Pentwater Township

Oceana County Michigan

Roadside Park near Pentwater, Mi (1940s) - Contributed by Paul Petosky

This is Town 16 north, Range 18 west, and is only about one- third of the size of those towns which are six miles square. It is but a mile and a half from east to west on its northern boundary, and three and a half miles on its southern boundary. It is divided in two by Pentwater Lake, which comes close to Lake Michigan, from which it is separated by a narrow range of sand bluffs, and here the C. & W. M. R. R. depot is built, the village being reached by a ferry across the channel of the harbor. The village is situated on the northeast corner of the lake, and was originally two villages, that Of Pentwater started by Cobb & Rector, which extended to Hancock Street, and that of Middlesex, originated by C. Mears, and named from his native county in Massachusetts. The town of Pentwater has been well covered with pine, now cut oil by the lumberers, and the soil is generally sandy, although fruit culture is now bring successfully engaged in.


For the school year ending September 5, 1881, it appears that Pentwater school No. 1, in the village, had 177 pupils; school prop- erty valued at $7,000; and one male teacher, at ยง800, and five females, at $1,200 were employed; W. K. Dockry, director; Prof. Borst, principal. No. H. Pentwater had forty-seven pupils, under a female teacher, paid $200.

The board was: C.W.Cramer, chairman: E. R. Wright, inspector, and W. H. Tuller, clerk. District No. 1 includes all north of Pentwater Lake; No. 3 all of the south. The village school is a handsome white painted structure, on the old cemetery ground.


The first actual settlers were Cobb and Rector Edwin R. Cobb, who died some years ago at Grand Rapids, and Andrew Rector, shot, in 1864 by one Fuller, in Hart, whom he was attempting to "regulate." This same Rector was the man who shot a neighbor's hog, in his hot wrath, but which was cooled down when he was tried before "Jimmy Dexter," the primitive justice of the peace of the west shore, who sent Rector ninety-nine years to jail, at Whisky Creek, for the heinous offence. Many are the quaint stories told of "Jimmy," who still lives a few miles north of Pentwater. Rector might have been in jail yet, had it not been for a writ, of "haibus corpus".

They had a steam mill with an upright circular saw, and employed about thirty men. Mears employed about three times as many men. Many of the early pioneers commenced to work for Mears. Among these were: S. G. Rollins, Daniel Wentworth, John Spoor, E. D. Richmond, H. C. Flagg, W. P. Harding, Mr. Jennings, Charles Blenick, Nelson Glover, Elbridge Former, etc. The latter was Mears first foreman, in 1856, and H. C Flagg took his place in 1867. G. Smith, the saloon keeper, was at this time Mears' head sawyer. Mears built a store and boarding house near where the ferry now is. The first store was in a bed-room of the boarding house; the second was a little further west, and the third was a large store, now burned, on the bank of the river. Mears built a large hall, (Middlesex Hall) where people came from Lincoln on the north, and Muskegon in the south, to the old, fashioned balls. Cobb A. Hector were lumberers, but were not very successful. They built a little sawmill, which was burned down in 1856. They probably came in 1853. Charles Mears, of Chicago, came in 1856, and erected a sawmill, and proceeded to improve the channel. Cobb & Rector made an assignment to 0. A. Rosevelt, in 1857 or 1858. Cobb had before this homeseaded "Cobbs Addition." He purchased 160 acres and laid out eighty acres to village lots. He enlisted in the Sixth Michigan Cavalry, and after the war made his home in Grand Rapids until bis death. Cobb was of an easy-going disposition, and calculated to lie straight, but there was some difficulty with his heirs as to land titles. He deeded his property to his wife, and his heirs had a quit-claim. Rector is described as a very honorable man, but of a violent temper; "he would fly all to pieces in a moment." The tirst opposition to Mears' store was by Chapin it Richmond, in 1862.

The land on which Pentwater is mainly situated was in the hands of Rosevelt, as assignee of Cobb & Rector; was purchased by Wm. Brillhart, and fell finally into the bauds of Hart it Maxwell. This included much pine land besides the village plot. In 1865 Richmond and Bean purchased what is now the property of the Pentwater Lumber Company.

ORGANIZATION The town was organized by act of the Legislature, February 13, 1855, and the first meeting was held at the house of Cobb & Rector, April7, 1856, the following officers being elected: E.R. Cobb, supervisor; James Dexter, clerk; Norman Rogers, treasurer; A. Rector, J.D. Green and N. Rogers, highway commissioners; J.G. Blowers, N. Codner, constables; James G. Blowers, school inspector; E.R. Cobb, A. Rector and N. Rogers, inspectors of election; $150 voted for town expenses.

The following is a list of supervisors, clerk and treasurers to date:

Supervisors: E.R. Cobb 1856-57; D.G. Weare, 1858; H.C. Flagg, 1859-61-2-3-4-5--6. A. J. Underhill, 1860-73; E.D. Richmond, 1867-68; Sewall Moulton, 1869; F.W. Ratzel, 1870; Stillman Parks, 1871; G.W. Imns, 1872-75-6; E. N ickerson, 1874; John Fegau, 1877-78; A. Brillhart, 1879; S.W. Bunyea, 1879-80-1-2.

Clerks: James Dexter, 1856-57; E.R. Cobb, 1858; E.D. RIchmond, 1859-60-76-6; Charles W. Deane, 1861; ANdrew M. Dahl, 1862; F.W. Ratzel, 1863-65-6; E.C. Hildreth, 1864; Henry H. Woods, 1867; E.E. Edwards, 1868-69-70; R.L. Rice, 1871-72; Henry F. King, 1873; John S. Reynolds, 1874; A.J. Underhill, 1877; E.B. Clark, 1878-80; W.P. Lee, 1879; W.H. Tuller, 1881; H.A.Cross, 1882.

Treasurers: Norman Rogers, 1856-57; W>P. Harding, 1858; James G. Blowers, 1859; Wm. Webb, 1860-61-2; W.H. Merritt 1868; B.R. Hall 1864; Thomas Crane 1865-66; W.B.O. Sands 18867-68; E.W. Bovee 1869-70; W.A> Rounds 1871-72-3; Mark Rice 1874-5-6; H.H. Bunyea 1877-78-80; A. Sorenson 1879; A.W. Newark 1881; John N. Bonton 1882.


The present is the first season that logs have been floated down the south branch to any extent, and this has been done by J. Bean, Jr.

The north branch has been partly used since 1862.

The Pentwater Booming Company was organized in 1880, with S.A. Browne, present W.E. Ambler Secretary, and W.H. Browne treasurer. It was organized for the purpose of protecting the interests of the leading lumber manufacturers, and to give them legal control of certain improvements on the stream for making it navigable for logs.