Fair Haven Michigan
St. Clair County



Fair Haven, MI (1907)- Contributed by Paul Petosky


Algonac is the principal village of the township. There a Catholic Mission was established at a very early time, and there, also, the first Methodist Episcopal Church society was formed in 1821, under Mr. Griffith, of the Canadian Methodist Mission. The village was founded by John K. Smith, who settled there in 1816. In 1830, tho Methodists erected a church building, the same which, in later years, was the residence of Mr. Russell.

History of St. Clair 1883
The earliest visitor of note that reached Algonac was the renowned William Case, who, Under God, was the founder of Protestantism in Michigan, and who was familiarly called the "Father" of missionary work in tho Northwest. Father Case was appointed P. E. of tho Upper Canada District, which then embraced all the territory lying contiguous to the American shore, July 20, 1820; and some time during his quadrennial of service, in the oversight of his district, is said to have visited Algonac, then called Pointe Du Chosne.

The Genesee Conference of 1823, admitted William Griffee on trial, and he, with James Jackson as P. E., were appointed to the Thames Circuit, which must have included Algonac. It is probable that Mr. Griffes was given the principal oversight of tho western portion, since Mr. Jackson is only remembered as having paid a few visits to this section. By authority of the General Conference which met at Baltimore May 1, 1825, the Canada Conference was created, and at its first session in the fall of that year, the western portion of what had been called the Thames Circuit was set off for a new circuit called St. Clair, and Mr. Griffes was appointed preacher. And it was he without doubt who organized tho first society here. For among the papers of John K. Smith may be found tho original class paper dated December 23, 1824, which has upon one side, "Class paper for the 2nd Class the St. Clair River. John K. Smith, Leader; William Griffes, Jr., Preacher." And upon the other side the names of the class «s follows:

"John K. Smith, Leader; Catharine Smith. Charles Phillips, Demtia Phillips, Catharine Harrow, George Harrow, Mary Grumraond, Jacob G. Streit, Sarah Robeson, Rachael Ward," and then, near the bottom separated from the rest, included in brackets, is this: "Colored. Harry Sunders." How long the society had existed prior to this date, is not exactly known; but it had existed; for on the paper it shows that a class-meeting was held on the 19th of December, and the attendance of the members is marked.

Mr. Griffes described as being at the time a small, young, light-haired, rosy-cheeked, energetic man. And as having a very handsome wife, whatever extra advantage that may be to a preacher. He died in Wisconsin a few years ago. And here let us turn aside a little, while we consider the past history, present relation, and future fortunes of some of the members of this little company of frontier Methodists. John K. Smith was born in New York, and at the breaking-out of the war of 1812 was serving his county as Sheriff. Early in the war he connected himself with a regiment, and remained with it until it disbanded at Detroit in 1816, Among the discharged men of that regiment were two experienced potters, who being indebted to Mr. Smith, consented to remain in the Territory and enter his employ if he would establish a pottery. Mr. Smith, on ascertaining that no brown earthen here had ever been manufactured in Michigan, and that the prospect for a ready sale was good, sought for a place to establish his pottery. He came up the River St. Clair, found an old vacant house on Stromness Island, leased it, and in May, 1817, had his pottery in full operation, continuing the business until late in the full of that year. In the winter of 1818, he was induced by Harvey Stewart to teach school on Harsen's Island. At this time, there were only four families on Harsen's Island, viz., William, Jacob and Francis Harson and Harvey Stewart, but there were several scholars from Point Aux Tremble, where there wore also four families— Chortio (Shirkey), Minne. Basney and William Hill, residing, making in all a school of twenty-five or thirty scholars. Hero he met, and the next year married, Miss Catharine McDonald, whoso parents had in 1805 come over with Lord Selkirk's colony and settled at Beldoon but at the close of the war removed to Strommers Island. He established his residence on what was then considered the most pleasant location in tho neighborhood —on the exact site as young Cuthbortson's new house—this he designated "Point Office." A few years after he removed — house and all to the spot still occupied by the "Smith Mansion," being the first settler on the site of the present village.

Shortly after, however, Ira Marks, Ebenizer Westbrook and Silas Miller, bought and settled upon the land in the order named, stretching southward from his to the point. Mr. Smith was commissioned by Gen. Cass as Justice of tho Pence, the first on St. Clair River, March 17, 1818, which office he held to the day of his death. M

When he settled at Point Office, and at Algonac, litigants from all parts of the country came before him to have their causes adjudicated, and his business exceeded that of the County Court for many years. But it may, and ought to be said in this connection, that he never encouraged, but rather discouraged litigation, and the peacemaker's blessing is truly his. His popularity was very great, as the single fact that up to the time of his demise he could show a greater record of marriages than any, if not all the Justices in St. Clair County, would clearly show; and was gained through his judicious judgments and straightforward, conscientious attention to duty and business. August 20, 1820, ho was appointed first Postmaster at Algonac, and in the county, then called Plainfield, and afterward, Clay, until the village which was laid out in 1836, and called Manchester, but soon changed to Algonac, since which time the post office has been known by that name. He was appointed Special Commissioner for the county of St. Clair, by Gov. Cass. April 20, 1827. He was also made the first Custom Inspector on this part of the American shore, commencing the discharge of this office May 1, 1832. In 1836, he was elected the first Probate Judge of St. Clair County, over his opponent, George McDonald, an old Detroit lawyer. Dr. Pilcher says of him, " We found him to be a man of ability and piety, and a decided Methodist. He was a very worthy Christian gentleman." He united with the church under Elder Adams and was appointed the first class leader by William Griffes, which position, together with that of Trustee and Circuit Steward, he filled with groat acceptability for many years. His home was always a refuge for the weary itinerant, who shared his hospitality and left his blessing. He died in great peace. April 14. 1855, aged sixty-nine years. His funeral sermon was preached by Rev.. A. Jameson, in the Methodist Church, from 2 Samuel, iii, 38, and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery, while his spirit returned to God who gave it: appropriately enough, a plain, substantial monument with his name, date of death, and ago inscribed upon it, marks his last resting place. No epitaph is there, for he needs none. His life speaks volumes in testimony of the good he did and is an unerring prophecy of the reward upon which he has entered.

Of the eleven original members, only three survive the pale sheeted nations of the dead;

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