PIERSON TOWNSHIP

Montcalm County Michigan

History of Ionia and Montcalm counties, Michigan.
Schenck, John S., De La Vergne, Earl W., D.W. Ensign & Co.
Philadelphia: D. W. Ensign & co., 1881.




Pierson MI - Grand Rapids & Indiana Depot 1910 - contributed by Paul Petosky

The township of Pierson originally included the three townships now known as Reynolds, Winfield, and Maple Valley, in addition to its present territory of town 11 north, of range 10 west In the eastern part is a low and wet portion of land, covering the greater part of a number of sections and extending northwest towards Wood Lake, which is situated on section 15. This low wet laud is usually known as Bear Swamp, from a large bear which had his retreat here and is supposed to have escaped the hunters for several years. The western part of the township contains a system of lakes which are drained by a branch of the Tamarack River.

The best farming-lands are situated in the southern and northeastern portions of the township. Pierson is bounded north by Reynolds, cast by Maple Valley, south by Kent County, and west by Newaygo County.

It was named after the family-name of Martin Pierson, several members of which were its first settlers!

EARLY SETTLEMENTS.

In the year 1852, Stephen R. Pierson settled in the township of North Plains, Ionia Co. He was a native of Ontario Co., N. Y., where his parents and a large family still reside. Two years later, influenced by favorable reports from him and a gentleman from Cortland, Mich., two other brothers, David and Orson Pierson, and their father started from New York with a team of horses, by which they journeyed to Buffalo, where they took passage for Detroit, Mich. Upon reaching this place they again had recourse to their team, and drove through to the home of their brother in Ionia County. As government or State lands were the object of their visit, they came to town 11 north, of range 10 west, and entered one hundred and sixty acres on sections 27 and 28. Although other tracts were soon entered, it is thought to have been the first entry made in the township. They built a cabin twenty by twenty-four feet in dimensions, one story high, with a roof sloping one way, the ceiling being so low as to allow a man scarce room to stand erect in. This cabin stood on the farm of Orson Pierson, and was the first built in this township. On the 14th of December, 1854, George M. Pierson, having sent on some household goods, with a wife and four small children, left his home in New York and set out on his journey to join the settlement commenced by his brothers in Michigan. Kalamazoo was at that time the nearest rail road-station. They therefore took the stage at that place, and, Grand Rapids being the end of the line, made the rest of the journey in a lumber-wagon. The cabin of his brother, being the only one in the township, was already filled to overflowing. The new party increased the company to eighteen. A wagon-box served as one bed, while those not so fortunate were stowed away as best they could be. The different families, however, soon built cabins on the land, which they at once secured.

In the latter part of January 1855, Milford Pierson was born, being the first white child born in Pierson township. He is at present a resident of Walla Walla, Washington Territory. George M. Pierson built the next cabin in the township. It stood just in front of the place where his present residence stands. Having no team, the work of clearing, which he soon began, was necessarily slow and difficult. In addition, he was compelled to spend much of his time away from home, in order to procure tho necessaries of life. The farm which he now owns is one of the best improved and productive in the township. When he moved into his cabin it had neither door nor window, blankets, hung before the openings, serving this purpose. The snow lay several feet deep. On the 6th day of March Charley M. Pierson was born, being the second child born in the township. He is now a resident of Hersey, Osceola Co., where he settled in 1878.

During the first winter George M. Pierson made shingles, which he hauled to Rockford and sold for ten shillings per thousand, and at the same time paid five dollars per hundred-weight for flour; but the woods abounded in game, deer especially being abundant^ and from this source supplies were secured.

Round Lake, also, on the southeast quarter of section 33, as well as the larger bodies of water more remote from tho settlement, abounded in schools of fish, which with little trouble could be secured at all times. George M. Pierson, during the greater part of the time, for five years was absent, except during Sunday, his work being about sixteen miles distant. Ho carried home on each successive Saturday night provisions for his family the week following. He dug up the ground with a mattock, upon which he raised one hundred bushels of corn and sixty bushels of potatoes. The first year a large bear carried off a hog to the woods and devoured it while Mr. Pierson was absent from home, since which time six others have been lost in the same way. At tho time of settlement the nearest trading-post was Rockford. Mrs. G. M. Pierson resided in the township eight years before visiting a dry-goods store. Her sister, Miss Polly Malvina Peck, who came to the township with her and lived here during the first years of its settlement, removed to the south part of tho State. Their father, Thomas Peck, came to Pierson some years later and settled on section 27, and here he resided until his death. The first death in Pierson was that of a young man named Fish, who was accidentally shot in the arm by Hardy Cram. He was interred on the farm owned by George Pratt, from which he was removed to the cemetery at a later day.

The first wedding in Pierson was in 1856, when Isiah Alley and Naomi Barker were married. Squire Punches, of Nelson, officiated.

Dr. Daniel Shook, now of Coral, was the first resident physician. He was born in Dutchess Co., N. Y., and, after practicing in his native county and Canada, settled in the north part of Pierson in the year 1862. He removed to Coral in 1877.

Caleb Rice was one of the first settlers in the north part of Pierson. He was born in New York, whence he came to this township in the fall of 1855. His father, Amos L. Rice, entered the southwest quarter of section 2 the spring previous. He settled here permanently, and resided here until his death. Caleb Rice now resides upon the homestead entered by his father. The spring following their settlement here they set out the first fruit-trees in the place. George M. and John Fields settled on the southeast quarter of section 12 in February, 1856, where they still reside. Rufus Reed entered the west half of the southeast quarter of section 2. Soon after Mr. Rice had built his cabin his son-in-law, G. M. Pratt, came to the township. He chose a location on section 5 and commenced to erect a mill, which he subsequently sold to Harvey Porter, who completed it some years after. It was the first grist-mill in Pierson.

RESIDENTS IN 1858.

Following is a list of resident tax-payers (according to the assessment roll of that year) of the township in 1858:

--------------------------------------------------------Acres
0. N. Andrews, sections 6, 31............................. 81
Elias Andrews, section 6...................................41
Elias Alloy, sections 5, 9, 10............................440
Seth Beal, section 12......................................80
Ira Carpenter, section 8..................................120
Simon Daggett, section 18................................. 46
James Allen, section 7.....................................40
Samuel Allen, section 7....................................40
John Day, section 11......................................160
S. De Clair, section 6....................................125
Benjamin Ensley, section 7.................................96
John Fields, sections 12, 22..............................120
Jeremiah Fields, section 2.................................80
Isaac Gilleo, sections 12, 1..............................100
George F. Gillinore, sections 5, 6.........................80
Eli Halleck, section 20....................................40
Aaron Halleck, section 20..................................40
William Harris, section 6.................................135
Caleb Johnson, section 1...................................80
Indian Johnson, section IS.................................40
John Lynch, section IV....................................120
Patrick Lynch, section 10..................................56
John Moore, sections 8, 31................................186
George A. Page, sections 10,12........................... 400
William R. Page, section 8................................ 83
George M. Pratt, section 21................................80
David S. Pierson, sections 27, 28.........................160
0. Pierson, section 23....................................160
George M. Pierson, section 33.............................185
R. Steven Pierson, section 27.............................160
Robert R. Dingley, section 7.............................. 89
Samuel Rose, sections 1, 12...............................120
John Rose, section 12......................................80
William Rose, section 12...................................80
Caleb Rice, section 22....................................160
Amos L. Rice, sections 2, 3.............................. 320
Rufus Reed, section 2......................................40
Indian Scott, section 13...................................40
Joshua Stevens, section 20................................120
Indian Scott, section 13...................................40
Moses Swarthout, section 14...............................120
Byron H. Weed, section 33.................................160
Richard Whalen, sections 30, 31...........................160

TOWNSHIP ORGANIZATION

The township of Pierson was erected iu 1857, but the records in the clerk's office reach back only to 1862, the records preceding this time having been lost, it the various business of the township was ever entered in permanent form. The following is a list of the names of persons elected since 1862 to the offices designated:

SUPERVISORS.
1862-63, M. 0. Purdy; 1864, Henry M. Carpenter; 1865, 0. A. Pierson; 1866-69, Henry M. Carpenter; 1870-79, James D. Parker; 1830, Joseph R. Do Wolf.

TOWN CLERKS.
1862, James Coleman; 1863, Henry M. Carpenter; 1864, Zadock Ingel; 1865, Thomas S. Peck; 1866-69, Daniel Shook; 1870-71, Thomas S. Peek; 1872, Henry M. Carpenter; 1873, Smith W. Osterhaut; 1874-80, Henry Martin.

TREASURERS.
1862, David Pierson; 1863-65, George M. Pratt; 1866-69, Luther M. Carpenter; 1870, Isiah Alley; 1871-72. George P. Gates; 1873, Henry Hinkle; 1874-75, Henry A. Wood; 1876, Cyrus Hawley; 1877-78, Thomas S. Peek; 1879, Henry Hinkle; 1880, Sherman E. Bush.

JUSTICES OF THE PEACE.
1862, Rufus Reed; 1863, M. S. Cary; 1864, William Rogers; 1865, Elisha Pangborn; 1866, Daniel Shook; 1867, George I. Gates; 1868, Orion A. Pierson; 1869, Elisha Pangborn; 1870, Daniel L. Shook; 1871, William Walter, William Rogers; 1872, Silas Price; 1873, William S. Briggs; 1874, William Rogers; 1875, Orin L. Ray ; 1876, Isaac I. Barker, William Freeman, Dewitt C. Peck: 1877, Olney H. Richmond, Henry M. Carpenter, Dewitt C. Peck, John Hammill; 1878, William Rogers; 1879, Dewitt C. Peck; 1880, Dewitt C. Peck, Edison O. Shermerhorn.

VILLAGE OF PIERSON.

The village of Pierson is located on land entered by David S. Pierson and Dexter Clark, who were many years residents of the township. he former is now a resident of Los Angeles, Cal.; the latter died, and is interred in the township cemetery. When tho Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad was completed through Pierson, this village and another in the north part of the township were laid out. Neither has attained any special importance or size. O. H. Richmond opened the first store here, in 1867. The building which he erected stood on the southwest Corner of the northwest quarter of section 27. This building was destroyed by fire.

In 1868, C. O. Taylor built a hotel, usually known as the Taylor House. Some years later he built an addition, and then sold it to Otis Ruck.

Dr. H. F. Kilborn is a native of Canada, and came to Pierson in 1869. He was the first physician in the village, but remained only a short time, when he removed to Now York. Drs. D. Everett, H. S. Holden, and Col. D. Johnson followed. The Pierson Hotel was built by Richard Gage. In 1870, McConnell & Sons, of Elkhart Co., Ind., built a saw-mill at this place. It has turned out, on an average, three millions of feet per year. The work of the present year will exhaust the lumbering interest at this village. In 1877 this firm erected the Empire Flouring- Mills of Pierson, at a cost of ten thousand dollars. The mill has a capacity of seventy-five barrels of flour. The village of Pierson now contains a population of between four hundred and five hundred. There are two general stores, a drug-store, and confectionery-store, two church- buildings, and a good union school-house.

METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.

The history of Methodism in Pierson begins with a sermon preached in 1879 by Rev. Crane, of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. From that date Rev. Thomas Peck, a local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and an incessant and successful Christian worker, preached on each alternate Sabbath until the spring of 1860, when he organized the first society in the place, numbering seven probationers and one full member. Their names were O. A. Pierson, leader, Mrs. O. A. Pierson, Nancy K. Pierson, Farella J. Pierson, Naomi A. Peck, George M. Pratt, Harris N. Clark, probationers, and Nancy A. Peck, member given by letter from Plainfield, West Wisconsin Conference. George M. Pratt was the first appointed steward. The health of Mr. Peck failing, the society was not reported to any Quarterly Conference until the Bummer of 1862. It was then made a part of Laphamville Circuit. The appointment was then supplied with preaching by Rev. D. Gilbert, a local preacher, and Mr. A. Agel, exhorter, both of Oakfield. The first revival meeting was in 1863-64, by Rev. Daniel Rush. The appointment was made a part of Courtland Circuit in 1863, while Rev. J. W. Carothorne was pastor. Rev. F. Freeman followed as pastor in 1864-65, in which year Pierson became a part of Cedar Springs Circuit. Rev. B. W. Smith was appointed preacher in charge in 1866, and Rev. F. M. Deitz assistant. From this time until 1870, Revs. J. H. Tanner and John Graham were successively appointed to the charge.

Pierson Circuit was formed in September, 1870, and consisted of the following appointments: Pierson, Maple Valley, Reynolds, Marble’s, and Coral, Rev. N. Saunders pastor. Howard City was added in 1872. In this year Rev. D. M. Ward was appointed pastor, followed by J. W. Hallowell in 1873. In 1874, Howard City was detached from Pierson charge, and under the new arrangement it took the name of Pierson and Coral Circuit, consisting of Pierson, Coral, and Marble’s, with Rev. W. I. Cogshell as pastor. Maple Valley was added the following year. A parsonage and lot was purchased in Pierson, at a cost of five hundred dollars, on April 3,1872. An addition was built in the winter of 1873-74, making & comfortable and commodious house. At a meeting of the board of trustees, April 6, 1874, it was decided to build a church-edifice during the coming year. A site was immediately secured, and something over one thousand dollars raised for building funds. The building was not commenced, however, until Aug. 23,1876. The building, a neat and substantial church, was completed and was dedicated by Rev. D. F. Barnes. A subscription of eleven hundred dollars was raised at this time, which was two hundred dollars more than the debt. The present membership is fifty.

CHURCH OF CHRIST.

On February 25th this society was organized by Elder E. H. Brooks, and the following names were enrolled: Alfred Driskell, Sally Driskell, Sarah Goodwell, Alvin P. Stringham, John Boyer, John F. Carr, Albert Stringham, Daniel Boyer, Catharine Boyer, Maria Miller, Emily Williams, Laura Parker, Henry Lewis, Sarah M. Lewis, Elizabeth Brown, Mary Gokey, Lucretia E. McHenry, Sarah J. Holcomb, Socrates Sheldon, Henry Pomeroy, Mary J. Webster, Erepta Gates, and Electa Brackbill. Albert Stringham has been pastor of the society from its formation until the present time. The church-edifice was built in 1879, and the opening exercises were conducted by Elder E. Sears, of Dowagiac. The edifice, which has cost eight hundred dollars, is not yet completed. There is a Sabbath-school in connection with the society.

When the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad was projected through Pierson, in compliance with a petition signed by the requisite number of voters, a meeting was appointed to be held at the house formerly owned by Orson Pierson, for the purpose of voting on a proposition to aid the railroad company by issuing township bonds in its favor. The decision rendered by the inspectors at this time was as follows: “ We, the inspectors of election held in the township of Pierson, Montcalm Co., Mich., on Tuesday the 7th day of December, 1865, for the purpose of voting aid, or no aid, to the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, do hereby declare that tho whole number of votes cast was (48) forty-eight; that the whole number of votes cast for aid for Railroad, No, was thirty-five that the whole number of votes cast for * Aid for Railroad, Yes, was (13) thirteen. We therefore declare it carried, "Aid for Railroad, No" This board consisted of Orson A. Pierson, William Rogers, Julius Fields, and F. S. Peck.

The project, however, did not rest here. Another petition was directed to the town clerk on the 20th of December, 1867, and in compliance therewith a meeting was appointed on Jan. 7, 1868. At this meeting, which was held in District No. 2, forty-seven votes were cast in favor of granting aid, and thirty-two votes were deposited against it. This declaration is signed by William Rogers, Daniel L. Shook, and D. Shook. It will thus he seen that tho township of Pierson, which at the time included also town 12 north, range 10 west, decided to issue bonds on the township in the sum of six thousand dollars, and bearing interest at seven percent, in favor of the railroad company. One of the conditions upon which these bonds were issued was that they should be delivered to the railroad company when said road “shall be completed from the village of Cedar Springs, Kent Co., to the north line of Pierson township,” which at this time is the north line of Reynolds. It thus seems the provision and understanding was that the entire territory included at the time in tho township of Pierson was to be benefited by the road, and accordingly be considered held responsible for the insurance and redemption of these bonds.

Town 12 north, of range 10 west, having been set off under the name of Reynolds, and no mention of bonds having been made at the time of settlement between the two townships, the bonds coming due against the township of Pierson have been entirely ignored by the township of Reynolds. Thus between them a most burdensome lawsuit has been commenced.