City of Fremont
Fremont or Fremont Center, is situated on section 35, Dayton Township, and section 2, Sheridan Township It was once in the center of a township called Fremont; hence its name. The township of Fremont was divided up in such a manner that the village is now on the dividing line between Dayton and Sheridan.
The following extracts from a series of interesting articles written a few years ago by T. L. Waters, an deserving of record in connection with the history of Fremont:
"In the town, of Cambria, Hillsdale County Michigan, in the year 1854, there lived two farmer; who were near neighbors, and tolerably well to do in this world's goods. One of these had children grown and married, and the other children nearly or quite marriageable, at the time of which we write. These men were Wilkes L. Stewart, since of Fremont, and Daniel Weaver, of Hesperia. The circumstances of their leaving Hillsdale County and moving north into this then unbroken wilderness, were similar to those which have impelled most persons who have left civilization to become pioneers in a new country. The children wanted land, and must emigrate to obtain it. Many tears were shed by mother and daughter, as they thought they must part so soon. The parents said,' Why must we be separated from our children? Let us sell out and go with them. What are the comforts of home without the society of our children ?' This sentiment prevailed, and after a few earnest conversations on the subject it was decided to come north and look for that 'lodge in the wilderness' of which the poet writes. "Previous to this, T. H. Stuart, J. B. Mallery and P. H. Weaver had been west to St. Joseph County, and had returned dissatisfied with the result of their explorations. Jan. i, 1855, W. L. Stewart and Daniel Weaver started from their home in Cambria northward. There were but two railroads at that time in Michigan, the Central and the Southern. Not being able, therefore, to avail themselves of the iron horse as a means of transit, their progress was necessarily slow. The second day they reached Jackson, and the third Lansing, where the Legislature was in session. Here they came across that old pioneer of Newaygo County, John A. Brooks, then a member of the Legislature. He invited them to take a look in this county north of Muskegon River. They then came north to Ionia, the United States land office being located there. Here they procured maps showing the unentered lands of several townships. Coming down Grand River, they reached Grand Rapids the 6th, and on the 7th came to Newaygo. Here they were introduced to J. H. Standish, since so prominent as a soldier and a lawyer, and R. L. Gray, then a verdant young lawyer in that village, but since ripened into an Honorable, and last but not least, Hiram Butler, then the sociable landlord of Newaygo's best hotel. Mr. Butler had already purchased land on which he afterwards resided, and he put them on the track of Fremont Center and its vicinity. The morning of the 8th, they shouldered their packs and waded through the snow, to what is now known as Elm Corners. Here were the pole shanties of John and Frank Harrington and Daniel Joslyn, who had moved in and pre-empted. "Mr. Joslyn and wife were the first married couple in the woods, and Mrs. Joslyn walked in from Newaygo, over the logs, carrying her babe in her arms. Mrs. Joslyn was the mother of Mrs. Daniel Lavery and Mrs. James R. Odell, of Fremont. She was a woman of pluck and endurance, and also of great kindness, as many of the first settlers can testify. Mr. Weaver and Mr. Stewart stopped and inquired of Mrs. Joslyn if she could lodge a couple of land-lookers.' She replied that she had five small children, and only a peck of meal and two small fish; " also, that Mr. Joslyn had gone to Newaygo to work to get more provision, and back it in. Our travelers told her that if she would let them stay, her meal would be like the widow's of Sarepta: 'twould increase in meal or money. Leave to stop and stay was granted, and the next day they looked around and made up their minds to pitch their tent where Fremont Center, or Fremont, has been since brought into existence.
"Requiting Mrs. Joslyn for her kindness in providing them food and lodging, they started for the United Slates land office again, at Ionia, where they purchased nearly 1,000 acres of land, 640 acres at 75 cents an acre, and the balance at $1.25 per acre. This purchase was made Feb. 1, 1854. They then returned to Hillsdale County and prepared to emigrate. In a few days they started back five teams, seven or eight men, one woman and a baby; the woman was Mrs. Susan Stuart Mallery, and the baby her daughter, Fanny, afterwards the wife of George B. Raider, of Fremont.
"A six days' journey brought them to Lisbon, 16 miles north of Grand Rapids where Mrs. Mallery with her infant stopped with her aunt, since Mrs. Stringham, of that place, while the men came on and erected a dwelling. Commencing at Newaygo, near where the cemetery now stands, they cut their road into Joslyn's, and stopped with him over night. In fact they boarded and lodged with him while they put up a house. At night everything was carried out doors except the stove and the bureau, the bed made up on the puncheon floor; and, although in the morning their backs would have made a good checker-board, there was no complaint.
" In the company were two brothers of indomitable energy and pluck,—Henry and Samuel Shupe; these boys, together with Phil. Weaver and Mallery, soon cut the house logs, and Shupe, with Thomas Stuarts stags, drew them through the deep and crusted snow. Phil. Weaver cut and supplied the persuaders, of which it took a goodly number. Some called lumber was hauled from Newaygo, and thirteen men and boys raided the 'old log house,' the first in Fremont.
" A large fire was kindled, and before a log was turned down, a shovel full of coals was put on the corner to make it stick.' The shingles were made by Joslyn, the rafters cut and backed up by Phil. Weaver and Samuel Shupe, framed with a narrow ax, and in three weeks it was ready for the pioneers.
"That house was looked upon with interest by many of the first settlers. There, for several weeks, 26 persons stretched their weary limbs upon its floors and committed themselves to the silent arms of Morpheus. There the writer wooed and won; there was the first wedding, and there our first child was born. There Phil. Weaver and his wife were joined in the holy bonds of matrimony. There Dr. Weaver took his first lessons, and there scores of travelers stopped, refreshed themselves and recuperated, and then pushed forward with renewed vigor into the howling wilderness. There the first town meeting was held and officers elected, and there the old town of Fremont was named by Samuel Shupe, in memory of that old pioneer, Gen. John C. Fremont. The first post-office this side of Newaygo was established there, when all our letters could be carried in one's vest pocket, and when we thought ourselves lucky if we received mail once a week. The old house, like many of the pioneers whom it has sheltered, having served well its day, has gone the way of all the earth. Its place is supplanted by one of those elegant dwellings with which our beautiful county is dotted, and its name is remembered only by those who labored in its erection, or shared its hospitable cover. Over its ashes we write, Requiescat in pace.
"As soon as the house was finished, Mrs. Mallery came in as far as Newaygo, accompanied by her aunt and niece, and stopped at what was then 'Cooper's Tavern.' They started from Lisbon at noon, and arrived at Newaygo late in the evening. This same journey can now be made in three hours, by team. In the morning they started from Newaygo, and late in the afternoon arrived here, taking possession of their new home March 4, 1855."
Such was the beginning of Fremont Center, or Fremont, as it is now called, which has become one of the brightest little towns in Michigan. Its population is variously estimated, but 1,200 is probably not far from right. That number will not measure its population long, for it is too ambitious not to progress.
The village was incorporated by act of the Legislature in 1873, and re-incorporated in 1875. The present village officers, elected in the spring of 1883, are as follows: J. R. Odell, President; C. I. Rathbun, Clerk; John Cole, Treasurer; A. O. White, Assessor; R. J. Thompson, Street Commissioner; R. P. Piper, Marshal; John C. Brewster, Surveyor; Joseph Gerber, Chief Engineer of the Fire Department; S. P. Barnhardt, M. B. Franklin, Joseph Gerber, J. R. Odell, J. T. Reynolds, and R. W. Rutherford, Trustees.
Fremont now has a very efficient fire department, organized in September, 1883. The "Walker system " has been introduced, at a cost of $6,000. It maintains two pumps, each capable of forcing 300 gallons per minute. The department has 30 members, and Joseph Gerber is at the head. It has two hose carts, with 1,000 feet of hose, and two large Babcock fire-extinguishers.
The only debt of the village is one of $3,500, to be paid in four years, at seven per cent. This was contracted in building the water-works.
The manufacturing interests of Fremont, already important, bid fair to become much more so in a few years. At present there is the fine tannery of D. Gerber & Sons, the stave mill of James Gibson, the flouring mill of the Darling Milling company, the handle factory of H. Jones, the heading mill of P. S. Castle, the shingle mills of Merchant & Hungerford, James Gibson and P. S. Castle, and the sawmills of Darling & Cook, Merchant & Hungerford, James Gibson, Cornelis Mulder and H. Jones. The last mentioned, and also the mill of Darling and Cook, are run by water power, while the other saw-mills are operated by steam power. The general business interests are catalogued as follows:
Cornelius Addison, shoemaker.
Olive Branch Council, No. 14, of Michigan, was organized in August, 1880, with a membership of 98. The first officers were: Joseph Gerber, C. C.& E. E. Edwards, P. C. C; Ida Rathbun, D. C.C.; Jesse McIntyre, V. C; Mrs. Joseph Gerber, D. V. C; Mrs. A. Barnhardt, Pre!.; C. I. Rathbun, Rec; John W. Rutherford, Fin.; William Gerber, Treas.; Fred. Marshall, Mar.; Mrs. Mary J. Marshall, Warden; A. O. Hoyt, Guard; Louis Vallier, Sent.; J. W. McNabb and G. W. Nafe, Physicians. The present officers are as follows: Joseph Gerber, C. C; R. W. Rutherford. V. C; E. E. Edwards, P. C. C; C. I. Rathbun, Sec.; S. P. Barnhardt, Treas; G. W. Nafe, Med. Ex.; Sarah A. Barnhardt, Pres.; D. Kuypers, Mar.; C. C. Paradise, Ward.; Fred. Marshall, Guard; W. W. Wright, Sent. The present membership of the Council is 75. It meets the second and fourth Thursdays of each month at Odd Fellows' Hall.
Pilgrim Lodge, No. 180, F. & A. M., was organized about 1865, and is now one of the lending organizations of the village. Its principal officers now .are : K. R. Edwards, \V. M.: A. H. Northway, S. W. N. 11, Clark, J. W.; C. E. Stearns, Sec; John Cole, Treas.
Fremont Center Lodge, No. 242, I. O. O. F., was organized Oct. 6, 1874, with 22 members. G. F. Cole was the first Noble Grand, and John Harwood the first Vice Grand. The present Akers are as follows : Fred. M. Nay, N. G.; H. S. Garrison, V. G.; Louis Addison, Sec; Alonzo Sweet, Treas.; Louis Vallier, Perm. Sec. The present membership is about 40. The lodge meets every Tuesday night. Post Henry Dobson, No. 182, G. A. R., was mustered Sept. 13, 1883, with 42 members. The following is a list of its present officers: J. R. Odell, Com.; C. L Rathbun, S. V. C; A. H. Northway, J. V. C; Walter S. Piatt, Adj.; Orlando McNabb, Q. M.; J. A, Lemoreaux, Surg.; S. P. Odell, Chap.; George McNutt, O. D.; R. P. Piper, 0. G.; S. P. Barnhardt, S. M.; John Delamater, Q. M. Sergt. The present strength of the post is 46. It meets the first Saturday night of each month, at Odd Fellows' Hall. Fremont Lodge, No. 741, K. of II., was organized Sept. 14, 1877. It now has 13 members, and meets the first and third Thursdays of each month, at Masonic Hall.
Portrait Biographical Newaygo Co 1884