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´╗┐Title: Pioneer Day Exercises
Author: Schoolcraft, Michigan. Ladies' Library Association
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Ladies' Library Association.


  April 26, 1898.


At the meeting of the Ladies' Library Association on April 26, the
following program was carried out, the papers having been prepared for
the occasion by some of the survivors of the early settlers of
Schoolcraft and Prairie Ronde:


Thanksgiving Hymn                                    L. L. A. Quartette.

Paper, "The Beginning of Schoolcraft"                    E. Lakin Brown.

Paper, "Personal Recollections of the
  Early Public Schools of Schoolcraft"                Mrs. P. S. Thomas.

Song, "The Young Pioneer"                            L. L. A. Quartette.

Paper, "The Transplanting of a Boy"                         J. H. Bates.

Paper, "Reminiscences of the Life of a Young Pioneer"       H. P. Smith.

Paper, "Early Days in Prairie Ronde"                      O. H. Fellows.

Song, "Michigan, My Michigan"                        L. L. A. Quartette.



And sung at a Thanksgiving dinner given by James Smith, at his home in
Schoolcraft, November, 1835.

  Again the joyful seasons
  Have run their destined course,
  And borne ten thousand reasons
  Of more than reason's force.
  Why, man, the chief receiver
  Of all their countless joys
  Should raise unto the giver
  A glad and thankful voice.

  Yea, every land and nation
  That owns the gladdening sun
  Should render adoration
  To Him, the Holy One:
  To Him, to sing whose praises
  Angelic choirs unite;
  To Him whose goodness raises
  From darkness into light.

  But chiefly with thanksgiving
  And songs of honor new,
  As most of all receiving,
  Should we the homage due
  Repay to Him whose bounty
  With overflowing hand,
  Has sent us smiling plenty
  Far from our fatherland.

  And when with rich profusion
  We crown the festal board,
  And mirth and gay confusion
  With cheerful health accord,
  Be mindful of His mercies
  Who rules the rolling year,
  Who every doubt disperses
  And dries the falling tear.


Written and read by E. Lakin Brown.

_Ladies of the Association_:

At the urgent request of your committee, but with much fear of failure
of any good result, I have consented to write a brief article upon the
early history of Schoolcraft, and the character and peculiarities of its
first settlers; and by Schoolcraft, I mean not merely the village, but
the township; or rather, Prairie Ronde and Gourdneck prairies. And
first, of who constituted the Vermont colony, who first came to
Schoolcraft, and how they happened to come here; and I fear this will
necessarily be too brief and sketchy to be interesting, and too long for
the occasion.

In the winter of 1829-30, I was teaching the district school in
Cavendish, Vt., where my brother-in-law, James Smith, Jr., resided. I
was to be 21 years old in the spring, and a life to be spent upon a
hard, rough farm in the mountainous town of Plymouth, where my father
lived, with a large family of boys and girls, did not seem to me to
offer very attractive prospects.

My father's brother, Daniel Brown, had removed with his family to the
state of New York when I was about four years old, and after various
chances and changes, had finally settled at Ann Arbor, Mich., one of the
very earliest settlers of that place. Occasional letters from him had
set forth in glowing colors the beauty and advantages of that place and
vicinity, and in casting about as to what I should do when "of age," I
decided that I would go to Michigan as soon as the Erie canal should be
open in the spring. I communicated my intention to Smith, and before my
school was finished he too, declared his intention of going. When I went
home in the spring, I met Hosea B. Huston, a young man who had grown up,
a near neighbor of ours, in the family of one John Lakin, and who had
not, so far as I know, a living relative in the world. He too, had just
finished teaching a winter's school, and learning my intentions, decided
at once to become a third member of the party to Michigan. We left on
the 18th of April, 1830, our destination Ann Arbor, Michigan. Anything
beyond that was an unknown land. Of the incidents of our journey, though
tedious and somewhat eventful, this is not the time nor the occasion to
relate them. It is only important to say that on arriving at Buffalo,
where we were aware that Mr. Thaddeus Smith was then living, we stopped
and looked him up, and remained with him and family two days. Thaddeus
Smith was not a relative of the Smith family of Cavendish, Vt., but a
neighbor and intimate friend of theirs, and his wife was a cousin of
mine, and of course, of my sister Mrs. James Smith. The year before, in
1829, Thaddeus had made a trip to Michigan, looking for a place to
locate, and had come to Prairie Ronde, where he found a few settlers,
Bazel Harrison and family, who had come to the prairie in the fall of
1828, and several who had come the next year. He described Prairie Ronde
in glowing terms, said it was the garden of the world, and we must on no
account fail to go there. We arrived at Ann Arbor about the 12th of May,
and after a stay of a few days, Smith and Huston started for Prairie
Ronde, by way of Tecumseh and White Pigeon, known as the Chicago Trail,
the more direct route through Jackson and Calhoun counties not having
yet been opened. They bought a pony and "rode and tied," that is, one
rode on ahead as far as he thought proper, then dismounted and tied the
horse to a tree to be taken in turn by the man on foot when he came up.
Arriving at Prairie Ronde, they came to the east side of the "Big
Island" as the settlers called it. There the only settler was a man by
the name of LaRue, who had squatted and made a pre-emption claim on the
80 acre lot which was afterwards laid out as the village of Schoolcraft.
He had built and lived in a little cabin which stood for some years just
west of the dwelling built and occupied by Col. Daniels, and afterwards
by Judge Dyckman. Smith at once decided that the land on the east side
of the Island, being a central point on the prairie was the best point
for locating a business establishment, and determined to start a store
there. So he bargained with LaRue for his claim, and further, for the
erection of a log cabin that would serve for a store, to be done by the
time he could go to New York, buy goods and get them here. He paid him
ten dollars, and was to pay him fifty more when he took possession.
Smith and Huston then returned to Ann Arbor; Smith was to go to New York
and buy a few goods, and Huston to remain a while at Ann Arbor and then
come back to Prairie Ronde and take charge of the trade under the firm
name of Smith & Huston. Smith started for New York, and I for Vermont.
On arriving at Buffalo we again called on Thaddeus Smith, and it was
agreed upon that when the goods arrived at Buffalo, he and his family
should go on the vessel with them as far as Detroit, and thence across
the country to Prairie Ronde, Thaddeus to be a partner in the concern.

I went to Vermont and remained until October 1831, when I again started
for Michigan. Arriving at Ann Arbor, there was no public conveyance
farther west; and my uncle said that he wished to see the western part
of the territory, and he would go out with me. With an old Indian pony
and a light wagon, and a box of provisions we started, only one of us
riding at a time, by way of Jackson, Marshall and Battle Creek, in each
of which places there was a log cabin or two, the road being a mere
trail from Ann Arbor to Bronson, now Kalamazoo, and not a bridge in the
whole distance. At Bronson where we arrived just at sunset on November
5, having left Ann Arbor on the last day of October, there were four log
cabins, one of which was occupied by Titus Bronson, the proprietor of
the future village, where the county seat had already been located.
There was also a small two story framed store, which Smith, Huston & Co.
had built in the summer of that year and supplied with goods from the
store at Schoolcraft, Huston taking charge of the same. Leaving my uncle
at Bronson's where Huston boarded, Huston and I took horses and rode to
Prairie Ronde where we arrived about 9 o'clock at night, at the log
cabin which served as both store and dwelling for the Big Island branch
of the business. My uncle came the next day, and on the day after left
for his home. In giving this detail of my own story till my return to
Michigan, I have necessarily delayed giving the fortunes of the Big
Island venture. The goods sent by James Smith, arrived in due time by
canal at Buffalo, and were there transferred to a schooner for St.
Joseph. Thaddeus Smith, his wife and son Henry P. took the same schooner
as far as Detroit, and from there took the Southern or Chicago road to
White Pigeon, and thence to Prairie Ronde. Huston reached Prairie Ronde
about the same time from Ann Arbor. There they learned that LaRue,
instead of building a cabin on his claim as he had agreed, had re-sold
his claim to a man named Bond, and run away; so there was no place to
store the goods when they should arrive nor a place for the family to
live. It was finally arranged that they should have the occupancy of
one-half the little cabin of Abner Calhoon, on the west side of the
Prairie for the winter and put up one of their own on the east side of
the Island in the spring. Early in the spring this was done. A pretty
large log building was erected just west of where my son Addison now
lives, and the family and goods were removed to it. In May, James Smith
again came from Vermont, accompanied by his brother Addison, who had
some cash capital which he invested in the concern, and became a member
of the firm of Smith, Huston & Co. and was to remain in charge of the
business, while Huston was to go to Bronson, and build a store there--a
branch of the business at the Big Island; James Smith going immediately
to New York to purchase a stock of goods to supply both stores. This was
the condition of things when I arrived at the Big Island store November
5, of that year as I have already related. And from that very day the
terms Prairie Ronde and Big Island were dropped as signifying the place
of business here, and the name Schoolcraft was used.

Lucius Lyon, a well known government land surveyor, and afterwards one
of the first two senators elected to the U. S. senate from the new state
of Michigan, had purchased of Mr. Christopher Bair, one of the early
settlers on the west side of the prairie, the E. 1/2 of the N. W. 1/4 of
Sec. 19, and had also become the owner of the E. 1/2 of the S. W. 1/4 of
Sec. 18. in this township, and through his agent, Dr. David E. Brown,
proceeded to lay out a village, embracing the whole of the last
description, and a tier of lots on the north end of the first one.
Stephen Vickery, surveyor, Dr. Brown, in honor of the Indian agent and
explorer in the north-west, Henry R. Schoolcraft, a friend of Lyon's
named it Schoolcraft. The survey of the village was finished on the day
I arrived here. The inhabitants of the village on that day consisted of
the inmates of the log store and dwelling above mentioned, namely,
Thaddeus and Eliza Smith and their children Henry P., aged 5 years, and
Helen, aged six weeks; Mary A. Parker, sister of Mrs. Smith, who came in
the summer preceding, J. A. Smith, and a young man from New Hampshire,
Edwin M. Fogg, a cabinet maker, who built a shop, occupied for many
years for the purpose for which it was built, and afterwards for a
dwelling, and recently known as the Strew house. The frame of this shop
was also raised the day I arrived. Such was the genesis, birth, and
first year of the village of Schoolcraft. It is said that the postscript
of a lady's letter is usually longer than the body of it. On the
contrary, the preface of this article has been longer than all that will
follow it. I could not make it shorter and tell you clearly how the
village got born. And here I am strongly tempted to leave it. The
program which I indicated at starting frightens me. In a brief
continuation, however, I will say that in the following winter I
purchased the interest of Thaddeus Smith in the concern and took his
place as a member of the firm of Smith, Huston & Co.--that on the
arrival for permanent settlement here of James Smith, a settlement and
dissolution of the firm was made, Huston taking the property at Bronson,
and a new firm formed at Schoolcraft, consisting of James and J. A.
Smith and myself, under the firm name of J. and J. A. Smith & Co., which
continued in business until January 1, 1836. When I arrived in
Schoolcraft, the old firm had commenced the framing of the timbers for a
large hotel, which was finished the next summer by the new firm, and Mr.
Johnson Patrick was installed as landlord. His administration of affairs
was not a success. After about two years occupancy he left the hotel,
which was soon after taken by Mr. John Dix, from Cavendish, Vt., and it
became a popular and profitable hostelry till he left it at the close of
the year 1837. In the summer of 1833, J. and J. A. Smith & Co. built and
occupied a very convenient store-house on the south-west corner of
Center and Eliza streets which was occupied by James Smith after the
dissolution of the firm. So far I have related, briefly as I could, the
history of the transactions of these parties, because I could not give
an account of the origin and early history of the village otherwise, as
they were the origin and main factors in most that was done in the
village for some years. I had intended to go farther, and give some of
the leading events in the history of the village, mentioning some of the
most noted persons who settled not only in the village, but on the
prairies--Prairie Ronde and Gourdneck--with some of their
characteristics, enlivened with anecdote and story. But this article is
already too long for the occasion, and I am appalled at the difficulties
of what I had undertaken. At the great age of 89 years, with many
infirmities, I find it difficult and painful to remember and compose and
write for any considerable time. With the exception of my three sisters,
Mrs. Pamela S. Thomas, who came in 1833, Mrs. Lephia O. Brown who came
in 1834, and Mrs. Sally E. Dix, who came in 1835, I know of but a single
person, man or woman who came to the village or either prairie as early
as the latter date, and who had reached maturity at that time, who is
now living. The exception is Abner Burson. And the exceptions are very
few of those who came before 1840. I know of but one or two, Justin
Cooper, of this village being one.

Ladies, excuse me for what I have so imperfectly done as well as for
what I have not done at all.



Read by Miss Ella Thomas.

I have been asked to tell something of the pioneer schools in
Schoolcraft; not that I can relate anything of much interest, or of
great importance; but because I taught the first public school in this
village, in the year 1834, in a small building erected for that purpose
on "The public square," now "The park." I had some 25 or 30 pupils.
Those recently from New England were well advanced in the studies then
taught in district schools, while others, whose parents had lived on the
frontier, had never seen the inside of a school room and were unable to
read at 10 and 12 years of age; yet their progress was astonishingly

Sickness in the autumn was so general that it necessitated the closing
of the school. As I returned to my home in Vermont in November and was
not again in Schoolcraft until the fall of 1839, I can say little of the
schools during those five years. I was told of the small school house on
"The Common," having been moved off and used for other purposes, that
schools had been taught in different rooms, sometimes as private
schools; for the Yankee settlers appreciated the advantage of education
for their children. Many new settlers had moved here, and some of the
frontiersmen had gone farther west.

There were more than 100 scholars in this district at that time, 1839,
and a two-story school house had been built on the corner of Grand and
Eliza streets, containing two rooms, one on each floor. This was the
district schoolhouse, that we all remember and is now used as a barn by
Mr. Buss.

On my arrival I was hired to teach in the lower room, and a Mr. Towers
in the upper. It is scarcely necessary to say, the present admirable
plan of grading schools was then unknown, and these rooms were to be
filled, pupils going to the teacher preferred. However, it was expected
the gentleman would teach the older scholars in the upper room, while I
took the little folks; yet several young ladies chose to go in the lower
room. As it was the custom for pupils to study independently, going
through the arithmetic, etc., by themselves, it made little difference
in which room their studies were pursued, provided their teacher was
competent to render assistance when asked for. My room soon became too
full for the pupils to be accommodated, and the director obliged several
to go into the upper room.

But few of the scholars of 1834 were among the 60 or 70 in attendance. A
few were in Mr. Towers' room. Others, in whom I had felt an interest,
had moved to newer regions, probably growing up with little schooling,
although endowed with bright intellects. H. P. Smith is the only one, of
those earlier pupils, now living in this village. And, indeed, I know of
but one or two left on this side of "The Better Land." I can name
several of the scholars of 1839, James H. Bates and his three
brothers--all passed from earth but himself; six children of James
Smith, only two of whom are living, Hannah Kirby, her brother and
sisters; H. P. Smith and sister, Helen, etc.

The late Mr. Willis Judson has frequently joked about his fear of
chastisement, when, Mr. Towers being sick, I assumed authority in his
room for a few days, while another young lady filled my place. Only a
few months since, Mr. Archibald Finlay told his recollections of the
time I was his teacher. And the year of "The Columbian Exposition" Mr.
Oscar Forsythe, who has been a hardware merchant in Bay City for many
years, stopped in this place, when returning from the world's fair. He
called on me saying: "You may not know me, but I went to school to you
54 years ago." He had not been here for more than 40 years. Therefore it
was not to be expected I should recognize the young lad in the
prosperous elderly gentleman.

Two young ladies, nieces of Mrs. L. H. Stone, followed Mr. Towers and
myself in this school. They were good teachers. Later a few years, our
schools were taught, sometimes by competent teachers, and sometimes by
those less so. About 1843, Mr. Eaton, a Baptist minister, opened a
private school, in one of the school rooms, by permission of the school
board. He was a college graduate, and his school was of great benefit to
our village. When he left, Mr. Dwinell, a graduate of Yale, took his
place, filling it with satisfaction to his pupils.

In 1846, through the generosity of Rev. William Taylor, "Cedar Park
Seminary" was opened. For some years that was one of the most popular
schools in western Michigan. The rapid growth of Kalamazoo enabled her
citizens to establish schools with superior advantages, and Cedar Park
Seminary was sold to this district.

The worth of the present high school and of the lower departments are
too well known to render any remarks concerning them necessary.



Written to be sung at the Pioneer meeting at Kalamazoo, August 31, 1876.

Set to music by Jonas Allen.

  Oh, bright were the hopes of the young pioneer,
    And sweet was the joy that came o'er him.
  For his heart it was brave, and strong was his arm,
    And a broad, fertile land lay before him.

  And there by his side was his heart's chosen bride,
    Who want and privation knew never;
  From kindred and home he had borne her away.
    To be guarded and cherished for ever.

  A drear home for a bride is the wilderness wide,
    Her heart to old memories turning,
  And lonely and sad and o'er burdened with care,
    For kindred and sympathy yearning.

  Then stern was the task, and long was the toil,
    Vain longing for all that was needed,
  Yet bravely their toils and privations were borne,
    As the wilderness slowly receded.

  But the years rolled away and prosperity came,
    Wealth and ease on frugality founded:
  Now the husband and wife tread the down hill of life
    By brave sons and fair daughters surrounded

  And the young pioneer has grown stooping and gray,
    And he marvels his limbs are no stronger:
  And the cheek of the bride is now sallow and thin.
    And her eye beams with brightness no longer.

  All honor and praise to the old pioneers:
    You never may know all their story:
  What they found but a desert a garden became,
    And their toil, and success is their glory.



Read by Addison M. Brown.

When I was a few weeks turned of eleven years old, my father, then
forty-four years of age, became infected with the western fever then
well on its way of depopulating New England, and, selling his rough
Vermont farm at a better price than it would fetch now in the same
extent and condition, entered upon what at the time was thought not
unfairly to be the serious journey to the wilds of Michigan. Accordingly
early in September, 1837, we set forth, making altogether an emigration
of nineteen persons, one being Miss Julia Hatch, who became Mrs.
Hamilton Scott a little later on. Following advice, we took with us our
entire household effects, including a large cook-stove of the Woolson
patent, one of the very earliest to succeed the huge fire-places over
which our mothers and grandmothers back to the Mayflower in unbroken
line roasted, baked and stewed themselves along with the meals they
prepared. There must have been a Puritan toughness of texture in this
stove, for it served right on unremittingly for not less than thirty
years, as valiant, irascible and friendly a creature as ever woman had
at need. All effects were packed in boxes, and the ingenuity of the
Twenty-mile Stream valley was sorely taxed to fit boxes to the
furniture, or, more properly, the furniture to the boxes, since there
must be a limit to the dimensions of the latter. This difficulty was met
by sawing off any contumacious limb or projection from articles of
unreasonable size, such as tables and bedsteads,--a rough surgery from
which no subsequent care ever quite restored the afflicted members,
leaving them rickety and rheumatic ever after.

Conveyance through New England was then by wheel, and so we moved over
the Green Mountains to Troy, my uncle Zaccheus Bates driving the wagon
wherein jolted my three brothers and myself, a cargo of youngsters
irrepressible and volatile to such a degree that when he handed us back
to the parental care after two trying days, my uncle must have thanked
God and breathed freer.

The passage from Troy to Buffalo was by the Erie Canal, then the great
thoroughfare from tide-water to the lakes. It swarmed with two kinds of
boats, distinguished as line and packet, the latter drawn by three
horses moving at a trot and conveying passengers exclusively, with light
luggage. These were for the more exalted and wealthy travelers, who
desired speedier transit and better accommodations, while boats of the
line, moved by two horses at a walking pace, were suitable for emigrants
like ourselves, and crowded to an over fullness with a miscellany of
men, women, children and household freight. My recollections of this
portion of the journey are of exceeding roughness and discomfort. The
youngsters were not greatly regarded in the general disarray and
scramble. I remember the coarse, scanty fare of the second table, to
which the children were relegated, wherein vile smelling boiled cabbage
figured as a steady quantity, and oppressive nights in a stifling berth
at the very end of the crowded cabin, the horror of it augmented to my
sensitive olfactories by the foul broom which the cabin-maid
persistently kept hanging on the partition at the head of my bunk. Among
the seniors there was more disregard of annoyances, an heroic
determination to make the best of everything, a spirit of good
fellowship and kindly mutual helpfulness, and a hearty open air freedom
of speech and action. Songs were sung and stories told which infringed
the delicacy of the politest circles but were not really offensive to
healthy minds, inconveniences were ignored and pleasant trifles
magnified, a small joke created large merriment, and the hearty and
robust expansiveness of frontier life, in which resides a peculiar charm
unceasingly felt by all who have ever fairly come under it, was
beginning at the very entrance of a new world of nature and of man.
Absurdly prominent stands out my wonder at being called Bub for the
first time, followed by conjecture what the word could mean and where it
came from. But all light, momentary afflictions passed like distempered
dreams when once we were afloat on the blue waters of Lake Erie, in the
steamboat Daniel Webster, bound for Toledo. I had not thought there
could be anything so grand in all the world as this little, fussy,
splashing side-wheeler, to me a veritable floating palace. An event of
moment occurred on the passage. On the wide divan under the cabin
windows of the stern I noticed a delicate man of refined features, much
in contrast with the body of the voyagers. He had several books lying
beside him, and, as I approached in shy curiosity, asked me in kindly
wise, would I like a book, and tossed apart on the divan a copy of
Irving's Sketch Book. I lay there stretched at length, absorbed and
lost, until the waning light dulled the bright page of this delightful
author. Who can explain why the generation succeeding his own so
neglects him?

The red-painted warehouse at the steamboat wharf in Toledo was also a
terminal station of a strip of steam railway to Adrian, now a part of
the Michigan Southern system. We were transferred directly to the cars,
and, while this magical sort of locomotion must have impressed my boyish
fancy, I am unable to recall a single incident until we were undergoing
the discomfort of crowded and wretched quarters in Adrian, waiting to
engage wagons to transport our party and its effects the remaining

I recall being taken into a room to see a stalwart man undergoing an
ague fit. He was fully dressed and seated in an arm-chair, convulsively
shivering and writhing. The door of the room stood open, and people came
and stared and commented, and went away to make room for fresh arrivals.
The scene was so grotesque, and the spectators seemed so amused, that I
was not certain the victim was not acting a part for the general
entertainment, until he informed us with clattering teeth that we saw
what we were all coming to, when a kind of mysterious dread possessed me
of what lay in wait in the _terra incognita_ before us.

At length, after much searching and haggling, an insufficient caravan
was provided, the household goods bestowed, and, the women folk sitting
on them as did Rachel in the Old Testament story, we set forth through
the oak openings, over the unvarying level, to the music of two or three
rifles in the hands of the adventurers attached to our party, who found
good and unaccustomed sport in the small game frequent among the glades
of the vast continuous forest. We moved slowly, and on the second day
were overtaken by Mr. Edwin H. Lathrop, riding alone in a buggy drawn by
a pair of free-going horses, on his return from Adrian, where he had
left his wife so far on her way to visit eastern friends. Our numerous
colony naturally drew his attention, and after much exchange of speech
he urged me to ride with him and go on before our party, promising to
have me at his house the next morning, and to see that I reached
Schoolcraft in good condition. This request was referred to my mother,
who felt much misgiving and was disposed to see in the honorable
gentleman a sort of brigand on wheels, plotting to carry off the
firstling of her flock to his fastness, and there either torture or hold
him for ransom; but the object of her distrust having established his
claim to be a civil sort of person, and nowise associated with any band
of robbers, drove away with me, somewhat to the terror of my brothers
and after much excellent advice from my mother, quite as if leaving her
for an indefinite period on a risky adventure. Indeed, after getting
into the great solitude of the woods, quite out of sight and hearing of
the cheerful stir of the caravan, I began to feel not quite at ease as I
glanced from time to time at the countenance which all who knew Mr.
Lathrop will recall as one in its steady seriousness unprovocative of
glee in the heart of childhood; but all discomfort of feeling wore away
under the kindness of my host, and there has always remained with me a
sense of enjoyment in that long drive over a road unobstructed by rocks
and bordered by virgin forests. We lay that night in a room of the
unfinished house of Mr. John Smith of Three Rivers, then an exceedingly
crude, confused and unfinished hamlet wrapped in malarial airs, where
Mr. Smith was engaged in building a flour-mill or saw-mill, I am
uncertain which. We were up with the dawn and drove swiftly to the
residence of Mr. Lathrop, where we breakfasted, and at my urgent request
I was allowed to make my way to Schoolcraft on foot. And so I set out
from the southern border of the prairie, with elastic step and quick
beating heart, eager for the goal of this long pilgrimage.

The east was flushed with the glory of a perfect Sunday morning, the air
crisp and clear, the green of the native grass still lingered in an
autumn of unusual mildness, and many flowers still bloomed. A flag
flying from the frame-work of the belfry of the recently raised
schoolhouse soon became a guide to my course, but I could not then
understand why my rapid pace did not consume the distance at a greater
rate, so near appeared remote objects in that transparent atmosphere
over the level plain. I suppose I am not correct in saying that I did
not pass an enclosed spot, nor step on ground ever cultivated by man,
but such is my recollection.

The longest way comes to its ending to the most impatient, and well
before the sun attained its meridian I stood upon the black road before
the village tavern. I had heard that the younger James Smith had the
extraordinary habit of throwing up his head and staring upward at quite
regular intervals, and there, like a weatherwise little sea-man,
actually stood a grave lad winking familiarly at the sun. Making myself
known to him I was soon among the friendly faces of his family, where I
waited for the slow caravan which arrived the following day. The journey
from Vermont occupied fifteen days.

Thus was I transplanted to the soil where I grew to my appointed
stature;--a kindly soil and habitat wherein not a few fibers of my
affections are left infixed.



Read by Miss Isa Smith.

My earliest recollections of Prairie Ronde date back to the spring of
1830, when, one evening, I was lifted out of a covered wagon and set
down upon my short legs, in front of Esquire Duncan's log house. It
stood upon a rise of ground, among stately trees; a little stream, with
white sand and clear water, running close by, making it a cheerful
place, even with no fences or other evidences of civilization. Years
afterward, a saw-mill was built a few feet from the site of this log
house, known as Duncan's saw mill. There is no vestige now of log cabin
or mill, and very little evidence that a tree ever stood there.

I was tired, hungry and sleepy, and perhaps cross, for this was the end
of a long, toilsome journey through swamps and dense forests. While I
stood there, scratching my mosquito bites, with no very pleasant
countenance, father and mother crawled out and stretched their weary
limbs. Mr. Duncan's people welcomed us, as they did all emigrants and
travelers, no matter when or how they came. Very soon after, we were
gathered into the one square room of the house and I was allowed to
absorb a bowl of bread and milk. Father and mother and the teamster also
had their supper of corn bread and butter, washed down with sage tea,
eating with an appetite, which everybody carried about in those days of
scanty fare and hardship. As soon as the sun disappeared, mother
prepared to put me to bed, at which I kicked up a small row, because I
did not wish to be thus disposed of without my supper, and I dimly
remember that, at last, she managed to convince me that bread and milk
was supper in that house, after which, very little force was necessary
to put my tired frame to rest for the night. Late next morning, when the
woods were alive with the songs of birds, mother succeeded in getting my
eyes open again, and took me directly from the bed out into the
sunshine, sat me down in the middle of the brook, where the sparkling
water was hardly knee deep, and then I had a good time, kicking and
splashing and allowing the minnows to nibble my toes. Then I was
considered washed and ready for dressing and breakfast. I am told we
were at Esquire Duncan's about a week, of which I remember nothing
further, but afterwards can recall another log house, about two miles
north of Mr. Duncan's, in the edge of the prairie, with its vast, open
green expanse on the east, and an impenetrable forest on the west. Abner
Calhoun, who was the owner of the house, had come, from Ohio, in advance
of us a few weeks, and had just completed it, and nearly built a log
stable, all but the door and the "chinking." Mr. Calhoun being a very
hospitable settler, allowed us, (who were of the tender-foot class,) to
occupy his house, while he, with a family of wife and three children,
moved into the unfinished barn. Of the Calhoun's, there was one boy
about my own age, one younger and one older. Mr. and Mrs. Calhoun were
just plowing up a bit of the prairie near the house, for immediate
cultivation. The long, wooden mold board plow, with the end of its beam
resting upon the axle of a lumber wagon, or rather the front wheels,
drawn by two pairs of small oxen and one pair of young heifers, I well
remember. In the morning, while Mrs. Calhoun busied herself in washing
up the scanty assortment of breakfast dishes, and putting the house in
order for the day, Mr. Calhoun would gather his miscellaneous team and
hitch them to the plow. By that time his wife was ready for work, and
placing herself between the plow handles, the business of the day
commenced. I presume our modern plow-men would criticise their work, but
it was sufficient to raise mammoth corn and splendid potatoes with which
to feed everybody another season. Not long after we were settled, an
event occurred, which suspended the plowing for two and a half days.
Preparatory to that event, I was turned loose to run with the other
children, hedged in by many earnest warnings to keep from the woods and
snakes. Mr. Calhoun went to work chinking his stable, and the cattle
revelled in the fresh prairie grass and rested. Mother was very busy,
both at home and across the way, all the first day. The next day she
invited me to go to the other house and see a new baby, probably the
first one I was ever introduced to. This was Calhoun No. 4. On the third
day Mr. C. gathered up his team again and made an addition of an oblong
box, fastened between the wheels of the plow, and at noon the newcomer
was neatly packed away in said box, amid a pile of blankets, and
business was once more resumed, very carefully and slowly, however. I
can remember Mrs. Calhoun's resting, the picture of contentment, while
seated upon a stump, nursing No. 4. Soon other experiences were
impressed upon my mind, such as the serenades of prairie wolves, who
would gather about our doors and make night hideous with their dismal
howls and barks. We kept the chickens in a box in the house, otherwise
they would have been snatched up in short order by these hungry demons.
These concerts were arranged upon a regular program, like our modern

As soon as it was dark and the lights extinguished, some old veteran
would begin with an opening solo in a minor key, with very little
variation, then another would join in, and another and soon the entire
pack would make the air tremble with the chorus of from twenty-five to
fifty voices. These entertainments scared me, and, at first, kept the
old folks awake, but they soon became used to them and could sleep on
undisturbed. Occasionally we had other concerts, performed by big grey
wolves, which were of a more serious nature. When the "sable curtain of
night" closed on one of these celebrations, they savored more of
business and sleep was not enjoyable. Men thought of their calves and
pigs shut up in log stables, perhaps exposed to the depredations of
those bloodthirsty, but cowardly brutes. Generally a rifle ball, shot in
their midst, would disperse the pack. One night, before Mr. Calhoun had
made his door, and still had a quilt hung up as a substitute, he was
aroused from sleep by a scuffle between a grey wolf and his dog, who
remonstrated against this invasion of the house. He sat up in bed and
shivered (with cold of course,) while the wolf flogged his dog, went
into the house, under the bed and ate up all his precious stock of soap
grease. He never thought of the loaded rifle hanging within reach. In
this case the wolf was probably the greater coward of the two, but poor
Abner did not know it.

The Duncans and Calhouns were not our only neighbors. Within a radius of
a few miles were other settlers; the Harrisons, Clarks, Barbers,
Nesbitts, Hoyts, Knights, Shavers, Wygants, Bairs, Armstrongs and
others, all hunters, each and everyone possessing peculiarities of
character belonging to himself. Distributed all over the south half of
Kalamazoo county, then called Brady, were 100 or more people from almost
every state in the union. Hunting and trapping were the chief
occupations of the times, with a liberal division of work, farming and
house building, thus combining business and fun. Saturdays were always
devoted to fun, such as horse-racing, wrestling and jumping, target
shooting, etc. Sunday was the visiting day. Game was as common in the
woods and on the prairie as cattle, horses and sheep are now. Whisky was
the only luxury and cheaper even and better than it is said to be now.
Everyone drank it to keep out cold, heat, pain of every kind; as an
antidote against ague and a bond of sociability. And yet in those early
days there was apparently less drunkenness than now.

Father received a small stock of goods about this time, belonging to
Smith, Huston & Co. How he got them, I do not know, but probably in
about the same way the Klondike miners receive their supplies. Some one
also lent him a few barrels of whisky to sell on commission. Our one
room was then divided in the center by a board partition, leaving the
stove-pipe and back part of an ancient cook stove in our living room.
Subsequently the stove, in our next and more pretentious house, gave
place to a capacious fire place and brick oven. With the advent of this
whisky, we became at once the center of attraction for 15 or 20 miles
around. The Indians were our most numerous customers and neighbors.

They went once a year to Detroit or some point in that region to receive
pay for lands relinquished to the state. When they came back, money was
plenty to pay for powder and lead and calicos, and when that was
exhausted they obtained their goods by exchanging for them venison and
skins. Mother soon became a favorite. They called her "the good white
squaw," and took great pains to teach her their language, in which she
soon became quite proficient. She could control them as well as their
old chief, Sagamaw. They had not taken to whisky then as they did soon
afterwards, and, as a rule, were honest and reliable. The chief was a
personal friend of the Smith family and used to make its weekly visits
with his family, staying from one to two days. He was very strict with
his tribe as to any violation of our rights or social privileges. Once
mother lost a silver thimble, and, suspecting it was stolen, stated her
case to old Sagamaw. He promised to attend to it, and if her suspicions
were correct he would know. A few days after a knock was heard at our
door, and mother admitted a pretty, meek looking young squaw, with a
long tough buck whip in one hand and the missing thimble in the other.
The thimble had a hole in it where she had strung it to wear around her
neck. She gave it to mother, then the whip, and said. "Sagamaw say, you
whip squaw," but being so pretty and amiable, mother relented, thinking
she was almost justified in helping herself to ornaments for her comely
person, and so the girl went her way rejoicing. One day the chief, very
delicately suggested to father that it would be proper for such good
friends as they were to exchange wives, and even offered father two of
his prettiest squaws for a bona-fide bill of sale of my mother, but
somehow the trade was never consummated. I presume, in that event, I
would have been thrown in to make a complete exchange of goods, and thus
I failed to become an Indian chief, and Sagamaw never owned a white
squaw. They were constantly bringing me presents of live birds, fawns,
young foxes and wolves, and once when I was on a sick bed, with a high
fever, an Indian brought me the half of a dressed deer, to tempt my
appetite. They were very kind in sickness, but of little use about a
sick bed. There were no wise Indian doctors in those days, such as now
come to cure us of every imaginable disease. This first year we had to
go 60 miles to a flour mill, consequently had to subsist upon corn, in
lieu of wheat bread, and this sometimes made from pounded corn at that.
One day Mrs. Calhoun sent mother a pan of flour as a rare treat, but
when she learned that it was all she had of the precious stuff, she
objected to taking it. Mrs. C. insisted that she must not refuse it, for
mother was not used to going without, and she was. We had very little
pork or beef, but so much venison and wild game that they soon became a
drug. Vegetables and wild fruit being so plenty, we lived as well as we
do now taking our healthy, keen appetites into consideration. Small
game, such as turkeys, partridges, quail, pigeons, rabbits, squirrels,
also fresh fish, were the favorite meat diet of our family.

In the winter and spring of 1831, father built a log house on the
south-east side of the Big Island, as it was called, a circular forest,
of about a mile in diameter, with prairie all around it. This was known
far and wide, and had been, for hundreds of years, the camping ground of
Indians, traveling east and west. It was almost impassable from the
thickets and windfalls of great trees, and filled with game of all
kinds. So, in the spring, we bade adieu to our good host, Calhoun, and
moved into a house of our own. This place soon became known as
Schoolcraft, and a village plat was surveyed, with streets and a park.
It was many years, though, before we knew just where these luxuries were
located, without looking on the map. One street, Eliza street, was named
after my mother. We soon had neighbors, however, and Schoolcraft and Big
Prairie Ronde were known as the garden and grain supply of the state of

I must have been about six years old when I attended my first school,
which was taught by my aunt, Miss Mary A. Parker, in a log house on the
bank of E. L. Brown's marsh; then later in a little frame building near
where Thos. Westveer now lives. I became acquainted, as a pupil, with
Miss Pamela Brown, now the widow of Dr. N. M. Thomas, and my respect and
reverence for her was dated from the time of her flogging a certain bad
boy, Archibald Finlay, by name. It was over his shoulders, with nothing
but a shirt between and administered with such good effect that, in
spite of his determined obstinacy and combativeness, he promised
reformation. I was also a bad boy, but was so impressed by this example
of thoroughness that my good resolutions were effectually strengthened.

One more Indian story and I am done. In the summer of 1829, father
traveled over the southern prairies of the state on foot and alone, to
look for a new home. At Ann Arbor, on his way west, he heard of a
notorious Indian robber, Shavehead, known as a dangerous customer to
lone travelers. Not wishing, just then, to part with his scalp, he made
a circuit of 30 miles or more to avoid meeting him. He was reported to
have killed and scalped 90 or more white persons, and as being in his
war paint, and wearing these scalps, at all times. Father was tired ere
noon, and, secure in the thought that all danger was passed, seated
himself on a fallen log and proceeded to eat his dinner of bread and
cheese, and make himself comfortable for a noon-tide rest. He was
delighted with the fresh woods and prairies, and gave himself up to
air-castles, when he could make his home in this western paradise and
have his family about him. Suddenly, in the midst of these reveries, a
light hand was laid upon his shoulder, and looking up he was confronted
by a tall, brawny, fierce looking Indian, in scalp-lock and paint,
sharp, keen eyes, divided by a prominent, hawk's beak nose, looked down
upon him in stern silence. Father, in describing it afterwards, never
said he was scared, but admitted it was a "surprise party" to him, and
that he instinctively thrust his hand into his pocket and grasped an old
pistol, which would hardly kill at three paces under any circumstances.
However it also flashed through his mind that if this bronzed old
warrior had intended murder he could have committed it as easily with
his wicked looking tomahawk as thus to have laid his hand upon his
shoulder, so he smiled on Shavehead and offered his hand, and they
shook, but with unbending sternness on the part of Shavehead. Then they
sat down together on a log and proceeded to get acquainted as best they
could, mostly by signs. Father took out his pipe and tobacco, divided
the plug with Mr. Red-man, which pleased him very much, and thus they
talked in pantomime with each other for an hour or more, when the
interview ended by mutual consent. They again shook hands, this time
more cordially, but yet no smile softened the face of old Shavehead. And
they parted, the Indian silently melting into the forest, and father
sturdily trudging along his trail towards the west, now and then
glancing backward at the vacancy made by his strange visitor.

In 1831, a few weeks after we were settled at Big Island, father came
into the house, from his work, one day, and there, seated complacently
by the stove, watching mother about her cooking, was the veritable
Shavehead, still with his head shaved, save the scalp-lock. This time
they shook hands as friends indeed, but the stolid face wore no smile as
before. From that time he was a frequent visitor and we all learned to
like him and respect him. He belonged to no tribe about us; did not
associate with other Indians. If he happened to be in the house, with
them, when mother was distributing food, as was often the case, they
would divide it among themselves, leaving out Shavehead, who received
his portion direct from mother, and ate it in stern silence, amid the
sociable chattering of the others. Shavehead was very peculiar. He never
carried a gun, but was always armed with a powerful bow and arrows and a
murderous looking tomahawk and knife, but the 90 scalps at his belt we
never saw. He never rode a pony, like the others, and never got drunk,
as the others surely did, whenever they could get the fire water of the

So far as we could know, he was without an Indian fault or foible. Long
afterwards, when the Potawatomies were gathered up by the government and
taken away to a new reservation, in the west, there was one Indian they
could never find. They searched the woods diligently for months, but
Shavehead mysteriously melted out of all knowledge, leaving only kindly
memories of a brave old chief and a steadfast, though silent friend.



Read by Miss Anna Fellows.

This old story that has been so often told and with so many variations
had its beginning for me nearly seventy years ago.

It was October 24, 1829 that I, a lad nine years old, reached what is
now Prairie Ronde township. We--my mother, brothers and sisters--were
about twenty days on the road not-with-standing we drove horses, three
on one wagon and two on another. My father, Col. Abiel Fellows, and two
oldest brothers had preceded us and had a home built ready to receive
us. The transition though slow from a roomy home of plenty to a
temporary house of one room, where six wayfarers had found shelter
previous to our arrival, naturally filled the mind of a small boy with
consternation, his heart with homesickness. Where was the school-room,
the clock-room with its glowing coal grate? Where was the square-room,
the bed-rooms, the cheerful kitchen? And where, Oh where, was the
buttery? Thoughts of the contents of the one left behind increased in
size the big lump in my throat. And the mountains, the hills, the cool
spring bubbling from the rocks, where were they? But an extenuating
fact, did we not have in this new land the Indian? He lurked in every
dark corner, was behind every tree and bush, I fancied. The strangers
our humble home already sheltered were William Duncan, two sons and one
daughter--William, Delamore, and Eliza Ann--, Lydia Wood and Samuel

My father met us at Monroe, and I recall that in Saline township he
purchased thirty bushels of wheat the entire output of a small stack,
and left it to be ground into flour. Later we had numerous calls for a
little wheat flour to make a wedding cake, which was always freely

At Strongs Ridge, Ohio, where we staid one night we were told we would
see no more peaches after we left there--a strange condition of things I
thought--so we bought a goodly supply and saved the stones and on
reaching Prairie Ronde planted them in Mr. Guilford's garden, the first
garden cultivated by a white man on the prairie. Mr. Guilford had apple
trees growing from the seed in this garden. The peach trees grew and
thrived and were transplanted to many claims in the county.

The south-west part of Kalamazoo county was first settled and John Bair,
brother to William Bair, of Vicksburg, drove the first stake, or rather
blazed the first tree near Harrison's lake June, 1828.

It was in Prairie Ronde that the first school district in the county was
organized, and the first school taught in the winter of '30 and '31 by
Thomas W. Merrill, founder of what is now Kalamazoo college. Mr.
Merrill, my first teacher in Michigan, was followed by Stephen Vickery,
and Mr. Vickery by Richard Huyck. The school house was built of split
logs and was 20 by 26 feet. It stood near the home of Judson Edmunds,
recently sold to Joseph Davis.

The first post-office in the county was in Prairie Ronde, and my father
was post-master, receiving his commission from General Jackson. The
first frame building in the county, a small barn, was built by Delamore
Duncan in 1830. The first grist-mill was built in 1830 by John Vickers
on Rocky Creek. Corn only was ground in this primitive mill of small
dimensions. In the fall of the same year Mr. Vickers sold the mill to
Col. Fellows, who built during the winter the first saw-mill in the
county, near where William Maile now lives. In this mill was sawed the
lumber to build the first store at Bronson, now Kalamazoo. One other
claim I must enter. Prairie Ronde furnished for Cooper the character of
"Bee-Hunter" in his novel, "Oak Openings." One Towner Savage disputes
the honor with Mr. Harrison. Mr. Beadle, of dime novel fame, told me he
helped Cooper lay the plot of the story, and that Mr. Towner Savage was
the original "Ben Boden."

One event that occurred during the Black Hawk war excitement took great
prominence in my boyish mind, because to me it demonstrated the
fearlessness and bravery of my father. It was in the spring of 1832, and
Col. Lyman Daniels, whose regiment had been ordered to the front, had
important papers and money he wished taken to Detroit. It was thought to
be a perilous journey at that time. I distinctly remember Mr. Daniels
asking Col. Fellows if he would carry them, saying he had been unable to
find a man who dared undertake it. My father, then a man nearly 70 years
of age, said he would take them, and the papers and money were
transferred to his saddle bags and the trip made in six days. In 1830 he
had visited Detroit and purchased apple trees, and some of them are
still standing, and promise to bloom in a few weeks in all their
pristine glory. While in Detroit he enjoyed the hospitality of Gen.
Cases. The hero of the war of 1812 and the whilom boy soldier of the
revolution were both members of the ancient order of Masons.

Of the real privations and sufferings of pioneer life that many
experienced, I know nothing. With horses the journey to Detroit for
supplies was not such an impossible undertaking as it would seem to-day.
But inconveniences were abundant. The post-office was a basket and the
basket was kept under the bed. There was a bushel and a half of the
first mail Col. Fellows, brought from White Pigeon, and for each letter
the post-master paid 25 cents. But I suppose the worth of the news from
home and from "the girl I left behind me," could not be computed in
dollars and cents. It seems but yesterday that a citizen of Schoolcraft
would walk in and say, "Is there airry letter here for airry one of the
Bonds?" The manner of sending money by mail at that time differed
somewhat from the present check, draft and order system. A fifty or one
hundred dollar bill would be cut in two and one-half sent at a time.

That necessity is truly the mother of invention was often demonstrated
in pioneer days. I recall a novel arrangement for grinding or pounding
corn, constructed by Delamore Duncan. A large stump near the house was
hollowed out at the top and a spring-board set in place projecting over
the top of the house and a pestle at the end completed the mill or stump
mortar. With this the meal for bread for the family was prepared.

The Indian burying ground in the north-west part of the township had
great interest for the new-comers. I remember visiting it when there
were three "cribs" with their occupants, still standing.

My knowledge of farming when I came to Michigan was necessarily limited.
But the season following our arrival I was introduced to a pair of oxen
and a harrow. With my ball in my pocket I started out to prepare a few
acres for the sowing of wheat. But no wheat was sown in that field that
season. The oxen were slow and my ball required so much attention that
by the time I finished harrowing the volunteer wheat had made such a
growth sowing was unnecessary. The yield from the field was forty
bushels per acre.

One memorable night November 13, 1833, our household was awakened by Dr.
Nathan Thomas who was on a professional visit to the neighborhood and we
all left our beds and went out to witness the great meteoric shower
never to be forgotten.

The meat supply in the neighborhood sometimes ran low, and thereby hangs
a tale. One Harry Smith, came to our home one day to borrow a horse and
wagon to drive to Mr. Bishop's, who lived on the north-west side of the
prairie. Mr. Smith had a large family, and they were out of meat, and he
had heard Mr. Bishop had some to spare. But on reaching there he was
told they had no more than would be needed for the family. Mr. Smith,
rather crest-fallen, started to return home, but on second thought went
back to the house and told Mr. Bishop if he would lend him a bone he
would take it home and season some beans and return it. This so greatly
pleased Mr. Bishop that he told Mr. Smith he would divide his meat with
him, and one meat-hungry family rejoiced that day.

Improved roads, the railway, the telegraph, the telephone, and other
Edisonian inventions, have shortened distances since those early days.
And yet I fancy were I to walk from the site of the Old Branch in
Kalamazoo, to Prairie Ronde, the distance would seem much greater than
it did sixty years ago, when I sometimes walked home from school
Saturday afternoon.

Although their pioneer experiences retain great interest for those who
participated in them, they are not supposed to hold the same interest
for these sons and daughters of younger generations that I see before
me. Many of you will enter the next century in the prime of life and
help solve problems we wot not of. But those who were born in the early
morning of the present century and are still living should be content,
for in the words of John S. Ingalls, greater progress has been made
during their life time than in sixty centuries previous.

NOTE.--Mrs. Mary Frasier and Lyman Guilford, of Schoolcraft, William
Bair, of Vicksburg, and O. H. Fellows, of Prairie Ronde, are all who are
living who came to Kalamazoo county in 1829.


This song was written by Addison M. Brown in 1893, to be sung at the
annual meeting and picnic of the Kalamazoo County Pioneer society, held
at Long Lake.

  Bride of my youth, I sing of thee,
      Michigan, my Michigan.
  Thy wave-washed shores, how dear to me,
      Michigan, my Michigan.
  Thee fondly chose I for my own,
  With thee I built my cabin home,
  And from thee ne'er had wish to roam,
      Michigan, my Michigan.

  Ne'er brought a bride such dower as thine,
      Michigan, my Michigan.
  Such wealth in forest, field and mine,
      Michigan, my Michigan.
  Thy youthful form how fair to see
  Ere thy tall forests spared a tree
  Or plow-share harsh had fretted thee,
      Michigan, my Michigan.

  My heart turns fondly to the day,
      Michigan, my Michigan.
  When, turning from my weary way,
      Michigan, my Michigan.
  I gently laid my tired head
  On thy soft bosom wide outspread,
  With naught but Heaven over head,
      Michigan, my Michigan.

  Swiftly, since then, the years have run,
      Michigan, my Michigan.
  The fateful thread is nearly spun,
      Michigan, my Michigan.
  Again my head shall soon be pressed
  Upon the pillow of thy breast
  To find with thee unending rest,
      Michigan, my Michigan.


  Text in italics is surrounded with underscores: _italics_.

  Punctuation has been corrected without note.

  Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been retained from the original.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected as follows:
    Page 12: propably changed to probably
    Page 15: leav1ng changed to leaving
    Page 18: objct changed to object

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