WEXFORD COUNTY MI

HISTORY

 The Traverse Region - H.R. Page & Co 1884

Wexford County is composed of Townships 21, 22, 28, 24 north, of Ranges 9, 10, 11,12 west, embracing sixteen surveyed townships. There are, therefore in the county 576 sections of 640 acres each, or a total of 868,640 acres.

The county is bounded on the north by Grand Traverse County; east by Missaukee, south by Lake, and west by Manistee.  The lakes in the county may, perhaps cover an area of ten sections, or 6,400 acres.  The largest of these, the Big and Little Clam Lakes, are in Towns 21 and 22 north of Ranges 9 and 10 west. There are many other lakes in the county, but all of them are very small.

The Manistee River enters Wexford County about a mile south of the northeast corner. Thence it runs nearly west about eight miles, when it turns to the southwest, passing on through the county, and leaving it about two miles north of the center of the west line.

Speaking of this river, Mr. A.S. Wadsworth said: "Draining an area including the upper Manistee, equal to the state of Vermont, the richest state per capita in the Union, with double the number of arable acres of that state, with a better soil and less vigorous climate, with 300 miles, by the meander line, of floatable river, and that a spring brook live but little affected by drought or frost, with tributaries abounding in water power, with abundance of pine timber, yet two-thirds of its area beech and maple land, of great fertility, and including the fruit belt on its higher soils near Lake Michigan, it needs not a prophet to predict its future."

Pine River, one of the largest affluents of the Manistee, runs for several miles through the southwest corner of the county. In addition to these streams there are many fine creeks in different parts of the county which afford excellent mill sites, but two or three of which are yet improved.

The surface of the county may be properly characterized as rolling. There are large tracts, however, that are level or only gently undulating, while in some of the townships there are hills that are worthy of the name.

"The soil is a sand and gravel loam, and in some places a clay loam, but in only a few places is clay found on the surface. The soil is very productive, maturing any production of the soil that will grow here, in the utmost perfection. With the single exception of corn, anything that can be grown in the south part of the state will grow and mature here, and corn only fails for the want of warm nights and the seasons being rather short for it." 

As is the case in the Traverse Region generally, wheat, oats, rye, buckwheat, potatoes and all other root crops and garden vegetables flourish finely. The county is too new yet to show from actual trial what its capacity is for producing fruit, but comparing its soil and climate with those of adjoining counties there can be no doubt that apples, plums, pears, cherries, the hardy varieties of grapes, and the small fruits generally will do well.

In April, 1870, mention was made of the county as follows: Hitherto there has been from the first a home market for everything the farmers could produce. At the present time potatoes are a drag in the market, but as soon as the "jams" are removed from the river so as to give easy access to the rapidly growing city at its mouth, potatoes and other root crops will sell as rapidly as wheat, oats and hay now do. The large amount of lumbering to be done on the Manistee and its tributaries during the next thirty years will keep the home market in a healthy condition.

There, are some choice government lands yet to be had in this county. There is also a large amount of Agricultural College land held by the state. These lands are sold at $8 an acre, one-fourth down and the balance on unlimited time at seven per cent, interest. Thus, a man buying eighty acres of this land pays $60 down and  $12.60 interest each year thereafter, until he chooses to pay up in full. On the purchase of 160 acres he pays $120 and $25.20 interest annually. There are state swamp lands that can be bought with script at considerable less than the minimum price of $1.25 per acre. As is usually the case in new counties, opportunities may be found in this county for buying second-hand lands and improved farms on favorable terms.

The settlement of this county commenced about seven years ago.

The Northport and Newaygo state road passes through the county north and south six miles from the west line. This is a good road, over which passes a stage daily, bringing the mails for all this northern region. The other roads are new and little improved, with perhaps slight exceptions in the township of Wexford.

There are four organized townships, viz: Colfax, Hanover, Springville and Wexford. In addition to these is the township of Reeder in Missaukee County. The whole of Missaukee is attached to Wexford, u it is only of Wexford County proper that we speak in this article.

Sherman, the county seat, is on the Northport and Newaygo state road, about three-fourths of a mile south of where it crosses the Manistee River. As a village it is only a year old, and consequently not very large, but the present season is likely to make important changes in it. Sheriff Skinner says: "Sherman is at present the only village in the county. It is a very young place, having been started only last June, at which time it consisted of two log houses and a postoffice. Now we have a number of houses, a hotel, two stores, one a very large nice store. This summer we shall build a court-house, and one that will do honor to the county, and place up, in that respect, far in advance of our sister counties of this part of the state.  The court-house is to be forty by fifty feet, two stories high, with a cupola ten by fifteen feet."

We may add that there is a probability that Mr. Gasser, late of Big Rapids, and now proprietor of the village of Sherman, will bring in a portable saw-mill and put it in operation near the village.

Mr. J. H. Wheeler has a saw-mill two and a half miles northeast of the village. The Fletcher Brothers have a saw and gristmill three miles west. Their mills can only be reached by traveling some five or six miles, but when the new bridge over the Manisee just west of the village is completed, the distance will be shortened to about three miles.

At present there are but two post offices in the county, one at Sherman, L.J. Clark, postmaster, and one four miles farther north on the state road, called Wexford, William Masters, postmaster. It is expected that a mail route will soon be opened from Sherman to Manistee, and another from Sherman through the eastern settlements of the county, and thence to Hersey. When these routs are opened several new offices will be established. They are much needed and those having control of the matter should see that there is no unnecessary delay.

There are two attorneys in the county, Messrs. T.A. Ferguson and E.W. Stewart, both of Sherman.

Since the foregoing was written great changes have taken place in the county. No county in the region has developed more rapidly in some respects.  About 1,000 acres of government 310 acres state swamp, 8,400 acres of primary school, 24,500 acres of agricultural college, and 92,420 acres of Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad lands, were subject to entry May 1, 1888. Large tracts of unimproved land, with good soil, and within easy reach of markets are for sale at prices ranging from $4 to $12 per acre. Plenty of "stump land" desirable for farming purposes can be had at a low figure. Improved farms are proportionately higher. A state road running north and south, bisects the county, crossing the Manistee River at Sherman; another state road connects Manton with Sherman. The local highways are uniformly good.

The school districts are numerous, and every effort is made to sustain good schools. Lumbering is yet the principal industry. Portable mills are being stationed at different points to work up the hard wood timber, and large quantities of posts, poles and ties are gotten out every year. The Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad traverses the county from north to south, and a branch of the Chicago and West Michigan will eventually reach Cadillac from the southwest.

Every inducement is held out to the energetic settler with small means to make his home in this county. Lands are cheap, the soil good, and the privileges of schools and churches are unexcelled by any of the new counties.


The population of Wexford County at different periods has been as follows:
1870 - 650
1874 - 8,010
1880 - 6,815
In 1880 the population was divided among the towns as follows:
Antioch - 114
Boon - 113
Cadillac Village - 2,218
Cedar Creek - 558
Cherry Grove - 275
Clam Lake - 620
Cleon - 270
Colfax - 875
Concord - 171
Greenwood - 122
Hanover - 154
Haring - 728
Henderson - 194
Liberty - 109
Selma - 288
Springville - 150
Wexford - 419

The census of 1874 gave the following statistics of vote and population.

Townships Voters Inhabitants
Antioch 47 168
Cedar Creek 85 248
Cherry Grove 28 101
Clam Lake 421 1,046
Cleon 34 94
Colfax 75 246
Greenwood 78 136
Hanover 106 242
Haring 66 199
Henderson 33 75
Selma 37 138
Springville 50 103
Wexford 62 219
TOTAL 1,222 3,010


FIRST SETTLEMENT.

It will be noticed in perusing the history of the region covered by this work that certain localities were settled, often several years before the surrounding country would have an inhabitant. The immediate vicinity of Grand Traverse Bay was settled some time before any white man made a home in Wexford County.

The first settlement of this county resulted from the outgrowth of the excitement which prevailed, occasioned by the settlement of the Grand Traverse region, encouraged by the construction of the Newaygo and Northport State Road, more familiarly known as the "trail." This road was opened through our county during the year 1863, and was the only thoroughfare leading into it otherwise unbroken forests.

It will be remembered the north line of Wexford County is twenty miles south from Traverse City, and as the settlement commenced on the lake and Bay shore, it became necessary to locate farther and farther back.

In the spring of 1863 Dr. John Perry, anxious with others to carve out for himself and family a home in this new but delightful country, located under the Homestead act on the northwest quarter of Section C, Town 23 north, of Range 11 west, now a pert of the village of Sherman. Mr. Perry was the second postmaster of the county. He died in May, 1875, but the old log house he erected at the time of his settlement here is still standing. Robert Myhill was first to follow, and settled in Wexford Township, Aaron Baker in what is now Springville, and B. W. Hall in Hanover.

In June of the same year, (1863) Lewis Cornell, Elon Cornell, James Wart, and William Masters selected lands in Wexford, and in the following fall brought on their families, forming the nucleus of what has since been known as the Cornell settlement. Others came about the same time, or soon after, and as near as can be ascertained the settlers in the county in November, 1865, were as follows, in addition to those already named: John Cornell, N.H. Dunham, Lewis C. Dunham, Hamilton, Bartley, Jerome B. Bartley, Jacob S. York, Charles Crissell, A. K. Harrington, Ezra Myhill.

R. W. Updyke, John Hanny, George Hunt, John Schufeldt, David Jones, Samuel Jones, Elliott Greenough, Peter Tindall, P.C. Perry, N. L. Hanna, A. D. Hanna, E. Annis, Charles Cornell, Charles Fancher, David Baker, Otis Morrill, W. J. C. David, John H. Wheeler, Samuel Jones, Daniel Baldwin I. N. Carpenter, Myron Baldwin and J. Foust came soon after this time.

William Masters was the first postmaster in Wexford County, and in the early settlement of the county, kept provisions, etc. for sale, which could not be procured at any other point short of Traverse City. He also kept a boarding-house and home for every one who came along. Mr. Masters' family will long be remembered and esteemed for their kind hospitality and generosity.

The Cornell school-house was the first one built in the county. The first saw-mill in teh county was built by John H. Wheeler, in the summer of 1866, on what is called Wheeler Creek about two and one-half miles northeast of the Tillage of Sherman. That was the first frame building in the county. The following year Mr. Wheeler and J.J. Copley each built a frame house, the first in the county.

The state road bridge across the Manistee River was built in 1864.

The first minister in the county was Rev. Almon K. Harrington, a Baptist clergyman.

In the spring of 1860 by an action of the board of supervisors of Manistee County, the entire county of Wexford was organized as one township. The first election was held the same spring at what is known as the Cornell school-house, Lewis C. Dunham, supervisor. The first lawsuit in justice court was held before I.U. Davis, Esq., in the year 1867.

About this time Mr. Andrew Anderson emigrated to this county, and was the first shoemaker in the county.

By this time it has become generally known that the "trail" or state road above alluded to led from the south into this famous country, and then the flood of immigration commenced from north and south. The stream of homestead seekers seemed almost incessant. A spark was kindled in the outside world by returned hunters, trappers and land-lookers, and was very soon fanned to a flame by their encouraging reports, and before the close of the year 1868 hundreds had started "over the trail to Wexford," and many who made the start with anticipation of sport only found themselves mistaken; while a trip "over the trail" was replete with interest and amusement, yet it was not quite without its difficulties. After the settlers of the county began to raise grain and important question arose, viz.: How to use their grain to their own and their families' benefit. The nearest grist-mill was at Traverse City, twenty-six miles distant, and in those days a days journey of that distance was a formidable undertaking.

In the year 1868 Oren Fletcher purchased a piece of land near the present village of Sherman, and erected the first flouring mill in Wexford County. The erection of such an institution inspired the minds of the settler with revewed energy, roads were opened up and development received a new impetus.

TOWN OF COLFAX
In 1867 the first settlement in the town of Colfax was made, the first settlers being Charles Soper and Mr. Lameraux.

The first house erected within the territory first comprising Colfax was built by Charles Soper, and the first , and for several weeks, the only white women who were ever in this town, were Mrs. Soper and her daughter, Mrs. Warner.

During the summer and fall a large number settled in the western part of the town and before one year having elapsed the whole territory now comprising Colfax was well settled up by a thriving, enterprising people.

The settlement from its very commencement was known as the Unionville Settlement, from the fact that more than nine-tenths of the male inhabitants at that time had served in the armies of the United States, in the war for the Union. Another reason for the name was the unity of feeling among the settlers at that time. When the town was organized the name was changed to Colfax.; Before proceeding farther with the settlement of the county we will review briefly its civil history.

COUNTY OF KAUTAWAUBET LAID OFF & NAME CHANGED TO WEXFORD

In 1840 that portion of the state embraced in Towns 21, 22, 23 and 24 north, of Ranges 9, 10. 11 and 12 west were laid off as a separate county and designated the name of Kautawaubet. In 1848 the name was changed to Wexford.

In 1869 the county was organized by act of legislature, approved March 30, and which reads in part as follows: That the county of Wexford, consisting of the territory embraced by the present community of Wexford be and the same hereby organized into a separate county by the name of Wexford, and the inhabitants thereof shall be entitled to all the privileges, posers and immunities to which, by law, the inhabitants of other organized communities in this state are entitled.

The unorganized county of Missaukee shall be attached to the county of Wexford for municipal and judicial purposes.

Said county shall be in the thirteenth judicial circuit and shall be entitled to two courts therein, in each year.

Sec. 10 of the act provides for the election of county officers on the first Monday in April.

Sec. 11 County canvass to be held on the second Tuesday succeeding the election at the hose of George W. Bryant. Other sections provided for the organization of towns, as elsewhere given.

The county seat was to be in Township 21 north, of Range 12 west, at or near Manistee Bridge. Commissioners to locate the same: H. J. Devoe, I. U. Davis and E. C. Dayhuff.

The first election was held April 5, 1800. The highest number of votes pulled was 129. The following county officers were elected: Sheriff, Harrison H. Skinner; county treasurer, John H. Wheeler; county clerk, Leroy P. Champfenois; register of deeds, Leroy P. Champenois; judge of probate, Isaac N. Carpenter; prosecuting attorney, O. H. Mills; superintendent of schools, C. Northrop; surveyor, R. S. McClain.

Since that time the county officers have been as follows:

YEAR OFFICE NAME
1870 Sheriff Joseph Sturr
  Clerk H. B. Sturtevant
  Treasurer W. Masters
  Prosecuting Attorney T. A. Fegurson
  Judge of Probate N. Carpenter
  Circuit Court Commissioner T. A. Ferguson
  County Surveyor R. S. McClain
Highest Number of votes polled, 191
1872 Sheriff E. D. Abbott
  Clerk and Register H. B. Sturevant
  Treasurer Ezra Harger
  Prosecuting Attorney S. S. Fallasse
  Judge of Probate William Mears
  Circuit Court Commissioner R. A. Rice
  County Surveyor S. H,. Beardslee
1876 Sheriff Frank Weaver
  Clerk and Register C. J. Manktelow
  Treasurer Ephraim Shay
  Prosecuting Attorney D. A. Rice
  Judge of Probate Alonzo Chubb
  Circuit Court Commissioner D. E. McIntyre
  County Surveyor J. W. Houghtalin
1880 Sheriff Charles C. Dunham
  Clerk and Register T. J. Thorp
  Judge of Probate Hon. H. N. Green
  County Treasurer John Minefield
  Prosecuting Attorney S. J. Wall
  Circuit Court Commissioner J. B. Bishop
1882 Sheriff David E. Cook
  Clerk and Register T. J. Thorp
  Judge of Probate Hon. H. N. Green
  County Treasurer John Mansfield
  Prosecuting Attorney D. E. McIntyre
  Circuit Court Commissioner W. C. Haire
  Secretary of Board of Examiners H. M. Enos
  Coroner Osmond Beed
  Coroner John H. Wheeler

The board of supervisors in 1884 is composed of the following persons from the several towns:

TOWN NAME
Antioch Edmond Austin
Boon William McNitt
Cadillac, First Ward James Croly
Cadillac, Second Ward David A. Rice
Cadillac, Third Ward G. W. Wheeler
Cedar Creek H. F. Campbell
Cherry Grove William East
Clam Lake A. T. Vance
Colfax Peter Will
Greenwood N. A. Reynold
Hanover S. C. Worth
Haring R. D. Cuddleback
Henderson Marion Van Antwerp
Liberty Menno C. Hoffman
Selma George Boyd
South Branch John Henderson
Springville William E. Dean
Wexford ----- Ransom

EARLY ACTS OF SUPERVISORS

The first meeting of the board of supervisors was a special meeting, held at the house of Sylvester Clark, of said county, on the first day of May, 1869, present:
R. S. McClain, Colfax: L. C. Northroys, Hanover: William Thomas, Springville: H. I. Devoe, Wexford: Henry I. Devoe of the township of Wexford, was chosen chairman of the board for the present year.

Board went into committee of the whole on equalization of assessment. Amount, fixed at from seven to twelve dollars per acre. Board adjourned till 1:30 p.m.

Called to order at the specified time, and proceeded to take up the finance question. Voted to make a loan for county expenses of not more than $800.

Bond of treasurer fixed at $6,000.

Ordered that the treasurer of the townships of Wexford turn over to the county treasurer - all the moneys now in their possession belonging to the county, to be held as a county fund.

Ordered that the books on hand be distributed to the townships not supplied.

Resolution adopted:

Resolved - That the Traverse Bay Eagle do the printing for Wexford County.

Superintendents of the poor appointed: Lewis Cornell, William Thomas and Orson Abbott.

Ordered that the board of supervisors of Wexford County meet the board of Manistee for settlement of account.

The chairman was authorized to select a suitable place for holding court.

Board adjourned subject to call of the chairman.
Henry I. Devoe, Chairman, L. P. Champenois, Clerk.

The first annual meeting of the board of supervisors of Wexford County was held in Sherman in the county of Wexford, on the eleventh day of October, a. d. 1869, Present:

Wexford, Henry I. Devoe, chairman; Colfax, Rascelas S. McClain; Hanover, L. Clarence Northrop; Springville, William E. Dean.

The report of the county treasurer was received and accepted. Account standing as follows:

Dr. to amount moneys received $614.20
Cr. by orders paid as per vouchers, 440.19
Leaving an unexpected balance in hands of treasurer of 174.10
Total Valuations were declared as follows:  
Hanover, Real estate $216,751.00
Hanover, personal property      10,528.68
TOTAL $227,279.68
Colfax, Real estate $558,839.72
Colfax, personal property         8,071.67
TOTAL $566,911.48
Springville, Real estate $  97,468.29
Springville, personal property         8,225.00
TOTAL $105,695.29
Wexford, Real estate $  22,804.60
Wexford, personal property      19,090.00
TOTAL $   42,894.60
Total valuation of Wexford County $941,279.08


The following named persons were appointed superintendents of the poor for Wexford County: Lewis C. Dunham, three years; Almond R. Herrington, two years; Joseph Sturr, one year. Voted that five ($5) dollars additional bounty be paid for wolves killed in the county of Wexford.

Adjourned to Oct. 16.

Oct. 16.

It was ordered that the sum of six hundred ($600) dollars be appropriated from the contingent fund for highways and bridges, to be expended as follows, to writ; ON the bridge across the Manistee River on town line road between the townships of Wexford and Springville, not to exceed four hundred ($400) dollars; the remainder on town line road between the townships of Hanover and Springville.

Voted that the judge of probate receive one hundred dollars per annum.

Voted that the salary of treasurer remain as voted at last meeting.

Voted that the prosecuting attorney receive an annual salary of two hundred ($200) dollars.

At the annual meeting in October, 1871, the board recommenced that $400 be raised for the poor fund for the ensuing year. The board also recommended that the east half of northeast quarter of Section 10, Township 28 north, Range 11 west be purchased for a poor farm. On motion of H. I. Devoe the report was accepted.  On motion of G. W. Wheeler, resolved that $800 be raised for poor fund for ensuing year. On motion of G. W. Wheeler, John Hanna was appointed superintendent of the poor for full term by said committee. On motion of Thomas Henderson, resolved that the superintendents of the poor be instructed to purchase the piece of land described in their report, providing it can be had for $870.

The assessment rolls were equalized as follows:

TOWNSHIP REAL ESTATE PERSONAL
Colfax $134,854.58 $7,991.00
Hanover 164,436.58 3,804.00
Henderson  34,858.15  2,20.00
Springville 66,546.89 6,582.00
Selma 23,825.75 2,685.00
Wexford 38,514.41 12,554.00
TOTAL ----------------- -----------------
  $463,514.41 $85,826.00


The  state and county tax was apportioned as follows:

TOWNSHIP STATE COUNTY
Colfax $185.60 $714.23
Hanover 218.60 841.20
Henderson 48.12 185.34
Springville 95.06 365.64
Selma 34.40 132.55
Wexford 66.86 255.34

The following resolution was unanimously adopted by the board:

Whereas, Intoxicating liquors are being sold in different parts of our county in violation of the laws of this state, sending misery and wretchedness in the families of many of our citizens, and whereby this board feels that stringent measures ought to be taken to suppress this unholy traffic, be it"
Resolved - That we will pledge ourselves to give aid and support to the officers of our county whose duty it is to bring to justice all who may be found engaged in this wicked and unholy business.

THE COUNTY SEAT

Like al other counties wherein the county seat has originally been located far from the geographical center, Wexford had a county seat war. In this case it lasted ten years and was the most conspicuous feature of civil history during those ten years. As early as 1872 the storm signal was run up and from that time all other interests were shaped with reference to the pending issue.   When the county was organized the county seat was located in the oldest part of the territory, but in 1872 the village of Clam Lake came into existence and grew very rapidly, both in insulation and business importance. Naturally it coveted the county seat. Manton also was born, and became an important factor in the contest. Looking back over the proceedings of Supervisors from 1872 to 1882, the resolution to remove the county seat greets the eye upon every page. There was a manifest determination on the part of the supervisors to prevent the question being submitted to a vote of the people. In the winter of 1877 Clam Lake was incorporated as a city under the name of Cadillac, giving it increased representation on the board. At the same time a special meeting of the supervisors  was called, and a resolution adopted organizing four new towns. The resolution was subsequently reconsidered as to three of the towns, leaving the town of Sherman to go on and complete its organization. The town of Concord was organized as part of the proceedings in that contest, but the town is not recognized by the board of supervisors as a legal organization. So this annual battle engaged the attention and efforts of the people without reaching any result until 1881 it was removed to Manton, and the year following to Cadillac. After its removal to Manton a special meeting of the board of supervisors was held at Cadillac and six towns organized. They held their town meetings and elected supervisors, but were never permitted representation on the board.

The vote of the people affirming the decision of the supervisors to remove the county seat to Cadillac, settled the question and ended an annoying and demoralizing contest. As yet temporary quarters are occupied by the county officers and the circuit court,

JUDICIAL

Wexford County originally belonged to the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit.  In 1873 it was made a part of the Nineteenth , and in 1881 of the Twenty-eighth Circuit composed of the counties of Wexford, Missaukee, Kalkaska, Benzie and Roscommon.  The judges have been Hons. J. G. Rantsdell, Shubal F. White, H.H. Wheeler, A. V. McAlvey, S. D. Haight, J.B. Judkins and Silas S. Fallass.

Judge Fallass, the present circuit judge is a resident of the city of Cadillac, and was born in Kent County, Mich., in 1817 received his education at Albion College and graduated at the law school at Ann Arbor, Mich. Came to Cadillac in 1872, soon after his admission to the bar, and in the fall of the same year was elected prosecuting attorney, which office he held for two years.  He was a member of the board of supervisors for five years and was a leading actor in many of the stormy events of the famous Wexford County seat war. In April, 1882, he relinquished a lucrative law practice to accept the position of circuit judge by appointment from Governor Jerome. He was unanimously nominated for election as his own successor by the bar convention of the circuit and was elected in the following November. Married Dec. 31, 1873, to Margaret A. Bates, a native of Fulton County, Ohio. They have three children. Judge Fallass has taken a prominent part in the local affairs of Wexford County, as will be seen in the perusal of its history.

The first lawyers in the county were T. A. Ferguson and E. W. Stewart, who located at Sherman. The former is now dead and the latter lives elsewhere. The next lawyers were S. S. Fallass, now circuit judge, and D. A. Rice, both of whom located at Clam Lake, now Cadillac, in 1872.  W.H. Cavenaugh, R. L. Rice, E. F. Sawyer and D. E. McIntyre came soon after. The members of the bar in 1884 are as follows: E. F. Sawyer, J.R. Bishop, W.C. Haines, J.B. Rosevelt, S.J. Wall, E. Eugene Haskins, D.A. Rice, W.H. Parks, H.M. Dunahm, D.E. McIntyre, M.L. Dunham, Clyde C. Chittenden.

Officers of the court: Hon. S.D. Fallass, circuit judge; D. E. McIntyre, prosecuting attorney; T.J. Thorp, clerk; W.C. Reber, deputy clerk; D.E. Cooke, sheriff; C.C. Dunham, deputy sheriff; William Cassler, under sheriff; W.C. Haire, circuit court commissioner; M.H. Ford, stenographer.

ORGANIZATION OF TOWNS

The act of legislation which provided for the organization of Wexford County, also provided for the organization of several towns as follows:

Hanover to embrace the territory of Township 24 north, Ranges 9, 10. 11 west. First township meeting at the house of Lewis C. Dunham, first Monday in April. Inspectors of election, Robert Henderson, L.C. Dunham and John H. Wheeler.

Wexford to embrace the territory of Township 21 north, Ranges 12 west. First town meeting at the house of William Masters. Inspectors of election, Isaac U. Davis, Isaac N. Carpenter and Lewis Cornell.

Springville to embrace the territory of Township 21, 22, 28 north, of Ranges 11 and 12 west. First town meeting at the store of L.O. Clark. Inspectors of election, A.C. Ranker, Dan Tewett, H.C. Hunning.

Colfax to embrace the territory of Township 21, 22, 28 north, of Ranges 9 and 10 west. First town meeting at the house of L.W. Gates. Inspectors of election, William Goff, L.W. Gates and N. Dayhuff.

Henderson was organized by act of legislature, approved March 23, 1871, and embraced the territory of Township 21 north, of Range 12 west. The first town meeting was held at the house of Thomas S. Henderson on the first Monday of April, 1871. The inspectors of election were Thomas Henderson, Hiram Owens and Hall Cross.

The town of Thorp was organized by the board of supervisors at the October session in 1870, and embraced the territory of Township 22 north, of Range 10 west. The first annual meeting was held at the house of Eli J. Woodard. Inspectors of election were Thomas J. Thorp, T.G. Thompson and D.A. Durphy.

Cherry Grove, Antioch and Clam Lake were organized by the board of supervisors in 1872.

Cherry Grove embraced Township 21 north of Range 10 west. The first town meeting was held at the house of James C. Dancers on the first Monday of April, 1872. Inspectors of election were J.R. Brisco, John Bonesteel and C.W. Miller.

Antioch embraced Townships 22 and 18 north, of Range 11 west. The first town meeting was held at the house of Daniel Jewett the first Monday of April, 1872. Inspectors of election were George W. Wheeler, John Wheeler and H.J. Carpenter.

Clam Lake embraced Township 21 north, of Range 9 west. The first town meeting was held at the Mansion House, in the village of Clam Lake.  Inspectors of election were L.C. Shee, C.W. Phillips and W. C. Armstrong.

Cedar Creek was organized by the board of supervisors in August, 1872, and embraced Township 28 north of Range 9 west. The first town meeting was held in April, 1873, at the house of James Hawthorn. Inspectors of election were James Hawthorn, Denmon More and John Carpenter.

In 1872, by act of legislature, the name of Thorp was changed to Thelma.

Greenwood was organized by act of legislature, approved Feb. 28, 1878, and embraced the territory of Township 24 north, of Ranges 9 and 10 west. The first town meeting was held at the house of Geo. W., Wheeler on the first Monday of April, 1878. Geo. W. Wheeler, Taylor Gray and John Hewlett were inspectors of election.

Haring was organized by the legislature in 1873, and embraced the territory of Township 22 north, of Range 9 west. The first election was held at the house of C. S. Haring, and the inspectors of election were C. S. Haring, J. E. Stewart and J. P. Keating.

In 1873 Cleon was detached form Manistee County and annexed to Wexford. The territory having belonged to another representative district, the act was, by decision of the supreme court, unconstitutional. However, in 1875 the legal annexation was accomplished, and Cleon remained a part of Wexford County until 1881, when it was set back to Manistee.

The town of Liberty was organized by the board of supervisors at the October session in 1874, and embraced the territory of Township 24 north, of Range 9 west. The first annual meeting was appointed at the house of John W. Welton on the first Monday of April, 1875. Taylor W. Gray, George W. Blue and John W. Welton were inspectors of election.

The town of Boon was organized by the board of supervisors at the October session in 1875, and embraced the territory described as follows:  Bounded on the north by Antioch, east by Selma, south by Henderson and west by Springville, and being Township 22 north, of Range 11 west. The first annual meeting was appointed at the house of James E. Mansfield, on the first Monday in April, 1876. The inspectors of election were John Mansfield, William McNitt and John Perkins.

The town of Sherman was organized by the board of supervisors in March, 11877, and embraced territory described as follows: Commencing at the southeast corner of Section 1, in Township 28 north, of Range 12 west, running east two miles to the southeast corner of Section 6 in Township 28 north, of Range 11 west, thence north two miles to the northeast corner of Section 81, in Township 21 north, of Range 11 west, thence west two miles to the northwest corner of Section 86, in Township 21 north, of Range 12 west, thence south five miles to place of beginning. The first town meeting was appointed at the post office occupied by Charles E. Cooper, April 16, 1877. The inspectors of election were John H. Wheeler, O. B. Taylor and I.H. Maqueston. In 1879 this town was vacated by act of legislature and the territory apportioned among the towns of Springville, Antioch, Hanover and Wexford. 

The town of Concord was organized by the board of supervisors at a meeting held in August, 1879, and embraced the following described territory: Bounded on the north by Sections 29 and 20, in Township 24 north, of Range 11 west, on the east by Section 33, in Township 21 north, or Range 11 west, and Section 4, in Township 28 north, or Range 11 west, on the south by Sections 7 and 8, in Township 28 north, of Range 11 west, and on the west by Section 1, in Township 28 north, of Range 12 west, and Section 36, in Township 24 north, of Range 12 west, consisting of Sections 5 and 6 in Township 28 north, of Range 11 west, and Sections 31 and 32, in Township 24 north, of Range 11 west.  The first annual meeting was appointed at the postoffice in said town on the eight day of September, 1879. H. B., Sturtevant, T. W. Rogers and H. J. Wheeler were inspectors of election. This town is not recognized by the board of supervisors as a legal organization.

The town of South Branch was organized by the board of supervisors at a meeting held in November, 1880, and embraced the following territory: Township 21 north of Range 12 west. The first annual meeting was appointed at the school house in School District Number 3, on the first Monday of April, 1881. James Banker, Neil D. Ford and PHilip S. Frost, were inspectors of election.

COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY

There is evidence of an early interest in the agricultural advancement of the county, in the fact that before the population of the county had reached 8,000, a county agricultural society was organized. Early in October, 1878, a meeting was held at Sherman, a report of which was published in the local paper as follows: At a meeting of the citizens of Wexford County at the courthouse in this village on Tuesday last for the purpose of organizing an agricultural society, the following committee was chosen to draft articles of association:  T. A. Ferguson, C. Hollister and I.N. Carpenter. The committee were requested to make their reports on Thursday evening, October 10th. As no more business came before the meeting, after a few remarks it adjourned until Thursday evening at seven o'clock.

Sherman, Oct. 16, 1878 -- The meeting was called to order by Alonzo Chubb, chairman. On motion H.B. Sturtevant was chosen secretary pro-tem. The committee on articles of association made their report. On motion of William Mears the report was accepted and the committee discharged. On motion the articles were voted on separately and adopted. On motion of George Wheeler the society proceeded to elect the following officers:

President - Alonzo Chubb, Cleon.
Vice-Presidents - A. Lamb, Clam Lake; T. A. Ferguson, Hanover; and Warren Seaman, Cedar Creek.
Secretary - George Manton, Colfax.
Treasurer - C. J. Manktelow, Selma.
Directors - Chauncey Hollister, Clam Lake; William E. Dean, Springville; J. S. Walling, Antioch; H. B. Sturtevant, Hanover; George Manton, Colfax; Warren Seaman, Cedar Creek; George Wheeler, Greenwood; Philip Frost, Henderson; I.N. Carpenter, Wexford; Alonzo Chubb, Cleon; C.J. Manktelow, Selma.

On the motion of T. A. Ferguson, the following persons were chosen to draft the by-laws for the government of this society: George Manton, I.N. Carpenter, C. J. Manktelow.

Moved and carried the board of directors meet at Manton on the second Tuesday of January, A. D. 1874, at 10 o'clock A.M.

On motion the meeting adjourned sine die.    George Manton, Sec.

The following is a list of names subscribed to the articles of association immediately after their adoption:  A. Chubb, William E. Dean, Isaac N. Carpenter, J.S. Walling, William Mears, George A. Manton, C. J. Manktelow, Warren Seaman, Philip S. Frost, T. A. Ferguson, J. N. Hanna, H. W. Fast, H. B. Sturtevant, Charles E. Cooper, W. H. Preston, H. J. Carpenter, R. Redeoff, W. K. Wart, J. R. Gilbert, A. M. Lamb, S. Gasser, O. B. Taylor, George W. Wheeler, Chauncey Hollister, Arthur Campbell, Edmond Austin, Clarence Northrop.

Articles of association were adopted, of which the following was the preamble:


"In compliance with requirements of an act of the legislature, entitled 'An act to authorize the formation of county and town agricultural societies' (said act having been approved February 12, 1855),

"We, the undersigned, citizens of Wexford County, in the state of Michigan, and at the village of Sherman, this 10th day of October, 1878, do hereby associate ourselves together under the name and style of the Wexford County Agricultural, Manufacturing and Mechanical Society, and do hereby agree to be regulated by the following:"

The record of the meeting at Manton, in January, 1874, is as follows:

The Wexford County A.M. & M. Society met at the village of Manton on Tuesday, the 14th, and completed its organization by adopting the articles of association presented by the committee on the same. In the absence of the secretary, H. B. Sturtevant was elected secretary (protem) and Arthur Campbell was elected director for the township of Colfax in place of George Manton, removed. On motion a committee of three consisting of Ezra Harger, William E. Dean and G. W. Wheeler, were appointed to draft a code of by-laws, to be submitted at the next annual meeting on the first Tuesday of June next. A committee was also appointed to procure tickets, etc. for the fair. The meeting then adjourned to the next annual meeting to be held as stated above.

In the evening a public meeting was held at the school house. The meeting was called to order by Ezra Harger, G. W. Wheeler called to the chair, and O. P. Carver chosen secretary. Short speeches  were made by A. L. Thurston, Alonzo Chubb, H. B. Sturtevant and G. W. Wheeler, pertaining to clearing land, crops and culture, seeding, stock and mechanics.

Very creditable annual fairs were held from that time on, and in 1888 the society was reorganized and grounds located at Cadillac.

BIOGRAPHICAL
Click on the name to access a short biographical sketch of these pioneers of Wexford County.

Ezra Harger

J. Foust

D. W. Connine

H. C. Meyer

H. C. Foxworthy

Charles Dechlow

George W. Blue

Taylor W. Gray

Isaac N. Carpenter

Howard Mesick

William E. Dean