Huron County, Michigan
Lying at the tip of the thumb area of Michigan is the county of Huron. The land here originally was to be entirely cleared of forest, timbers cut and milled to be transported to the civilizations of the New England states. The pioneers had many difficulites to contend with, not the least of which was the journey from the east to their forest homes. The route laid through wild and rough country; crossing swamps and marshes led to fatigue; rivers forded with difficulty; long days and nights were spent traveling weeks to Michigan.
The first thing to do upon arriving was to build a cabin. While this was being done, the families slept in their wagons or upon the grass. On the day of raising (actually putting up the building itself), other pioneer families came from near and far to help. The cabin went up, a log at a time, and then the clapboard roof, held down by huge weight poles. A door and window cut where the wife directed, a chimney built, and the cabin was ready for it's new family.
Huron County located in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan in the thumb area, is made up of 27 townships and an area of about 480,000 acres. It's location is good, as it is surrounded on three sides by water, Lake Huron and the Saginaw Bayone on each side, then meet at the north; to it's south are Sanilac and Tuscola Counties. The Cass, Pinnebog, Shebahyonk, and Pigeon Rivers all head toward the center of the county and empty into the Saginaw Bay. Willow Creek further on the east-side of the county, empties into Lake Huron and Cass River empties into the Saginaw River.
Drift soil composed of a mixture of clay, sand, and gavel is adapt to the growth of plants and fruit. It's easily tilled, holds moisture well, and allows for proper drainage. This also made Huron County popular.
All of this territory once belonged to Virginia, and extended westward and was known as the Northwest Territory. It was ceded in 1787 to the United States.
In the Spring of 1838, the first white settlers came to this area. Lumbermen, John and Alanson Daggett settled on the east coast at a place they called Rock Falls. Later came Henry Whitcomb, followed by many others. Then came along fishermen, and shingle-weavers. Mr Luce came in 1839, and located a water-powered saw mill, at Willow Creek its known now as Huron City.
John Hopson was the first man to enter the territory by wagon. He came up along the shore in 1849, and stopped at Sand Beach. The first charter master, Captain Anderson, landed the first boat of passengers and goods to this side of the coast in 1848.
Hopson also put up the first steam saw-mill in the county at Rock Falls in 1850. This mill was burned down the following year by a vagrant because Hopson wouldn't allow him to have any whiskey.
While this side of the coast was being settled, the Saginaw Bay side was also being settled. Reverend J.J.F. Auch settled near where Sehewaing now lies, as a missionary to the Native Americans in 1845. He was soon followed by a little colony of German immigrants.
Huron County was attached originally to Sanilac and Tuscola Counties, and later organized by an Act of Legislature in 1859. Sand Beach was then county seat, until 1865 when it was removed to Port Austin It remained there until 1873, when the Board of Supervisors permanently made it Bad Axe.
For many years the manufacture of lumber and shingles were the principal business along the coast, upon it grew forest as dence as any. Soon farmers came locating lands, clearing them, and putting in crops. Some of the lumbermen in the early days made gardens around their cabins, and learned that the soil was good for something other than growning trees.
The county was aided by the State early, which organized a system of building through different parts of the country what was called "State Roads". The state donated 170,000 acres of swampland to the county who in return gave it back to the State under an Act of Congress passed in 1850. This aided to much of the interior of the county as lands were very low lying, thick with heavy forests and swamps lands. Some local farmers turned to dairy farming which was a very lucrative business and as the forest began to thin, and the timber was taken by millions of feet, a new industry sprung up, that of salt manufacturing. There were also grindstone mills which make scythe-stone, and ax-bits, as well as grindstone. The introduction of the rail road brought others into Huron County due to it's superior water advantages.
There were only a few Native Americans here in the early days, something over 100. They did not remain long after the white man arrived, they roamed around the country side for awhile and left around the year 1847. Those Native Americans belonged to the Sebewaing and Chippewa tribes.
Huron County has no seperate Civil War record. It had just completed it's organization when the Civil War broke out. There were 70 enlistments from the county and they went into the regiments of Tuscola and Sanilac Counties, and were mustered into the 10th, 5th, and 23rd Michigan Infantry, and the 6th Michigan Cavalry.
Contributed by Linda Ball