of Greenville.
Henry M. Moore, formerly a resident of Canandaigua, N. Y., early found a home in Oakland County, and the latter portion of the year 1846 became a resident of Greenville. By his ability and energy he contributed materially to the development of the village and its subsequent progress. He was the owner of two hundred acres of land on section 11, and, in connection with Abel French, opened a general store. Later he purchased, in conjunction with Lewis E. Smith, forty acres of land within the present city limits, upon which he erected a store and also a residence. He engaged extensively in mercantile operations, and at a later period devoted himself with vigor to the political issues of the day. He was in 1851 representative in the State Legislature, and active in the organization of the county the year previous. He also secured the passage of the law constituting Greenville the seat of justice of the county, where for ten years the sessions of the court were held. Mr. Moore’s investments in Greenville did not prove lucrative, and this want of success caused his later removal to California, where he at present resides.
Nelson Robinson, having purchased the mill-property of John Green and others, employed Abel French to look after his interests, and he brought with him a stock of goods furnished by Robinson, and opened a store for the payment of the hands employed in the mill. Mr. French afterwards engaged with Henry M. Moore in trade, having built a store for the purpose in the suburbs. About the year 1850 he erected a store in Greenville and embarked in business with John Green, whose extended credit enabled the firm to do a lucrative trade. Josiah Russell subsequently took an interest, and Charles C. Ellsworth also became one of the firm. Mr. French was not, however, a popular business man, and ultimately removed to the southern portion of the State, where his death occurred.
James McCreedy arrived at nearly the same time and opened a small grocery, where he supplied the wants of the early settlers. His log dwelling also served the purposes of trade, his early stock, valued at forty dollars, requiring but little space. In 1856 he removed to Illinois, where he has since amassed a fortune.
Alexander Satterlee came from Jackson County and purchased a farm on section 8 as early as 1845. Though not a resident of the village, he was identified with its interests and has witnessed its steady improvement. He now resides in Greenville.
Levi Makley came from Oakland County in 1846 and located in the suburbs, but later removed to the village and resided on the corner of Orange and Barry Streets. He is now a resident of Eureka township. George Gibson, who came soon after, also chose a residence outside the present corporate limits. He was a millwright by trade, and found ready employment in the-mills built upon the river. His three sons, Richard, Hiram, and Mark, are still residents of the township of Eureka.
Hiram Slawson was a cabinet-maker, and the earliest representative of his craft in the village, where for some years he plied his trade.
Roger Vanderhoff and his son William were former residents of New York State, from whence they came to Greenville in 1848. They were by trade carpenters and joiners, and followed their calling for many years, during which period many of the substantial early houses of Greenville were erected by them. The former died in the village. His son at an early date built a chair-factory on the Flat River, which was conducted by him until he removed to Kent County.
E. M. Stevens, a former resident of the eastern portion of the State, came in 1848, and soon after built a dwelling on the present Montcalm Street. He was one of the earliest justices, and remained a resident of the village until the beginning of his service in the army. He now resides in Kent County.
William Backus, a native of Vermont, came to Greenville from Oakland County in 1848, and purchased one hundred and forty acres on section 13, known as the Bale farm. Upon this he spent one summer, and then engaged as clerk for French & Moore, whose store was located upon section 11. Moore having later removed to the village, Mr. Backus came also, and has since resided within the corporate limits. He is engaged in farming pursuits, and is an extensive operator in real estate.
Morton Shearer came also in 1848, from St. Clair County, and began, soon after his arrival, the erection of the first hotel in the village, known then as Shearer’s Hotel, and now familiar to the traveling public as Keith’s Exchange. He was for three years the popular landlord of this hostelry, after which it was rented in succession to Jesse Cole, E. B. Edwards, and Myndert Bovee, and then sold to Lyman Pratt, who became landlord. Mr. Shearer in 1853 erected his present residence on Washington Street, and has since followed the profession of a veterinary surgeon.
Occasional religious worship was held at this period in the village, services having been conducted by circuit preachers of the Methodist Church. The first Quarterly Meeting was held in 1847, in the barn belonging to Mr. Green, no school-building of sufficient dimensions having as yet been erected.
Stephen Rossman came to the county of Montcalm in 1846, and a year later chose a residence in Greenville, where he erected a dwelling on the site of the present Webster House. This was in 1850 converted into a hotel and christened the “Rossman House.” Josiah Russell purchased the property in 1855 and became landlord, and later Seth Sprague presided as host. During the owner ship of Tucker & Smith this early landmark was consumed by fire. Mr. Rossman, having removed from the village, is now a resident of the township of Eureka.
J. J. Shearer emigrated from Plymouth, Wayne Co., to Greenville in the year 1848, having been then in his sixteenth year. He early became the possessor of half an acre within the present city limits on Lafayette Street, exchanging his watch and rifle for the land on condition that he chopped forty cords of wood at twenty cents per cord and made three good shots off-hand. The singular compact was complied with, and his skill as a marksman insured possession of the ground. Upon it now stand six modern business-blocks of brick. Mr. Shearer has since devoted himself to mercantile pursuits, in which he is still actively engaged.
Joseph Burgess, a native of Washtenaw County, removed from Livingston County to the hamlet in 1849. He engaged in lumbering and teaming until 1852, when he became associated with George Van Ness in the trade of carpenter and joiner, and was afterwards employed as a millwright. He purchased a farm in Eureka in 1867, upon which he now resides.
Nathaniel Slaght, whose enterprise and extensive business connections have greatly enhanced the prosperity of the city of Greenville, removed from Kent County in April, 1850, and located within the present corporation limits, when, in connection with Abel French, he built a flouring-mill upon the upper dam on the Flat River. This was the first grist-mill in the immediate neighborhood, and was managed for a period of two years and then sold to a purchaser named Hall. He then turned his attention to lumbering, having erected a mill at Greenville, and later one at Grand Haven. Another was built and conducted by him at Trufants. Mr. Slaght is still a resident of Greenville, and at present engaged in mining enterprises.
Manning Rutan, another of the pioneers and public-spirited citizens of Greenville, is a native of New Jersey, and came from Morris County, in that State, in 1851. He had previously located land in Wisconsin, and despatched Enos T. Peck to make the purchase. The latter gentleman, on his return, tarried at Greenville. Mr. Rutan, en route to visit his newly-acquired property, called on Mr. Peck, and while here met Josiah Russell, with whom a bargain was speedily consummated, by which Mr. Rutan, in exchange for his Wisconsin land and some thousands of dollars, became the possessor of seven hundred acres in and about Greenville. He later, while on a visit with his wife, determined to make the place his home. By so slight a circumstance was his future and that of the city of Greenville influenced. He purchased a warehouse and dwelling built by Henry M. Moore, and opened the third store in the hamlet, which he stocked with goods suitable to the wants of the neighborhood. Later, Mr. J. M. Fuller became associated with him in business. He afterwards erected a substantial frame store, fifty feet square and two stories high, in which an extensive mercantile trade was conducted. Mr. Rutan recorded an early plat of the village, to which were later made many additions. He still resides in Greenville, to the advancement of which he has so materially contributed.
William M. Crane made his advent in 1851, having come from Niles, Mich. He embarked with George Loucks in a general mercantile business, the store having been located on the site of the present engine-house. In 1852 they erected the building at present occupied by George Slawson as a drug-store. He subsequently engaged in the grocery, and later in the hardware, business, having built a store for the purpose. He has continued a resident of Greenville, and is now one of the largest real-estate and insurance agents in the city.
Elijah Coffren, also a pioneer of 1851, and formerly a resident of Buffalo, N. Y., came from Howell to the village, where he erected a furnace and managed it in connection with William Maxted for three years, when the latter gentleman purchased his interest and became sole proprietor. He then erected a saw-mill in the suburbs, but continued his residence in the village. In 1860 he was elected judge of Probate, which office was filled by him for two terms. He still resides in the city. William Maxted came from Howell soon after the settlement of Mr. Coffren, and engaged with him in business. He still conducts the furnace built by the latter gentleman.
D. C. Moore, a native of Vermont, came from Grand Rapids to the village in 1851. He erected a frame house on the site of the present opera-house block, and engaged in lumbering. In March, 1867, he removed to Lyons, Ionia Co., and seven years later returned to Greenville, his present home.
Samuel and Urias Stout, father and son, came early from Seneca Co., N. Y., to the county of Livingston, in this State, and conducted a blacksmith-shop. The former survived his advent but three years, and the son relinquished his trade to enter the army. He is now, and has been for a period of nine years, the watchful guardian of the peace of the city.
Charles C. Ellsworth removed from Howell to Greenville in 1851 as the earliest representative of the legal profession. With the exception of a brief interval in trade he has pursued his profession since that time, and has filled many important offices in the gift of his constituents. When Greenville was incorporated as a village, Mr. Ellsworth was chosen its first president.
Rufus K. Moore came from Oakland County to the township of Eureka, where he remained until the fall of 1852, when his removal to the village occurred. He purchased a residence, and in connection with Erastus Fisher embarked in trade. He remained in Greenville until his death, and two sons who survived him are engaged in manufacturing in the city.
Joseph Griffith came in the year 1852, and for two years followed his trade of brick maker. He then embarked in business on the site adjoining his present store on Lafayette Street. He has since that time been actively engaged in mercantile enterprises.
John Lewis, one of the earliest attorneys in the city, was a former resident of Vermont, from whence he emigrated to the hamlet during the year 1853. He at once engaged in the labors of his profession, Mr. Ellsworth having been at that early date his only competitor. He has been steadily identified with the growth of Greenville, and is still actively employed in professional labor.
E. B. Edwards removed from Steuben County in 1854 to the village, and bought pine-lands in adjacent portions of the county. He later purchased of Lyman Pratt and Peter Johnson the hotel now known as Keith’s Exchange, of which he was landlord for a brief time, and then sold to Myndert Bovee. He subsequently engaged in farming and in mercantile pursuits until 1868, when he devoted his entire attention to the cultivation of his extensive landed interests. Mr. Edwards platted a considerable portion of the present city of Greenville.
Milo Blair arrived in 1854 and established the Greenville Reflector, which he maintained for several years, but subsequently departed for Missouri.
Dr. W. H. Ellsworth came from Berkshire, Vt., in 1855, and early engaged in the pursuit of his profession, having for competitors Drs. Sprague, Richardson, Chamberlain, and Slawson. He was at once successful in obtaining a large practice, to which he devoted himself until failing health induced him, in 1863, to repair to the South. On his return the following year he suffered from an accident, which occasioned his death in February, 1864. Mrs. Ellsworth is still a resident of Greenville.
M. Rider came in 1855 from Plymouth, Wayne Co., to Greenville, where he remained a few months. In 1857 he became a permanent resident, having been elected judge of Probate, which office he held for four years. He then engaged in trade and milling, and continued in business until his removal, in 1879, to Trufants, his present residence.
Among other settlers whose early presence contributed to the growth of the settlement were Hiram Rossman, Bedford Birch, Nathan F. Case, Newcomb J. Ireland, Ebenezer Ferrand, and Joel Sanders.
Original Plat and Additions
The earliest plat of the village was made by John Green in 1853. It included lots 8 and 9 on section 9, was surveyed by Volney W. Caukins, and executed January 14, 1853.
Rutan’s plat, on section 10, is bounded on the west by Lafayette Street, south by Union Street, east by Webster Street, and north by the Flat River. It was surveyed by Volney W. Caukins, and recorded by Manning Rutan, January 14, 1853.
Rutan’s addition, embracing the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section 16, was made April, 1864.
Backus’ and Church’s addition, on section 10, was surveyed by H. M. Caukins, and executed in 1867, and an addition by the same individuals, on section 9, known as Backus’ and Church’s second addition, was surveyed by E. H. Jones the same year.
Durfee’s addition, on section 10, embracing about three acres, was surveyed by E. H. Jones in 1867.
Macomber’s addition, comprising all of the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section 16, and surveyed by E. H. Jones, was platted in 1867 and 1868.
Edwards’ first addition, lying west of the Flat River and north of Washington Street, on section 10, was surveyed by E. H. Jones, and recorded in 1862.
Edwards’ second addition, lying on section 15, was surveyed by the same party, and recorded in 1864.
Edwards’ third addition, surveyed by T. N. Stevens, and bounded north and east by the Flat River, west by Webster Street, and south by Cass Street, and located on section 10, was platted in 1867.
Edwards’ fourth and fifth additions, lying on sections 10 and 15, were surveyed by E. H. Jones in 1873.
Merritt’s addition, embracing eight acres on section 10, was surveyed by E. H. Jones in 1866.
Slaght’s addition, lying north of the river, on section 9, was surveyed by T. N. Stevens in 1867.
Rutan’s third addition, embracing the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 16, was surveyed by E. H. Jones in 1868.
Peck’s addition, on section 15, was surveyed by E. H. Jones, and platted in 1868.
Berridge’s addition, on section 9, was surveyed by the same party in 1868.
Chamberlain’s subdivision, also on section 9, was platted in 1868, and surveyed by E. H. Jones.
Lewis’ addition, on section 9, was recorded in 1868, and surveyed by E. H. Jones.
Shearer’s addition was platted the same year, and surveyed by E. H. Jones. It is located on section 9.
Ashley’s addition, on section 9, was platted in 1868, and surveyed by E. H. Jones.
Edwards, Ellsworth & Lewis’ addition is located on section 10. It was surveyed by E. H. Jones, and recorded in 1870.
Berridge & Muller’s addition, on section 15, was surveyed by E. H. Jones in 1870.
Harrison’s addition, which is located on section 15, was surveyed by E. D. Smalley in 1870.
Avery’s addition, on section 16, was surveyed by E. H. Jones in 1870.
Moon’s addition, embracing the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter of section 10, was recorded in 1871, and surveyed by E. D. Smalley.
Backus’ addition, on section 10, was surveyed by E. D. Smalley in 1871.
Coffren’s addition, located on section 10, was surveyed at the same date by E. D. Smalley.
Van Kuren’s addition, on section 10, platted at the same date, was surveyed by E. D. Smalley.
Rider’s addition, located on section 9, was surveyed by E. H. Learning, and platted in 1872.
Village Incorporation and Village Officers
The following act of the State Legislature constituted Greenville a village organization:
“The people of the State of Michigan enact:
“That all those sections, tracts, pieces, and lots of land and country situated in the county of Montcalm and State of Michigan, being in township nine north, of range eight west, and described as follows – viz., the entire sections nine and ten, and the northeast quarter and the north half of the northwest quarter of section sixteen, and lots number one, two, three, four, five, and six of section fifteen – be, and the same is hereby, constituted a village corporate by the name of the village of Greenville.”
This act was approved March 7. 1867, and the following officers in succession served under the village charter:
1867 – President, C. C. Ellsworth; Trustees, Morton Shearer, M. Rutan, J. J. Shearer, I. J. Merritt, N. Slaght, William Maxted; Clerk, J. F. Loase; Treasurer, Joseph Griffith; Assessor, J. M. Fuller; Marshal, George Woodward.
1868 – President, W. N. Pettee; Trustees, Edward Middleton, Aaron Amidon, C. J. Church; Clerk, C. J. Church; Treasurer, J. J. Shearer; Street Commissioner, M. Shearer; Marshal, N. J. Pratt.
1869 – President, H. B. Fargo; Trustees, S. R. Stevens, J. W. Belknap, N. M. Cole; Clerk, E. B. Schermerhorn; Treasurer, S. R. Stevens; Assessor, A. Amidon; Street Commissioner, William Backus; Marshal, William Backus.
1870 – President, H. B. Fargo; Trustees, T. N. Stevens, H. L. Bower, John Avery; Clerk, E. B. Schermerhorn; Assessor, S. R. Stevens; Street Commissioner, William Backus; Marshal, William Backus.
City Incorporation and City Officers
By the following act Greenville was constituted a city:
“The people of the State of Michigan enact:
“That all that tract of country situated in the county of Montcalm and State of Michigan, and designated as follows, sections nine, ten, fifteen, and sixteen, all being in township number nine north, of range eight west, be, and the same is hereby, constituted a city corporate, under the name of the city of Greenville.”
This act was approved March 10, 1871.
The first charter election under the act incorporating the city of Greenville was held in said city on Monday, the third day of April, 1871, and the following officers were elected for the year: Mayor, M. Rider; City Clerk, William H. Conover; Treasurer, William Maxted; Collector, N. F. Derby; Justices of the Peace, John Snow, F. L. Allen. First Ward: Supervisor, E. H. Jones; Aldermen, J. W. Belknap, George Clark, N. Slaght. Second Ward: Supervisor, William Backus; Aldermen, S. G. Hutchins, J. J. Shearer, D. A. Elliott; Constables, N. F. Derby, Samuel Johnson, T. J. Wood.
The remaining officers in succession until the present are as follows:
1872 – Mayor, L. J. Macomber; City Clerk, Dexter T. Sapp; Treasurer, George Woodward; Collector, George Woodward. First Ward: Supervisor, Lyman H. Pratt; Alderman, F. N. Wright. Second Ward: Supervisor, William Backus; Aldermen, D. L. Coon, J. J. Shearer; Constables, L. A. Spaulding, C. B. Hayward, Samuel Johnson.
1873 – Mayor, Daniel C. Moore; City Clerk, Dexter C. Sapp; Treasurer and Collector, George Woodward; Justice of the Peace, Willard N. Pettee. First Ward: Supervisor, L. H. Pratt; Aldermen, James W. Belknap, Joseph Griffith. Second Ward: Supervisor, William Backus; Aldermen, Elijah Coffren, William J. Fowler; Constables, Samuel L. Johnson, Seymour Young, James Blakesley.
1874 – Mayor, Thomas N. Stevens; City Clerk, J. Wesley Griffith; Treasurer and Collector, George Woodward. First Ward: Supervisor, George Clark; Alderman, Stephen R. Stevens. Second Ward: Supervisor, William Backus; Aldermen, John Lewis, R. C. Miller; Constables, James N. Blakesley, L. A. Spaulding, W. C. Sherwood.
1875 – Mayor, N. Slaght; City Clerk, J. W. Griffith; Treasurer, George Woodward; Justice of the Peace, D. A. Eliot. First Ward: Supervisor, E. H. Jones; Alderman, H. B. Fargo. Second Ward: Supervisor, William Backus; Alderman, A. J. Acker. Third Ward: Supervisor, E. Coffren; Alderman, L. H. Colwell; Constables, A. M. Lang, D. D. Delahanty, T. J. Wood.
1876 – Mayor, Nathaniel Slaght; City Clerk, Emerson Peck; Treasurer, George Woodward; Collector, George Woodward; Justice of the Peace, Daniel C. Moore. First Ward: Supervisor, Edward H. Jones; Alderman, Stephen R. Stevens. Second Ward: Supervisor, William Backus; Alderman, Henry M. Fuller. Third Ward: Supervisor, Frank C. Acker; Aldermen, Joseph Griffith, Edward B. Edwards; Constables, L. A. Spaulding, David Delahanty, Asa M. Lang.
1877 – Mayor, James W. Belknap; City Clerk, Whiting G. Nelson; Treasurer and Collector, George Woodward; Justice of the Peace, N. O. Griswold. First Ward: Supervisor, R. R. Robinson; Alderman, Henry A. Smith. Second Ward: Supervisor, Henry M. Calkins; Alderman, Charles J. Church, Third Ward: Supervisor, Frank C. Acker; Constables, L. D. Featon, A. Drummond, W. C. Sherwood.
1878 – Mayor, J. W. Belknap; City Clerk, W. G. Nelson; Treasurer and Collector, George Woodward. First Ward: Supervisor, R. R. Robinson; Aldermen, S. R. Stevens, W. H. Willits. Second Ward: Supervisor, William Backus; Alderman, Leroy Moore. Third Ward: Supervisor, L. W. Sprague; Alderman, Charles Serviss; Constables, John Tucker, Asa M. Lang, A. Drummond.
1879 – Mayor, F. L. Spencer; City Clerk, R. H. Tompkins; Treasurer and Collector, George Woodward; Justice of the Peace, J. M. Cole. First Ward: Supervisor, R. R. Robinson; Alderman, W. H. Willits. Second Ward: Supervisor, William Backus; Alderman, W. H. Serviss. Third Ward: Supervisor, L. W. Sprague; Alderman, E. Coffren; Constables, John Wetmore, Asa M. Lang, D. H. Spencer.
1880 – Mayor, C. M. Martin; City Clerk, William M. Slawson; Treasurer, Luke Palmer; Collector, G. G. Clark; Justice of the Peace, William E. Hoyt. First Ward: Supervisor, John Avery; Alderman, O. W. Green. Second Ward: Supervisor, William Backus; Alderman, T. J. Potter. Third Ward: Supervisor, L. Wells Sprague; Alderman, Richard Smith; Constables, Richard Gibson, Daniel Padden, D. H. Spencer.
Previous to the incorporation of Greenville as a city, in 1871, there existed no organized fire department. The primitive system known as the bucket brigade was then followed, and the property of residents, as a consequence, yielded speedily to the ravages of the devouring element. Babcock fire-extinguishers were purchased and distributed through the various wards, but, the citizens having been finally awakened to the need of more efficient means of protection against the fiery element, the following resolution was adopted by the Common Council, July 12, 1872:
“Resolved, That in the opinion of the Common Council it is for the best interests of this city that we purchase a Clapp & Jones steam fire-engine, two hose-carts, and eight hundred feet of hose, and for that purpose the mayor and clerk are hereby authorized to issue the bonds of the city to the amount of five thousand dollars, payable in sums of one thousand dollars each in one, two, three, four, and five years from the first day of February, A.D. 1873, with annual interest at ten per cent.”
The necessary equipments having been purchased, in accordance with the above resolution, by a vote of the electors of the city of Greenville, the sum of five thousand dollars was appropriated for the erection of a suitable building to be devoted to the uses of the fire department, Mr. M. Rutan having already donated ground for the purpose.
In July of the same year a hose company embracing thirty members was organized and designated as the “Wolverine Hose Company,” with N. F. Derby as foreman, Daniels as first assistant, Charles Cooper as second assistant, M. E. Crane as secretary, and T. H. Green as treasurer. The officers of this company until the organization of the paid fire department were in succession as follows:
1873 – Foreman, A. B. Stevens; First Assistant, Kahler; Second Assistant, S. B. Calkins.
1874 – Foreman, A. B. Stevens; First Assistant, William Forsyth; Second Assistant, Fred. Hemphill.
1875 – Foreman, A. B. Stevens; First Assistant, E. W. Kimberley; Second Assistant, Lucien Wright.
1876 – Foreman, A. B. Stevens; First Assistant, S. B. Calkins; Second Assistant, R. J. McLaughlin.
1877 – Foreman, E. W. Kimberley; First Assistant, Charles Buckley; Second Assistant, Seymour Young.
For the year 1872, N. F. Derby was made chief engineer of the fire department; for 1873 and 1874, L. A. Spaulding was chief engineer, and John Wetmore first assistant; for 1875 and 1876, L. A. Spaulding was chief, and John Seigler first assistant.
A hook-and-ladder company was also formed in 1872, with thirty names on its membership list. A truck of superior construction was purchased and christened the “Daniel C. Moore.” T. J. Wood was the foreman of this company, and held the office until the creation of the paid fire department, in 1877, when it was disbanded.
In 1877 the fire department committee of the City Council, having been instructed to devise some means for increasing the efficiency of the department, after several minor suggestions, proposed a radical change in the system then in use, and the employment of fifteen men from the company then existing, “who shall be constituted a paid fire department, the chief of the department to receive seventy-five dollars per annum; two assistants, to be paid an annual sum of sixty dollars; and the remainder of the employees each to be allowed fifty dollars per annum.”
The report of the committee was adopted, and the department reorganized in February, 1877, with the following paid staff: Chief Engineer, H. B. Fargo; First Assistant, L. A. Spaulding; Second Assistant, John Seigler; J. Babcock, John Bowin, Charles E. Church, N. F. Derby, William Forsyth, William George, R. P. Russell, George Swift, A. B. Stevens, John Tucker, John Wetmore. Aided by the excellence of its equipments and the perfection of its discipline, the new organization has on repeated occasions demonstrated the wisdom of the change made by the city in its fire department.
The force as at present existing is as follows: Chief Engineer, R. R. Robinson; Assistant, John Seigler; Engineer, Robert Motley; Claud Chiddick, L. Corvenus, William Forsythe, A. B. Stevens, John Tucker, Richard Smith; Jerome Brownell, driver.
The First National Bank of Greenville was organized October 15, 1872, with a capital stock of one hundred thousand dollars and the following gentlemen as its first officers: Nelson Holmes, President; N. Slaght, Vice-President; W. J. Just, Cashier.
In 1877 the capital stock was increased to one hundred and thirty-two thousand two hundred dollars, and in September it was reduced to fifty thousand dollars, which figures represent its present capital. The officers now serving are M. Rutan, President; John Lewis, Vice-President; W. J. Just, Cashier; H. Hill, Assistant Cashier.
Le Roy Moore & Co., Bankers, are successors to the banking firm of M. J. Norton & Co., the present firm having been established in 1876. They are private bankers, and transact a large exchange and discount business.
The banking-house of Charles J. Church & Co. was established in 1861, and is the oldest in the city. It also is a private bank, and does a general business of exchange, brokerage, etc.
The Greenville Gas Company was organized early in 1875, for the purpose of manufacturing gas after the Needles process, and employing naphtha in place of coal. The stock having been subscribed for, works were erected, and a limited number of consumers availed themselves of its advantages.
It was found at an early date that the works were wholly inadequate to the supply needed. More money was subscribed, and the manufactory partially converted into coal-works. They did not, however, answer the purpose for which they were designed, and the company struggled along with indifferent success.
The result of the business of the year was thus laconically summed up by one of its officers: “The original and subsequent investments all exhausted, together with the amount received from consumers. To balance the investments, gas-works worth practically nothing, stock reduced to almost nothing, and a large debt hanging over the company.”
At this juncture H. M. Fuller purchased the depreciated gas stock and assumed charge of the company. He discarded the Needles process, constructed new works in a most substantial manner, and began the manufacture of gas by the old process – proven by experience to be the better – with coal as the material used. Since that time the gas has been excellent in quality and abundant in quantity.
The officers of the present company are H. M. Fuller, President; W. H. Conover, Secretary and Treasurer; D. T. Sapp, Attorney; H. M. Fuller, C. C. Ellsworth, W. H. Conover, Directors.
E. Middleton & Sons’ Flouring-Mills – A mill was early established on the site of these-mills, the location having been known as the upper dam. The original mill was purchased of Mr. Rider in 1859, and the present proprietor then did an almost exclusive custom business. Since that time it has been increased to such a degree as to have become the most extensive manufacturing enterprise in the county.
In 1872, Mr. Middleton erected the present extensive mill, which is also located on the Flat River, below the site of the former one. It is five stories in height, is equipped with eight run of stone and two pair of rollers, and has a capacity of three hundred barrels per day. It is fitted with the latest and most approved machinery for manufacturing flour by the patent process. The grain purchased for the mills is grown in Montcalm and the adjoining counties, and the market is exclusively European, all the flour being exported and previously sold by the senior member of the firm, who goes abroad twice a year for the purpose. Most of the flour is shipped in sacks, which answers better the foreign demand, though the mills have a cooper-shop, in which their barrels are manufactured. Four millers and twenty men are employed in the various departments.
Messrs. E. Middleton & Sons are now constructing a new mill which will be fitted with four pair of double rollers, and which will greatly facilitate their opportunities for manufacture.
The H. R. Weeks Flouring-Mill property is owned by W. E. Partlow, and leased from him by Mr. H. R. Weeks. It is conveniently located on the Flat River, which furnishes an ample power for its machinery, the mill having at its command a force of water equivalent to one hundred horse power. It has four run of stone, one of which is devoted to feed and custom-work. The capacity, exclusive of the feed department, is one hundred barrels per day, for which the Detroit market creates a demand.
This mill is not equipped with the modern improvements for the manufacture of flour by the patent process, but it is the intention of the present proprietor to remodel its machinery and make such additions as will render it one of the best establishments in the country. A considerable business is also done in buying and shipping wheat.
The Saw-, Planing-, and Shingle-Mill of F. N. Wright & Co. – The establishment of this mill is almost co-existent with the founding of the hamlet of Greenville, Josiah Russell having built it at a very early date upon the banks of the Flat River, near the lower dam. It was later purchased by Manning Rutan, who sold again to Daniel D. Fargo. E. B. Edwards became owner at a subsequent period, after which it passed into the hands of the Messrs. Woodruff, of whom it was purchased by the present proprietors. The power is derived from the river, which drives a water-wheel with a capacity of eighty-five horse-power.
A large circular-saw is used for the heavier timber, while numerous smaller ones are introduced into the various departments for the manufacture of lath, shingles, etc. The mill has a capacity of four million feet per season, in addition to which two hundred bunches of lath and twenty thousand shingles are made per day. Match-work is also done in the planing department. The timber is obtained from adjacent portions of the county and floated down the river to its destination. The market is found in Michigan, Indiana, and the East. The firm contemplate the erection soon of another saw-mill, at Stanton, near which place they own extensive tracts of land.
The Saw- and Planing-Mill of Oliver, Belknap & Green – The establishment of this enterprise occurred in 1870, Oliver & Co. having been the owners. It was thus managed for three years when the firm became Oliver & Belknap, and later Oliver, Belknap & Green.
In 1875 a mill was built on the present site, on Grove Street, which was burned in 1879, and immediately rebuilt. It has three planes and a sash-and-door department combined, which affords the mill a capacity of seven car-loads per day, the market being Indiana, Ohio, Connecticut, and New York. It is run by steam entirely, with an engine which represents a capacity of eighty horse-power. Connected with the business is a saw-mill, located at Stanton and managed by Mr. Green, of the firm. This mill is also run by steam, and has a capacity of thirty thousand feet of lumber per day.
The Woodruff-Mills, located on the Flat River, have a capacity of twenty-five thousand feet per day. They are at present owned by T. S. Wormer, of Detroit, but are not in active operation.
The Planing-Mill of Towle, Douglas & Co. was erected in 1870 by the Clark & Rhinesmith Lumber Company, and was by them conducted until 1877, when the proprietors became Towle & Douglas, the present firm organizing in 1878.
The mill is equipped with three planing-machines, which afford it a capacity of seventy-five thousand feet per day. It is run by steam, with an engine of fifty horse-power, and is capable of a considerable amount of work in excess of these figures when driven to its utmost capacity. The market for its products is found largely throughout the East and in Michigan. The Detroit, Lansing and Northern Railroad has a track adjacent to the mill, which greatly facilitates its shipments. Mr. Towle also has an interest in the saw-mill known as the Hart Mill, which is not at present running.
The Greenville Woolen-Mills are owned by J. M. Cole, and were formerly the property of N. M. Cole. They are located upon the Flat River, which furnishes the power for operating the machinery, the water-wheel representing a force equal to twenty-five horse-power.
The capacity of the-mills is one hundred and fifty pounds of yarn, or three hundred yards of cloth, per day. The market for their goods is found principally in Chicago, but a large home patronage is also enjoyed. The-mills are not at present in working order, but will no doubt be started again when demands for their products increase.
The J. P. Dodge Furniture-Factory – The buildings in which this business is conducted were erected as early as 1852 by Albert Clark, and used for the manufacture of wagons. In 1854, J. M. & S. M. Waters converted them into a furniture-factory, and three years later A. B. Danforth again changed it to an establishment for the production of sash and blinds. During the year 1869, J. P. Dodge, the present owner, became proprietor, and, together with various partners, manufactured sash, doors, and furniture. The industry is at present devoted almost exclusively to the making of furniture, bureaus, bedsteads, etc., being made a specialty. The material is obtained at home; the wares find a ready sale within the limits of the county.
The Tower Brother’s Foundry was established in 1872 by I. & T. H. Peacock, and purchased by S. Tower in December, 1874. It depends for its power upon a steam-engine with a capacity fully equal to its needs, and is at present principally engaged in the manufacture of Newton’s patent log-turner, which is quite generally used in the saw-mills throughout the country.
General work is also done in the foundry, and a large repairing trade is enjoyed by the firm. Shingle-packers are made in great numbers by them, and the market for their wares is found in the adjacent country.
The William Maxted Foundry is one of the oldest business enterprises in Greenville, having been established by the firm of Coffren & Maxted as early as 1851. The partnership existed before the arrival of the firm in the place, Mr. Coffren having come in advance and superintended the construction of the building.
It was formerly run by water, but now employs steam, using an engine with a capacity of ten horse-power. Much machine work is manufactured, together with machinery for mills and agricultural implements, plows being the principal products.
The material used is purchased chiefly in Detroit, and the market for their productions is found in the adjacent country and the various-mills in and about Greenville.
The establishment of Knapp & Barber, wagon-makers, is located upon the principal business street of the city, and was formerly known as Knapp & Scofield’s. The latter retired from the firm, and for a period of years Mr. Knapp conducted it alone. In 1880 the firm became Knapp & Barber, the latter devoting himself exclusively to the iron-work, while the former superintends the wood-work. They manufacture wagons, sleighs, cutters, and carriages, and employ six workmen besides the firm. About one hundred vehicles are produced per annum in the shop, which find ready sale in the city and the country immediately around it, much patronage for this class of industry being derived from the farming community.
James Scofield, wagon maker, began the business of wagon-making in Greenville in 1867, and has since conducted it. In the wagon department lumber- and platform-wagons form the chief articles of manufacture, of which about fifty are produced each year, while half that number of buggies find their way to the market. For these a home demand is found.
The carriage- and wagon-manufactory of Woodman & Winter was established by Mr. W. H. Woodman in his department of blacksmithing, while Mr. Winter, in 1872, became associated in the wood department, of which he has charge. The firm manufacture wagons, carriages, sleighs, and cutters, for which an extensive patronage is found in the surrounding country.
The Physicians of Greenville
Allopathic – The earliest practitioner in the hamlet of Greenville was Dr. Thomas Green, brother of the founder of the city, who came from Chautauqua County in 1845 and began his professional labors. His residence, however, was brief. He speedily succumbed to the ravages of the ague, and returned to the East. Later years found him again a resident of Michigan, though not among the scenes of his early pioneer experiences.
Dr. J. B. Chamberlain came from Macomb County in 1850, and established himself as the second practitioner, and for a brief time was the only one, in the primitive settlement. He remained until his death, in 1860.
Dr. Israel B. Richardson, a former resident of Ionia County, arrived in 1852, and remained several years in the practice of his profession. He subsequently removed to Saginaw, and there engaged in professional labor.
Dr. W. E. Darwin closed his career as a practicing physician in Greenville in 1852, having been for two years a resident of the place.
Dr. H. E. Skinner arrived in 1851, and soon gained a lucrative practice, which was continued until his death, in 1853.
Dr. Comfort Slawson, a former resident of New York State, chose Greenville as a place of settlement in 1853. He remained many years, during which a large and successful practice was enjoyed. He later removed to his present home, in Maple Valley.
Dr. W. H. Ellsworth early pursued his studies at Woodstock, Vt., and completed the course in Montreal, Canada. At the solicitation of friends he made Greenville his home in 1855. His practice, which was large and successful, extended over a period of eight years, when failing health compelled a temporary residence in a more genial climate. His death occurred in the year 1864.
Dr. J. B. Drummond was a graduate of the Albany (N. Y.) Medical College, and on the completion of his studies removed to Oakland Co., Mich., where he engaged in practice. At the expiration of one year he came to Greenville, where he pursued his profession until failing health obliged him to relinquish it. His death occurred in 1876.
Dr. E. Rogers came from Ohio to the city in 1864. He at once began the practice of medicine, which was continued until his death, in 1872.
Dr. C. M. Martin is a native of Wyoming Co., N. Y., and began his studies at Smyrna, Mich., with Dr. C. W. Dolley. He attended lectures at a later period at the Medical Department of the University of Michigan, and graduated at the Bellevue Medical College, New York. He came to Greenville in 1864, and, with the exception of a brief interval at the West, has been a resident since that date.
Dr. H. L. Bowers studied his profession and graduated at the Albany Medical College, becoming a resident of Greenville in 1865. He continued in practice until his removal from the city, in 1872. He returned in 1879, and is now actively engaged in professional labor.
Dr. John Avery, having removed from Otisco, Ionia Co., in 1867, became the same year a resident of Greenville, where he at once acquired a lucrative practice. His early studies were pursued at Geneva, N. Y. In 1874 he opened a drug-store, and now combines the profession of pharmaceutist with that of physician.
Dr. C. F. Morgan, having graduated at the Yale Medical College, New Haven, removed soon after to Mount Morris, N. Y., where he followed his profession until his removal to Greenville, in 1868. With the exception of brief intervals of absence, he has since been a practitioner in the city.
Dr. James Mulhern is a graduate of the Detroit Medical College, and after the completion of his studies removed to Lake View. He came to Greenville in 1871, and is still one of the medical staff of the city.
Dr. O. E. Herrick began his studies with Dr. Avery in Greenville, and completed them at the Albany Medical College in 1870. He established himself in the city, and continued in practice until his removal to Grand Rapids, in 1879.
Dr. Alva W. Nichols made his advent in 1870, and began his studies with Drs. Morgan and Mulhern. He graduated at the Bellevue Medical College in 1874, and has since that time been established in Greenville.
Dr. C. S. Sheldon graduated from the Buffalo Medical College in February, 1867, and again at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City, in March, 1868, after which he settled in Minnesota.
In 1872 he removed to Greenville, where he now enjoys an extended practice.
Dr. L. B. Lester studied and graduated at Geneva, N. Y., having come from the latter State to Greenville in 1868, where he became established in his profession and still resides.
Homoeopathic – Dr. E. Fish, the oldest practitioner of the homoeopathic school, is a native of Wayne Co., N. Y., and removed to Ohio in 1853. He early became a pupil of Dr. David Shepard, of Geauga Co., Ohio, and was later a student in the Medical Department of the Willoughby University, graduating from the Starling Medical College, Columbus, Ohio, in 1848. He spent the winter of 1865-1866 in attendance upon the Bellevue and Charity Hospitals, New York, and began the practice of medicine in Greenville in 1869, having previously been a student of the Homoeopathic Medical College. Dr. Fish enjoys an extensive practice in the city and adjacent country.
Dr. T. M. Benedict is a graduate of the Detroit Homoeopathic College, where he finished his course of study in 1873. He removed from Oakland County to Ionia County in 1865, and to Greenville in 1873, where he has since been actively engaged in the pursuit of his profession.
Eclectic – Dr. L. A. Chaffee began the practice of medicine in Greenville in 1871, and with the exception of intervals of absence, has been a resident of the city since that time.
Dr. S. C. Lacey, formerly of Pennsylvania, came to Michigan in 1871, and removed from Ionia County to Greenville in 1879. He graduated from the Medical Department of the University of Michigan in 1861, and removed to Greenville in 1879.
The earliest representative of the legal profession in the city was Charles C. Ellsworth, who studied and was admitted to practice at Howell, Livingston Co., where he remained until his removal, in 1851, to Greenville. Mr. Ellsworth is a leading member of the bar of the county, and has filled the various positions of prosecuting attorney, Circuit Court commissioner, member of the State Legislature, and congressional representative. He is still in active practice as the senior member of the firm of Ellsworth & Sapp.
William Chapin came to the village in 1851 and engaged in practice, remaining one year. He then departed, and his subsequent career is not known.
In September, 1853, came John Lewis, from Vermont. He studied with Judge Beckwith, of St. Albans, Vt., now eminent as a member of the Chicago bar, and in 1852 was admitted to practice. He has since been actively engaged in the labors of his profession in this and adjacent counties, and was formerly a member of the firm of Ellsworth & Lewis. He has held the offices of prosecuting attorney and Circuit Court commissioner, and enjoys a considerable practice in the United States Court.
In the spring of 1854 came Alfred M. Chapin, a very promising young lawyer, who established himself in the profession at Greenville, and died in the fall of the same year.
Milo Blair came in the fall of 1854, as publisher of the Greenville Reflector, which he established. He at the same time studied law, and was in 1856 admitted to practice, but a few years later removed to Missouri.
John F. Loase studied and was admitted in Detroit, and in 1858 came to Greenville, where he remained three years, and then removed to Kent County. He now resides in New York City.
Dr. Seth Sprague became a resident of the village at an early date. In 1859 he began the study of law, and was admitted to the bar of Montcalm County in 1862. He died while engaged in practice in 1870.
D. A. Elliott came from Pontiac, Oakland Co., where he studied and was admitted. He resided for a short time in Corunna, Livingston Co., and in 1867 removed to Greenville, where he has since been one of the representatives of the bar of the city.
J. H. Tatem is a graduate of the Law Department of the University of Michigan, and was admitted to practice in Washtenaw County. He removed from Adrian to Greenville in 1870, and has since been in active practice, having once filled the office of city attorney.
Dexter T. Sapp studied in Kalamazoo with Judge Joel L. Hawes and H. C. Severance, and was admitted at Coldwater, Branch Co., in 1870. The same year he removed to Greenville and became associated with D. C. Moore, which partnership extended over but a brief period. In 1874 the firm of Ellsworth, Lewis & Sapp was formed, and, Mr. Lewis having retired, the remaining partners established the present firm of Ellsworth & Sapp.
W. E. Hoyt, formerly of Pontiac, Oakland Co., where he studied and was admitted in 1873, spent a year in Georgia, and settled in Greenville in 1875. He is now engaged in practice, and also fills the office of justice of the peace, to which he was elected in 1880.
N. O. Griswold studied with Ellsworth & Lewis in 1871-1873, and was admitted in July of the latter year. He has since been engaged in practice in the city. Mr. Griswold has served as Circuit Court commissioner since 1874, and was elected justice of the peace in 1877. He now fills the office of city attorney.
George E. Backus studied with Ellsworth, Lewis & Sapp in 1875-1876, and was admitted January 15th of the latter year. He has since that time been actively engaged in the labors of his profession.
D. C. Moore was admitted to the bar of Ionia County, where he practiced and at the same time followed other pursuits. In 1874 he removed to Greenville, and has since engaged in professional labor to a limited extent.
George Ellsworth was early admitted to the bar of Franklin Co., Vt. He became a member of the Montcalm County bar in 1880, and has recently made Greenville his residence.
Milo Lewis, the youngest of the Greenville attorneys, studied with Ellsworth, Lewis & Sapp, and subsequently with John Lewis. He was admitted to the bar in 1879, and is now a member of the firm of J. Lewis & Son.
The Public Schools of Greenville
The earliest school was opened during the year 1845 in a building which stood near the present site of the engine-house, on Lafayette Street. It was twelve by sixteen feet in dimensions, eight feet high, and was presided over by Miss Katharine Satterlee. For her guardianship of the rising youth of Greenville she received nine shillings per week (with probably the rare privilege of boarding ‘round), and had twenty-five pupils, six of whom were Indian children.
At a later date a larger school-house was erected on the ground now covered by the banking-house of Le Roy Moore & Co., on the corner of Lafayette and Cass Streets, commonly spoken of as the “Old Red School-House.” This was the scene of the earliest religious gatherings, as also of most of the public meetings held at that early date.
Greenville having been until its incorporation as a village included in District No. 1 of the township of Eureka, at a special meeting of the district, held July 23, 1853, it was resolved to sell the old school-building and select and purchase a lot for the erection of a new edifice. The contract was awarded to Joseph Griffith, who subsequently relinquished it, and Joseph Hart was employed to construct the building, George Loucks and M. Shearer having been his bondsmen in the sum of one thousand dollars.
Mr. E. B. Towle seems for a brief period to have been the teacher during the winter of 1853 and 1854, and a contract was entered into with J. R. Brigham, in June, 1854, to teach the primary school for the sum of twenty-five dollars per month and board. He was succeeded in 1855 by S. D. Barnum, who received for his services thirty dollars per month and board.
The teachers in succession from that time were: 1855, Miss Rhodelle Miller, Miss Clarissa Sherwood, Mr. S. Gibbs. The whole number of children who attended school at this time was one hundred and twenty. The remaining teachers were: 1856, A. W. Slayton, J. R. Slayton, Miss Margaret P. Ingalls; 1857, Harvey S. Gibbs; 1858, Miss Angeline Johnston; 1860, Miss Sarah B. Willits; 1861, E. H. Crowell, Miss N. M. Anderson; 1862, Miss Mary J. Rose; 1863, Miss Sarah L. Light, J. Knight Bacon, Miss Mahalia Moon; 1864, C. W. Borst; 1866, Miss Sarah Serviss, Miss Mary Roberts; 1867, Miss C. Randall, Miss Delia Barr; 1868, Miss C. Cadwell, Miss E. V. Goodale, Miss Mahala Moore. The above list embraces the names of teachers before the establishment of the graded school and the erection of the present edifice.
The Greenville high-school building was dedicated Friday, September 3, 1869, and occupied for school purposes the following Monday. From the Greenville Independent is obtained the following account of the dedicatory exercises:
“The new union-school building – the pride and boast of our citizens, on account of its architectural design and finish not less than the rare accommodations it affords the children and youth whose privilege it is to share these advantages – was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies on Friday afternoon last. The occasion was one of great interest, and the people manifested their appreciation of its importance by honoring it with their presence in large numbers. The spacious hall was only two-thirds full, but the audience would have filled either of our churches.
“The platform was occupied by the pastors of the different churches and by the members of the board of education.
“The programme was made up of choice music and addresses from various citizens. The choir consisted of E. H. Crowell, leader and tenor; Mrs. J. E. Oliver and Mrs. M. S. Savage, soprano; Miss M. Fenton and Mrs. C. C. Merrit, alto; Geo. Dimmock and C. C. Ellsworth, bass; while Mrs. C. C. Ellsworth assisted at the organ.
“The chairman of the board of education, Col. E. H. Crowell, introduced the exercises by a few interesting remarks, in which he neatly alluded to the fact that this building was the realization of the cherished hopes of years. He then passed the programme to J. M. Fuller, treasurer of the board, who conducted the remainder of the exercises in an admirable manner.
“An anthem of praise was the first offering of the choir. This was followed by a dedicatory prayer by Rev. J. L. Patton, pastor of the Congregational Church.
“After another piece of music, Rev. Geo. S. Barnes, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, made the address of the occasion. He first pleasantly alluded to the fact that but within the past seven days had he become a veritable Wolverine, although for years a citizen of this State. Then, by way of contrast with the superior advantages of the schools of the present day, followed an interesting sketch of the speaker’s early surroundings and his school experience therein. Allusion was made to the surroundings of our State. Bounded by a cordon of the finest lakes in the world, our facilities for commerce cannot be excelled; nothing can equal the product of our fruit-growing regions; our mines of copper and iron are inexhaustible; but in value superior to these, beyond all computation, is the common-school system of our State, testifying to which is the edifice we dedicate this day. Formerly a teacher himself, as a result of his experience he wished to impress the minds of his hearers that it was of very great importance that patrons in general, and parents in particular, should give support to the school by expressing warm sympathy for, and giving active co-operation to, the teacher in his work. The conclusion of this admirable address was a warm welcome given to the teachers about to put forth their efforts to aid in the education of the children and youth of our schools.
“After the chief address a number of our citizens responded to the calls made upon them.
“Maj. C. C. Ellsworth testified that from the first he had been engaged in the work of securing a school-building. Now that the building was erected and good teachers were secured, his work was not yet done: every citizen should give his continued influence to assure success to the school.
“S. R. Stevens, from the stand-point of a teacher, gave some valuable advice. A pleasant allusion was made to the valuable work accomplished by former teachers in the old school-building. The work of our common schools is to prepare the children less for distinction in public career than for usefulness in private life.
“At this point the choir gave an ‘Echo Song,’ the effect of which was quite pleasing, a part of the choir, representing the echo, being stationed in another part of the building.
“E. H. Jones read an original poem of pleasing measure, reciting a legend of the days of yore.
“John Lewis, formerly director of the district, gave a sketch of the growth of our school interests – first the little red school-house of one story and one room on Godfrey’s corner (where Le Roy Moore’s bank now stands); then the building on the hill, on Cass Street, of two stories and two rooms; next an addition, larger than the original, of two stories and two rooms; finally, this proud edifice.
“Hon. John Avery said that the people of Michigan recognize the truth of the maxim that ‘the property of the State ought to educate the children of the State,’ as there is nothing better for the peace, security, prosperity, and protection of the State than universal education. Hence it is the policy of our State to provide all her children, of whatever position as respects wealth or station, with facilities for an education.
“W. N. Pettee, chairman of the building committee, noted the rapid growth made by our village in the past few years. He had been a resident but five years, yet in that period so many strangers had come in to share our advantages that he made claim to the title of ‘an old resident.’
“W. M. Crane took time only to say that the teachers should have his earnest co-operation.
“Prof. S. S. Babcock, principal of the school, made a short address full of interest, in which was a strong plea for the confidence and co-operation of the patrons of the school.
“M. Rider, director of the district, expressed gratification that the people had made the occasion a success by so large an attendance, and that the exercises had been so good throughout. The school board may have made some mistakes, but their constant effort had been to secure the greatest good to the district. The house had been built and teachers employed, but the board will not cease in effort to promote the best interests of the school.
“Rev. J. L. Patton said a great deal had been accomplished, but the work was not fully done until the grounds had been graded and fenced, matting placed on the floors, an instrument of music purchased to lead the children in their singing, while beautiful pictures on the walls should aid in the culture of mind and heart.
“The choir gave a ‘School-boys’ Song,’ with whistling chorus – good rendering – after which Rev. George W. Bower, pastor of the Baptist Church, dismissed the assembly with a benediction.”
When the new building was completed it furnished accommodations for all the schools of the village, and they were divided into six departments. S. S. Babcock, the principal, was assisted by six lady teachers at the beginning of the year – viz., Miss L. M. Carpenter, Preceptress; Miss F. E. Everts, Grammar Department; Miss M. A. Fenton, “A,” Intermediate; Miss A. M. Derby, “B,” Intermediate; Miss E. C. Comstock, “A,” Primary; Miss C. Palmer, “B,” Primary.
The old school-house on Cass Street was unused for two years. During that time a part of it was sold and moved down on Grand Street, near the railroad, where it now stands (1880), and is known as the “Eagle Hotel.”
At the opening of the school-year, September 4, 1871, two primary schools were opened in the old school-house, or what remained of it. The room on the second floor was in charge of Miss Miranda Palmer for one year. Miss Palmer was succeeded by Mrs. Millie Stoughton, who still occupies the position (October, 1880).
The school on the first floor was taught for one year by Miss Cornelia J. Dunton, since which time it has been taught by Miss R. M. Dodge and Miss Delia Fargo.
The brick building north of the river was completed in 1872, an intermediate grade placed on the second floor, and a “B” primary on the first. The school on the second floor has been taught by Misses Voorhies, Burke, Stamp, King, P. V. Boyce, and Stout. The primary grade, on the first floor of the same building, has been taught by Misses Opha Satterlee, Jennie A. Platt, and Josie M. Daniels.
S. S. Babcock remained in charge of the schools three years. He showed himself to be a man of great energy and force of character, and an untiring worker. He left his mark on the school and the community, and all his successors have shared in the benefits bestowed by so superior an organizer and disciplinarian.
Mr. James McMagrath, a graduate of the State university, succeeded Mr. Babcock, and held the position two years.
Mr. J. F. Dutton, also a graduate of the State university, was called to the superintendency of the schools in 1874, and continued in the position two years. He was an able scholar, and left the schools in a good condition to be taken in charge by his successor.
In 1876, E. P. Church was called to the superintendency, beginning work September 4th of the same year, and is still holding the position (1880). Mr. Church is a graduate of Oberlin College, and had been for ten previous years a member of the faculty of Oahu College, in the Hawaiian (or Sandwich) Islands.
In 1877 a more systematic course of drawing was introduced into the school than had before been employed. In 1880 vocal music was for the first time taught by a special teacher.
The school has always had a high standard of scholarship, its grades being fixed higher than most of the graded schools in towns of the same size in the State. The prescribed course of study requires thirteen years for its completion, instead of twelve, as in most public schools of the State.
Forty-four pupils have graduated from the high school course since its organization, as follows:
1873 – Wellington G. Clark, bookkeeper; Mary E. Fish, preceptress, city; Henry A. Jersey, lawyer; Milo Lewis, lawyer; Charles L. Harden, lawyer; Mary Satterlee (Mrs. George Crosby); Ariel N. Wilson, Thomas B. Wilson.
1874 – Delia Fargo, teacher in public schools; Anna Grels (Mrs. Jerome Pease); Anna Roby, teacher in Wisconsin.
1875 – A. Amos Crane, merchant; James W. Sherwood, merchant.
1878 – Clarence L. Fries, mechanic; Adelbert C. Story, student in University of Michigan; Louis A. Roller, medical student, Chicago; Effie M. Griffith, teacher, city; Nina A. Moore, teacher, Muskegon.
1879 – Arthur S. Coutant, printer, city; Adah A. Avery; Emma A. Gibbs, teacher, city; Emma L. Smith, teacher, Muskegon; Alice M. Smith, teacher, Coral; Amanda Stout, teacher, city; Carrie A. Cook, Occie Keith; Lu Stevens, register’s office, Stanton; Ella E. Taber, teacher; Edward W. Peck, bookkeeper.
1880 – John A. Crawford, student at Olivet; Minnie G. Avery; Le Ella Clark, student in high school; Jenet Edgar, Emma Edwards, Mamie Hovey, Sarah Hutchins, teacher; Hattie Jones, teacher; Emma Kent, teacher; Emily Peck, teacher; Anna M. Satterlee, teacher; Clara M. Smith, Lillie Stoughton, Lucretia Stout, Alice M. Tower.
The graduates of the high school that have sought admission to the State university have uniformly passed the examinations with credit to themselves and honor to the school.
Miss Lucie M. Carpenter (now Mrs. E. H. Jones, of this city) became preceptress of the high school at the time of its organization, and continued in that position for ten consecutive years. Her thorough scholarship, faithful teaching, and efficient discipline contributed largely to the success of the school, while she deserves to be held in grateful remembrance by the whole community for the good work she did.
The success of the graded schools of Greenville is due to the faithful teachers, efficient board of education, and the almost universal good will and co-operation of the community.
The following is the list of teachers that have been connected with the schools since 1869, so far as can now be determined:
S. S. Babcock, 1869-1872; J. McMagrath, 1872-1874; J. F. Dutton, 1874-1876; E. P. Church, 1876-1881.
High School – Miss L. M. Carpenter, 1869-1878; Mrs. L. M. C. Jones, 1879; Miss Mary Fish, 1879-1881.
Assistants in High School
Miss Anna B. Boyce, Miss Ella M. Hayes, Miss Anna Gerls, Miss Nettie I. Rogers, Miss Mary Fish, Miss Nina Moon, Miss Effie Griffith.
Teachers in Higher Grammar Grades
Miss Francis M. Everts, Mrs. F. M. (Everts) Babcock, Miss Anna B. Boyce, Miss Emma J. Cole, Miss Ella E. Latson, Miss Mattie I. Rogers, Miss Anna Gerls, Mrs. Anna (Gerls) Pease, Miss Prill V. Boyce.
Teachers in Lower Grammar Grades
Miss M. A. Fenton, Miss A. M. Derby, Miss E. J. Brown, Miss Fannie A. Shelmire, Miss Miranda Palmer, Miss Sarah E. Voorhies, Miss F. A. Gooding, Miss L. A. Dickerson, Mrs. S. R. Fox, Miss M. Burk, Miss L. R. Stamp, Miss Louise Barnhouse, Miss Nettie E. Dayton, Miss Libbie H. Hawkins, Miss Emma L. Rogers, Miss Agnes King, Miss Francene Austin, Miss Carrie Bascom, Miss Marion A. Maxon, Miss Amanda Stout, Miss Prill V. Boyce, Miss Emma M. Johnston, Miss Emma Gibbs.
Miss E. C. Comstock, Miss Cerinthia Palmer, Miss Andrews, Miss Emma Lamb, Mrs. Mary Platt, Miss Sarah A. Dodd, Miss Ida M. Russell, Miss Cornelia J. Dunton, Miss Prill V. Boyce, Mrs. Milly Stoughton, Miss R. M. Dodge, Miss Opha Satterlee, Miss Mary J. Jennings, Miss M. O. Barkley, Miss Jennie A. Piatt, Miss Mollie Blank, Miss Marion A. Maxon, Miss Nettie L. Charles, Miss Josie M. Daniels.
Miss Emma L. Smith, Miss Nina Moon, Miss Lillie Phelps.
Ladies’ Library Association
Early in the summer of 1868 a few of the enterprising and book-loving ladies of Greenville took into consideration the idea of establishing a public library. A preliminary meeting was called by three ladies from each of the three churches – Methodist, Congregational, and Baptist – to be held at the rooms of Mrs. C. C. Ellsworth, to consult as to the feasibility of the project, and what means were best for raising the first funds. They agreed to make the attempt, and decided upon holding a strawberry festival, with music and intellectual exercises. It was a delightful occasion and a success financially, the net proceeds amounting to seventy dollars.
A public meeting was then called, and all ladies interested in the cause requested to be present. At this meeting it was voted to organize a society entitled “The Ladies’ Library Association of the Village of Greenville.” A committee was selected to draft a constitution and by-laws, consisting of Mrs. G. S. Barnes, Mrs. E. F. Grabill, and Mrs. H. L. Bower, and another meeting appointed for August 7, 1868, which met pursuant to call. A constitution and by-laws were reported and accepted, and the following officers elected to serve one year: President, Mrs. G. S. Barnes; Vice-President, Mrs. E. F. Grabill; Secretary, Mrs. H. E. Light; Treasurer, Mrs. F. N. Wright; Librarian, Mrs. H. L. Bower; Executive Committee, Mrs. R. L. Ellsworth, Mrs. H. M. Fuller, Mrs. John Lewis.
Quarterly meetings were to be held on the second Wednesdays of September, December, March, and June, and an annual meeting every second Wednesday of June.
The generous offer made by the Methodist Society of the use of their vestry for a library-room was gratefully accepted, and the first installment of books, consisting of twenty-five volumes, arranged in an attractive new book case, the gift of Mr. H. M. Fuller, was placed therein.
After two years the library was removed to the third story of Mr. M. Rutan’s store, where it remained another two years, with gradually-increasing success, when it was thought best to make another change. A large and commodious room was rented in the new brick block belonging to Mr. H. B. Fargo, and handsomely carpeted and furnished. Here the library is still located. From time to time new articles of furniture and pictures have been added, also a valuable piano and a beautiful oil painting, the work and gift of Mrs. R. R. Robinson, one of the presidents elected in 1875, and lately deceased.
At the annual meeting held June, 1879, it was decided expedient to revise the constitution and by-laws, and a committee was appointed for that purpose, consisting of Mrs. J. L. Patton, Mrs. R. L. Ellsworth, and Mrs. N. J. Moore. The time of holding the annual meeting was then changed to the second Wednesday of September.
The association has pursued a gradual, uniform, and successful course to the present time, the volumes having reached the number of twelve hundred and thirty.
At the annual meeting held September 8, 1880, the following officers were elected for the ensuing year: President, Mrs. C. C. Ellsworth; Vice-President, Mrs. T. J. Potter; Secretary, Mrs. N. J. Moore; Treasurer, Mrs. C. J. Church; First Librarian, Mrs. R. L. Ellsworth; Second Librarian, Mrs. C. A. Northrup; Executive Committee, Mrs. S. R. Stevens, Mrs. E. H. Learning, Mrs. L. J. Macomber.
Secret Benevolent Associations
Greenville Lodge, No. 90, F. and A. M.
This lodge – one of the most flourishing in the State, and the parent of seven similar organizations in localities adjacent to Greenville – was formed under a dispensation, February 25, 1857, and its charter granted January 23d of the following year. Its first Master was C. S. Ford, after which the following members in succession held the office: 1858-1860, John Lewis; 1861, Charles Ellenwood; 1862-1863, M. Rider; 1864, John Lewis; 1865, William Maxted; 1866, John Lewis; 1867, M. Rider; 1868-1870, William Maxted; 1871, John Lewis; 1872-1875, William Maxted; 1876-1879, J. W. Belknap.
The present officers are J. W. Belknap, Master; W. M. Ockerman, S. W.; Asa Hale, J. W.; G. B. Gibbs, Treas.; W. B. Wells, Sec. The lodge has a membership of two hundred, and holds its meetings at Masonic Hall.
Greenville Chapter, No. 79, Royal Arch Masons
The Greenville chapter was organized under a dispensation, July 14, 1871. The charter was granted and its officers installed July 26, 1872. Its first High Priest was M. Rider, who filled the office from 1871 to 1875, inclusive, when he was succeeded by William Maxted, who has been the incumbent until the present time.
The officers at this date are William Maxted, H. P.; P. S. Turner, K.; W. M. Ockerman, S.; G. B. Gibbs, Treas.; W. B. Wells, Sec. The membership roll embraces eighty-eight names, and the convocations are held at Masonic Hall, in the Post-Office Block, on Lafayette Street.
Eureka Lodge, No. 91, I. O. O. F.
This lodge was organized under a dispensation, October 26, 1865, its charter members having been W. C. Sherwood, Seth Sprague, William Maxted, W. N. Pettee, D. A. Elliott. Its charter officers were W. C. Sherwood, N. G.; Seth Sprague, V. G.; L. W. Cole, Sec.; W. N. Pettee, Treas.
The present officers are George Loder, N. G ; W. N. Padden, V. G.; J. Colman, Perm. Sec.; J. G. Gumbinsky, Sec.; W. M. Ockerman, Treas. The meetings of the lodge are held in their spacious hall, in the Rutan Block.
Lafayette Lodge, No. 30, Ancient Order United Workmen
The charter of this lodge is dated January 2, 1878, its charter officers having been L. D. Fenton, P. M. W.; William Maxted, M. W.; John E. Oliver, G. F.; William A. White, Overseer; E. W. Tower, Recorder; A. Drummond, Financier; William M. Ockerman, Receiver.
Its present officers are J. L. Wetmore, P. M. W.; F. M. Hickox, M. W.; Eugene Clark, G. F.; John N. Cole, Overseer; E. W. Tower, Recorder; O. W. Green, Financier; W. M. Ockerman, Receiver.
Star Lodge, No. 440, Knights of Honor
The lodge of Knights of Honor was organized February 5, 1877, their charter members having been A. W. Nichols, W. Knapp, Frank Ashley, G. R. Slawson, Edward Westbrook, John Mooney, Rev. A. R. Boggs, Charles E. Coon, Charles Godbold, Al. Drummond, William Forsyth, James Scofield, Al. Hansen, C. C. Hazel, Thomas Brough. The first officers were W. Knapp, Dictator; G. R. Slawson, Vice-Dictator; John Mooney, Assistant Dictator; Frank Ashley, Reporter; G. R. Slawson, Treas.
The present officers are W. Knapp, Dictator; W. C. Rockwell, Vice-Dictator; John Newman, Assistant Dictator; C. C. Merritt, Reporter; J. J. Babcock, Financial Reporter; T. B. Inkley, Treas. The lodge meets in Odd Fellows’ Hall on alternate Fridays.
Greenville Council, No. 31, Royal Templars of Temperance
The charter of this lodge is dated July 31, 1871, its present officers being John H. Tatem, S. C.; H. L. Bowers, V. C.; William Maxted, P. C.; Rev. J. Huntington, Chaplain; E. W. Tower, Rec. Sec.; Mrs. C. L. Frazier, Herald; Mrs. E. W. Tower, Deputy Herald; C. J. Eschbach, Guard; James Norris, Sentinel.. The present membership is forty-six, and meetings are held at the temperance headquarters, in the Potter Block.
The Montcalm Grange was organized on the 9th of March, 1874, with thirty-five charter members, its earliest officers having been Stephen Rossman, Master; Chester P. Baker, Overseer; Henry S. Sharp, Lecturer; L. C. Lincoln, S.; Charles Snyder, Sec.
Its present officers are Westbrook Divine, Master; Daniel H. Fuller, Overseer; Joseph P. Shoemaker, Lecturer; Lewis P. Fuller, S.; B. B. Crawford, Sec. The grange is in a flourishing condition, its present membership embracing one hundred names. Its meetings are held in the hall devoted to its use in the Post-Office Block in the city of Greenville.
Greenville Reform Club
The Greenville Reform Club, as stated in the resolution under which it was organized, “was formed for the purpose of assisting one another, by social organization and co-operation, to resist the desire to use alcoholic liquors as a beverage, and to induce others to join in the good work, and thus secure to the community the benefit of the work already done.” The meeting for organization was called March 14, 1877, and the following were chosen as its first officers: President, L. E. Morris; First Vice-President, J. F. Lindley; Second Vice-President, J. L. Wetmore; Third Vice-President, H. C. Carroll; Secretary, E. C. Morris; Treasurer, H, C. Weeks; Steward, Charles M. Coon; Marshals, C. Chamberlain, William Livingston.
The club has since its formation achieved much success, and its influence in the community has been so powerful for good as to have won for it the support of the larger proportion of the population of Greenville. Its present officers are: President, H. L. Bower; First Vice-President, O. W. Green; Second Vice-President, C. A. Northrop; Third Vice-President, R. C. Miller; Secretary, W. Knapp; Financial Secretary, C. E. Gregg; Treasurer, D. E. Padden.
Greenville Cornet Band
The Junior Cornet Band was organized on the 4th of December, 1877, under the leadership of C. W. Cowell, who filled the role of instructor. Its officers were Herbert P. Belknap, President; Charles W. Hayden, Secretary and Treasurer; Charles W. Cowell, Leader. Its original members were H. P. Belknap, H. M. Clark, Charles J. Clark, Emory Smith, Edward Van Wormer, J. J. Savage, Branch Corbell, Louis Fredericsen, Fred Wilcox, C. W. Cowell, C. W. Hayden.
The band, having been thoroughly organized, devoted itself assiduously to practice, and few changes occurred in its organization until 1879. It was then christened “Cowell’s Greenville Band,” and a new board of officers elected, who filled a term of one year, when the present offices were instituted – viz., B. E. Avery, President; C. W. Hayden, Secretary; Milo Lewis, Treasurer; William M. Padd, Drum-Major, who filled the position made vacant by the resignation of W. B. Wells.
Mr. Cowell, in the spring of 1880, terminated his residence in Greenville, and James Seeley, of Coldwater, became leader, the citizens having subscribed liberally towards the fund raised for the purpose.
The present membership of the band is as follows: L. W. Cole, B. E. Avery, M. Lewis, Fred Cole, Thomas Patton, Elmer A. Dreskel, James Savage, Branch Cowell, H. M. Clark, C. J. Clark, Delos Towle, George Caldwell, William George, C. W. Hayden, William Judd, Fred Wilcox, Otis Pond.
Methodist Episcopal Church
At the session of the Michigan Conference in 1850, Rev. Eli Westlake and Rev. Rufus C. Crane were appointed to Flat River Circuit, then comprising parts of Ionia, Allegan, and Kent Counties, and Fair Plains, in Montcalm County. They took up an appointment in Greenville in the fall, and, in January following, Rev. R. C. Crane commenced a series of special services in the latter place, which resulted in the organization of a Methodist Society in February, 1851. The meetings were held in a school-house then standing on the corner of Lafayette and Cass Streets, the site now occupied by the banking-house of Le Roy Moore & Co. Among the first members were D. C. Moore and wife, George Loucks and wife, Dr. James Chamberlain and wife, R. K. Moore and wife, A. R. Adams and wife, Levi Makley and wife, Erastus Fisher and wife, and Mrs. Burgess. The society consisted of about forty members.
The first board of trustees was organized in April, 1851, and at once took measures leading to the erection of a church-edifice upon a lot donated to the society by John Green. The ground was situated on Cass Street, immediately west of the present parsonage. George Loucks and Rev. R. C. Crane were appointed a building committee to proceed with the erection of a church-building. They accomplished this during the summer and autumn of 1851, the success of the enterprise being largely due to the untiring energy and hopeful zeal of Rev. R. C. Crane.
The present church and parsonage lot was purchased of W. M. Pettee in August, 1872, for the sum of forty-five hundred dollars. The house now occupied as a parsonage then stood on the northwest corner of the lot, fronting on Franklin Street. It was moved to the west side of this plot and made to front on Cass Street, having been fitted up as at present. The old church-building was subsequently moved upon the new lot, on the corner of Cass and Franklin Streets, where it still stands, comprising a part of what constitutes the present church edifice.
The purchase of the above-mentioned property, together with the expense of moving and otherwise refitting the building which now stands upon it, entailed a cost of about seven thousand five hundred dollars. Of this sum, the old parsonage which stood on the corner of Washington and Franklin Streets was sold for two thousand dollars, and two-thirds of the old church-lot was also made available in a similar manner, leaving a balance of five thousand dollars to be paid. About two thousand four hundred dollars of this was liquidated during the pastorate of Rev. A. R. Boggs, and the remaining two thousand six hundred dollars during the ministry of Rev. J. W. Reid, the last two thousand two hundred dollars having been paid during what is known as the “Long Roll-Call,” on the 29th of December, 1878.
At the session of the Michigan Conference in the fall of 1851, Greenville and vicinity were separated from the Flat River Circuit and formed into a separate charge, known as the Greenville Circuit.
The succession of pastors appointed to Greenville, as nearly as can be ascertained, is as follows: Revs. M. Fassett, A. R. Bartlett, A. Wakefield, George Bignell, A. A. Dunton, J. L. Child, Francis Glass, J. J. Jenkins, W. W. Rorke, J. M. Dayton, George S. Barnes, W. M. Colby, W. J. Aldrich, A. R. Boggs, J. W. Reid, and A. A. Brown, the present pastor.
In 1855 there were one hundred and seven members of the Greenville Circuit, which comprised all the territory now embraced in Greenville Station and Circuit. In 1867 there were in the same territory one hundred and eighty members. In 1870, the county appointments having been eliminated from Greenville charge and formed into a circuit by themselves, Greenville was left with one hundred and forty-five members. A series of revivals, commencing with the pastorate of Rev. W. W. Rorke and extending over six pastorates, eventuated in bringing the membership up to its present number of two hundred and ninety. This is the highest enrollment of members in the history of the church.
The amount of annual salary paid to its pastors has ranged from two hundred and ninety dollars and house-rent or parsonage, the amount paid its earliest pastor, to fourteen hundred dollars and parsonage.
The Sunday-school was organized in 1855, and has been in successful operation since that time. Its first superintendents were William Van Loo, J. L. Rook, and Elias Kent. John Lewis became superintendent in 1866, and remained in office until 1875, when he was succeeded by O. W. Green for two years. A. H. Bennett then took charge for a period of two years, and M. O. Griswold for one year, when A. H. Bennett was again elected. The attendance was small at the beginning, and many of the appliances for successful Sunday-school work were meagre. It struggled on through the years, gradually improving in numbers and resources, although no records exist from which to trace its progress from year to year. It now has a library of six hundred volumes, and its average attendance during the past year was one hundred and fifty scholars. A. H. Bennett was elected superintendent at the last annual meeting, and is now discharging the duties of that responsible office.
First Congregational Church
The following extract from a sermon by the pastor of the Congregational Church is given as embodying a concise history of its development and growth:
“On the 5th day of June, 1852, a meeting was held in the public school-house which stood on the northwest corner of Cass and Lafayette Streets. It was called for the purpose of considering the expediency of organizing a Congregational Church. Besides the people of the village interested, there were present the Rev. S. N. Manning, of St. Joseph’s Presbytery, and the Rev. H. L. Hammond, of the Grand River Congregational Association. Mr. Hammond was made moderator of the meeting, and Manning Rutan scribe. The result of that consultation was the organization of ‘The First Congregational Church, of Greenville.’ The new church was composed of eleven members, and these are their names: Manning Rutan and Melinda Rutan his wife, Hiram H. Slawson and Eusebia Slawson his wife, Ursan Goodman and Sarah Goodman his wife, Widow Harriet B. Peck, Frank S. Peck, Philander A. Peck, Mrs. Adeline Shaw, and William Gordon.
“By what principle or by the working of what force this became a Congregational Church does not appear. Seven of the original number were Presbyterians; the four remaining were Congregationalists; the minister, Rev. S. N. Manning, was also a Presbyterian. Denominational preferences certainly did not run strong. It may be, too, that a certain Darwinian principle (survival of the fittest) prevailed in the determination of the ecclesiastical polity of the new organization.
“Rev. S. N. Manning was the first pastor of the church. He preached at Greenville before the organization of the society, but how long before is not known or to be known. No record is left of either his coming or his going. The last mention of his name in the records is early in the second year after the organization. There is no mention of the time between January 7, 1854, and December 28th of the same year, at which latter date the name of Mr. Spooner appears as pastor, with no record of the time of his coming – probably in the fall of 1854. He served the church and community and country round about, far and near, most faithfully and with efficiency for eleven years. The memory of himself and his family is still fragrant among his former people. He resides with his family in the village of Olivet, in this State, and is still doing good service in his Master’s work.
“When Mr. Spooner came to the church it numbered about twenty souls. There were added during his pastorate about one hundred and twenty members, but the changes incident to the new settlement and the nomadic character of the people kept the actual membership small, and he closed his work, leaving the church with about sixty-five resident members.
“The present pastor began his work January 1, 1866. During his pastorate to the present date (June, 1879) there have been added to the church by letter sixty-seven, and on profession of faith one hundred and twenty-four, making a total of one hundred and ninety-one. The present resident membership of the church is about two hundred.
“The only record to be found of the church-building work of the society is the appointment of a committee, consisting of Manning Rutan, E. Coffren, and S. N. Manning, to solicit subscriptions for the building of a new house of worship. This was in July, 1853. From those who have assisted in obtaining these facts from their recollection of those days I learn that in the autumn of 1855 the new church was standing and roofed. It was probably finished and dedicated in the summer of 1856. The cost is not a matter of record. The people received help in building to the amount of five hundred and fifty dollars from the Congregational Union. In 1866 the building was repaired and enlarged by the addition of the orchestra, and the present pipe-organ placed in it.
“During the twenty-seven years of the church’s history it has had three hundred and thirty-four members. Two hundred and nineteen of these have been admitted on profession of faith, and one hundred and fifteen by letter. It has had three pastors, one serving two years, the second eleven years, and the present incumbent.”
Very soon after the delivery of the discourse from which the foregoing history is an extract measures were taken for the erection of a new church-edifice. A building committee, consisting of Nathaniel Slaght, Edward Learning, and H. B. Fargo, was appointed, and superintended its construction, very liberal contributions having been made by members of the congregation for the purpose. A substantial and elegant edifice of brick and stone was erected at a cost of twenty-three thousand dollars, and dedicated with solemn ceremonies on the first Sabbath of June. 1880.
A flourishing Sabbath-school is connected with the church, with a membership of two hundred and forty and an able and devoted corps of teachers. It possesses a well selected library of one thousand volumes. The officers of the school are C. S. Sheldon, Superintendent; Frank Leonard, Secretary; W. G. Nelson, Librarian.
The present officers of the church are: Pastor, Rev. James L. Patton; Deacons, Manning Rutan, Elisha Coffren, Herman Johnson, John Defree; Trustees, N. Slaght, S. R. Stevens, R. C. Miller.
First Baptist Church
The meeting for the organization of the First Baptist Church of Greenville was held November 19, 1853, at the school-house located on the corner of Lafayette and Cass Streets. Rev. J. Rasco was chosen moderator of the assembly, H. P. Downs clerk, and the names of twenty-six members were placed upon the church records. In September, 1854, the organization became a part of the Grand River Baptist Association. The church at this time embraced but six male members, from whose ranks Ira Jenks and I. W. Irons were chosen to officiate as deacons. Great difficulty was experienced at this early period in obtaining a suitable place of worship, and for a considerable time it was not possible to maintain regular appointments.
The various school-houses not having been available, the building known as the “old store,” belonging to M. Rutan and located near the site of the present city fire department quarters, was secured. In the second story of this store the Baptist Society found its first place of stated worship.
This place, which was used in the year 1859, seemed to offer but a temporary shelter, as in 1861 the records allude again to the difficulty of finding suitable quarters and the consequent abandonment of public services. Soon after, Miss Deborah Green, from whose family the city derived its name, opened her dwelling for regular service. M. Rutan having donated lots on the corner of Washington and Franklin Streets, the erection of a house of worship was begun, and the first services held in the new edifice February, 1865.
The pastors of the church have been Rev. J. Rasco, 1853-1855; Rev. A. P. Howell, 1855-1857, others having officiated during a portion of the time. Mr. S. D. Ross, a member of the church, supplied, and was ordained as pastor November 28, 1857. He remained until the advent of Rev. W. H. Prentiss, in 1862, and in 1864, Rev. A. Platt was summoned to the charge. In February, 1865, Rev. Dr. Drummond supplied the pulpit, until Rev. D. E Hills became pastor, who remained until 1868. Rev. C. E. B. Armstrong was called in 1870, and the same year a parsonage was secured. The resignation of Mr. Armstrong occurred in 1874, when Rev. E. Curtiss succeeded. His pastoral labor extended over a period of six years, and the present incumbent, Rev. Jay Huntington, began his labors May 1, 1880. At intervals the labors of Revs. A. H. Waterman, C. C. Miller, A. Corvell, and others should be noticed.
The church has grown to a membership of two hundred, and is in a united and prosperous condition. Connected with it is a flourishing Sabbath-school, under the superintendence of Mr. R. H. Roys.
St. Paul’s Protestant Episcopal Church
The organization of St. Paul’s Protestant Episcopal Church was effected January 20, 1872, with the following membership: William B. Wells, Willard N. Pettee, John Avery, C. Jesse Church, Talmadge Stevens, Ephraim Williams, and L. Judd McComber. The first communion celebrated in the parish was held on Easter Day, March 31, 1872, on which occasion there were sixteen communicants. The first meeting of the parish was held on the same day, when the following vestry were elected: W. B. Wells, C. Jesse Church, L. Judd McComber, James Cornwell, Andrew W. Hoffman, John Avery, and Willard N. Pettee. At the first vestry-meeting W. B. Wells was elected senior warden and C. Jesse Church junior warden and treasurer.
A Sunday-school was organized on Sunday, April 28, 1872, with W. B. Wells superintendent, Mrs. S. R. Stevens secretary, and Mrs. L. Judd McComber as treasurer. Two male and three female teachers were in attendance.
While the parish was a mission the congregation were under the ministrations of Revs. Morris and Wood. At a later date Revs. William Brittain and S. H. Woodford were in succession installed as rectors.
The church has suffered under a period of decline, but under the active labors of Rev. W. H. Sparling, aided by the parishioners, there is prospect of a revival of interest.
The Seventh-Day Adventists have a church-edifice in Greenville, and were at one time prosperous. The larger portion of the congregation, however, residing in the suburbs, rendered it expedient to abandon their house of worship for one more accessible to the majority of worshipers.
First Baptist Church
During the spring of 1875, Mr. James Graham, of Greenville, who had devoted his energies to the spiritual welfare of the residents of the northern portion of the city, succeeded in awakening a sufficient interest in his work to begin the erection of a union chapel. Nearly four hundred dollars was contributed to the cause, and a desire expressed among the donors that the enterprise should assume a denominational character. There having been several Free Baptists in the vicinity, he presented the subject to one of their clergy, who also laid it before the Quarterly Meeting of the Free Baptists. During their June session a committee was appointed to investigate the matter, and, in the fall of 1875, Rev. William H. Smith was chosen to minister to the little flock.
The field did not prove an encouraging one. During the interval the interest in the cause had greatly abated, and many were unable, through financial reverses, to meet their subscriptions. Mr. Smith established an appointment in the suburbs, which he maintained each Sabbath for three years, devoting, meanwhile, both time and means to the gathering of material for a house of worship. In the spring of 1877, in connection with D. H. Lord, he purchased a lot located upon the corner of Lafayette Street and Coffren Avenue, for which six hundred dollars was paid. In the fall of the same year a frame was erected, which was destroyed by a storm before its completion. Nothing daunted, the debris was cleared away, and Mr. Smith began the building of another edifice, which a year later was completed and ready for service. This building was dedicated on the 21st of September, 1879, a debt of more than six hundred dollars having been cleared on this occasion. The following Sabbath regular service was established.
In December a call was issued by a few Christian people for a council of brethren from the different churches for the purpose of organizing a church. They convened on the 28th of the same month, and formed a church with a membership of ten, since which time nine have been added. Rev. William H. Smith was chosen pastor, S. M. Waters and Silas Brown deacons, and Miss E. L. Smith clerk.
The present officers of the church are Rev. W. H. Smith, Pastor; Silas Brown, S. M. Smith, J. C. Holding, Deacons; L. E. Baker, Secretary. The trustees are H. W. Riley, President; C. L. Baker, Treasurer; Daniel Smith, William Marsh, Elias Kent, S. M. Waters.
Roman Catholic Church
The earliest services which led to the formation of a Roman Catholic society in Greenville occurred in 1859, when meetings were held at the house of Patrick McDonald. They were conducted by Father Rivers, of Gratton, who officiated at intervals for a period of three years, and subsequently removed to Muskegon, where he died in 1878. He was followed by Father Bolte, of Ionia, who has been for many years in charge of the parish embraced in the latter city. During his ministry the church edifice was begun and partially completed. He was succeeded by Father Leightner, who was in charge of the work until the advent of Father Seibold, in 1877. The following year Father Grimme was installed as priest, and remained two years, when his successor, the present incumbent, was appointed.
The parish embraces forty families, many of whom are residents of the suburbs. The church-edifice is now in process of completion, circumstances having heretofore rendered the delay unavoidable. The board of trustees of the church are Patrick McDonald, Fred Wright, James Mooney.
Forest Home Cemetery
Between the years 1865 and 1870, Mr. E. Middleton bought lands lying on and adjacent to Baldwin, Fatal, and Como Lakes for the purpose of preserving to the city grounds suitable for cemetery and park purposes. These lands were in a wild, unbroken condition, and at some points almost inaccessible, as a result of fallen timber and dense undergrowth. The public generally had little idea of the natural advantages and beauty of the locality, although it lay within the corporate limits of the city.
The observations Mr. Middleton had made in his extensive travels, both at home and abroad, convinced him that the grounds possessed the requisite features for both cemetery and park. Through the western portion of this extensive tract he constructed numerous carriage-drives, every few rods of which present new and varied scenery. This portion was named Middleton Park, and the remainder of the tract was offered to the city for burial purposes at its original cost. The City Fathers, after mature deliberation, thought it unadvisable to consummate the purchase.
Mr. C. C. Merritt had, in September, 1871, interred his only son within these grounds, on the presumption that they were to be devoted to the uses of a cemetery, and he was thus induced to purchase the land of the owner, the bargain having been consummated for the sum of six thousand dollars. Mr. Merritt at once began a tour of observation, embracing three months, among the most extensive and beautiful cemeteries of the country, and thus gathered ideas and plans best adapted to the natural advantages of Forest Home. On his return he had the grounds surveyed and platted by E. H. Learning. Esq., whose taste and ability added greatly to their beauty.
Forest Home possesses many of the natural advantages of Mount Hope, in Rochester, N. Y., and Greenwood, in Brooklyn, with the addition of three charming natural lakes, all of which form a part of its boundary. The undulating surface of the ground, its hills, valleys, ridges, and dells, all combine to make it unsurpassed in varied attractions of native beauty. There are few places in the State where so many happy combinations of the striking and beautiful in nature are grouped together to render “God’s acre” what it should be – a place of picturesque surroundings and retirement. Mr. Merritt has constructed numerous carriage-drives, thereby dividing the ground into sections, laid out walks, built a receiving-vault, lodge, and otherwise improved the spot.
The fine adaptability of the grounds for vault-building has induced many citizens to construct family-vaults. The first, as the grounds are entered, is owned by O. W. Green. It is constructed of stone, in Gothic style, with iron cornice and white brick facing. Near it is seen the family vault of E. Middleton, substantially built and trimmed with Ohio cut stone. On either corner are heavily-draped urns, while in front rests an imposing figure of Hope. A few rods to the south is the Merritt vault, with two pieces of statuary in the tastefully-arranged lot which surrounds it. The Shearer family vault is the largest in the grounds, containing seventeen capacious catacombs. It opens on a grove of luxuriant evergreens, and is remarked especially for the seclusion of its surroundings.
Many tasteful monuments have already been erected, among which the most noticeable are the Macomber, Wilson, Coon, Clark, Herrick, and Sprague memorials, in pure white marble, and one, in the lot of H. M. Fuller, manufactured of white bronze. The latter is one of the most imposing and elaborate of its kind in the West, and in the well-appointed lot shows to great advantage.
Forest Home, possessing, as it does, all the desired advantages for a burial-ground, and gaining yearly in the pride and affection of the people, promises at no distant day to be one of the most beautiful places of sepulture in the whole West.
Henry Merrill Fuller, a prominent citizen of Greenville, Mich., son of Judge Lucius and Candice (Newell) Fuller, was born at Orwell Hill, Pa , November 7, 1825. His father’s family consisted of thirteen children, eight of whom survive. The eldest son, Edwin, was a journalist of some distinction. The second son, Allen, was a prominent member of the New York bar, judge of Boone Co., Ill., and during the war was adjutant-general of Illinois. James Ensign, the third son, was for some years a prominent teacher. He was an officer in the army during the Mexican war, and died at Vera Cruz. Henry early exhibited an inclination for business, and at the age of fifteen resolved to free himself from the restraints of school and face the world for himself. He started out with a capital of only one dollar and fifty cents, but he was endowed with indomitable perseverance and untiring energy, which crowned his earliest efforts with success. He first obtained employment as a vender of stencil plates, but his ambition soon led him to engage in the business on his own account, which he did with remarkable success. He manufactured the plates, employing agents to sell them, and soon had a business extending over the Canadas and many of the States. He next entered his brother’s printing-office, and served an apprenticeship of four years. During this time he married Miss Sarah Nicholson, of Warsaw, N. Y. In 1846 he was employed on the Chicago daily Journal, which position he left to assume charge of the Joliet (Illinois) Democrat. Later he purchased the Lockport (Illinois) Telegraph, which under his management soon took high rank among the journals of that day. In 1850, becoming imbued with the popular “gold fever,” he disposed of his property, fitted out an expedition, and started over land for California, arriving at Haughtown, now Placerville, in August of that year. He first engaged in buying and selling horses, which competition soon compelled him to abandon. He invested money in several mining speculations, which proved disastrous. He then organized a company and built a quartz-mill, which also proved a losing enterprise. Depleted in purse, but not disheartened, he took up a large ranche at Rose Valley, near the Yuba River, and planted it with potatoes. He had an immense yield, which he sold at the enormous price of six dollars per bushel. While engaged in potato-raising he obtained a charter from the State Legislature, and built a toll-road from Eureka to Grass Valley, which also was a pecuniary success. From the proceeds of the last two ventures he restored his fallen fortunes. In 1854 he left his ranche and again embarked in the newspaper business, purchasing an interest in the Nevada City Journal. This enterprise he successfully carried on until 1856, when a fire destroyed nearly the whole business portion of the city, including the Journal office. He then returned East, arriving in 1857 at Greenville, then a little hamlet in the pine woods of Northern Michigan. Here were magnificent forests of pine yet untouched, and the inhabitants of the embryo city of Greenville were totally unconscious of the vast wealth within their grasp. Few were engaged in lumbering, the only outlet being by means of rafts floated down Flat River. Mr. Fuller saw the grand possibilities for the future of the lumber business here, and, immediately purchasing a mill and a large tract of pine, commenced the manufacture of lumber. When the civil war broke out he was among the first to enter the service of his country. He enlisted as a private in the First United States Lancers, and was soon promoted to the rank of quartermaster. Six months after the regiment was mustered in the government decided not to employ that branch of the service, and Mr. Fuller returned home. He was very popular with his brother officers and men, and upon retiring from the regiment was presented with an elegant gold watch and chain as a token of their regard and esteem. He at once obtained a commission as captain, raised a company, and went again into the service. He was taken prisoner at Harper’s Ferry, and after being exchanged found himself ruined in health and compelled to resign. He returned to Greenville and reentered the lumber business, in which he has since been extensively engaged. He has also been engaged in other enterprises, all of which have been successful. He is president and principal owner of the stock of the Greenville Gas-light Company, which, under his management, has taken place among the permanent institutions of the city. He is an extensive lauded proprietor, owning considerable real estate in Greenville, a large farm six miles out of town, and large tracts of valuable pine-lands. Himself and brother, Allen, own a large amount of pine-lands near Ashland, Wis., and at this writing they are making preparations to erect a large saw-mill for the extensive manufacture of lumber at that place. He is a stockholder and director of the First National Bank of Greenville; also builder and owner of one of the finest little opera-houses in the interior of Michigan.
Mr. Fuller has always taken a deep interest in the welfare of the city, and has contributed largely to every enterprise of public interest. The vigor and energy with which he pushes to a successful completion every project, either public or private, which he undertakes, has given him a prominent position among the business men of the community. He has never sought political preferment, though he has served a term as alderman of Greenville. Mr. Fuller is a Mason of high rank, having taken thirty-two degrees, there being but one higher in the order. In 1864 he married his second wife, Miss Cynthia A. Stratford, daughter of Dr. H. K. Stratford, of Chicago. He has had a family of eight children, only two of whom are now living. The family are all members of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
Mr. Fuller is a pleasant companion, an earnest and devoted friend, and in
all the relations of life is highly esteemed for his integrity and
unwavering adherence to the cause and principles which he believes to be
John Avery was born in Watertown, N. Y., February 29, 1824. He is the eldest son of John and Susan (Mitchell) Avery. His father served in the war of 1812. Mr. Avery attended the district school in Chautauqua Co., N. Y., and Clinton Co., Mich. He also studied a part of two years at the academy at Grass Lake, which was conducted by Rev. Hiram Elmer. He attended or taught school in the winter and worked on his father’s farm in summer, until he reached the age of twenty-one. In 1847 he began the study of medicine with Dr. Whaley, of Grass Lake, and in 1848 went to Duplain, continuing his studies for several months with Dr. Watson. He then went to Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended lectures at the medical college, graduating in 1849 with the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Removing to Owosso, Mich., Dr. Avery entered into a partnership with Dr. J. B, Barnes, a physician there, and commenced the practice of his profession.
In the spring of 1854 he removed to Ionia, where he practiced with Dr. D. W. Bliss. At the expiration of his engagement with Dr. Bliss he removed to Otisco, and continued the practice of his profession until 1862. He was then appointed assistant surgeon to the Twenty-first Michigan Infantry, and in the following year was promoted to the rank of surgeon. He remained in the army until the close of the war; was present at the battles of Perryville, Stone River, Lookout Mountain, Chickamauga, and Bentonville, and was with Gen. Sherman on his march to the sea. During the last year of the war he acted as brigade surgeon, and with his regiment was mustered out of service at Detroit in June, 1865. Returning to his home in Otisco, Dr. Avery resumed the duties of a practicing physician, and remained there two years. In January, 1867, he removed to Greenville, making that a permanent place of residence. His knowledge as a physician and his skill as a surgeon were so highly appreciated that he was called upon to practice in all that section of the State. In 1872 he erected a handsome brick store, renting the building for a drug-store, and in 1875, having decided to retire from active practice, he purchased the stock and engaged in the drug business, in which he continues, practicing occasionally. As a practitioner, Dr. Avery was eminently successful. While in Otisco he was intimately identified with the township and county interests. He was supervisor of Otisco township, and has been connected with the city government of Greenville as an alderman and member of the school board. In 1868 he was elected to the State Legislature as the Montcalm County representative. During his term of service he introduced and advocated the resolution admitting women to the State university. Dr. Avery is president of the Northern Medical Association. He has belonged to the Masonic fraternity since 1853. He is a member of the Episcopal Church and senior warden of the church at Greenville. In May, 1852, he married Jane H. Ewell, daughter of Samuel Ewell, of Romeo, Mich. They have two sons and two daughters. The eldest son, Frank P., graduated at West Point, June, 1878; is now Lieutenant in the regular army. Dr. Avery for many years has had an extensive surgical practice. His skill in this branch of his profession is of the highest order. He has twice successfully performed the difficult operation of ovariotomy, and twice successfully ligated the common carotid artery, besides performing many other extremely rare surgical operations.
Charles M. Martin was born at Portage, Wyoming Co., N. Y., July 4, 1839. When five years of age the family removed to Akron, Ohio, where the subject of this sketch remained until he was sixteen years of age, receiving such educational advantages as were offered by the common schools and the Akron Academy. In 1855 he came to Ionia County with his father’s family, who settled in Otisco, where he remained several years, working on the farm summers and teaching school winters, with the exception of one year spent at the Agricultural College at Lansing, until 1861, when he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Dolley, of that town. Subsequently he attended the medical college at Ann Arbor, and afterwards took a second course at the Bellevue Medical College at New York, where he graduated. Dr. Martin commenced the practice of medicine at Greenville in the spring of 1864. Although the profession was well represented in the enterprising village, the young doctor soon established a good practice. In 1867 he formed a co-partnership with Dr. Avery, which continued until 1871, when, in consequence of failing health, Dr. Martin removed to Longmont, Col., where he was elected president of the Chicago Colorado Colony; was also editor of the Longmont Press. After remaining there one year, Dr. Martin had so far recovered his health that he returned to Greenville and resumed the practice of his profession, and is one of the leading physicians of the county. He is a member of the Union Medical Society of Northern Michigan; also a member of the State Medical Society.
Politically, Dr. Martin is a Republican, and believes that all good citizens should take a conscientious part in the political questions of the day. His father and grandfather were outspoken and uncompromising Abolitionists. The doctor cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln, and has since been an active member of that party. He is the present mayor of the city of Greenville.
Dr. Martin was married, March 28, 1865, to Sarah E. Ecker, of Plesis, Jefferson Co., N. Y., by whom he has had three children. One died in infancy; Charles Herbert was born August 17, 1869; Hugh Warren, born May 21, 1871. Dr. and Mrs. Warren are members of the Congregational Church.
In educational matters he takes an active part and is a member of the board of education. In social relations he is genial and companionable, in business matters prompt and reliable, and as a citizen respected and influential.
Joseph J. Shearer was born in Arcadia, Wayne Co., N. Y., May 19, 1832. His parents, Jonathan and Christiana Shearer, were both natives of Massachusetts, and were of Scotch and English ancestry. They removed to Wayne Co., N. Y., in 1824, and thence, in 1836, to Plymouth, Wayne Co., Mich. The male members of the family have been noted for mental ability, fine presence, and longevity. The grandfather of Joseph Shearer was one of eight brothers who averaged six feet in height and two hundred pounds in weight. When the youngest was over sixty years of age they walked to church together, still stalwart men. His father entered largely into public affairs, and held many offices of trust in both county and State.
Being exceedingly desirous to give his son a liberal education, he placed him at an early age in Plymouth Academy, where he acquired a fair knowledge of English branches. His teacher, though an excellent scholar, had no knowledge of the practical affairs of life, and Joseph Shearer became so impatient of knowledge gained from books alone that he found the restraints of the school-room unbearable. He was very fond of outdoor sports, especially hunting in the forest, where nature from the very impressiveness of its silence moulded and strengthened his undeveloped mind. His education since then has been largely derived from careful reading and the observation of human nature in an active life among his fellow-men. When quite young he showed marked ability in trafficking. He came to Montcalm County, where he endeavored to purchase a piece of land which attracted his attention, offering in exchange his gun and watch, which were his sole possessions. The offer was accepted on condition that the gun would prove true. The gun, which had never failed its owner before, did not fail him now. Three shots were fired so accurately that the balls leaded into one. The barter was accomplished, and the property afterwards proved valuable, being situated in the business part of the main street of Greenville. It is now covered with fine brick buildings.
January 24, 1852, he left Greenville for California, where he spent three years engaged in placer-mining. He introduced and erected the first hydraulic power for mining purposes ever used in that State. In 1855 he returned to Greenville and engaged successfully in mercantile and lumber business, farming, and building. He was a charter member of the First National Bank of Greenville, and was elected and re-elected its president. He also held other important offices in the city. He became a member of the Masonic fraternity in 1859. Mr. Shearer is noted for his earnest desire to assist the deserving, and for his public spirit. He first became interested in politics in 1856, and is a strong believer in “Squatter Sovereignty,” but never allows his peculiar views to make him blind to error. He endeavors to give his hearty support to the best man. He was married May 10, 1856, to Harriet Serviss. They have two daughters – Armie, born July 12, 1859, and Ettie, born March 3, 1861.