Oceana County

Hesperia, MI (View of East Side of Main Street) (1909) - Contributed by Paul Petosky


The thriving village of Hesperia is pleasantly situated on the south side of White River, and partly in Newaygo and partly in Oceana, the main street of the village being the county line.

One of the wants of Hesperia is a railway, which would give it a great impetus.

Strong efforts are being made by enterprising citizens for this object, and a liberal bonus awaits the first road that enters. The village has had a steady growth, as it derives a large trade both from the agricultural and lumber interests, many lumber-camps being located in the vicinity. The country, especially to the east and south, is very line. It has now two hotels, two drug stores, two hardware stores, two gristmills, one sawmill, two grocery stores, three general stores, one clothing and boot and shoe store, one furniture store, three blacksmith shops and two wagon shops. There is a planing mill and pump factory in connection with the sawmill. O. A. Rowland is about to erect a steam sawmill. There are three church edifices, and four religious organizations—Presbyterian, Methodist Episcopal) and Baptist, and First Day Adventists, who worship in Weare's Hall. There are also flourishing societies of Masons, Odd Fellows, Good Templars, Grangers, and a post of the Grand Army of the Republic. An elegant school building adorns the village.


The first marriage in Hesperia was that of Edwin Lore to Celeste H. Sweet, who were married by Lewis Martin, justice of the peace.

The first birth and death was that of Catherine Marvilla Sweet in 1860.

The first sawmill was erected by Cook & Weaver, 1860.

The first store was Daniel Weaver's.

The first miller was David Maze.

The first flouring mill was Weaver's, in 1871. The second was built in 1882 by Maze & Bobbins.

Hesperia was platted as a village and recorded as such in 1866, Thaddens L. Waters, of Fremont Centre, being the surveyor. The plat is entered in the name of John P. Cook, of Hillsdale, and Daniel Weaver. An addition has recently been added on the south by Oscar A. Rowland.

The first house was of logs, and was built on the Newaygo side. It still stands, but is unoccupied. It was built in 1857 by Wm. A. Hoskins, now removed. The first frame house was erected where the postoffice now stands, by D. Weaver, in 1866.

The first hotel was John Alderman's.

The first church was the Methodist Episcopal; the first settled pastor, the Rev. Mr. Swift.

The first schoolhouse was about eighty rods north of White River, and the late Minnie Sweet (Mrs. W. Pursel) was the first teacher.

The first settler on the Oceana side was J. W. Sweet, who sent ahead a man named Streeter to assist iu building him a house and making a clearing.

The first physician in the village was Dr. L. S. Weaver; then followed Drs. Hawley, J. McNabb, now of Fremont Centre, L. A. McIntyre, now of the Hart "ARGUS". L. E. Norton, Porter, Howard and Wells.

The steam gristmill at Hesperia was erected by D. M. Maze & Co. The present proprietors are D. M. Maze and G. D. Webster, both old residents of the village, Mr. Maze being a practical miller of twenty years' experience, and having had charge for ten years of the only flouring mill in the township previous to the erection of this mill. The building was commenced October 18, 1881, and is 36x40 feet, three stories high, with an engine room 16x26 feet, engine thirty-five horse power, boiler forty horse power, and has two run of buhrs, one for flouting and the other for corn and feed. The machinery is of the latest improved style, the millwright work being done by John Ash, a practical mechanic. They commenced manufacturing May 4, 1882, and are having a good run of custom.


At an early date in the settlement of Greenwood, the Presbyterian Church was formed, at first as a home mission, and it was also aided from the Ferry fund. The first minister was the Rev. J. Willard, whose salary for the first, year was paid by the Rev. W. M. Ferry, of Grand Haven.

On the 27th of June, 1874, the formal organization of the society was effected, and the first members were: Ralph M. Stevens, James Bennett and wife, Daniel McKay (deceased) James Walker, Lachlan McCallum and wife, Jacob Williams and wife (now of Otto), M. L. Stevens, Joseph Stevens, Mary McCallum (Mrs. S. Mena), Mrs. L. McCallum, E. P. Becker, Emma Williams (Airs. Evans), Emma L. Stevens, Mrs. Jennie Stevens.

The Rev. James Walker (now of Detroit) was the first minister at the organization, followed by the present pastor, Rev. Wm. Coulter, who came in January, 1881.

The present neat church edifice was dedicated November 27, 1881, costing about $2,500.

The church edifice is in the village of Hesperia, but the congregation is chiefly from Greenwood,


The Hesperia circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized November 17, 1865, by the Rev. J. Swift, at the schoolhouse at P. Monroe's. One class was formed, which was united to Benona circuit. At the fourth quarterly conference, in 1800, Hesperia circuit was formed, and Rev. J. Swift appointed pastor, with a salary of (100 from the missionary fund: next year the same pastor had $500 salary and §100 missionary money. In the third year Rev. Ezra Hayes was pastor, and returned the fourth year. The Rev. W. Harper supplied the fifth year. Next, for two years, came Rev. L. J. Griffin; then came Rev. S. S. Slater, whose term was not tilled up, being succeeded by Rev. Mr. Howe, of Fremont Centre, who preached once each Sunday until conference, when Rev. S. Snider was appointed, who was followed by Rev. J. VanVleet, for two years, and Elder John C. Lloyd, for two years, Rev. Mr. Johnson, now of Grand Rapids, supplied the place for a time. The Rev. William Lampert has occupied the pastorate for the last two years. In 1874 the present neat church on South Street was completed, at a cost of about §1,400; seating capacity, 800.

The First Baptist Church of Hesperia was organized January 5, 1858, by the following members, who met at the residence of Oliver Swain: William A. Hoskins, Oliver Swain, Nelson Wright and B. D. Morton. At this organization William A. Hoskins was elected moderator, and Oliver Swain, clerk. The first pastor was William A. Hoskins. In 1874 the society engaged the services of Rev. J. H. Straight, and during his ministration an elegant church edifice was erected, in 1878.


Hesperia is blessed with a beautiful schoolhouse, on the south side of the village, and on the Newaygo side. It is a two-storied structure, 48x30 feet, with a wing 12x20 feet. Its beautiful gothic roof lends a picturesque appearance to the building, which will accommodate 200 pupils, and, together with its furniture, it is valued at $4,000. D. E. McClure is principal; the school was graded in 1881.

The school district is No. 7, situated in Newaygo and Oceana, and was organized in 1862; first teacher, Helen Martin. Hie present schoolhouse is the third erected by the district.


On February 1, 1870, Hesperia Lodge, 552, Independent Order of Good Templars, was re-organized, having been dormant for a time. The first Chief Templar was Dr. H. C. Hawley; next, William Fleming, for three terms, followed by Mrs. King: then W. Fleming, re-elected; next, Miss Mary Larava; next, John Ash, and lastly, Lewis Bush, who is the present W. C. The membership in good standing is about thirty-five, but it has been as high as eighty-live.


John Ash, millwright, Hesperia, was born in Boston, Mass., May 20, 1820, and married, December 28, 1852, Martha E. North, of Thomaston, Maine. He came to this township in April, 1865. He has followed the occupation of millwright, carpenter and joiner, during his residence in Hesperia, having had supervision of the erection of a large number of the buildings in the village and vicinity. He has had six children, three of whom survive—Addie J., William J., and Ruth L. Cora A. died at the age of twenty-two months, Josephine at the age of three weeks, and Hattie F. at twenty-one mouths.

Lucius Clark, farmer, Section 20, was born in Berkhampton, Litchfield Co., Conn., December 25, 1818; came into this state in 1840, locating in Hillsdale County, remaining until March 16, 1866, when he came to his present location, selecting 1 CO acres of Government land on Sections 20 and 30. He has a thorough, practical Knowledge of the trials and difficulties of the early pioneer. He married, in 1850, Sarah A. Smith. He has eleven children -James M., George L., Francis A., Perry R., Idell J., Thomas H., Harry A., Bertie L-, Nellie A., Clifford J., and Gertrude.

Amasa H. Deits, farmer, Section 2, was born in Monroe County, N. Y., April 20, 1835, and came to this state in the Fall of 1845, and into this township, March 20, 1872. He enlisted, September, 1861, at Grand Rapids, in the Eighth Michigan Infantry, and February 14, 1802, was transferred to the One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania Infantry, and discharged at Philadelphia, September 30, 1864. He was wounded at Fair Oaks, May 31, 1862, (being shot through the right shoulder), and taken to the hospital at Annapolis, Md. He was discharged in September, and sent back to his regiment, at Gloucester Pt., Va. He married Charity Van Valkenburg, April 28, 1867, who died July 3, 1872, leaving two children—Alfred H., and Alonzo H. He married again, December 25, 1874, Mrs. Rhobie A. Barnhart, Pewamo, Ionia Co., Mich., who has one child, Ida V. He homesteaded, in 1871, 120 acres, on Section 2, his present residence, and has made large improvements, and iu a short time he will have one of the- finest farms in the township.

William H. Drake, deceased, was born in Amity, Erie Co., Pa., November 24, 1821, and was married to Mary A. Logan, November 21, 1846. They came into this state in 1850, settling in Van Buren County, where they resided until the Fall of 1860, when they moved into tins township. He purchased eighty acres of Government land, at 50 cents per acre. He built a dwelling house and moved his family into it, August 12, of the same year. He was drafted September 12, 1861, and was taken ill, and died in Jefferson Hospital, Indiana, February 11, 1865. He left six children—Dean, Susanna, George, Ellen J., Eliza, Emma.

James W. Dunning, hardware merchant, Hesperia, was born in Calhoun County, Mich., May 8, 1848, and came to this township April 16, 1866, entering the employ of John T. Dayton, as salesman, for one year, after which he entered the employ of Welch, Heald & Co., remaining with them two years. He then engaged with A. J. Foster, biking charge of his store and business at Hesperia. Since that time, he has been in business for himself, except one year, when he was in the employ of G. D. Webster. He married Sarah L. Sweet, of Newfield, February 18, 1868, and has four children—Alice P., Una E., Jesse E., and an infant girl. He has held the office of supervisor, town clerk and justice of the peace.

William Fleming, blacksmith, was born in Lancaster, Glengary Co., Out., December 7, 1840, and married Mary Urquhart, of Ontario, Canada, February 18, 1864. He came to this state in March, 1866, and located in Hesperia, in November, 1876, establishing a general blacksmithing and wagon-making business. He has three children - Lizzie A., James E., and William A.

William Gregson, lumberman, foreman of A. J. & C. E. Covell's lumber camp, was born August 18, 1847, at Rochester, Fulton Co., Ind. Came to Newfield, in 1866, and usually is employed as foreman of lumber camps, in the Winter, and in Summer has charge of a gang of men in the river. He has been in the employ of different companies—Heald & Co., J. P. Cook A Son, and the Booming Company, he superintended the construction of the second tramway built on White River, for the transportation of saw logs.

Dr. Henry C. Hawley was born in Schodack, Rensselaer Co., N. Y., August 11, 1830, and was married June 2, 1850, to Clarissa, eldest daughter of John McGill, Jr. He came into this township December 27, 1861, and pre-empted the north east quarter of Section 34, erected a dwelling, and in April, 1862, he moved into it. He remained on his farm until 1872, when he removed to Hesperia, where he has since resided. He has taken quite an active interest in the political questions of the day; has been elected and served three terms as county surveyor, and has acted for years as supervisor of the township. He was treasurer of Greenwood, in 1864-'65, was elected justice of the peace, in 1868, and has held the office continuously to the present. He has held a commission as notary public for fourteen years. He was chairman of the county board of supervisors for several years. His family consists of Sarah H., Maria L., Eugenia C, Orlando D., Orvilla H., Milo F., Orel Z., Leon H., Glen O., Ned P., Zeno R., Blanche, and Isis M.

John McGill, Jr., deceased, was born in Orange County, N. V., December 25, 1809, and married Sarah Herman, of Kingston, N. V., iu 1829. In 1852, he removed to Louisville, Ky., where he resided until 1857; returned then to Watervliet, N. Y., and afterwards to Cohoes, N. Y. In August, 1859, he removed to Milwaukee, and in the Spring of 1860 he removed to this state, residing in Dayton until 1861, when he took up 100 acres of land on Section 27, Newfield, paying fifty cents per acre. He resided on this place until his death, December 15, 1878. He was one of the first settlers, and took an active part in all township matters, and was universally respected by all who were favored with his acquaintance. His children, some of whom have passed away, were: John H., Annie M., Clarissa, Charles H., Josephine, Jane, Martha, Walter S., George W., and James W.

Walter S. McGill, farmer, Section 27, third son of John McGill, Jr., was born in Cohoes, Albany Co., N. Y., May 2, 1848, and came into the township with his parents, in 1861. He married, September 19, 1875, Olive B. Radley, of Newfield. They have had one daughter, Laura, born August 4, 1878, and died April 15, 1882.

Alexander McLaren, farmer, Section 12, was born in Perthshire, Scotland, July, 1805, and was married to Isabella Reed, of Alloa, Scotland, in April, 1840. They came to America in 1854, landing in New York on the 1st of August. He came into this state in 1857, and into this township, February 18, 1858, homesteading eighty acres, and purchasing eighty acres more at government price, seventy-five cents per acre, upon which he still resides. He has taken an active interest in all that pertains to the development of the township, holding important offices for a number of years. He has seven children: Alexander, Daniel, Mary Ann, Isabella L., Peter D., Thomas S., and Albeit E.

Philetus Monroe, merchant, Hesperia, was born in Furringham, Mass., July 17, 1815; came to Section 6, Dayton, in the Spring of 1864, purchasing 160 acres of land. He resided in Dayton, until October 15, 1873, at which time he purchased the building and stock of D. P. Glazier, and has resided in Hesperia ever since. He carries a large stock of general merchandise, doing a business of from $15,000 to $20,000 a year, and in addition he is quite an extensive farmer. He married May 18, 1841, Mary A. Larkins, of Rome, Oneida Co., N. Y., who died, leaving five children: Almeda, Charles, Ida S., Etta, and Mary Ann. His second marriage was to Wealtha M. Cunningham.

George Robbins, farmer, Sections 33 and 34, was born in Johnstown, Montgomery Co., N. Y., April 28, 1834, and came to this township in 1865, locating 160 acres on Sections 33 and 34. He enlisted August, 1864, in the One Hundred and Eighty-Sixth New York Volunteer Infantry, and was discharged June 9, 1865, at Albany, N. Y. He married iu 1855, in Jefferson County, N. Y., Ann Sturtevaut, who died March 5, 1867, leaving two children, Delbert and Clara. He was again married to Elizabeth Potter, of Newfield, January 1, 1870. The issue of this union is two daughters, Bell and Hattie.

Joseph J. Robbins, farmer, was born in Otsego County, N. Y., December 4, 1820, and was married January 15, 1842, at Tioga County, Pa., to Miss Marinda Robbins. He enlisted September, 1861, in the One Hundred and Fourteenth Pennsylvania Infantry, which was consolidated with the Fifty-Eighth Pennsylvania Infantry. He was discharged January 9, 1865, at Chapin's Farm, Va. He lost his eyesight by sunstroke in 1864, and still surfers from the same cause. He came to this township, May, 1865, locating on his farm a short distance north of Hesperia. He has resided for some time in the village of Hesperia. He has seven children—Charles H., Emmeline C., Benson, Benjamin L., Evaline E., Benjamin F., and William W.

John B. Smith, farmer, Section 30, was born in Clinton, Macomb Co., Mich., November 28, 1842, and has resided in different portions of the state, including Oakland, Lapeer, and Muskegon Counties. He served his country during the late war, enlisting in Muskegon in July, 1861, and was discharged at Nashville, November 28, 1862, on account of being disabled by the loss of a leg, at the battle of Murfreesboro, July 18, 1862. He received thirteen bullets between the knee and ankle, was taken prisoner on the field, and paroled. In the hospital, his leg was amputated just below the knee. He married, January 12, 1874, Mrs. Maria H. Rodgers, and has three children—Charley, Low, and Verne.

Ezra A Spaulding, farmer, Section 22, was born at Marcellus, Onondaga Co., N. Y., March 20, 1823, and came to this state in the Fall of 1859. In the Fall of 1865, he homesteaded 120 acres, where he has since resided. He enlisted in the Sixth Michigan Cavalry, in September, 1862, and was discharged at Lincoln Hospital, August 5, 1865. He was married, April 10, 1856, to Martha Curtis, of Yates, Orleans Co., N. Y., by whom he has five children—Ellen J. Ezra, Warren, Lucy, and Lyman.

Charles E. Strobridge, scaler, estimator of pine land, and real estate agent, Hesperia, was born in Ridgebury, Bradford Co., Pa., March 6, 1847. He came to Michigan May 20, 1862, and during the following October came into this township, locating 160 acres of government land and forty acres of state swamp land, on Sections 21 and 22. For several years he has been in the employ of huge lumber firms, superintending the scaling at several camps during the Winter months, and estimating and purchasing pine lands in Summer. He married, October 20, 1868, Satie F. Strickland, at Green Bay, Wis., and they have one surviving child. Truman S-, and have lost two children, Olive A., who died August 10, 1867, and Henry, August 30, 1874.

Theodore Taylor, farmer, Section 35, was born in Wilson, Niagara Co., N. Y., May 17, 1831; became a resident of this state in 1839, residing in Leroy, Calhoun Co., and in May, 1850, moved to Big Prairie, Newaygo Co., where he resided until March, 1861, when he settled on his present place. He has followed lumbering and farming, having passed, during his residence in this state, a number of Autumns and Winters in the pine woods, during a portion of the time as a jobber, the balance as scaler, and spending the rest of the year on his farm, which ranks with the best in the township. Of late years he has paid considerable attention to fruit culture, and at the Fall fair's, for a number of years, he has had the finest collections of fruit that have been placed on exhibition. He married, April 15, 1852, Miss Julia Swain, and they have a family of four children—Elliot J., Nelson A., Mary E. and Rosa E.

Joseph W. Sweet, farmer. Section 25, was born in Oswego, N. Y., August 4, 1817; came into this state in 1842, settling in Wheatland, Hillsdale Co. From 1842 to 1849, owing to ill-health, he was obliged to return to New York State three times. In the Autumn of 1849 he removed to Allendale, Ottawa Co., where he resided until 1855, when he removed to Grand Haven. In April, 1858, he came up to White River and purchased 120 acres of land upon a portion of the plat on which Hesperia now stands. In 1860 he purchased his present location, where he has since resided. December 1, 1876, his dwelling-house and contents were totally destroyed by fire, during the absence of himself and family. On one of his trips west he was shipwrecked on Lake Erie, drifting ashore twenty-one miles west of Buffalo, losing all his personal property, and one child, drowned. He married March 21, 1841, Betsey Jerrells, of Fairport, Monroe Co., N. Y., and they have had eight children—Carlistia M., Sarah L., Louisa, Sarah, Minnie S., Chester A., Alice A. and Catherine M.—of whom Sarah died at the age of two months, Catherine M., aged fifteen days, Alice A., aged five years and six months, and Minnie S., aged thirty years.

Guilford D. Webster, merchant, mill owner and farmer, Hesperia, was born in Monroe, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, October 7, 1828, coming into this state in 1850, residing in Allegan County until 1867, when he came to Hesperia, where he has resided ever since. He purchased the sawmill and water power at Hesperia in 1867, and added a planing mill, edger and a pump factory. He cuts, on an average, 4,000 feet per day, chiefly for the home market. He purchased what is known as the "old corner store" and stock in trade, of S. Atherton, in 1876, and continued the mercantile business there until June 1, 1880, when he sold the premises and stock to J. C. McCowen, and purchased the Shirts' Block, March 4, 1880, putting in a stock of clothing, gents' furnishing goods, and boots and shoes. In addition to his other business, he does a general exchange in buying and selling drafts, etc. He is one of the most prominent and successful business men of this portion of the county.

Daniel Weaver, retired merchant and mill owner, Hesperia, was born April 28, 1811, in Rensselaer County, N. Y., and when but three weeks old, his parents removed to North Adams, Mass., where he remained until 1829, when he went to Genesee County, N. Y., where he remained four years. He then came to tins state, remaining five years at Adrian, sixteen years at Hillsdale, and twelve years at Fremont Centre, moving to Hesperia in 1866, having been, a large portion of his life, in milling and mercantile business. He was five years supervisor in Hillsdale County, and has held various township offices, such as justice of the peace, and is at present highway commissioner. He built, in 1871, the first gristmill in this portion of the county, and built the first store and put in the first stock of goods that were brought to Hesperia. He has one of the finest residences in the village.

History of Manistee, Mason and Oceana counties, Michigan 1882 Pg 143-48