Corunna, MI (Grand Trunk Depot) (1909) - Contributed by Paul Petosky
The city of Corunna, the county-seat of Shiawassee, embraces within its boundaries (as established by the legislative act which erected it a city) an area of four square
miles of territory lying nearly in the form of a square, of
which the southwest corner is a little more than a mile
north and cast of the geographical centre of the county.
It is wholly within the original limits of the township of
Caledonia, being described by law as covering all of sections
21 and 28 in that township, with the cast half of sections 20
and 29, and the west half of sections 22 and 27. The Shiawassee River passes through it a little north of its centre,
flowing from east to west, and furnishing excellent waterpower, which has been from the first settlement of the place
until the present time a useful auxiliary in promoting the
growth and prosperity of the village and city. The Detroit,
Grand Haven and Milwaukee Railway passes through the
southern part of Corunna, connecting the city with the
commercial metropolis of the State on (he east, and with
Lake Michigan on the west, affording excellent facilities for
the shipment of the produce of adjacent portions of the
The names of the original purchasers from the United
States of the lands embraced within the present limits of
the city, and the dates of their respective purchases, are
That portion of the southeast quarter south of the Shiawassee River, by Augustus Randolph, of Wayne Co., Mich., Sept. 20, 1835.
The north part of the southeast fractional quarter north
of the above river, by Trumbull Cary, of Genesee Co., N. Y., Oct. 21, 1835.
The northeast quarter, by Silas and Daniel Ball, Monroe Co., N. Y., March 25, 1835.
South fraction, and east part of southwest fractional
quarter, Trumbull Cary, Nov. 2, 1835. Northwest part of the southwest fractional quarter and north part of the south-
east fractional quarter, Elias Comstock and Seth Beach,
Oakland County, Nov. 11, 1835. The south portion of the
southeast fractional quarter, William C. Baldwin, Dec. 14,
1835. The west quarter of the northeast quarter and the
east half of the northwest quarter, S. P. Germain, Albany,
N. Y., April 1, 1830. The cast half or the northeast
quarter, Nathaniel Prouty, Wayne county, April 1, 1830
The west half of the northwest quarter, Thomas T. Owen
Wayne County, April 2, 1836.
That part of the southeast quarter lying south of the
river, Ira A. Blossom and E. D. Efner, Eric Co., N.Y.,
Dec. 9, 1835. The east part of the northeast fractional
quarter, Alexander D. Eraser, James Davidson, and Alexander McArthur, Wayne Co., Mich., Feb. 10, 1836. The
west part of the northeast fractional quarter, James A.
Van Dyck and H. McClure, Wayne Co., Feb. 13, 1836.
The northwest quarter, Ira A. Blossom and E. D. Efner,
Erie Co., N. Y., Dec. 9, 1835. The southwest quarter,
Elon Farnsworth, Eric Co., N. Y. March 29,1836.
The north fraction, Jonathan Kearsley, Detroit, Sept.
16, 1832. The west half of the southwest quarter, Ninion
Clark, Shiawassee County, Sept. 26, 1835. The west part
of the northeast fractional quarter and the east part of the
northwest fractional quarter, Andrew Mack, Wayne Co.,
Mich., Jan. 27, 1836. The east half of the southwest
quarter and the west half of the southeast quarter, same
party. The east half of the southeast quarter, Henry
Raymond, Feb. 10, 1836. The east half of the northeast
quarter, Horace H. Comstock, Kalamazoo, Feb. 13, 1836.
The north part of the northwest fractional quarter, James
Bowman, Wayne Co., Mich., March 14, 1836.
The northeast quarter of the southeast quarter, Ninion
Clark, Sept. 26, 1835. The cast half of the northeast
quarter, Joseph Pitcairn, New York City, Feb. 20, 1836.
The west half of the northeast quarter, Lot Clark and
Stephen Warren, New York, February, 1836. The west
half of the southeast quarter and the southeast, quarter of
the southeast quarter, Elon Farsworth, March 26, 1836.
SETTLEMENT, SETTLERS, AND PROGRESS OF
The first settlements in Corunna were promoted, and its
original plat as a village was laid out, by an association of
proprietors of the land on which it was located. This association, known as "The Shiawassee County-Seat Company,
was composed of Andrew Mack, J. C- Schwarz, Alexander
McArthur, John McDonnell, S. B. Mizner, and Horace H.
Comstock. The articles of association, in which it was set
forth that the object of the company was to secure the
permanent establishment of the county-seat at Corunna,
and to promote the growth and settlement of a village at
that place, were signed by these proprietors on the 6th of
August, 1836. None of them were residents of the township or county at that time, and it was not until about two
years later that one of their number—Alexander McArthur, Esq.—removed here as the agent of the company,
to take charge of its affairs and advance its interests.
Upon the formation of the County-Seat Company. Capt.
John Davids was appointed its agent- He removed to the
place late in the year 1836, and erected for his principals a
log house—the first building in Corunna—which stood on
the bank of the river, on what is now designated as block
7 of McArthur, Castle, and Hurlburt's Addition. The
present owner of the property is Andrew Hugging, extensively known through the county as a skillful engineer and
surveyor. The ruins of the old cellar may still be seen
adjoining the home of Mr. Huggins.
It is difficult to obtain authentic information regarding
the progress of the new settlement during the years 1837
and 1838, the only survivor of that early period finding it
impossible to recall the events of more than forty years ago.
The first plat of the village of Corunna, embracing one
hundred and fifty-seven and seven one-hundredths, acres,
and described as the west part of the northeast fractional
quarter and the east part of the northwest fractional
quarter of section 28, was platted June 2, 1837, by A. 0.
Fraser, John Norton, and Chauncey Hurlburt, as trustees
for the Shiawassee County-Seat Company. The plat was
recorded Feb. 5, 1840. The several additions which have
since been made to the village plat from time to time will
be mentioned in succeeding pages.
Capt. Davids, the company a first agent, was originally
from the village of Niagara, in Canada, and had removed
to Detroit, where he resided when employed by the County seat Company to superintend their improvements. He remained but a year in charge of the company's interests, and
then retired to the farm of John V. Swain, in Caledonia
township, embracing seventy acres on section 25, where
he followed agricultural pursuits until his death in 1869,
at the advanced age of eighty years. In Canada he had
been the keeper of a public-house, and an accidental circumstance brought him in contact with Morgan, of anti-Masonic fame. Together they projected the idea of an expost of the secrets of Masonry, and it is said that the work
was written in the house of Capt. Davids. The latter gentleman repaired with the manuscript to New York, and
ordered the publication of an edition embracing twenty
thousand copies, involving all his means. He later removed
to Fort Erie, N. Y., and it is stated that he narrowly
escaped the fate which overtook his coadjutor Morgan,
though the basis of this statement is not known, he afterwards removed to Detroit with a view to recuperating his
Capt. Davids was succeeded in his management of the
company's interests by Joel L. Ancrim, a civil engineer
His official career was likewise brief. After a residence of
less than a year he departed ostensibly on a business tour,
leaving his implements with Mr. McArthur, and never
returned. Whether he was the victim of foul play, or had
determined to abandon a residence not congenial to him, is unknown.
Alexander Mc Arthur, one of the members of the company, now determined to remove to the county-scat and personally supervise the interests of the company. In the
year 1838 he left Detroit, his former residence, and became
permanently identified with the locality as a resident, having moved into the house built and vacated by Capt. Davids.
In that year he erected on the south side of the river; a
saw-mill, which at that early date cut most of the timber
used in the immediate vicinity, and aided materially in the
building of the village. Other houses were built, and settlers slowly found their way to the spot, having been
attracted by its promising future as depicted in glowing
colors by the various members of the company. In 1838,
Stephen Hawkins came from Pontiac, where he had for
three years been a resident (having removed in 1835 from
Chenango Co., N. Y.). He entered upon section 20,
in Caledonia, ninety-seven acres of land. By trade a
Carpenter and joiner, he with his partner built many of the
earliest frame houses in Owosso, where he for a brief time
resided. Mr. Hawkins was for several years a settler in
Corunna, but ultimately removed to the farm which he
entered and where he still resides.
Abram Garabrandt came at about, the same period, and
engaged in various occupations which afforded him a livelihood. He was an eccentric individual and the object of
many jokes among his fellows, though his kindly nature
precluded their being of a very practical form. Mr. Garrabrandt was not, however, without means, having had a farm
of considerable size within the present city limits.
The company offered a plat of land designated as the
pubic square to be used for county purposes, and a contract
was made with Stephen Hawkins for the erection of a
building, in October of the same year, to be devoted to the
uses of the county officers. This building not being of
sufficient proportions to afford conveniences for the sessions
of the court, they were for a while continued at Shiawassetown, where they had previously been held.
S. Z. Kinyon emigrated from Onondaga Co., N. V., to
the city of Flint in 1836, and entered land in the following year. In April, 1830, he was attracted by
the enterland exhibited by the Shiawassee County Seat Company,
and made Corunna his residence. He had meanwhile, in
connection with A. H. Bench, obtained a contract for the
construction of a portion of the Northern Hail road which
had been projected by the State. The project was, however abandoned, and the firm were heavy losers. A suit
was brought and judgment for the recovery of a portion of
the amount obtained. Mr. Kinyon on his arrival was employed in the saw-mill erected by the company, and met
with a serious accident which for a while disabled him.
He afterwards engaged with A. H. Beach in the erection
of a hotel known as the "Corunna House," which is still
standing on Shiawassee Avenue, on the south bank of the
river. They were proprietors for a while, and thou it
passed into the hands of other parties, among whom was
S. W. Cooper. Mr. Kinyon was married in 1841 to Miss
Cynthia M. Bay, of Corunna, and on this occasion were
held the first marriage festivities in the village. The earliest death had occurred three years previously, an employee of the company having died in 1838. The first
birth occurred in 1830. It was that of a child of E. J.
Both Isaac and Lemuel Castle were among the early arrivals, and were both actively engaged in business enterprises. A brick store was erected in 1840 by Alexander
McArthur, who employed Dorus Morton, the first mason
and bricklayer, to construct the building. It was located
on the site of the store of Joseph Hulick, and a stock of
goods was placed in it by McArthur, Castle & Cook. They
were succeeded by Harlow Beach, who came from Pontiac
in 1841, and engaged in various mercantile enterprises
with Mr. McArthur, He remained a resident until his
death in 1856 and contributed much to the growth of
Corunna. For a while Mr. Beach was absorbed in the care
of the farm he purchased within the city limits, though
not entirely confined to this occupation. His brother, Seth
Beach, came at the same time and was also much interested in the advancement, of the village.
E. 0. Kimberley, whose name is inseparably linked with
land speculations in the county and elsewhere, removed
from Botavia, N. Y., in 1840, as the agent of Trumbull
Cary, an extensive land-holder. Mr. Kimberley located in
the village and devoted himself to the care of the large investments made by his relative, and remained in Corunna
until his death. Hubert McLaughlin came at nearly the
Nick of time, and became one of the active business men of
that day, remaining in the village of his adoption until his
decease some years later.
In 1842 a school-house was erected on the site of the
present pretentious building, and Mr. Nelson Ferry exercised an imperious discipline over the little ones of the
place. A school had been held previous to this in one of
the county buildings used as the register's office,
Joseph Clement arrived in 1842, and opened a blacksmith-shop (the company having offered him inducements
to settle, in the erection of a building) wherein he plied
his trade. The same year or soon after, Messrs. McArthur
and Houg succeeded to the general business of Harlow
Beach. and conducted a thriving trade.
Andrew and Luke H. Parsons came from Oswego Co.,
N. Y.. in 1835, and after a brief residence in Ann Arbor
removed to Corunna, having purchased large tracts of land
in the county, a portion of winch was located within the
present city limits. Both were members of the legal profession, in which they engaged on their arrival. Andrew
was the first, county clerk of Shiawassee County, and was
later elected Lieutenant Governor. The Governor having
been appointed to a place in the cabinet of Presideul Pierce,
Mr. Parsons filled acceptably the unexpired term as Governor. Luke H. Parsons also held many important county
offices. The former died in 1835, and the latter in 1862.
Another brother, S. Titus Parsons, now resides in Detroit.
E. J. Van Bruen came soon after and embarked extensively in commercial pursuits. A brick structure erected
by Messrs. Morton & Smith was rented by him, and used
as a store. This building, still standing on Shiawassee
Avenue, is the first one of brick located south of the river.
In 1843 a frame building of considerable proportions
was erected on the corner of Wadworth and Fraser Streets,
for the holding of the sessions of the court. This edifice
was in use until the precent more spacious quarters were
provided. It is now owned by the Baptist denomination,
and occupied as a house of worship.
Clement Johnson, a former resident of Oneida County,
located in Owosso in 1837, and four years later removed to
Corunna, where he purchased his present tract of eighty
acres within the city boundaries. He first occupied a log
cabin on the bank of the river, and later erected for his
family a comfortable dwelling. Mr. Johnson cleared eighteen
acres in the first year. The early wheat crops were so
bountiful as to render prices by no means commensurate
with the labor of cultivating, and tho grain was turned to
more profitable account for the feeding of stock. Mr. and
Mrs. Johnson experienced all the hardships of the pioneer's
life, and are now enjoying the results of an industrious career.
Dolus Morton and Gerry Tuttle were both among the
arrivals of 1841, the former having purchased two hundred
and forty acres adjacent to the village. He was the earliest
mason, and was constantly employed at the work of his
trade. Mr. Tuttle later removed to another part of the
township of Caledonia, but now lives within the city limits.
S. W. Cooper (as narrated by himself) came to Corunna
an adventurer, in 1842, having learned the trade of a millwright. He was on his arrival employed to superintend
the erection of a saw mill owned by Alexander McArthur
and Robert Thompson. In 1843, McArthur & Castle built
a flouring-mill, the construction of which was given to Mr.
Seth Beach built a foundry and engaged Mr. Cooper to
supervise the mechanical portion of the work. He was
also for a limited period one of the landlords of the Corunna House, and has from that time been a resident of the
city, and actively engaged in its business enterprises.
Corunna had now taken its place among the members of
the villages of the county, while its pipeline as the county seat bad greatly enhanced its growth and promoted its
The earliest religious services were conducted by Rev.
Mr. Patterson, of Owosso, who in his advanced years occasionally preached in Corunna. Rev. Mr. Gilbert was the
first resident clergyman. He was a minister of the Baptist
faith and a gentleman of much culture. On his arrival
in 1842 he became an inmate of Mr. S. Z. Kenyon's home.
He subsequently removed to Ann Arbor, where be died.
Seneca H. Petteys, an early resident of Corunna and a
shoemaker by trade, was also an explorer, and held frequent
religious services in the village.
Henry and A. M. Jennings were the earliest brick makers.
They emigrated from Canada to the village, where they
established a brickyard cast of the school-house. During
the years 1846 and 1847 a fatal epidemic prevailed, which
included the brothers Jennings among its victims.
John M. Pruser was originally a resident of New York
State, and first removed to Oakland Co., Mich. In 1845
he chose a home in Corunna and purchased a farm within
the present city limits. There was then a population of
several hundred in the village, and the several mills in full
operation, together with two hotels, gave the place an appearance of decided business activity. Mr. Fraser in
1865 relinquished his farming pursuits, but still retained
his residence in the village.
E. P. Wade, an early pioneer in Burns, removed in 1848
to Corunna, having been elected county clerk and made commissioner of the State to superintend the construction of the
State road from Corunna to St. Charles, in Saginaw County.
Later he engaged in the shoe and leather trade, for which
purpose he, in 1850, erected a store. In 1875 his building, standing on Shiawassee Avenue, was superseded by a
substantial brick structure. Mr. Wade is still one of
Corunna's most enterprising citizens.
John Derr came in the same year and made Corunna his
home, where he lived until his recent death in advanced
G. 0. Bachman arrived a year later and engaged in the
practice of law. He afterwards studied theology and became rector of the Episcopal Church of (he city. His
death occurred in Corunna some years since.
Among the representatives of the medical profession,
Dr. Pierce, a Philadelphian, settled in the city, then a village, in 1842, and engaged actively in the labors of his
profession. He remained until 1850, when he returned to
his native State.
Dr. Wear, of Shiawasseetown, was also frequently called
to the village in a professional capacity. Dr. E. M. Bacon,
formerly of Albion, N. Y., was a pioneer of 1846, and
engaged at once in active practice, having been the second
resident physician of the village. Dr. Bacon was a gentleman of professional skill, and enjoyed a reputation which
brought him a laborious professional career and occasioned
much sorrow at his death, in 1869. Dr. Harder, of Newburg, followed him, and after a residence of several years
returned to his former home.
James Cummin was an early settler in the township of
Perry, where he came in 1839. In 1850, having been
elected county treasurer, he removed to Corunna and held
the office for six, and again for eight, consecutive years.
Mr. Cummin purchased later one hundred acres within the
city limits, where he now resides, and is extensively engaged in milling pursuits.
Morris Jackson came to Shiawassee in 1835, and to
Corunna in 1849, where he followed the trade of a wagonmaker and carpenter and joiner. He is favorably known
as an early musician, and supplied music for many of the
pioneer gatherings of a social character.
James B. Wheeler, who represents one of the earliest,
families in the township of New Haven, came to the city in
1850, where be engaged in business pursuits. Two years
later be followed the fortunes of other pioneers to California,
and on his return made Corunna his permanent residence.
He has been for some years engaged in banking, but is now
occupied in the superintendence of his extensive farm within
the city limits.
Hiram Smith, a former resident of Mexico, N. Y., located
in the village one year previous to the coming of Mr.
Wheeler, and engaged in the manufacture of botanic medicines, In 1855 he became one of the landlords of the
place, and conducted the business for a period of two years,
when the hotel was consumed by fire. It was rebuilt, and
a second time burned. Mr. Smith retained his residence
in Corunna until his death, in 1879. His son, Clark
Smith, is now sheriff of the county.
Hugh McCurdy removed from Oakland County to
Corunna in 1855, and engaged in the practice of law, of
which profession he had been one of the leading representatives at his former residence. In the year of his arrival
he was appointed prosecuting attorney, and has been since
elected to the same office. In 1860 be filled the position
of probate judge of the county, and four years later was
elected State senator for the counties of Shiawassee and Livingston. Mr. McCurdy has since been engrossed with the
arduous labors of his profession, an is still an active practitioner. He has, however, found leisure to devote to the
public interests of the city, and has been the leading spirit
in the organization of the various Masonic bodies in Corunna,
having been honored with the highest State offices in the
gift of the fraternity.
Curtis J. Gale came from Ingham County in 1846, and
made the county-seat his home, having, previous to his
migration to Michigan, resided in New York City. He
engaged in active business pursuits, and was in 1859 elected
justice of the peace, which office he has held for successive
years since that date. He was also for six years postmaster
of the city, and has filled Other important offices. He is
still one of the justices in Corunna.
Shiawassee and Clinton County 1880 D.W. Ensign & Co. Philadelphia