City of Corunna
Shiawassee Co MI

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 county.


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 given below:


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.


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 lost fortune.

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. Van Buren.

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. Cooper.

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 business activity.

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 years.

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