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EABLY HISTORY OF LENAWEE CODNTY
AND OF THE
ADRIA.N, MICH. :
TIMES AND KXl'OSITOl! STEAM PRINT.
'UK folldwiiii;- discourse was prepared and delivered at Adrian at a
eeleliration of the Nation's Centennial Anniversary, in pnrsuance
of the following recommendation of Congress and of the Governor,
and is pnhlished nnder a resolutidii of the ('omnion Conneil of the City t>f
Statk ok MicuioAX, Executive Office, (
Lansing, May 16, 1876. j'
To the People of the State of Michigan :
I have received notice from the ottice of the Dejuirtment of iState, at
Washington, of the passage by Congress of the following j(.>int resolution:
'■' Be it resoloed by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, That it be, and is hereby
recommended by the Senate and House of Ilej^reseutatives to the ])eople of
the several States, that they assemble in their several counties or towns on
the approaching Centennial anniversary of our National Independence, and
that they cause to be delivered on such a day an historical sketch of said
county or town from its foundation, and that a copy of said sketch may be
filed, in print or in manuscript, in the Clerk's office of said county, and an
additional copy, in print or manuscript, be filed in the office of the Libra-
rian of Congress, to the intent that a comj)lete record may thus be obtained
of the progress of our institutions during the first centennial of their exist-
Approvetl March 13th, 1S76.
I earnestly hope that in the celebration of the anniversary of our national
independence in this State, the recommendation may be universally regarded.
Our record is yet new and familiar to us, our development and growth is a
history of continued prosperity, and it is eminently proper, in this Centen-
nial year, while recalling with gratitude the beneficence of Divine Providence
in His dealings with us, that we should ])ut upon record, for those who are
to come after us, the history of a State that in forty years has grown to be
an empire with a million and a half of people — e<lucated in public schools^
blest in a common prosperity — and united as citizens by a common patriot-
In addition to the request of Congress that copies of the sketches be filed
in the Library of Congress, and the county records. I suggest that co])ies l)e
sent to the State Library at Lansing.
I!y the (lovernor, Jonx J. ISaolkv.
E. (i. lIoLDEN, Secretary of State.
I^mHELLOW CITIZENS : For the last ninety-nine years our countrymen
f^ liave been wont to celebrate this day — to hail its annual return with
"^ demonstrations of rejoicing?, witli the ringing of bells, with bonfires
and illuminations, and the roar of artillery, with gatherings of the people,
processions and orations, and with songs of thanksgiving and jiraise.
We meet to-day as we have so often before, to observe the day in the
time honored way. But the one hundredth (tnnii'eri<ary — the very words
suggest a high distinction, a wide ditference between this and its predeces-
sors. It tells us that our experiment of self-government is no longer an ex-
periment, but a success ; sets the seal of stability and permanence on our in-
stitutions, and our Kepnblic, and proves that onr union and government are
not ephemeral, as was in the beginning prophesied by their enemies and
feared even hy their friends.
Tliere is reason, in view of this, that in the annual discourse which is
nsual on the occasion, we shonld depart somewhat from the beaten track.
The Congress of the United States has recommended that the discourse on
this Centennial anniversary shonld be a historical sketch of the county or
town from its formation.
Tins recommendation has been supported by the President, and the Exec-
utive of our own State, and a compliance with it, if general, will be both
appropriate and useful.
To this duty which has been assigned to me, that of the historian rather
than the orator, I now address myself for the brief half hour allotted, as-
sured that however inadefiuatcly and imperfectly it may be performed, the
subject and the facts cannot fail to interest the citizens at least of our own
county, and will nut, I trust, l)e entirely witliout interest to our fellow citi-
zens from other counties who join with us to-da}'. And in behalf too of
those who shall come after us, it is well, while the witnesses and
actors in the earlier scenes and struggles incident to the settlement of a new
country are a portion of them still living, to secure from their lips and res-
6 HISTORICAL OR ATI OX.
cue tiuin the oblivion wliicli a few years more would otherwise throw t)ver
them, an authentic history of those early times.
Onr history is not a long one. lie who sketches it has not to go back to
a remote antiquity. Our beautiful and cherished county, with its poijulation
to-day of 47,000, its central city of 1U,000, its 26 townships and wards, and
in each of these tow^lships its highly cultivated and productive farms, its nu-
merous and populous and thriving villages, its schools and college, its churches,
railroads, and telegraphs, and its abundant evidences of wealth and comfort and
refinement on every hand, what was it at the l>eginning of 1824 'i An un-
broken wilderness. Xot a white inhabitant within its Ixiunds. iJut as it
then was, all in its native beauty, untouched Ijy the hand of civilization, uu-
maiTed by cultivation, a fairer, niore beautiful and attractive region, the sun
ne'er shone on. A portion of it, most of the northern, and a part of the
southern portion, consisting of " openings," as they were called in the language
of the countrj'^sparsely timbered with tall and beautiful oaks, and for the
most part, in consequence of the annual fires passing over it, free from un-
derbrusli, — the ground carpeted with a profusion of wild fiowers, — the whole
like a beautiful park, through which, without track or path, the immigrant
could drive with his horses or oxen and wagon, for miles in any direction —
the remainder a dense forest of various kinds of trees; the surface undxdat-
ino-, well watered by the Kaisin, the Tiffin, and a multitude of smaller
streams, and gemmed here and there, especially in the northern portion, with
beautiful small, clear lakes — it is no wonder that the earlier settlers were en-
chanted with the scene, and in their letters to their friends, spoke in glow-
ing tenns of its beauty and its loveliness.
But the time had come when this fair region was no longer to be left to
the wild men and wild beasts of the forest, hitherto its sole possessors.
By a treaty concluded at Detroit on the 17th of November, 1807, between
the United States and the Ottawa, Chippewa, Wyandotte and Pottawatomie
nations of Indians, the Indians ceded to the United States a large tract of
country in northern Ohio and southeastern Michigan, including the present
county of Lenawee ; and by another treaty concluded at Chicago, on the 2ytli
of August, 1821, between the United States and the Ottawa, Chippewa and
Pottawatomie tribes, the Indian title to another extensive tract in Michi-
gan, west of the tract first mentioned, and extending to Lake Michigan, was
also extinguished, and the territory in l)oth cases acquired by the United
States by fair pin"chase.
In the summer of 1823, Musgrove Evans, of Brownsville, Jefferson Co.,
HISTORICAL ORATION. 7
]S'. Y., came into the territory to explore, with a view to settlement, and
found his way to the site of the present village of Tecumseh. The tract had
before this been surveyed and put into market by the I'nited States. Mr.
Evans, imjiressed with the beauty of the country-, and the ad\antages of that
particular locality, particularly the hydraulic power atibrded by the river
Raisin and Evans creek at that point, determined to settle and lay out a
village there, and to secure and improve this water power. Returning to his
home in New York, he enlisted in his enterprise, his brother-in-law, Joseph
AV. Brown, of the same place, afterwards Gen. Brown, now of Cleveland, O.,
who subsequently played a prominent part in the atfairs of the Territory and
State, both civil and military, and who still survives in a hale and green old
age, to see and rejoice over the wonderful de^•ek^]1ment and advance in all
the elements of prosperity and greatness of this new county and common-
wealth, in which, while yet in the uid^roken solitude c>f its wilderness he
made his home, and to the development and growth of which he devoted the
prime of his manhood, and in no small degree contributed.
Mr. Evans returned in the spring of 1824, with Mr. Brown and some ten
or twelve others, coming from Butfalo in a schooner, and landing at Detroit,
whei'e for the time being he left his family. From thence with packs on
their backs containing provisions and such necessaries as were required for
their joiirney, they made their way on foot through the forest to the place
previously selected by Evans, where the village of Tecumseh now stands.
In his first visit to the territory, the fall previous, Evans had met with
Austin E. Wing, of Monroe, who had been for several years a resident of
the territory — a man of intelligence and influence, who afterwards for several
years represented the territory of Michigan in Congress as its delegate. It
was through his advice and representations of its advantages, that Evans had
his attention turned to the Valley of the Raisin, and especially to the water
power at the junction of Evans creek with the Raisin.
On the arrival of Evans and Brown, in the spring of lS2i, a co-partner-
ship was formed between these three. Wing, Evans and Brown, and they be-
came jointly interested in the enterprise of founding a village, and improving
the water power at the point before mentioned. In anticipation of this, and
before the return of Evans, Wing had taken up at the Land office, at De-
troit, the west part of section 21, and the east part of section 28, which in-
cluded the water power in that portion of Tecumseh now known as Browns-
ville; and subsecjuentl}' after the arrival of Evans and Brown, they took up
the north half of section 34, of the same townshiji.
8 HISTORICAL ORATION.
On the 2d uf June of that year (is^^K Evans, having, in tlie meantime
l.u.lt a rude log house upon tlie premises, the roof and tier ..f which were
made of bark stripped oft" tlie neighboring trees, brought his family, consist-
ing of a wife and fiye children, with a man named Peter Benson and his
wife who were in his employ, from Detroit, and took possession of this lo<.
In.t. These two were the first white women, and this family the first whit2
inhabitants within the bounds ..f Lenawee county ; and thus" the settlement
ot tins large and now populous county was begun.
In this first log house, the pioneer of the^omfortable, substantial, and
often spacious and elegant dwellings and mansions which iiuw meet the eye
oyer the whole county, three families domiciled during tlie winter of ls->j_5
Mr. Eyans, Mr. Brown, each with a family of fiye children, and Mr Geor..e
Spattord and wife, and some ten or twehe men in addition, among them m'.
E. 1-. i,lood, who was one of those that came in ^vith them, and who took
up a lot of land in the neighborhood from the government, to cultivate as a
farm, and who continues to reside on the same to this day.
Indians were numerous, often visiting and supplying 'them with berries
and the products of the chase, but not a white neighbor nearer than Mon-
roe, 33 miles, or a family or two on the Raisin, a few miles abo\e Jklonroe
The Indians, mostly of the Pottawatomie tribe, though at times objects of
apprehension and fear, especially to the women and children, proved friendly
and gave little trouble.
_ Here these three families, all accustomed to the comforts, luxuries and re-
finements of civilization and wealth, spent together a not unhappy or cheer-
less winter. The weather was mild, and shut out though they were from the
rest of the world, a wilderness almost pathless lying between" them and Mon-
roe, the nearest settlement tu ^yhich they could look for supplies or assist-
ance, an.l surrunuded by bands of wild Indians, to whose character for
treachery and fer.H-ity, though then ap))arently friendly, these settlers were
no strangers— yet there was much in the wild and romantic beauty of the
native forest, in the novelty and excitement <.f the strange life tliey Avere
living, and in the bright hopes of the future, which buoyed them up amidst
the privations and tlie hardships incident to such circumstances ; and thus
these stout hearted and resolute men, and these not less courageous and no-
ble women remaine.i. abandoning the comforts and luxuries of their former
homes, and giving themselves to the new enterprise in which they had en-
listed, laid the f.-undations of civilized society and Cliristian iiistituti„ns in
this wilderness ..f Southern Michigan.
HISTORICAL ORATION. 9
A short extract from a letter written about this time by Mr. Evans (who,
b}' the way, was of the same relictions faith with Wm. Penn), to Mr. Brown,
who had then returned to Brownville for his family, dated Tecumseh, Sth
mo., Sth, 1824, will serve to give us a sample of the shifts and devices to
which these first settlers were often compelled to resort. The letter, after
acknowledging the receipt that morning of Brown's letter of the 6th ult.,
one month after the date, says, among other things : " The articles thee
mentions will all be good here, particularly the stove, as it takes some time
always in a new place to get ovens and chimneys convenient for cooking.
We have neither, yet, and no other way of baking for twenty people but in
a bake-kettle and the fire out at the door."
Immediately after getting upon the ground, this company, Wing, Evans &
Brown, commenced the erection of a saw mill, which they built and put in
operation in the fall of 1824, the first saw mill in the county, and an insti-
tution of the highest necessity and value to the infant settlement.
To raise the frame of this mill they were obliged to go to Monroe for as-
sistance, and brought from there some forty men.
During the summer of 1824, a plat of the village was laid out by the pro-
prietors. Wing, Evans & Brown, and called Tecumseh, after the name of the
fierce chieftain, who, though the home of his tribe was far away on the
banks of the Sciota, in southern Ohio, it is said had often with his dusky
Shawanees visited this locality and made his camping ground in its imme-
diate vicinity ; and thenceforth the new town, though it did as yet consist
of a single log house, had not only an existence but a name.
During the same season a post-oflice was established here, and Mr. Evans
was the first postmaster.
Thus the time for a letter by due course of mail, between Brownville, New
York, and Tecumseh, at that time was one month, and the postage twenty-
(In the fall of the next year, 1825, the first crop of wheat raised in the
county was sown by Mr. Jesse Osborn, on a lot taken up Ijy him near the
\nllage plat, and a little north of the present residence of Judge Stacy, and
was harvested the next summer, in time to be ground on the fourth of July,
at the new grist mill just then erected, and which we shall notice more fully
presently, and from the flour of which cake and biscuit were made by Mrs.
Brown for the dinner at the celebration that day. This first crop of wheat
was a success. It ripened early and was quite satisfactory, both in quality
In HISTORICAL ORATION.
and quantity, and proved the soil and climate well adapted to this impor-
Having thus established the first town in the county, this enterprising
firm of Ving. Evans ct Brown, took measures to get the county seat estab-
lished there. A petition was sent to the Territorial Governor, Gen. Cass,
who appointed commissioners to examine, select and report a location for the
same. These commissioners located it at Tecumseh, upon the land of this
firm, the northwest quarter of section thirty-four, and upon their report the
same was established as the county seat, by an Act of the Legislative coun-
cil, approved June 30, 1824.
A somewhat amusing incident, attending this location, is related in one of
the old letters I have seen. When the commissioners fixed upon the site
and stuck the stake to mark the place for the Court House, the company
present, among whom was Mr. Wing, swung their hats and gave three lusty
cheers. Mr. Wing, in the ardor of his enthusiasm, swung his hat with such
emphasis and force that at the last whirl it flew several rods away, leaving
in his hand a piece of the brim about the size of a dollar. The writer of
the letter adds that it was an old hat, and probably a little cracked in the
These proprietors and the citizens of Tecumseh, were naturally much
elated, and expected great things for their new town from the location there
of the county seat — expectations which, however, were destined to be but par-
tially realized, as in the progress of events, it was, after the lapse of a few
years, removed to Adrian.
Up to the time of which we have been speaking, the county of Lenawee
had not been organized. It was attached to and constituted a part of the
county of Monroe. It received an independent organization by an act of the
Legislative Council, apjmived December 20, 1S26, and was of ample territo-
rial limits, having attached to it and made a part of it, for the time being,
all the country within the Terrrtorv. to which the Indian title was extin-
guished at the treaty of Chicago, before mentioned, its western boundary be-
ing mostly Lake Michigan, and its northern Grand River, from its source
to its mouth.
The name Lenawee is a Shawanee woi-d, meaning Indian.
In the appointment of officers for the new county, Joseph W. Brown was
commissioned by Gov. Cass as Chief Justice of the county court, a position
which, however, he soon resigned, and was succeeded b>- Stillman Blanchard.
HISTORICAL ORATION. 11
wlio has deceased at Tecuniseh within the hist year. James Patchin was the
first sherifi" — all of Tecuiaseh.
The first townships organized in the county were three, Tecumseh, Logan,
and Blissfield. They were organized by an act of the Legislative Council,
appro\-ed A]iril 12, 1827, and embraced the whole of the present county ;
Tecumseh at the north, Logan in the middle, and Blissfield at the south,
each extending across the entire county from east to west.
The three families first mentioned did not long remain the only families
in the settlement. The track being opened, they were soon followed by oth-
ers, and their village soon became a village in fact, and not a mere paper
towni, and the log house was succeeded by more substantial and comfortable
dwellings, and here and there in its vicinity, a sturdy pioneer, attracted by the
richness of the soil and manifold advantages for agriculture, had taken up
a lot for that purpose, and commenced clearing the same for a farm.
In 1836, this company, AVing, Evans & Brown, built a grist mill on their
site upon the Raisin, the first in the county, and a great acquisition to the
new settlement, much needed and highly prized. It contained but a single
i-un of stones, but sufiiced for grinding for all the inhal)itants of the county
for several years.
The dam raised, and the frame of the mill up, it remained to sup]>ly the
stones. How this was to be done, was a problem not easy of solution. To
procure and transport a pair of French burr mill stones from the far East,
and through the forest from Monroe, or Detroit, to Tecumseh, in the condi-
tion the roads were in at that time, would be a heavy expense, and a work
of no small difficulty. But these proprietors were not to be baflied. A
large stone, a rock of granite, was found lying upon the ground, a mile or
two from the mill, broken into two unequal pieces by the tailing of a tree
ujjon it. By the aid of a practical miller, Sylvester Blackmar, this stone
was prepared, and made to answer the desired jjurpose, the smaller fragment
serving as the upper stone, and the larger as the lower, and answering the
purpose very well for several years, and until better ones could be procured.
On the -ith of July of this year, 1826, the inhabitants, with no less pat-
riotism in their hearts here in the wilds of Michigan than in older portions
of the country, turned out en masse and held at Tecuniseh the first formal
celebration of the day that the county had known — ^^just fifty years ago to-
In 1S2S, an organization of the militia took place in the county, under
the order v\' Gov. Cass, and Joseph W. Bmwn, afterward (4t'n. Brown, was
12 HISTORICAL ORATION.
commissioned as Colonel of the reffiinent then formed, bein* the eighth ree-
inient uf the Territorial militia.
Thus this new settlement and new town in the wilderness, and the enter-
prise of its first proprietors, moved on and prospered, and bade fair to real-
ize in full their hopes and expectations.
But the time had now come when Tecuniseh alone was no longer Lena-
wee county, and was no longer to enjoy a monopoly of its political, social
and commercial advantages. A formidable competitor was just starting in
the race, destined to rival and ultimately to outstrip her.
In the summer of 1S25, Addison J. Comstock, then a young man. with
Darius Comstock, his father, of Xiagara county, New York, came into the
Territory with a view of seeking a location. The elder Comstock selected
and purchased from the Government a tract in the present townsliip of Rai-
sin, at the place kno\vii as the Valley, midway between Tecumseh and Adrian.
Tlie younger Comstock, in September of that year, purchased and received a
patent from the Government for 480 acres of land, on which he subsequently
laid out and platted the village of Adrian, and. comprising the larger portion
of the present city of Adrian. This was near, though a little east of the
geographical center of the county — that is of the county of Lenawee proper,
according to its present boundaries. Mr. Comstock returning to Xew York,
was married during the following winter to Miss Sarah S. Dean, a daughter
of Isaac Dean, of Plielps, Ontario Co., X. Y.
In the spring of 1826 he returned with his bride to take permanent pos-
session of his new purchase, and make a home in the wilderness, as it then
was. Mr. John Gift'ord. a man in the employ of Mr. Comstock. with his
wife, came witli them. Two log houses, one for each family, were speedily
put up by them, into which they moved in August of that year, Mr. Gilford oc-
cupying his tii-st by a few days ; and these two women being the first white
female residents of Adrian. Mr. Comstock's house was in the oak grove, on
the bank of the river, where Mrs. Chloe Jones now lives, and Mr. Giflbrd's
was in the immediate vicinity. Mrs. Giilbrd is still living, or was recently,
in St. Joseph Co., in this State. The other three of these first inhabitants
of Adrian are all sleeping beneath its soil. During the same year Mr. Com-
stock erected a saw mill on the Raisin, near liis residence, and completed it
in November. 1S2H. being the second saw mill in the county. Tlie whole
population of the south half of the county at this time consisted of seven
families, but it si>eedily increased by immigration.
Ills TOE ICAL OHATION. 13
The county lieing organized in IS'26, as before noticed, the first township
election for the township of Loo-an. in wliich Adrian was situated, was held
at the house of Darius Conistock, in the Valley, on May 28, 1S27, at which
Darius Conistock was elected Supervisor, and Addison J. Corastock township
A letter written by Gen. Brown at this time, bearing date January l-tth,
1827, says : " The Legislative Council have organized three new counties,
this winter, and in none of them was there a white inhabitant in the year
1823, and in ours not till June, 1824. This is the youngest and smallest of
the three, and we liave more than Cm inhaliitants." The other two counties
referred to in this letter were Washtenaw and Chippewa.
During this year, 1827, the first frame dwelling house was erected by Dr.
Caleb N. Orrasby, the first physician in Adrian.
Did time permit it would be pleasant to take some notice of others of the
earlier settlers in Adrian, Noah Norton, James Whitney, the father of two of
our well-known citizens of to-day, Elias Dennis and others. But we must
forbear, only noticing a few of the more prominent facts and incidents in
the history of this early time.
The original plat of the ^^llage of Adrian was laid out by A. J. Corn-
stock, and i-ecorded in the Eegister's office on April 1. 1828. Unlike the
inflated paper cities so common in that day, it was modest in its propor-
tions and pretensions — consisting only of two sti-eets, equal in length, and
crossing at right angles : Maumee, extending from the lot where the Gibson
House now stands, as far east as the present residence of Wm. A. Whitney
and the Presbyterian church, and Main, and forty-nine lots in all. From
this it may be inferred that the proprietor at that time had little antic-
ipation of what his new-founded village was destined to become in the not
The same year, 1828, a post-office was established here, with A. J. Corn-
stock as postmaster. The following somewhat amusing account given by Mr.
Comstock, and which I take from a document prepared by him, and depos-
ited iinder the corner stone of the old Union school house, will serve to
show something of the condition of things in that early day. He says :
"The same year a post-office was established in Adrian, A. J. Comstock, P.
M. The conditions of establishing the office were that the contractor should
take the net revenue of the office for transporting the mail from Adrian to
Monroe. The whole receipts of the first quarter, ending March 31, 1829,
was $S.60f. The net revenue to the contractor, after paving expenses of of-
U BIS TOXICAL ORATION.
lice, IHiJ cents. It sbuukl be remarked that tlie carrying of the mail was not
expensive, as the postmaster took advantage of the ox teams that made reg-
ular trips to Monroe, and so obtained the mail about every week, as a trip
to Monroe and back could be performed in aliout live days when they had
But lack of time compels me to pass rajiidly over the history of that early
day and the interesting incidents connected with it.
The question of the removal of the county seat from Tecumseh to Adrian
began very early to Ije agitated, being strongly urged by Mr. Comstock and
the citizens of Adrian. Tecumseh had secured its first location before Adrian
had an existence, and a court house and jail (the latter of logs), had been
built there. All the county offices were there, and the political infiuence of
the county centered there, and the larger portion of the population was in
and around that town. But immigration began to find its way into the cen-
tral and southern portions. In the township of Blissfield a settlement had
been begun even earlier than in xldrian, Hervey Bliss having moved in there
with his family in December, lS:i4, followed the next year and the year fol-
lowing by several other families.
From the first settlement of Adrian this question of the county seat be-
came a matter of contention and strife between the neighboring towns — au
unhap])y controversy, engendering bitter feelings at the time, kept up for a
series of years, and terminating not until 1836, when bj' an Act of the Leg-
islature, under the new- State government, it was removed to Adrian, and
the question was put at rest. The removal by the terms of the Act was not
to take ettect. however, until the first Monday of Xovember, 1S3S.
The defeat that Tecumseh sufl^'ered in this was not owing to an}- lack of eilbrt
pr lack of ability on the part its leading men. A high degree of liotli was
abundantl}' manifest in the conduct of the controversy. They only yielded
to the inevitable. It was the advantage of position alone which secured the
victory to its rival. Adrian being central, while Tecumseh was tar to the
north and east of the centre, it was not difiicult to see from the first that
the removal was only a question of time.
It was nut until ls:>S, when a jail having been built at Adrian, the courts,
which U]) to that time, in pursuance of the Act, had been held in Tecumseh,
commenced to hold theii' sessions at Adrian, and the removal was complete.
The new court house was Ituilt at Adrian the next year, 1S39, on the lot
adjoining the jail Int. on land donated for that ])uri)ose by Mr. Comstock,
HISTORICAL ORATION. 15
on the east side nf Clinton street. This renio\-al coiitrihuted n(.it a little to
the growth and prosjieritv of Adrian.
But to go back again to earlier times. The publication of the Lenawee
Eepiiblican and Adrian Gazette, the first newspaper in the county, was com-
menced in October, 1834, bj E. AV. Ingals, who still resides here. This pa-
per was neutral in ]3olitics, but after a few months was changed to the
Adrian Watchtower, Democratic, and as such, its publicatit)n was continued
until 1865, for many years as a weekly, and afterwards both weekly and
daily — Mr. Ingals retaining his connection with it until near the close.
An enterprise second to no other in its importance and effect upon the
earh' growth and development of Adrian and the country about it, extending
far into the interior and western portion of the State, was the Erie & Kala-
mazoo railroatl, projected and built at a very early day from ^Vdrian to To-
ledo, then Port Lawrence.
The importance of this work, and the magnitude of the umlertaking, con-
sidering the time and circumstances nnder which it was undertaken, have
been by few fully appreciated. It was undertaken and accomplished Ijy a
few men of moderate means at Adrian and Port Lawrence, l)0th then new
settlements, at a time when there not only was not a railroad in Michigan,
but none west of Lake Erie — nay, not one, or but one, in all New England,
or (west of Schenectady), in New York. They were at that time a new thing,
but recently introduced into this country. There was the road between Al-
bany and Schenectady, the lirst link in the chain of the present New York
Central, and run by stationary engines and liorse poAver, and there were short
roads in some portions of Pennsylvania. But in all the west such a thing
as a railroad was unknowji.
Necessity was no doubt the mother of the enterprise. The new and grow-
ing village of Adrian and all the new settlements in tiie county wei-e sepa-
rated and cut off from communication with the older portions of the coun-
try, except by a track cut through a dense forest, and much of the time al-
most impassable, even with oxen, to Monroe, thirty miles, or a like road
and distance to Port Lawrence, or the longer route to Deti-oit. Port Law-
rence was situated upon the navigable waters connected with Lake Erie, and
when that was i-eached there was ready access to the rest of the world. Te-
cmnseh, then or soon after, had its La Plaisance Bay turnjiike, opened l)y
the general government, and constituting a good highway to the lake at
Monroe. Adrian, unaided by the government, conceived the idea of a rail-
road, to be built by private enterprise, which sliuuld open easy connnnnica-
It; HISTORICAL ORATION.
til HI with navigable waters; and the outside world. A few men at Adrian
and its vicinit}', anionic whom maj' be named Darins Ctmistock, Addison J.
Comstock, George Crane, E. C. "Winter, Caleb N. Ornisbj and Joseph Gib-
bon, together with a few at Port Lawrence, entered actively into tliis enter-
prise and carried it snccessfully through, in the face of dithculties and dis-
couragements that similar enterpi'ises rarely have had to contend with. A
cliarter for the road was obtained from the Legislative Council of Michigan,
in April, 1833. authorizing the construction of a railroad from Poi-t Law-
rence to Adrian, and thence to such point on the Kalamazoo river as the
coni]>any might select, the original project being to make the Kalamazoo the
ultimate terminus, though that portion of the route west of Adrian was sub-
sequently abandoned. Books of subscription for the stock were opened at
Adrian, in March, 1834, and the amount required to organize the company,
being §50.000, the whole capital, by the terms of the Act, being §1,000,000,
was soon subscribed, and the company was fullj' orgauized in May of that
year, and immediately entered upon the work.
It was not at first contem])lated to run locomotives ujion the road, but it
was constructed with wooden rails, with a view to run by horse power, and
for a time it was so run. It was finished so that the cars commenced ruu-
nintr between Port Lawrence and Adrian in 1S36. It continued to run bv
horse power nntil June of 1837, when the wooden rail gave place to an iron
strap rail, and the horses were superseded by a locomotive.
The opening of this i-oad formed a new era. It accomplished all and
more than was anticipated from it b}^ its enterprising projectors, and gave a
new impetus to the growth and prosperity t)f Adrian, and the settlement and
development of the surrounding country — drawing to it for shipment the
grain and produce, and attracting the trade, of a wide extent of country',
northward and westward and soutliward — for a time, especially westward
and southward, e\en beyond the limits of the State, though this, of course,
has since been greatly restricted by the opening of other roads :ui<l new
channels of trade and commerce, elsewhere.
Up to tliis time a journey from Adrian to New York could be accom-
l)lished with diligence in about three weeks. It now takes 27 hours. Our
fellow-townsman, Abel Wliitney, Esq., informs me that in March, 1837, he
made this journey — going from Adrian to Toledo by this new railroad, tlicn
run by Iiokm' ]io\vcr. thence bj' stage to Cleveland, and thence over the route
tlirough Central Pennsylvania, using the best facilities the jniblic conveyances
aiibrded, a iiart of the way for short distances by railway, a part by canal,
HISTORICAL ORATrON. 17
ual, and the reinaimler I)y stage, and reaching Xew York tliree weeks tVoni
the time Ije left home. This, of course, was at a season of the year when
Tiavigation on Lake Erie was not open.
The Erie A: Kalamazoo road became snbse(|nently and is now a section of
that great thoroughfare, the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway, hav-
ing in 1S49 been leased by the company for the whole unexpired time of its
charter to the Michigan Southern & Northern Lidiana II. li. Co., subse-
quently incorporated into the L. S. & M. S. Ry. Co.
This pioneer railroad was soon followed by another, of greater extent and
more important to the country at large, if not to Adrian. The Michigan
Southern R. R. was laid out by the State, to be constructed as a State work,
from Lake Erie, at Monroe, to Lake Michigan, running through the county
of Lenawee. This road was completed from ]Monroe to Adrian in 1839, and
to Hillsdale in 18-13, and was operated by the State until in ISIH it was
sold to the M. S. R. R. Co. then incorporated.
Another contest arose between Adrian and Tecumseh in respect to the
route of this road — two lines being projected, one running through Adrian
and the other through Tecumseh. A high degree of interest was felt in this
question, each town being of course naturally anxious to secure to itself its
location. Tlie commissioners decided finalh' to lay it through Adrian, and it
was so constructed, and its advantages secured to the latter town. A con-
nection with this road was, however, subsequently secured to Tecumseh by
the construction of the Jackson branch of the same, running through that
In 1836 Adrian was iiicorporated as a village by an act of the Legislature,
and on the 31st of January, 1853, it was in like manner incorporated as a
city, with four wards, and so it still remains.
This imperfect sketch of some of the leading facts in the history of our
beautiful city, ought not to close without an allusion at least to some inter-
ests of a higher nature than its material advantages. Its commodious and
elegant churches — Congregational, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist,
Lutheran and Catholic — its college, with its eleven professors and tutors, and
near two hundred stiidents ; its public schools, with its Central and four branch
or ward school houses, unsurpassed in comfort, convenience and elegance, and
in all their appointments, by any town in the land, and the schools, in their
thorough and liberal course of instruction, in the character of their teachers,
and in all that is desirable in institutions of this kind, equalled by few and
18 HISTORICAL ORATION.
excelled by none ; its two daily and three weekly newspapers — all these and
others are well worth}' of a more extended notice than it is possible to give
them in the limited time at our disposal.
Nor ought we to pass over other portions of the county without some no-
tice, though necessarily very brief.
The settlement of the town of Blisslield, as we have before noticed, was
almost cotemporaneous with that of Tecumseh, the first inhabitant, Mr. Bliss,
locating there in December, 1824, and being followed the next year by two
or three other families, and the year following by still more. It now has
the thriving and important village of Blissfield, and is a populous and wealthy
In 1833 the first opening was made in the present township of Seneca, by
Gershum Bennett and Francis Hagaman, putting up the first log cabin in
the extreme southern portion of the county. The flourishing village of Mo-
renci is situated in this township.
In the same year the first settler located himself in the present to\vnship
of Hudson^Hiram Kidder.
In the north-western portion of the county, the township of Cambridge,
with its high, rolling surface and its clear streams and beautiful lakes, the
first actual settler was Charles Blackmar, in 1829. Its charming lakes early
attracted people of culture and taste, as settlers, and have ever since made
it a favorite resort, as it continues to be, during the summer season, of large
numbers who go to enjoy the quiet loveliness of its lakes, and to bathe and
fish in their clear waters.
These first settlers in all the towns we have mentioned (and the same is
true, probably, of most or all the remaining towns), almost without excep-
ception emigrated from the State of New York, which noWe State has fur-
nished by far the larger part of the immigration during the whole period of
its settlement. The New England States and other northern States, howev-
er, have contributed liberally, and we have in addition quite a large element
of the better class of European emigrants, English, Scotch, Irish and Ger-
man. It is safe to say that no county at the west can boast a better class
of immigrants, and few, after the immigration once set in, have filled up
more rapidly. The population, according to the census of 1874, just fifty
years after the first settler entered its bounds, was 4:(),084, being the fourth
county in point of population in the State.
In character with the New York and New England origin of the early
settlers, the school house and the church have gone up in the new settlements
HISTORICAL ORATION. l!»
almost siimiltaiieously with the tir.st loi; cabins, and no county of the west,
not its superior in aij^e, is better supplied with both, or with those of a bet-
ter character — the architecture and surroundings of the school liouses, and
the arrangements for the comfort and convenience of tlie pupils, as well in
the rural portions of the county as in the towns, being in man}- cases highly
creditable to the taste and judgment of the inhabitants, and not inferior to
those of any other portion of the country. Much attention has been given
to make the school house, where the children are taught, attractive and pleas-
ant, as they should be, and in this respect there has been a large advance
within the last twenty-tive years — and the school houses of the present day
are very unlike the bare and unattractive ones in which many of us were
But we have said nothing as yet about the wars in which the county has
been involved, exce])t the war about the county seat, and in that no blood
was shed. Other wars it has had, calling its martial population into the field
once and again, though fortunately these last mentioned wars in the end
turned out, as far as they were concerned, as bloodless as the first. The
first was the Black Hawk war of 1832.
There was great alarm through the scattered settlements of M-ichigan, when
intelligence came by a messenger sent by the Indian agent at Chicago, and
through other channels, that the Indians, the Sacs and Foxes, under the
noted Black Hawk, had collected in lai-ge numbers in the vicinity of Fox
River, and had commenced hostilities, that they were making their way east-
ward, murdering the white inhabitants and threatening Chicago, at that time
an insignificant trading post, though jirotected by a fort; with a strong prob-
ability that if that fell into their hands they would continue their way east-
ward through the feel)le settlements in noi-thern Indiana and Michigan to
A request was made by the agent at Chicago that a force of militia of
Michigan might be sent speedily to their assistance for their protection until
aid could be procured from the IT. S. forces.
Many exaggerated stories of the depredations and atrocities of the Indians
came through other channels.
It is difficult for us at the present time, in the security of our homes, and
happily M'itliout experience of danger from hostile savages, to realize the de-
gree of excitement and alarm which these rumors, growing as they went,
and magnifying the forces of the Indians and the number of their victims,
produced among the scattered and e.xposed settlements of the frontier, at that
20 HISTORICAL ORATION.
time. It was ijreatly feared, too, tliat tlie Indians of our own section, the
apparent!}- friendly Pottawatomies, might be induced to join the league, and
make common cause witli their red brethren against the whites. "Who could
lie down at night with the assurance that they would not at the midnight
hour be aroused by the terrible war-whoop, and awake to tiud their dwell-
ings in flames, and the deadly rifle or the tomahawk and scalping knife of
their merciless savage foe gleaming in the light ; The inhabitants of Chi-
cago, many of them, took refuge in the fort, and many isolated families in
the new settlements of Indiana and Michigan, forsook their homes and sought
The pioneers of the Raisin Valley and of southern Michigan were no cow-
ards. Gen. Brown was at that time in command of the Third Eritrade of
Michigan militia, embracing several regiments in Lenawee and the counties
west of it as far as Niles. Without waiting for an order from the Territo-
rial Governor (which, however, came soon after), upon the receipt of this iu-
telligenee and the call of the Indian agent, he issued an order calling out
the regiments in his brigade and ordering them to rendezvous as speedily as
possible at Niles. The order was promptly responded to Ijy the Eighth reg-
iment. Col. Wm. McXair, composed of inhabitants of the valley of the Kai-
sin, one company from Adrian, two from Tecumseh, and one from Clinton,
and it took up its line of march from Tecumseh by way of the Chicsigo
turnpike, through Jonesville, Coldwater and yturgis, to Xiles, where the
other regiments of the brigade were also assembled.
To rescue Chicago would be the most eifectual way to protect their own
liomes and loved ones. It was better to meet the enemy before he entered
their borders, than to wait and meet him at their own doors. In the order
issued by Gen. Bi-own to Col. McNair occur these words, which I cannot
forbear to (juote : "Take no man with you who is not a volunteer. Let
the timid return to their homes." The order was promulgated upon the j)a-
rade of the regiment at Tecumseh, and those who did not choose to volun-
teer were directed to advance four paces in front. Not a man left the
The details of that e.xpedition and of the war canudt be given here. Suf-
tice to say that a force from the regular army under Gen. Atkinson suc-
ceeded in overpiiwering the Indians before they reached Chicago, capturing
Black ILiwk and putting an end to the war without the aid of our militia.
Orders were received by Gen. Brown at Niles to disband the forces under
his command, and the Lenawee regiment being Imnin-ably discharged, and
HISTORICAL ORATION. 2I
witli the thanks of tlie command iiig general for tlie jironiptness and alacrity
witli wliich they had responded to tlie call, and the faithfnl performance of
duty, returned to their homes, where they were warmly welcomed ; their ab-
sence liaving deprived the settlements f..r tlie time being of most of their
eftective men, and leaving them (juite defenceless in case of an attack fr.^m
the Indians, which they feared.
Of the men who went in this expedition two deserted— all the rest re-
mained true and showed their readiness to meet the savage foe, though
happily they were spared the necessity. The men received from the United
States one month's pay and 160 acres of land each.
Tlie other ^^•ar in which the county was in\ol\-ed, was the one known as
the Toled(j war. This, it will be remembered, was a contest in l,s;35, be-
tween Michigan, jnst then preparing to undergo its transformation frJm a
Territory to a State, and the older and more powerful State of Ohio, for the
possession of a strip of land, some eight miles in width at the east end and
five miles at the west, on the southern border of Michigan, embracing of
conrse, a portion of our g,.,,dly connty of Lenawee, as well as the portlind
site of the present city of Toledo.
By the ordinance of 1787, the Magna Charta of that vast territory ceded
by Virginia to the United States, lying northwest of the Ohio, out of which
the great States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin have
been successively formed. Congress was authorized to form one or two States
in that portion of the country lying north of an east and west line dra^ni
through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake ]\Iichigan— thus establishing
that line as the southern boundary of such States ; and it was provided that
whenever any of said States should have 60.000 free inhabitants therein, such
State should be admitted into the Union ,m an equal footing with the orig-
inal States, and should be at liberty to form a permanent constitution and "
By an act of Congress passed in 1805, the Territory of Michigan was or-
ganized, with a Territorial government, making its southern lionndarv the
line before mentioned, and it was enacted that the inhabitants of the Terri-
tory sliould enjoy all the rights and privileges secured by the ordinance
The mouth of the Maumee and the disputed territory were north of this
hue. and of course within the limits of Michigan. But Ohio, when she came
t.. h.i-m a State government, by her constitution adopted another line as her
22 HlHTOlilVAL ORATION.
northern boumlarv, so as to include within lier l)()nnilaries the territorv in
The details of this controversy cannot be given here. It would re<[uire
too much time, and it belongs to the history- of the State rather than of tJiis
county, though the county was directly interested and deeply invuhed in it.
Both Michigan and Ohio claimed the territory-, and each called out a force
of militia to enforce its claim to the possession of the same.
The force of Michigan, some 1,200 or 1,500 strong, a portion of them from
this county, was under the command of Brig. Gen. Brown, in whose ability
and discretion Acting Governor Mason manifested his confidence by select-
ing him for this delicate and responsible duty.
They marched to Toledo and held possession of the same for several weeks.
The force of Ohio was also encamped in the neighborhood, and hos-
tilities seemed imminent, but no actual fighting took place. Many amusing
and ludicrous incidents occurred, so that after the atiair was over it came to
be regarded as a farce, though at the time threatening very serious conse-
After remaining in this hostile attitude for a t^v weeks, the military forces
on both sides wei-e withdrawn, and the matter left to the decision of Con-
Tlie result was that Ohio, iiifluential and powerful with her twelve votes
in Congress, prevailed against her younger and weaker sister Michigan, with
her single delegate, and he without the right of voting; and before Congress
would admit her into the Union as a State, she was required to assent to
the change in her lioundaries, and to adopt the Iwundary claimed by Ohio ;
but in order to make her some amends the Northern Peninsula, then no
part of Michigan, was ofi'ered her.
Michigan at first rejected this overture. A convention called to act upon
it refused to give the assent recpiired. Her peoi)le at the time felt keenly
upon the subject. They felt that her right to the territory, under the ordi-
nance and under the Act of Congress of 1805, was unciuestionable ; and there
are few, in this State at least, who have examined the (juestion, that do not
regai-d it so to this day.
But this decision of the convention of Michigan did not finally prevail.
A large and influential portion of the citizens, some from ])ublic considera-
tions, and others, perhaps, from private reasons, thought it highly desirable
that the State should be si)eedily admitted into the Tnion. Another conven-
tion was called, not bv the Governor or by any legal authority, but by tlie
HISTORICAL ORATION. 23
Democratic Central Comiiiittee, requesting the people in the several town-
ships to elect delegates. The convention met, and in the name of the people
of the State, gave the required assent. This, after considerable discussion,
was accepted by Congress as a compliance with the condition, and the State
was admitted by an act passed on the 2Tth of January, 1837, and thus the
The people of Michigan were ill satisfied at the time, being little aware
of the mineral value of the Upper Peninsula which they acquired in lieu of
the strip surrendered. But the subsequent development of that region has
shown that the}- got an ample equivalent, and that the bargain, though in a
manner forced upon them, turned out to be not a bad one for Michigan.
Another incident or two and we will end this imjierfect sketch, already
too long for this occasion, though there are materials at hand to till a vol
The Court House, erected in Adrian in 1839, as before mentioned, and
containing the county offices, was destroyed by fire, March l-tth, 1852, and
with it all the records of the County Clerk's office, though fortunately the
valuable records of the County Register and County Treasurer were sa\-ed.
The Court House has never been rebuilt, and from that time, twenty-four
years, the county has had none — very much to the inconvenience and not-
much to the credit of so large and populous and wealth}- a county. The
courts have been held in difi'erent places temporarily provided for them, first
in t)ne hall and then in another, and for a number of years in an old aban-
Fellow citizens, my task as historian is done.
As during the century past, the United States as a people, a nation, have
so marvelously, under the favor of Providence, grown and increased in all
the elements of greatness and power, extending itself and its poj^ulation from
the narrow strip along the Atlantic, which it occupied in 1770, by a wide
and magnificent belt across the heart of the entire continent to the Pacific ;
and as our own county has, on its smaller scale, during the half century, in
like manner grown and developed and increased to take its place in the fore-
most rank of the counties of our own State, and to rival niDst of the agri-
cultural counties in the older portions of the country, let us hope that the
future has still greater things in store for us. Let us cherish union, and
set our faces against everything calculated to create sectional strife and dis-
Hushed be the voice of ])arty, and the noise of party sti'ife this day. at
2+ IIJiSTOlUCAL ORATION.
least, as we join togethei- in its celel)rati(.ii as one people, having a common
interest in that which it comniemoi'ates^]iaj)]iy that at tlie end of one Innulred
years the goodly heritage whicli onr fathers beqneathed to ns remains unim-
paired for ns to transmit to those that come after us ; that our government
our institutions, and our union have survived the shock of war, foreign and
domestic, and the perhaps still greater danger from corruption within.
As Loth the great political parties have united to put down treason and
rehelliou, so let both parties and all parties unite to rebuke corruption wher-
ever found, in whatever party. And may the close of another century find
us, as a people, as to-day, united, happy, and free.