The first log house erected in the township of Alaiedon was built by Egbert W. Pattison, in the spring or summer of 1836, he having in that year purchased land on section 28. He did not settle upon the place, however, until the month of May, 1837, and had been then preceded by several families. The first actual settler in the township -- or in the territory comprising the four townships of Alaiedon, Delhi, Lansing, and Meridian --- was James Phillips, who located on the west half of the southeast quarter of section 30 in December, 1836. Joel B. Strickland settled on the northeast quarter of section 17 in March, 1837, and Eli Chandler settled some time during the same spring. In September of that year, William Lewis, with his sons Jacob and Nichols, and their families, arrived and settled on section 29. William Lewis died in Vevay township in September, 1863. In the fall of 1837, Adam Overacker settled on section 28. Samuel Carl settled in the summer and William C. Leek in the spring of 1837, the latter on section. Mr. Leek died on June 20, 1852. William Childs settled on section 30 in May, 1837, and John Strickland on section 20 in the winter of 1838.
John Hudson, since deceased, located on section 7 in 1838; Jacob Dubois on section 36, in the spring of 1838; and Garret Dubois, afterwards of Bunker Hill township, in the same year on section 35. Jacob Dubois also removed to Bunker Hill, and is now deceased. Stephen Dubois, also deceased, settled in Alaiedon in 1838, as did Matthew Dubois.
Nathaniel Blain settled on section 17 in the spring, and Horace Haven on section 21 in the winter, of 1838. Other settlers in 1838 were P. Phillips and Major Bentley. In March, 1839, A. Dobie settled on section 10, and in the same year Isaac Finch settled on section 14, and Nathan Davison on section 15.
Conrad Dubois and John Douglass arrived in 1840, and during 1841 the following persons became residents of the township: Lewis Kent, on section; Daniel Stillman, in February, on section 3, died in March, 1862; and William Manning. John Asseltine settled in 1842, David Finch in 1843, and R. Tryon previous to 1844.
The first white child born in the township was Mary Strickland, daughter of Joel B. Strickland, her birth occurring July 19, 1837. She became the first wife of Rev. A. Clough. The first death was that of Mrs. James Phillips, in June 1837. Elders Breckenridge and Jackson, the first ministers who preached in the township, held services in 1837. William Lewis was the first postmaster, appointed in 1839.
Lemuel Pierce, a native of Cattaraugus Co., N. Y., settled in Alaiedon township in 1840 with his parents, John and Mary Pierce, who are both deceased.
Ephraim Longyear, a native of Shandaken, Ulster Co., N. Y., and now a prominent citizen ofLansing, wrote as follows in 1874:
" I came into Michigan with my father.* His name was Peter Longyear, and he was killed by the fall of a tree at Alaiedon, aged sixty-one years. . . . When we came into this county it was very new and had but few inhabitants. I taught school the first years in several parts of the county, -- viz., at Mason, four miles south of Mason, at Ingham, and at Unadilla. When the capital was located, in 1847, I came to Lansing and taught the first school at the middle town. Lansing has been my home ever since. Have practiced law several years: am now a banker." *The family settled in Alaiedon township in the spring of 1843.
Capt. Jospeh P. Cowles, a native of New Hartford, Litchfield Co., Conn., and later a resident of Chanango Co., N. Y., and Chardon, Ohio, in 1843 moved with his family from the latter place to Michigan, crossing the State line September 28th, and coming to Alaiedon, where he settled and remained until the capital was located in Lansing, when he removed to that place. Capt. Cowles was a brother-in-law of George Howe, having married a sister of the latter for his first wife, who is since deceased. He was married afterwards to the widow of Charles Meech, who died in the army.
The so-called "Old World" is rich in ruins. Magnificent cities have risen, flourished, and fallen, and in the march of time have been forgotten save in tradition. America, too, has her wonders, her relics of bygone age, her mighty ruins and crumbled and deserted cities, and all are on a grand scale, as projected by the ancients. More modern cities and villages have had a shorter existence and a quicker decay, as witness numerous mining and frontier towns, whose growth was remarkable and decline rapid. Ingham County, with perhaps a spirit of emulation in this respect, furnished one or two instances of a similar nature; and in Alaiedon township was laid out a city, appearing finely on paper and having a glorious (hoped-for) future before it. This was the village of Jefferson, which was platted on section 29. the entire section was purchased by Josiah Sabin, July 14, 1836, and about 1837-38 the northwest quarter was purchased to George Howe, from Manchester, Washtenaw Co., Mich. A company was formed of about four persons from the same neighborhood, and the village was laid out in 1838. The plat was never recorded in Ingham County, and probably nowhere else. Among the settlers were two Childs families, two Lewises, and one Phillips. Thirteen log dwellings were erected previous to 1840, also a log school-house. Mr. Howe built a saw-mill on the creek, and carried water to it in a ditch ninety rods long.
In 1842, Capt. J. P. Cowles pruchased land on section 29, including part of the village plat, which covered about forty acres.
When Capt. Cowles bought property thirteen log dwellings were standing upon the plat, besides the school-house and saw-mill; the latter was operated some time by the captain, who sold the property in 1849. He had removed to Lansing in 1847. A double log house and a frame barn had been built on the place by George Howe.
In 1844, Capt. Cowles was assessed with the west half of the northwest quarter, the southeast quarter of the southwest quarter, and the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 29, together with twenty-five acres on the north half of the same section, above the saw-mill, between the opposite banks of Mud Creek, the twenty-five acres being the water privilege only.
It was at first expected that a respectable village would grow up, but business refused to seek the locality, and the people who had bought lots, to which they had no title, lost confidence in the future prospects of the place, became dissatisfied, and most of them moved away. William and John Childs, and perhaps some others, settled in the neighborhood.
The saw-mill at the village was built by Nichols Lewis and George Howe after the village was platted, and they owned undivided interests in the property. The village plat was laid on both sides of the road extending north and south, and finally a division was made, Lewis taking the portion on the east side of the road, and Howe that on the west side, the latter taking also the saw-mill property, which was on the east side. Capt. Cowles purchased Howe's interest, including the saw-mill. Mr. Lewis sold his property at the village to A. M. Hobart, of the State of New York.
Jacob Lewis and sons came from Oneida Co, N. Y, in 1835, and for two years lived neaar Manchester, in the township of Sharon, Washtenaw Co., Mich. In September, 1837, they moved to Jefferson village. In 1862 the family of Nicholas Lewis removed from Alaiedon to Vevay, and the only one of his family now in Alaiedon is his son, Orrin J. Lewis, formerly of Meridian, who occupies the old county farm. Another son, William N. Lewis, is a resident of De Witt, Clinton Co. A daughter, Margaret, is now Mrs. Collin D. Huntington, of Mason, where her mother and another brother, F. M. Lewis, are also living. Nichols Lewis is deceased, as is also his father, Jacob Lewis.
Daniel A. Hewes, now of the township of Ingham, was an early arrival in the same locality, coming, possibly, before Captain Cowles.
Silas Beebe, who settled in Stockbridge in June, 1838, made a trip through the county in February previous, and in his diary of the journey thus speaks of Jefferson:
" Feb. 24th. -- Left after breakfast for Ingham Centre.* We soon struck into timbered lands, and saw less of swamps and marshes. Roads were less traveled, but, guided by marked trees, we found our way to the Centre, -- called 'Jefferson City.' The first blow towards this place was struck last September. It has now some ten or fifteen acres cut down ready to clear, five or six log houses peopled, a school-house and school. We went on foot about a mile and found two huts, a little clearing, and a family going in. But here was the end of a beaten road, and of all road, except an Indian trail. We had designed to have continued our journey to De Witt, in Clinton County, only fourteen miles from this place, but were obliged to forego the journey for want of a road. At Jefferson, which will undoubtedly be a place of some importance some day, being the centre of the county and nearly of the State, we had great offers made us if we would locate there. But things looked too new and prospects of gain too far off to suit our views; we gave it the go-by for the present. On the 25th we left for home, taking, from necessity, the way we came in, there being on other way out of the 'city.'
"Three and a half miles south of this is a rival place of about equal claimes, called Mason. A saw-mill (frozen-up), a few houses, and surrounding forest are all it can boast of."
*Had stayed over-night in Stockbridge township.
At the time of Mr. Beebe's visit, therefore, it seems that " Jefferson City" was a place of greater pretensions than Mason. It has been hinted by some that had the former place been in the hands of energetic men it future would have been vastly different from that which is known. Mason, the "rival place of about equal claims," was at once pushed to the front, and maintained its supremacy over all other villages in the county, except Lansing, which was backed by the State, and has its future assures as soon as the place had been platted.
William P. Robbins, from Stillwater, Saratoga Co., N. Y., came to Ingham County in 1839, and purchased the farm he now owns and occupies, on section 28. The previous owner was Adam Overacker, elsewhere mentioned, who had chopped five acres on the place and built a log house. He removed frm here to Jackson County, and, if living, is now in California. Mr. Robbins, who was unmarried, began improving his place immediately, and boarded with Egbert W. Pattison, the first settler in the township, who lived on a farm diagonally opposite. Mr. Pattison died in 1879, and none of his family now live in the neighborhood. Eli Chandler, a shoemaker by trade, was living, when Mr. Robbins arrived, on two acres of land he had purchased, including the site of the present school-house in District No. 2, where he worked at "cobbling" in his house. He is now living at Mason at an advanced age.
July 6, 1842, Mr. Robbins was married, in the township of Delhi, to Miss Lydia M. Wells, sister of Mrs. George Phillips. She had come to that township, with her brother-in-law's family, in 1839 or 1840, and taught the first school in the township at his house. She was also an early teather in Alaiedon.
Following is a list of resident taxpayers in the township of Alaiedon in 1844:
Andrew J. Cooper John Strickland Jacob A. Smith
Daniel W. Morse George W. Strickland Egbert W. Pattison
Issac S. Finch Joel B. Strickland Erastus M. Hoyt
John Asseltine Samuel Carl Eli Smith
Daniel Sparks Nathaniel Blain William C. Leek
William Manning Daniel Stillman Samuel L. Rathbun
Seth Kent Alexander Dobie Isaac C. Morse
John Douglass William Hammond Major M. Bentley
Lewis Kent Levi Prangley John Hudson
Rudolphus Tryon Jacob Lewis Eli Chandler
Peter Longyear Joseph Miller Elias S. Phillips
Stevens B. Dubois Daniel A. Hewes John Pierce
Jacob C. Dubois William Lewis John W. Squiers
Jacob Dubois Nichols Lewis L. C. Tryon
Martin Dubois Peter Vandenburg John P. Strickland
Garrett Dubois Joseph P. Cowles Horace Havens
Eli L. Morse Francis Main William Pierce
Solomon Finch William H. Childs Mary Childs
David Finch William P. Robbins
Israel Chapman Nathan Davidson
"History of Ingham and Eaton Counties Michigan, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Their Prominent Men and Pioneers", by Samuel W. Durant.
Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., 1880.
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