Ferry Township

Oceana County Michigan


As the early records of Otto and Ferry have both suffered by fire at the destruction of Samuel Potter's house, we have had to trust to verbal statements, and in some cases could not ascertain at all what we desired.

We find that in 1868 the application to form a new town, to be called "Reed", was tabled by the board of supervisors. In October of the same year, the application of W.J. Kennedy, and others, for the same object, was successful. The first election was ordered at Reed's schoolhouse, on April 5, 1869; T.F. Reed, Timothy Smith and D.N. Gustin were appointed inspectors of election.

The following is the list of officers:

SUPERVISORS - B.F. Reed, 1869-70-71' T.F. Reed, 1872-73; Rensler P. Ferris, 1874-75; Daniel Landon, 1876-77-8-9-80; Gustavus M. Smith, 1875-82; C.W. Power, 1881.

TREASURERS - John F. Evans, 1869; Levi Powers, 1872; Daniel Landon, 1873-74-5; G.M. Smith, 1876-77-78-80-81; Thomas H. Pittenger, 1879; E.L. Benton, 1882.

The officers for 1882 are: Supervisor, D.Landon; clerk, G.M. Smith; treasurer, E.L. Benton; commissioner of highways, J.A. Chellis; school inspectors, C.E. Converse (one year) and T.H. Pittenter (two years); justice of the peace, for full term, C.W. Powers; drain commissioner, J.M. Heim, Sr.; constables, G.R. Quick, J.M. Heim, Sr. and P.W. Parish.

The first settler in Ferry was Elnathan J. Reed, who with his sons Theodore F., and George, settled on Section 28, in 1857, coming from Wayne Co., N.Y. and in the Spring of 1875 they sold out for about $20,000, and have all returned to New York. After this family, the town was at first named Reed, but shortly after it was changed to Ferry, in honor of Senator Thomas W. Ferry, who owned large tracts of pine land, and was one of the first to develop and settle this town, and Otto. Elnathan J. Reed and family were men of ability and enterprise, and commencing with hoe and ax, they carved out a good property. They kept the first postoffice, Reed, now Ferry in 1863. Elnathan J. was the first supervisor and Theodore and his brother Benjamin F., now a justice of the peace in Whitehall, Muskegon County, also held that office. The second settler was Lot North, a sort of Nimrod, or mighty hunter, in early days. He pre-emptied land, but lost it and left, a lonely widower in 1858.

The next settler was William W. Gillen, who came in the Spring of 1858, and about the same time came in Samuel Rogers, and George Shattuck. Orrin Benton and B.F. Reed came next, and then John F. Evans, all about 1858. In the spring of 1859, W. Gillen and Samuel Rogers were engaged seventeen days, cutting out a road to their places.

The first birth was a child of Samuel Rogers, born November 14, 1859.

The first marriage was that of Amos Putney, to Miss Evans in 1860.

The first death was an infant child of Andrew Decker, July 1860.

The first preacher was a Rev. Mr. Joy, now a Kalamazoo lawyer. The Rev. Mr. Pratt, Methodist Episcopal elder, came in about the same time as Joy, which was in 1861-62.

The first bridge built in the township, on the north branch of White River, was built in the fall of 1859, by Andrew Decker, W.J. Kennedy, Samuel Rogers and George Shattuck. It was built about 20 feet below the present bridge at Ferry village, some of the old timbers being yet fusible.

E.J. and T.F. Reed were granted in 1871, the privilege of erecting a mill dam over the north branch of White River on Section 28.

In 1872, small pox made great havoc, and the question of paying the expenses was one long dispute between the county and the township.

The first physician was Dr. C.P. Gaylord, who came in 1870; Dr. Irish, who came in 1881 is the only physician in the town.


Orrin Benton, farmer, section 20, was born in Highgate, Franklin Co VT Jan. 27, 1824 and was married to Mary Percy of the same place in 1840. They came to this state in 1855, moving into Ferry, Oct. 12, 1858. They have four children - Martha A., Edwin L., Mary A., and Minerva A.

Andrew Decker, farmer section 25, was born in Phelps, Ontario Co., NY Jan. 21, 1834, and was brought up on a farm, and spent three years as a sailor on the ocean, and two years on the lakes. He came into the township in 1859, locating on section 35, and in 1863 changed to his present location. At the time of his arrival there were but seven families in Ferry and Otto, there not being residents enough in both townships to sign a petition for laying out a road. He married Nancy Underwood, at Sheboygan WI Oct. 12, 1859. They have six surviving children - James M., George A., Alva, Philip, Guy and Warren. They have lost two children, one of which died at the age of one day and Daisy who died in the summer of 1877, aged two years and four months.

William W. Gillen, farmer section 25, was born in the town of Addison, Steuben Co NY, Nov. 14, 1826 and came to White River July 29, 1856. He married in 1853, Harriet O'Neal, by whom he had one son, Eugene who enlisted in Co. I, Third MI Infantry and who died of disease contracted in the army. Mr. Gillen married again in 1874, Caroline Benton, by whom he has one child, Lottie, born June 29, 1875. In the spring of 1863 he enlisted in Battery B, First MI Reg. of Light Art., which mustered at Grand Rapids, and first went into camp at Pulaski TN. Was with Sherman on his march to the sea, and was discharged at the close of the war, June 13, 1865. He settled on a lot on Section 32, in the spring of 1858, and has carved out of the forest quite a fine farm. He is one of the respected pioneers of Ferry.

Daniel Landon, farmer Section 16, was born in Conneautville, Crawford Co PA. Jan. 2, 1837, and enlisted in the One Hundred and Tenth Ohio Vol. Inf. and served three months, when he was discharged on account of ill-health. He came to this township in 1871, locating on his present premises. He has taken quite an interest in the political questions of the day, and for a number of years has occupied a prominent position in his township, having been elected supervisor, and served for the past seven years and was township treasurer for the three years previous to his election to his present office. He married Nov. 16, 1860, Catherine Thompson and they have seven children - George E., Jarius M., John W., Albert H., Grace E., Mary E., and Angeline L.

Charles McClave, farmer on section 36, was born in Cauaudaigua NY Sep. 22, 1830, removing thence to Ohio, and on March 4, 1852 he went to California, remaining there fourteen years, returning Feb. 3, 1866. He came to Ferry in March 1871, purchasing 120 acres. In addition to occupying several township offices, he was appointed county superintendent of the poor , in 1874, and reappointed in 1877, and again in 1880, his third term of office expiring in 1883. He married Elizabeth Barber of Branch County MI Nov. 19, 1866 and they have two children - Estenna S. and Minnie M.

The following comprise the firm of E. Powers and Sons, who own and manage the grist and sawmill business in Ferry village, and do quite an extensive business in both establishments;

Ephraim Powers, Ferry village, was born in Richmond, Ashtabula Co. Ohio May 25, 1827 and was married to Mary J. Landon, Nov. 16, 1847 in Crawford co. PA. He came to Ferry in May 1871, moving in his family in the following November. They have five surviving children - William W., Charles W., Mary E., Ida M., Eugene E. They lost their third child, Daniel W., who was drowned in the mill-pond, August 26, 1876 at the age of fifteen years.

Charles Powers was born in Richmond, OH Nov. 17, 1853, coming into Ferry with his parents in 1871. He married Amelia Rice, Jan. 1, 1877.

William W. Powers was born in Richmond OH Dec. 13, 1849 and came to Ferry with the rest of the family. He married Emma E. McNutt of Eagleville, Ashtabula Co. OH on May 1, 1870 and they have a family of three children.

Gustavus M. Smith, farmer on south-east quarter of section 29, came with his father Timothy Smith from Cass County in 1864, settling on his present place, which was purchased from Orrin Benton. Mr. Smith married July 4, 1871, Elizabeth Pickel of Ontario and has one daughter, Minnie born Jan. 12, 1878. Mr. Smith is clerk of the township and is school director for district No. 1 and has also been town treasurer. He has an excellent farm. His father Timothy Smith, one of the most respected pioneers of Ferry, was born in Oneida Co. NY Oct. 30, 1810 and in 1835 married Harriet A. Green in NY where he resided until 1860, when he removed to Cass Co. MI. In 1864 he settled in Ferry and still retains sixty acres, while his son, Gustavus, cultivates the remaining 100 acres. He has three children - Gustavus W., Helena, (Mrs. Erastus D. Smith) and Mary, (Mrs. John Rex, of Alabama). Mrs. Smith died April 28, 1878, regretted by all who knew her.

William A. Young, merchant was born in MO Dec. 7, 1857, coming to Otto in 1868, where he resided until 1880 when he came to Ferry village and commenced mercantile business Dec. 15, 1880. In addition to his mercantile business, he deals quite extensively in lumber, bark, ties, etc. He married May 20, 1879, Ida M., daughter of Ephraim Powers. They have one child, Danie.