Croswell, MI (Corner Wells & Howard) (1912) - Contributed by Paul Petosky
The name of this village was "Davisville"
until the general change which took place
in almost everything on the advent of the
Port Huron & Northwestern Railroad, when
the name was changed to "Croswell," in honor
of Gov. Croswell. Since that time the village
has experienced a new era, and is now noted for its
neatness, enterprise and general business thrift. Its
early history is similar to that of the surrounding
country in the early days.
Indians lingered around for five or six years after the first settlements were made. They traded baskets of their own make to the pioneers for salt, flour and pork. They were very friendly, and often the citizens would haul their canoes from Davisville to Lexington for them. Meetings were held in the school-house, now known as the "District Schoolhouse." Rev. Clark King, of Kentucky, preached the first sermons here, to a Methodist congregation, and often the Indians would attend, enjoying the service and claiming to be as good Methodists as anybody. The first frame building erected in Davisville stands now on the west bank of the river, just east of the residence of Mrs. M. Davis. It was erected in the summer of 1849, and the following year the present house of Mrs. Davis was built.
The schoolhouse was built in the fall of 1851. Randall K. Davis donated the lots for it, and was much interested in the erection of the building. The first teacher was Miss Mary Hart (later Mrs. John Robb). The pupils were the children of Mr. Davis, Mr. Stevenson and Mr. Hart, numbering ten or eleven in all.
Mr. Davis completed the erection of a water mill commenced by Epbraim Pierce in 1845, which was the first mill in these parts. The mill was such a success that when the final payments were to be made, Mr. Pierce concluded to retain a half interest in it. This partnership continued for about six months, when Mr. Stevenson bought the interest of Mr. Pierce, and a grist-mill was added to the saw- mill. This was run night and day through the year, except a few weeks in the summer when the water was low, until 1854 or 1855, when the water became so low that the power failed and the mill was abandoned. A steam mill was then built, which was operated until 1861, when it was burned to the ground during a severe storm. The fire was thought to have been set by the lightning, though incendiarism was charged by many worthy witnesses. I The first house of worship in Davisville was the United Presbyterian church, and the clergyman was Rev. Mr. McClellan. The lots were donated by Mr. Moffer, of Detroit, who at that time owned a large tract of land in that vicinity. The history of the other churches will be found in the chapter on that subject.
The first Fourth-of-July celebration was held in 1855 on the island below the old mill. It was principally for the children, but people from miles around attended, and a pleasant time was had.
The first wedding in Davisville was in 1852. The "happy pair were Miss Maria Hart and Mr. Brown.
The first death was that of Miss Helen Crommer, a sister of Mrs. Stevenson, in 1850. The remains were removed to Canada. The present cemetery was laid out in 1853, the ground having been donated by Mr. Davis, and cleared by a logging bee.
The first store was a grocery and dry-goods store started by W. T. Jenney. A blacksmith shop bad been put up in 1854, and the postoffice was kept here for a number of years.
How Croswell has grown can be seen from the
subjoined list of business houses as they are to-day:
Mills & Gaige, Wildman Mills, J. M. Gaige, general real-estate dealers. The firm was established
in 1860 as Moss Bros.; then it became Moss &
Mills, then Moss, Mills & Gaige, and upon the
death of Truman Moss the firm was changed to its
present style. It has been largely instrumental in
the development and improvement of the raw lands
through the central part of the county, and at present owns several thousand acres of valuable lands in
J. H. Richardson, dry goods, groceries and general merchandise, established 1883.
Sherk Bros., dry goods and general store, established 1882.
Sanilac County Bank was established Sept. 28, 1882, by J. M. Gaige. It does a large general banking and money-loaning business throughout the county.
Horatio J. Emery, M. D., graduate of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Kingston, Canada, opened an office in May, 1884.
G. A. Annand, M. D., graduate of Victoria University, Toronto, established himself at Croswell in 1871.
Dr. J. Steele, drugs, millinery and fancy goods, established 1882. Dr. Steele is a graduate of the Detroit Homeopathic College, and Hahnemann Medical College, Chicago, and came to Croswell in 1879. P. L. Graham, druggist, established 1882.
Brunk & Stevens, jewelers, established 1882.
E. Gribben, boots and shoes, established 1881.
Josiah Perry, blacksmith, established 1881.
Cephas Arnot, general store, established 1870.
Jenney & Stoner, meat market, established 1884.
H. H. Tyrrell, general store, eslablishcd 1881.
Anderson House, W. West proprietor, built 1879.
Franklin House and Livery Stable, H. D. Franklin, proprietor, established 1883.
James Harvey, carriage and blacksmith shop, established 1883
H. W. Wixson, general store, erected 1884.
Levi Mohorter, barber, established 1884.
Samuel Ward, shoe shop, established 1879.
C. A. Cowan, bakery, established 1883.
Kennedy & Clunas, meat market and stock dealers, established 1879.
The Croswell Cheese Factory was started in 1880, and is the only cheese factory in the township. J. H. Murdaugh is the proprietor,and the building was erected by William Mills. In the present season, from May 1 to Sept. 1, 622,287 pounds of milk received was made into 59,763 pounds of cheese on commission, the farmers furnishing their own milk and receiving cheese, which is disposed of generally in Liverpool and other ports of Europe at from 9 to 12 cents per pound.
A. R. Haist, furniture and undertaking,established 1881.
N. P. Hougbtalin, hardware, established 1881.
W. S. Gibson, druggist, established 1879.
H. J. Heard, tinware, established 1884.
Chas. McCormick, saddles and harness, established 1881.
Wixson & Pannell, hardware and groceries, established 1889.
W. J. Hannah, general store, established 1884.
C. E. Peltys, agricultural implements, established 1881.
Thompson & Stuart, flouring-mill, established 1880. The capacity of this mill is 60 lo 75 barrels per day, and the flour is of a superior quality.
Croswell Democrat, Horatio Pratt, editor and proprietor. The Democrat was established in 1880 as a Democratic paper, but, espousing the cause of the laborer, it supported Gen. Butler in the campaign of 1884. The paper has a job office in connection, and enjoys a growing prosperity.
A large Opera House was finished in the spring of 1883. The hall is 52 x 80 feet, with a 20-foot stage, and a seating capacity of 1,200. There are two large store rooms below, and the whole building cost about $20,000.
The Croswell Cornel Band was organized in 1878, with 14 pieces. The organization is not chartered, but the property is owned in company. The present officers are: President, Wm. Straffon; Secretary, George Smith; Treasurer, Thomas Pomeroy; Leader, Joseph Lee. Meeting nights are on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The Parochial Society is a social organization of the ladies of the Episcopal Church for general beneficence and home mission work. It was organized about the same time as (he establishment of the Church (1870), with Mrs. Julia H- Mills as the first President. The President now is Mrs. Horatio Pratt.
The church was moved to its present location in the spring of 1883, and the Parochial Society purchased the lots for this for $225. The society contributes to the support of the pastor $100 annually, which is made by socials, sewing, etc. At a large Fourth-of-July celebration in 1871, the society raised $108 to pay for the church bell, and the entertainments given by the ladies have always been very popular.
The foregoing is a history of the settlement and development of Lexington Township, except the record of the schools and churches, which will be found in the chapter on those subjects. Being one of the first towns organized, Lexington has always had a representation in the Board of Supervisors, and the following is the list of her Supervisors from the first:
C. M. Mills, 1850 Mark Carrington, 1851 W. A. Nichols, 1852 C. M. Mills, 1853 C. M. Mills, 1854 Hiram Bacon, 1855 Israel Huckins, 1856 Daniel Wixson, 1857-60 Israel Huckins, 1861 James Hunter, 1863-4 Henry Weideman, 1865-8 James G. Hunter, 1869 John Sheldon, 1870 James G. Hunter, 1871-3 Henry Weideman, 1874-7 James G. Hunter, 1878-9 Henry Weideman, 1880-1 John Atkinson, 1882
Portrait & Biographical Sanilac MI 1884